The World According to Keitho

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Archive for June, 2016

2001 A Space Odyssey

Posted by keithosaunders on June 28, 2016

2001 A Space Odyssey is to Stanley Kubrick what Stairway to Heaven was to Led Zeppelin.  (minus the lawsuit) It’s like no other film he ever made.  In fact it’s like no other film I’ve ever seen.  I have seen 2001 dozens of times and it remains riveting, suspenseful, and mind-bending.

A lot of people find this film boring.  There are huge swaths of it with no dialogue — the docking scene at the space station, the scenes in the pod, and of course the psychedelic final 20 minutes of the film.

In fact, much of the dialogue is small talk.  (Almost all of the action in the film unfolds in maddeningly deliberate real time.)  There’s a scene in the 2nd act of the film in which scientist Heyward Floyd leads a meeting at a space station above the moon.  It’s one of the wordier scenes in the film, but most of the dialogue is the exchange of pleasantries between the scientist!

I just finished re-watching the film on a 3 day installment plan.  Day one was the dawn of man through the moon sequence.  Day two was the beginning of the Jupiter mission through the intermission.  Day 3 began with the pod accident.  While astronaut Frank Poole is attempting to replace an ‘antenna control device’ he is rammed by his EVA pod, controlled by HAL, the computer, severing his oxygen supply and causing his death.  This is one of the most chilling scenes I’ve ever seen in cinema.  There is literally no sound in the scene other than Pooles breathing.  Once he is rammed the perspective shifts to his fellow astronaut Dave Bowman and the remainder of the scene — Bowman’s attempt to rescue Poole – takes place in silence.  This is followed by Bowman having to reenter the ship through the airlock and subsequently deactivate Hal.

The 4th act, the descent into the star gate and the evolution of Dave Bowman, is the most ambiguous and provocative part of the film, but for this time around I enjoyed focusing on some of the more mundane happenings:  Bowman receiving a video happy birthday from his parents, the stewardess on the shuttle retrieving a floating, weightless glass of water from a sleeping passenger, and the aforementioned small talk. It was these touches, contrasting with the futuristic and metaphysical, that made the movie realistic, as well as otherworldly.

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At last I can sleep

Posted by keithosaunders on June 23, 2016

Well we can all rest easy.  A judge has ruled that the 7 minute Led Zeppelin leviathan, Stairway To Heaven, was not plagiarized from another band’s song.  In 1968 Zeppelin, then just starting out, were on the road with a group called Spirit who performed an instrumental number – Taurus –  that was suspiciously similar to the acoustic guitar opening to Stairway to Heaven.

It’s not a stretch to think that Jimmy Page may have consciously or sub consciously stolen the riff.  After all he shamelessly “borrowed” several other blues riffs from artists such as Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Stairway to Heaven is unique no matter how you look at it.  No other Zeppelin song is quite like it in the way it takes its time building intensity. From the solo acoustic guitar opening, to the screaming heavy metal final minute and a half, it’s almost, but not quite through-composed. (Its verse repeats several times)  It’s a good song but it’s a stand alone.  We like Zeppelin for their riff heavy, hard grooving rockers such as Dazed and Confused, Living Loving Maid, and Black Dog.  You tolerated the folky Going to Californias to get to the Misty Mountain Hops.

For that matter, where is Spirit’s lawsuit against Emerson Lake and Palmer?  ELP had an entire record called Taurus!  If Spirit wants they can always use my law firm, Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.

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Warriors no more

Posted by keithosaunders on June 21, 2016

The Golden State Warriors won a record 73 games in the 2015-16 season but will be remembered for being the first team to blow a 3-1 lead in games in the NBA finals.  That’s the way it goes in sports.  The Cleveland Cavaliers were the better team and deserve the title.  A spate of injuries, Steph Curry’s shooting slump,  LeBron James’ greatness, and the one game Draymond Green suspension were fatal to the Warriors.

All that said, LeBron is hard to take.  What is he, faking an injury in the last minute of game 7?  With seconds to go in the game he’s writhing around on the floor seemingly in pain, yet after the game buzzer sounded  he’s pounding the ground in joy with the same hand!  Then he’s crying tears of joy?  For the city of Cleveland?  That’s the same city he said screw you to 6 years ago when he took his talents to South Beach.  And it’s the same city he’s libel to say screw you to this off season.

In his post game comments James didn’t even bother to mention the Warriors.  You would think he would note the fact that they were a great team, or congratulate them on a great season, but no.  Everything was self-directed:  “I competed, I looked inside of myself, I did this, I did that…”  Enough already.  We don’t need LeBron to tell us he’s great –  we know that already.  And if that wasn’t enough, James rubbed salt in the wound by wearing an Ultimate Warrior shirt as he disembarked from the team plane in Cleveland.  Stay classy.

But that is the society we live in now.  This is a cynical, dog eat dog, Darwinian world.  Athletes, as well as media stars and politicians have taken their cue from the nasty, smarmy tone of reality TV.  The age of classy winners is in the rear view mirror.

We turn the page.  Time for the baseball season and a little team called The New York Mets!   On the other hand, maybe I’ll read a book instead.

 

Posted in basketball, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

This NBA finals stinks on ice

Posted by keithosaunders on June 17, 2016

You have to love sports.  And hate them.  This year’s NBA finals, which once looked like a cake walk for the Golden State Warriors, has taken on the feeling of a disaster waiting to happen. The Warriors, in the span of 5 days, have gone from a record-setting 73 win team, to possibly committing one of the all time playoff chokes.  No team in the NBA Finals has blown a 3-1 lead in games.  32 times a team has gone up 3-1 and 32 times that same team won the championship.

It is this hater’s opinion that the Warriors were screwed by the NBA when it took the league two days to call a flagrant foul on Draymond Green.  You either call it when it happens or you don’t call it.  If they don’t trust the refs they’ve hired then why use them in the first place?  Call everything by computer.  Green’s subsequent suspension cost the Warriors game 5, and the Dubs, with Draymond back on the court for game 6 in Cleveland, were simply steamrolled.

To make matters worse they’re losing terribly with petulant tantrums and uncharacteristic whining.  Steph Curry throwing his mouthpiece at a [admittedly douchey] fan was a terrible look.  It’s true that they’re not getting calls but can they make a shot?  Does everything have to be a low percentage three chucked with abandon?

And that’s why sports is humbling.  Life is humbling. Just three days ago the Warriors fans were making fun of LeBron for being a baby.  Now they look like the sp oiled brats. Up until this point in the season have had everything go their way. Now, at the first sign of adversity, they’re coming unglued.

Sunday is high noon.  Either they’re a team for the ages, or they can take their place alongside the 1986 Redsox, the 2004 Yankees, and insert your Greg Norman grand slam choke here.  [           ]

Folks, it’s crunch time.

 

 

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The NBA Finals and the Warriors quest for greatness

Posted by keithosaunders on June 14, 2016

It’s been a monumental season for the Golden State Warriors.  They won a record-setting 73 and proceeded to plow through the first two rounds of the playoffs.  They won an epic 7 game conference final series against an outstanding Thunder team and they now find themselves one win away from their second straight championship.

Tonight’s game 5 featured epic performances by the Cleveland Cavalier’s LeBron James – (41 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists + 3 steals and 2 blocks!) and Kyrie Irving  (41 points, 6 rebounds,  3 assists, and 2 steals.)  Yet it seemed like something was missing from the Warriors offense and defense.  Oh yeah…Draymond Green missed the game after being suspended for a specious flagrant foul committed in game 4.

It’s bad enough that the refs have to review every hard foul but to have to wait two days for the league officials to pour over evidence as if it was the Zapruder film adds insult to injury. Am I the only person in the world who hates replay in all sports?  Folks, enough is enough.  This childish obsession with getting it right is killing the game’s momentum.  If the evidence has to be incontrovertible how can a play that takes two days to review be overturned?  It’s even worse in baseball, a sport that is slow enough on its own.

The Warriors were jobbed.  I’m not saying that they would have won game 5 — Curry and Barnes had sub par games and LeBron and Irving were unstoppable.  But wouldn’t it have been nice to see how that game would have played out with the teams at full strength?

Posted in basketball, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Let the bloviating begin

Posted by keithosaunders on June 9, 2016

Our long national nightmare — primary season – is finally over and the Republicans now have a giant, orange, self-aggrandizing boob as the face of their party.  Kudos.

I believe that Donald Trump is unelectable.  Demographics are against him and even his own party is not crazy about him.  Paul Ryan, that simp of a man, finally endorsed him, with caveats, but both Bush’s are not.  This week Illinois senator, Mark Kirk withdrew his support in the aftermath of the furor of Trump’s having attacked Mexican-American Judge, Gonzalo Curiel.  Most prominent Republicans will likely congeal around their nominee in the coming weeks, but it’s obvious that they’re embarrassed to do so.

Just about the only way Trump could win would be if his opposing candidate had to endure some kind of scandal.  Or possessed an unlikabilty factor.  Perhaps someone with a history of being in the center of a maelstrom of controvers…oh…

At least Hillary Clinton didn’t have an exclamation point at the end of her campaign posters like Jeb!  That’s about the only good thing I can say about her.  On Tuesday night, after the day’s primarys, the party line was that we were supposed to feel as if history was been made with the first female presidential nominee.  If the nominee had been Elizabeth Warren I would have been thrilled.  Clinton has been on the wrong side of many issues that are important to me – the Iraq war, gay marriage, and marijuana  legalization, to name a few.   Furthermore, she’s way too hawkish for me.  She even name-checked Henry Kissinger as a way of asserting her foreign policy bona fides.  That’s right, she used one of the great war criminals of our time as a way of assuring the American people that we’re in good hands.

Of all the presidential elections I’ve voted in — this is my 9th – I’m least enthusiastic about this one.  I even felt more passionate about Michael Dukakis, for God’s sake!  Come the second week of November, however, I’ll hold my nose and cast my vote for Hillary.  My motivation:  Fear of the Yuge one possessing the power to appoint Supreme Court Justices.

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Bud Powell’s Sure Thing

Posted by keithosaunders on June 6, 2016

Those that follow my blog know that the pianist, Bud Powell, is the jazz musician whom I feel the closest to .  I believe he has had a greater influence on jazz pianists than any other musician.  This includes Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, and Herbie Hancock, all of whom are giants in their own right.

Not only was Bud a brilliant pianist but he was also a transcendent composer.  Many of his compositions combine classical, African, and Latin American influences which are filtered through his extremely personal and infectious harmonic and melodic sensibility.  Some, such as Celia, Dance of The Infidels, and Bouncing With Bud have become jazz standards –  repertory which musicians are expected to know.  Others, such as the forward looking Un Poco Loco, Glass Enclosure, and Sure Thing are less accessible vehicles for improvising, and thus with the passage of time have been overlooked.

This year’s resolution has been to transcribe and learn some Powell’s lesser known compositions and I am proud to say that at mid year I am right on schedule.  I began with Dusk at Sandi, and last week, after about a month’s work, I finished Sure Thing.  (Next up will be Glass Enclosure)

Here is a screen shot of the first page of six:

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Forgive my amateurish screen shot skills.  My patience ran out so I ended up taking it from my phone.

I am now offering jazz piano lessons via Skype.  In fact, since the main focus of lessons will be on improvising, I can teach any instrument.  The lessons are affordable, and being that I will not be leaving my apartment to teach, I charge less than my usual fee.

You may contact me via email or through my website.

OK enough with the commercial, we now return you to your regular scheduled curmudgeonly blogging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Replay is killing sports

Posted by keithosaunders on June 3, 2016

In the old days if a referee of umpire made a bad call you steamed about it for a few minutes and moved on.  These days we have to sit in front of our televisions and endure dozens of slow motion replays while neutered officials spend several minutes in front of a monitor deciding whether or not they made the correct ruling.

In last night’s Warriors/Cavaliers finals game 1 there was a play in which Cavs guard, Matthew Dellavedova, went for a steal and ended up accidentally hitting the Warriors, Andre Iguodala in the groin.  Tempers flared but the players didn’t brawl.  Instead the refs went to the video tape, and what had been an exciting, back and forth  contest turned into a snooze-fest as we waited five minutes for things to be sorted out.

And the upshot?  A foul was called on Dellavedova. Not even a flagrant foul.  I ask you, was it necessary to study the play as if it was Talmud to end up calling a non shooting foul?  I don’t know about you but I can live with the occasional bad call if it will spare us the drudgery of waiting for a replay review.

The players make errors all the time.  Refs and umps make errors too – it’s a part of sports.

Replay is especially maddening in baseball, which is a slow game without much action to begin with.  You’d think that the the last thing MLB would want is for the flow of the game to be any slower.  But…here we sit as the once proud umps are reduced to waiting for a ruling handed down from a New York bunker.

Shabby.

 

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