27 June 2007

Lavender is in bloom.

24 June 2007

A tribute to his genius, Jeff Beck, who celebrates a birthday today, is a video from YouTube of the inspiring Declan, with Jennifer Batten accompanying.

And for a dose of nostalgia, the acclaimed scene from the cult classic movie Blow Up, of the Yardbirds, with Jeff and Jimmy Page, as Jeff proceeds to destroy his guitar and amp for producing an unwelcomed static while the Train Kept A Rollin'. Bad amp, bad guitar. Great scene.

In honour of Mick Fleetwood's 65th birthday today here is a YouTube video of a classic by Fleetwood Mac, with Peter Green, the sublime Albatross, pious bird of good omen.

21 June 2007


The summer solstice, about June 21, is ruled by the Archangel Uriel, who offers us the light of God.-Ambika Wauters,"The Angelic Year"

Summer begins June 21, 2:06 P.M. EDT. "Solstice" means "sun stands still." In late June in the Northern Hemisphere, and in late December in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stay in one place north or south of the celestial equator (the projection of the Earth's equator onto the sky); it changes little in declination from one day to the next.

18 June 2007

Forever mellow

"OK," Norah Jones says, "I really loved Axl Rose. I was into Motley Crüe and Guns N' Roses, and then Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I loved that music."

She's sitting in one of those overstuffed chairs that hotels specialize in -- this particular hotel being in Los Angeles -- with her feet tucked under her so she won't fidget.

"I'm very short attention span," she says.

At 28, Jones seems engagingly like a teenager -- a very well-adjusted teenager, admittedly. Partly it's the implied italics, exclamation marks and attention-deflecting laughter that pepper her conversation. Partly it's the clothes -- mall-casual more than old-time glamour, nothing at all like those posters that sprouted all over San Francisco a couple of months back when her new album, "Not Too Late," came out.

If someone were to walk in here right now, someone who didn't know much about music -- let's make it harder, someone who did -- and you told that person that this was one of the biggest pop sensations of the past 10 years, that person would think you were putting him on. Meanwhile, Jones continues with her testimonial to heavy rock, recalling how, at a tender age, she used to air-drum along to the radio.

"But I imitated Sarah Vaughan in my bathroom shower, I didn't imitate Axl Rose -- until I was much older," she says with a laugh. "I was building up to that."

Of course, we know she wasn't. Jones made her name and her fortune -- her first two albums sold more than 30 million copies and garnered eight Grammys; her third and latest premiered at No. 1 -- with songs that are smooth-edged and intimate, sad but somehow comforting, whose soft-focus, languorous beauty recalls an earlier, less complicated time. She says she's not the "melancholy, romantic" person she appears to be in the songs -- even in the songs she wrote herself, which make up just about all of "Not Too Late." She's a happy person, she insists, saying she "borrowed a lot of stuff from other people's psychology" for her songs.

"It was stuff I could relate to, of course, but no, it wasn't all my own stuff, all pouring out in one go," she says.

Drawn to sad, slow music ever since she was a little girl, she used to compile her own anthologies of sadness, "just so I could cry. When I was feeling sad, to get it all out, I would just put on my mix tape."

Bar the first four years of her life, which when she lived in New York, where she was born, Jones' childhood was spent in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas. It was just Norah and her mother, Sue Jones, a onetime dancer from Oklahoma. The locals thought Norah was Mexican ("I did look very Mexican, actually"). As is common knowledge now, she is a half Indian, the daughter of sitar superstar Ravi Shankar. An absent father for more than half her childhood -- Jones thinks he came to Texas to visit once, but she was too young to remember -- Shankar has long since reconciled with her.

"It's all in a really good place now," says Jones, who especially delights in having a half-sister of a similar age, sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

Jones is the first to acknowledge that she doesn't know much about her Asian heritage.

"My mom tried to downplay it, I think," she says. "I think she thought that unless my dad was around, it would be mean to have his music and all of the stuff, you know what I mean?"

But she's quick to point out that "there's time for that. And I do have a strong sense of my heritage, and that's this whole Texas thing."

If asked to pick her favorite singer-songwriter, she chooses Willie Nelson.

"I come from Texas," she says, "so Willie is God."

She laughs while describing how she tried to persuade Anoushka Shankar of the country singer's genius.

"She doesn't listen to Willie Nelson, and I feel like he's my homeboy, you know? He is the root of all music for me," she says.

Jones' low-key country side band, the Little Willies, was named in homage to Nelson, with whom Jones has sung a number of times. The first time was in San Francisco, when she opened Nelson's four-night stand at the Fillmore, "just before my first album came out. That was just the thrill of my life, and one of the things that makes San Francisco so special for me."

It was her second time in the Bay Area. The first was in September 2001, to attend a wedding with her boyfriend, bandmate and co-writer, Lee Alexander.

"I just fell in love with the place," she says. "We almost moved here. It was right after 9/11, when a lot of us, as a first reaction, thought of moving out of New York. Actually, most of my band lived in the Bay Area during the dot-com thing and all knew each other, which is how I met them all. If it weren't for San Francisco, things would be very different for me."

Right now she has no intention of leaving New York, where she and Alexander have an apartment in the city and an upstate country house. In the past, Jones has seemed less than enthused about spending much time away from home, but she says she's really enjoying her current tour, which brings her to Berkeley's Greek Theatre on Saturday and Saratoga's Mountain Winery on June 25. "The fact that I finally had a break from touring, before we made the new album, was a big part of it -- that I was finally able to just settle into my normal life again," she says. "I mean, I love playing with my band, but I just felt like I was living 'Groundhog Day' every day, you know? But this tour has been a lot of fun. I feel a lot more comfortable performing, and we have a cool show, really different from last time we toured. We're switching around on instruments a lot, and there's a lot more variety, even though it's still all quiet, mellow music. I think I'm finally finding the balance between us just playing the music like we always have and having to put on a show for a lot of people in a big place when the way we play isn't really conducive to big places. This time it's more of a show"

Between concerts, she has been writing more songs.

"We haven't worked them into the set yet," she says, smiling, "but maybe by the time we get to the Greek, which is one of my favorite venues, we will."

NORAH JONES appears at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley

Dreams really do come true...

Article link

Temperance native makes a CD with little help from some famous friends

From left: Jeff Beck; Steve Bush, Ron Wood’s engineer; Ron Wood, and Jimmy McIntosh.


Jimmy McIntosh had this nutty idea that seemed so far out even his wife didn’t buy it.

The Temperance, Mich., native who relocated to Las Vegas years ago would get one of his guitar heroes to play on his solo disc. He’d just send an e-mail to Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and invite him to play on a track or two.

Why not?

It was a stretch, for sure. McIntosh and his buddy Roger Stanton had journeyed to Cleveland in 1975 to see Wood on his first Stones tour, two southeast Michigan kids on a Greyhound to see the legends. Now, 30-some years later, he was inviting Wood to play on his CD.

“I told my wife, ‘Man, that would be awesome,’ and she said, ‘You’re crazy, you’re not going to hear anything from him,’” he said in a phone interview from his Las Vegas home.

Except it worked, which is a testament mostly to McIntosh’s talent as a jazz guitarist, which has connected him with some of the top musicians in the world, and to his willingness to take a chance on having his ego bruised. And not only did the Bedford High School graduate get to visit Wood in his London studio, but another of his heroes, Jeff Beck, showed up and also played on his disc, “Orleans to London.”

“It was really exciting, I’ll tell you that. Geez,” McIntosh said.

Here’s how it happened.

Growing up in Temperance, McIntosh took up the French horn and — in what would become a lifelong association with famous people — received encouragement from one of the greatest American musicians ever: Duke Ellington.

McIntosh’s mother, Ann, met Ellington in a Las Vegas coffee shop in the 1960s and was friends with him from 1968 until he died in 1974. His parents were divorced, and his mom — a Bedford High School English teacher — met the great band leader while she was at a conference.

Ellington immediately became friends with her and invited her to a reception at the White House, which she rejected because she didn’t know him that well, McIntosh said.
“She turned him down and I think he was impressed by that,” he said, laughing.

Ellington was a frequent presence in the McIntosh family’s life. Jimmy, his mom, and his sister would go to Ellington’s shows when he played in Ohio or Detroit, and he was a regular caller to their home.

“The phone would ring two or three times a week and it would be Mr. Ellington,” he said. “My sister and I just loved him. We thought he was the greatest thing.”

For his first French horn concert, Ellington called and gave him a little pep talk and he would tell Jimmy’s mom that the boy was going to grow up to be a musician and one who would want to play his own music sometime in his life, planting the seed that would help spur McIntosh from being a career sideman to making his own CD.

“About once a year I would remember that statement, ‘Hmm, Mr. Ellington said that.’”
The Teacher

As a teen, McIntosh found his way to the guitar and began studying it intensely, honing his chops in the ’70s and working with longtime Toledo music teacher and highly respected player John Justus.

“He was a good boy from the beginning,” said Justus, who is now in his late 70s. “He was sort of special to me. He worked hard. He always got his lessons and had a lot of respect for what he was trying to do. He was really sold on being a musician.”

McIntosh wasn’t afraid of the hard work that it takes to develop the skills to be a top Vegas sideman and session musician who can jam with Beck and Wood.

“He seemed to have nothing on his mind but music, hour after hour,” Justus said. “I would talk to his mother and she said that’s all he ever does, he just sits there with his guitar. That was his life.”

For his part, the student gives all the credit to the teacher.

“If I wouldn’t have had him for a teacher I probably wouldn’t have become a professional musician,” said McIntosh, who still keeps in regular touch with Justus.

After graduating from Bedford High School in 1976, he attended the Berklee College of Music for two years before transferring to the University of Michigan and earning a bachelor’s degree in musical arts with a major in guitar performance.
The Sideman

Graduation ended McIntosh’s time in Toledo and Bedford Township. He took his experiences working with Justus and playing with renowned jazz guitarist Scott Henderson — another Toledo-area native — and headed west to Las Vegas.

He moved there in 1981, taking gigs wherever he could find them and carving out a career as a guitar-for-hire. He played with Little Anthony & The Imperials, backed up Buddy Hackett and Ben Vereen, and even toured in David Cassidy’s road band.

McIntosh was in the house band for Penn &Teller’s Sin City Spectacular on the FX network, striking up a friendship with Penn Jillette that includes jamming with the magician in his home studio (Jillette plays bass), watching movies and writing songs.

Beginning in 1990 he played in the Lon Bronson All-Stars Band, a horn-based R&B band that played a regular after-hours show at the Riviera. The group attracted artists ranging from Drew Carey to guitarist Joe Walsh.

Now he’s in the band for the Vegas Mamma Mia production based on the music of Abba. While his passion is his solo work — he also plays in a trio that focuses on his own music — the gigs with the professional productions pay the bills. And more.

“You’re playing the same music night after night. They’re not into changing the songs up or anything like that. If you’re a young musician and you want to play the blues or jazz and you come in with a job like that you might think this might be kind of a drag,” McIntosh said.

“But when it comes time to make a living and you want to own a house and so on, it’s a very good job. There’s actually benefits, there’s a pension fund, the pay is pretty good. If it wasn’t for Mamma Mia, I wouldn’t have been able to make this record.”
The Record

With Ellington’s voice ringing in his ears and the recent deaths of his father, Woody, and buddy Roger on his mind, McIntosh decided it was time to make his own music. Over the years he had made friends with Art Neville and his drummer, “Mean” Willie Greene, and they would form the core of the band he put together to start recording songs.

As the “Orleans to London” project evolved, McIntosh recruited Cyril Neville and Ivan Neville to round out the players on the jazz/funk disc, which is mostly instrumental except for the Jillette-penned “It Was A Virus.” The result is a breezy, soulful disc that echoes Beck’s mid-70s works, “Blow By Blow” and “Wired.”

The Neville connection is what gave McIntosh access to Wood. He had bought some of Wood’s art years ago and still had the phone number of one of the guitarist’s representatives. So he sent him an e-mail and mentioned that the Nevilles — who the Stones have long cited as a significant influence — were playing on the new work.

E-mails were exchanged and the next thing McIntosh knew he was jetting to London with his wife to visit Wood, who heard the demo tapes and said he’d like to add his guitar work to the disc. They were in Wood’s studio when he casually mentioned that a friend might show up.

“He said, ‘Gee I told Jeff Beck about your record with the Nevilles and he might drop by and play on it.’” McIntosh said. “I couldn’t believe what I heard. I was speechless, literally.”

The end result of their work is that Wood is on five songs, including the tribute to Stanton called “Rogent,” and Beck (credited as “Hot Rod” because of contractual issues) is on three. Beck, a notoriously difficult character, was a bit “stand-offish” but nice enough and generous with his time, McIntosh said.

After the session Wood took McIntosh and his wife to a concert by former Stones bassist Bill Wyman in London. He found himself sitting in a Mercedes with his wife, Carol, in the middle and Wood on the other side, chatting and enjoying a night on the town. Thanks to Wood’s gregarious nature, it wasn’t intimidating — just fun.

“Even though he’s one of the Stones... you’re just like, ‘OK these guys are musicians first.’ And I’ve always thought that, even though these guys are larger than life.”

McIntosh, who no longer has family in the area, was recently featured in Vintage Guitar magazine and he plans to continue promoting his “Orleans to London” while holding down sideman jobs.

“If I had my choice I’d play my own music for a living six nights a week. I wish I could do that,” he said. “I’m happy to make a living just playing the guitar and that’s difficult enough, unfortunately.”

“Orleans to London” is available at www.jimmymcintosh.com

13 June 2007

Silence of the Songbirds

Printable version

By Bridget Stutchbury

WALKER; 256 PAGES; $24.95

The dramatic decline in songbird populations is a crisis that's unfolding worldwide, writes York University Professor of biology Bridget Stutchbury. While this change may not at first appear as dangerous as global warming, the ozone hole, overpopulation, increasing pollution or massive deforestation, once again, birds -- like the canaries used long ago to alert miners of invisible, fatal underground gases where they worked -- have become universal biological indicators of rapidly worsening, urgent environmental troubles.
Some estimates set the songbird population loss during the past four decades alone at almost half. Why should we care? Because, Stutchbury explains, "Their jobs as pollinators, fruit-eaters, insect-eaters, scavengers, and nutrient recyclers will not get done, and this will disrupt ecosystems and affect everyone on the planet."

New World songbirds spend part of their year in Central and South America, then as autumn approaches there, they migrate north during April and May to breed in the Northern Hemisphere just when spring insect populations burgeon and plants bloom. The fewer the birds, however, the fewer the insects they and their young consume, necessitating increased human dependence on pesticides, whose long-term toxic effects are themselves a major cause for concern.

The same is true for bird species working as pollinators or distributors of the seeds they eat: Fewer birds mean fewer plants and less diversity, which -- alongside rapacious, unsustainable human practices -- mean smaller, ever more fragmented forests, less rain and more erosion, all contributing to a cycle of chronic depletion.

Songbirds, Stutchbury demonstrates chapter by chapter, "are the unsung heroes of our modern world." Everyone knows we would have precious little food without bees or worms, but research is now beginning to reveal how many crucial roles songbirds play in the interlocking puzzle that supports the health of the natural world, too.

Bird counts begun in the 1960s provided a baseline. No census will ever be entirely accurate, Stutchbury writes, due to the huge numbers of birds and the enormous distances they travel annually. And it's because of this long-distance lifestyle -- songbirds, literally, inhabit entire continents in both Northern and Southern hemispheres as each year progresses -- that the message about what happens far away has finally begun to be acknowledged to have profound relevance locally. The globe, that is, really is one big, interconnected web; however tired the image, its intricate, subtle connections span the entire planet.

For example, when unregulated quantities of pesticides, some of which are now forbidden in the United States, are used heavily and/or incorrectly in Central and South America, not only do birds suffer and die there, but also their failure to return to North America or their difficulties reproducing successfully if they do manage the long journey, signal hazards we may not have noticed yet, but must become aware of and not continue to ignore. Once again, these small birds are our canaries in the mine. That their numbers dwindle year by year, decade by decade, with little or no sustained improvement, signifies a serious, long-term problem.

Stutchbury makes many convincing cases for doing the right thing: buying shade-grown coffee instead of beans from slash-and-burn properties, turning off lights at night during spring and autumn migration times, choosing recycled paper and forest products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, selecting organic produce both from Latin America and North America, avoiding crops that pose the greatest chemical risks to birds (alfalfa, Brussels sprouts, blueberries, celery, corn, cotton, cranberries, potatoes, wheat), and keeping cats indoors.

Sadly, the writing itself is awkward, disorganized and repetitive, peppered with cliches and grammatical errors, but the book's message is so important, the writer's earnest belief in her thesis and that of a growing number of like-minded scientists so enlightening, that linguistic problems may take a backseat. Here is an essential primer for any person who cares about our planet as a whole, or about our immediate environment. It's an eye-opener, to bird watchers, and an introduction that once again illuminates how nature is subtle beyond our humble efforts to comprehend.

Stutchbury spends part of each year in Ontario and the rest in Pennsylvania. A migrant herself, therefore, she exudes an insightful empathy for her study subjects. Her analogies are apt: A fragmented environment full of visible and invisible threats, with poor resources and high predation, would strain any animal's ability to succeed. The metaphor should be easy to apply: If we can, as individuals, learn to make caring choices about what we buy and how we live, if we can think of others on whom we depend -- perhaps, unknowingly until now -- each contribution, however tiny, will be a step in the right direction.

Irene Wanner is a New Mexico writer.

This article appeared on page M - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Armatrading finally No. 1 with blues

By Mark Egan

It has taken more than three decades, but singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading
has finally made it to No. 1 at age 56, thanks to her first foray into the blues.

Armatrading became a star in 1976 when her third album spawned the hit "Love and Affection," but she never topped a U.S. chart until her new CD "Into the Blues" hit No. 1 on the Billboard and iTunes blues charts.

The success comes as no surprise to her.

"I started this tour in England on February 13 and on May 9, I got the news the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. But from the start of the tour, I told the audience every night that it was going to be No. 1. I just knew it," Armatrading said in an interview.

Born on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts before emigrating to Britain as a child in 1958, she put out albums in 1972 and 1975 before gaining attention with the self-titled "Joan Armatrading" in 1976.

But if she were starting now, she would not expect the same luxury from a record company.

"Probably today, record companies would not wait for your third album to be a breakthrough," she said. "Back in the 1970s, record companies looked at an artist and saw potential and knew it doesn't always come to fruition on day two."

Armatrading is known for her complex and interesting musical arrangements, which often defy categories.

Longtime fans know her for such lilting songs as "Willow" and "Show Some Emotion." Her new album takes its inspiration from Chicago-style blues icon Muddy Waters and has won warm reviews by critics.

But she is no tortured songwriter, saying she waits for inspiration before writing anything, does not write songs for long stretches and then knocks out new compositions in 10 minutes or so.

Between tours and writing binges, she rarely picks up a guitar -- and she never practices.

"If I practiced the guitar, I'd be absolutely brilliant," she said with a laugh.


While young musicians now increasingly get their start by posting songs on MySpace and YouTube, Armatrading began in an old-fashioned talent contest.

"I came in second, oddly enough to a guy who was playing a saw," she said.

Yet while YouTube and MySpace help new acts get noticed, some things remain the same, she said.

"People think all they have to do is record the song, put it on MySpace and become a huge star. But you still need to have the talent and be good enough to get people keeping coming back," she said. "And if you really want to be big, you will still need some help."

Armatrading has managed to keep her personal life private over her long career. She reveals little about herself beyond saying she does not drink or smoke, attends few parties and never uses curse words.

"You need a private life," she said. "Why on earth would I want to divulge my private life to everybody?"

But despite her closely guarded privacy, she said she loves reading tabloids, especially for coverage of the exploits of jailed socialite Paris Hilton.

"I love the comedy of it. Sometimes it's a little too cruel but it is very funny," she said, becoming animated while talking about Hilton's jail sentence, which she said "seems excessive."

"But at the same time, maybe...," she says, trailing off into a deep laugh.


11 June 2007

Hey Bulldog by the BeaTles

It just doesn't get much fuckin' cooler....

Rain by the BeaTles

Judge cites 42 Beatles songs to teach beer thief a lesson

Daily Mail

Andrew McCormack, 20, was asked to recommend to a US court what his sentence should be for stealing beer.

McCormack: Got more than he bargained for after his beer theft. He wrote: “Like the Beetles say, Let It Be”. But his cheeky quip did not impress Gregory Todd, a 56-year-old district court judge in Montana.

In a sentencing memorandum Judge Todd first corrected McCormack's misspelling and then gave the defendant a lesson in The Beatles discography.

He replied: “Mr McCormack, you pled guilty to the charge of Burglary. To aid me in sentencing I review the pre-sentence investigation report.

“I read with interest the section containing Defendant’s statement. To the question of ‘Give your recommendation as to what you think the Court should do in this case’, you said, ‘Like the Beetles say Let It Be'.

“While I will not explore the epistemological or ontological overtones of your response, or even the syntactic of symbolic keys of your allusion, I will say Hey Jude, Do You Want to Know a Secret?

"The greatest band in rock history spelled their name B-e-a-t-l-e-s.

"I interpret the meaning of your response to suggest that there should be no consequences for your actions and I should Let it Be so you can live in Strawberry Fields Forever.

"Such reasoning is Here, There and Everywhere. It does not require a Magical Mystery Tour of interpretation to know The Word means leave it alone.

"I trust we can all Come Together on that meaning.

"If I were to overlook your actions and Let It Be, I would ignore that Day in the Life on April 21, 2006.

“Evidently, earlier that night you said to yourself I Feel Fine while drinking beer.

“Later, whether you wanted Money or were just trying to Act Naturally you became the Fool on the Hill on North 27th Street.

"As Mr Moonlight at 1.30am, you did not Think for Yourself but just focused on I, Me, Mine.

"Because you didn't ask for Help, Wait for Something else or listen to your conscience saying Honey Don't, the victim later that day was Fixing a Hole in the glass door you broke."

Judge Todd went on: "After you stole the 18 pack of Old Milwaukee you decided it was time to Run For Your Life and Carry That Weight.

“But when the witness said Baby it's You, the police responded I'll Get You and you had to admit that You Really Got a Hold on Me.

"You were not able to Get Back home because of the Chains they put on you.

“Although you hoped the police would say I Don't Want to Spoil the Party and We Can Work it Out, you were in Misery when they said you were a Bad Boy.

"When the police took you to jail, you experienced Something New as they said Hello Goodbye and you became a Nowhere Man.

"Later when you thought about what you did you may have said I'll Cry Instead. Now you’re saying Let it Be instead of I'm a Loser.

“As a result of your Hard Day's Night you are looking at a Ticket to Ride that Long and Winding Road to Deer Lodge.

"Hopefully you can say both now and When I'm 64 that I Should Have Known Better."

In McCormack’s sentencing he received probation, a community service order and a fine.

08 June 2007

~ OM ~

OM is the supreme symbol of the Lord.
OM is the whole, OM affirms; OM signals
The chanting of the hymns from the Vedas.
The priest begins with OM; spiritual teachers
And their students commence with OM.
The student who is established in OM
Becomes united with the Lord of Love.

-Taittiriya Upanishad

AUM stands for the supreme Reality.
It is a symbol for what was, what is,
And what shall be. AUM represents also
What lies beyond past, present, and future.

-Mandukya Upanishad

07 June 2007

Happy Birthday to me

HOW TO STAY YOUNG (actually not written by George Carlin but attributed to him often.) Still worth remembering in my book.

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height.
Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. " An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it.
If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin did, however, say the following:

Life is not as difficult as people think; all one needs is a good set of rules. Since it is probably too late for you, here are some guidelines to pass along to your children.

1. Relax and take it easy. Don't get caught up in hollow conceits such as "doing something with your life." Such twaddle is outmoded and a sure formula for disappointment.

2. Whatever it is you pursue, try to do it just well enough to remain in the middle third of the field. Keep your thoughts and ideas to yourself and don't ask questions. Remember, the squeaky wheel is the first one to be replaced.

3. Size people up quickly, and develop rigid attitudes based on your first impression. If you try to delve deeper and get to "know" people, you're asking for trouble.

4. Don't fall for that superstitious nonsense about treating people the way you would like to be treated. It is a transparently narcissistic approach, and may be the sign of a weak mind.

5. Spend as much time as you can pleading and impressing others, even if it makes you unhappy. Pay special attention to shallow manipulators who can do you the most harm. Remember, in the overall scheme, you count for very little.

6. Surround yourself with inferiors and losers. Not only will you look good by comparison, but they will look up to you, and that will make you feel better.

7. Don't buy into the sentimental notion that everyone has shortcomings; it's the surest way of undermining yourself. Remember, the really best people have no defects. If you're not perfect, something is wrong.

8. If by some off chance you do detect a few faults, first, accept the fact that you are probably deeply flawed. Then make a list of your faults and dwell on them. Carry the list around and try to think of things to add. Blame yourself for everything.

9. Beware of intuition and gut instincts, they are completely unreliable. Instead, develop preconceived notions and don't waver unless someone tells you to. Then change your mind and adopt their point of view. But only if they seem to know what they're talking about.

10. Never give up on an idea simply because it is bad and doesn't work. Cling to it even when it is hopeless. Anyone can cut and run, but it takes a very special person to stay with something that is stupid and harmful.

11. Always remember, today doesn't count. Trying to make something out of today only robs you of precious time that could be spent daydreaming or resting up.

12. Try to dwell on the past. Think of all the mistakes you've made, and how much better it would be if you hadn't made them. Think of what you should have done, and blame yourself for not doing so. And don't go easy. Be really hard on yourself.

13. If by chance you make a fresh mistake, especially a costly one, try to repeat it a few times so you become familiar with it and can do it easily in the future. Write it down. Put it with your list of faults.

14. Beware also of the dangerous trap of looking ahead; it will only get you in trouble. Instead, try to drift along from day to day in a meandering fashion. Don't get sidetracked with some foolish "plan."

15. Finally, enjoy yourself all the time, and do whatever you want. Don't be seduced by that mindless chatter going around about "responsibility." That's exactly the sort of thing that can ruin your life.

Happy Birthday to me Happy Birthday to me Happy Birthday to me Happy Birthday to me!