Monday, February 19, 2018

THE PENCIL NEVER LIES: THIS CREED IS MY COVER LINE



EDGAR
To begin I'll explain my (snappy) title:  My pencil always draws the truth, and my pencil never lies (personification) is my cover line.  I draw covers of a person’s actual visage (similar in sense to a cover band covering the original artist’s song) and all drawings are a collection of lines, including my pun of the one-liner creed.

My friend, Jack, who is also a portrait artist, offered me this gem:  People don’t know what they look like.  It’s true.  People don’t know what they look like.  For people with triple chins I tighten their jaw lines.  For people with hair that is thin I add volume.  For fat cheeks I change chubby to middling.  For frowns I draw grins.

ASHLYN
EMILY
The pencil never lies because I tend to draw what I think my models want to see; but enough of me and my pencil portraits!

In shaggy-dog story fashion I am switching themes according to three lines of late that have stopped me to reflect upon life and especially, my life.

  • Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

  • Your left hand is what you know; your right hand is who you are. 

  • There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.

  • Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth (Mike Tyson). This is a literal line for Mike but a metaphor for the rest of us (who are not boxers).

Always and whenever someone does get punched in the mouth it is an issue of relationships.  Relationships shape our lives, to the point of interpersonal relationships are what really control corporate America, financial and political affiliations relying upon human relationships.

Connecting to fellow humans is the foundation to a fulfilling life.  We, being gregarious beings, need to always seek and find our tribe both at work and at play.  Coffee times and lunch times, we tend to gather with our comfort folk, sit in the same seats and discuss the same ol’ tried-and-true themes.   

Recreation time we congregate with the same playmates, be they band mates on the stage or team mates on the ice, they, too, are those who have credibility in our comfort zones, the ones with whom we’ve rehearsed these same scenarios time after time.

In my line of work I only see people who believe they have personal problems.  As a hypnotherapist my bread-and-butter clients are mostly those wanting to lose weight and those wanting to quit smoking.  (Of course I’ve other clients with sleep and sexual issues and such, but I’ll focus just on the two to make my point.)  

These, not-so-strangely, maladies can be directly related to interpersonal relationships.  Of course, they always are presented as being physical health issues, but being obese and having a chronic cough are certainly health issues but have cause enough to also have impacted their social lives.  I believe that any new clients that I meet are so desperate that the idea of seeking a hypnotherapist is typical a strategy of last resort.

Nobody likes being physically fat; nobody likes being a smoker.

I do not have to get into the media admiration for the svelte and the fit; I do not have to get into being the outcast or pariah for the non-participants of the purportedly positive media trends.

From my professional point of view, food and nicotine addicts mainly want to change because they want to fit in (pun intended) socially.  Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.  For these clients, they are just sick of being punched in the mouth.  Their health issues are secondary.  I believe that if people were really thinking their health issues would kill them, they would change (everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth); whereas social issues, everyone knows, offer lots of ground-hog days, always lots of opportunity for redemption.

In shaggy-dog fashion I’ll switch themes again.


  • Your left hand is what you know; your right hand is who you are. 

All guitar-slingers know this.  Lately I’ve been practicing percussion techniques on my twelve-string.  My guitar thrumming is limited when I compare my skills to those of my guitar buddies with whom I frequently share the stage.  I only thrum chords.  I only play chords, but I do have a frail technique that is akin and yet opposite to that of banjo players.  When banjo players frail they strum down the strings, when I frail I strum up the strings.  People in the know (fellow guitar slingers and guitar instructors) have stated that my strumming style is like a frail.  All state that my style is unique; no one else in my orbit has a strum technique even similar to mine.

(Now if I could simply add some credible percussion whilst I strum, I’d be set for the immediate time being.)

But one talent that I have that has most certainly enhanced my busking is the ability to blow my harp while I thrum my guitar.  (This skill will suffice to compensate my lack of right-hand percussion skills on the guitar.)  

Whenever I busk on the street or gig on a stage, I always have both guitar and harmonica.  I should say, I have my guitar and my three harmonicas (a C, a G, and an Am).  And how do I know which harmonica to play with what song?  It is so simple for me but is seems complicated for the masses.  Just the other day a customer at my favorite guitar shop was inquiring what harp to buy for her guitar playing adult son.  They really didn’t have an authoritative answer and so referred her to me.  I was flattered but it did confirm that even guitar sales people don’t really know. 

Factoid:  Few people who play guitar also play harmonica, never mind at the same time. 

Factoid:  Few people who play guitar can actually, too, play harmonica, and so it is little wonder few people know the nuances and subtleties of matching the guitar songs to the key of the harmonica. 

Factoid: Of course my argument is based upon most guitar and harmonica players are neither trained nor interested in music theory.  Any music conservatory student would know the chord and key relationships, but those strumming folk are few and far between in my busking and bar stage circle.) 

And here it is, my very own limpid guitar-and-harp chart complete with two mnemonic guidelines to show all you really need to know about matching a harp to a guitar, hopefully being the quintessential bailiwick for all of you Bobby Dylan wannabees:  


GUITAR TO HARP AND HARP TO GUITAR:  A MNEMONIC TONIC
IN ABECEDARIAN FASHION, HERE IS THE MNEMONIC TONIC FOR PLAYING THE RIGHT HARP FOR YOUR GUITAR SONGS:

KEY TO GUITAR SONG ... THEN THE MATCHING KEY FOR THE HARP
(MNEMONIC … GUITAR PLUS 4 … AND THERE ARE 4 LETTERS IN THE WORD HARP)

KEY TO THE HARP … THEN KEY TO MATCH THE GUITAR SONG
(MNEMONIC … HARP PLUS 5 … AND THERE ARE 5 LETTERS IN THE WORD, GUIT-R)

GUITAR KEY to HARP KEY (+4 letters)     HARP KEY to GUIT-R (+5 letters)
1           2          3           4                                 1           2          3           4          5
E          F          G          A                                A          B          C          D        E         
A          B          C          D                                D          E          F          G         A
G          A          B          C                                C          D          E          F         G
C          D          E          F                                 F          G          A          B         C
F          G          A          B                                 B          C          D          E         F

In summary … if you’re playing guitar in the key of G and want the harp to match, remember that the word, HARP, has four letters and therefore add four letters in abecedarian fashion (up four letters in the alphabet … G A B C) to determine that the C harp is the one to match.
Also in summary, if you’re playing a C harp and want to know the guitar key which will fit, remember that the made-up word, guit-r, has five letters and therefore go up five letters (C D E F G) in the alphabet to determine G as the key to match. 
*[And so ... up four letters from guitar to HARP ... and up five letters from harp to GUIT-R.]                                                                                                    

  • There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in (Kate Levinson Ph.D). 

At my age, as I reflect upon my life to date, I’ve decided that probably all of us need daily doses of wonder to discontinue our pedestrian fashions of being gerbils on wheels or rats in cages. (Rodent metaphors, disgusting as they are, best make my point.)  None of us will ever travel our unique and rather adventurous path unless we grope to find some cracks of light in our semi-darkened, starless and quaggy lifestyle.  

There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in … 
is my new favorite existential expression!

Moving on from existentialism to those marching and skating in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:
 
L-R: SELF, BRAD HORNUNG, DOUG SAUTER
This picture was taken by KEVIN GALLANT, former radio voice of the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL).  During the WHL game yesterday, Regina Pats vs. Moose Jaw Warriors, I was in the company of National Hockey League scout, BRAD HORNUNG, and former maverick professional hockey coach, DOUG SAUTER.
 
BACKYARD HOCKEY RINK
Former Western Hockey League player, RANDY DUROVICK, who still has the hockey in his heart, constructed this rink for his grandchildren in their family backyard.




Sunday, January 28, 2018

A SHAGGY-DOG BLOG: AN OVATION BEING MY PUNCH-LINE



MY PUNCH-LINE

First, my snappy title is in reference to a shaggy-dog conversation being a long-winded oneversation of unrelated and irrelevant anecdotes, terminated by a pointless punch-line.  I’m thinking this expression originates from The Shaggy Dog, a 50’s Hollywood flick of monochrome interest and import.  My pointless punch-line for my shaggy-dog essay is a picture of my latest dream-about purchase, an Ovation double-neck acoustic guitar, $2000.00 and change.

A shaggy-dog blog entry gives me an opportunity to write in addlepated fashion about anything I want, any ideas that gruntle me in these morning moments.  (In my woolgathering ways I’ve always a plethora of thoughts to express into space and make available to my readers.)

This morning I’m writing about my play, my work, my private practice, my rituals, and my yearnings.
  

  • Play

Every year I contract four gigs at the BUSHWAKKER BREWPUB, one gig for each season.  For these gigs I solicit a few singer-songwriters to join me on stage to strum and sing original folk songs. 

These gigs bring out my delusional self.  I am 66 years of age.  My guitar-slinger stage mates performing at these gigs (Regan, Tommy, Devon, Jay, Mark, John, Brandon, Dustin, Katie, and Trent) are in their late 20’s or early 30’s.  Only Darren, I think, is in his 40’s.  At least one time each season, summer and spring and autumn and winter, I gather with my guitar-slinger mates and imbibe craft beers and collectively share in cheery fashion our latest original songs.      

JAY GREENMAN (DRUMS) AND SELF AT BUSHWAKKERS LAST WEDNESDAY

  • Work

Since September 2017, two social workers, a corrections officer, and myself, are on an eight-agency shared services contract to work with the highest level risk (level five) young offenders that are currently in custody or just recently released to the community with a series of conditions.  Our mandate is to prepare them for registration into a regular high school.  This preparation is measured in terms of behavior and academic placement.

I was the perfect choice for such a venture.  For seven years I was assigned to an open-custody young offender facility, to design and deliver an academic program for young offenders.  Factoid:  I wrote my Master’s thesis in Educational Psychology on this very topic (ONE HUNDRED DAYS AT THE HOUSE OF CONCORD:  An Ethnographic Study of Young Offenders in an Exercise Programme, 1994).
  

  • Private Practice

HYPNOTHERAPY is still my therapy of choice.  I would like to have more clients; a half dozen per week would suffice.  I SUCK at marketing.


  • Rituals
POSTED AT AN OUTDOOR RINK IN AMSTERDAM


(I just had to post this picture!)

These past few winters I have come to love outdoor hockey -- I refer to this as pond hockey.  I have played hockey most my life, from six to sixty-six years of age.  Though I’ve shot the puck in minus 30 degree weather, this winter I’ve decided that minus 20 degrees is my cut-off.  I’ll not lace up the skates when the temperature drops below this.

MY TEA OF CHOICE IN AMSTERDAM
Every day in Canada I drink a medium steeped tea, with two creams and one honey from TIM HORTON'S.  Holland has no such franchise.


  • Yearnings
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

This is my latest project.  Onstage at my next BUSHWAKKERS gig at, my plan to play my guitar while droning my didge.  With practice, practice, practice I will get there.

Another of my yearnings is to own an Ovation double-neck acoustic guitar (pictured atop this blog entry).  And then I’d have an instrument stack of a couple of didgeridoos, a Seagull twelve-string, and a Gold Tone Cripple Creek six-string banjo.  Having that Ovation my life would be complete.   

(Ovation is my punchline for this blog entry; any lines following will be anticlimactic.)

Of course my long term dream to be a planetary busker is ever-present on my mind.  My sketching and thrumming and droning skills are authoritative to busk anywhere, honed enough to provide me Annie Oakley tickets to wherever I am daring to travel.

These busking skills are cause enough for my humble-bragging --
I truly deserve an OVATION!

Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week is my close friend, Jack, a former colleague and current artist.  Jack specializes in charcoal portraits and acrylic landscapes.

JACK CLAIMS THAT I DREW HIM TOO FAT -- I TOLD HIM THE PENCIL NEVER LIES

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

IN THE LAND OF THE GIANTS JUST FOLLOW THE TRAM: A PHOTO MEMENTO



DOCTOR TRAVERS BARCLAY CHILD
I went to Amsterdam not on buskation, but on kindred adhesion.  My youngest son, Trav, was defending his doctoral thesis on political economy (specifically the war in Iraq and Afghanistan) at the University of Amsterdam.  The panel “opponents” (we would refer to these scholars as “external examiners” in North America) were flown in from The Hague, University of Palestine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and from the University of Oxford.  I must confess I was immersed and impressed by their academic grandiloquence the entire defence.

Dressed in the finest tux and footwear from a local Dutch haberdasher, student Trav was anointed, Doctor Travers Barclay Child.

This blog title:  In the Land of Giants because the tallest men on the planet are Dutch (and the women of Holland are tall, too); Just Follow the Tram was a line of advise from our hotel clerk, the secret to finding places and not getting lost in Amsterdam; and Photo Memento is today's blog format.

No matter where you go, there you are (Rolf Potts).  Well here we were (Carol and I) back in Amsterdam, joining Trav and his Turkish girlfriend, Sila.  (Sila has been in my blogs before, especially when we are mountain hiking, the last time being in SKETCHES OF MARRAKECH, April 2017, hiking the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.)

ALWAYS, except for this one trip, whenever traveling abroad, we hike and I make time to busk.  This trip, however, was different.  We stayed in a hotel in downtown Amsterdam, had coffee and a waffle every morning at the bakery next door, took the Tram several times by day, and dined at night on ethnic cuisines.  I did not thrum.  I did not draw.  We stayed put in Amsterdam the whole time.

And so now with a chuckle I’m thinking of what Underground Garage radio host (Sirius radio) stated about going outside of any city.
I prefer garbage cans and gun shots.  Nature connotes eight-legged creatures and serial killers.  Nature, being a slaughterhouse, is Exhibit A for Existentialism.”  

Of course I’m not in agreement with his preference for city over nature; but I do certainly agree on Nature being Exhibit A for Existentialism.  (Exhibits B and C could certainly be human beings in their natural competitive habitats, war being just one example.) 


THE VIEW FROM OUR HOTEL ROOM WINDOW
A DR. T-SHIRT GIFT FOR DR. TRAVERS CHILD
THE VIEW FROM THE ROOF-TOP PARTY (THE DAM SQUARE IS UP AND TO THE LEFT)
VIETNAMESE CUISINE INCLUDING A QUAIL EGG
BICYCLES EVERYWHERE
TYPICAL AMSTERDAM LEGO DESIGN
NOT MOROCCAN TEA BUT CLOSE

A SPANISH EVENING

MY FAVORITE SPORT EVEN IN AMSTERDAM
TURKISH DELIGHT

THE COLDEST DAY IN AMSTERDAM WOULD BE THE WARMEST WINTER DAY IN REGINA

Pictured here is Sila, Travers, and Carol.  This picture depicts a typical winter day in Amsterdam.

Where you are is where it’s at.  We stayed in Amsterdam because that was where it (what we’d come to see) was at.  We saw our son's academic defence of his doctoral thesis and ... we made a point of ethnic dining every evening. 

Those marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:
JORDAN, A PRACTICUM SOCIAL WORKER COLLEAGUE
 
SID, ANOTHER COLLEAGUE AND FORMER UNIVERSITY STUDENT OF MINE