April 20th, 2017

Beyanî baş !! (“Good Morning” to you all in Kurdish.)

I like radio shows. I think my appreciation of radio started when I was a teenager. AM radio was boss back in those ancient times and the Top Forty seemed to be limited about 8 2.5 minute songs that the DJs with their DJ voices would play between endless commercials for crap teenagers would buy. AM radio knew all of humanity were morons. Then we were saved by FM radio and PBS. FM was all jazz and cool music (even the long versions!) and the DJs were so low key sometimes you wondered if they were asleep. FM radio knew all humanity was cool. And you knew the FM DJs were smoking dope too! On Wednesday, evenings our local University of Miami PBS station, would play a radio serial show from the 1940s called, “The Shadow”. We would sit around my friend Dean’s garage drinking beer pilfered from his dad’s coolers and follow the trials and tribulations of Lamont Cranston. It was great! Flash forward about 163 years to present day, and I still love cool, if quirky radio. These days I listen to PBS, TED radio and Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keeler has left his legacy in good hands with Chris Thile (I swear the first time I heard his name, I thought Oh my friend Chris Feely got a new gig!) …Thile is a fairly gifted Mandolin Player and you know you can never have too many of them! Anyway, since 1974 PHC has been bring a variety of entertainment, sound effects and folksy humor to us and they still are a Sunday afternoon comfort.


This week I learned some stuff:

• I learned one of my bonsai trees has really interesting and impressive flowers. The wisteria has finished its fragrant blooming and the arbor is dense with bright beautiful foliage creating a green cave for my bonsai to live. I was started one morning this week when I went out to feed the koi in the pond and water the trees to find this rather large flower bud sticking out from my little tree. I am submitting a pic to my Bonsai Forum to find out what kind of tree I have here because I have never seen it bloom before.

Website Update
• Last week for the new Vocabulary Quiz
• This week I also added the lyrics for “Shadows ” by Ryan Adams (not Bryan) and “Family is Family” by Kacy Musgraves for your sing-a-long pleasure.

Writing and Painting Update:
• I have been painting a bunch this past week. I finished up 2 paintings that I started last week and started 2 more this week. Not sure if any are worth the time and effort but I am enjoying the ride.
• I took “The PHs, EEs and Their World” short story that I inflicted on most of you a couple of years ago to my Writers workshop and got it ripped to shreds, in a good way. They all pretty much loved the concept and story, just hated every other word written:) So I have a lot of good feedback to go through and work to do to make it the good story it wants to be.
• I sent out Grandpa Stories V2 to a couple of Beta Readers last week. These readers both suffered through the V1 edition so I hope they find this one mo’ betta! When I get their feedback, I will proceed with reformatting for ebook, and hardcopy and distribution.
• Though technically not writing or painting, my bonsai trees are an art form, I think. Anyway, I worked on them this week. I did some pruning and wiring. I am going to have repot and root prune some this fall – always a scary proposition! I have had a couple of these trees for over 15 years.

• This week I saw a very interesting documentary about Seeds. Most of the “first” world has gotten so far removed from the origins of the very food that keeps them alive that their kids ask them what kind of plant grows a poultry or a pork. I have always considered myself a plant guy and for a couple of years there in 1970s I was a disciple of the “One Acre and Security” mantra that Bradford Agier was promoting in his wonderful book of the same name. He had it all worked out how a family of four could survive on the food available from just one acre of reasonable dirt. That was a long time ago. When I watched this documentary, it all came back to me and I found it bothered me to learn that 93% of varieties of vegetables that were available in 1903 have disappeared from the earth because they weren’t profitable enough to continue as they were. The Irish Potato famine that inspired my ancestors to migrate to the US happened because all four varieties of potato grown in the auld sod were susceptible to the same potato blight. There were hundreds of other varieties that could have been planted and saved millions from starvation, if they had the seed. Today, the vast majority of seed are owned and are being manipulated genetically by one entity, Monsanto Corporation. This film introduces us to some other characters who are trying to hang on to more than just what Monsanto thinks is valuable. I was also struck several times by just how pretty seeds can be as well. In my opinion, this is much like the movie, “Bag It”. And by that I mean an important learning experience that we should proliferate with gusto and forethought. Watch “Seed: The Untold Story” (yeah, the title bugged me too…) and learn.
• Our dog Chewy is getting more and more eccentric as he ages. He has now begun to use gestures in his dealings with us mere mortals. Jessica reports that he will now raise his paw above his head and wave at her to come to him like some old Cuban sitting in the park hissing at the young girls going by (psssst – Señorita Ven Aca -pssst). I have also been treated to his new communications. In the morning when we get up, he will sit in the doorway of the bathroom watching me shave and brush my teeth with his legs crossed and a look that just screams, “Will you hurry UP!” 🙂

Music Update:
This week’s UJT Radio selections feature some new people for me that I wanted to share with you:
• Ryan Adams — Shadows — So how badly does one have to be promoted to have released over 15 albums and I never heard of him? I learned about Ryan Adams when he was on the Prairie Home Companion show from Pasadena this week. The Wikki read on this guy is interesting.  One of his albums is a track by track cover of Taylor Swift’s “1989” and its good:) There is just something about him that I connected with. I hope you like him too.
• Kacy Musgraves — Family is Family — This is a great song by an interesting lady. Kacy hails from Golden, Tx. She has two albums out, “Same Trailer, Different Park and “Pageant Material” plus a Christmas album. I included the lyrics on this one because .. you know .. Family is Family.
• The Beatles — Here Comes the Sun — I think the universe was quietly surprised when George Harrison’s song became on of the most popular cuts from Abbey Road. Always one of my favorites on a record packed with amazing music.
• Billy McLaughlin — The Pond — I am not sure how many of you will remember that when I first introduced Billy to the UJT radio audience, I mentioned he was just a kind of normal guitar guy who came down with a terrible disability (Focal Dystonia) that effected his hands. He got treatments but eventually accepted that his hands would never work like they did before. He then taught himself a new way to play guitar – tapping the notes on the fretboard instead of plucking or strumming the strings over the sound hole. Its a very interesting and soulful sound to me. I like to think he wrote this one for my little backyard pond and waterfall. I think my koi like it too.
• Dave Mason — We Just Disagree — From the Vinyl!!! One of my favorite songs from Dave’s Alone Together Album. Seems like such a reasonable request but it seems hard for some folks to just let stuff go. Its like they have to say that last thing to help you see that they must be right. Life seems too short to me.
• Derek and The Dominos — Little Wing — I love listening to Duane and Eric guitar dance on this one.
• Jude Cole — Stranger To Myself — Another great song from a guy you have never heard of… well I guess I can’t say that any more:)
• Van Morrison — Days Like This — In 1967 all the radio stations played, “Brown-Eyed Girl” from his first album so often that I came to dislike it. Then everybody and their brother covered it and the radio stations played their versions till I really hated it. But there has always been something about Van Morrison. In this song, he gives it away to everyone. And he is still singing! He released his last album, “Keep Me Singing” in 2016. Check it out:)

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come! 

As always, thank you for being my friend! 

Under the Jacaranda Tree URL: http://www.jfmccann.com