August 5, 2013

The Circus of Dr. Lao

Ah, dear friends! What a surprise to see you here at the door of my humble abode. Please, do come in and make yourself comfortable. The refrigerator is not well stocked at the moment, but I can offer you water, sweet tea or coffee creamer. I must say, you are looking happy and healthy, robust even. I haven't lost a pound this year, but I haven't gained a pound either. I feel great though! Steamed kale. Good stuff.

Allow me to share with you a most enlightening discovery. I recently watched a film called The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, starring Tony Randall. This movie, the last directed by the great George Pal, is certainly odd, but is not without it's charms. Right off the bat, I will warn you that Mr. Randall's depiction of Dr. Lao is considered quite politically incorrect today. I have much to say on the topic of political correctness, so it's best to not get me going on that topic right now. I quite admire the character of Dr. Lao, and the magic he possesses. I especially admire his humanity. There is a young boy in the movie, a fatherless child, who also comes to admire Dr. Lao. In one scene, he visits Dr. Lao in the hope that he might join the traveling circus that Dr. Lao operates. Here, have a look at what transpires next:

This scene really touched me. Choked me up a little. I guess I'm the sentimental sort. I found Dr. Lao's speech to be very profound and I hope to remember it always. It exactly crystallizes the feeling I have had for a long time that humans too often ignore their many blessings and think only of what they do not have. Friends, our priorities as a society are way off base. Nothing illustrates this point better than a documentary I recently watched on Netflix. It is called I AM and it comes to us, strangely enough, from the director of modern farces Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and the Eddie Murphy revival of The Nutty Professor, a guy named Tom Shadyac. Those films made him a very rich man, but then a traumatizing event made him question his life and face the truth that his material comforts had not , in fact, made him any happier. Here is the trailer:

Y'know, I only have one rule when it comes to appreciating pop culture. I like what I like, for whatever reason I choose to like it, without any regard for other people's opinions. I don't care for most of the ultra-violent cgi-obsessive product that is coming out of Follywood nowadays. Pretty deplorable stuff, if you ask me. Not merely innocuous, but actually offensive in it's lack of creativity and lack of decency. More depressing is the fact that a great swath of Americans will routinely plunk down fifteen bucks to watch this depressing desensitizing tripe. No, my friends, you know me. I love the fruits of true imagination, realized by honest-to-goodness craftsmen, and imbued with the love, fun, and respect these creators have for their chosen fields. Has an assemblage of artists ever produced anything as fantastic in it's conception and execution than a Looney Tune or a Hitchcock film?  I'll take any creative product made from 1930-1980 over practically anything put out by the media conglomerations today (except for Adventure Time and other notable exceptions).

This week, I have been enjoying a dvd containing every episode of a 1966 cartoon called The Super Six. Depatie-Freleng, makers of The Pink Panther cartoons, produced this for NBC's Saturday morning lineup. There were a lot of talented people involved in this production. Directors like Norm McCabe and Robert McKimson, and animators/layout artists like Corny Cole, Norm Gottfredson, and Manny Gould. The show features the amazing voice talents of Daws Butler and June Foray and catchy music by Bill Lava. The humor is corny to be sure, and more than a little dated, but it's so well-made and pleasing to look at and listen to that it's deficiencies are forgivable. Do you know where I found this? In the bottom of a five dollar kid's dvd bin at Wal-Mart. It's a fun set and I recommend it as part of your anti-brainwashing regimen, because it will help restore your appreciation of whimsy, an emotion only practiced by civilized humans.

Now, please don't get me wrong. There are an awful lot of very talented artists, musicians, and writers living and working in America and around the world today. They're just mostly underground and most people don't have the time or simply won't make the effort to seek out these artist's works. Since I've been writing and sharing my music, I have stumbled across many talented and creative songwriters and bands I never would have heard of otherwise. Do a little digging and you too will discover that rock'n'roll, funk, jazz, blues, and any other genre you may have thought was dead is merely sleeping. I'm talking real music made by real people! The good stuff! Have you ever heard of The Pillbugs? The Duckworth-Lewis Method? Beachy Head Music Club? Vinnie Zummo? Soundserif? Blake Jones and The Trike Shop? Sylbay Ksb? Check out Reverbnation, CDbaby, and indie stations like Scrub Radio and Wolfman Radio in the UK and a whole new world of music will open before your very ears! You are all also invited to join me on the ground floor of my songwriting career, over at Frontier Cabin. Imagine, one day you can tell your grandkids you were there at the very start of something big!

Friends, I know these are confusing times we are living in today. The bees are dying off, the glaciers are melting, and the assholes seem to be in charge of everything. Just remember, you can focus on the bad and lay around eating Flamin' Hot Cheetos all day, or you can cast your eyes to the wonders that still and will hopefully always exist. Never be afraid to leave the herd and follow your own path. Never feel gullible when aiding a fellow human. Follow your hearts, for only hearts can know the future. Take your brains along, too, especially the parts that make you curious and open to new ideas. All is not lost, that is just a meme spread by would be tyrants who will eventually fall, as all tyrants do. There is a Renaissance coming. Prepare yourselves well. Stay strong and keep the faith. The best is yet to come...

Oh, and don't forget to eat your steamed kale. It's good for you. :)