Uncle Warren’s Attic: Know by Jason Mraz

mraz know 1

Let’s drive out to the desert at midnight

To dance in the dust in our headlights

And score some good seats for the sunrise

Something must be said about the encouragers, the light bringers, the purveyors of love, for they are so few. When I was a young one, the Lovin’ Spoonful believed in the magic of a young girl’s heart, sang about laughing for hours under rain on the roof, and celebrated daydreaming on someone’s new-mowed lawn.

Paul McCartney was lambasted for writing silly love songs, even though they brought joy to the universe. The “true artist” is seen as dark and brooding and nihilistic, showing us the stark truth about our tawdry existence. Lift our spirits? Trivial stuff and nonsense.

I was dimly aware that Jason Mraz has been a popular singer, but I didn’t really grok until he was a guest mentor on American Idol a few weeks ago. I was so taken by his charming duet with Walker Burroughs, “Have It All,” that I tracked down Know, the album the song appears on – on vinyl, of course, as God intended music to be pressed. Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: Know by Jason Mraz”

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W.B.’s Book Report: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

carnegie

Almost 10 years ago now (!), I collected some of my blog posts and columns into a little book called Refuse to be Afraid, because (see Hobgoblin Watch) I was tired of the constant drumbeat of fear that politicians and marketers alike were using to stir up people’s natural uneasiness and uncertainty.

The book’s theme can be summarized in its title and subtitle: Refuse to be Afraid. Free Yourself. Dream. That is, work past the fear, free yourself of the worries that are holding you back, and live the live you dream.

Now I pick up a book that’s been out there since 1944, and I see that everything I wanted to say has already been said, and better. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”

Screenings: Avengers Endgame

avengers endgame crop

(Mild spoiler alert: If you still haven’t seen the film and don’t want to know a single thing about it, stop reading. I warned ya.)

After the climax of Avengers: Endgame, after the dramatic sacrifice that restored order to the universe and defeated the big bad guy Thanos, I exhaled.

It was a long, shuddering exhalation that shocked me out of myself, because it sounded like someone who was trying to keep from sobbing out loud. I was shocked because, much as I love to lose myself in a story, I very rarely get lost that deeply in the emotion of a story.

It was kind of embarassing! But it’s also a testimony to the power of the story, the performances, and the execution of the production. I not only suspended my disbelief, I became completely immersed in an impossible universe where people with impossible powers live and breathe and struggle and even, eventually, perish – so completely immersed that I was overcome with emotion. Continue reading “Screenings: Avengers Endgame”

Hobgoblin Watch: All of them imaginary

beware of hobgoblins

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. — H.L. Mencken

I’m going to begin with a broad statement that I believe to be true: The practical politician doesn’t really believe Russian agents and Donald Trump conspired to thwart the will of the American electorate; that evil people have amassed at the borders to steal our jobs, drain our social programs, and/or blow up our cities; or even that measles is a deadly threat to our children.

What they do believe, as Mencken observed a century ago, is that if you are sufficiently alarmed, you will pay no attention to the man behind the curtain who is working tirelessly to keep you in chains and grateful for “your freedom.”

I do believe there are two sides, but it’s not a case of left and right – not rich and poor – not men and women – not black and white – not straight and gay – none of those divisions the state uses to pit people against each other. No, the two sides are the state and the rest of us: the ruling class and the ruled. Continue reading “Hobgoblin Watch: All of them imaginary”

Uncle Warren’s Attic: No more days without music

LP collection

My somewhat substantial collection of LPs – long-playing (vinyl) records for you young’uns – spent much of the past eight years in boxes. Last fall I said to myself, “Self, this is ridiculous. I want to hear my music.”

I dug deep and bought an industrial-strength shelving unit, a state-of-the-art turntable, and a separate tone-arm shell, cartridge and stylus designed to play 78 rpm records. The records came out of the boxes, and I set up the turntable and an amplifier next to the computer desk where I spend most of my working hours.

With music thus restored to its rightful place in my life, I am a much happier soul. Continue reading “Uncle Warren’s Attic: No more days without music”

W.B.’s Book Report: The magic of Roger Mifflin

Dejah and Haunted Bookshop

I breezed through a novel called Kathleen by Christopher Morley earlier this week. I’d describe it as a screwball comedy, published in 1920, in which five college men conspire to meet the young lady who accidentally left a letter behind in a book store – a letter they’ve used as the basis for their writing club exercises.

She and her family are not quite what they imagined, but she is every bit as entrancing as they hoped.

It’s Morley’s third novel and the first not to feature Roger Mifflin, the evangelist for books who captured my imagination in The Haunted Bookshop and its precursor, Pernassus On Wheels. As such, it’s a bit of a letdown, because I dearly wish there were more than two Roger Mifflin adventures. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: The magic of Roger Mifflin”

Screenings: My 11 favorite comic book movies

avengers endgame

I’m writing these words holding two tickets to a screening of Marvel’s The Avengers: Endgame that is scheduled to begin five hours from now. I’m going to insert that film into this favorite-10 list in approximately the spot my first impression thinks it belongs. I think it probably deserves a full review, but I’m betting that I won’t have time to take it all in and write something coherent before my deadline.

(Please notice this is a list of “My favorite” and not “The best” comic book films. It’s entirely subjective based on how much darn fun I had in the theater.)

And without further ado (This next paragraph was written after the film): Continue reading “Screenings: My 11 favorite comic book movies”