September 7th, 2017

“Manuia le taeao” lf you were visiting American Samoa this morning, you might here this as your morning greeting.

Happy National Beer Lovers Day!!!

We simmered through our Labor Day Holiday with a brief bit of showers to add muggy to our heat wave this week. Trust me! I know we have nothing to complain about compared to the weather that others are enduring. America’s tragedies seem to take all of the air out of the awareness room but in addition to what happened in Texas and Louisiana last week, 16 million children have been affected by flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh according to UNICEF. Over 1,200 people have died in those floods. It never makes sense to think about whose hurt is worse but all these simultaneous weather events create their own crisis of focus and resource constraints. If Texas and Louisiana were not flooded, Americans would be more generous and focused on finding ways to help the people of SE Asia. With all of this happening at once… I would venture to say most Americans are not even aware of the other national disasters that are happening in the world this week. Did you know that there is a forest fire the size of Connecticut burning in over 27 western states right now??

This week I learned some stuff:
• Last Sunday, Walter Becker, the co-founder of Steely Dan passed away at the age of 67. Walter was a musician’s musician, I think. His partnership with Donald Fagen and on his own, gave us some the tightest, most impressive music of our generation. He will be sorely missed as a contributor and inspiration. RIP Walter! Thank you for all the great music.
• Yemen is from my perspective an unheralded tragedy. Yemen is the victimized country where a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is being fought by in large child soldiers imported from Chad, Malaysia, Uganda and so forth. These “terrorist” solders are victims themselves; taken from their homes at 9 or 10, taught to fire an AK-47, ordered to commit murders and other unspeakable acts before they can even read or write. They do as ordered or are killed by those that command them. Yet, I cannot remember the last time the war in Yemen was mentioned in a news program but I did hear about Ivanka’s shoes!!
• I got past my initial stuck spot in my CSS/HTML class, worked through 4 more lessons before I got stuck again.. and so it goes.
• I am really enjoying re-reading Mr. Topper again!! This delightful book by Thorne Smith still makes me smile, perhaps even more so that it did in the 1960s and 70s when I first read it. The dated nature of his descriptions of Topper’s adventures with the two young ghosts that are haunting him makes it even more fun and interesting.

Website Update:
• I made a couple of cool (I think they are cool anyway) changes to the UJT site. I added a link to help out the critters in Houston in addition to helping the humans. I also added a New Stuff menu to highlight new content added to the site. This New Stuff Menu is located at the bottom of every page. I added some images to the Things to See page and cleaned up the page in general.
• Second week for the New Vocabulary Quiz – Woohoo!!!
• This week I also added the lyrics for “Shiver Me Timbers ” from Tom Waits for your sing-a-long pleasure. Enjoy!

Writing and Painting Update:
• The Swindle Painting for my biggest little sister is framed and shipped. I also finished another Swindle Painting. Again, for the last time, Please — If I promised you a painting for helping out with the MS 50 Mile Walk years ago and didn’t deliver a painting as promised, please let me know the subject and 3 colors and I will get it done.
• Emboldened by what is assuredly a moment of extreme generosity by this month’s SDWS art show juror, I am embarking on 2 large format (1/2 sheets) paintings. One is from a beautiful image I took in my back yard and the other is going to be a sort of surrealistic arrangement of chess pieces on a board.
• I wrote most of another chapter for Artifacts this week. We also worked up a storyboard or map of the main pieces and flow of the story. I think it might become a story I would love to read if we aren’t very careful! 🙂

• I am not sure its the same for everyone. I can be totally transported to another place by the music that I hear. Hearing. That doesn’t really cover it for me. I mean, yes, I hear the sounds of Peter Frampton’s “Lines On My Face(Live)” but I feel it with much more than my ears. I feel his excellent mastery of the beautiful gold flame 1955 Les Paul Gibson guitar. There can be tears in my eyes and/or a smile on my face as he plays the sweet soaring rifts to the rafters of my soul. I get all filled up with being alive in that moment with him and the band no matter how many years it has been since I first had that moment. Its not spiritual because its too physical but its not just physical. The words and poetry grab my brain and heart carry me up and up to a place where nothing but joy lives even if the song is sad. Although my head is engaged, its not just intellectual for me either. I hope everyone has something like this with some part of the world they live in. There are only a billion or so songs that make me feel this good and I haven’t heard them all yet. Sometimes when I open up my iTunes Library, I feel like McScrooge in those old Donald Duck cartoons where he is this vast vault of gold coins and he just swims and plays in them. I feel so blessed .. I hope you do too.
• I know its weird but Labor Day for me is like how others must feel on their birthdays or New Years day. I take stock in what I am working for and what I want from my life. I must say that I feel pretty good for a guy who never really expected to live much past 25 or so. I have traveled almost the entire world. I have amazing people who love me and I am not aware of anyone hating me. Maybe I don’t matter enough for all that but I feel like I do. I feel like I have done a lot more good than harm. I have made almost every mistake I had a chance to but I have been lucky enough to be able to fix or get forgiven for them, and have learned along the way. I still am learning. Thank goodness, I am learning new things every day. Labor Day feels a little like lifting a sextant on a starry night. Finding out where I am but now that I am old, I try not to do it too often. How is that for strange?

Music Update:
Click here for week’s UJT Radio program:
• Steely Dan – Bad Sneakers — This one comes from their “Katy Lied” album released in 1975. This is one of my all time favorite SD tunes. Thanks again for all the magic, Walter.
• James Taylor — Oh What a Beautiful Morning — James covering the Rogers and Hammerstein standard – Oh my… just a pretty song sung about as pretty as it can be done, I think. This one comes from James’ 2009 release, “Other Covers”
• John Mayer — I’m On Fire — Another cover for you. John covers Bruce Springsteen’s classic from his Born in the USA album. This one comes from John’s Battle Studies and is a classic all on its own.
• Barcelona — Please Don’t Go — This comes from their, “Absolute” album released in 2009. I just discovered these folks but its a deep infatuation… deep! See if you can’t fall at least into lust with these folks too …I LOVE finding new music! You will be hearing more from these folks on UJT Radio.
• Matt Kearny — Closer to Love — My daughter, Jess turned me on to Matt Kearny back in 2006. I remember walking fast along the beach at Crown Point every day after work or on the weekends, sweating the pounds off listening to his unique mix of sweet song with rap intervals. Well, I gained all that weight back but Matt is still writing great songs and singing them well. Give the boy a listen .. you will not be wasting your time.
• Tom Waits – Shiver Me Timbers — Tom sings to the sailors and pirates in all of us. Tom is an acquired taste but tasty he is. If you don’t like Tom’s music you probably need more wine or Scotch or something..
• The Youngbloods — Get Together — What about the folk at Walmart these days!!! They are hitting out of the park. First, they do that amazing anti-hate add with all different kinds of people carrying their chairs to a big ass dinner in the country to this Youngblood song. Then they raise over $25 million matching dollars for the folks hit by Hurricane Harvey. By the way, this is a great song that I got off their, “Best of The YoungBloods” album from 1970.
• It’s A Beautiful Day — White Bird — This one has been featured before on UJT Radio but not for awhile. After hearing “Get Together” by The YoungBloods, I was feeling nostalgic a bit. I hope you enjoy this aged blast from their debut self titled album from 1969. This is a song written by the band when they were trapped by a cheap-ass manager in an attic subsisting on a paltry food allowance for an entire cold Seattle winter. They were birds trapped in an attic. The violin player created the name David LaFlame to protect his classical musician profession from the damage if the symphony found out he played rock music as well. His real name was David Posie and he was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1989 at 40 years of age.

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!

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