Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #755 - So, Healthcare...

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #755 - So, Healthcare

Hi Mom, So usually this is the day of MUSICAL MONDAY, but things are crazy with the move, so very little preamble and a share.

This is regular go to source for me: JOHN SCALZI from his blog, WHATEVER.


So, Healthcare, 7/28/17

Some various thoughts on where things are today:
1. Hooray for senators Murkowski and Collins and McCain, and also every single Democratic senator for knocking back this bullshit that was so egregious that they literally had to take the vote in the middle of the night because it couldn’t stand up to scrutiny in the light of day. The fact that 49 GOP senators voted for a bill that they knew was trash is depressing, but, horseshoes and handgrenades.
And yes, I know that there’s a good chance that some of them voted “yes” because they were confident that an 80-year-old man with cancer not long for his job would give them cover against frothy primary voters back home, but there’s only so far that sort of thing goes. Rob Portman, the Republican senator from Ohio, isn’t up for re-election until 2022. “Primary cover” isn’t a thing he needs at the moment.
(His excuse: He wanted it to go into committee with the House GOP. Uh-huh. This would be the same House GOP that passed a bill so awful that the Senate wouldn’t touch it. This is the group they were hoping to punt to, in order to come up with something better. Yeah, okay.)
2. I’m especially pleased that this is an only-barely-metaphorical kick in the nuts to Mitch McConnell, who basically flouted every lawmaking convention the Senate has in order to present a series of top-down, heartless “let’s repeal Obamacare because fuck that dude” bills, only to have them stuffed back in his face with every vote. In his rush to eradicate the major policy achievement of a black man, McConnell did appear to forget that the ACA does, in fact, help millions of Americans, including Republicans, have insurance, and helps the rest of us with that whole “no more of that pre-existing conditions or payment caps bullshit” thing it has going. McConnell didn’t give a shit about his constituents, or Americans in general with this. He just wanted the win, to have a win and to kick at a man who isn’t in politics anymore. He got what he deserved with this monumental and serial defeat.
(“But how is what McConnell did any different than how the ACA was passed in the first place?” Well, for starters, there’s a difference between an entire political party actively deciding not to participate in the crafting of legislation, as is what basically happened with the ACA, and the senate GOP deciding not to involve the Democrats, or indeed, most of the members of its own caucus, as happened with the Senate repeal bills. There’s more, but let’s move on, shall we.)
3. And no, I don’t expect this to be the end of it. On a practical level, the GOP wanted to gut the ACA because it would make it easier to get its upcoming budget deal done. On the impractical level, Trump loathes Obama and anything to do with him, not only because Trump’s a bigot but because every day he’s in office makes it clearer how much better a president Obama was than he is. McConnell also hates Obama for being Obama, and Paul Ryan just wants to destroy the social net for the old and sick because he’s an awful inhuman bucket of turds. They’re going to find their way back to the ACA even if the vast majority of Americans want them to leave it alone or — heck! — maybe even make it work better. They can’t leave it alone. They are constitutionally unable to. I’m happy this round of nonsense has been beaten back, but I’m not under the illusion they won’t try again. They will try again.
4. All of this nonsense does again bring to the fore a thing we already knew about the current GOP, which is that it isn’t for anything, other than shoving as much of America’s wealth as it can into the hands of the very rich. For the last eight years, its major policy theme was “whatever Obama wants, we’re against,” and now that it is in power, its major policy theme is “Whatever Obama did, we’ll repeal.” The problem they’re running into, as this dundersplat of a vote shows us, is that Obama’s policies did actually make people’s lives better, and also that sooner or later “not that” has to be replaced by something.
There was no there to the GOP’s proposals — nothing that would do what Trump and they promised, which was to make health care better. There wasn’t a single proposal the GOP offered that didn’t involve millions of people losing insurance, Medicaid being slashed and costs climbing for everyone else, and all but the “skinny repeal” basically were stalking horses for wealth transfer and setting the social net on fire. It’s not in the least surprising that at the end of the day, the excuses the Senate GOP gave for fronting these atrocious bills were “Look, we said we were going to repeal it” and “We know we’re going to pass a horrible shit bill but maybe the House GOP will save us from ourselves.”
I’m not going to say that there’s nothing in the GOP and/or Trump administration’s policy portfolio that isn’t explicitly about making the rich richer or just rolling back Obama policies without regard to the sensibility of those policies, but I have to admit right off the top of my head I can’t think of all that many, and even the ones that I theoretically would be before (infrastructure, rural broadband) I simply don’t trust Trump or the GOP to do without basically devolving them into a crony feed.
5. On a personal note, here’s a true fact, which is that the last week has been shit for my productivity because I’ve been waiting for the Senate to basically take health care away from a whole bunch of my friends, who as creative people buy their insurance policies on the individual market and who would (depending on which version of this bullshit passed) been priced out of insurance, would have had to deal with pre-existing conditions or policy caps coming up again, or would have found it impossible to find an insurer. And not only creative people, I will add. I live in an area where a number of my neighbors are farmers or independent contractors (truck drivers, etc). They would go onto the repeal trash pile as well. It’s hard to focus on writing when your friends are talking about how losing their insurance, or, having pre-existing conditions or caps reintroduced, might kill them.
“Oh, well, that’s melodramatic.” Fuck you, it’s not. Not having the “right” job (i.e., a job with a company large enough to have a decent-sized risk pool), or losing a job, should not come with the increased risk of death or incapacitation or bankruptcy due to medical needs our fucked-up system has decided to price out of range of normal humans’ ability to pay. The only reason I wouldn’t be in the same boat as my other creative, self-employed friends had the ACA cratered is my wife’s 9-to-5, benefits-paying job — and even then ditching the ACA would have still had an impact on us due to caps and pre-existing conditions.
6. Here’s something that is possibly melodramatic, also involving me: If any of these bullshit senate health care bills had passed, it might have made a difference regarding whether you’d get my next book on time. Not just because I’d be worrying about health care for all my pals (and my family, to a lesser but real extent). It would also be because Mitch McConnell would have learned that creating bills in a back room, filling them with completely punitive bullshit and not showing them to anyone yet still expecting his caucus to vote straight-line for them is a thing that works. I mean, shit. It came within one vote of working this time; had McCain not decided to do his maverick shtick one more time for shits and giggles, McConnell would right this moment be planning to do up his tax bill entirely in a back room with him and maybe five or six special friends. We already have an executive branch with an alignment of “chaotic authoritarian”; the last thing we need is a functionally authoritarian branch of government to go with the incompetent authoritarian branch we already have.
I’m less than 100% inclined to give McCain too much credit for his downvote — he could have nipped all this shit in the bud earlier in the week, and in any event his modus operandi to date has been “talk like a maverick, vote the party line,” and I think there was more than a whiff of personal aggrandizement going on. Depending on his cancer treatment, McCain may not ever come back to the Senate, and McCain wanted a dramatic moment for the movie of his life, when Tom Cruise finally wins the Oscar on the strength of his portrayal of McCain’s “thumbs down” moment. But to the extent that he excoriated McConnell’s bullshit process to produce these bills and then voted down the bills produced by this bullshit process, good on him. That may have been even more important in the long run than the particular vote, and the particular vote was extraordinarily important.
If McConnell’s authoritarian gambit had worked, he would have known he could continue to get away with it for everything — and he would have kept at it. And that’s not something I could have just tuned out. I’ve been having a hard enough time concentrating as it is. It’s hard to write about the future when the present is on fire. If I can get a nice stretch of time where I’m not worrying about a non-trivial percentage of the people I know freaking out about whether lack of insurance is going to kill them or a family member, I can focus on, you know. Actual work.
Yes, in fact, that’s the secret to getting work out of me: A functioning, democratic government that isn’t actively trying to screw over a whole bunch of people I know and care about. Who knew?


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 757 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.31 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #754 - Wondermark - "In Which Trouble Is Shot"

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #754 - Wondermark - "In Which Trouble Is Shot"

Hi Mom,

So, I found a new web comic: WONDERMARK. I created an rss feed for it on my reader page (The Free Dictionary) and I have been reading it as often as time permits.

I like it's style. The antique-style harkening back to the Victorian era or early 20th Century reminds me of the vintage Sears and Roebuck catalogue that I still own (and probably need to purge). This is a clever and smart comic.

I figured today was a good day for a quick post, a comic, and some life highlights.

Sometimes this whole moving thing feels like the concept depicted in this comic.

The feedback loop of anxiety, pain, and yet relief and gain, in purging stuff, packing stuff, selling a house, buying a house, planning a trip, planning a new life, saying goodbye to an old life, coping with mounting stress, anxiety, pain, and joy, often feels like this situation in this comic.

"But what if I don't have a torx wrench?"

#1329; In which Trouble is shot
Permalink to this comic: http://wondermark.com/c1329/ 
July 25th, 2017

Yesterday, I did not accomplish as much packing as I hoped to accomplish, and so mounting anxiety.

However, I did watch two movies with my wife -- Jane Doe and Get Out -- and that felt good. I did some packing, but I also did more work for my jobs to better clear the decks to pack a lot today. I went to the grocery store. I brought my wife dinner. I did laundry. I took the dogs for a walk. I taught two classes.

At least, millions of people who need it still have affordable health care.

My problems seem minor compared to that issue.

Progress is slow. But I am making my way.

"If franchise performs poorly, calibrate with torx wrench."


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 756 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.30 -8:36

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #753 - my final review - Lion in Winter

cast of the Barn's The Lion in Winter: back: Robert Newman, King Zimmer
Front: William Dunn, Jamey Grisham, and Jabri Johnson
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #753 - my final review - Lion in Winter

Hi Mom,

As part of the move west, local jobs are coming to an end. This one has been sputtering for some time due to changes at the newspaper and my own busy schedule.

Unless I decide to pursue this craft out west, and not counting any reviews I will write on this blog, this review is my last, at least published in a publication with fair circulation and backed by Gannett. Likely, this will be my last review of any theatre performances.

I feel my note to readers, which I have included first here but is last in the link if you follow it says it all. Anything else, I would say would be repeat, except that this was a delightful show on which to end my run.

Want to see some great theatre?

Try this one. It's exceptional.

Thanks to the Battle Creek Enquirer, all the editors with whom I worked, all the thespians with whom I discussed theatre and the failing art form, the diminishing audiences, thank you all. I have been  very blessed.

FROM - http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/story/entertainment/2017/07/26/theater-review-newman-and-zimmer-sizzle-lion-winter/513252001/

"The Lion in Winter”
a production of the Barn Theatre
at the Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI
Attended Date: July 25, 2016
reviewed by Christopher Tower

NOTE TO MY READERS: This is my last review for the Battle Creek Enquirer as I am moving to the west coast. Thank you to all the readers who have sent notes or verbally shared reactions over the last 23 years since I started in 1994. It has been a privilege to enjoy so much high quality theatre and music in west Michigan and to share it with all of you.

It’s difficult to do regal well. Carrying one’s self with a royal air is an art form few have mastered or can master. For the Barn Theatre’s 2017 season, the summer stock casts a king and a queen with the presence of royalty in its production of James Goldman’s “The Lion in Winter.”
Like the gems in the crowns of the British monarchy, Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer are jewels in the crown of the Barn Theatre. Consummate professionals and master-level talents, these two veterans of stage and screen manage flawless execution and the air of royalty in this drama of English succession circa 1183.

Though James Goldman’s play debuted in 1966, the 1968 film starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn is more well-known. It also sets performance at a very high mark indeed as the rest of the cast included Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton, Nigel Terry, and John Castle. And yet this cast fills those shoes with ease, especially Newman and Zimmer, who are local royalty in yet another return to the Barn Theatre, where they receive warm applause when first appearing on stage.

The Barn Theatre has never produced this show in its 71 year history. Set during Christmas in medieval France, in lands conquered by the English, King Henry II of England (Robert Newman) has summoned his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Kim Zimmer) from her imprisonment to negotiate with the French King Philip (Quinn Moran) over occupied lands and to choose an heir to his throne. Henry favors his youngest son John (William Dunn); Eleanor favors the eldest son Richard the Lionheart (Jamey Grisham), who does succeed Henry upon his death six years later.
John is eventually King after Richard, and is known for signing the Magna Carta and as the King John in the Robin Hood stories. The third son, Geoffrey (Jabri Johnson), the schemer, plays a role much like Loki in the Norse legends as stronger warriors (Richard) and the family baby (John) are always favored over middle children.

Further complicating matters, King Philip wishes his half sister Alais Capet (Audrey Morton), fostered by the British, to either marry the heir (be it Richard or John) or have Henry return her dowry, strategically important French lands. But Alais is Henry’s mistress, and the King actually fancies having his marriage to Eleanor annulled and starting a new family of sons with her rather than dealing with manipulations and threats of war from his current brood.

Does it all sound like an episode of HBO’s drama “Game of Thrones”? Of course, it does as the George RR Martin story owes much allegiance to stories like “The Lion in Winter,” which in turn owe great allegiance to the plays of William Shakespeare.

And like “Game of Thrones,” the verbal jousting is a feast for fans of strong dialogue and well-wrought conflicts. Though not historically accurate, the Goldman script is rich and powerful, and the movie won three Academy Awards, including a Best Actress Oscar for Hepburn.

The Barn’s cast matches the movie cast in every way. Newman shows why he won two Daytime Emmy Awards for playing Joshua Lewis in his 28 years on “Guiding Light.” Producer Brendan Ragotzy confessed that his father Jack may have never done this show because he did not have that right actor for Henry but Brendan does. Newman is stunning as the King and shows great range from screaming rage to quiet resignation.

Likewise, Kim Zimmer proves why she won four Daytime Emmys in her 32-year run on “Guiding Light” as she can act beat for beat in tune with greats like Katharine Hepburn. Her performance is intricate, nuanced, and flawless like the choicest diamond.

But the show would be horribly uneven if the rest of the cast did not measure up to the majesty of this King and Queen, and yet, they do. All three sons (Grisham, Johnson, and Dunn) deliver strong performances as well as the French siblings (Moran and Morton) who round out this small cast.
The stage is beautifully appointed with real candles and torches and a well designed, rotating set with medieval arches and appointments by designer Samantha Snow. Lights by Mike McShane provide suitable ambience and tone, and costumes by Payge Crock are rich and appropriate. The entire show is unified by the smart direction of Hans Friedrichs.

As the only non-musical of its 71st season, the Barn picked a blockbuster. Newman and Zimmer sizzle on stage, and the rest of the cast nearly riot in a frenzy of high drama and conflict. The entire two and a half hours zip by in a flash and are well worth the drive to Augusta for this grand historical drama. Don’t miss it!


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 755 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.29 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #752 - Letting go of BOOKS

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #752 - Letting go of BOOKS

Hi Mom,

I am going through my books and trying to give away as many as possible ahead of our move to the west coast. I am giving up books that it hurts to give up, which I feel is the point of this purging exercise.

But it's difficult.

I know I am too tied to "my stuff," which I delineate as a concept unto itself, hence the quotes.

I would like to be less burdened, especially in hauling stuff across the country.

Recently, I "remodeled" my office, removing tons of stuff and clearing work spaces. It feels SO MUCH better than the stacks and piles of things I had before. And yet, I still want some stuff, mainly books, CDs (they play better than digital files), LPs (they have a different sound quality), and comic books.

All of this seems redundant and unnecessary in the modern world of digital things.

And yet, I still like books. I like paper. I like pages. I like the utility. The no power portability. I like the way I can get all ten fingers in between book pages and flip about at will without waiting for the computer to refresh the display. I like the smell. From old books to books that have gone musty to newish books to books with smelly ink and books with glossy, smelly paper, I love them all.

And then there's the books of child hood.

The books I have not looked at in 30 years.

The books I have carted around or loaded on shelves and forgotten about, books I have never read, and books I may never read.

There's fewer books that I actually "need" in book form. And fewer still that I should really keep.

And yet, all of that considered, there are more books that I want to keep and pay to have hauled west than my wife will keep from her library of books. We're different. She's literate and quite a wonderful writer, but I have always identified myself as a writer, a professional writer, and a teacher. I may be leaving both of these professions soon for a new profession (computer programming), and yet, books are a part of who I am.

I need my books. But how many books constitutes this idea of "my books"?

So far the give away pile is a little bigger than the keep pile, and I am not done yet.

Soon, there will be a "maybe" pile, a collection of books I move to Dad's and either get rid of later or move west later if I feel I have the space and want the burden of moving them again.

It's a process.

There must be pain involved or I am not doing it right.

Stay tuned.

This blog is in lo-fi mode as I pack and prepare to move. But, hey, at least I wrote some original content, right?

Thanks to Liesel for sharing this article with me.

FROM - http://lithub.com/on-the-heartbreaking-difficulty-of-getting-rid-of-books/



Like a lot of avid readers, I enjoyed Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up but bristled when it came to the section about books. The gist of her now-famous method is this: go through all your possessions by category, touch everything, keep only that which “sparks joy,” and watch as your world is transformed. It seems simple enough, but Kondo gives minimalism the hard sell when it comes to books, urging readers to ditch as many of them as they can. You may think that a book sparks joy, she argues, but you’re probably wrong and should get rid of it, especially if you haven’t read it yet.
Paring down one’s wardrobe is one thing, but what kind of degenerate only wants to own 30 books (or fewer) at a time on purpose? What sort of psychopath rips out pages from their favorite books and throws away the rest so they can, as Kondo puts it, “keep only the words they like?” For those of us for whom even the word “book” sparks joy, this constitutes a serious disconnect. Still, as the weather gets warmer, many readers will tackle their spring cleaning with The Life-Changing Magic in hand.
I wondered, can Kondo’s Spartan methods be adapted for someone who feels about books the way the National Rifle Association feels about guns, invoking the phrase “cold dead hands”? I decided to give it a try.
Following her instructions, I herded all of my books into one room and put them on the floor. There were more than 500, ranging from books I’d been given as a small child to advance review copies of novels I’d received within the last week. Somehow they did not appear as numerous as one would expect. They looked vulnerable and exposed when stacked up in this way, out of context, like when the TSA zips open your suitcase at the airport. But that is the point of the KonMari method—to force us to see our possessions under the fluorescent light of disorientation.

I thought, scanning tattered paperbacks and long-forgotten class-assigned texts.
One would be hard pressed to find a lifestyle guru as simultaneously tender and ruthless as Marie Kondo, former Shinto temple maiden and book mutilator. Your socks will feel sad unless you treat them gently and fold them properly, she tells us with emotion, before instructing us to put their cast-off brethren in a garbage bag and send them to the landfill.
The most interesting aspect of the KonMari Method is the way in which it acknowledges the emotional lives of things. Whether that life is inherent or something that we project doesn’t really matter. She bypasses New Age-y concepts like “good vibes” and “energy flow” and jumps right to the chase: the objects you possess have feelings, so deal with it. It may seem silly at first to thank an old sweater for a job well done before getting rid of it, but actually doing so can feel oddly poignant. Kondo’s background in Shintoism is important in this respect. In Shinto cosmology, our physical reality co-exists with an invisible world of animistic spirits. Her worldview is in line with the Japanese aesthetic known in the West as wabi sabi, which explores the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things versus the pleasure we get from the freedom from things.
The aim of KonMari is to more fully appreciate what you have by letting go of that which no longer serves you. The difficulty comes in telling which is which. Much of what we don’t need tends to blend in with its surroundings, like a camouflaging octopus on a reef, effectively invisible until we grab hold of it or get right up in its face. By handling everything, we cause this hidden dead weight to startle, blanche, and show itself. Kondo even recommends clapping one’s hands over the objects to “wake them up.”
I went through my books one by one. Kondo says you shouldn’t open the books, but I broke that rule—not to read them, but to see what I might have long-ago stashed inside.
There was a surprising amount of stuff between the pages—letters, tickets, photographs, receipts. I found my New Year’s Eve resolutions for 1998a slip of paper acknowledging my plea of GUILTY to a speeding ticket and instructing me to pay $125 to the town of Athens, New York; a hospital bill for $564; a Xeroxed page from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself with the stanza circled that begins I have said that the soul is not more than the body; the muted floral wrapper for fig apricot soap, still fragrant; the boarding pass for a flight from New York to Stockholm; a yellow hall pass from my California high school.
It occurred to me that part of the reason why tackling the “books” stage of the Full Kondo seems so daunting is that to many of us our books don’t really belong in the category she has assigned. They are not impersonal units of knowledge, interchangeable and replaceable, but rather receptacles for the moments of our lives, whose pages have sopped up morning hopes and late-night sorrows, carried in honeymoon suitcases or clutched to broken hearts. They are mementos, which she cautions readers not to even attempt to contemplate getting rid of until the very last.
To be fair, Kondo no longer thinks that ripping books to pieces is a good idea, but it’s telling to learn that she herself once did this to save space. Keeping parts of books might make sense if your entire library consisted of cooking or craft manuals, but sounds completely crazy when applied to novels or narrative nonfiction. Which chapters of Anna Karenina or In Cold Blood would you keep, for example? The picture Kondo paints is a bleak one, referring mostly to business books and textbooks, to “studying” and “necessary information.” The “classics” she refers to are not Dickens and Brontë but “authors like Drucker and Carnegie,” a management consultant and an industrialist, respectively. With no offense to those two illustrious professions, I am not very shocked that these didn’t “spark joy.”
But to my surprise, I found plenty of books in my possession that did not spark joy either. These included books given to me by exes toward whom I feel no warmth; paperbacks from college with the last 20 pages missing; books that have been more than 10 percent eaten by a former pet rabbit; two sad-looking copies of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, although I’m not sure why. All told there were 30 such books, or perhaps 60. I didn’t count them. They filled three shopping bags. I separated the 547 remaining books I was keeping into two piles—those I had read already, and those I hadn’t.
No matter how joyful or sparkly a book, to her credit Kondo focuses most sharply on a very specific kind of book and book-owning habit: Tsundoku, an untranslatable Japanese word that means “buying books and letting them pile up unread.” First coined in the 19th century, the word doesn’t appear in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but battling it is Kondo’s thesis statement. “Unread books accumulate,” she writes. And indeed they do.
All the books I’d read already went back on the shelves. The 32 unread books “to be read right now” were returned to my bedside table. The 28 “work-related” volumes—I’m a writer, after all—both read and unread, went in their own pile.
I then stacked up my remaining 105 unread books against the wall outside my bedroom. They weren’t headed to Housing Works, but their invisible octopus days were over. As a decorating strategy it’s more Bernard Black than Marie Kondo, but it’s important to embrace our true selves. I’ll read them or I won’t read them, or I will give them away, and don’t you dare use the word party as a verb in this shop.
Kondo argues emphatically and in bolded text that the right time to read a book is when it first comes into your possession. But throwing out every unread book on your bookshelf just because you’re not reading it right now makes about as much sense as throwing away all the perfectly good food in your refrigerator and pantry just because you don’t plan on eating it for your next meal. Only you can gauge your appetite.
“A book can wait a thousand years unread until the right reader comes along,” said the critic George Steiner, and that’s true. The good ones are incantations, summoning spells. They are a spark, a balm, a letter from home. They contain demons, gods in a box. They are tiny rectangles with the whole universe packed in. We read books that describe magical portals when really it is the books themselves that are the rabbit hole, the wardrobe, the doorway between worlds. Books, like people, are bigger on the inside. It is by this dimension of imaginative relativity that Hogwarts, Middle Earth, Earthsea, Dickens’s London, Hemingway’s Paris, Didion’s anxious California and the mind of Helen Oyeyemi, reclining like a sphinx between her pages in quiet and glittering sleep, all fit inside my tiny apartment, and inside me.
While Kondo-ing my books I was reminded of the story of baby Krishna, accused of eating dirt. When his foster mother demands that he open up his rosebud mouth to prove his innocence, she looks in and sees the complete and timeless universe inside him with its stars and galaxies adrift in black oceans of vast distance, and all of time that ever was or ever will be, and the blue and green earth teeming with life, and all the ideas and feelings that one could ever think or feel, and their own little village with its streets and houses, and their own garden and herself in it, and every bit of dirt in its rightful place.
It’s not true that when you first receive a book is the only right time to read it. Books can stay with you like a talisman on a quest, taken out of your cloak, unwrapped and understood only at your darkest hour: A light to you when all other lights go out.
It’s a useful exercise to clear the cobwebs from one’s bookshelves once in a while, but don’t let anyone talk you into getting rid of your books if you don’t want to, read or unread. Ask yourself whether or not each book sparks joy, and ignore the minimalist proselytizing if it chafes you. After all, the romance of minimalism relies on invisible abundance. The elegantly empty apartment speaks not to genteel poverty, but to the kind of hoarded wealth that makes anything and everything replaceable and available at the click of a mouse. Things and the freedom from things, and then things again if you desire. If you miss a book after getting rid of it, Kondo consoles, you can always buy it again. Dispose and replace, repeat and repeat. Ah, what fleeting luxury.
Anyway it’s “papers” next. Wish me luck.

* * * *
WHERE TO DONATE YOUR BOOKS (Should you chose to part with them)
Want to donate your books anyway? General places to donate include local libraries, thrift stores, and homeless shelters. Women’s shelters are especially in need of children’s books. Below is a list of specific organizations across the United States that will happily take your unwanted books and share them with people in need.
NYC Books Through Bars sends free donated books to incarcerated people across the nation.
Operation Paperback sends used books to American soldiers overseas, as well as veterans and military families in the United States.
Big Hearted Books & Clothing has drop-off locations throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Books for Soldiers: By joining, you can view the books that soldiers’ request, and send what you have.
Books4Cause’s book donations have already created 20 libraries in Africa.
Better World Books allows you to box up your books and print out a shipping label (they pay for the cost of shipping).
Since 1988, Books for Africa has shipped over 35 million books to 49 different countries.
Other donation centers include the Prison Book Program, Chicago’s Open Books, New York’s Housing Works, San Francisco’s Project Night Night, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library’s Book Donation Center, and Washington DC’s Books for America.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 754 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.28 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #751 - Stealing the Candy - Throwback Thursday - conversations #15

me - nine months old - October 1962
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #751 - Stealing the Candy - Throwback Thursday - conversations #15

Hi Mom,

This is probably my last conversation post and Throwback Thursday for about two months.

I plan to write in this entry all day today. I may post later today, Thursday, or I may finish it up Friday, tomorrow, morning.

Welcome to post #751. Feels like I just passed another milestone.

I believe this photo of me shows me about to sneak some candy out of my grandparents candy dish, a skill I had already mastered at nine months old. I doubt I ate the candy at that age. It was simply a fun game. As you can see, I am probably being "caught" in the act, teased about my "sneakiness," as sneaky as a small baby can be.

Though at nine months, I doubt I was walking. Is this an early shot of my standing up for the first time? I will have to ask Dad.

See the hearts on the cuffs of my trousers? I think that's cute.

Also, my hair is very stylish, almost like a 1980s pop star's hair.

Okay, there. I thought I should write a bit about the picture before I get rolling.

So, why am I saying no more Throwbacks and conversations for a while?

As I have told you before, but maybe not officially, Liesel, Piper, and I are all moving to Woodland, WA, just outside of Vancouver, WA, just outside of Portland, OR in August (of 2017). Piper's boyfriend Adam and his friend Keith are joining us as well and will stay with us until they find their own place.

Things are about to get even busier than they are right now. The main lodestone that's ramping up our anxiety is PACKING. Because there's so much packing to do, this blog is going into low maintenance mode for the next month or longer. Original content will be minimal at least until the packing is more or less complete. Beyond that, I cannot see the future. As this feature is one of my few original content entries for the week, I am taking a hiatus to pack like a machine. In fact, today is meant to be hardcore packing with the dogs at Camp Fido and my work for my job handled well enough and needing only a couple of hours of my time.

So, stress. So, packing.

As I type these words, the earliest the trucks come to load our stuff and take it all the way across the continent is Monday August 14th. On Thursday August 10th or Friday the 11th, I will have a better sense of the exact date. I am hoping for something more like August 16th-17th, just to give me more time to be completely packed and ready and timed a bit better so I do not have try to function for quite as long without furniture and pots and pans.

Part of the anxiety comes from trying to figure out what not to pack, what to hold back for those last days between the loading of the moving truck and my departure, which is scheduled for August 20th, when Dad and I will load the dogs into my car, hook up a trailer, and head for Ludington, where we will spend the night before getting on the SS Badger ferry Monday morning the 21st and travel across Lake Michigan.

I am trying to be as organized as possible, trying to anticipate all the things I have to do and handle. I do not want to load very much in that trailer, so I am trying to determine just what I will need. For instance, can I get along without toast for as much as a week? Which pans and plates do I keep? Obviously, I have to keep the coffee maker. It occurred to me that other day that I have to keep some of the trash cans, at least one of them. I decided to move my computers myself, and so I may keep my office chair as well. But most of the office stuff is getting loaded on the moving truck, and I will work those last few days on a folding table or two.

So, now it's Friday, like I said it would be...

I want to get this posted, so...


Okay, supposedly, we're clear to close on our new house in Woodland, WA, but then I had a call from the mortgage guy after Liesel and I were in bed last night.

We also haven't heard on our new home yet.

But I did some packing today, Thursday, which is now technically yesterday.

I had my penultimate therapy appointment.

My to do list is growing.

I could go on and on, but I am out of time. I need to get to work.

And out in the world, beyond my little microcosm of anxiety driven issues, there's bad news and then some good news.

So, there's this... It's truly infuriating. This asshole is just such an asshole. I am not even sure I can be more articulate about it than that.

What I cannot find in my reading is whether this is a done deal because he orders it or it's just the statement of intent to strike down yet another thing from the Obama Administration.

It seems as if all Trump is doing is striking down Obama initiatives just because they are Obama initiatives.


Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would not allow transgender individuals to serve in the US military in any capacity, reversing a policy put in place by Barack Obama a year ago.

Arizona senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate armed services committee, said: “The president’s tweet this morning is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”

There's also this, which is slightly more hopeful, if you trust people not to set off massive explosions that could consume the earth (okay... exaggerating, but funny, right?)



Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 753 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.27 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #750 - King Crimson - RED Implosion and Court of the Crimson King

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #750 - King Crimson's Implosion - RED

Hi Mom, Still in sharing mode.

I can't face the world, so here's some show and tell. Prog Rock always makes me feel better.

From - http://ultimateclassicrock.com/king-crimson-red/

The Story of King Crimson’s Implosion on ‘Red’

At the time, King Crimson‘s Red was decidedly disappointing, an album without a band that spent just a single week on the British chart, stopping at No. 45. Every previous Crimson offering had gotten into the Top 30. This one, conversely, appeared on store shelves weeks after Robert Fripp unceremoniously announced their demise.

In truth, King Crimson were breaking up even as they convened in July 1974 for the album’s sessions. David Cross departed at the end of the group’s summer tour, leaving a pared-down principal trio of Fripp, John Wetton and Bill Bruford to go forward with a few assists from ex-bandmates Mel Collins and Ian McDonald. Red came out on Oct. 6, 1974, heralded by Fripp’s rather depressing comment that Crimson were “over for ever and ever” in the New Music Express.
“It was a quite superb band,” Fripp surmised in a separate interview with Melody Maker that published one day before Red arrived, “but, nevertheless, what we were doing wasn’t really for me.”

Fripp seemed to be simply burned out, half a decade into leading the band. “To give you an idea of the work we’ve done this year: From January to February we made an album, then went to Europe for a tour, then immediately off to America, back to Britain for rehearsals and straight back to America for another tour,” he told Melody Marker. “After that, I had one full day off in the country before we started recording Red. With that kind of life, there’s a lot of things I’d like to do, but can’t.”

With Fripp’s announcement of a split, Crimson would lay dormant until the beginning of a new decade — and this aggressively complex project might have been, it seemed, best left forgotten. Except the critical estimation of Red has continued to rise over the past four decades.

Kurt Cobain, for instance, would count Red as a landmark in his brief, but influential career. The album landed on many best-of lists over the years. And McDonald, who’d earlier worked on King Crimson’s genre-defining 1969 prog classic Court of the Crimson King, counts this album among the group’s most important. “I think Red is the best of the next wave of Crimson,” he said in Will Romano’s Mountains Come Out of the Sky. “Robert defined the band and found his voice, as far as I’m concerned, guitar-wise.”

So why was Fripp himself so unhappy? “I decided it was time to stop,” he said in a January 1979 interview with Best. “I was becoming more and more frustrated. Crimson had stopped evolving both in a commercial and musical sense. This reflected a lack of strength in the music. If our music had been incredibly good, we would undoubtedly have had a huge success. Such was not the case.”

There was no denying, of course, that the Wetton-era Crimson, as they moved from 1973’s Larks’ Tongue in Aspic to 1974’s Starless and Bible Black and then Red, had lost sales momentum — in particular in the U.S., where those albums slid further and further down the the Billboard chart. USA, a live document, arrived in 1975 — but by then Wetton was already headed toward a stint with a new band, UK.

Yet, he remains a proselytizer for his final studio effort with King Crimson, charts be damned. “At the time we were recording, Robert Fripp said he wanted to take a backseat, because we wasn’t sure where this was going,” Wetton said in Mountains Come Out of the Sky. “Bill Bruford and myself knew exactly where it was going. We took the front seat on it, and pushed for that very up-front … in-your-face guitar [sound[. Yeah, definitely. We did that. You can hear it from the first track. This band is not f—ing about.”

Listen to King Crimson Perform ‘Red’
Subscribe to Ultimate Classic Rock on 

As such, an understandable sense of missed opportunity will always surround Red. “I think John Wetton felt the group was poised for — I have to use the words ‘big time,'” McDonald said in Romano’s book. “He felt the group was, for the first time, on the verge of being widely known.” But the iconoclastic Fripp, in that talk with Best, admitted that he’d wasn’t envisioning any such thing. “I never let King Crimson fall into the success trap,” he said. “Several times, we went very close to having a gigantic commercial success. I have always instinctively tried to avoid this success.”

‘Red’ would have to gain its modicum of fame through shared listening sessions, anniversary re-evaluations and the odd retrospective radio program. And in time, it did, based solely on some of the toughest, yet most intelligently layered music King Crimson had constructed up to that point.

After the thrillingly aggressive title track — something as grandiose as it is brilliantly grating — finished unleashing its torrent of time-signature changes, Red moved into the acoustic-tinged “Fallen Angel.” Then there’s the heavier-still “One More Red Nightmare,” one of the crunchiest moments in Crimson history. “Providence,” a live, utterly on-the-edge improvisation, set the stage for the 12-minute album-closing exploration “Starless” — this seminal effort for Wetton as a composer, and a second standout moment for McDonald, after “One More Red Nightmare.” “Starless,” which was actually a holdover from Bible Black, had been radically reworked by the time it appeared on Red — and ultimately featured a memorable personnel twist, when Bruford came up with its demonic bass riff.

“It was balls-to-the wall progressive rock,” Wetton concluded in Mountains Come Out of the Sky. “It was s–t-hard rock ‘n’ roll. It was heavy metal, really.”

A sign of Wetton’s enduring passion for the disc: “Starless” has remained a key element of his live shows, though he typically plays the shorter, original version. Wetton even used a discarded portion of the song for a subsequent UK track called “Caesar’s Palace Blues.” But he never returned to Crimson, later co-founding Asia as Fripp belatedly reconstructed the old band with an ’80s-era lineup that included Bruford, along with Adrian Belew and Tony Levin.

The time away, it seemed at first, had done Fripp a world of good. “It is hard to isolate yourself when you are part of the structure of the rock ‘n’ roll industry,” he told Best. “There is always a reinforcement of your own ego, this vampiric relation between the audience and the artist and the personal disillusions, not to mention media, record companies, management and so on. My experience put me out of phase. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to isolate myself and start a new life.”

In reality, the cycle of rebirth and demise established with Red would continue, as the restless Fripp sought to keep King Crimson from ossifying into any kind of comfort zone. The early-’80s quartet recorded only three albums before likewise disbanding.

“King Crimson is, as always, more a way of doing things,” Fripp later said. “When there is nothing to be done, nothing is done: Crimson disappears. When there is music to be played, Crimson reappears. If all of life were this simple.”

See King Crimson and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’80s

Read More: The Story of King Crimson's Implosion on 'Red' | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/king-crimson-red/?trackback=tsmclip

from - http://ultimateclassicrock.com/king-crimson-crimson-king/

How King Crimson Set a New Standard With Their Debut Album

Read More: How King Crimson Set a New Standard With Their Debut Album | 

King Crimson‘s daring debut remains prog’s standard bearer, the best example of a then-emerging movement that sought to combine European musical concepts with rock ‘n’ roll.

In the Court of the Crimson King, released on Oct. 10, 1969, was also a template for how King Crimson would operate, as their lineup almost immediately flew apart. The core pair of Robert Fripp and Greg Lake was all that remained by the time King Crimson set about recording a follow up. By then, In the Court of the Crimson King had already soared to No. 5 on the British charts, the Top 30 in the U.S. and into lore as a pioneering achievement in rock.

“At that time, nearly all the British bands were using the blues or soul music – American music – as their influence,” Lake once told Gibson. “Since that well had been visited so many times, we decided we would try to use European music as our base influence, in order to be different. Robert and I – and [multi-instrumentalist] Ian McDonald, for that matter – had all been schooled in European music. We understood it. We played Django Reinhardt, and we did Paganini violin exercises and so forth. Even though I loved American music, and had played it throughout my youth, it was very easy for me to adapt to using European music as the basis for new creations.”

Underneath, as on songs like “I Talk to the Wind,” there remained a steady foundation of folk or rock. But King Crimson had added a conceptual expansiveness more associated with classical. “To me, progressive music, the reason that came about was introducing different influences into basic rock music – the rock format of guitar-bass-drums, bringing in different influences, which is what King Crimson was, really,” McDonald later told Big Bang. “That’s what’s underneath, incorporated into what’s basically a rock ‘n’ roll band.”

Robert Fripp says this unique mixture came to him in pieces – he’d worked at a hotel, for instance, where the sounds of a dance orchestra echoed through the halls – and then, almost all at once, when he by chance heard the colossal ending the Beatles‘ “A Day in the Life” on Radio Luxembourg. “It was terrifying; I had no idea what it was,” Fripp told Perfect Sound Forever. “Then it kept going. Then, there was this enormous whine note of strings. Then there was this a colossal piano chord. I discovered later that I’d come in half-way through Sgt. Pepper … My life was never the same again.” Fripp started making connections between things like Jimi Hendrix and Bartok string quartets. “My experience was of the same musicians speaking to me in different dialects – one musician speaking in different voices,” he added.

And with drummer Michael Giles, McDonald, lyricist Peter Sinfield and – in particular, it seemed – Greg Lake, Fripp had found a group of collaborators who were hearing it, too. The result, Fripp said, was simply magical. “As I heard it expressed later and even now, it was as if the music took over and took the musicians into its confidence,” Robert Fripp told Perfect Sound Forever. “That is by no means the last time I felt in that position somewhere between heaven and earth – but that was the first time.”

Greg Lake and Robert Fripp had grown up together, and had even gone to the same guitar teacher. They spoke a common musical language, even if they were speaking in a way that the wider world hadn’t yet come to understand. “By the time King Crimson was formed, we were like two peas in a pod – like mirrors,” Lake told Gibson. “He knew exactly what I knew, and I knew exactly what he knew. That was one very strange component of King Crimson. The other was that Ian McDonald had never been in a rock band before. He came from the military, from a military brass band. That was a bit peculiar. King Crimson was not an everyday sort of band.”

Some of what they created, like the crunchy, futuristic “21st Century Schizoid Man,” sounds eerily prescient – as relevant today as it was strange and wondrous back then. That song, in fact, has been one of the few constants for an ever-changing group. “‘Schizoid Man,’ for me, was intelligent heavy metal,” Fripp once told Reflex Magazine. “It was very very hard to play – in its time. Technical standards have come forward now, of course. It was so hard to play, and it was so terrifying.”
Listen to ‘The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles and Fripp’

Subscribe to Ultimate Classic Rock on 

The subsequent “Epitaph,” meanwhile, has a similarly dystopian theme, but with its sweeping use of Ian McDonald’s Mellotron, a completely different feel. That was, in fact, the hallmark of an album that worked with a endlessly fascinating musical palette – personified both in the otherworldly guitar of Robert Fripp (sometimes delicate, other times eruptive) and in McDonald’s dizzying arsenal of sounds. “I’m always biased towards the first album, I unashamedly have to say,” McDonald told the Artist Shop, “and I think the best song on that album is ‘Epitaph.’ It’s my favorite track and, to me, it’s Greg Lake’s best vocal anywhere.”

“Moonchild” shifted seamlessly from a bucolic tableau toward a striking moment of free-form improvisation – so free, in fact, that you can hear a reference to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” within Fripp’s guitar excursion. Perhaps best known of all was the title track, one of just two U.S. charting singles for King Crimson – and a triumph of episodic conception.

Taken of a piece, In the Court of the Crimson King couldn’t have been much different from the preceding Giles, Giles and Fripp, this quaint, often unfocused group that featured Fripp and Michael Giles, with McDonald as an occasional collaborator. Their lone release, 1968’s The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp, finds three of King Crimson’s future players unable to find a similar balance a heady blend of folk, classical, pop, psych-rock and comedy. “I think we were just coming out and being ourselves, instead of operating within boundaries that other people had created,” Giles told Aymeric Leroy. “We decided to do away with those boundaries.”

King Crimson stood just as separately from the surrounding scene, too. “We weren’t involved in the hippie movement, or the flower power, or drugs, or ‘Swinging London,’ Giles added. “We were somehow outside that, just concentrating on the music. Of course, we played, and we had access to all sorts of situations that ‘Swinging London’ was doing – but we didn’t come from this environment.”

In time, King Crimson’s outsider brand of rock, as thoughtful as it was unlike anything else at the time, began to grow in popularity. In the Court of the Crimson King remains the group’s best-selling U.S. album and second-highest charting U.K. release. “There was a sort of underground cult following, which came from nowhere and grew and grew,” Giles told Aymeric Leroy. “It was quite surprising to us all, because all of us had spent probably the previous five to 10 years without it. So, it was quite overwhelming – overwhelming and humbling.”

Both Giles and McDonald left soon after, later releasing a co-led self-titled 1971 recording. Giles also appeared as a guest performer on King Crimson’s 1970 follow-up album In the Wake of Poseidon, but by then Lake’s membership was ending, too.

“We were only together, the original King Crimson, for one album and one tour,” Lake told Rolling Stone. “The tour went around England and it also went to the United States. When we reached the end of the tour in the U.S.A., Mike Giles and Ian McDonald, they decided they didn’t much enjoy life on the road. I think they particularly didn’t like flying, and they just didn’t like travel and the whole hectic life on the road.”

Listen to King Crimson Perform ‘Epitaph’

Subscribe to Ultimate Classic Rock on 

Fame, it seemed, had come too fast – or, for Ian McDonald at least, too soon. “Crimson went from total obscurity, living off seed money from a relative to worldwide fame in six months time,” he told Perfect Sound Forever. “I was young then, and it was too much for me. If I took some time to think about it and gather my thoughts, I would have done things differently.”
The first of what would become a series of cataclysmic shifts for King Crimson was underway. McDonald would stop in to lend a hand on 1974’s Red, even as a subsequent lineup dissolved. His initial departure, however, had hit Greg Lake hard.
“I just didn’t feel good about it because Ian, particularly, wrote a lot of the material,” Lake told Rolling Stone. “Also, Mike was a great drummer. They were so fundamental in the makeup and the chemistry of the band. I just didn’t feel it was honest to get two new people in and pretend that nothing had happened. I said to Robert, ‘If you want to form a new band, I’m happy to do that. But I just don’t feel comfortable carrying on with the name King Crimson.’ He said, ‘Well, do you mind if I do that?’ I said, ‘No, not at all. If you want to do it, that’s fine.’ So, that’s what Robert did.”

Read More: How King Crimson Set a New Standard With Their Debut Album | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/king-crimson-crimson-king/?trackback=tsmclip


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 752 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.26 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.