Saturday, December 24, 2016

Scattered Scraps and Storylines Across a Range of Topics

As I was reviewing my blog analytics during the Tony Bennett 90th Birthday Bash, I was surprised at how many blog posts had been started but not taken anywhere. Here are a handful of beginnings and partially formed ideas that lay dormant after conception.

Contrarians
F. Scott Fitzgerald stated, "The cleverly expressed opposite of any generally accepted idea is worth a fortune to somebody." 30 years ago an article in Writer's Digest suggested that you can make money by paying attention to the current prevailing opinions and writing about it, taking the contrarian point of view. When I saw the Fitzgerald quote in a book about blogging, I wondered if this kind of thing would produce writing that is insincere and journalists who were only in it for the money.

Then again, if you are writing things that everyone is already saying, what new thing are you bringing to the story? Who will publish what you write they already have the same thing in the drawer?

Hammond's Folly
On March 19 I was intending to write a blog post about famous follies. That is, events that were considered boondoggles when they first happened, which later turned out astonishingly good. The reason for the March 19 date is that it was the anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan's first album by Columbia Records. Only 5,000 albums were sold, which is a long way from Platinum. Internally, the signing of Dylan was nicknamed "Hammond's Folly."

The blog post I envisioned would begin with other such events that were made fun of, chief of which is Seward's Folly, A.K.A. The Alaska Purchase in which the U.S. of A. acquired Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867. The purchase added 586,412 square miles of new territory to the United States. Critics called it "Seward's Folly."

What Is Useful and What Is Not?
The aim of this blog post was to take the concept of void and apply it to Sundays and vacations. Eastern mysticism talks about the usefulness of emptiness. Lao Tzu, I believe, uses a bowl to illustrate the concept. It is the empty space that makes the bowl useful. If it were solid, then it would have no value as a bowl.

From the Judeo-Christian perspective a similar concept is set forth in the notion of the Sabbath. Sometimes we think that by working seven days a week we can accomplish more, but the way we are wired (persons created in the image of God) it turn out that the "void day" is essential to our health and well-being.

Boomer, Do You Know Who You Are?
15 years ago I outlined a book concept called Boomer, Do You Know Who You Are? In theory I wanted to underscore five positive values that emerged during the Sixties that were abandoned by many in our generation as they matured. This project never got off the ground, but I've often thought about the ideals of that time. So it surprised me when I came across a forum in which Millennials were making some rather blistering remarks about how Baby Boomers screwed up the world. Here's an article from The Atlantic with a similar premise, this one being focused on the economic damage our generation has perpetrated.

American Pie Revisited: Now We Know What It's All About
I remember reading a lengthy article dissecting the mystical meanings behind the lyrics of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven. My impression is that the essay was a somewhat satirical example of our deep dive analysis of the Dylan's lyrics and Beatles' songs. And, of course, American Pie was another of these deliriously obscure but meaningful tales that just begged to be analyzed.

Last year, Don McLean's handwritten lyrics to American Pie fetched $1.2 million, so the song once again grabbed the spotlight. In this Washington Post article Don McLean reveals the meaning of the song.

As most people know, the "day the music died" was when Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens crashed into an Iowa cornfield during their 1959 Winter Dance Tour, which I have previously written about here. The impact was far more significant than many realize. This week I have been listening to an audio recording of The Letters of John Lennon. It is exceptionally insightful on so many levels. One of his letters is to Waylon Jennings, who should have been on that plane but lost his seat to Ritchie Valens in a coin toss. In this letter Lennon states how powerful Buddy Holly was as an innovator. When Buddy Holly and his Crickets came to England, no one had heard sounds like that. Ever. John tells Waylon that the name Beatles came from the Crickets. "We were insects."

Lennon also noted that Buddy Holly showed that it was O.K. to wear glasses. "Think about it. I was Buddy Holly."

A couple days before his death, Dylan had his encounter with this legendary performer here in the Duluth Armory, and felt a spark, seemed to make a connection that inspired him, ignited his passion to continue making music. Across the pond, John Lennon had also been inspired and transformed.

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Merry Christmas to all... and if you're planning to leave Santa with hot chocolate and cookies, you can follow his whereabouts on the NORAD Santa Tracker

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