Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Saturn/Books/Mean Things/Rock And Roll

Today’s post isn’t late because I was out hunting monsters. Although that would have been cool. Today’s post is late because I couldn’t settle on one topic. I couldn’t think of a particular thing I wanted to say about one topic, so I’m going to prattle on a bit about four topics. (And I’m leaving off prattling on about the word “Yandere” but someday I will get back to it.)
  • Saturn’s New Ring

  • Klutz Books

  • Celebrity Feud Songs

  • Playing Guitar Finger Style Versus A Pick (And My Favorite Guitar Performance Of All Time)

Huge 'ghost' ring discovered around Saturn

I haven’t talked to any astronomers about this, but my understanding of Saturn’s ring system, including this distant, sparse ring is that the rings are made up of either material left over from the formation of Saturn itself or from debris caused by collisions between Saturn’s moons with each other and comets and asteroids drawn to Saturn by the planet’s intense gravity or some combination of primeval material and debris. Scientists should be able to learn more about ring formation as they determine exactly what the rings are made of.

It’s much more fun, however, to speculate that the rings around Saturn are either debris from “ignition events” or precursors to ignition events.

This idea is that Jupiter and Saturn are both made primarily of hydrogen and helium, the same elements which form stars. Jupiter and Saturn are much too small to generate nuclear fusion themselves at least as scientists currently understand fusion reactions and star formations.

But there are fringe believers who think there may be “modes” of fusion which scientists aren’t aware of yet or there may be other dynamics involved at the core of Jupiter and Saturn which would allow them to ignite and burn as actual stars.

In our galaxy roughly half of all stellar systems are multiple star systems of one kind or another. It would not be unusual for our Sun to have a companion or two.

If some fringe theory like this is true, then rings around Saturn could represent debris cast off from previous ignitions or the rings could be precursors, extra mass which falls into Saturn and tips some internal variable and allows fusion to happen and the “planet” to ignite.

That certainly would be interesting.

And it’s worth noting that if rings around Saturn are connected to ignition events then the distance between the regular rings and this new, sparse ring may contain some clue to the amount of time that goes by between ignition events. If the rings are cast off debris, how long would it have taken for the distant, sparse ring to get that far away? If the rings are precursors, how long will it take for the distant, sparse ring to fall into Saturn?

Klutz Books

I have mixed feelings about books.

I love books and wish more than anything I were a published writer.

But books seem to be old technology. In “Paris Hilton And The Butterflies From Atlantis” I wrote about how old, content-driven books are being replaced by pointless, gossip-driven and corporate-driven books.

And nobody reads books anymore. I mean in the sense of books being elements of pop culture, topics of conversation, shapers of thought. People read books, now, in the same way people weave baskets. Books are hobbies.

I strongly suspect the future of publishing will be some kind of good variant, some kind of reasonable implementation of the ridiculous and worthless Kindle thing. Apple, according to rumors, is working on such a device now. I suspect some combination of the iPhone and the up-coming Apple tablet will be the future of electronic publishing.

Which sucks because books are butterflies from Atlantis and have been for thousands of years.

But electronic publishing will be magic in its own way.

Yeah, right.

Anyway, although books are on the way out, there are still some very cool publishers putting out some very cool books and my favorite is Klutz Books.

It occurred to me recently that I’ve owned more books from Klutz than from any other specialty publisher. They are called “kids’ books” but they are well made and fun to read and, most cool, fun to work with and create from.

A few days ago I ordered a book from Klutz and now every time the UPS truck comes on my block I’m all excited wondering if he’s going to stop and deliver my book.

Yeah, I’m almost fifty years old but it’s fifty going on twelve.

Celebrity Feud Songs

Back in my post “Saying Mean Things” I talked about celebrity feud songs. I was reminded about celebrity feud songs this morning because, apparently, Frances Bean is using Twitter to say mean things about Ali Lohan.

There is an element of awful sadness here. That element I briefly touched on in “I’m Sorry The World Did This To You.” Many kids today never get the chance to be kids. Many kids today grow up to be “adults” who aren’t even human in the same sense the word has been used for thousands of years.

Kids and the “adults” they grow into are becoming as disposable as books.

The difference, of course, is that children and adults suffer, both those trying to live as almost-humans and, for the real humans, in empathy watching the pathetic difficulties and endless pain of the struggling, suffering children who never were children.

It’s awful but it’s the Disney world we live in and I don’t think anyone is going to change it so rather than just be sad about it I’m going to make a comment about the real silliness of it going on at the same time as the real tragedy of it.

At least when Taylor Swift and her Jonas brother flame said mean things about each other they made the effort to create songs. (Although I’ve never heard the songs.) Nowadays celebrity feuds like this Bean/Lohan thing are getting played out on Twitter and in blogs and they don’t generate any creativity at all.

Which reminded me of my all time favorite celebrity feud. I said in my previous post that Dylan’s “Idiot Wind” is my favorite mean song. But at about the same time Dylan was writing that the Beatles were breaking up and nothing in the history of pop culture has been quite as interesting as McCartney breaking up with Lennon.

McCartney and Lennon broke up and publically fought in gossip columns and in court rooms and in letter columns of magazines and, of course, in feud songs on albums.

I’ve already mentioned one of Paul’s feud songs, “Too Many People.” That song has meant a lot to me personally. (“Too many people preaching practices/Don’t let them tell you want you want to be/Too many people holding back this is/Crazy and baby it’s not like me.”)

But Lennon really wrote the best feud song from that breakup and it’s the meanest of the breakup.

In the early 70s, Paul released the album “Ram” which contained more than one feud song. And the album cover included a close-up picture of two insects, one beetle fucking another beetle. Ha, ha, ha. John Lennon the same year released the album “Imagine.” Now they’re both good albums but by and large John’s is much better rock and roll than Paul’s.

But at the time they were released many people were just laughing and gossiping about the feud songs.

Paul’s album “Ram” contained the song “Dear Boy” which John thought was patronizing and which John interpreted as Paul/Linda attacking John/Yoko:

I hope you never know, dear boy,
How much you missed.
And even when you fall in love, dear boy,
It won't be half as good as this.
I hope you never know how much you missed,
Dear boy, how much you missed

John’s album, “Imagine” contained the song, “How Do You Sleep:”

Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?
You live with straights who tell you you was king
Jump when your momma tell you anything
The only thing you done was “Yesterday”
And since you're gone you're just “Another Day”
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?

Everyone I know feels John got the upper hand there. “How Do You Sleep” was a cool rock song, and John didn’t just hint at his target, he named two of Paul’s songs.

John wins the Paul/John celebrity feud.

Playing Guitar Finger Style Versus A Pick (And My Favorite Guitar Performance Of All Time)

I like playing guitar finger style, but I can never quite stop thinking about picks.

The crux of the biscuit—Zappa—is that finger style guitar can sound cool, it can be jazz and it can be folk, but it is almost impossible for finger style guitar to sound like rock and roll. There’s something about the percussive nature of a pick striking strings that almost defines rock and roll sensibilities.

So although I’ve never uploaded a video of me playing with a pick—I played a melody with a pick in one video but that was just playing a melody not an arrangement—I haven’t given up yet on picks.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because over the last week or so I’ve seen two YouTube videos of very good finger style guitar players and although I admire their talent and I enjoy listening to them I don’t think what they do is or ever could be rock and roll.

I might be wrong about that. I’m still thinking about it.

But it seems to me that finger style guitar playing is at best a jazz sound. And, sadly, a great deal of finger style guitar playing can sound like an old woman playing a harp at a hotel restaurant. And that’s not a good thing at all.

Here are three videos I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The first two are finger style players. The third is a guy playing with a pick. The third, the guy with the pick, is my favorite guitar performance of all time.

Here is Emmett Chapman playing his custom guitar-like instrument, the Chapman stick. (Can’t embedd it.)

Here is Muriel Anderson (we first met her back in Tricky Times) playing the Beatles’ song “Daytripper:”

Here is my favorite guitar performance of all time, Pete Townshend playing “Pinball Wizard” solo on an acoustic guitar. To me this is pure rock and roll:

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