Sunday, April 29, 2007

Where The Hell's The Continuity?

So, reading thru the recently tres spotty blog, I know that all Inquiring Minds would Want To Know that:

I got my 1961 Gibson Les Paul Jr (Ur-SG) back from RS GuitarWorks about a month ago. They did an amazing job for $200. You cannot tell there was ever any problem with the head. There is some black on the back of the head/neck junction, very professionally blended, that didn't used to be there. But, RS got the guitar through Blackrider Guitars, my local guitar shop, who told them (incorrectly) to minimize cost. I think that the Blackrider guys told them that because we had a Pricing Contention incident. They had been charged with getting my ~50 year-old Multikord 6-string ghetto pedal steel back into working condition, which primarily involved replacing a dead pickup. They had quoted me what I thought was a Fixed Price. But they put in a normal guitar pickup, whose screws did not line up with the pedal steel strings, because the neck is wider, leaving me with a somewhat dead high E string (the ghetto pedal steel I tune to an open E chord). So after replacing the normal guitar pickup with a bar pickup, which greatly helped the "somethat dead high E string" problem, I refused to pay The Amount Invoiced, based on the fact that I thought I had been given a Fixed Price Quotation for a solution.

In the interim, while waiting for my SG, I bought from Lindsay Olive, the alpha guitarist of the Lynagh's "We're Here For The Party Band" crowd, a 1978 blond Fender Telecaster. In ~ 1967 I had a chance to buy a blond Tele for $100 -- but I didn't have $100 then, and ever since, I have always wanted a blond Tele to go with my cherry Gibson. So I now have one. Odd tho, for a few years there, Fender was making these from virgin-growth Canadian ash, and the guitar's heavier than I would like, but, great Tele tone.

I have also convinced my wife that my guitar buying has been greatly suppressed from what it should have been for the last 20-30 years. So, I now need to buy, I think maybe every year or two:

  • a Fender Stratocaster, not sure what color;
  • a Gibson Les Paul, sunburst I think;
  • a Gibson ES-335 (semi-hollow thin, like B.B. King plays). Richard Zvonar, founder of Salamander, played one of these, cherry;
  • a Parker, like T.D. plays ("fly" model?);
  • a Gretch; Blackrider has a bunch of Chet Atkins just in; that or a Tennessean or a Country Gentleman;
  • maybe a Gibson Firebird; I have twice played in bands where the other guitarist played one of these;
  • maybe a Paul Reed Smith; these are pretty guitars;
Also, POI, I have not had a cigarette since 4/23/7 at 7:30 am. Today is the 1st day I haven't worked since then and by far the worst day. It's like, relaxing, chillin', goddamn, I want a smoke!!! I've been drinking heavily in the evenings -- drinking you can't start til the evenings, smoking you can do anytime -- I started a little early today (5:30), hopefully will pass out soon, then back to work tomorrow, easy to ignore urge to smoke there ...

Consciousness is Not a Power Moonroof

Douglas Hofstadter said I should (could) quote him on that. The Good Book I was reading was Hosftadter's "I Am A Strange Loop", just published. This is a very good and easy (except for some chapters on Godel) read, just under 400 pages. The intro is kind of: one of the main points of his 1980 pulitzer-prize winning classic "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid"(GEB) was missed by most readers/reviewers because the book was just so cool. That point was, that the human mind/soul/consciousness is a strange loop: self-referential with no limit on the complexity of the symbolic reference heirarchy. This is analogous to Godel's finding that all formal mathematical systems must be incomplete because you cannot stop self-reference from creeping in.

It's kind of refreshing, the simplicity of Hofstadter's arguments -- that we are "mirages that perceive themselves". But, it can't be any other way. The reality of our minds is neurons, neurotransmitters, etc -- but this is not what matters. Just as we can deal with a gas based on pressure, volume and temperature without worrying about individual molecules, so it is the emergent layers of mind that matter -- whether they are illusory or not. It kind of answers the question I posted to this blog May 14, 2003 -- oops was going to put a link, but apparently my archives are down, since switching to the new blogger -- argh, more work!?!?!

I like too that Hofstadter appropriates the word "soul" to mean, the illusory "I" that is what we have, rather than the "elan vital" or "eternal magic stuff" that we don't have. Some of his best arguments in the book are when he assumes that the "magic stuff" exists and then gets reductio-ad-absurdem contradiction after contradiction.

He talks a fair amount about the "narrative I" that over the course of our lives spends all its time telling each of us the story of "me", and convincing itself that it exists. "Narrative I" I believe I first saw in Julian Jaynes "TOOCITBOTBM", but no props in the bibliography.

Also very interesting was his discussion of how much we can put our patterns (minds) into other peoples heads. His wife died abruptly at age 43, when their children were 2 and 5, which must have been a horrible shock. He wonders about his feelings that, particularly given that his wife and he were "of the same mind" about many things, particularly about raising their children, to what extent his wife's mind was running in his brain after her death?

This reminded me a lot of the point I was making at my dad's memorial service. I was talking about how I got the superpower of having an ear for the hook (catchy tunes) from my dad, and apparently had passed it on to some of my children. The subtext was that, there is no life after death, but here is how we really live on: in our descendants who have various genetic pieces of us, and in other people who lives we have influenced who have memetic pieces of us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm Back???

Apparently I haven't been much of a blogging mood lately. I have been sick or injured for >~= 1 month, this shit is getting old.

So, went on the company President's Club outing, which was a 4 day cruise, Miami-Key West-Cozumel-Miami March 15-19. The high point of the trip was the last day, where we spent about 4 hours singing harmony and backup with Brian Lavelle (we were the Lavellettes). Started off with a coworker who's a bass player/singer, with our wifes also harmonizing, wound up with about 40-50 of our crowd singing along. Early evening, we had 5 part harmony on "Take It Easy" with everybody right on their notes, very nice.

So, off the boat at around 8:45 am, bus from Miami to Ft Lauderdale, flew to Cincinatti, drove to Louisville to get our dog, then home, arriving at about 9:00 pm -- no problems. Soon as I come in the house, landsickness -- for 2 weeks, woo-ha!

So that finally goes away, the next Sunday I spend 7 hours cutting and bundling branches from 3 ash trees in our back yard that my wife Paulette Bunyan and her crew had cut down. My hams and quads killed for the next 5 days.

So, a couple of good days -- then the temperature drops from 80 to 40, with 20's at night and I caught a nice cold -- which of course brought back the landsickness. Just about over both now, praise jebus.

I've only played at Lynagh's once in the last 6 weeks or so: the week before last, when all that was wrong was sore legs. Had a great night: played 4 and sang 3, then later played 4 more and sang one, after which T.D.'s band played, woo-hoo! T.D is a guitarist who owns a (black) nightclub at 2nd and Elm Tree in Lexington. His band is him, bass, drums, keyboards, and 1-4 singers. They play blues, jazz and R&B, all most excellently. T.D. plays a Parker guitar (I gotta get me one of those) and is a great guitarist. King William, who is one of the Lynagh's regulars (and Robin to my Batman -- he plays a white Stratocaster), took me to T.D.'s one Monday, which is their live music night -- it was the best live music I have ever heard in Lexington in my 26 years here.

So, that Wednesday at Lynagh's was a pretty good night.

While on the cruise, I read Dan Simmons latest "The Terror". It was some great cognitive dissonance, reading about 2 1850's British ships trapped in the ice for 2 years trying to find the northwest passage, while on a Caribbean cruise. Pretty good read as Simmons always is, 4 stars.

Music-wise, seems to have some potential. At 1st I thought I was only going to be able to get old stuff from there. I downloaded some old Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, and a bunch of Django Reinhardt (the greatest jazz guitarist of the '30s, with his sidekick violinist Stephane Grapelli). But, after buying the new Arcade Fire and Andrew Bird at iTunes, they showed up on eMusic about a week later -- and they had the new Bloc Party right away. So, definitely need to defer any iTunes indy purchases.

My youngest has been having a Real Life Adventure student teaching in Capetown, South Africa since mid-January. She gets home May 5 and graduates UK with her elementary ed degree on May 6. Celebratory cookout may feature the internationally renowned guitarist, the inimitable Ben Lacy.

Here's her blog.

Here's her pictures.

I've had a steady stream of new music:

  • Bloc Party, "A Weekend in the City" -- still unrated, probably 3 stars.
  • Django Reinhardt, "Anthology 1934-1937" -- some great stuff, recorded at the Club Hot in Paris. His quintet was bass, violin, and 3 guitars -- no drums. Apparently Django is credited with inventing the concept of rhythm guitar.
  • Arcade Fire, "Neon Bible" -- not as good as "Funeral", maybe 3.5 stars.
  • Air (french band), "Pocket Symphony" -- 3 stars.
  • Rickie Lee Jones, "It's Like This" -- covers of various 50's - 70's tunes -- Steely Dan, Traffic -- some odd stuff, still unrated, probably 3 stars.
  • Modest Mouse, "We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank" -- not as good as their previous, maybe 3.5 stars.
  • Andrew Bird, "Armchair Apocrypha" -- not as good as his previous, 3 stars.
  • Rickie Lee Jones, "Sermon on Exposition Boulevard" -- 2007, very raw stuff, kind of reminds me of Lou Reed -- still unrated.
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Some Loud Thunder" -- really wierd engineering, trying for an authentic garage sound?
  • Tracey Thorn, "Out of the Woods" -- a step down from EBTG, needs some more listens.
  • Django Reinhards, "Jazz in Paris: Nuages" -- one of his last recordings (1953), with a standard jazz quartet (bass, drums, piano, Django), with Django playing an electric. An interesting contrast to the crazy stuff from the 30's.
The '50s Django is in my iTunes as Jazz, the '30s is Early Jazz. The dividing line is WW2 -- when the crazy energetic small band jazz of the '20s and '30s got morphed into big band -- which then became the execrable pop of the 50's.

I'm reading a Good Book now, hopefully blog it before too long. Still working a bunch, but The Magical New Product is going well.

'Nuf said.