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The Birthday Door

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GOOD GRIEF

There are artists of various kinds – painters, composers, writers – who find themselves at an impasse, a temporary roadblock where their muse is unable to coax the finishing touch… yet.

In writing the lyrics for a song this week, I’m struggling, not frustrated, because I know the answer is there, but also not rising to the surface. What this means is I’m presenting to you an incomplete composition… the unfinished lyric.

I’m not pleased nor disappointed … forward progress isn’t always a straight line, is it? Thank you, I can see you nodding your head!

I’ll revisit my words again soon and I know that with time and concentration, the inspiration will take me to the finish line. That muse rarely disappoints … she holds a mysterious but wondrous power.

Now, should you have a lyrical idea or brilliant snippet to share with me, I would be pleased to try it on for size… thanks!

Onto the song…

I passed another annual cake and ice cream event recently.

The thought occurred to me that a birthday was akin to opening a door and moving on to a new part of life’s journey… the passageway to reinvention and renewal. A Yellow Brick Road moment.

Each verse in this lyric reflects a stage along this discovery pathway.

The latter aspect of the “trip” is where I’ve stumbled, unable to make the flow and ideas work in a way in which I’m happy.

Just another verse or two is what I need to make this a completed work… completed aside from finding a musical avenue to bring it to real life… no easy task in its own way. What’s that? How does one eat an elephant? Right …

(And for those who are interested, my rhyme scheme is AAABB)

Thanks for reading… here goes…

THE DOOR

At first there was no door
One day he looked up from the floor
Absent words yet to explore
just mommy’s smile and a breast to suck
“blow out the candle, no don’t touch”

The next few doors so long ago
balloons and kids and baseballs to throw
hair coming in though not down below
I learned that the he was me
few lessons came easy or free

Teenage doors flung wide with fears
I stumbled on passions I cried hidden tears
loves gained then lost then reappeared
Soothing stars in a guitar late at night
more doors still to open then I do felt right

Little hands turn door handles up high
Daddy let me open the box for you can I?
I’ll play with that, little voice never shy
Twilight zone halls lived in a haze
Weeks months yes years that were days

…. ??? Verse or two about later life… ???

CHORUS
In front of this door
Wondering
How many will I pass through
along the way
give me cake give me candles
give me toothaches give me sandals
how many doors do you think I can handle
before I can’t find the key

I’m Marvellous, Almost Mrs. Maisel Marvellous

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Mrs Maisel 2

I love Mrs. Maisel.

She’s Marvellous, don’t you think?

You know who I’m talking about, right? That Amazon-Prime-lady Rachel Brosnahan who plays a young, separated Jewish mom in 1958 New York City.

She works a department store gig by day and then hits the nightclub stand-up stage most evenings.

Her comedy routine on stage is a bit like watching Seinfeld … actually, I think she is Jerry Seinfeld in a dress. Master of her own domain…

Mrs. Maisel (“Midge”) blathers on about her day’s routines and the crazy things her parents say or her ex-husband does, but in a charming and funny, occasionally profane, way. Snapshots of nothing and everything all at the same time.

The dialogue for the show is reminiscent of watching anything written by Aaron Sorkin (yeah, I’m a fan boy of his) … The West Wing, The Social Network, A Few Good Men, Moneyball … or Nora Ephron (yeah, I’m a groupie of her’s too)… Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally.

The creator/writer/director for The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel is the marvellous herself Amy Sherman-Palladino who in years past created The Gilmore Girls.

It takes incredible talent to write comedy, sharp, and fast, but there is always humanity and emotion too. Comedy is best when it shoots an arrow to the heart sometimes. Tears and laughter are fine bedfellows.

Her rapid-fire, witty dialogue requires your strict attention because the fun lines zip by so rapidly.

But truly, I love Mrs. Maisel mainly because I’m very different (yes, she is much cuter than me) from her.

I could never be a stand-up comic. I would SUCK!

stand up comic

How does someone stand at a microphone for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes … an hour … and relate stories, tell jokes… sometimes rehearsed, often improvised on the spot? I can’t riff a good knee-slapper about the underwear I’m wearing (or not!) today even if my life depends on it (get it… DEPENDS!.. OMG, there’s hope for me).

Nope, that’s not me. I’m not so marvellous at that stuff.

I struggle to remember the lyrics for a 3 minute song I’m playing. I can’t remember your name within 10 milliseconds of our introduction.

But I can give a prepared speech in fine fashion (or so I think). Why?

Why thanks for asking.

I write these blog posts (kind of like a prepared speech) because I can ruminate – like a cow chewing its cud in the pasture – over my words for hours, days if necessary. And I do.

I even write amazingly erudite paragraphs in my night-dreams, and the day I can remember them when I awake, I can die happy, although I don’t think I’ll be happy when I die, but who knows, do you? And there I go talking like Mrs. Maisel …

The pairing of supreme writing and verbal skills are like oil and water, pasta and sushi, forks and power outlets, my testicles and a sharp knee jab… you get the gist. Not an easy combination. Most of us channel the muse in one OR the other, if we’re lucky.

Verbally I stumble and stammer and look befuddled like Robert Mueller… oy vay, don’t get me started.

With writing, I can parse and edit … edit and parse … so that I come up with a (hopefully) well thought-out and comprehensible phrase or two.

The delay I get in writing (like the 7 second TV broadcast delay) helps me avoid the quicksand that my lack of filters (of which I’m constantly reminded!), sadistically, maniacally, tosses me into without my really trying.

And so Mrs. Maisel… I humbly bow to your skill-set, your humour, your smiles, your bravery in a man’s world… perhaps Aaron Sorkin wrote deftly about A Few Good Men …  but Amy Sherman-Palladino? … you’ve nailed it here with One Good Woman.

Brava!

DSC00208.ARW

Call Me Johnny Fishhook

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fishhook addiction

First encounters … first impressions …

A year or so back at the soup kitchen here in Penticton, I met a new volunteer one morning … we’ll call him Johnny …

Johnny was perhaps 45 years old, good-looking and a soft- but well-spoken fellow.

Normal … whatever that is.

We engaged in light and pleasant conversation throughout the morning of chopping and dicing vegetables and plating out desserts.

It surprised me a bit when he related that he came to the soup kitchen a couple of days each week to have lunch himself.

This didn’t line up with my first impression of him. I tried not to ask too many probing questions.

After the lunch rush of serving the crowds of hungry folks, Johnny asked me if I could drive him by his place on my journey home.

Sure.

As we drove along, we continued to chat amiably. I liked him.

I dropped him off at a local beach-strip motel (off-season rental).

Johnny explained that he stayed at the motel during the quiet season but when the tourists arrived, he would be asked to vacate which meant that he must either find a cheap summer rental somewhere or camp out in the local parks.

I pulled away with a lot of questions… a lot of wonder on my mind.

The following week I read a Letter to the Editor in the Penticton Herald newspaper… I immediately recognized Johnny’s name attached to the bottom of a very eloquent and impressively-reasoned letter about a federal political issue. Wow!

During my next shift at the soup kitchen I asked a friend what she knew about Johnny.

In a hushed voice, she described him as a lovely man who had graduated and worked as a lawyer for some years.

But, at some point, his addictions and episodes of depression got the better of him … he made mistakes … too many, too big mistakes… eventually he was disbarred.

Angel crash.

Anyway, Johnny is a stark reminder to me that many many people of great warmth and intelligence fight demons and don’t always come out on the winning end of their struggles.

Which all brings me to this week and a new song lyric I’ve written…

Guitar music

… the lyric is a reflection of a fellow perhaps a little like Johnny… someone who gets through his days, barely … often with difficulty and pain.

CALL ME JOHNNY FISHHOOK

CHORUS
Call me Johnny Fishhook
though most just call me J
Yeah, I was you upon a time
so I get your stares and looks
you’re the mirror I used to hold
before I caught the hook

Verse 1
I loved my life
you know I made the grade
got the college degree
the first time I got laid
funny, called to the bar
was kinda different in those days

Verse 2
The child I keep inside
didn’t always look this ripe
Tonight I stalk the alleys
in dark and in the light
where I find my friends and worries
varied tones of my own stripe

Verse 3
Mornings then I hack awake
sometimes stiff and cold
to catch the demons attacking
grabbing at my soul
life’s miracle never came to my paradise
so today I sleep with mice

Verse 4
I haven’t lived here all my life
years back I even had a wife
I wonder if cancer might be easy
could those demons be less creepy
that they hold a gentler knife
my tears hold less sacrifice

CHORUS
Call me Johnny Fishhook
though most just call me J
Yeah, I was you upon a time
so I get your stares and looks
you’re the mirror I used to hold
before I caught the hook

addiction hook

Are You High or HIGH? A Half Year Investment Toke …

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How is marijuana stock sold on the stock market?

 

Buy high … sell higher.

 

marijuana stocks

BANG! Welcome to the second half of 2019.

Intermission is now over … I hope you’re enjoying the popcorn and red licorice because now it’s back to work!

And this week I’m taking a change back – yes, today I speak to the numbers’ nerds – from the art of music … to the science of investing and personal money management.

It would be easy to reverse that last sentence to say the science of music and the art of investing and personal money management. There is a bit of alchemy in there when you think about it closely.

So … how were your first 6 months of 2019? I mean financially.

Are you looking richer or poorer today than where you were when you were watching the Rose Bowl and Disney parades on January 1? I hope at least that your champagne headache has receded.

Let’s dig in here. Money is important in all our lives.

We all need shelter. We all need food. We all need Netflix… OK nix that last one …

The investment start to 2019 has been a refreshing change from the doldrums of 2018. And it’s extraordinarily amazing given that 2019 is becoming the Year Of The Tariff.

The U.S. (ie. Trump) vs E.O.E (EveryOne Else) – except Russia and North Korea – has become an economic World War III.

Every little whiff of tariff (and there are huge flatulently wafty whiffs out there) in the breeze sends a Freddie Kruger fear of financial oblivion throughout the world.

That’s what’s called the macro look …  but most of us are way more interested in the microscope take on our own treasure chests.

treasure chest

HEADLINES and highlights

If you bought a van-full of BEYOND MEAT shares in 2019 (I stayed well away from this helium balloon of swelling revenues but inert profits), you now own a non-meaty 18-Wheeler-full of $$ booty and a one-way ticket to Animal-Friendly heaven.

I shake your hand in Vegas-style “lucky” admiration.

Who said money couldn’t buy happiness for a cow or chicken?

But to be a yellow pea? ARMAGGEDON!

Next: If you made a similar altruistic purchase of LYFT shares, the ride-sharing company that drove away with investor money after listing at $72/share and have since dropped a bit more than 10%, well … patience is your best bet as you wait for the next UBER ride my friend.

And of course, there is huge interest and anticipation of the smoke-and-oil POT stocks. Marijuana is becoming legally legit more broadly with each passing month. The acrid reefer scent has become more common than the stench of day-after beer sweat.

All the major players in alcohol and tobacco are gobbling up weedy chunks to keep their interest in intoxication at sky-high levels. Marijuana is going to soar for years to come, but for investors, sticking out your thumb for a ride and hoping that none of these companies are financial serial killers is a big challenge.

This isn’t an area where I can guess the winners with any aplomb, so I think I might be more interested in those others who fly high resulting from pot sales: like takeout pizza (Dominos), chocolate (Hersheys) and potato chip makers (Pepsico).

munchies

Of course I also have some of my own favourites (Disclosure: I own each of these in my own account) that aren’t crazy expensive (relative to their earnings) like Apple, Penske Automotive, Great-West Life, Bank of Nova Scotia, CVS Health, Whirlpool, FedEx, Enbridge, Magna International. All great companies with a sweet kiss of dividends.

Alas, in today’s blog, I’m not making any personal BUY recommendations because quality companies – in BIGLY numbers – are out there… but the share prices for purchasing this quality have swollen just a bit too large to make a BUY and then hope to make a healthy return over the short-to-medium term.

And finally, keeping my toes to the fire … *drum roll* … my own investment return so far this year to the end of June comes to +12.9%.  This is actually lower than the returns of both the TSX 60 (+15.0%) in Canada and the Dow Jones Composite in the US (+14.8%), but of course, higher than the best Canadian 5-year GIC rate of 3.25%.

My fingers are crossed that The Year Of The Tariff doesn’t spell disaster over the 2nd six months of 2019… or …

or… I might have to make a MAJOR purchase from a Marijuana company … nope, not the shares… the product!

Willie w pot

Night Vacation

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Santorini night.jpg

You know me, always on the trail of inspiration.

Sometimes it comes from unusual places. Like this…

The song lyric I wrote this week is inspired, shaped and formed through the poetic genius that was SHEL SILVERSTEIN (1930 – 1999) … author of children’s books The Giving Tree and Falling Up,  songs like 25 Minutes To Go and A Boy Named Sue.

And then there’s my family’s favourite Silverstein poem ME STEW:

I have nothing to put in my stew, you see,
Not a bone or a bean or a black-eyed pea,
So I’ll just climb in the pot to see
If I can make a stew out of me.
I’ll put in some pepper and salt and I’ll sit
In the bubbling water–I won’t scream a bit.
I’ll sing while I simmer, I’ll smile while I’m stewing,
I’ll taste myself often to see how I’m doing.
I’ll stir me around with this big wooden spoon
And serve myself up at a quarter to noon.
So bring out your stew bowls,
You gobblers and snackers.
Farewell–and I hope you enjoy me with crackers!

Silverstein.jpeg

I wrote the lyric lines of NIGHT VACATION to reflect the journey we all take through night’s passages and dreams as we sleep … the mystic and magical, the sensual, the hilarious and sometimes terrifying.

Inspired by Silverstein, yes,  but you might even detect a wee smidgen of Beatles and Elton John peaking in.

Finally, because this is intended as a song, it begs the question … what sort of musical approach would I take for this?

Because it deals in quiet nighttime and dreams, I would send this out as I would a small boat on the sea…  with a sense of swell and meandering, almost a feeling of fantasy.

Just as an example of what this might sound like, try listening to this link and feel the dream as it develops (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVCF4H0BzMw). It’s a recent favourite of mine from a group called Darlingside. The harmonies are like melting chocolate in your mouth…

And now, here’s this week’s song lyric.

NIGHT VACATION – Larry Green July 6, 2019

Each darkness has its creation don’t you think
a cast of characters that come and go with the day
and echo voices from the past breathe and sway
like the unseen moon’s reflected glow
where faraway sounds and caws of the crow
mist the hours from our in-between soul

A chase a flame a sun-kissed field of hay
a childish innocence and Mom who never ages
Strawberry field vistas and horny-back toads
scents of billowy sages on long dusty-stretched roads
cresting storms filled with lightning and rage
laughter from haunted houses and hyena cages

…..

CHORUS

Close your eyes and dream sleepy bedbug
of a world churning in whirlpools and funnels
lost ties whispering at us from unending tunnels
a narcotic sojourn without the drug
our every night vacation

…..

Skin shiver toe tingle star twinkle hours
a blush and a heat where we founder
playful our hands as the sweet erotic other
through twisted linens and bareness uncovered
sweet epicurean encounters rise and become thwarted
that make an emission impossible

Tumble and plummet from the roof of the sky
sieving air through pores and tightly tucked places
a separate bliss with crazy stretched faces
lions tigers giant insects from hives
swirly kaleidoscope of morning sunrise
bring me back home to my morning eyes

…..

CHORUS

Close your eyes and dream sleepy bedbug
of a world churning in whirlpools and funnels
lost ties whispering at us from unending tunnels
a narcotic sojourn without the drug
our every night vacation

sleepy moon