Sunday, July 26, 2020

One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band by Alan Paul

I'm listening to Bach's Violin Concertos.

One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers BandOne Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band by Alan Paul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People are a little surprised that I like reading books about rock stars. I am largely into classical literature and biography, but I also am very interested in the entertainment industry. Not so much as a screaming fan, although I'm not above that, but because I like to get inside what makes a musician tick, how do they write their music, how did they arrive at national, international success.

I think people, or maybe just me, think of rock musicians as uneducated people that got discovered at a bar. That has not really turned out to be true with most of the biographies I've read, so far, maybe with the exception of the Sex Pistols, who literally were taken off the streets of East London. They didn't last long either, except Johnny Rotten, who showed himself to be both intelligent and creative.

The Allman brothers could easily be dismissed the same way: just a bunch of good ol'boys from the South. Actually these were a group of highly intelligent, highly creative young men who worked their rear ends off. They practiced countless hours every day, honing their craft. They knew their cultural history, the history of the blues.

They were also progressive for their time. They played what back then was considered "black" music and had black members in their band.

It was very interesting to me to read how they wrote their music and put the sounds together on their instruments, how they learned to play off of each other, take turns with the solos.

It is also interesting, though tragic, how drugs were such an ingrained part of the group's culture. The mastermind behind the group was Duane Allman. Success was short for him, dying from a motorcycle wreck at the age of 24. The next year the bassist also died in a motorcycle wreck.

We read about the struggle Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts had with drugs and alcohol. Dickey was eventually booted from the band. Gregg struggled with his demons until after several rehabs, a liver transplant, and finally a live in nurse later, he seemed to conquer them for a few years before he finally died in 2017 of liver cancer. But he was still giving concerts until shortly before his death.

Maybe he couldn't imagine doing anything else. Rock on till you can't.

The band forged on. They had their peaks, their declines, but still they marched on. I cannot believe how much energy these guys had, performing even into their sixties, not only with each other, but they had their own side bands they also toured with. It made me tired just to read about it.

This book is largely based on first hand interviews and reports, each member and others associated with the band, telling their life and history of the Allman Brothers from their own personal experience and perspective.

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Hercule likes raw hide sticks.  They've turned out to be a nice, relatively cheap parrot chew toy.  Maybe he will leave my pens and paintbrushes alone.  Doubtful.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Confusion by Stefan Zweig

Listening to Chopin's Complete Works.

                     Brooklyn Bridge by Emil Holzhauer

 While in Florida I visited an old friend whom I had not seen in many years.  We knew each other in Florida but lost touch when she moved to Spokane, Washington and I moved to New Jersey.

She recently moved back to Florida so I spent an afternoon with her last week while my parents were at a doctor's appointment.

My friend and her family are some of the most interesting people I know personally.  Debbie has a sister who is a Hollywood actress, their daughter is a sculptor in Boston and most interesting of all, Debbie's husband, Ed, a journalist and writer, has a famous uncle.

Ed's uncle is Emil Holzhauer, one of the Ashcan Artists.  Holzhauer was a student of Robert Henri. Debbie and Ed live in Holzhauer's house on a bayou near my parents' home.

Here are some photos of Holzhauer's work in their house:

The precious lady in the hall is Ed's older sister.  She suffers from dementia and is the sweetest person you could meet.  Hercule (of course I brought him, he's so clingy) liked her a lot.  He politely refused the Teddy Bear she offered him, however.

I asked Ed if he'd Beta-read a mystery I wrote.  As I was sending it to him, one of my birds hit the screen and sent the attachment off to the Cloud Grave yard in the sky.  So I sent him a ghost story I wrote.  Of course now I'm pins and needles hoping he likes it.

For some reason, I didn't take a photo of Debbie and Ed.  Oh well.  Next time.

The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig: Burning Secret, A Chess Story, Fear, Confusion, Journey into the PastThe Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig: Burning Secret, A Chess Story, Fear, Confusion, Journey into the Past by Stefan Zweig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This particular review is only of the story Confusion. I have reviewed the previous stories separately.

Confusion is about a young man who becomes the student to a professor at the university he attends. The professor's expertise lies in Shakespeare's works. The student becomes obsessed with this professor and his work. Finally he rents a room in the same house the professor and his wife are living.

Things are strange. The wife is emotionally distant and sardonic. The professor is in turns, kind and gentle and caustic and cold. This puts the young man in turmoil. He doesn't know why the older man is treating him like this.

Also the professor takes to disappearing for a few days, telling no one of his whereabouts.

Furthering the mystery, his fellow students and the other professors have become cold toward the student and begun to exclude him from their circles.

Nothing is solved until the end, and I won't give it away, just to say, that I find so many things unrealistic and wrong about it.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude

Here is some lovely music to read by:  Liszt in Love.

On the 4th of July I left Texas for Florida.  Passing Jackson Mississippi, I saw their fireworks display, which I appreciated.  I hate missing out on the beautiful fireworks.

The reason I left on the 4th was so I could stay through to the 11th, and celebrate with my parents in their 63rd wedding anniversary.

My mother cannot walk independently, but that did not slow us down.  We simply wheeled her around in the wheel chair.  We went to several areas where we could enjoy the water.

I also wheeled her around neighborhoods that she and I both walked through and talked, back when we were both younger.

In the evenings I read to them.  I finished three of the Narnia Chronicles, plus read a ghost story I wrote.  My mom said she enjoyed it.  I know she's my mother, but I think she would tell me if it wasn't any good.  My dad said I started to many sentences with the word, "I".  He was right.  I set about correcting that.

I think for 83 and 84 years of age, they haven't done too badly.  They don't get tired of telling how they met at Carswell AFB in Ft Worth, fresh out of tech training while they were still teenagers.  They married at the ages of 20 and 21 and have stuck it out through the lovely times and the rough patches. I have the greatest respect and love for my parents.

The Cornish Coast Murder (Inspector Bigswell)The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the sort of book that is considered a nice, comfortable mystery to read on a rainy day. Life got really busy so there were gaps between the days I was able to read, so this book took a little longer to finish and I'm afraid I may have forgotten key events or characters. It also may be that they were a little hard to keep track of, but I think it's my fault, not the author's.

A vicar and a doctor meet Monday nights for dinner and sharing stories. Together they pay for a monthly package of mysteries to share. This evening is interrupted by an emergency at a local neighbor's house. They both arrive to find the neighbor, Julius Tregathan, lying dead in his living room. He has been shot through the head.

The shots came from outside, there were three although only one hit its mark, the holes through the window being discernible.

As the story progresses, we get to know the kind of man Tregarthan was and also who would have the motive to murder him.

This story was rather a slow burner, but I really appreciated how we get to try to figure out who murdered the man and why as the Inspector and Chief build up first one, then another, and then yet another theory as to who committed the murder, how they committed it and why. The continual evolution of their theories as new data enters the picture is probably the most interesting part of the book.

I believe I will be reading more of John Bude.

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Fear by Stefan Zweig

 I posting early because tomorrow I'm leaving for Florida.  It might take me a day to answer comments, but I will do my best.

Well, you can listen to it also, but this is what I was listening to when I wrote this review:  the Best Blues.

For the month of July I've been sending patriotic post cards.  Here are a few:

FearFear by Stefan Zweig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating psychological tale about a woman who has everything: wealth, good family, security, whatever she wants. She's not bored, but neither does she care about anything. She calmly drifts through her life. She has children. They are there, but they hold little interest for her. She lets the governess and her husband tend to them.

She's perfectly self-satisfied, self-absorbed and completely non reflective. Her whole life is taken for granted.

There's another man in her life. She doesn't love him, but she enjoys the attention, the time together. The fact that she's cheating on her husband doesn't come into consideration. She simply doesn't think about anything that does not provide personal gratification.

Then one day, she is leaving her lover's apartment when she is confronted by a hag of a woman who accuses her of sleeping with her boyfriend. The hag screeches and screams and demands money to remain quiet about it.

The woman is terrified and gives her all the money she has on her. The hag says it's not enough. She wants more. The woman promises more and rushes away.

This is turning point of a placid, selfish existence into one of horror. The woman cannot sleep or eat. Somehow the hag has found where she lives. No matter how much money she gives the women, it is never enough. The hag is an albatross. She can't escape her, nor can't stand up to her-she's not used to fighting battles.

The woman becomes haggard as time goes on, she thinks of ending her life. Telling her husband is unthinkable. She'd rather die.

This story was a torment to get through, because, even though I did not like the lady, she was so helpless before the merciless hag.

I will not spoil the story, except to say, it ends in an unexpected way.

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Hope everyone is safe and have a wonderful 4th of July.