Saturday, October 31, 2009

Don't Bother to Wrap It; I'll Eat it Here

A Halloween Gift For You.

There's an often-repeated story about New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams that he would periodically lose his mind and have to be institutionalized. Luckily (according to the story), there was a sign that he was about to go down the rabbit hole: he would draw a cartoon showing a ghoul in a maternity ward talking to the nurse wrapping his new offspring in swaddling clothes. The caption? "Don't bother to wrap it; I'll eat it here."

And whenever Addams would turn in this cartoon, the higher-ups at the New Yorker would phone Bellevue and have him taken away until he was sane enough to continue his regular life.

I love this story. Now there's no evidence that it's true (the cartoon in question doesn't exist, which would be odd if Addams redrew it many times) and Addams himself is just perverse enough to have come up with this story himself (in any event, he delighted when people retold it).

This makes me love the story even more.

And, ultimately isn't that what Halloween is all about? A chance to move between worlds -- shifting phase between fantasy and reality, between earthly and unearthly, between the dead and the undead?

So... as a token of the season, Amy Engelhardt (aka Mrs. Clicks and Pops) has a Halloween gift for you: Head over to her MySpace page for a free download of "Are You Dead or Are You Undead" from her album Not Gonna Be Pretty.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Listen to This, Go Here, Read That

What Got My Attention This Week...

It used to mean something when a record made the charts. These days? Not so much.
NPR's "On the Media" explains the charts -- then and now.

Holly Hughes over at The Song in My Head Today tackles Eighties Cheese all week, but has particularly great posts on Modern English and Bonnie Tyler. (But shouldn't that type of cheese be spelled "cheez"?)

Marcello Carlin over at Then Play Long has been reviewing every British Number 1 album from 1956 on. He's up to December 1968 and The Beatles (aka The White Album, which gets the usual comprehensive treatment.

Peter over at Peter's Power Pop celebrates the most unique (and perhaps embarassing) song in David Bowie's oevre.

Jim Bartlett over on the blog has the definitive look at "The Monster Mash." Jim also blogs at The Hits Keep Coming -- which is always a good read. (By the way, you can hear "The Monster Mash" here, among other places.)

And, to stretch the Halloween theme a bit, dreams can always be a little spooky. Connie over at W. Va. Fur and Root has had a recurring dream for years -- pop over there and help her interpret it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

With My Partner in Crime

She is looking at me as if I'm something she owns.

She always knew what she wanted -- to become a psychologist.

But she had little interest in people or what made them tick.

No, she wanted to study apes. Chimps, orangutans, miscellaneous monkeys. She wanted to study them and understand how they thought.

She had no patience for human foibles and was constantly confused by the pettiness and meanness of the people she knew.

She worshipped Jane Goodall and imagined a life of deep meditation in the jungles. (Which, I'm pretty sure, would look a lot like this.)

She was one of the skinniest people I'd ever met and every woman I'd ever met thought she was unspeakably gorgeous.

Her interest in apes was a secret and I was one of the few people who knew. This made me feel great. I had secrets too, but I didn't share them with her. I don't know how this made her feel.

Then she spent a semester overseas. In the jungle. Living with the great apes. And came back a changed woman.

"They made music," she told me. But the music wasn't the beautiful sound she'd imagined; it was discordant, violent, and terrifying.

The changes in her were immediate. Her smug seriousness and certainty vanished, replaced by a lightness. She suddenly developed a sense of humor and the absurdities of daily life amused her instead of depressing her.

And she started listening to music. And dancing.

She gained a little weight, started going to bars, and became interested in people. Even when they were mean. Or petty. Or terrifying. Or making music.

Then she got a boyfriend (not me). And another one (also not me). And a third, whom she completely loved (again not me). She told them her secrets (not me) and by the time I was ready to tell her my secrets she was long gone.

And, yeah, she eventually did become a psychologist -- but she specializes in people, not apes. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Scary Song and the Creepy Coincidence

"I've never gone up in a tower and shot people, but I know what it's like to be scared and angry."
-- Harry Chapin

I had nearly constant insomnia growing up and would frequently listen to the radio in the middle of the night.

Sometimes it was Larry King's old radio show, a rambling, middle-of-the-night combination of interesting interviews, conspiracy theories, and the rantings of weirdos up after 3 am.

But one night, I got tired of hearing yet another Frank Sinatra story from Larry King, I tuned to one of the many college radio stations in the area.

And there I heard something amazing: a nearly ten-minute folky song that took you inside the mind of someone who climbed a clock tower with a rifle and started shooting at passing college students. It was riveting and terrifying all at the same time. And I had no idea what the song was or who sang it.

These days, you'd just go to the radio station website and find out (or google some line from the lyrics), but this was much earlier. I thought of going out to the phone, calling the radio station and asking the DJ, but I knew that would have woken my entire family (who definitely wouldn't have understood why I needed to know this particular piece of information at 3:25 am).

None of my music savvy friends knew what song I was talking about (although several people suggested I must be talking about "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats, which was a shorter, poppier, and less scary approach to similar material).

Years later, someone told me it was a Harry Chapin song and I couldn't believe the guy who sang "Taxi" or "Cat's in the Cradle" would have a song this dark and twisted. But I had no idea what the song might be called... so I started buying up Harry Chapin albums at my local used record stores. Most of his albums were uneven -- a few great songs with some interesting experiments and some songs that seemed half-finished. (His live albums, on the other hand, were exuberant, and amazing.) So my collection of Harry Chapin records grew, but I couldn't find that song.

And after a while, I began to wonder if I'd misremembered the song -- maybe someone else sang it or maybe I'd dreamed the whole thing. Surely something that dangerous and weird, filled with bad moods, ill intent, and a heady portion of madness didn't come from the "Taxi" guy.

Then, one summer, while looking for a used Elvis Costello record, I found a Harry Chapin album called Sniper and Other Love Songs. Surely this had to be it. I plunked down my $1.25 ($1.31 with tax, I think), brought it home, and immediately confirmed that the song "Sniper" was the scary song from the middle of the night.

Between when I heard the song on the radio and when I bought the album, I'd learned that Chapin started out as a documentary filmmaker before he became a full-time singer/songwriter, that he wrote a Broadway musical called The Night That Made America Famous which closed after six weeks but was nominated for two Tony Awards, that he toured constantly, performing in 150-200 benefits per year (mostly for an organization he founded to fight world hunger). His songs were a mixed bag -- the best were brilliant slices of life, but some of them seemed lazy and badly in need of editing and polishing. Critics mostly hated him (Rolling Stone eviscerated Sniper and Other Love Songs, starting by saying "No singer/songwriter, not even Rod McKuen, apotheosizes romantic self-pity with such shameless vulgarity," and going on from there).

So that night, I listened to the song "Sniper" three or four times on bulky red headphones that made the clicks and pops on the record sound like they were hard-wired in my brain. Later, Larry King told a story about growing up in Brooklyn and I fell into a fitful sleep.

The next day, Harry Chapin got into a fight with his wife, drove off to perform at a benefit concert, got into an accident on the Long Island Expressway, and died at the age of 38. I knew it was just a coincidence. But it was a creepy coincidence, so I put the record away and didn't listen to it for more than 25 years.

Then, this morning, YouTube said right now someone was watching this video and I knew I had to watch it, too:

RIP, Harry.

For more on this song, click here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Post is Just Six Words Long

By all accounts, George Harrison was done by the mid-80s.

It must be hell to be a great songwriter in a band with two of the best songwriters in history. No matter what, you have to fight to get your one or two songs per record. And after years and years, you finally get the A-side of a single, but most people dismiss you and your spirituality and obsession with Indian music.

After nearly ten years of this, George Harrison had accumulated a huge backlog of songs that never made it onto Beatle albums. So when the Beatles broke up, Harrison decided to put them all out, releasing the triple-record masterpiece All Things Must Pass. And for the next few years, Harrison's albums were enjoyable and each had one or two great songs. But by the early 80s (and the horrible Gone Troppo), Harrison was considered done, washed-up, and ready for the golden-oldies tours of State Fairs. (And he seemed to have moved on as well, establishing Handmade Films to fund Monty Python's Life of Brian, then parlaying that movies success into a string of profitable small movies including The Missionary, Mona Lisa, Withnail and I, and a handful of Python-related movies.

No one expected Cloud Nine, a strong Jeff Lynne-produced album with songs about right-wing religious radio, John Lennon, and a cheery remake of the old gospel song "Got My Mind Set on You."

And no one expected George, the "quiet one," to be so cheerful and funny. He even smiled. Plus, because MTV still played videos back then, Harrison made not one, but two videos for "Got My Mind Set on You." The first one, a pedestrian video featuring teenagers flirting in an arcade (with Harrison playing with a band in what looked like the cog-filled inside of a watch), wasn't bad (but was very safe and traditional).

But the second one was the amazing one. The one where the clock, swords, book, and every other inaminate object and small animals dance along. The one with the stunt double doing the back flip and dancing like the hell-spawn of Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson.

Best of all, Harrison is in great vocal form here. The single went to number one in January 1988 (when it still meant something to have a number one single). And if it didn't usher in a new era of musical world domination, it freed Harrison to have more fun, led directly to the Traveling Wilbury's, and provided Weird Al Yankovic with what may be his most insightful relyric ever.

It also was one of the first four albums I ever owned on CD.

(Word count approximate.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top Five Psychedelic Rock Songs

As my cat would say: did you ever really look at your paw?

When I was growing up, just before corporations bought up every last radio station on earth and programmed it to within an inch of its life, I used to listen to a DJ named Peter Cole on a station out of Hartford.

Every Friday afternoon, he'd play a long set of psychedelic rock (even though that type of music was never heard on the radio station at any other time). I wanted to be Peter Cole when I grew up.

But instead, decades later, I'll settle for a semi-random Top 5 that were regularly featured in those Friday afternoon sets:

5. Count Five -- Psychotic Reaction

4. The Amboy Dukes (with Ted Nugent) -- Journey to the Center of Your Mind

3. Small Faces -- Itchykoo Park

2. Strawberry Alarm Clock -- Incense and Peppermints

and number 1: The Electric Prunes -- I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)
Later covered by Stiv Bators in his brief punky power pop period (which unfortuntely came right before his long dead period).

Feel free to argue and suggest alternatives.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dress Cool

Like your life depended on it.

When I was in college, all my friends worshipped David Letterman. He was quick, he was funny, he was snarky before anyone knew the word snarky.

As for me, I was fascinated by the band: Sure, Paul Schaffer was cool, but the band (dubbed "the World's Most Dangerous Band") were all at least as cool: Hiram Bullock (who played guitar barefoot), Steve Jordan (who'd go on to form the X-Pensive Winos for Keith Richards and bring a sense of pop structure to Richards' two solo albums from the late 80s and early 90s), Will Lee (who probably could slay dragons with his bass if he put his mind to it), Jordan's replacement Anton Fig (who looked like a community college professor who was secretly a superhero), and Bullock's replacement Sid McGuinnis looked like the guy your parents would love (who'd somehow always wind up knocking up your sister).

I should've been in that band -- and if it weren't for my complete lack of musical talent, I probably would've been.

In any case, I got this great job in the 1990s which (at the time) I thought was the best job anyone in the world could ever get.

A coworker from the job I was leaving gave me a piece of advice: the best way to stand out in your new job is to dress like no one else. You can completely redefine your identity with some new clothes. She suggested I start wearing Zoot Suits, then everyone would remember me as the Zoot Suit Guy.

But I didn't want to be the Zoot Suit Guy. Thinking about what I wanted to be in this new job, I kept flashing back to something I'd seen exactly once on Late Night with David Letterman. Because what I really wanted was to dress like one of these guys:

(In a more just world, this song would've topped the charts or at least gotten some decent radio play. I saw a copy of the record once for 75 cents in a used record store in Los Angeles, but didn't buy it. When I came back for it the next week, it was gone.)

Oddly enough, this was right after HBO had made the movie version of The Late Shift and I went to a wardrobe sale where they were unloading a lot of the clothes from that movie. I never quite got to be the Zoot Suit Guy, but I did wear a suit that "David Letterman" wore in the movie.

Years later, I realize I've fallen into my own style of dress, a timeless anti-fashion statement unconcerned with the latest trends (or with ironing). But every once in a while, I still put on "Letterman's" suit.

And I still look really cool in it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sgt. Pepper Trivia

Robert Stigwood has a lot to answer for.

Let's start with disco. RSO Records did more to inflict stupid records (built upon a foundation of insipid beats and mountains of cocaine) on the public than anyone in recent memory.

How about Saturday Night Fever? Not just the movie (best known to me as the movie where John Travolta, when asked about the future, responds "fuck the future" and his boss says "you don't fuck the future, the future fucks you!") but the soundtrack album.

And then there's this. (Click on poster for a larger view.)

It's hard to know where to start with this, the most horrendous of all bad rock movies, starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees (along with the about-to-break-up Aerosmith, Alice Cooper before he became a golf fanatic, Steve Martin, Earth Wind & Fire, George Burns, and Billy Preston -- who played with the Beatles and really should know better). I'd love to know exactly how high you'd need to be to think this movie was a good idea, let alone how high you'd need to be to predict that it would be the "Gone With the Wind of the 1970s."

A few facts about this movie to collect and trade:

The final scene of the movie (filmed on the old MGM lot), features a dizzying array of late-70s stars including Peter Allen, Mark Lindsey and Keith Allison (from Paul Revere & the Raiders), Keith Carradine, Bette Midler's backup singers the Harlettes, Leif Garrett, the lead singer from Black Oak Arkansas, Rick Derringer, Donovan, Yvonne Elliman, Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart, Bruce Johnston from the Beach Boys, Nils Lofgren (now of the E Street Band), Nona Hendryx, Peter Noone (from Herman's Hermits), John Mayall, Alan O'Day (of "Undercover Angel" fame), DJ Cousin Brucie, Robert Palmer, Wilson Pickett, Bonnie Raitt, Helen Reddy, Chita Rivera, Minnie Riperton, Johnny Rivers, Sha Na Na (who also played Woodstock -- insert your own "from the sublime to the ridiculous" joke here), Del Shannon, Connie Stevens, John Stewart (the Kingston Trio and "Gold" guy, not the Daily Show guy), Seals & Crofts, Tina Turner, Franki Valli, Wolfman Jack, Gary Wright (of "Dreamweaver" fame), and many others.

George Harrison and Paul and Linda McCartney visited the set that day and planned to appear in the scene, but wisely thought better of the idea.

The movie was a critical and commercial disaster and wiped out all the disco profits RSO had amassed over the past several years. (Insert your own "pride goeth before the fall" and/or hubris joke here.)

Oddly enough, the movie was a smash in one country. Although rock 'n' roll music had been outlawed in communist Poland for decades, the ruling party allowed the movie to play in Poland in 1979. It became an unexpected hit, with more than a million Poles paying to see it. (This may or may not have anything to do with the late-70s popularity of Polish jokes.)

And, most importantly, my friend Sarah and her brother Alec -- diehard Beatle fans both -- picketed the theater in Washington, DC where the movie opened. Given how popular the Bee Gees were at the time, this was an act of true courage.

One more thing: Think I'm exaggerating about how bad the movie was? Take a look at this.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Corn Flakes with John Lennon

Speaking of John Lennon...

Robert Hilburn, the longtime rock critic for the LA Times (a once-great newspaper struggling to stay alive) is opinionated, passionate, and often annoying.

But at the end of the day, he loved music and wanted everyone to hear the music he was passionate about. And if he could hang out with interesting musicians, too, then so much the better.

Hilburn has a new book coming out called Corn Flakes with John Lennon (And Other Tales from a Rock 'n' Roll Life).

Here are three excerpts from the book:

In My Life

John Lennon Re-Imagining Himself, Then Gone

Bono and Jack White Wonder: Just How Immortal is Rock Music?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Imagine (in Iceland)

Sometimes the simplest, most playful ideas are the best.

Today is John Lennon's birthday. If he'd lived, he would be 69 years old.

That's almost impossible to imagine. And out of all the celebrities who've died in my lifetime, I took his death the hardest. (I never met him, I didn't even like all his music, but there was something about his spirit that I connected with at a very deep and fundamental level.)

In the same way, I connect with Iceland in a very deep and fundamental level. There's something amazing and spiritual about Iceland and it's reflected in their lifestyle, their music, and in their amazingly beautiful scenery.

Every year, Iceland holds a huge music festival in October called Iceland Airwaves. Every year I vow to get there, but I haven't made it yet.

Three years ago, Yoko Ono started construction on the Imagine Peace Tower, on a small island just off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland. Since this project combined John Lennon and Iceland, I followed its progress closely.

The "tower" consists of a wishing well, on which is written the phrase "Imagine Peace" in 24 languages. Under the base of the wishing well are more than a half-million written wishes that Ono collected from people all around the world.

Two years ago, the tower was unveiled. Each year on John Lennon's birthday, the monument becomes a "tower of light" as 15 searchlights are bounced through mirrors and prisms to create a beam of light that stretches more than 12,000 feet into the sky. The tower of light is kept lit each year until December 8 (the day John Lennon was killed).

If you can't make it to Iceland, you can see live streaming video of the tower here.

Read more about the project here.

IMAGINE PEACE TOWER from Yoko Ono on Vimeo.

And once again this year, I vow to make it over to Iceland Airwaves... and to see this magnificent tower of light stretch up to the sky.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2 a.m. Zevonesque

Let Me Break it On Down

So it's 2 a.m. and I'm sitting in the hallway of a hospital, staring up at the ceiling tiles and contemplating making a run for it.

And meanwhile, I can't get this very NSFW Warren Zevon song out of my head. (Embedding's disabled, so click on the link; I'll wait.)

Which reminds me of going to dinner at Bob & Karen's place about seven or eight years ago. For some reason, we started talking about that song and about Warren Zevon in general. And then Karen casually says "he lives in our building." This is followed by anecdotes about people sending Warren cookies and casual encounters they had with him in the hallways.

And I'm thinking: Warren Zevon lives here? In this big, semi-anonymous building with the small pool and labyrinth-like hallways? How could that possibly be true? But when we left, I looked at the buzzer by the front gate. And there it was: Zevon.

But what do you do with this information? Do you ring his buzzer randomly and tell him how much you loved The Envoy? Do you mention how one of your friends still talks about the time he staggered drunkenly into her at a nightclub in the 1980s? Or do you bring him gourmet pastries from the bakery across the street and tell him how you thought about the song "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" every night when you went out with that waitress in 1983 (and looking back, maybe she was with the Russians, too)? And is there a way to do that without seeming like a dork or infringing on someone's well-deserved privacy?

And then you know what happened. Zevon got sick -- and the idea of randomly ringing his buzzer (which had always seemed iffy) just seemed wrong. But every time I was over at Bob & Karen's, I'd touch Zevon's name at the gate, hoping to send back some of the energy his music had given me over the years.

Now the building's had a face-lift. The outside's been painted and the pool's been spruced up. The front gate and buzzer system's been redone. And, of course, Zevon's name is gone.

Which brings me to last Friday.

I suddenly notice that I have what I'll call the OMS (Odd Medical Symptom). I Google the OMS and read all about various serious ailments, but none of them match my symptom (which, again, is very odd and came on very suddenly).

So I go on with the rest of my life until Saturday, when I push through and finally finish something I've been trying to get done for a long time. My sense of accomplishment goes away quickly when I notice the OMS again and wonder what it could be. I examine myself carefully, poking and prodding myself, and go back online, where I find what I'll call the PSI (Potentially Serious Illness).

Sure enough, the OMS is a major symptom of the PSI, but people with the PSI also reportedly have pain. And then I start feeling some pain, maybe because I've been poking and prodding myself for hours -- or maybe because I've been reading WebMD after dark.

And I think about how Warren Zevon avoided doctors for decades until he went to see one after years of pain (and was diagnosed with a terminal illness). Plus, WebMD says that people who have PSI need to be operated on within 6 hours. It also mentions gangrene and other side effects that scare me half to death.

My medical group has a doctor on call and I get through to her around 11:45 pm. I mention that I might have PSI and her first question is "How do you know about that?" I admit I Googled it and emphasize that I don't really have much pain, but I do have OMS. The Doctor says I should definitely go to the Emergency Room instead of waiting for the next morning.

So Mrs. Clicks and Pops and I go off to the E.R., where we hit the quiet time between late-evening accidents and middle-of-the-night, post-bar-closing catastrophes. Ten minutes after walking in the door, I'm examined and poked and prodded some more. I'm told that my OMS isn't that odd in the general population (even if it came on very suddenly for me and is very odd compared to my entire previous life). I'm sent upstairs where a very nice Slavic woman pokes and prods me again (this time with ultrasound), then wheels my bed out into the hall so I can stare at the ceiling tiles and think about Warren Zevon until I'm brought back to the E.R.

By this time, I'm feeling silly about the entire evening (and vow never to read WebMD after dark again). The final verdict: yes, I have OMS, but not PSI. Instead, I have a very common, somewhat annoying, innocuous and non-life threatening condition that requires no medical attention or treatment.

And I wonder if Warren Zevon isn't somewhere laughing at me, thinking "you should've brought the pastries over and rung the buzzer when you had the chance." (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

OK, It's Alright with Me

Shiny, Happy Monday Thoughts

Here are three things I love for the beginning of the week, all from blogs you should visit.

Steven at Stevenology 2.0 posted recently about singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson, who clearly has a great pop sensibility and ready access to Adobe's After Effects program. Eric is currently touring with American Idol Kelly Clarkson -- and hopefully winning over tons of her fans. His music is simple and likable and too damn catchy to ignore.

Jim Bartlett over at The Hits Just Keep on Coming points out that it was 40 years ago today that Monty Python's Flying Circus first aired on the BBC. While the Pythons might not be together anymore, this fact is bound to leave them pining for the fjords.

And, on the subject of pining, Echoes in the Wind looks at the idea that couples need a song. For my take on the topic, click here.

Bonus: Ms. Mix & Bitch over at Mix Tape Therapy (sadly not covered under proposed healthcare reform legislation) runs down 2009's Top Ten celebutard baby names. (And the celebs who apparently don't care that naming a kid Spec Wildhorse will result in years and years of therapy...)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Look Back to Look Sharp

Is she really going out with the sax player?

Joe Jackson exploded into rock music in 1978, seemingly fully formed. His pop sensibilities were first rate, his musicianship was amazing, and his anger and punk sensibilities had no rival (Elvis Costello and Graham Parker notwithstanding).

And if there's a better out-of-the-gate one-two punch than Look Sharp! and I'm the Man, bring it on.

But Jackson was classically trained and was already growing tired of two-and-a-half-minute masterpieces. He thought he could channel Gershwin and the Ramones and no one would complain.

He was wrong. And when his third album Beat Crazy included ska and reggae rhythms, the public just wanted to know where the new "Is She Really Going Out with Him" was coming from.

So he broke up his band, assembled a group of jazz players and released Jumpin' Jive, a collection of swing-era blues songs originally recorded by Louis Jordan, Glenn Miller Cab Calloway, and others. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Some called this career suicide, but Jackson really seemed to let loose and have fun, playing some of the music he'd loved growing up.

In the nearly 30 years since then, his career has gone up and down. He moved to New York, then later to Berlin, recorded with Suzanne Vega, Ben Folds, and many others. He had a huge hit single from an album where he channeled Cole Porter and recorded the first album recorded live to a two-track master tape (preventing tinkering and later overdubs). His later albums included symphonic works, a concept album about Hell, and a sequel to the Cole Porteresque album. He reformed the original Joe Jackson Band for a reunion tour (despite having declared years earlier that life was too short to ever play with those guys again); they made a live album and great album of new material that would have been a hit in a universe where musical justice prevails. His last album Rain jettisoned the guitar player for a not-quite-rock, not-quite-jazz piano-bass-drums sound that delivers the goods while proudly defying attempts at musical categorization. And even if Jackson doesn't tour with a full horn section, he still occasionally pulls out a chestnut or two from the Jumpin' Jive era.

What does this all mean as the days get colder and the nights get longer?

Maybe the lesson of Joe Jackson is that it's always possible to change and start something new. And that doesn't mean that you can't later go back to something older. It's a lesson of hope... and God knows we need a few more lessons of hope these days. To quote one of those great Jumpin' Jive songs: "We the cats shall hep ya (so reap this righteous riff)."