Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I had a really crappy day yesterday. A friend of mine in a long-standing online klatsch said something about the current political situation, and I went off on a tear about how annoying the political mail I'm receiving these days is - how the only consistent message is "us vs. them," and anything that supports that message, no matter how inconsistent with the supposed progressive party line, is cool. Like a gas tax cut, even though global warming is supposely an emergency, because, well, people don't like how expensive gas is, so if you make it cheaper somehow that's going to mean that they vote for you.

One of the tenets of Buddhism is that life is suffering, and that there really is no hope of relief from that suffering in the suffering. That is, the only way out of the cycle is to break the cycle - you can't make things better by tweaking what you do in the cycle. So it's a little bit ludicrous for me to be getting exercised about political mail, because that's all part of the cycle. Of course it's awful. Of course there is no good answer.

The funny thing is that at some point, after some very kind cajoling on the part of my lovely wife, I started to develop a really bluesy attitude about it, and that somehow helped. Admitting that the situation is hopeless made me feel happier. Weird, but true.

So anyway, I spent an hour or so ripping up the tips of my fingers on my new toy, and things seemed a lot better. The new toy is the offshoot of a couple of things, the most recent of which was an evening of music put on by Will and Emma with their friend Lojo Russo, who is a quite accomplished guitarist and singer, and really just a huge amount of fun. Check out her CDs! Emma also plays a mean guitar, and somehow watching her pluck out some old western favorites inspired me.

Anyway, I'd already been thinking that it was time to learn to play a guitar, and seeing them having such fun drove me over the edge, so I wound up picking up a used Mexican Fender Strat. It turns out to be really hard to play. I used to play keyboard, which is hard in a very different way; guitar is hard because there is no mechanical system other than your own fingers controlling what sounds come out, and the behavior of the system is 100% physics - where you put your fingers is dictated not by the symbolic representation of the musical scale, but by the length of string required to hit a certain note. Old news to you, I'm sure, but I'm a geek, so I analyze. So sue me.

Anyway, I don't know where it's going, but it's fun right now. E minor is a nice chord. I've learned two others, but my plans of doing cool bidirectional arpeggios have largely not yet come to fruition. Nevertheless, I am sure I will be playing House of the Rising Sun by next week. And this has inspired Andrea to start playing the marimba again - yay! I can just see us now, playing a duet. I'm not sure the marimba is a proper substitute for a Wurlitzer, but I am sure it will be fun.