Home

Memphis Blues Again by the Dead

2 Comments

Somebody stop me, for God’s sake!!! Two posts in one day!

In my last post, I referenced one of my favorite Dylan tunes: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again. Is there any wonder that many of us in the late ’60s and early ’70s were so smitten with the Bobster?!??! Listen to the lyrics!

I had more than one friend in my high school and college days who, like me, had a sort of inside game we played on people. We’d try to converse the entire day using only Dylan quotes as our responses to what folks said to us. Crazy? Yes. Fun? Oh, HELL YES! And we could do it, too, couldn’t we, Andy McLenon and Bill Poteet and Ken DeVille? Goofing on people; it’s not just a way of life; it’s a religion.

Anyway, here’s a splendid cover of that splendid song by the Dead, with Bob Weir on lead vocals and shorty shorts, from 1989. Jerry’s playing his Doug Irwin Tiger guitar:

I don’t always like what the Grateful Dead did, but when I do like them, I like them a lot.

A jam buddy has said that he may invite a friend of his from Takoma Park, Maryland, John Kadlecik, to one of our Usual Suspects Saturday night jams. Furthur is the band that the surviving Dead band members have and John’s the lead guitar player. From what I hear, John’s a great guy. He’d fit right in with our ensemble; especially if he likes spicy shrimp!

Enjoy!

Always Missed . . .

2 Comments

Charles Hardin Holley

Born September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas.

Died February 3, 1959, outside Clear Lake, Iowa.

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts

Leave a comment

The festival was over, the boys were all plannin’ for a fall
The cabaret was quiet except for the drillin’ in the wall
The curfew had been lifted and the gamblin’ wheel shut down
Anyone with any sense had already left town
He was standin’ in the doorway lookin’ like the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

He moved across the mirrored room, “Set it up for everyone,” he said
Then everyone commenced to do what they were doin’ before he turned their heads
Then he walked up to a stranger and he asked him with a grin
“Could you kindly tell me, friend, what time the show begins?”
Then he moved into the corner, face down like the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Backstage the girls were playin’ five-card stud by the stairs
Lily had two queens; she was hopin’ for a third to match her pair
Outside the streets were fillin’ up, the window was open wide
A gentle breeze was blowin’, you could feel it from inside
Lily called another bet and drew up the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Big Jim was no one’s fool, he owned the town’s only diamond mine
He made his usual entrance lookin’ so dandy and so fine
With his bodyguards and silver cane and every hair in place
He took whatever he wanted to and he laid it all to waste
But his bodyguards and silver cane were no match for the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Rosemary combed her hair and took a carriage into town
She slipped in through the side door lookin’ like a queen without a crown
She fluttered her false eyelashes and whispered in his ear
“Sorry, darlin’, that I’m late,” but he didn’t seem to hear
He was starin’ into space over at the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

“I know I’ve seen that face before,” Big Jim was thinkin’ to himself
“Maybe down in Mexico or a picture up on somebody’s shelf”
But then the crowd began to stamp their feet and the houselights did dim
And in the darkness of the room there was only Jim and him
Starin’ at the butterfly who just drew the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Lily was a princess, she was fair-skinned and precious as a child
She did whatever she had to do, she had that certain flash every time she smiled
She’d come away from a broken home, had lots of strange affairs
With men in every walk of life which took her everywhere
But she’d never met anyone quite like the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

The hangin’ judge came in unnoticed and was being wined and dined
The drillin’ in the wall kept up but no one seemed to pay it any mind
It was known all around that Lily had Jim’s ring
And nothing would ever come between Lily and the king
No, nothin’ ever would except maybe the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Rosemary started drinkin’ hard and seein’ her reflection in the knife
She was tired of the attention, tired of playin’ the role of Big Jim’s wife
She had done a lot of bad things, even once tried suicide
Was lookin’ to do just one good deed before she died
She was gazin’ to the future, riding on the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Lily took her dress off; buried it away
“Has your luck run out?” she laughed at him,
“Well, I guess you must 
have known it would someday
Be careful not to touch the wall; there’s a brand-new coat of paint
I’m glad to see you’re still alive; you’re lookin’ like a saint.”
Down the hallway footsteps were comin’ for the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

The backstage manager was pacing all around by his chair
“There’s something funny going on,” he said, “I can just feel it in the air”
He went to get the hangin’ judge, but the hangin’ judge was drunk
As the leading actor hurried by in the costume of a monk
There was no actor anywhere better than the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

No one knew the circumstance but they say that it happened pretty quick
The door to the dressing room burst open and a Colt revolver clicked
And Big Jim was standin’ there; you couldn’t say surprised
Rosemary right beside him, steady in her eyes
She was with Big Jim but she was leanin’ to the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Two doors down the boys finally made it through the wall
And cleaned out the bank safe; it’s said that they got off with quite a haul
In the darkness by the riverbed they waited on the ground
For one more member who had business back in town
They couldn’t go no further; not without the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

The next day was hangin’ day, the sky was overcast and black
Big Jim lay covered up, killed by a penknife in the back
And Rosemary on the gallows, she didn’t even blink
The hangin’ judge was sober; he hadn’t had a drink
The only person on the scene missin’ was the Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

The cabaret was empty now, a sign said, “Closed for Repair”
Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair
She was thinkin’ ’bout her father, who she very rarely saw
Thinkin’ ’bout Rosemary and thinkin’ about the law
But most of all she was thinkin’ about the Jack of Hearts

—Bob Dylan

Copyright ©1974 by Ram’s Horn Music; renewed 2002 by Ram’s Horn Music

No Words; Lots of Laughs!

2 Comments

Patty is up in Hanover babysitting Sophie while Neenie, Greg and Maddie are in Philadelphia. Instead of playing guitar tonight with the Usual Suspects, I’m sitting at home with Murphy (high winds make him nervous and I don’t want to leave him by himself). As Murph and I try to ignore the winds, I’m laughing my head off at videos of an unusual pantomime comedian. His name is George Carl and there are several great videos of him on YouTube:

I recommend that you go full screen on the video. This particular one is from a 1986 Tonight Show.

Thanks to Mark Evanier, TV-show and comic-book writer (everything from Scooby-Doo and Welcome Back, Kotter to the Blackhawk comic books), historian and all-around genius at large, for pointing us in Mr. Carl’s direction! I owe you a stack of Gold Key Dick Van Dyke Show comics for that, Mark!

Jim’s Nature Corner: Know Your Moths, Part 2

Leave a comment

My son, Aaron, creates skillful digital imagery, as a previous post spotlighted. Below is the first photography I’ve seen from him. It’s a photo he took of the outside of our basement door with a Luna moth (actias luna) perched on the window:

AA's Moth

It’s a pleasing photo; I like the soft colors and the different textures. The weathered doorknob and the bare wood where the knob has rubbed the old door over the years add interest and contrast. It also provides a sense of scale; everyone knows how large a doorknob is.

As in my earlier post about moths, I have to provide a little bit of background info: Lunas are silkworm moths, and one of the largest moths of North America; some can have a wingspan of four inches. They only live for a week. Seems a pity. The round markings on their wings are said to resemble eyes for scaring off predators.

Nice photo, Aaron!

Thurber’s Cartoons

14 Comments

Thurber Seal BarkI’ve been accused of having a dry sense of humor, so maybe that’s why the cartoons and writings of James Thurber appeal to me so. The title of my blog, of course, is a reference to one of Thurber’s best books.

Thurber Court

When I was in college, someone in the Dean’s office had the bright idea to make me the dorm resident adviser, or RA. Since I had skipped the first two years of college and Florida Atlantic didn’t (at that time) have freshmen or sophomore students, I was at least two years younger than anyone else around the place. Crazed with the possibilities of my assignment, I bought a can of black paint and a 1/2-inch brush and painted a ten-foot high copy of the “What Have You Done With Dr. Millmoss?” cartoon on a starkly bare buff-colored concrete-block dorm wall.

Thurber Big Animal

Some folks liked it but when I left the university, they charged me $150 to have the wall repainted by the college maintenance crew. Philistines!!!

Thurber, a writer and editor for the New Yorker magazine when it was at its best in the 1930s through the 1950s, couldn’t draw worth a hoot in the conventional sense. Yet he loved to create doodles of floppy-eared dogs, timid men and dominant women and some of the editors insisted these be in the magazine. The cartoon below is unusual for Thurber, as it shows a dominant man. The expression on the woman’s face, however, indicates the man may have met his match.

Thurber Tiny Mind

The New Yorker’s founder, Harold W. Ross, hired Thurber initially as the managing editor to make sure the magazine got out on time. He was puzzled by Thurber’s cartoons, but realized they had a quality that others could appreciate perhaps more than he could. Note the stance on the man in the cartoon below. Probably by accident, Thurber conveys that the man has had a bit too much to drink.

Thurber Rabbit

Plagued by bad eyesight, Thurber was a crotchety person at times and that sometimes comes across in his cartoons. He also felt that men and women were often at war, and wrote and drew an entire book of cartoons based on that subject. Other of his cartoons, as in the one below, document befuddlement between folks regardless of gender.

Thurber Perkins

Many times his cartoons came about because he didn’t have the skill to draw what he initially intended. The classic first wife/present wife cartoon came about because he couldn’t draw the perspective of a stairway. The seal cartoon at the top of this post didn’t start out to show a seal behind the headboard of a bed but it ended up that way.

Thurber First Wife

At other times, he would be assigned to draw a cartoon that wouldn’t work if a better artist drew it. The famous “Touché!” cartoon was submitted by a cartoonist who drew in a realistic style. The editors gave the cartoon to Thurber to draw, as no one would think his cartoon people had blood.

Thurber Touche

Thurber’s obvious limitations irritated some readers and even other cartoonists. A cartoonist once wrote a letter to Harold Ross asking, “Why do you reject drawings of mine, and print stuff by that fifth-rate artist Thurber?”

“Third-rate,” Ross replied.

Thurber Secret

Here are ten of my favorite Thurber cartoons. I urge you to get a Thurber book; all are excellent. Perhaps the best book for someone new to his work is A Thurber Carnival, a collection of his brilliant short stories and cartoons.

Thurber Wine

Gutenberg Cranked It Out!

Leave a comment

Here’s an interesting video on the press and printing process likely used by Johannes Gutenberg back in 1450 or so. His bringing together all the technology of his day to create a process for printing changed the world.

Prior to Gutenberg, a book had to be written by hand; a Bible would take a couple of years to create in that fashion. Obviously, such a book was pricey. After Gutenberg, books created by printing became more and more common and the prices went down accordingly. Even then, a Gutenberg Bible would cost about two years of salary for a clerk of that day; not cheap!!!

There were about 185 Bibles printed over a two-year period by Gutenberg and his staff; less than 50 exist today. Most were printed on handmade cotton paper, but a few were printed on sheepskin vellum.

Here’s the New York Public Library’s Gutenberg Bible, known as the Lenox Bible. It’s printed on paper and I saw it many years ago. Note that some portions of the Bible are hand colored or illuminated; this wasn’t done by Gutenberg’s shop; they designed their printed pages so that room was left for the customer to have their Bible enhanced to whatever level they could afford:

The Library of Congress has a Gutenberg Bible on display in their original building in Washington, DC, and it’s worth a visit. Their copy is printed on vellum, and the pages of it I saw were as clean and fresh as if they were printed just a few years ago:

That Library of Congress building, by the way, is a treat for the eye; it has some of the loveliest stained glass I’ve ever seen.

Go take a look!!!

Older Entries Newer Entries