Tag Archives: Improvisation

90% of improvising is mental. The other half is physical.

This went up on the USS Rock N Roll blog today:

I think that about a third of a being good improvisor is being an invested human being. Another third of it is being a good listener. And then the final third is being a real weirdo, having a unique point of view.

In honor of the opening week of baseball season, today I’m going to focus on two of the funnest, weirdest points of view I’ve encountered lately. They came up through rewatching that Ken Burns Baseball documentary. Inning 7, chronicling the 1950s, absolutely kills me. (In a good way, but it also in a bad way, considering the Yankees success, on which more later.)

Something about the ’50s really gets me. The Brooklyn Dodgers finally win a Series. The country is idyllic, but rife with social issues which would explode in the ‘60s. Things were perfect, but so terribly off.  Though it was published in 1963, I think part of my fascination with the era may well come from the voice of J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, which I read not necessarily every year, but frequently. Rightly or wrongly, I equate his writing style with a very ‘50s sensibility.  (That book speaks less to me now than when I first read it at twenty-three, the age of the narrator, but I still sure do like it.) There’s something innocent but also depraved about that whole time period, and about that story. The weird wholesomeness juxtaposed against impending tragedy. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Baseball, Being Human, Improvisation

There Will Be Time (?)

This is on the USS Rock N Roll Blog today:

St. Louis-born T.S. Eliot swore loyalty to the British crown and renounced American citizenship at the age of 39. His accent is very anglo, and the sound of his voice is ridiculously poncy. The last few years I’ve developed an arbitrarily strong distaste for his change of allegiance. American letters needs all the heroes it can spawn! But then I take a hard look at my own wannabe Euro antics: I harbor a fascination with the Premier League and BBC programming, pretend to speak French, and came home from two years in Ireland with what my friends called an accent*. The pot has already hung up with the kettle. My friend Tom says we must be aware when someone irritates, because they manifest something we don’t like about ourselves.

While trying to shape this post I did a good bit of staring out a diner window at the rain, hating March, and thinking ole Thomas Sterns was wrong about April being the cruelest month. I was awash in familiar waves of despondence. And that got me thinking about Prufrock, and that sometimes I think I should indeed have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas, and how much I find comfort in the words:

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of toast and tea. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Being Human, Improvisation

Taking One Thing With Another

This was up on the USS Rock ‘n Roll Blog today:

Sometimes I am uncertain! This is not unusual, but today, trying to write, I am worried that it will not be exceptional.  So I will use a favorite tactic, and lean upon others. There are a lot of great lines in Kurt Vonnegut books. He drew great pictures in Breakfast of Champions, including this one of a rattlesnake:

There is a lot of formidable writing in that book, including this section regarding Kilgore Trout, Vonnegut’s alter-ego in many of his novels, a homeless science fiction writer with unshakable self-confidence: Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Improvisation