Saturday, November 19, 2011

al Bari

al Bari, the evolver, is one of the 99 names of God in the faith, Islam. This is a meditative piece on the idea that positive change, evolution, is a spiritual goal and exercise.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy the World

For those people cold in their tents, for those people in the drum circles, for those people who march, for those willing to be arrested, for the people who know justice will come because they demand it, you are beautiful.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pirate Polifix

A protest song for your consideration.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Loves Overtaken and Wall Street

Something bitter and something sweet. The kids have it. The eyes have it.




Monday, August 29, 2011

Danny Boy

A non-traditional rendering of a traditional irish ballad. And a protest and a prayer.

If not peace, then mercy.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Use of Religion as A Weapon of Mass Destruction



Because many of the comments I've heard regarding the recent events in Washington that led to the downgrade in our credit are about the American character and how American politics suffer by it, I will add this thought because from my perspective, this has been developing for years. There are economic impacts, but I think the theories of economics will not yield a means to change the problems of character.

So FWIW:

Americans are a deeply religious people and that is a strength in our character that has been used to weaken us. When the neocons and Rupert Murdoch and his sheik partner and other media moguls who obtained ownership over too many of our media began to accelerate the fusion of religion and state, we allowed a disease to creep into our national character that our founding fathers warned us about: separation of church and state is critical to our way of life. It is critical to our system of governance because freedom of worship must be coupled to freedom from worship. Otherwise our ability to rationally do the business of the government erodes.

Religion is not bad. It has the problem of being a very potent way to declare classes of us and them, then force people to be in one of those classes through true social networks which represent access to economy. When religion becomes the tool of choice of those who divide us for their own agendas, we are almost helpless to prevent it. It is a known hit point in our governance and our culture, and it has been exploited to the hilt.

The result is a sort of neurosis in good times. In bad times when we are antagonized and reactive, it can become a psychosis. The events in Washington are at that transition point. So now it is a matter of how many of us are still rational and ready to assert ourselves in the face of these mavens of mad but determined men.

We must not let love of God be coupled to fear for our future. This is easily understood as failing to trust God. And it is the means by which we are deceived.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Presumption of Guilt


Today I was at work after a six month vacation courtesy of the State of Alabama unemployment insurance I've paid into these past forty years. It was marvelous. I learned to play rock piano, wrote some songs, made some videos, and I thank the rest of you who kept the ship going while I sat at home in my bathrobe. It's good to have a job again.

The strangest thing today was reading a military technical manual specification and seeing paragraphs that I authored twenty years ago. Very strange. It's not like being J.K. Rowling; it's like being the first person to type a smiley into an email message and later realizing it may have been the most long lasting typing I'd ever done. It shows we have to treat the least we do like the most we do and that we may wake up one day to find out our high school sweethearts haven't aged but we have. You never know.

But to get this job, for the first time, I had to submit to drug testing.

I know this is common and that the fact I've held the positions I've had and never done this is a little exceptional, but I never have had to piss in the little cup.

And I didn't like it one bit.

The results weren't in doubt. Despite rumors and innuendo, I'm real middle of the road. I didn't like it because I have to piss in a cup as a pre-condition of employment. I don't like it because that is humiliating. I live in a country of free men and women who find that because a raving looney ex-first lady who went to astrologers to arrange her husband's schedules decided we could all just say no but if there was any doubt she and her class of friends had the right to make us piss in cups.
I want to go piss on her husband's grave. I know, that's nasty, but it seems to me one reason we can't stand up to the lunatics who run our government today is because they've managed over the last three decades to humiliate us into pissing in cups to have jobs. They've convinced us we must be presumed guilty and then prove ourselves innocent or we don't deserve to have those jobs they are creating for us with the money we gave them in the form of tax cuts.

I don't like it. Not one bit. If you don't like it, if you don't like their refusal to pay their fair share, if you are tired of their presumptions of guilt on our parts while they rob us blind, do this: next time you have to go piss in the cup, save some of that and go piss on their lawn, their car, or maybe their graves.

We aren't guilty of anything except working too hard for too many hours for too few people. Are they guilty of anything? Well, presume they are guilty the same way they presume we are. Piss on them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You Reeka! Hooters and Shooters


“And ALERT: My character “Hollie Martin” starts her 7 episode run on Eureka July 18th - Felicia Day”

A season featuring Felicia Day that begins with footage of the launch of a Mercury Redstone is not without the irony of an inside reference to her. Cute.

On the other hand, the season premier is weak in the knees.

Leave it to Canadian production to take pieces of American history and mash them up. From the perspective of someone who lived through that history up close, the season opener was clumsy. The holes and misattributions are glaring like a 1950s pre space era sci-fi movie. I found myself laughing in all the wrong places.

As to Siffy’s season premiers: C for effort and keeping a lot of CGI types in work, but the writing is derivative and in critical need of innovative originality.

It is possible the writers are coming at this from a gamer's perspective. We've never really mastered the art of interactive character and plot development. It gets in the way of action and grinding for gold or solving puzzles that are neat in first person but terrible in dialog. When you apply that approach to a series, you get what a friend of mine calls "chicks in tank tops" or simply, hooters and shooters.

I get the same sense from the Siffy season openers and premiers as I get from gen y music; it is as if they don’t have their own experiences so they keep going to the baby boomer well and sipping shallowly. They try to make themselves look smarter or more cool than the baby boomers and simply come off as plastic heros with boob and gun fetishes. The 60s had their share of schlock too. No contest. The question is how to do better.

Felicia Day can do better as one of the most original voices of her own generation. Her best work is The Guild. She writes from her own experience as they say a writer should, but more importantly, she isn't writing a game. She is writing a comedy series that explores the foibles and strengths of her generation or gamers and in doing so, also as a writer should, reveals the universals there. How well she could craft a decent sci-fi series is up for debate but I doubt she can do worse and I'm willing to bet she can do quite a bit better. Otherwise she should distance herself from Siffy and take a hard look at offers that will enable her to develop her own considerable talents as a writer while she continues to hone her acting chops.

Give her the shot. It's time to quit imagining greater; imagine better.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Nothing More (Oblatio Sui)

A song of penitence dedicated to all those who raise their eyes to God in service regardless of religion or place in the world. The Oblatio Sui is a prayer by Ignatius Loyola and this is inspired by that text.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Evil Mirror


We pay a price for the perfection of media. I tell my kids to watch the TV shows before color such as the Red Skelton Shows. I tell them to note two things:

a) It was a very Caucasian world.
b) Women had hips.

For the first, I am glad. This had to change and as painful as that change was for some on the wrong side of history, the world is better.

For the second, I am sad. We live in the reflections of Snow White's Evil Step Mother's mirror where all the edges are ground away and only the super luminous colors reach our eyes. We photoshop our way into believing in things that are not real and the delusions rob us of the subtle colors. So much beauty is hidden by the glare and the irony is we perceive it by the power of the shadows to give edges to that unseen beauty.

Here's an example: Leland Sklar copies the obit notice by Fred Steiner's daughter, Wendy Waldman. Leland is A-list. I know who he is and enjoy the privilege of his conversations on Facebook. Fred composed the Perry Mason theme and many other famous soundtracks, so I am dimly aware of his work. But Wendy, his daughter? I didn't have a clue. And that is tragic but I know how that happened.

The world of entertainment is dominated by the high frequencies of the A-list, the stars who become super-luminous. In the world of Red Skelton, that was all one would see and in the super competitive money-driven world of today's entertainment industry, things are no different with the exception that as some of the A-listers who are brave enough or reckless enough to actually converse on the pages that represent them, occasionally their less famous but equally talented friends shine through. It took the shadow of her father's passing for me to see her there. And that is regrettable but there are greater tragedies.

Ron Paul says he doesn't believe in evolution. It wouldn't matter because evolution doesn't care. It works whether we believe in it or not. The difference is that by his super luminosity he gives a not inconsiderable number of people the excuse to also disbelieve and to persuade others of such. Again, evolution goes on but what is lost is that evolution is not inviolate. It can be directed and those most aware of that who can gain control over self and others can do that. Some like to say 'program or be programmed' but that is just one technical approach, valid but insufficient. It isn't enough to program; one needs to know what to shape and why it might matter.

It matters that women have hips. It matters that the world is not all Caucasian. It matters that Wendy Waldman is a brilliant, gifted songwriter and producer who is one of the pioneers of Southern California country folk rock because these are the people we learn from, the people who can illumine what matters. It matters that we see the subtle colors that make up the majority of the light.

How sad that we can only see them because for a moment the Moon passed over the Sun and shadows outlined the shapes of subtle beauties. How wonderful that we are not yet so blinded by super luminosity, we can still notice and our hearts still care for that last part is the miracle of love, that we can still feel. Snow White will sleep until we cut down the brambles put there by those who own the mirror and only feel empowered if what we see there is the most fair, the most bright, the single parts because the best are often the most subtle.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Belly of the Fish

Got 'er done. Parrotheads and demented environmentalists should like this one. :)

Thanks to HGUMC for the loan of the piano and to Carolyn King who schemed until I learned to play it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Belly of the Fish



These are two performances on the same day of a song I wrote for the HGUMC Praise Band about Jonah being swallowed by the Big Fish, aka, the Whale. We had a lot of fun with this. As someone said, "So Jonah fled on a banana boat, eh?" :)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Dumb Hum


The press and the politicians can't get enough of Operation Neptune's Spear. I can't tell if I am more grossed out by the idea of the photos, the fact that they are using the decision about their release to do polybody slams, or that they are quarreling over who has the right to claim the kill?

Have American politics always been this much a blood sport? Gross.



Any high energy event(power to transform or render chaotic) emerges as chaotic as it enters a coherent domain and that is most of the real time phase of intense activity or maximum stress on the system maps. Most of what we accept is historic because locale creates an insulating quality over direct observation. As Rachel Maddow points out, it's bad to bet the conspiracy on facts as yet unverified and who you trust has a very direct effect.

The idiocy of conspiracy politics is that all accepted facts have this quality of local origin regardless of whether frequently or infrequently sampled. Attaching too much importance to any of them when not actually observed is the art of the conspiracy theorist.

There is the story of James, Son of Alphaeus, the second from the left disciple in da Vinci's Last Supper. James is forgotten to history in detail though his death by being stoned and clubbed in Jerusalem is known. Otherwise he is distinguished by being one of the witnesses to John's baptism of the Christ. Alone he is one who has no struggle to believe for he, a Jew, heard the voice of God proclaim the inheritance of his son. God named him Messiah so James only concern was his own status as the Betrayer. He knew the status of Jesus, he feared his own even though he knew what he had done.

We will always doubt. Trust is accepting sources are returning sources as close to real time with sufficient training to mentally note the items of interest. Or that the other person isn't lieing. Be it Jesus or a talking head du jour, ya gotta trust somebody. So in the end we trust whoever and whatever we like. In the end, James question is does he love his Lord well enough not to betray him to the very authorities he as a Jew in Roman palestine is bound to obey by law? Finally, he a Jew, must accept his own evidence of having heard the word of God and by this acceptance, becoming Christian.

We become whom we love, transformed by what we accept and act on. Or we lose coherence chasing conspiracies because we doubt and will not act. Obama chooses not to be Hamlet. Bene.

What's next? I guess it depends on who. For some, it's fear of getting on planes again. For others, it's finding out why the copter came down hard and had to be blown thus doubling the time of the op. For others, it's about finding a new bogey man. For a few, it's about justice and what we endure to see to it justice prevails.

For a perverse few, it is about shifting blame or taking credit. That's the dumb hum. It's the sound of generators, leaf blowers, and microwaves beeping. It is our insistence on covering up the night skies our grandfathers and great-grandfathers knew with a patina of light that obscures the millions of stars visible only if we turn it off. It is the sound of civilization but also the mechanical beat that disrupts the normal rhythms of breath, and room and ear. It divides our attention into little monotonic bits of time nowhere found in our natures.

Some ask what we did to make Usama Bin Laden hate us so much? It's simple. We put troops on the ground in Saudi Arabia to defend it while we ousted Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. As much stimulation as we get from putting on a hair coat, some people weren't 'good folk' who were leading normal lives when something we did offended them. Becoming a world class homocidal maniac capable of inspiring others takes a lifetime. In his case, it was a life of privilege but reduced status as the child of a minor wife in a society where such things are normal and son to a man who served a royal family that takes the wealth of its subjects and uses it for its own intrigues including the use of religious beliefs to maintain its positions of privilege.

Regardless of how often it is claimed we did, we didn't make Usama. We used him when he volunteered his wealth to fight our fight and he used us when he could not get enough of the fight to satisfy his own egomaniacal ambitions. It's an old story and not that complicated. It seems complicated because many use stories to launch their own initiatives for their own ambitions and so it goes. Time after time.

Why?

Because then they will be heard. They stand out from the dumb hum. The easiest way to make someone insane is to remove all sources of sensory stimulation until all they are left with is the hum of their own autonomic systems. That kind of deprivation cannot be overcome by our minds or spirits. There are many degrees of that. Don't beat yourselves up over this. It is in the nature of the organism.

Societies can and do try to make a better life but as the capacity for violence increases through the machinery of violence, there is always the danger that it will fall into the hands of those whom society cannot satisfy and we will always have such people. It was this reason that caused some of us who worked on the precursors to the web to fear its capacity to deliver so much technical information to so many. It made it possible to recruit, it has the natural effect of aggregating like types, it enables a single person to quickly find out how to make weapons of mass destruction then to find resources, materiel and even funding. It is the Krell machine and we are still monkey brained mammals enthralled by the dumb hum.

So do we enjoy the conversation or turn off the web? Do we continue to learn from each other or isolate ourselves in fear of ourselves? We hesitate or we act. No free lunch.

When the planes hit the towers a friend of mine in Ireland wrote to ask me what I thought the American response would be. I told him we'd mourn, clean up and when we knew who did it, we'd kill them. We have.

Obama chooses not to be Hamlet to enthralled by the dumb hum to act. Obama hopes not to be Macbeth. I hope not to miss the night sky in a hundred square miles of darkness even as I know that soon I once again will submit to the dumb hum.

Act 1 Scene 7: I (Spoken by Macbeth)

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. He's here in double trust;
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sol Saks



I'm posting a favorite song of mine to honor the creator of Samantha, Sol Saks, who passed away today in Los Angeles at the age of 100. We all miss her too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Celebrities, Mirrors and Social Media


Few things are as pathetic as celebrities from old school media discovering the web is a conversation and the rules that protected their feelings and egos don't apply. They emerged in an era of carefully managed engagements with the press, with their fans, and everyone they worked with. Their art went one way and so did their expression. Their fan mail was sorted; their images were hand crafted. Their art was carefully stage managed or filtered through the ears of the A&R men and women who made sure every utterance was sweet and inside the soft box of a demographically targeted marketing strategy, through the publicists who ensured the dollars would not be diminished by the tedium of genuine conversation, argument, and doubt.

Having never developed the thick skins and awareness of what it is to be a person in an unfiltered world, they still want to be special, protected and privileged. They don't want conversation. They want fans behind the barricades. They want to be stars with their own special and largely empty place in the heavens. They fear controversy because with it comes opinions and yes, proof that they are occasionally in error, that like everyone else, they can be unpolished, imperfect, not a star at all.

In the entertainment business it is said that you must keep the people who dislike you to a minimum, ideally zero.

Que lastima!

That's not the web. Sorry, but it simply isn't. Social media is... social. The nasty people you will encounter in a restaurant are on Facebook, and guess what? They have a right to it and if you engage them, they have a right to tell you what they think if you are slagging on the waitress or the people who manage those free services you are using to promote yourself. For any opinion you offer, there will be people who disagree. For any statement you make about topics outside your expertise, there will be experts who will correct you. For any candidate you endorse, there will be people who are voting for the other candidate. For any privilege you plead that does not help the rest of society, there are people ready, willing and eager to call you a selfish twit.

If all you want are compliments and to sell your wares, you've outlasted your place in culture. Get over yourselves. If you can't handle conversation, if you can't be told when you are wrong, if you can't debate with facts and emotions equally, you have no reason to have a Facebook page. You don't need friends. You need mirrors.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Len Bullard Live (or near enough) - Flint River Coffee House (April 1, 2...

Having fun with my brother, Michael, playing the old songs. It's been a long long time since I've done this act.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Evil House Elves


We are the Evil House Elves
With heads as hard as rocks
We live to leave the toilet lid up
And hide your matching socks
We drink your milk right from the jug
And flash our silky smiles
We torment Mother's with our tricks
Leaving underwear in piles.

We may look just like your children
So innocent and free
But while you’re cleaning up the mess
We’re making more with glee
There’s nothing we can’t take apart
No heirloom we won’t break
We use superglue for toothpaste
And your hairbrush for a rake.

We bathed the puppy in perfume
Two Hundred Dollars an ounce!
We put the cat in the mailbox
And waited for her to pounce
Made kite tails out of your evening dress
Because we like the shine
Filled the sink with melted wax
And poured in all the wine.

The shaving cream that formed the ring
Around the foyer wall
As permanent as wainscotting
Extending down the hall
Into the kitchen pantry
Behind the krispy snacks
Into your last godiva chocolates
Half eaten in their sacks.

Oh woe is you, tired Mother
Astride domestic bliss
While you clutch your broom
With the glare of doom
That even an elf can’t miss
Remember the promises you made
For better or for worse
The law won’t let you wring our necks
Without a note from the nurse.

len bullard
03/03/11

Monday, February 21, 2011

Francis Ford Coppola



ABC GMA says that Francis Ford Coppola is being honored this week for a lifetime of work. I say.. ++1. I have some particularly fond and private memories of seeing his work at the last of the drive in movies up the road before those were shuttered. For that and the movies, a simple thanks to an American original who reminded us what it means to be an immigrant, what it means to be a teen ager, and why war is never the first choice.

And apparently how to make a good bottle of wine. Best to you yours from the back seat of a Fiat 600 that now only exists in my memory!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Holiday Effect: Using Social Networks and Cultural Amplifiers to Drive Download Intensity

If you're promoting your act on social networks, a chestnut to recruit is the holiday effect. Simply: people buy on the holidays. Market to the season. Sort of a marketing cosmic d'oh but it's fun to prove the merely obvious. Here are some Insight stats from YouTube. The first the overall downloads for the site.



The tall spikes are release times. Releasing often to keep these high is important, but a measure of amplitude range (think of it as how far a speaker cone travels to make a sound) whereas the peak clustering is the measure of intensity or hits across all properties in the channel. To create intensity, you want multiple properties. However, burstyness is a sign of coupling among the properties and the market: to wit, the Christmas cluster of products will create bursty download behaviors.

Notice the almost flatline performance until a year ago when the social network couplers kick in. The big boil at the end is the result of the Christmas Carol and Ave Maria productions getting the seasonal hits. You can use the video bar on this page to see these videos.



The second shows the Ave Maria download stats in isolation. As with all releases to a network I've observed so far, there is a big spike from the close network (eg, Facebook) followed by the secondary networks and revisits. If you look closely, you see the spike at Dec 24/25 and January 10/11 with low points at the day after Christmas and New Years. You can actually watch this pattern in the video.

You can see the cultural preferences in the diaspora of the downloads.

video

Holiday effect is an example of cultural product clustering, eg, Christmas records, keyed to the season when the money is spent and the themes of the people spending the money freely. Mercantile it is, but the effect on the download intensity is easy to see and these bursty effects are key to inciting the emergence of the act into the attention of the network spanning functions. or.. mo'like gets mo'betterand mo'noticed and mo' is mo'.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Safe In Your Arms

With all that is happening in the world, it is harder to imagine or remember simple intimacy and the joy of being safe. Love who you love with all your strength.

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