Thursday, November 16, 2006

Odds & Ends



This is just a collection of random notes; nothing earth-shattering.

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First, let me tell Stu that I haven’t made his Jambalaya recipe yet. I will, I will. I appreciate you going out of your way to send it to me, I’m pretty sure you know that. I just haven’t gotten around to it.

Likewise, Mom? I haven’t made the bread pudding, either. I will. When I do, I have no doubt that the top of my head will blow off from the tremendous overload of childhood memories flooding back.

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MY WIFE and I saw Boston the other night at the Doug Flutie retirement party. Also on stage, earlier in the evening, was The James Montgomery Blues Band. Surprisingly, Symphony Hall is not a great venue for some kinds of music. I’ve seen The Boston Pops many times over the years; The Boston Symphony as well. That sort of music is what the hall was built to showcase and it does so marvelously. However, the acoustics are not the best for amplified music.

The bass guitar for both bands was a muddy mess. I saw fingers flying all over the fretboard, but all I heard was a very loud low rumbling. Subtlety was completely lost on the leads, whether harmonica, saxophone or guitar. Sustained notes were strong, but speedy licks sounded slurred no matter how much virtuosity the player may have shown. Vocals highs were weakened. The only truly clear sound came from the drums and even there the kick was buried – snare, toms and cymbals rang out OK.

Despite the poor mix, both bands were obviously trying hard and you couldn’t help but admire some of the showmanship. James Montgomery was particularly lively. His band got a few good grooves going that he helped along with various gyrations and emphatic hand signals. He lavishly praised his band members, which is noble, but when he had a somewhat amazing 14-year-old female saxophone player on stage as a guest (Grace Kelly) it became somewhat unintentionally comical. He mentioned her name after every single solo she blew and sometimes even as she led into one.

Boston are amazingly professional. Brad Delp and Tom Scholz are the only original members remaining. Scholz is a truly fine guitar player and no slouch on keyboards, either. I could have gone for a slight bit more volume from him. His rhythm parts sounded strangled at times, and on occasion they should have been front and center in those arrangements. Delp hasn’t lost too much off of his game. He hit and held some wonderfully long highs, at least from what I could hear in that bad mix. The remaining newer members all did a good job, although the bass player (a lovely young woman with dynamite stage presence and good, strong backing vocals) was, as I’ve said, indistinct – through no fault of her own.

Highlight of the evening was when Doug Flutie took a seat at the drum kit for “Smokin’”, the last song of the night. He rocked hard, knew the arrangement and worked well within it, and looked as though he was doing something he’d wanted to do for years.

Fun evening overall and I’m very glad MY WIFE bought the tickets for us to attend.

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Now, I have a serious request to make.

There is a person I know, who shall remain nameless, who is having a trying time of it lately. His lifelong partner – their relationship goes back some 40+ years, I believe – was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I have great respect for both of these people. I come from a family that sometimes isn’t strong on the “until death do us part” thing. My parents were divorced. All of my aunts and uncles who were married ended up getting divorced at one time or another; some of them multiple times. In addition, I've known many friends who have had hideous relationships and a couple of MY WIFE's siblings haven't been too successful in this department. The relationship between these two men, however, is one of the strongest I know. I would put my own relationship with MY WIFE up there, too, of course, but they’ve got more than 25 years on us.

This sort of a lifelong bond should be trumpeted from the rooftops, but it probably never will be. That’s a shame. You’d be hard-pressed to find two more honest and decent individuals. The person I know the longer of the two can be gruff at times, but it’s something of a false front. Sure, he’ll tell you in no uncertain terms what he thinks about a situation or about other people, but when the chips are down he always comes through with a helping hand for those less fortunate. And he has been the savior of quite a few animals that nobody else wanted to love.

The fellow who has been diagnosed with the cancer is the same, but without as much gruffness - a genuine sweetheart of a man. He always keeps his sense of humor intact, even during rough times like this.

If I go on much longer, it will just be embarrassing to both of them, even with anonymity. Hell, it probably is already. So, here’s my request. Even though I don’t believe either of them puts much stock in such things, I’m going to ask you to include them in your prayers. They are in mine, nightly. Please ask for a successful surgery, a speedy and full recovery, and many more years for both of them.

Thank you.

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I found my Strunk & White the other day and have been enjoying re-reading it. The fact that I have one must be the cause of great laughter among some of you. I mean, just take a look at that last sentence. You should have seen how poorly I wrote before I read The Elements of Style.

If you don't have one, but you do any sort of writing, you should probably get one. You're bound to glean something useful from it. For instance, I never used to know the difference between infer and imply. Now I do. That I'm making self-conscious jokes about being a piss poor writer implies that I'm a piss poor writer. On the other hand, you would infer that from reading the jokes.

The fact that I'm endorsing "the little book" probably has both of the authors spinning in their graves. The fact that I have now three times started a sentence with "The fact that..." makes it a certainty.

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Well, there’s nowhere to go from a heartfelt appeal but downhill and that's where this went. I’ll be back tomorrow, but it will be the last time for a little while. I’ll be taking Thanksgiving week off from work and that means I’ll be off from here, too, as I don’t post from home. Rest assured that I will return, though, so don’t go giving your affections to someone else in the meantime. I am a jealous blog.

Tomorrow, with more better stuff.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jim

James Cooper said...

Best wishes to both men, for one to make it through and for the other to stay strong as his partner fights on. A strong, lasting relationship such as theirs is an unfortunately rare thing, but all the more valuable for its rarity.

Tim King said...

Sorry to hear about your friend, Jim. I'll remember him.

You can also read Strunk (1st ed) at Bartelby:

http://bartelby.com/141/

All writers should know this stuff inside and out, backwards and forward, and any other cliche you can think of.

-TimK