Saturday, August 12, 2017

"My Aim is True" Turns 40

22 July 1977 to 22 July 2017

"It was rather like recording in a telephone booth. Overdubs were barely an option. Everything is heard pretty much as it was played."

--Elvis Costello, via Twitter on July 22nd

L.I.N.K.S. (XVI): MAIT Turns 40

In this edition of L.I.N.K.S. (hyperlinks that Lure, Intrigue, Nurture, or Kindle), we focus on the 40th anniversary of the release of "My Aim Is True," Elvis Costello's debut album.

"Recorded in four six-hour late-night sessions in a London eight-track studio, My Aim Is True was the debut album by the audaciously named soon-to-be 22-year-old singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, née Declan Patrick McManus. Produced by Nick Lowe, former bassist for the pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz and a labelmate on the cheeky upstart indie Stiff Records, it reportedly cost a mere £2,000 to make, and was released in the U.K. on July 22, 1977."

My favorite links:

1. Paste features Elvis saying he’s actually not angry as angrily as humanly possible

2. Billboard does the impossible and ranks the album's tracks

3. Trunkworthy pays homage to a track that didn't make the album

4. Treblezine focuses on the artist's professed motives of revenge and guilt

And finally,

5. Spill takes the story to a personal level, drawing from the recent Costello autobiography

“I’ve always told people that I wrote ‘Alison’ after seeing a beautiful checkout girl at the local supermarket,” writes Costello in Unfaithful Music on perhaps the most well-known song on My Aim is True; after all the album takes its name from a line in the song

“Now she was punching in the prices on cans of beans at a cash register and looking as if all the hopes and dreams of her youth were draining away. All that would be left would soon be squandered to a ruffian who told her convenient lies and trapped her still further.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Word of the Day #2: Ultracrepidarian

By © Jorge Royan /, CC BY-SA 3.0,

1. The Word of the Day is



2. Ultracrepidarian is defined as:

adjective: Giving opinions beyond one's area of expertise.

noun: One who gives opinions beyond one's area of expertise.

From Latin ultra (beyond) + crepidarius (shoemaker), from crepida (sandal).
The meaning of this word comes from a story in antiquity, in which the famed Greek painter Apelles one day heard a cobbler criticizing the way he, Apelles, had rendered a foot in a painting. Apelles then said that when it comes to feet, the shoemaker "shouldn’t render an opinion beyond the sole," or similar words to that same devastating effect.  Zing!

3. The reason I looked up today's word is:

There are times when we need a word, the perfect word, to describe and disarm a person who gets on our very last nerve.

"I dream of a world where we can sort out our differences by calling someone names instead of pulling out a gun and shooting." --Anu Garg

4. For more information:

Shockingly precise insults:

Keep trying!

A close friend of mine recently shared the following observation.

Just re-watched the movie Ratatouille yesterday with the kiddos and was struck again at how profound this quote at the end is (from the food critic Anton Ego) and wanted to share it:

Anton Ego, voiced by Peter O'Toole in the Pixar movie, Ratatouille

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

Even if one is not familiar with the Oscar-winning movie, the droll and dreary character's comment strikes a certain nerve. In this scene, Anto Ego realizes that his power comes from passing judgement (often harshly) on the creative efforts of others. I believe he has something of an epiphany: 

Not everyone can be great, 
but greatness can come from anyone.   

Keep trying! The world is full of critics, and let's just agree that critics have their place in the world. But who are the critics, really, without the creators? Ask yourself this: do we need more critics, or more creators? 

When you go to a restaurant, a play, a concert, or a movie, you are a consumer. As a consumer, you should feel free to form your own opinion about the performance. There is no accounting for taste, so if you don't like the expensive wine, don't buy it.  

But what really matters in this world is not what you consume, nor what you or others think about the offered goods. What matters is what you produce! What are you good at doing? What can you offer? And here is where I must say, "Don't pay attention to the critics!" Pay attention to what you are here to do: Create. Produce. Add value. 

You will only hear the voices of critics if you are actually doing something. You will only get complaints if you are making a difference. Strive for the adulation of critics and the loyalty of customers, and learn from the reactions, good and bad. At the end of the day, the world needs more producers than consumers.  

Keep trying! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

That Moment When #7: Alarm Clock

That moment when your 5:30 alarm goes off and you get mad at yourself for even setting an alarm on Saturday and you go back to sleep and it's Tuesday.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Choir! Choir! Choir! Rufus Wainwright and 1500 singers sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

I love everything about this music video: the song itself, the crowd, the production--everything. Please click HERE and enjoy immensely.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Word of the Day #1: Meretricious

The Word of the Day is:


adjective  mer·e·tri·cious \ˌmer-ə-ˈtri-shəs\

The definition of today's word is:

  1. 1:  of or relating to a prostitute :  having the nature of prostitution meretricious relationships
  2. 2a :  tawdrily and falsely attractivethe paradise they found was a piece of meretricious trash — Carolyn Seeb :  superficially (see superficial 2) significant :  pretentiousscholarly names to provide fig-leaves of respectability for meretricious but stylish books — The Times Literary Supplement (London)

And the reason we looked this word up today is:

The Mom Who Hosted Naked Twister Also Allegedly Took A ‘Multi-Party’ Bubble Bath With Teens

What is this WORLD coming to?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Week in the Life of Deve

I'm working on a personal philosophy of life. The book is tentatively titled, The Tao of Deve. This is obviously a riff on the movie titled The Tao of Steve, with the name modified to a nickname I sometimes use.

That being said, this past seven days has been rather, um, "interesting." Pull up a stool, sit a spell, and hear tell about A Week in the Life of Deve. Have you ever had a week like this?

  • Last Thursday, a person I did not know committed suicide in the parking garage under the building in which I work. Crime scene tape went up, and we are all left wondering what happened to this poor soul to cause this irreversible outcome?
  • Friday, while riding home from work on my motorcycle, I came upon a fatal accident involving a fellow motorcyclist and a truck. The collision had occurred moments before I arrived at the intersection between Richmond Highway and the street that goes to my house. The biker was traveling at a high rate of speed and the impact with the turning truck was so violent as to require life-flights for the driver and the two passengers... of the truck. Let's just say out of respect for the dead that life-flight was not required for the biker, who obviously died on impact. More crime scene tape, and hundreds of stunned neighbors. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, at the fateful intersection, family and friends held nightly vigils for the motorcyclist.
  • Wednesday morning, a gunman started shooting at people practicing for the Congressional baseball game. This national news occurred minutes after I rode my motorcycle right by the Alexandria park on my way to the office. The camera crews were still there at noon when I went home for lunch. Five people were injured and the gunman, who shot some 50 rounds from his rifle before Park Police and Special Agents protecting Congress-persons stopped him, is dead. More crime scene tape. More questions.
  • Wednesday, continued. While driving my daughter to pick up her car over our lunch break, we witnessed a driver in the lane to our left swerve to his right, over-correct to the left, lose control of his car, and sideswipe the Jersey barrier separating inner and outer loop of Beltway traffic. His side airbag deployed and we watched him safely slow his vehicle to a stop in the breakdown lane. Thankfully, no other vehicles were involved. What-if questions abound. What if he had completely lost control? What if there had been no Jersey barrier and the driver went head-on into opposing traffic? What if he were injured by the impact with the barrier--would we have be competent to render aid? What if there had been more traffic--and more cars involved in a pile-up? Lastly and most hauntingly--what if he had careened into our car?

I share these four vignettes to express my grateful heart and to encourage others to find things to be grateful for amidst the occasionally terrifying events around us. Yes, sometimes we must look a little harder to find the good, but it is always possible and always worth the effort.

Life is stochastic. I personally believe in something I call God-authored randomness. In other words, the Universe is intentionally and deliberately uncertain--by design. I don't believe that there is no plan. Rather, I believe that the plan is to allow random forces to work. If nothing else, this keeps us on our toes. But it also explains why good things happen to bad people.

The effect on me of being in close proximity to any one of these four recent events? I feel lucky. Nothing more. I do not feel protected by the hand of God, though I appeal to God for protection and believe that such appeals have a positive effect. I am only vaguely aware of how often I've dodged bullets like these. I am grateful to be alive in terrifyingly interesting times.

The effect of all four of these events in a week? I take a step back. I get a bit philosophical. I realize I must pay attention to my surroundings. I vow to never take a single day for granted. We should all consider that fate is fickle. Life is good, even when it seems chaotic, unfair, or tragic.

Speaking of chaotic, I had a friend ask me if my concept of God-authored randomness wasn't just a new name for Chaos Theory. Not really, not in my humble opinion anyway. Chaos theory states that underlying the apparent chaos is an unseen order. The oft-cited example is the butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil and causing a a tornado in Texas--"causing" being the key word. Chaos theory depends on the inter-connected-ness of all things. Unbroken chains of events only appear to be chaotic but are actually predictable.

Perhaps God is the Master Watch Maker and the Universe is an inconceivably complex watch, as Chaos Theory implies. But it is simpler and saner (IMHO) to imagine God as an all-powerful but somewhat laissez faire Creator who unleashed the life force and who delights in all its many manifestations as it struggles, adapts, and overcomes all obstacles in seeking its Source. The God-authored randomness theory states that life happens according to the biological imperative (which could be seen as a Divine charter) and the circumstances of daily living are completely random--no underlying order can or should be inferred.

Believe it or not: we are where we're meant to be. Some of us are more successful, some less so. Every moment is a gift. The wind is at our backs. The sun is in our faces. Rain falls gently on our fields. Storms do come and go--some wreaking devastation and leaving destruction in their wake. That's part of the deal. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow, but we can all know that, come what may, life is good. Bad things happen to good people, yet we must strive to be good, just, and compassionate. I am happy, and grateful to be alive.

It's been a rather interesting week in the Life of Deve.