Monday, February 19, 2018

An interim post ....

Do you recognize anyone is this group? I only recognize one individually -- a guy named Robert Plant. Put together, this crew is a band called the Sensational Space Shifters, which will be in town Thursday evening .... and, I plan on attending the performance. By the way, I found this photograph drifting along lost and lonely on the internet and brought it home with me ....

Rock, folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass & hmmmm ….

Ever hear of a rock band called the Sensational Space Shifters?

Me, neither .... until I opened the Sunday edition of a Saint Paul newspaper.

Ever hear of Robert Plant? Ever hear of Led Zeppelin?

Me, too .... in fact, (once upon a time) I saw both perform on stage -- together, which makes sense because Plant was the front man for the band. That was more than a few years ago.

If I kept up with the "music scene" to the degree I once did, I probably would have been aware that Plant is on tour once again at age sixty-nine and has been for a few years with his own group, namely the Sensational Space Shifters. He and they (no doubt an ungrammatical way of putting it) will be in the Twin Cities Thursday evening. I just used the magic of the internet to purchase a ticket .... one ticket, mind you, since me, myself and I will be alone at the event.

The appearance reminded me of how much there is to do in the Twin Cities for someone with an unlimited supply of time and of money and of energy. This is not New York City or Los Angeles or even Chicago (thankfully), but it is an area where someone could theoretically do something different, go somewhere different every single day in a lifetime.

To clarify things a bit, when I refer to the "Twin Cities," I am writing about a seven-county metropolitan area which includes Minneapolis and Saint Paul and too many suburbs and adjoining communities to count. According to the most recent census figures, nearly four million people reside in this zone, making it the fourteenth largest in the United States.

The world-renowned Guthrie Theatre and the Walker Art Center are here, along with a couple of professional orchestras, a professional ballet company, a professional opera group and countless museums. Professional sports teams -- the Minnesota Vikings (football), the Minnesota Twins (baseball), the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Lynx (basketball), the Minnesota Wild (hockey) and the Minnesota United FC (soccer) all are here. The Super Bowl was played here earlier this month.

Many major concerts take place here .... there is an international airport and a few "smaller" ones here .... the University of Minnesota is here and so many private colleges that I am not sure anyone knows the exact number .... I could go on, but since my mind is beginning to boggle trying to think of everything there is to do here, I will stop now.

I might add that I do not like going places by myself, that I am a master at entertaining myself, that I am a self-described bookworm and that I hibernate during winter months as much as possible .... so, consequently, the "delicacies on the menu of activities" available in the Twin Cities largely are not tasted by me: I am very selective about the fun and games in which I participate.

Here are two renditions of the same song -- "What Is and What Should Never Be" -- one with Plant and Led Zeppelin from way back when and the other recorded in London with Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters last October. The song is one of my three or four Led Zeppelin favorites .... pick your preferred version of it ....

Incidentally .... according to legend and lore and "named sources," Plant wrote the piece in 1969 following an affair with his then-wife's younger sister .... hence, the title of the song .... one more time, hmmmm ....

Saturday, February 17, 2018

When winter was winter ....

This photograph was not taken in a snowbound Rocky Mountain pass or, for that matter, at any other mountain range. It was taken on the flatlands of Minnesota shortly after the Nineteenth Century turned into the Twentieth Century -- not long after the word "blizzard" had been adopted to describe the raging winter storms which brought death and destruction to plains states. The Minnesota winter, so far this year, has been colder than normal, but with less snowfall than usual. Gone, but not forgotten are the storms which left snow measured by feet rather than by inches, and when trains with rotary "snowblowers" were needed to clear the tracks. The date on the lower right is Feb. 04 -- I think -- but could be Feb. 09.

Music is a matter of both sound and sight

I sort of stumbled across "Munrow's Retros" a year or two or three ago when I was looking for a version of Procol Harum's absolute masterpiece, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," to incorporate with a post. I played it; I liked it; I used it.

Since then, occasionally I have returned to Munrow's Retros to see what else might be in his/its repertoire. My post today includes three of them. Some are more cleverly done than others, some are easier to understand than others, all are somewhere between interesting and fascinating. It is not unique to find elements which bring a smile and even a laugh. To really grasp them, it seems to help if the listener/viewer is more or less addicted to classic rock, to motion pictures -- mostly older ones -- and to literature, both in the form of prose and poetry.

The songs here are:

"The End," by The Doors.” For obvious reasons, I never heard/saw the group perform on stage, but I have been to Jim Morrison's grave in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and my youngest daughter once gave me a book of his poetry .... on which, incidentally, she later quizzed me.

"Little Wing," by Derek and The Dominos. Eric Clapton formed this group, for those unaware. The drummer, Jim Gordon, in a psychotic episode associated with undiagnosed schizophrenia murdered his mother in 1983. He still is being held in a facility in California.

"Classical Gas," by Mason Williams. It is a beautifully played guitar piece and, in a way, the visual content is a serious and sort of a sad, pictorial synopsis of 1968. Elements of it might bring a tear to your eye if you think about the ramifications of the sights in the photographs.

These are not necessarily my favorites from among Munrow's Retros, simply ones I enjoy .... and, I hope, a few of you will like them, too ....

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Once upon a time never comes again ....

Once upon a time, there was a little Dutch boy who plugged a leak in a dike with his finger. Such is the story of, "Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates," a novel by Mary Mapes Dodge published in 1865. The wood cut illustration is of Hans and his sister, Gretel. Although this tale does not begin with the words, once upon a time, it is a good paradigm of the genre of story the phrase usually has been identified with over the years.

Have you ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered when and where the phrase, "once upon a time," originated?

I like it and I use it occasionally, so I decided to do a bit off "internet research" to learn the history of those four words. This is what Wikipedia has to "say" about the matter:

"Once upon a time" is a stock phrase used to introduce a narrative of past events, typically in fairy tales and folk tales. It has been used in some form since at least 1380 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) in storytelling in the English language and has opened many oral narratives since 1600. These stories often then end with "and they all lived happily ever after", or, originally, "happily until their deaths".

The phrase is particularly common in fairy tales for younger children, where it is almost always the opening line of a tale. It was commonly used in the original translations of the stories of Charles Perrault as a translation for the French "il était une fois", of Hans Christian Andersen as a translation for the Danish "der var engang", (literally "there was once"), the Brothers Grimm as a translation for the German "es war einmal" (literally "it was once") and Joseph Jacobs in English translations and fairy tales.

The phrase is also frequently used in such oral stories as retellings of myths, fables, folklore and children's literature.

That explanation is pretty much all-inclusive, so it would seem senseless for me adding anything else to it ....

My first recollection of the phrase is in the form of my mother reading "fairy tales" to me as a small child. There were many among my favorites, including, "Rapunzel," which was among those collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812, and, "The Princess and the Pea," written by Hans Christian Anderson and published in 1835. I am no longer sure what appealed to me about Rapunzel in the tower and her long hair, but I sort of assume I identified with the princess and her physical sensitivity.

Stories such as these were how my mother taught me to read and, I assume, the same is true that many mothers taught their children how to read using fairy tales. Quickly becoming a bona fide bibliophile, I continued to read these stories as I moved along immersed in the "fairy tale stage" of life .... and beyond. I can remember at some point collecting all my books which contained these types of stories and deciding to read each of them one last time before I gave them up .... and, that is what I did .... sort of ....

As for the music

Final verse of the song
"Once Upon a Time"

Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours; how happy we were then
But, somehow, once upon a time never comes again

Not long ago, I ran across a song entitled, "Once Upon a Time." Charles Strouse composed the melody and Lee Adams wrote the lyrics for the song, which was among the numbers in a 1962 Broadway musical play, "All American." As for the song, it might not fall into the category of "classic rock," but, all the same, I love it and I decided to include it here.

 A week from today is Valentine's Day and since it is doubtful I will post again between now and then, I will dedicate this song to Saint Valentine .... and to Geoffrey Chaucer, who in his poem, "Parlement of Foules," was the first to associate the day with romantic love .... and to all the young ladies who gave me a Valentine's Day card way, way back in elementary school.
Having listened to more than a dozen singers give the song a try, I settled on Vic Damone's recording as my favorite of it. His voice seems to be made to sing this song .... I think ....

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ven two Minnesootins meet oop nort

There is an old joke that because of the vast differences in manners of speaking English from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other, an Englander has to learn a new language when he comes to the United States and an American has to learn a new language when he travels to the British Isles. Some might also say still another variation of the English language must be learned to understand spoken words and to be understood in Minnesota. Read on below to learn more .... and, by the way, if the print on the illustration is too small to be legible, click on it to enlarge it.

How to talk Minnesotan

In my never-ending quest to add confusion to the world, I want to say/write a few words about speaking Minnesotan.

The first time someone ever said anything to me about my accent, I was in training with the Marine Corps. My reply was, "What accent?"

The guy asking me was from New Orleans and had an accent that simply did not quit. Another fellow from New Orleans, conversely, had absolutely no discernible trace of any accent -- at least none that I could hear. It was then when I first began to realize I must sound as strange to someone from Texas or Alabama as they sound to me .... remember, at the time I was only a few months out of high school, still a teenager, hardly a man experienced in "the ways of the world."

A book by Howard Mohr published in 1987 and currently experiencing a resurgence is entitled, "How to Talk Minnesotan." The book was largely based on idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms of the region. For instance, with a most residents having Scandinavian ancestry he noted that locals consume a considerable amount of lutefisk, but do so more out of a sense of duty than with relish. (Personally, I never have tasted it .... I cannot stand the smell of it.)

A film entitled, "Fargo," was released in 1996.Fargo is a city in North Dakota and the action in the motion picture takes place between there and the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area. While the action includes a kidnapping and a few murders, the centerpiece of the movie is the way Minnesotans sound when they talk. Here are a couple of examples: 

Minnesotans often string words together: "Have to" often is "hafta" and "I'm going to" often is "eye-mina" and "what are you" often is "wha-cha" and "up north on the lake fishing" often is "oop-nort onda-lake fichen."

Thanks to the Scandinavian background, the Minnesota accent has a sing-song quality and the word "yah" frequently replaces "yes." Here is a common sentence: "Ya, shure, you betcha."

You get my drift ????  Rather than trying to describe it further, I have included a pair of video clips from the film to provide a taste of talking Minnesotan. While the conversations in the clips are a bit exaggerated, they sounded pretty normal to me .... welcome to Minness-ooohhh-ta. The film was made in Minnesota and is "drop-dead funny" and is a classic .... if you never have seen it, it is well worth your time.

Whatever .... this being the final day of January 2018 and to note that only two months of FramWinter now remain, this piece seemed like one more fine way of disrupting sense and sensibility and playing havoc with the good order of the universe.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Once upon a time

Say a prayer for .... presumably, behind this group of huddled Marines, a Navy corpsman is working on the wounded Marine mostly hidden by his huddled buddies. No doubt, each Marine in the group is saying a prayer for his comrade in arms. The photograph came from the Second Battle of Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury in Iraq. The United States military called it the heaviest urban combat for the Marine Corps since the Battle of Hue City in Vietnam in 1968. Both battles now are part of Marine Corps legend and lore ....

Just another anniversary for me

Today -- January 24 -- is my Marine Corps anniversary. It is the day I signed on the dotted line with the Corps.
The enlistment ceremony took place in the room of a hotel which no longer exists. A captain swore me in while a gunnery sergeant witnessed. Also present was a high school buddy who had unexpectedly shown up on his way to Navy boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. I recall that day every time it rolls by on the calendar and, periodically, I make note of it in a post. Today is one of those times.

There was nothing remarkable about my days in the Corps. Memories of it always fill me with pride and sometimes make me shudder. As I occasionally say, there were good times and there were bad times, but, all-in-all, it was a beneficial experience and I am glad I did it.

There have been some Marines whose exploits bring shame and dishonor to the Corps and to themselves. Lee Harvey Oswald was one. There have been some Marines whose exploits bring both glory and honor to the Corps and to themselves as individuals. William Kyle Carpenter is among them. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a grenade in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, to save the life of another trooper in 2010.

Carpenter survived, but his recovery took a few years and countless operations and resolve/courage which seem to have reached super-human proportions. He was medically retired from the Marine Corps because of the severity of his wounds. He returned to his home in Flowood, South Carolina, and has since received a degree in international studies from the University of South Carolina. Rather than try to tell Carpenter's story, there are two videos here to accomplish that task.

I had the privilege of meeting one Medal of Honor recipient: Richard Keith Sorenson was born in Anoka, Minnesota, in 1924. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and was one of twenty-seven Marines who threw themselves on grenades during World War II. Only Sorenson and three others survived the experience. His act took place during the Battle of Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, in 1944.

Unlike Carpenter, Sorenson was able to remain in the Corps, spent a couple years as a civilian after the war, then rejoined and eventually became an officer. He died at age eighty in 2004.

Well, enough of that. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch the videos about Kyle Carpenter. He truly is a remarkable young man and a hell of a Marine.

Semper Fi, baby ....

Something special ....