Category Archives: video

Goodnight Mr. Cohen and Thanks


Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 10, 2016).  A novelist, poet and songwriter.  A beautiful soul has passed ahead of us.  I’m sorry Bob Dylan but for the Nobel Prize for Literature, I would have thought of Leonard Cohen  ahead of you.

Here is a little tribute and remembrance post to this wonderful individual whose words and music can touch our hearts.  I decided not to post some obvious choices like “Suzanne” or “Hallelujah” as I expect they will be cropping up all over.  I had previously posted on two of my favorites “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Villanelle for Our Times”. So here are two more of his stellar songs as sung by two lovely songstress.

 

The Storytelling Singer


So Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2016.   An unusual and unexpected choice because this is the first time the award has been given to a songwriter.  That Bob Dylan is one of the most influential songwriters ever and that he deserves recognition as a poet is in my opinion without doubt.  However, some will criticize the decision.

American comedian Rob Delaney wrote on Twitter “Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature? What’s next, [former baseballer] Derek Jeter wins a Tony for his rice pilaf?”

But since, we are talking about songwriting as good literature, I thought I would share with you one of my favorites which also happens to have an earworm for me for the last few days.

I refer to the 1967 number one hit, “Ode to Billie Joe”, which won three Grammys for its singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry.  I was just 6 years old when I heard it for the first time and  I had not yet developed my understanding of nor a sense of my personal taste in music but even then I was hooked on this song.  I liked the very simple guitar and strings arrangement  but I was really fascinated with was the story that the song was telling and the way it was being told;  a story of tragedy and mystery being woven in with ordinary, even banal conversation in a very ordinary setting.  Interestingly, it has been reported that Bob Dylan did not think so highly of Bobbie Gentry’s writing style in that song and that he wrote “Clothes Line Saga” (recorded in 1967; released on the 1975 album The Basement Tapes) as a parody of that writing style.   He had originally titled his song as “Answer to Ode”.

Well, ex-cu-se me, Mr. Recently Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but I like the song and the way Bobbie Gentry wrote it.  Like any other fine literature, it engages, it draws one in, it tells a story about life, it affects us emotionally and it leaves us with as many questions as it answers.

Here without further ado is the work itself……..

It was the third of June,
another sleepy, dusty Delta day.
I was out choppin’ cotton
and my brother was balin’ hay.
And at dinner time we stopped,
and we walked back to the house to eat.
And mama hollered at the back door
“y’all remember to wipe your feet.”
And then she said she got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge
Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Papa said to mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas,
“Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense,
pass the biscuits, please.”
“There’s five more acres in the lower forty I’ve got to plow.”
Mama said it was shame about Billy Joe, anyhow.
Seems like nothin’ ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge,
And now Billy Joe MacAllister’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billy Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show.
And wasn’t I talkin’ to him after church last Sunday night?
“I’ll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don’t seem right.
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge,
And now you tell me Billy Joe’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.”

Mama said to me “Child, what’s happened to your appetite?
I’ve been cookin’ all morning and you haven’t touched a single bite.
That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today,
Said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday. Oh, by the way,
He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge
And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge.”

A year has come ‘n’ gone since we heard the news ’bout Billy Joe.
Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo.
There was a virus going ’round, papa caught it and he died last spring,
And now mama doesn’t seem to wanna do much of anything.
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin’ flowers up on Choctaw Ridge,
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

There!  Did you catch my earworm?

The Answer


It is strange how this post came about.  I had a few competing ideas for a post but decided I wanted to share a song here.  But then, there were a few new songs that I thought were “share-worthy”.  So how to narrow it down and pick one?

While I was still pondering my choices, I visited some blogs.  A couple of blogs had posts that made me remember a dark period in my life when I went through a life sapping depression or rather it reminded me of how I was able to escape its chains.

First, Beth posted a short quote by Eugene Kennedy about friendship and somehow it was a powerful trigger for memories of a dear friend whose unquestioning, non-judging, accepting, patient friendship was like a lifesaver that kept me from going under.

Then, I read the post by Caralyn, who has a wonderfully powerful and inspiring blog in which she shares about her journey through the “throes of anorexia”.  In this post, she openly answers the questions that many ask her – “How did I break free? How did I embrace recovery when I was so sick.”  Her answer was “It was God”.  She made the choice to begin her journey of recovery and asked God for His help and found that God gave her all  the strength and help she needed for that journey.  Well, that would be my answer too about how I recovered from shattered self worth and depression.

For these reasons, I would like to share with you this beautiful song “The Answer” by Corrine May.  I only recently heard this song.  Its melody is actually that of “Jupiter”by Gustav Holst from his Planets suite which is probably my all time favorite classical piece.  But the lyrics by Corrine May reflects what I have shared in this post and what I hold true to my own heart. (Incidentally, Corrine is from Singapore which is my part of the world – so go buy her music!)

Hope you enjoy it.

I believe You are the answer to every tear I’ve cried
I believe that You are with me,
My rising and my light. 

Give me strength when I am weary
Give me hope when I can’t see
Through the crosses I must carry
Lord, bind my heart to Thee

That when all my days are over
And all my chores are done,
I may see Your risen Glory
Forever where You are.

Every Four Years


Every four years, sportsmen and women gather in some corner of the world to “contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play” (plagiarized or Melania Trumpized from the Olympics organisation).

And every four years, everyone seems to be watching the Olympics, talking about the Olympics or blogging about the Olympics.  Bowing to immense pressure from shareholders, the Lone Grey Squirrel has reluctantly agreed to do an Olympics post to boost flagging blog traffic.

But of course, this squirrel’s nod to the Olympics has a nutty flavour.  Without further ado, here is our tip of the hat to the Olympic sport of gymnastics.

Bitter Searching for Commonwealth


Remembering Orlando……

Remembering Orlando, Paris, Brussels, Syria, Kenya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Boston, Oslo, Sandy Hill, Virginia Tech, Turkey, Oklahoma City, New York ……………….. so many.

Why so much hate?  Where is the love for brother man?  If we cannot at least respect each other, how can we hope for a better world for our children?

My tribute to those whose lives have been snatched away or shattered……. and my plea to the world……

Poem by F.R. Scott; song by Leonard Cohen.

May we rise, from bitter searching of the heart, to play a greater part that men may know commonwealth again.

Choosing Sides


When I was young, I spent a lot of time reading comics.  And now, some of those same comics have made it onto the silver screen in a big or should I say, a MEGA way.  The Marvel-Disney stable of movies now account for four of the five movies with the biggest grossing opening weekends of all time.  The Marvel comics movie franchise has now earned more than Harry Potter, James Bond, the Hobbits or even Star Wars.

All of which merely underlines the fact that I had a wasted youth. If only I had studied my comics more diligently instead of wasting my precious time with trigonometry, science and history at school, perhaps today I would be enjoying my share of the Marvel bonanza. If only. Yes……a wasted youth is a sad, sad thing.

Anyway, I just came back from watching the latest Marvel movie, “Captain America: Civil War”. It was a great movie. I enjoyed it; my wife enjoyed it; my young nephews enjoyed it; someone I know who is really into comics really enjoyed it; someone I know who doesn’t read comics at all went to see it twice! So this means this squirrel gives it a 5 acorn rating.

But without letting the cat out of the bag (and us squirrels prefer the cat not to be running around loose), Captain America and Iron Man find themselves on opposing sides and the rest of the Avengers and superheros have to make a decision about who they support. All of this leads us to this most important and potentially divisive question being asked of all the fans, “Are you on Team Capt. America or Team Iron Man?”

When asked, Wally the Corgi said, “I’m Team Cap because he’s got a cool frisbee.” (Editor: a good enough reason!)

And what about us squirrels?  Well, actually we are great friends with Black Widow so whoever she sides with is just fine with us. Although, sometimes we can’t tell if she is on this side or the other as so often she is playing the double agent. All very confusing really.

squirrel girl black widow
Squirrel Girl hanging with good friend Black Widow and some weirdo.

So whose team are you?

Fun With Squirrels


This blog has lost its focus of late in that we haven’t had a post about squirrels for many moons.  And with the absence of squirrels, there hasn’t been much fun around here either; because Squirrels = FUN!

pick a nut

Here are three videos to remind us all that squirrels are fun.  In fact, the sooner all you humans surrender and submit to squirrel domination and rule of the world, the sooner we can put all the unpleasantness and get on with having fun.

Video 1 :- Squirrel horsing around

Video 2:- Squirrel -the life of the party and

Video 3:- Squirrel spectator sport

All 3 prove that you can have fun with squirrels…….. now don’t we all need some fun these days?

 

 

Thanks for the Laughs Ronnie


I love comedy and one of the comedy greats that gave me belly aching laughter for so many years was Ronnie Corbett.  He passed on this week at the age of 85.  This British comedienne was one half of the successful comedy act “The Two Ronnies” together with Ronnie Barker.  I used to laugh at their routines till I cried.

My thanks to you Ronnie Corbett for being a source of so much laughter and joy.  I have posted on the Two Ronnies before but here once again are two of my favourite sketches from their partnership.

The first is entitled “Swedish Made Simple”

 

And the second is “Hieroglyphics explained”

Children are Our Future


Things have been just terrible all around the world.  Bombings, killings, greed, corruption, injustice …….  I am not blind to these horrors but I don’t think you need me to repeat the list of atrocities here.  We are almost constantly assailed these days with bad news every time we watch TV or check things out things on the internet.

It goes without saying that the Lone Grey Squirrel is greatly saddened by the loss of life and the suffering that is occurring.  And yet, when we get an overdose of bad news, there is always a danger of being desensitized – when the next atrocity or bad news no longer impacts us anymore – when we become numb.

The best way to avoid the numbness or to avoid becoming cynical is to remind ourselves that we humans can also create great beauty, exhibit great kindness and do much good.  And one fantastic source to draw on for such a spiritual uplifting are children.  As the song goes, children are our future.  They are our hope.  Their innocence, their unquestioning trust and their unconditional love can really roll back the dark clouds.

I have been blessed by the children that go to the children’s playgroup that I volunteer at.  I always come away with a spring in my step, an extra beat in my heart and with my joy of life restored.

So please enjoy the following video and may it restore your faith in humanity.

 

Ooops……or maybe not.

(featured image from https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sneezy-The-Penn-State-Squirrel/386655541377081)