Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Alice's Haiku (Parts I through IV)

I don't write poetry often. But tonight I had haiku and tea with some friends.

There were four of us. We sat on a porch and the others started writing silently. Let me tell you it was exciting. But I had nothing. I looked around and found inspiration looking right at me.

So I wrote a series of four haiku. My friends liked them, so here they are:

Part I
Alice is staring.
What the hell does she want?
The same things I want.

Part II
Alice, by the way,
Is a dog, I should have said
In the first poem.

Part III
That one small detail
Makes a difference, I think,
In how you take it.

Part IV
What I'm saying is:
Apes like us, and dogs like her...
I think you get it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A name for your pretzel?

I ordered a pretzel at a movie theater snack bar a couple of days ago. The snack bar guy was a tall, late-teens kid, with dark hair, and one growth spurt too big for the black vest of his uniform.

After I had paid him, he asked me a strange question.

Image: Wikipedia
"A name for your pretzel?"

"Excuse me?"

"Can I have a name for your pretzel?"

"I don't usually name things I'm about to eat. I get emotionally attached and can't bring myself to eat them."

It took him a second. To be honest, it took me a second too.

"I mean your name, so they can call you when your pretzel is ready."

The only witness was some other uniformed snack jockey, and he was grinning.

The movie I was about to see was Boyhood, which was good -- very good -- but I don't think it had any dialogue as good as that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hugh Masekela: "Strawberries" (Running Song)

Screen Shot from the video for "Strawberries" by Hugh Masekela

In 1998, through some twist of fate, I was given a free upgrade to first class on a flight from Washington DC to Cape Town. That's about a 23-hour flight; exactly the kind of flight where you want to be upgraded to first class.

I remember three things about that flight:
  1. All the complimentary Heineken I could drink.
  2. Sitting next to a white South African who told me I just had to go to a cricket match during my visit, and predicting that majority rule (i.e. the end of Apartheid) was a very bad thing for the country's prospects.
  3. Seeing this video of the song "Strawberries" by Hugh Masekela on the overhead TV in the plane's cabin -- and deciding that I wouldn't leave South Africa without this CD.

Normally I'm not much for a children's chorus in a song. It's a cheap gimmick. (Sorry Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, and everybody else on this list.) But the soloing on this song is sublime. In particular, the guitar solo by John Selolwane is a fantastic blend of jazz and mbaqanga that shouldn't exist.

It's not the most driving song for running, but as a musician, I don't necessarily need a driving backbeat pounding in my ears in order for me to feel the pulse of a song. Some people need that steady hammer in the head to feel the rhythm. Depending on how you're counting, this song is either 85 or 170 beats per minute. For my stride and cadence, that's a medium-speed song.

You can download an MP3 of this song here.