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A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 162: “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 31, 2023


Episode 162 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at "Daydream Believer", and the later career of the Monkees, and how four Pinocchios became real boys. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources No Mixcloud this time, as even after splitting it into multiple files, there are simply too many Monkees tracks excerpted. The best versions of the Monkees albums are the triple-CD super-deluxe versions that used to be available from monkees.com , and I've used Andrew Sandoval's liner notes for them extensively in this episode. Sadly, though, none of those are in print. However, at the time of writing there is a new four-CD super-deluxe box set of Headquarters (with a remixed version of the album rather than the original mixes I've excerpted here) available from that site, and I used the liner notes for that here. Monkees.com also currently has the intermittently-available BluRay box set of the entire Monkees TV series, which also has Head and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. For those just getting into the group, my advice is to start with this five-CD set, which contains their first five albums along with bonus tracks. The single biggest source of information I used in this episode is the first edition of Andrew Sandoval's The Monkees; The Day-By-Day Story. Sadly that is now out of print and goes for hundreds of pounds. Sandoval released a second edition of the book in 2021, which I was unfortunately unable to obtain, but that too is now out of print. If you can find a copy of either, do get one. Other sources used were Monkee Business by Eric Lefcowitz, and the autobiographies of three of the band members and one of the songwriters — Infinite Tuesday by Michael Nesmith, They Made a Monkee Out of Me by Davy Jones, I'm a Believer by Micky Dolenz, and Psychedelic Bubble-Gum by Bobby Hart. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript When we left the Monkees, they were in a state of flux. To recap what we covered in that episode, the Monkees were originally cast as actors in a TV show, and consisted of two actors with some singing ability -- the former child stars Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz -- and two musicians who were also competent comic actors, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.  The show was about a fictional band whose characters shared names with their actors, and there had quickly been two big hit singles, and two hit albums, taken from the music recorded for the TV show's soundtrack. But this had caused problems for the actors. The records were being promoted as being by the fictional group in the TV series, blurring the line between the TV show and reality, though in fact for the most part they were being made by session musicians with only Dolenz or Jones adding lead vocals to pre-recorded backing tracks. Dolenz and Jones were fine with this, but Nesmith, who had been allowed to write and produce a few album tracks himself, wanted more creative input, and more importantly felt that he was being asked to be complicit in fraud because the records credited the four Monkees as the musicians when (other than a tiny bit of inaudible rhythm guitar by Tork on a couple of Nesmith's tracks) none of them played on them. Tork, meanwhile, believed he had been promised that the group would be an actual group -- that they would all be playing on the records together -- and felt hurt and annoyed that this wasn't the case. They were by now playing live together to promote the series and the records, with Dolenz turning out to be a perfectly competent drummer, so surely they could do the same in the studio? So in January 1967, things came to a head. It's actually quite difficult to sort out exactly what happened, because of conflicting recollections and opinions. What follows is my best attempt to harmonise the different versions of the story into one coherent narrative, but be aware that I could be wrong in some of the details. Nesmith and Tork, who disliked each other in most respects, were both agreed that this couldn't continue and that if there were going to be Monkees records released at all, they were going to have the Monkees playing on them. Dolenz, who seems to have been the one member of the group that everyone could get along with, didn't really care but went along with them for the sake of group harmony. And Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the production team behind the series, also took Nesmith and Tork's side, through a general love of mischief. But on the other side was Don Kirshner, the music publisher who was in charge of supervising the music for the TV show. Kirshner was adamantly, angrily, opposed to the very idea of the group members having any input at all into how the records were made. He considered that they should be grateful for the huge pay cheques they were getting from records his staff writers and producers were making for them, and stop whinging. And Davy Jones was somewhere in the middle. He wanted to support his co-stars, who he genuinely liked, but also, he was a working actor, he'd had other roles before, he'd have other roles afterwards, and as a working actor you do what you're told if you don't want to lose the job you've got. Jones had grown up in very severe poverty, and had been his family's breadwinner from his early teens, and artistic integrity is all very nice, but not as nice as a cheque for a quarter of a million dollars. Although that might be slightly unfair -- it might be fairer to say that artistic integrity has a different meaning to someone like Jones, coming from musical theatre and a tradition of "the show must go on", than it does to people like Nesmith and Tork who had come up through the folk clubs. Jones' attitude may also have been affected by the fact that his character in the TV show didn't play an instrument other than the occasional tambourine or maracas. The other three were having to mime instrumental parts they hadn't played, and to reproduce them on stage, but Jones didn't have that particular disadvantage. Bert Schneider, one of the TV show's producers, encouraged the group to go into the recording studio themselves, with a producer of their choice, and cut a couple of tracks to prove what they could do. Michael Nesmith, who at this point was the one who was most adamant about taking control of the music, chose Chip Douglas to produce. Douglas was someone that Nesmith had known a little while, as they'd both played the folk circuit -- in Douglas' case as a member of the Modern Folk Quartet -- but Douglas had recently joined the Turtles as their new bass player. At this point, Douglas had never officially produced a record, but he was a gifted arranger, and had just arranged the Turtles' latest single, which had just been released and was starting to climb the charts: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Happy Together"] Douglas quit the Turtles to work with the Monkees, and took the group into the studio to cut two demo backing tracks for a potential single as a proof of concept. These initial sessions didn't have any vocals, but featured Nesmith on guitar, Tork on piano, Dolenz on drums, Jones on tambourine, and an unknown bass player -- possibly Douglas himself, possibly Nesmith's friend John London, who he'd played with in Mike and John and Bill. They cut rough tracks of two songs, "All of Your Toys", by another friend of Nesmith's, Bill Martin, and Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Gold Star Demo)"] Those tracks were very rough and ready -- they were garage-band tracks rather than the professional studio recordings that the Candy Store Prophets or Jeff Barry's New York session players had provided for the previous singles -- but they were competent in the studio, thanks largely to Chip Douglas' steadying influence. As Douglas later said "They could hardly play. Mike could play adequate rhythm guitar. Pete could play piano but he'd make mistakes, and Micky's time on drums was erratic. He'd speed up or slow down." But the takes they managed to get down showed that they *could* do it. Rafelson and Schneider agreed with them that the Monkees could make a single together, and start recording at least some of their own tracks. So the group went back into the studio, with Douglas producing -- and with Lester Sill from the music publishers there to supervise -- and cut finished versions of the two songs. This time the lineup was Nesmith on guitar, Tork on electric harpsichord -- Tork had always been a fan of Bach, and would in later years perform Bach pieces as his solo spot in Monkees shows -- Dolenz on drums, London on bass, and Jones on tambourine: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (first recorded version)"] But while this was happening, Kirshner had been trying to get new Monkees material recorded without them -- he'd not yet agreed to having the group play on their own records. Three days after the sessions for "All of Your Toys" and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", sessions started in New York for an entire album's worth of new material, produced by Jeff Barry and Denny Randell, and largely made by the same Red Bird Records team who had made "I'm a Believer" -- the same musicians who in various combinations had played on everything from "Sherry" by the Four Seasons to "Like a Rolling Stone" by Dylan to "Leader of the Pack", and with songs by Neil Diamond, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Leiber and Stoller, and the rest of the team of songwriters around Red Bird. But at this point came the meeting we talked about towards the end of the "Last Train to Clarksville" episode, in which Nesmith punched a hole in a hotel wall in frustration at what he saw as Kirshner's obstinacy. Kirshner didn't want to listen to the recordings the group had made. He'd promised Jeff Barry and Neil Diamond that if "I'm a Believer" went to number one, Barry would get to produce, and Diamond write, the group's next single. Chip Douglas wasn't a recognised producer, and he'd made this commitment. But the group needed a new single out. A compromise was offered, of sorts, by Kirshner -- how about if Barry flew over from New York to LA to produce the group, they'd scrap the tracks both the group and Barry had recorded, and Barry would produce new tracks for the songs he'd recorded, with the group playing on them? But that wouldn't work either. The group members were all due to go on holiday -- three of them were going to make staggered trips to the UK, partly to promote the TV series, which was just starting over here, and partly just to have a break. They'd been working sixty-plus hour weeks for months between the TV series, live performances, and the recording studio, and they were basically falling-down tired, which was one of the reasons for Nesmith's outburst in the meeting. They weren't accomplished enough musicians to cut tracks quickly, and they *needed* the break. On top of that, Nesmith and Barry had had a major falling-out at the "I'm a Believer" session, and Nesmith considered it a matter of personal integrity that he couldn't work with a man who in his eyes had insulted his professionalism. So that was out, but there was also no way Kirshner was going to let the group release a single consisting of two songs he hadn't heard, produced by a producer with no track record. At first, the group were insistent that "All of Your Toys" should be the A-side for their next single: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "All Of Your Toys"] But there was an actual problem with that which they hadn't foreseen. Bill Martin, who wrote the song, was under contract to another music publisher, and the Monkees' contracts said they needed to only record songs published by Screen Gems. Eventually, it was Micky Dolenz who managed to cut the Gordian knot -- or so everyone thought. Dolenz was the one who had the least at stake of any of them -- he was already secure as the voice of the hits, he had no particular desire to be an instrumentalist, but he wanted to support his colleagues. Dolenz suggested that it would be a reasonable compromise to put out a single with one of the pre-recorded backing tracks on one side, with him or Jones singing, and with the version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" that the band had recorded together on the other. That way, Kirshner and the record label would get their new single without too much delay, the group would still be able to say they'd started recording their own tracks, everyone would get some of what they wanted. So it was agreed -- though there was a further stipulation. "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" had Nesmith singing lead vocals, and up to that point every Monkees single had featured Dolenz on lead on both sides. As far as Kirshner and the other people involved in making the release decisions were concerned, that was the way things were going to continue. Everyone was fine with this -- Nesmith, the one who was most likely to object in principle, in practice realised that having Dolenz sing his song would make it more likely to be played on the radio and used in the TV show, and so increase his royalties. A vocal session was arranged in New York for Dolenz and Jones to come and cut some vocal tracks right before Dolenz and Nesmith flew over to the UK. But in the meantime, it had become even more urgent for the group to be seen to be doing their own recording. An in-depth article on the group in the Saturday Evening Post had come out, quoting Nesmith as saying "It was what Kirshner wanted to do. Our records are not our forte. I don't care if we never sell another record. Maybe we were manufactured and put on the air strictly with a lot of hoopla. Tell the world we're synthetic because, damn it, we are. Tell them the Monkees are wholly man-made overnight, that millions of dollars have been poured into this thing. Tell the world we don't record our own music. But that's us they see on television. The show is really a part of us. They're not seeing something invalid." The press immediately jumped on the band, and started trying to portray them as con artists exploiting their teenage fans, though as Nesmith later said "The press decided they were going to unload on us as being somehow illegitimate, somehow false. That we were making an attempt to dupe the public, when in fact it was me that was making the attempt to maintain the integrity. So the press went into a full-scale war against us." Tork, on the other hand, while he and Nesmith were on the same side about the band making their own records, blamed Nesmith for much of the press reaction, later saying "Michael blew the whistle on us. If he had gone in there with pride and said 'We are what we are and we have no reason to hang our heads in shame' it never would have happened." So as far as the group were concerned, they *needed* to at least go with Dolenz's suggested compromise. Their personal reputations were on the line. When Dolenz arrived at the session in New York, he was expecting to be asked to cut one vocal track, for the A-side of the next single (and presumably a new lead vocal for "The Girl I Knew Somewhere"). When he got there, though, he found that Kirshner expected him to record several vocals so that Kirshner could choose the best. That wasn't what had been agreed, and so Dolenz flat-out refused to record anything at all. Luckily for Kirshner, Jones -- who was the most co-operative member of the band -- was willing to sing a handful of songs intended for Dolenz as well as the ones he was meant to sing. So the tape of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", the song intended for the next single, was slowed down so it would be in a suitable key for Jones instead, and he recorded the vocal for that: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You"] Incidentally, while Jones recorded vocals for several more tracks at the session -- and some would later be reused as album tracks a few years down the line -- not all of the recorded tracks were used for vocals, and this later gave rise to a rumour that has been repeated as fact by almost everyone involved, though it was a misunderstanding. Kirshner's next major success after the Monkees was another made-for-TV fictional band, the Archies, and their biggest hit was "Sugar Sugar", co-written and produced by Jeff Barry: [Excerpt: The Archies, "Sugar Sugar"] Both Kirshner and the Monkees have always claimed that the Monkees were offered "Sugar, Sugar" and turned it down. To Kirshner the moral of the story was that since "Sugar, Sugar" was a massive hit, it proved his instincts right and proved that the Monkees didn't know what would make a hit. To the Monkees, on the other hand, it showed that Kirshner wanted them to do bubblegum music that they considered ridiculous. This became such an established factoid that Dolenz regularly tells the story in his live performances, and includes a version of "Sugar, Sugar" in them, rearranged as almost a torch song: [Excerpt: Micky Dolenz, "Sugar, Sugar (live)"] But in fact, "Sugar, Sugar" wasn't written until long after Kirshner and the Monkees had parted ways. But one of the songs for which a backing track was recorded but no vocals were ever completed was "Sugar Man", a song by Denny Randell and Sandy Linzer, which they would later release themselves as an unsuccessful single: [Excerpt: Linzer and Randell, "Sugar Man"] Over the years, the Monkees not recording "Sugar Man" became the Monkees not recording "Sugar, Sugar". Meanwhile, Dolenz and Nesmith had flown over to the UK to do some promotional work and relax, and Jones soon also flew over, though didn't hang out with his bandmates, preferring to spend more time with his family. Both Dolenz and Nesmith spent a lot of time hanging out with British pop stars, and were pleased to find that despite the manufactured controversy about them being a manufactured group, none of the British musicians they admired seemed to care. Eric Burdon, for example, was quoted in the Melody Maker as saying "They make very good records, I can't understand how people get upset about them. You've got to make up your minds whether a group is a record production group or one that makes live appearances. For example, I like to hear a Phil Spector record and I don't worry if it's the Ronettes or Ike and Tina Turner... I like the Monkees record as a grand record, no matter how people scream. So somebody made a record and they don't play, so what? Just enjoy the record." Similarly, the Beatles were admirers of the Monkees, especially the TV show, despite being expected to have a negative opinion of them, as you can hear in this contemporary recording of Paul McCartney answering a fan's questions: Excerpt: Paul McCartney talks about the Monkees] Both Dolenz and Nesmith hung out with the Beatles quite a bit -- they both visited Sgt. Pepper recording sessions, and if you watch the film footage of the orchestral overdubs for "A Day in the Life", Nesmith is there with all the other stars of the period. Nesmith and his wife Phyllis even stayed with the Lennons for a couple of days, though Cynthia Lennon seems to have thought of the Nesmiths as annoying intruders who had been invited out of politeness and not realised they weren't wanted. That seems plausible, but at the same time, John Lennon doesn't seem the kind of person to not make his feelings known, and Michael Nesmith's reports of the few days they stayed there seem to describe a very memorable experience, where after some initial awkwardness he developed a bond with Lennon, particularly once he saw that Lennon was a fan of Captain Beefheart, who was a friend of Nesmith, and whose Safe as Milk album Lennon was examining when Nesmith turned up, and whose music at this point bore a lot of resemblance to the kind of thing Nesmith was doing: [Excerpt: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, "Yellow Brick Road"] Or at least, that's how Nesmith always told the story later -- though Safe as Milk didn't come out until nearly six months later. It's possible he's conflating memories from a later trip to the UK in June that year -- where he also talked about how Lennon was the only person he'd really got on with on the previous trip, because "he's a compassionate person. I know he has a reputation for being caustic, but it is only a cover for the depth of his feeling." Nesmith and Lennon apparently made some experimental music together during the brief stay, with Nesmith being impressed by Lennon's Mellotron and later getting one himself. Dolenz, meanwhile, was spending more time with Paul McCartney, and with Spencer Davis of his current favourite band The Spencer Davis Group. But even more than that he was spending a lot of time with Samantha Juste, a model and TV presenter whose job it was to play the records on Top of the Pops, the most important British TV pop show, and who had released a record herself a couple of months earlier, though it hadn't been a success: [Excerpt: Samantha Juste, "No-one Needs My Love Today"] The two quickly fell deeply in love, and Juste would become Dolenz's first wife the next year. When Nesmith and Dolenz arrived back in the US after their time off, they thought the plan was still to release "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" with "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" on the B-side. So Nesmith was horrified to hear on the radio what the announcer said were the two sides of the new Monkees single -- "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", and "She Hangs Out", another song from the Jeff Barry sessions with a Davy vocal. Don Kirshner had gone ahead and picked two songs from the Jeff Barry sessions and delivered them to RCA Records, who had put a single out in Canada. The single was very, *very* quickly withdrawn once the Monkees and the TV producers found out, and only promo copies seem to circulate -- rather than being credited to "the Monkees", both sides are credited to '"My Favourite Monkee" Davy Jones Sings'. The record had been withdrawn, but "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" was clearly going to have to be the single. Three days after the record was released and pulled, Nesmith, Dolenz and Tork were back in the studio with Chip Douglas, recording a new B-side -- a new version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", this time with Dolenz on vocals. As Jones was still in the UK, John London added the tambourine part as well as the bass: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (single version)"] As Nesmith told the story a couple of months later, "Bert said 'You've got to get this thing in Micky's key for Micky to sing it.' I said 'Has Donnie made a commitment? I don't want to go there and break my neck in order to get this thing if Donnie hasn't made a commitment. And Bert refused to say anything. He said 'I can't tell you anything except just go and record.'" What had happened was that the people at Columbia had had enough of Kirshner. As far as Rafelson and Schneider were concerned, the real problem in all this was that Kirshner had been making public statements taking all the credit for the Monkees' success and casting himself as the puppetmaster. They thought this was disrespectful to the performers -- and unstated but probably part of it, that it was disrespectful to Rafelson and Schneider for their work putting the TV show together -- and that Kirshner had allowed his ego to take over. Things like the liner notes for More of the Monkees which made Kirshner and his stable of writers more important than the performers had, in the view of the people at Raybert Productions, put the Monkees in an impossible position and forced them to push back. Schneider later said "Kirshner had an ego that transcended everything else. As a matter of fact, the press issue was probably magnified a hundred times over because of Kirshner. He wanted everybody thinking 'Hey, he's doing all this, not them.' In the end it was very self-destructive because it heightened the whole press issue and it made them feel lousy." Kirshner was out of a job, first as the supervisor for the Monkees and then as the head of Columbia/Screen Gems Music. In his place came Lester Sill, the man who had got Leiber and Stoller together as songwriters, who had been Lee Hazelwood's production partner on his early records with Duane Eddy, and who had been the "Les" in Philles Records until Phil Spector pushed him out. Sill, unlike Kirshner, was someone who was willing to take a back seat and just be a steadying hand where needed. The reissued version of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" went to number two on the charts, behind "Somethin' Stupid" by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, produced by Sill's old colleague Hazelwood, and the B-side, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", also charted separately, making number thirty-nine on the charts. The Monkees finally had a hit that they'd written and recorded by themselves. Pinocchio had become a real boy: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (single version)"] At the same session at which they'd recorded that track, the Monkees had recorded another Nesmith song, "Sunny Girlfriend", and that became the first song to be included on a new album, which would eventually be named Headquarters, and on which all the guitar, keyboard, drums, percussion, banjo, pedal steel, and backing vocal parts would for the first time be performed by the Monkees themselves. They brought in horn and string players on a couple of tracks, and the bass was variously played by John London, Chip Douglas, and Jerry Yester as Tork was more comfortable on keyboards and guitar than bass, but it was in essence a full band album. Jones got back the next day, and sessions began in earnest. The first song they recorded after his return was "Mr. Webster", a Boyce and Hart song that had been recorded with the Candy Store Prophets in 1966 but hadn't been released. This was one of three tracks on the album that were rerecordings of earlier outtakes, and it's fascinating to compare them, to see the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches. In the case of "Mr. Webster", the instrumental backing on the earlier version is definitely slicker: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Mr. Webster (1st Recorded Version)"] But at the same time, there's a sense of dynamics in the group recording that's lacking from the original, like the backing dropping out totally on the word "Stop" -- a nice touch that isn't in the original. I am only speculating, but this may have been inspired by the similar emphasis on the word "stop" in "For What It's Worth" by Tork's old friend Stephen Stills: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Mr. Webster (album version)"] Headquarters was a group album in another way though -- for the first time, Tork and Dolenz were bringing in songs they'd written -- Nesmith of course had supplied songs already for the two previous albums. Jones didn't write any songs himself yet, though he'd start on the next album, but he was credited with the rest of the group on two joke tracks, "Band 6", a jam on the Merrie Melodies theme “Merrily We Roll Along”, and "Zilch", a track made up of the four band members repeating nonsense phrases: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Zilch"] Oddly, that track had a rather wider cultural resonance than a piece of novelty joke album filler normally would. It's sometimes covered live by They Might Be Giants: [Excerpt: They Might Be Giants, "Zilch"] While the rapper Del Tha Funkee Homosapien had a worldwide hit in 1991 with "Mistadobalina", built around a sample of Peter Tork from the track: [Excerpt: Del Tha Funkee Homosapien,"Mistadobalina"] Nesmith contributed three songs, all of them combining Beatles-style pop music and country influences, none more blatantly than the opening track, "You Told Me", which starts off parodying the opening of "Taxman", before going into some furious banjo-picking from Tork: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "You Told Me"] Tork, meanwhile, wrote "For Pete's Sake" with his flatmate of the time, and that became the end credits music for season two of the TV series: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "For Pete's Sake"] But while the other band members made important contributions, the track on the album that became most popular was the first song of Dolenz's to be recorded by the group. The lyrics recounted, in a semi-psychedelic manner, Dolenz's time in the UK, including meeting with the Beatles, who the song refers to as "the four kings of EMI", but the first verse is all about his new girlfriend Samantha Juste: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Randy Scouse Git"] The song was released as a single in the UK, but there was a snag. Dolenz had given the song a title he'd heard on an episode of the BBC sitcom Til Death Us Do Part, which he'd found an amusing bit of British slang. Til Death Us Do Part was written by Johnny Speight, a writer with Associated London Scripts, and was a family sitcom based around the character of Alf Garnett, an ignorant, foul-mouthed reactionary bigot who hated young people, socialists, and every form of minority, especially Black people (who he would address by various slurs I'm definitely not going to repeat here), and was permanently angry at the world and abusive to his wife. As with another great sitcom from ALS, Steptoe and Son, which Norman Lear adapted for the US as Sanford and Son, Til Death Us Do Part was also adapted by Lear, and became All in the Family. But while Archie Bunker, the character based on Garnett in the US version, has some redeeming qualities because of the nature of US network sitcom, Alf Garnett has absolutely none, and is as purely unpleasant and unsympathetic a character as has ever been created -- which sadly didn't stop a section of the audience from taking him as a character to be emulated. A big part of the show's dynamic was the relationship between Garnett and his socialist son-in-law from Liverpool, played by Anthony Booth, himself a Liverpudlian socialist who would later have a similarly contentious relationship with his own decidedly non-socialist son-in-law, the future Prime Minister Tony Blair. Garnett was as close to foul-mouthed as was possible on British TV at the time, with Speight regularly negotiating with the BBC bosses to be allowed to use terms that were not otherwise heard on TV, and used various offensive terms about his family, including referring to his son-in-law as a "randy Scouse git". Dolenz had heard the phrase on TV, had no idea what it meant but loved the sound of it, and gave the song that title. But when the record came out in the UK, he was baffled to be told that the phrase -- which he'd picked up from a BBC TV show, after all -- couldn't be said normally on BBC broadcasts, so they would need to retitle the track. The translation into American English that Dolenz uses in his live shows to explain this to Americans is to say that "randy Scouse git" means "horny Liverpudlian putz", and that's more or less right. Dolenz took the need for an alternative title literally, and so the track that went to number two in the UK charts was titled "Alternate Title": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Randy Scouse Git"] The album itself went to number one in both the US and the UK, though it was pushed off the top spot almost straight away by the release of Sgt Pepper. As sessions for Headquarters were finishing up, the group were already starting to think about their next album -- season two of the TV show was now in production, and they'd need to keep generating yet more musical material for it. One person they turned to was a friend of Chip Douglas'. Before the Turtles, Douglas had been in the Modern Folk Quartet, and they'd recorded "This Could Be the Night", which had been written for them by Harry Nilsson: [Excerpt: The MFQ, "This Could Be The Night"] Nilsson had just started recording his first solo album proper, at RCA Studios, the same studios that the Monkees were using. At this point, Nilsson still had a full-time job in a bank, working a night shift there while working on his album during the day, but Douglas knew that Nilsson was a major talent, and that assessment was soon shared by the group when Nilsson came in to demo nine of his songs for them: [Excerpt: Harry Nilsson, "1941 (demo)"] According to Nilsson, Nesmith said after that demo session "You just sat down there and blew our minds. We've been looking for songs, and you just sat down and played an *album* for us!" While the Monkees would attempt a few of Nilsson's songs over the next year or so, the first one they chose to complete was the first track recorded for their next album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd., a song which from the talkback at the beginning of the demo was always intended for Davy Jones to sing: [Excerpt: Harry Nilsson, "Cuddly Toy (demo)"] Oddly, given his romantic idol persona, a lot of the songs given to Jones to sing were anti-romantic, and often had a cynical and misogynistic edge. This had started with the first album's "I Want to Be Free", but by Pisces, it had gone to ridiculous extremes. Of the four songs Jones sings on the album, "Hard to Believe", the first song proper that he ever co-wrote, is a straightforward love  song, but the other three have a nasty edge to them. A remade version of Jeff Barry's "She Hangs Out" is about an underaged girl, starts with the lines "How old d'you say your sister was? You know you'd better keep an eye on her" and contains lines like "she could teach you a thing or two" and "you'd better get down here on the double/before she gets her pretty little self in trouble/She's so fine". Goffin and King's "Star Collector" is worse, a song about a groupie with lines like "How can I love her, if I just don't respect her?" and "It won't take much time, before I get her off my mind" But as is so often the way, these rather nasty messages were wrapped up in some incredibly catchy music, and that was even more the case with "Cuddly Toy", a song which at least is more overtly unpleasant -- it's very obvious that Nilsson doesn't intend the protagonist of the song to be at all sympathetic, which is possibly not the case in "She Hangs Out" or "Star Collector". But the character Jones is singing is *viciously* cruel here, mocking and taunting a girl who he's coaxed to have sex with him, only to scorn her as soon as he's got what he wanted: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Cuddly Toy"] It's a great song if you like the cruelest of humour combined with the cheeriest of music, and the royalties from the song allowed Nilsson to quit the job at the bank. "Cuddly Toy", and Chip Douglas and Bill Martin's song "The Door Into Summer", were recorded the same way as Headquarters, with the group playing *as a group*, but as recordings for the album progressed the group fell into a new way of working, which Peter Tork later dubbed "mixed-mode". They didn't go back to having tracks cut for them by session musicians, apart from Jones' song "Hard to Believe", for which the entire backing track was created by one of his co-writers overdubbing himself, but Dolenz, who Tork always said was "incapable of repeating a triumph", was not interested in continuing to play drums in the studio. Instead, a new hybrid Monkees would perform most of the album. Nesmith would still play the lead guitar, Tork would provide the keyboards, Chip Douglas would play all the bass and add some additional guitar, and "Fast" Eddie Hoh, the session drummer who had been a touring drummer with the Modern Folk Quartet and the Mamas and the Papas, among others, would play drums on the records, with Dolenz occasionally adding a bit of acoustic guitar. And this was the lineup that would perform on the hit single from Pisces. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who had written several songs for the group's first two albums (and who would continue to provide them with more songs). As with their earlier songs for the group, King had recorded a demo: [Excerpt: Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday (demo)"] Previously -- and subsequently -- when presented with a Carole King demo, the group and their producers would just try to duplicate it as closely as possible, right down to King's phrasing. Bob Rafelson has said that he would sometimes hear those demos and wonder why King didn't just make records herself -- and without wanting to be too much of a spoiler for a few years' time, he wasn't the only one wondering that. But this time, the group had other plans. In particular, they wanted to make a record with a strong guitar riff to it -- Nesmith has later referenced their own "Last Train to Clarksville" and the Beatles' "Day Tripper" as two obvious reference points for the track. Douglas came up with a riff and taught it to Nesmith, who played it on the track: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] The track also ended with the strongest psychedelic -- or "psycho jello" as the group would refer to it -- freak out that they'd done to this point, a wash of saturated noise: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] King was unhappy with the results, and apparently glared at Douglas the next time they met. This may be because of the rearrangement from her intentions, but it may also be for a reason that Douglas later suspected. When recording the track, he hadn't been able to remember all the details of her demo, and in particular he couldn't remember exactly how the middle eight went. This is the version on King's demo: [Excerpt: Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday (demo)"] While here's how the Monkees rendered it, with slightly different lyrics: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] I also think there's a couple of chord changes in the second verse that differ between King and the Monkees, but I can't be sure that's not my ears deceiving me. Either way, though, the track was a huge success, and became one of the group's most well-known and well-loved tracks, making number three on the charts behind "All You Need is Love" and "Light My Fire". And while it isn't Dolenz drumming on the track, the fact that it's Nesmith playing guitar and Tork on the piano -- and the piano part is one of the catchiest things on the record -- meant that they finally had a proper major hit on which they'd played (and it seems likely that Dolenz contributed some of the acoustic rhythm guitar on the track, along with Bill Chadwick, and if that's true all three Monkee instrumentalists did play on the track). Pisces is by far and away the best album the group ever made, and stands up well against anything else that came out around that time. But cracks were beginning to show in the group. In particular, the constant battle to get some sort of creative input had soured Nesmith on the whole project. Chip Douglas later said "When we were doing Pisces Michael would come in with three songs; he knew he had three songs coming on the album. He knew that he was making a lot of money if he got his original songs on there. So he'd be real enthusiastic and cooperative and real friendly and get his three songs done. Then I'd say 'Mike, can you come in and help on this one we're going to do with Micky here?' He said 'No, Chip, I can't. I'm busy.' I'd say, 'Mike, you gotta come in the studio.' He'd say 'No Chip, I'm afraid I'm just gonna have to be ornery about it. I'm not comin' in.' That's when I started not liking Mike so much any more." Now, as is so often the case with the stories from this period, this appears to be inaccurate in the details -- Nesmith is present on every track on the album except Jones' solo "Hard to Believe" and Tork's spoken-word track "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky", and indeed this is by far the album with *most* Nesmith input, as he takes five lead vocals, most of them on songs he didn't write. But Douglas may well be summing up Nesmith's *attitude* to the band at this point -- listening to Nesmith's commentaries on episodes of the TV show, by this point he felt disengaged from everything that was going on, like his opinions weren't welcome. That said, Nesmith did still contribute what is possibly the single most innovative song the group ever did, though the innovations weren't primarily down to Nesmith: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] Nesmith always described the lyrics to "Daily Nightly" as being about the riots on Sunset Strip, but while they're oblique, they seem rather to be about streetwalking sex workers -- though it's perhaps understandable that Nesmith would never admit as much. What made the track innovative was the use of the Moog synthesiser. We talked about Robert Moog in the episode on "Good Vibrations" -- he had started out as a Theremin manufacturer, and had built the ribbon synthesiser that Mike Love played live on "Good Vibrations", and now he was building the first commercially available easily usable synthesisers. Previously, electronic instruments had either been things like the clavioline -- a simple monophonic keyboard instrument that didn't have much tonal variation -- or the RCA Mark II, a programmable synth that could make a wide variety of sounds, but took up an entire room and was programmed with punch cards. Moog's machines were bulky but still transportable, and they could be played in real time with a keyboard, but were still able to be modified to make a wide variety of different sounds. While, as we've seen, there had been electronic keyboard instruments as far back as the 1930s, Moog's instruments were for all intents and purposes the first synthesisers as we now understand the term. The Moog was introduced in late spring 1967, and immediately started to be used for making experimental and novelty records, like Hal Blaine's track "Love In", which came out at the beginning of June: [Excerpt: Hal Blaine, "Love In"] And the Electric Flag's soundtrack album for The Trip, the drug exploitation film starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper and written by Jack Nicholson we talked about last time, when Arthur Lee moved into a house used in the film: [Excerpt: The Electric Flag, "Peter's Trip"] In 1967 there were a total of six albums released with a Moog on them (as well as one non-album experimental single). Four of the albums were experimental or novelty instrumental albums of this type. Only two of them were rock albums -- Strange Days by the Doors, and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd by the Monkees. The Doors album was released first, but I believe the Monkees tracks were recorded before the Doors overdubbed the Moog on the tracks on their album, though some session dates are hard to pin down exactly. If that's the case it would make the Monkees the very first band to use the Moog on an actual rock record (depending on exactly how you count the Trip soundtrack -- this gets back again to my old claim that there's no first anything). But that's not the only way in which "Daily Nightly" was innovative. All the first seven albums to feature the Moog featured one man playing the instrument -- Paul Beaver, the Moog company's West Coast representative, who played on all the novelty records by members of the Wrecking Crew, and on the albums by the Electric Flag and the Doors, and on The Notorious Byrd Brothers by the Byrds, which came out in early 1968. And Beaver did play the Moog on one track on Pisces, "Star Collector". But on "Daily Nightly" it's Micky Dolenz playing the Moog, making him definitely the second person ever to play a Moog on a record of any kind: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] Dolenz indeed had bought his own Moog -- widely cited as being the second one ever in private ownership, a fact I can't check but which sounds plausible given that by 1970 less than thirty musicians owned one -- after seeing Beaver demonstrate the instrument at the Monterey Pop Festival. The Monkees hadn't played Monterey, but both Dolenz and Tork had attended the festival -- if you watch the famous film of it you see Dolenz and his girlfriend Samantha in the crowd a *lot*, while Tork introduced his friends in the Buffalo Springfield. As well as discovering the Moog there, Dolenz had been astonished by something else: [Excerpt: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Hey Joe (Live at Monterey)"] As Peter Tork later put it "I didn't get it. At Monterey Jimi followed the Who and the Who busted up their things and Jimi bashed up his guitar. I said 'I just saw explosions and destruction. Who needs it?' But Micky got it. He saw the genius and went for it." Dolenz was astonished by Hendrix, and insisted that he should be the support act on the group's summer tour. This pairing might sound odd on paper, but it made more sense at the time than it might sound. The Monkees were by all accounts a truly astonishing live act at this point -- Frank Zappa gave them a backhanded compliment by saying they were the best-sounding band in LA, before pointing out that this was because they could afford the best equipment. That *was* true, but it was also the case that their TV experience gave them a different attitude to live performance than anyone else performing at the time. A handful of groups had started playing stadiums, most notably of course the Beatles, but all of these acts had come up through playing clubs and theatres and essentially just kept doing their old act with no thought as to how the larger space worked, except to put their amps through a louder PA. The Monkees, though, had *started* in stadiums, and had started out as mass entertainers, and so their live show was designed from the ground up to play to those larger spaces. They had costume changes, elaborate stage sets -- like oversized fake Vox amps they burst out of at the start of the show -- a light show and a screen on which film footage was projected. In effect they invented stadium performances as we now know them. Nesmith later said "In terms of putting on a show there was never any question in my mind, as far as the rock 'n' roll era is concerned, that we put on probably the finest rock and roll stage show ever. It was beautifully lit, beautifully costumed, beautifully produced. I mean, for Christ sakes, it was practically a revue." The Monkees were confident enough in their stage performance that at a recent show at the Hollywood Bowl they'd had Ike and Tina Turner as their opening act -- not an act you'd want to go on after if you were going to be less than great, and an act from very similar chitlin' circuit roots to Jimi Hendrix. So from their perspective, it made sense. If you're going to be spectacular yourselves, you have no need to fear a spectacular opening act. Hendrix was less keen -- he was about the only musician in Britain who *had* made disparaging remarks about the Monkees -- but opening for the biggest touring band in the world isn't an opportunity you pass up, and again it isn't such a departure as one might imagine from the bills he was already playing. Remember that Monterey is really the moment when "pop" and "rock" started to split -- the split we've been talking about for a few months now -- and so the Jimi Hendrix Experience were still considered a pop band, and as such had played the normal British pop band package tours. In March and April that year, they'd toured on a bill with the Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens, and Englebert Humperdinck -- and Hendrix had even filled in for Humperdinck's sick guitarist on one occasion. Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork all loved having Hendrix on tour with them, just because it gave them a chance to watch him live every night (Jones, whose musical tastes were more towards Anthony Newley, wasn't especially impressed), and they got on well on a personal level -- there are reports of Hendrix jamming with Dolenz and Steve Stills in hotel rooms. But there was one problem, as Dolenz often recreates in his live act: [Excerpt: Micky Dolenz, "Purple Haze"] The audience response to Hendrix from the Monkees' fans was so poor that by mutual agreement he left the tour after only a handful of shows. After the summer tour, the group went back to work on the TV show and their next album. Or, rather, four individuals went back to work. By this point, the group had drifted apart from each other, and from Douglas -- Tork, the one who was still keenest on the idea of the group as a group, thought that Pisces, good as it was, felt like a Chip Douglas album rather than a Monkees album. The four band members had all by now built up their own retinues of hangers-on and collaborators, and on set for the TV show they were now largely staying with their own friends rather than working as a group. And that was now reflected in their studio work. From now on, rather than have a single producer working with them as a band, the four men would work as individuals, producing their own tracks, occasionally with outside help, and bringing in session musicians to work on them. Some tracks from this point on would be genuine Monkees -- plural -- tracks, and all tracks would be credited as "produced by the Monkees", but basically the four men would from now on be making solo tracks which would be combined into albums, though Dolenz and Jones would occasionally guest on tracks by the others, especially when Nesmith came up with a song he thought would be more suited to their voices. Indeed the first new recording that happened after the tour was an entire Nesmith solo album -- a collection of instrumental versions of his songs, called The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, played by members of the Wrecking Crew and a few big band instrumentalists, arranged by Shorty Rogers. [Excerpt: Michael Nesmith, "You Told Me"] Hal Blaine in his autobiography claimed that the album was created as a tax write-off for Nesmith, though Nesmith always vehemently denied it, and claimed it was an artistic experiment, though not one that came off well. Released alongside Pisces, though, came one last group-recorded single. The B-side, "Goin' Down", is a song that was credited to the group and songwriter Diane Hildebrand, though in fact it developed from a jam on someone else's song. Nesmith, Tork, Douglas and Hoh attempted to record a backing track for a version of Mose Allison's jazz-blues standard "Parchman Farm": [Excerpt: Mose Allison, "Parchman Farm"] But after recording it, they'd realised that it didn't sound that much like the original, and that all it had in common with it was a chord sequence. Nesmith suggested that rather than put it out as a cover version, they put a new melody and lyrics to it, and they commissioned Hildebrand, who'd co-written songs for the group before, to write them, and got Shorty Rogers to write a horn arrangement to go over their backing track. The eventual songwriting credit was split five ways, between Hildebrand and the four Monkees -- including Davy Jones who had no involvement with the recording, but not including Douglas or Hoh. The lyrics Hildebrand came up with were a funny patter song about a failed suicide, taken at an extremely fast pace, which Dolenz pulls off magnificently: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Goin' Down"] The A-side, another track with a rhythm track by Nesmith, Tork, Douglas, and Hoh, was a song that had been written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, who you may remember from the episode on "San Francisco" as being a former songwriting partner of John Phillips. Stewart had written the song as part of a "suburbia trilogy", and was not happy with the finished product. He said later "I remember going to bed thinking 'All I did today was write 'Daydream Believer'." Stewart used to include the song in his solo sets, to no great approval, and had shopped the song around to bands like We Five and Spanky And Our Gang, who had both turned it down. He was unhappy with it himself, because of the chorus: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] Stewart was ADHD, and the words "to a", coming as they did slightly out of the expected scansion for the line, irritated him so greatly that he thought the song could never be recorded by anyone, but when Chip Douglas asked if he had any songs, he suggested that one. As it turned out, there was a line of lyric that almost got the track rejected, but it wasn't the "to a". Stewart's original second verse went like this: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] RCA records objected to the line "now you know how funky I can be" because funky, among other meanings, meant smelly, and they didn't like the idea of Davy Jones singing about being smelly. Chip Douglas phoned Stewart to tell him that they were insisting on changing the line, and suggesting "happy" instead. Stewart objected vehemently -- that change would reverse the entire meaning of the line, and it made no sense, and what about artistic integrity? But then, as he later said "He said 'Let me put it to you this way, John. If he can't sing 'happy' they won't do it'. And I said 'Happy's working real good for me now.' That's exactly what I said to him." He never regretted the decision -- Stewart would essentially live off the royalties from "Daydream Believer" for the rest of his life -- though he seemed always to be slightly ambivalent and gently mocking about the song in his own performances, often changing the lyrics slightly: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] The Monkees had gone into the studio and cut the track, again with Tork on piano, Nesmith on guitar, Douglas on bass, and Hoh on drums. Other than changing "funky" to "happy", there were two major changes made in the studio. One seems to have been Douglas' idea -- they took the bass riff from the pre-chorus to the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Help Me Rhonda"] and Douglas played that on the bass as the pre-chorus for "Daydream Believer", with Shorty Rogers later doubling it in the horn arrangement: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daydream Believer"] And the other is the piano intro, which also becomes an instrumental bridge, which was apparently the invention of Tork, who played it: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daydream Believer"] The track went to number one, becoming the group's third and final number one hit, and their fifth of six million-sellers. It was included on the next album, The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees, but that piano part would be Tork's only contribution to the album. As the group members were all now writing songs and cutting their own tracks, and were also still rerecording the odd old unused song from the initial 1966 sessions, The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees was pulled together from a truly astonishing amount of material. The expanded triple-CD version of the album, now sadly out of print, has multiple versions of forty-four different songs, ranging from simple acoustic demos to completed tracks, of which twelve were included on the final album. Tork did record several tracks during the sessions, but he spent much of the time recording and rerecording a single song, "Lady's Baby", which eventually stretched to five different recorded versions over multiple sessions in a five-month period. He racked up huge studio bills on the track, bringing in Steve Stills and Dewey Martin of the Buffalo Springfield, and Buddy Miles, to try to help him capture the sound in his head, but the various takes are almost indistinguishable from one another, and so it's difficult to see what the problem was: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Lady's Baby"] Either way, the track wasn't finished by the time the album came out, and the album that came out was a curiously disjointed and unsatisfying effort, a mixture of recycled old Boyce and Hart songs, some songs by Jones, who at this point was convinced that "Broadway-rock" was going to be the next big thing and writing songs that sounded like mediocre showtunes, and a handful of experimental songs written by Nesmith. You could pull together a truly great ten- or twelve-track album from the masses of material they'd recorded, but the one that came out was mediocre at best, and became the first Monkees album not to make number one -- though it still made number three and sold in huge numbers. It also had the group's last million-selling single on it, "Valleri", an old Boyce and Hart reject from 1966 that had been remade with Boyce and Hart producing and their old session players, though the production credit was still now given to the Monkees: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Valleri"] Nesmith said at the time he considered it the worst song ever written. The second season of the TV show was well underway, and despite -- or possibly because of -- the group being clearly stoned for much of the filming, it contains a lot of the episodes that fans of the group think of most fondly, including several episodes that break out of the formula the show had previously established in interesting ways. Tork and Dolenz were both also given the opportunity to direct episodes, and Dolenz also co-wrote his episode, which ended up being the last of the series. In another sign of how the group were being given more creative control over the show, the last three episodes of the series had guest appearances by favourite musicians of the group members who they wanted to give a little exposure to, and those guest appearances sum up the character of the band members remarkably well. Tork, for whatever reason, didn't take up this option, but the other three did. Jones brought on his friend Charlie Smalls, who would later go on to write the music for the Broadway musical The Wiz, to demonstrate to Jones the difference between Smalls' Black soul and Jones' white soul: [Excerpt: Davy Jones and Charlie Smalls] Nesmith, on the other hand, brought on Frank Zappa. Zappa put on Nesmith's Monkee shirt and wool hat and pretended to be Nesmith, and interviewed Nesmith with a false nose and moustache pretending to be Zappa, as they both mercilessly mocked the previous week's segment with Jones and Smalls: [Excerpt: Michael Nesmith and Frank Zappa] Nesmith then "conducted" Zappa as Zappa used a sledgehammer to "play" a car, parodying his own appearance on the Steve Allen Show playing a bicycle, to the presumed bemusement of the Monkees' fanbase who would not be likely to remember a one-off performance on a late-night TV show from five years earlier. And the final thing ever to be shown on an episode of the Monkees didn't feature any of the Monkees at all. Micky Dolenz, who directed and co-wrote that episode, about an evil wizard who was using the power of a space plant (named after the group's slang for dope) to hypnotise people through the TV, chose not to interact with his guest as the others had, but simply had Tim Buckley perform a solo acoustic version of his then-unreleased song "Song to the Siren": [Excerpt: Tim Buckley, "Song to the Siren"] By the end of the second season, everyone knew they didn't want to make another season of the TV show. Instead, they were going to do what Rafelson and Schneider had always wanted, and move into film. The planning stages for the film, which was initially titled Changes but later titled Head -- so that Rafelson and Schneider could bill their next film as "From the guys who gave you Head" -- had started the previous summer, before the sessions that produced The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees. To write the film, the group went off with Rafelson and Schneider for a short holiday, and took with them their mutual friend Jack Nicholson. Nicholson was at this time not the major film star he later became. Rather he was a bit-part actor who was mostly associated with American International Pictures, the ultra-low-budget film company that has come up on several occasions in this podcast. Nicholson had appeared mostly in small roles, in films like The Little Shop of Horrors: [Excerpt: The Little Shop of Horrors] He'd appeared in multiple films made by Roger Corman, often appearing with Boris Karloff, and by Monte Hellman, but despite having been a working actor for a decade, his acting career was going nowhere, and by this point he had basically given up on the idea of being an actor, and had decided to start working behind the camera. He'd written the scripts for a few of the low-budget films he'd appeared in, and he'd recently scripted The Trip, the film we mentioned earlier: [Excerpt: The Trip trailer] So the group, Rafelson, Schneider, and Nicholson all went away for a weekend, and they all got extremely stoned, took acid, and talked into a tape recorder for hours on end. Nicholson then transcribed those recordings, cleaned them up, and structured the worthwhile ideas into something quite remarkable: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Ditty Diego"] If the Monkees TV show had been inspired by the Marx Brothers and Three Stooges, and by Richard Lester's directorial style, the only precursor I can find for Head is in the TV work of Lester's colleague Spike Milligan, but I don't think there's any reasonable way in which Nicholson or anyone else involved could have taken inspiration from Milligan's series Q.  But what they ended up with is something that resembles, more than anything else, Monty Python's Flying Circus, a TV series that wouldn't start until a year after Head came out. It's a series of ostensibly unconnected sketches, linked by a kind of dream logic, with characters wandering from one loose narrative into a totally different one, actors coming out of character on a regular basis, and no attempt at a coherent narrative. It contains regular examples of channel-zapping, with excerpts from old films being spliced in, and bits of news footage juxtaposed with comedy sketches and musical performances in ways that are sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes distasteful, and occasionally both -- as when a famous piece of footage of a Vietnamese prisoner of war being shot in the head hard-cuts to screaming girls in the audience at a Monkees concert, a performance which ends with the girls tearing apart the group and revealing that they're really just cheap-looking plastic mannequins. The film starts, and ends, with the Monkees themselves attempting suicide, jumping off a bridge into the ocean -- but the end reveals that in fact the ocean they're in is just water in a glass box, and they're trapped in it. And knowing this means that when you watch the film a second time, you find that it does have a story. The Monkees are trapped in a box which in some ways represents life, the universe, and one's own mind, and in other ways represents the TV and their TV careers. Each of them is trying in his own way to escape, and each ends up trapped by his own limitations, condemned to start the cycle over and over again. The film features parodies of popular film genres like the boxing film (Davy is supposed to throw a fight with Sonny Liston at the instruction of gangsters), the Western, and the war film, but huge chunks of the film take place on a film studio backlot, and characters from one segment reappear in another, often commenting negatively on the film or the band, as when Frank Zappa as a critic calls Davy Jones' soft-shoe routine to a Harry Nilsson song "very white", or when a canteen worker in the studio calls the group "God's gift to the eight-year-olds". The film is constantly deconstructing and commenting on itself and the filmmaking process -- Tork hits that canteen worker, whose wig falls off revealing the actor playing her to be a man, and then it's revealed that the "behind the scenes" footage is itself scripted, as director Bob Rafelson and scriptwriter Jack Nicholson come into frame and reassure Tork, who's concerned that hitting a woman would be bad for his image. They tell him they can always cut it from the finished film if it doesn't work. While "Ditty Diego", the almost rap rewriting of the Monkees theme we heard earlier, sets out a lot of how the film asks to be interpreted and how it works narratively, the *spiritual* and thematic core of the film is in another song, Tork's "Long Title (Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?)", which in later solo performances Tork would give the subtitle "The Karma Blues": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Long Title (Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?)"] Head is an extraordinary film, and one it's impossible to sum up in anything less than an hour-long episode of its own. It's certainly not a film that's to everyone's taste, and not every aspect of it works -- it is a film that is absolutely of its time, in ways that are both good and bad. But it's one of the most inventive things ever put out by a major film studio, and it's one that rightly secured the Monkees a certain amount of cult credibility over the decades. The soundtrack album is a return to form after the disappointing Birds, Bees, too. Nicholson put the album together, linking the eight songs in the film with collages of dialogue and incidental music, repurposing and recontextualising the dialogue to create a new experience, one that people have compared with Frank Zappa's contemporaneous We're Only In It For The Money, though while t

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Fireside Yankees - A New York Yankees Podcast
Yankees oddly linked to intriguing infield free agent

Fireside Yankees - A New York Yankees Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 21, 2023 17:05


Alex and Nick dive into the Yankees being linked to an interesting infielder on the free agent market!See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

The WorldView in 5 Minutes
Radical Muslims kill 99% of martyrs, John MacArthur had surgery to clear artery blockage, UK failed to solve over a million crimes

The WorldView in 5 Minutes

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 17, 2023


It's Tuesday, January 17th, A.D. 2023. This is The Worldview in 5 Minutes heard at www.TheWorldview.com. I'm Adam McManus. (Adam@TheWorldview.com) By Kevin Swanson Biden's proclamation on Religious Freedom Day On Monday, President Joe Biden issued a Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, 2023.  He took the opportunity to announce his appointment of Rashad Hussain, a Muslim, as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Although the president mentioned the Rohingya people and the Ahmadiyya Muslim in his proclamation, recent news coverage has only mentioned the killing of nine Muslims at the hands of other Muslims in Burkina Faso, Africa. Radical Muslims kill 99% of martyrs Meanwhile, confirmed Christian martyrdoms came out to 5,898 in the last annual count according to the Open Doors 2022 report. And 99% of the martyrdoms occurred at the hands of radical Muslims, to include 4,650 in Nigeria, Africa, 620 in Pakistan, 100 in Burkina Faso, Africa, 100 in the Congo, Africa, 100 in Mozambique, Africa, 27 in Cameroon, Africa, 25 in Tanzania, Africa, and 15 in Indonesia. Gunman attacked mourners in London, injuring little girl A gunman attacked a Roman Catholic Church in London  over the weekend, leaving six wounded — including a 7-year-old girl fighting for her life, reports The Christian Post. The shooting occurred during a memorial service at St. Aloysius Roman Catholic church.  United Kingdom failed to solve over a million crimes The Epoch Times reports that the United Kingdom failed to solve over 1,100,000 crimes last year. The proportion of crimes in England and Wales ending with a charge was down to 5.6% in 2022, decreasing from a rate of 15 percent seven years ago. That's an over-all drop off of 65% in crime prosecution over seven years.   Two million criminal investigations in the last year led to no suspect being identified, a number including 300,000 violent crimes.  The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 1.6% of adults, aged 16 years and older, were a victim of violent crime in the year ending March 2020. As of 2021, there were only 156,000 firearms certificates on issue in the UK. That's 0.2% of the population. One must have this certificate to possess firearms and ammunition.  That compares to 45% of U.S. households that own guns.  Romans 13:3-4 says, “Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. For he is God's minister to you for good, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” Shocking impact of inflation on savings How is inflation impacting Certificates of Deposit or savings accounts for retirees and other conservative savers in America? The average annual savings loss after inflation, over 12 years, for a three-month CD, stands at negative 2.26%. That means a retiree with $100,000 in savings would have lost $23,000 in value over the last 12 years. Over the same period of time, the Federal Reserve assets increased from $1 trillion to about $9 trillion.  Florida opposes the abortion “Kill Pill” Florida is taking a position against the recent FDA decision to allow local pharmacies to dispense the abortion “Kill Pill.”   Florida's Agency for Healthcare Administration issued a letter last week informing pharmacy chains, like Walgreens and CVS, the illegality of the sale of Mifepristone within the state. Oddly enough, in light of the state's stand against the Kill Pill, Florida allows the surgical killing of babies up until 15 weeks of gestation.  Christian colleges allowed to uphold God's sexual standards Good news here! A U.S. district judge has ruled in favor of Christian colleges which claim exemption on Title IX requirements on non-discrimination in the case of those who advocate sexual attraction to the same sex, reports Reuters.   The lawsuit came from disenfranchised students who were expelled or disciplined by Christian college campuses for their embracing of homosexuality.  The complainants were affiliated with Baylor University, Bob Jones University, Dordt College, and Union College. The lawsuit was aided by an organization called Religious Exemption Accountability Project.  Proverbs 21:1 reminds us that “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” John MacArthur had surgery to clear artery blockage And finally, Pastor John MacArthur is on rest recovery for a few weeks after undergoing a medical procedure to clear blockage in his arteries. The pastor fell ill on January 1st, and was unable to lead the second service. Please pray for Pastor MacArthur's complete recovery. Perhaps you and your kids can create and sign a get well card. Send it to Pastor John MacArthur, Grace Community Church, 13248 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley, CA 91352. Close And that's The Worldview in 5 Minutes on this Tuesday, January 17th, in the year of our Lord 2023. Subscribe by iTunes or email to our unique Christian newscast at www.TheWorldview.com. Or get the Generations app through Google Play or The App Store. I'm Adam McManus (Adam@TheWorldview.com). Seize the day for Jesus Christ.

Nio Tea Podcast
Episode 451: Oddly Shaped Oolong

Nio Tea Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 17, 2023 7:02


Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/v8qoECjO8j4

Vinyl-O-Matic
Albums and All That, Starting with the P as in Papa, and some that beging with the letter Q as in Quebec

Vinyl-O-Matic

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 14, 2023 68:59


Kid606 [00:39] "Let It Rock" Pretty Girls Make Raves Tigerbeat6 meow132 2006 Hello Mid-Aughties Bay Area IDM. Michael Nesmith [05:32] "Some of Shelley's Blues" Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash Pacific Arts/Island Records ILPS 9440 1977 One of my scores from Amsterdam. "Some of Shelley's Blues was going to be part of the Nashville session The Monkees had in 1968. Prior to this version it was also covered by Linda Ronstadt with the Stone Poney's (https://youtu.be/d9cQBGMzigU), as well as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (https://youtu.be/BXJiqKgl7BI). Willie Nelson [08:52] "Blue Christmas" Pretty Paper Columbia JC 36189 1979 Having yourself a very Willia xmas? Getting some quality assistance from Booker T on the organ. The title track, made famous by Roy Orbison in 1963, is penned by none other than Willie. Prince [11:31] "I Wanna Be Your Lover" Prince Warner Bros. Records BSK 3366 1979 Prince's sophomore effort and what an effort it is! The album made it to number 22 on the Hot 100, and this lead off single (https://youtu.be/Rp8WL621uGM) hit number 11 on the US charts. Linda Ronstadt [18:29] "Hey Mister, That's Me Up on the Jukebox" Prisoner in Disguise Asylum Records 7E-1045 1975 Linda deftly handling this James Taylor number on this multi-platinum album. Emerson Meyers [22:40] "In Memoriam for Soprano & Tape" Provocative Electronics (Electronic Constructions on Traditional Forms) Westminster Gold WGS-8129 1970 Recorded at the Electronic Music Laboratory of the Catholic University of America, of all places, in 1970. Don't worry, I have an insider checking to see whether his laboratory still exists. The Cramps [27:35] "Goo Goo Muck" Psychedlic Jungle I.R.S. Records SP 70016 1981 How timely! The Cramps very well known version of Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads 1962 single. Record fiend friends, let me tell you that I have had a saved eBay search for that original Ronnie Cook single, and it has yet to go for less than three figures. Here's hoping I find it in a random place someday in the future. Thurston Moore [30:40] "Ono Soul" Psychic Hearts Goofin' Records Goo-010 2006 (originally released on DGC in 1995) Thurston hearts the queen of noise. This album features artwork by the excellent Rita Ackermann. Luna [35:53] "Beautiful View" Pup Tent Teenbeat TEENBEAT 232 1997 The fourth studio album from one of my favorite bands. This is one of the few that was released on vinyl at the time. Of course there's also the big beautiful box set (https://www.discogs.com/master/1027116-Luna-Long-Players-92-99). Purple Mountains [39:34] "She's Making Friends, I'm Turning Stranger" Purple Mountains Drag City DC680 2019 Ugh. Sadly, the final David Berman project. A thoroughly engaging album from start to finish.Interested and brave parties can check out this piece on David Berman's final days in the recent issue of Creem (https://www.creem.com/fresh-creem/david-berman-purple-mountains-final-days-feature). Temptations [43:42] "I Can't Get Next to You" Puzzle People Gordy S-949 1969 Such a hot opening track, this copy has been played many times. I tried to salvage it as best as possible. Number one single from a number 5 album. The Who [46:24] "Bell Boy" Quadrophenia (Music from the Soundtrack of The Who Film) Polydor 2625 037 1979 And what a film it is. Who knew that the king of the mods had a day job? Big Blood [51:21] "1000 Times" QuaranTunes Series No.027 Feeding Tube Records FTR634 2021 One of the things that got me through the stay-at-home phase of the pandemic was all of the excellent livestreams from musicians. This particular one from Portland ME's Big Blood was pretty much transcendtal for me. And this particular track featuring Quinissa on vocals scratched an audio itch that I didn't know I had. To really put it over the top for me, they followed it up with a cover of The Clean's "Anything Could Happen" (https://youtu.be/wPGIJdlOkbw?t=2272). Ultravox [55:20] "We Came to Dance" Quartet Chrysalis CDL 1394 1394 The sixth outing from Midge Ure and company. Oddly, produced by George Martin and less oddly cover design by Peter Saville. This track was the fourth and final single from Quartet. Robyn Hitchcock 'n' the Egyptians [59:34] "Madonna of the Wasps" Queen Elvis A&M Records SP 5241 1989 Another musician who had some great livestreams during stay-at-home along with his partner Emma Swift and Tubby and Ringo and Perry the Lobster. This song will forever be one of my favorites of his. Helped out by usual suspect Peter Buck on guitar here. Japan [01:02:39] "Halloween" Quiet Life Fame FA3037 1982 (originally released in 1979) Japan's third album, transitioning into synth pop territory. Music behind the DJ: "Gomez" by Vic Mizzy

State of the Arc Podcast
Bioshock Analysis (Ep.2): No Gods Or Kings, Only Man | State Of The Arc Podcast

State of the Arc Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2023 69:32


A plane falls from the sky. It is on fire. It hits the water and comes apart. There is only one survivor. Oddly enough, the plane happened to crash right at the site of an Atlantean civilization. A city underwater. We play from this point up until the medical area. It's not too much, but there's a lot to cover here. Don't forget to like and comment on the video! Time Codes: 1. Intro (0:00) 2. Plane Crash (1:28) 3. Entering Rapture (10:00) 4. Gameplay (38:45)

Back to the Barre
A Human Ant

Back to the Barre

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 9, 2023 93:53


“You know who gives them body image issues? Abby,” says Kelly of this latest episode of Dance Moms. A scout from the prestigious Joffrey ballet company will be the audience of this week's competition. Oddly, Abby chooses to choreograph a gymnastics-heavy number with a plastic surgery/body insecurity theme called “Nip/Tuck”. This leads to Christi and Kelly discussing what plastic surgery they and Abby have and haven't had. Christi credits botox with transforming her signature “angry eyes,” Kelly believes the show still owes her a boob job and they both agree that Abby has had so much work done on her face since the show began that she's now unrecognizable. During the show, Abby warns the girls not to grow up to look like their mothers. Christi reveals the truly despicable manner in which Abby used the girls to poke at their mothers' insecurities. Maddie takes after her mother in that they both continue to receive special treatment. Maddie gets extra time and personalized attention from Abby that allows her to perfect her solos. Producers let Melissa opt out of filming whenever she gets uncomfortable. This leaves the other Moms to fight, confess and cause the drama that makes the show a hit and Maddie a star. When Nia injures her foot, Abby treats the situation much differently than when the other girls were hurt.  If there's a bright spot amidst all the chaos it's the cheese log and chicken wings at Mohan's. Christi and Kelly's love of lobster is fulfilled at the airport hotdog stand where they eat bisque squeezed out of a plastic bag. Quotes “It's always about Abby. It's always about her. Except when things go wrong. Then it's about everybody else.” (12:51-12:59 | Christi and Kelly) “I can tell when I'm doing a pickup because I am the world's worst actress. Give me all the Razzies.” (14:25-14:31 | Christi) “Abby tells us the name of the group dance and I am scowling. That's back when I still could scowl because I didn't have Botox.” (19:15:-19:19 | Christi)  “God forbid the producers had gotten me a free boob job. They gave us a $15 lunch, you think they were going to you boobs? Please. But they're driving around in Maseratis. (20:43-21:02 | Kelly and Christi) “I think we're supposed to be trying to teach our girls to be comfortable in their own skin and not change that skin. Well, look I'm going to get back on that because I've changed my skin a few times. So, do whatever you want to do to make you happy.” (25:45-21:57 | Christi) “If your kids get to be the superstars of the show, you need to step up and say things, too. Because we as the moms are carrying the drama and your kids are benefitting.” (59:37-59:48 | Christi) “I'm going to tell you something that Chloe has said to me time and time again: the dances were so hard to remember because it was the same steps every week just in a different order. That's why it was so easy to mess them up. No wonder they got confused.” (1:18:13-1:18:39 | Christi and Kelly) Links Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC50aSBAYXH_9yU2YkKyXZ0w  Subscribe to our Patreon: www.patreon.com/backtothebarre   Thank you to Ashley Jana for allowing us to use Electricity!! Follow her on IG HERE: https://instagram.com/ashleyjanamusic?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=   Download Electricity HERE: https://music.apple.com/us/album/electricity/1497482509?i=1497482510   Follow Christi on IG: www.instagram.com/christilukasiak   Follow Kelly on IG: www.instagram.com/kellylhyland

Page Turners They Were Not
Random Trek: Time Amok and Yesteryear

Page Turners They Were Not

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 9, 2023 66:55


This week on Random Trek, Captain Ingle and I are pleased to bring you not one, but two episodes of Star Trek. Oddly enough, they both happen to be animated episodes of Star Trek. With the season finale of Star Trek Prodigy last week, this new show is now fair game for our randomizer. And what episode of this latest series will we be taking a look at? It's the episode Time Amok, in which our intrepid heroes find themselves in a conundrum involving time, a frequent concept in Star Trek. The other episode is Yesteryear, which is the second episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series. Will we finally have an episode of this series that we actually like? Join us as we go boldly! --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/pageturnerstheywerenot/message

Indicast Podcast Network - Mother Feed
Indicast #238: India's oddly terrifying dead-ends

Indicast Podcast Network - Mother Feed

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 8, 2023 42:48


As Covid-19 ravages China, many countries, including India, brace themselves and start taking adequate measures. Whereas the death toll from covid may not be as high as before, Indians in the country continue to find other oddly terrifying ways to die. In related news a report reckons that the most dangerous time to drive on the road is between 6 to 9 in the evening. And since everyone and their cousins are talking about ChatGPT, we thought we may blabber about it as well. What do you make of the newfangled chatbot?

Indicast - Indians on India
Indicast #238: India's oddly terrifying dead-ends

Indicast - Indians on India

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 8, 2023 42:48


As Covid-19 ravages China, many countries, including India, brace themselves and start taking adequate measures. Whereas the death toll from covid may not be as high as before, Indians in the country continue to find other oddly terrifying ways to die. In related news a report reckons that the most dangerous time to drive on the road is between 6 to 9 in the evening. And since everyone and their cousins are talking about ChatGPT, we thought we may blabber about it as well. What do you make of the newfangled chatbot?

Why Did Peter Sink?
Why I am Catholic (part 2): We Didn't Start the Fire

Why Did Peter Sink?

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 22:01


One great thing about our age is that humanism and scientism have sown the seeds for the return of faith. Let me explain. One of the mantras of modern education, especially in America, is: “Question Everything.” This has become a commandment, right after the first commandment of “Believe in Yourself.” Surely, the first commandment of modernity is “Thou shalt have no gods before Thy Self.” Through life experience, study, and observing others who follow this commandment, who believe in themselves, I have found this first modern commandment to be a tragic falsehood. Twenty years of personal research proved it to me. I really, really tested that commandment, and believing in myself led to every one of my problems. So that one had to go. But the second commandment of “Question Everything” remained stuck in my head for a while, and since God gave us brains to use, I did. Instead of subscribing to what academics and celebrities said, I started looking beyond what had been spoon-fed to me my whole life, starting with the history of the early Church. Reading material from the early Church is extremely enlightening, much more than anything I learned from the Enlightenment thinkers. In fact, because the first commandment of our time is false, this second commandment of questioning all that we know, led me right back to questioning all of the things I learned from teachers, professors, television, and even coaches. The funny thing about commandments is that there is an order to them, and badly ordered commandments make the whole structure crumble. Growing up, we are forced to listen to the sales pitch and watch the demo for the product that educators and screen magicians want us to buy. All children must go through this, even through their college years, and the aim is like any other sales pitch: to conform our minds and thoughts and ideas to the pitch and the demo. The Church once held this role of indoctrination of children, but the government took it over, really wresting it away from believers entirely, and making sure that anyone with faith was locked out of the school building. The new sheriff in town didn't believe, and it was imperative that parents or children that did believe, keep quiet about it, and like every modern HR department, the order to “shutup” is done using a very honeyed voice, with sugary arguments and niceties. However, the result is the same as if a drill sergeant has shouted it in your face. You are not to discuss faith, because the supernatural is not real, and speaking of such things will not be tolerated - not in public schools! The reason for the shunning of the supernatural is because that product has attributes that the school's product lacks. That product may appeal and detract from the mainstream sales pitch and demo. In the sales world, salespeople study “kill sheets” which is a list of arguments to kill questions about a competitor's product. I've seen these kill sheets and added notes to them, about why my company's products are superior, and that choosing the other company's product surely leads to the road to ruin. This is basically how apologetics works for Christians, Protestants, and atheists as well, where one side has it's “kill sheets” when someone starts suggesting another option, like for example, “What about Mormonism? I've heard that's good.” The salesperson goes to his kill sheet and says, “Yes, that is an option. Here's fifteen reasons why it's not for you.”The point of having a public education is supposed to be about enabling a workforce to build a strong nation. But it's become more about buying the school's product. As I said in a long post before, you will be indoctrinated to something. That is unavoidable. Moreover, after your indoctrination is complete, much of your life will be figuring it out and wondering if what you were indoctrinated into is the actual truth. Most people will never even learn how far down the indoctrination rabbit-hole they are, unless they turn off their devices and take a hard look back at the guidance they received. In case you are unaware, the purpose of the devices and the dancing images is precisely so that you do not begin to ask those questions. The commandment of “Believe in yourself” precludes the second commandment of “Question Everything” if in your questioning you come to question the first commandment. This is kind of like Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics. First LawA robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.Second LawA robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. Likewise, in the laws of modern indoctrination, since the human self is a god, questioning everything is permitted, so long as questioning the principle of “Self as god” is not questioned. There is even a third law, which I have to marvel at. Asimov was an atheist, and he kind of nailed the worldview that I was taught. Third LawA robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.In these laws, a human is sacred and the robot is a slave. The sacred thing must be protected at all costs, even if suicide of the slave is needed. Finally, obedience to all orders from the sacred things must be followed. Likewise, the first commandment of the “Self is god” is unassailable by the lesser laws, such as “Question Everything.” The goal of any indoctrination is to build a wall around you, so that you become a disciple who will not even consider other products. Because if you buy the product that the pitch and demo are indoctrinating you into, you will use it for the rest of your life. If you believe that the Self is a god, then the hope is that you will stick with that idea for the rest of your life. It's pitched to us as the only option, like fear-based advertising for life insurance. “Believe in yourself” is pitched in the same way that a salesman will suggest that there's nothing else in the warehouse and this is the only one in stock, so you'd better take it; and that the other models have been discontinued and are all recalled as defective. That is exactly the message taught about Catholicism - that it's no longer for sale, because it stopped working for people. The odd thing about Catholicism is that it was never pitched or demonstrated in the same way to me. There is no smoke and mirrors, even if there is incense sometimes at Mass. It's all laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Church doors are often not even locked, even when no one is around. It was the opposite of robotic. There was nothing coercive about it. There is not even any trickery. It's not a car that is being sold, it's something different. It's not my “Self” being sold to me, it's bigger. To be human, "man's response to God by faith must be free, and. . . therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act." "God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus." Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. "For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. . . grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself." (CCC 160)So once I bought the product of the “Self,” after high school and college the product, I had to put that product into usage. I suppose I knew early on that the product from the pitch and the demo wasn't working very well, but teachers and elders and newsmen and movie stars kept assuring me that this was the way. Perhaps I was just using the product incorrectly. I just wasn't believing in myself enough. Quite honestly, everything did go well for me, but luckily I had one glaring flaw in alcohol usage that revealed to me the gaping hole in my indoctrination of the “Self as god.”Once the professors faded away, and I finally started to turn off the screens around me, the product I had bought proved to be a real lemon. For all of us, life is the proving ground. Life is not a book or a lab experiment or a demonstration. It is real. Bad ideas and bad patterns of living surface eventually. They cannot be hidden forever. No matter how shiny, no matter how many people are nodding at you in assurance, a bad product tattles on itself. When you go to use the product that promised strength and direction on a dark and cold night, and it doesn't work, you know the truth because you are sitting in the dark and cold, and the “Self as god” can do nothing. The Self proves to be a useless god.But it wasn't only personal experience that showed the broken springs in the lessons of humanism and scientism. The problems were everywhere. I actually tried to ignore the obvious problems, because I wanted to believe my indoctrination. But observing macro issues happening in the wider world, which seemed to mirror my personal micro-revelations, I saw the same gaping hole happening on a larger scale that I discovered on the dark and cold night . Many of our current problems, particularly the threat of nuclear war, the disintegration of the family, the numerous eco-disasters, and the Covid virus itself, are a direct result of our choosing the way of Prometheus over the way of Christ. (Yes, I for one am done pretending that the virus didn't come from a lab. That “wet market” pitch didn't win me over from the start.) There was no doubt that a free-will choice happened before I was born, on a national scale. I use the Atom Bomb as a point of inflection. It's a fine explosion to mark the change in direction, where technology became a god to us. Honestly, I think the fire started much earlier, even way before 1776. The explosion happened when we ate the apple or separated from apes - however you want to interpret it, the difference between animals and humans is clear, and the “Fall of Man” is the best answer available. You can deny God all you like. The fact of sin remains, and is truly the one provable fact in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. There was a Fall. Something is wrong with humans. Everyone has a flaw, a struggle, a dysfunction. Even Billy Joel acknowledges this in his history lesson called, We Didn't Start the Fire. So who did start the fire? Prometheus did. Or he is the one of the stories we use for where our problems came from. Sometimes his theft is portrayed as good thing. He was the ancient symbol of technology and human advancement. In the Bible, it's Cain, whose descendants built the first city and weapons. Both of these guys believed in themselves. When he chose to steal the fire from the gods, Prometheus certainly believed in himself. He may have even questioned why he shouldn't have fire. Oddly enough, questioning everything is exactly how the serpent in the garden lured Eve into eating from the forbidden tree. And even if Prometheus' intentions were good (I'm unconvinced), those scientists in Los Alamos who tinkered with physics to produce the atom bomb also believed they had good intentions. But like Prometheus, what was loosed into the world led to far greater problems, the biggest of which was fear and doubt. Fear and doubt lead to disenchantment. Fear of man overtakes fear of God. Doubt over God leads to faith in the self, or groupings of selves that will remove the fear. That was the mistake. And it's a huge error. It's the error that leads to all others. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28) The mantra of “Self as god” and “Question Everything” gets its wings in every age, just as surrender to Christ does. Affluence doesn't save you from fear. Pleasure doesn't either. Power? Not even close. If you have power, you are more fearful than the person with nothing. Because with the atom bomb, the United States had found power. But so did others, and it led to a fearful era in the fifties, leading to the hedonism of the sixties, the aimlessness of the seventies, the greed of the eighties, the nihilism of the nineties, and the internet age of narcissism and isolation today. And now we need a way out. We've painted ourselves into a corner, a lonely corner, where the light of our device only lasts as long as the battery. Technology went into hyperdrive and the message of the “Self as god” became louder and louder, because the technology carried the message, suggesting it at every waking moment, asking us the whole time the classic phrases from Genesis 3: “Did God really say that? Are you sure God said that?” and “He just doesn't want you to become like him.” Thus came the long march to meaninglessness that Nietzsche and Camus and Sartre and other philosophers saw coming. Meaninglessness is simple to explain. It's Godlessness. Meaninglessness happens because the Self is not a real god. It's a fake. The funny thing, however, of all this messaging and indoctrination is this: questioning everything is exactly what will lead you right back to the truth, and that truth is God. The truth is that the self is not-God. As the saying goes, the farther you run from God, the more likely you'll run right into the arms of God. The goals of the Renaissance, in its attempt to re-invigorate the world and ideas of classical Greece and Rome, were human-focused rejections of the long, successful, sustainable journey of Christianity through almost every culture in the world. The success of Christianity is hard to fathom or explain, given what it appears to offer externally, which is self-denial and humility. Its great sales pitch was the life of Christ and the demonstrations came through martyrdoms, which hardly seem appealing to humans who shun any and all discomfort and pain. Yet it drew people to Jesus. Self-denial instead of self-determination drew people in droves, because they saw something worth living for, and death, the great fear, no longer mattered because something greater was being given to all. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

Why Did Peter Sink?
Why I am Catholic (part 4): The Problem with "Faith Alone"

Why Did Peter Sink?

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 18:10


Before getting too far in this post, I want to start out with an admission. I am under no presumption of my salvation. I do not subscribe to the “Once saved, always saved” life insurance plan. To me, that is like saying, “I'm a marathon runner,” because I ran one two years ago. But I probably couldn't even finish one today. There is work that must accompany the claim of being a marathon runner if I intend to use that label in the present tense. God may be outside of space and time, but I'm certainly not. Thus the assurance of salvation that Protestants cling to is not for me, because it doesn't fit in with real life. It's like saying, “I'm asleep” when I'm awake, or “I'm eating” when I'm just chewing gum. The proclamation doesn't match the reality, especially if I'm living a life of sin and not efforting toward holiness. Wait - am I saying that works are required for salvation? Yes. Because that's what Jesus said. It's even what Paul said, and it's what the Apostles said, and it's what the Church said for 1500 years, going through centuries of martyrdoms and suffering and arguing and hammering out doctrine before the idea sprung out of Mr. Luther. That is the issue, of course, or one of them. How are we saved? How can we know? That's really what drove Luther to protest. It wasn't church corruption, because that has always existed. The idea that corruption was the cause is a myth, because corruption in the Church has been around since Judas. So please put the “paying to get to heaven” financial corruption on a shelf. Disgusting behavior by some priests was not the main cause of the protest. Not even close. He wanted to know he was saved, so that he could live his life in peace. He was obsessed with sin and grace, with salvation. He wanted assurance. But he fell into the trap called scrupulosity. This is a problem can lead to despair, so he tried to pole vault to salvation, and solve the problem. But he ended up on the other side of despair, which is called presumption. I get it. The moral life is hard. It's a difficult thing to deal with sin. But working toward holiness means not obsessing over sin but picking up the Cross every day and carrying it. The thing is, we're not complete with this life until the last breath, and along the way, we have to avoid presumption and despair, the twin pillars of error, represented perfectly in the two brothers in the story of the Prodigal Son. With faith, hope, and charity, I aim to work toward being in a state of grace, as best as I can, through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. This working toward grace becomes the great “undo button,” the “un-trade,” where I sent Herschel Walker back to the Dallas Cowboys, in a sense. The good news is that with daily conversion, I can undo that trade every morning, every moment. Rather than be a cause for despair, it's a pattern for living that works. Faith and works, body and soul. They go together like peas and carrots. I returned to God and found a manner to live that removed the fear of death, making it not a cause for worry but a future occasion that brings hope. So much of our underlying fears are of death. The fear of hell is real, since Jesus spoke of it about thirteen times. But death and the void affects us all in different ways. This is why we wear fig leaves. We wear fig leaves of wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. Why are we wearing them in the first place? Because we fear death and the unknown. Happy Christians seem so odd, or even irritating, because death is no longer fearful to them. They don't make sense because they have indeed pole-vaulted the main problem of life. You sometimes have to wonder, “Do they want to die?” Well…in a way, yes, they do, because it means going home. But the gift of this life, even with its struggles and pain, is the way of the Cross, and you cannot get to heaven unless you go through the Cross. This life is our second chance after the fall in the Garden to choose the tree of life. I often wonder why video game fanatics are not on-fire Christians, because figuring out the game of life comes through Jesus. He has the codes and weapons that we need in the spiritual life. Forget Fortnite or Call of Duty, this life, both materially and spiritually, has enough slings and arrows to dodge and fight against. Having Jesus alongside to slay all dragons makes everything suddenly exciting. I recently met someone who was living at a homeless shelter, who has terminal cancer. She lives in pain, in a terrible situation, who has battled addiction her whole life. No one would envy her situation. But she told me how good that God had been to her. She was overjoyed that she might get her own apartment for this year, with her own bathroom. When you meet people with true faith like her, and then you go interact with someone who has a beautiful house and family but is miserable and faithless, you know which person has been given the real gift. It's not money. It's not stuff. It's not status. None of that matters if you have faith, which is why Jesus said that the prostitutes and tax collectors will recognize the kingdom of heaven before the wealthy and the Pharisees. The “winners” of this world are the ones that lose in the end. And that it by choice. Free will is granted to us for this very reason. What we trade, what we put in our hearts where faith should be, are all the crappy Herschel Walker trades of this world. The Church and its teachings provides the greatest framework for living that I have found after searching through worldviews and trying them on like I was thumbing through racks of clothing at Macy's or a Goodwill store. Nothing comes close. The pattern of life provided in the Church makes sense, but only if you live it. Striving for holiness may seem foolish, but only if you never try it - and I mean really try it, not just mail in a half-effort. The word “orthodox” scares people because it sounds radical, but it means “right path.” It even refers to feet in its root word. These “oppressive rules” are not intended to make you suffer. They are to help you walk toward God, to move away from sin, and toward grace. Now, I have much to say about the other worldviews that I tried on. Stoicism seemed a close second to Christianity, but without Jesus becomes a miserable facade to pretend to like. Epicureanism had the same problem. Atheism - that takes more faith than Christianity. What's most interesting to me now is how I got off the orthodox trail in the first place. Oddly enough, I was steered away from faith at a Catholic college, almost like I had paid for it to happen. But interestingly, in my falling away from Catholicism, Protestantism didn't attract me. Not at all, as the “faith alone” felt too easy and “scripture alone” (or “sola scriptura”) was too corruptible so that I knew immediately that I could make Jesus whoever I wanted him to be. After all, I was the authority. John Calvin ran into that problem almost instantly and sort of made himself a new Pope. You can even see how Luther's denomination have splintered in so many ways because if you don't like the current interpretation, you can just as easily make up a new one, just like Luther and Calvin did. (Here I should refer readers to my series About Uranus which covers how gods and religions come to be, and why Abraham is so important.) So, seeing other worldviews as unsatisfactory, I went straight for the answer of mighty Science, just like many young people are doing today. Unfortunately, I didn't even get a funeral for my spiritual death, although I did pass out quite a few times from alcohol use and may have missed it. Those blackouts always concerned me, for what I might have missed, or lost, only to learn much later that I had lost something, at least temporarily, and it was my soul. But turning back to God made me realize that the devil must give it back when you want to stop sinning. The devil is like both a coat-check service and bartender who holds onto your soul and pours drinks until you are ready to leave the party of sin. But he can't lock you in forever. He must let you leave, even though you have to fight him to get out the door. Hotel California is only a song, not a real place, but the devil would very much like you to believe you can never leave him. (That is, once again, the sin of despair). I have not come to bash Martin Luther, because he was right about some things, like corruption in the Church, and wrong about other things, like “faith alone” and “scripture alone.” Those two ideas are awful, no doubt, and I have much to say about it, but his initial motives were right. He despised corruption in the Church, but there has always been corruption. The Reformation was not about corruption. That's a myth. Corruption was part of it, but corruption has always been part of the Church, just as it is in any human organization or family. But in starting the Reformation, he released far more corruption of doctrine. Luther was a very smart man, but you can see how it all unravelled and grew beyond it's original scope, especially since he was a true defender of the Eucharist. Calvin was brilliant as well. However, there are many smart people in every age, but that doesn't make them correct on everything. St. Augustine was wiser than Luther or Calvin, and he stuck to the Apostolic teachings. He recognized the need for the authority of interpretation, because obviously if we all become our own Pope, then Jesus just becomes a sidekick rather than our master. Because of Luther's great step into the world of sola fide, and even more so from John Calvin, today in America the word Christianity means whatever you want it to mean. If you want to handle snakes and have orgies and call it Christian, who is anyone to judge? Sola scriptura! The arguments of slavery came from the anti-Catholic, heavily Protestant world of early America. How? Because you can read the Bible however you life with sola scriptura. Plus, you're saved no matter what. Today we have the sexual unravelling, which will be seen in the same way that we view 19th century horrors today. This explosion of resurrected heresies has happened because of the Reformation. A thousand denominations has helped spread the word of God, but it has also flattened the message of Jesus. The Reformation spread the word of God not like light but like butter. We are all our own authority now. Unbelievers with their doctrine of “reason alone” could not have pulled this off. Now the doctrines of the Apostles gets conflated and mashed up with every fundamentalist and Jehovah's Witness and Prosperity Gospel churches' interpretation of the Bible. Copeland and Osteen are the bad examples of faith that drive people away from faith. I try to make sure to use the word Catholic so that people know what I mean, since the word “Christianity” has been smashed into the atomic level, such that every Christian is his own authority now. What's strange about this is that the two thousand years of trying to understand the life of Christ is cast out for our own interpretation. As I've said, every age has had brilliant people, but brilliance alone is not a reason to follow someone to false teaching. Using the word Catholic ensures that most people I meet probably recoil with horror immediately. It's like a modern leprosy to those basking in the light of modern media, but given that Jesus assured us that his followers would be hated, it pretty much confirms that I'm on the right track. But there's a funny thing about that, too. People don't really hate the Church. They think they do. But they hate the cartoon version of the Church that they have in their mind, which looks like a construction paper, glue, and crayon creation from kindergarten class. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

Why Did Peter Sink?
Why I Am Catholic (part 8): The Perfect Family

Why Did Peter Sink?

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 25:00


You do not end up in the Catholic Church by accident. Even for the cradle Catholic who strays, a full return cannot happen without a deep search. For most people that convert or revert, it's a long story. It's a battle. The truth is: we resist the Church. We struggle with it. But many end up in the Catholic Church because they wrestled with faith and reason for a long time before having the moment that they understood why Jesus started this Church. They suddenly stop hating the Pope, as they were often instructed to do, and submit to that authority. We dislike authority. That is our nature. That is the story in the Garden. It is often the story of our lives. Coming to love God and his Church means letting go of our preconceived notions and cultural teachings about power. The idea of being required to go to Confession and attend Mass weekly (because skipping Mass is a mortal sin) seems ridiculous to non-Catholics, but the reason for it is solid. This is a pattern for living. Further, partaking in the Sacraments does what they actually claim they do. They make the invisible visible. This is a mystery, but a glorious mystery if you can move from doubt into assent. Not everyone can do this. For some it seems to come naturally. For some it takes years. For some, they can never fully give up the love of self, or take the leap of faith and “know” that the Eucharist is indeed the body and blood of the risen Jesus. God bestows this gift of faith on those he chooses and who cooperate with his grace. All are offered grace but many simply refuse to cooperate. We are all given time and multiple opportunities to react to this offering, to reject it or surrender to it. This is a centerpiece of our free-will, this choice to cooperate or refuse God's grace. So for anyone that seems to lack access to that grace, or rejects it, it is our duty to pray for them, and a good practice is to do a 9-day or a 54-day Rosary novena for your most beloved unbelieving friend. It will probably just irritate them, so you don't even have to tell them. But praying for others is important. Prayers matter. They work. I have watched people change through prayer that goes beyond explanation. Thousands of hours of therapy fail, and suddenly a healthy prayer life heals. Yes, it's bizarre. Oddly enough, knowing God is like knowing any other person. The infinite and unexplainable Creator must be known just like your next door neighbor: through conversation, visits, shared experience, the journey of life, and shared meals. It's very important he be invited to meals, and that is what the Eucharist at Catholic Mass is: a thanksgiving meal where God and his family come together. We get to have thanksgiving every week, or even every day if you live somewhere that daily Mass is offered. Through the years, a relationship develops, but only if you develop it. No relationship in the history of mankind has flourished by two people ignoring one another. No relationship can be made with mere thoughts either, because we are both body and soul. Hence, Sacraments. Hence, the spiritual and corporate works of mercy. Hence, prayer. Prayer is essential and it works, just as conversations and phone calls and get-togethers work with real people. Action, also, is essential, as faith without works is dead. Catholicism is a “get off the couch” religion, if you're doing it correctly. This relationship with God: it cannot be explained fully. It is a mystery. Like the Trinity, we can never really understand it. And rather than frustrate us with uncertainty, it is a great letting go of the need to control, of the ego, of the self. While this drives modern people crazy, resting in that mystery can “unmodern” your misshapen plastic brain all by itself. This requires the step where you go into the unknown, the uncertain, the un-Google. Call is mysticism if you like. Whatever it is, it's better than that THC or Fentanyl everyone get so excited about. Kneeling and asking for the willingness to be willing can change everything. It's also free, and still legal. Even simply saying, “God, please help me. Give me strength and direction today,” has altered people's entire lives. That was the first prayer I said on my road back to building the relationship with God. And I hope and pray that you, reader, will ask, seek, and knock on that door to find out. Because it will change your life beyond any drug or experience that this world can give you. What you “know” today may change into a new kind of “knowing,” especially if you have been ignoring the one relationship that can restore you to health and make you whole. In short, I was disenchanted from all things supernatural like the priest-hunter in the Graham Greene novel. If there wasn't a rational explanation for something, then I decided it was absurd. Praying for people? My response to that was: Sending money for therapy would be better, since prayer is just talking to an imaginary friend. Belief in Angels? Give me a break. Devils? Sure, if they were just people with pitchforks dressed up in Halloween costumes. Re-enchantment doesn't mean jumping into the deep end of the pool and booking a vacation to where a Marian apparition occurred. It all starts with one prayer, a simple reach, to a power outside of yourself. You may even begin with a generic “spirit of the universe” and later get to God himself, the Creator, to Jesus, the Word, and the the Holy Spirit, the breath of life. I had to jumpstart my dead heart with the idea of an absurd “Streetlight God.” Hopefully most people don't have to go that far downward, but it does work. If you can, just pick one person of the Holy Trinity to start with. But try all three. Some people connect with one element of the Trinity better than others. You've tried every flavor of ice cream, what have you go to lose? You've probably gone through the kama sutra trying sexual positions, but that didn't satisfy you any more than eating Snickers bars “satisfies,” as the advertisements claim. This time, and in the future, try a new position called “kneeling.” That is, kneeling before God. It does wonders. Surely on a sleepless night you can take five minutes to start a new relationship that isn't centered around your phone. You are not a moth, so you stop acting like one. Stop buzzing around bright lights and screens, as if that's all you were made to do. If you are like most people today, you are mesmerized by the dancing light of a screen. After all, entertainment is not your end goal. It is a distraction from your fears: of death, rejection, abandonment, and shame. All of those fears come from a lack of relationship with God. You'll sleep better once you start dialing up God in the middle of the night, because he's always there and doesn't need sleep. The thing is, once the relationship begins, you learn that you are never alone, or rejected, or abandoned. You have a perfect family that you've been neglecting. Sure, your earthly family has flaws, or isn't perfect, or makes mistakes. That's because they are compromised humans. They are compromised, but not broken. All of us were ejected from the Garden for our own good, so that we would not remain in a permanently fallen state. The family that you have here is the earthly family that has been given to you to love. That is the trial and test, of course, and as soon as you start seeing those people as redeemable, compromised creatures that God loves, they look different. But even if those people are not around, you are never alone, and here's why… You are never alone because God is always present and available. If he does not feel present to you, then he is letting you walk, just as a toddler who is learning is allowed to fall. He wants you to walk and carry the cross, but he has not abandoned you, ever, just as a loving parent doesn't let their toddler destroy herself. The parent will pick her up when the time is right. God is doing that in your life, in different ways. If your earthly father is controlling, you may have a problem with the idea of a heavenly father. Thus, kneeling may seem too much to give up, since submission makes your blood boil. But the father in heaven isn't like your earthly father. He doesn't coerce. He doesn't force. He invites you. If your earthly father was a “deadbeat dad” who abandoned you, you may not like the idea of forgiving a father. But again, this father has never and will never abandon you. Only you can abandon this father. The father that we all want is this kind. He is the father who runs out to meet the Prodigal Son. He is the father that weeps when his children disobey but allows them chance after chance to come back. He is the father that never leaves you but also won't coddle you, because he wants you to grow. Don't confuse your earthly father with the Father in heaven. So you have a loving father, but you also have a brother. If you are baptized and believe, or if you ask for belief, you have a brother in Jesus. He will pray with you. He will be beside you in prayer if you ask. Like the St. Patrick prayer, he will be in you, around, above you, below you. Further yet, you can “put on the mind of Christ” and let his thoughts become yours, and if that seems impossible, open the Gospel and see his words and life, or do Lectio Divina in the Hallow app if you don't like to read. So now you have a loving father and a loving brother (also your savior), both who are perfect, who can help you fight the spiritual fight. They will show you how to live. One will father you and one will guide you. You have navigation from headquarters and boots on the ground to walk with you. There is more. What family is complete without a mother? The beauty of Catholic complementarity is that we don't have to pretend men and women are the same. Sometimes we need a mother, and sometimes we need a father, but we need both. We are whole when we have a relationship with both. We know that men and women are not the same, despite what the modern media tells us. Sanity is sometimes as simple as stating the obvious. The genius of femininity is that it is not male. It is something different and wonderful. The Blessed Mother, Mary, is your mother. You have a perfect mother and she will pray with you, any time, any where. And her prayers go straight to the top, as no one intercedes ahead of Mary. From the cross, Jesus looked down and said to Mary, “There is your son,” referring to the Apostle John. To John, he said, “There is your mother.” The Church has always held that Jesus, right then and there, from the Cross invited all faithful into the holy family. If we are brothers with Christ, then God is our father, and Mary is our mother. There is more. There is another earthly step-father for you other than your biological one, and his name is Joseph. His moniker is the “Terror of Demons” because of how he protected Mary and Jesus, taking action when the dreams and warnings appeared. People often consecrate themselves to Mary and/or Joseph. Why? Because they love their family and want to grow closer to them. “What does it mean for a person to be consecrated to St. Joseph? Well, it basically means that you acknowledge that he is your spiritual father, and you want to be like him. Total consecration to St. Joseph means you make a formal act of filial entrustment to your spiritual father so that he can take care of your spiritual well-being and lead you to God. The person who consecrates himself to St. Joseph wants to be as close to their spiritual father as possible, to the point of resembling him in virtue and holiness. Saint Joseph, in turn, will give those consecrated to him his undivided attention, protection, and guidance.” (from the Consecration to St. Joseph)And lastly, the saints. We have the saints, a larger family, who can intercede and pray with us. I ask for St. Peter and St. Anthony of Egypt to pray with me, as well as St. Dymphna and St. Mary Magdalene. It's a co-ed team of prayer, every day. And there are thousands of saints to ask for intercession, and even Rafael and Gabriel, the angels that we have come to know through Sacred Scripture. When navigating this world, sometimes you need a father to guide to, sometimes you need a mother to help you, and sometimes you need your brother to fight off a dragon. And still, sometimes, you need just to be still with the Holy Spirit - that unexplainable breath of life. The simple prayer of “Come, Holy Spirit,” opens us up to God's grace. No matter what you need, you need to be open to your heavenly family, because that is your perfect family, your family without wounds, without identity lies. Knowing and building a relationship with that family will help you grow in relationship with your earthly family. You are never alone. When I heard someone say that in the past, I assumed they were schizo, but today I know exactly what they mean. Having been re-enchanted, the invisible spiritual world is now as real and palpable as that rock in my shoe. If you come to believe in Jesus, then you come to know, and one thing that comes along with it is the awareness of your own sin, but rather than being a horrible thing, it can be a liberating thing. You can't get found unless you were once lost. It's an entirely new kind of freedom, but not a freedom to do what you want, but a freedom to follow God, as best as you can. And you want to do it. It's not forced! Never forced. That is one of the miraculously weird things that happens once you know you are a sinner and come to love and know God. Sooner or later, you come to know that angels and demons are also as real as that rock in the shoe. Once that happened, I began to see why and how the world and individual people behave as they do. The faith of an atheist doesn't allow for miracles, or spiritual lives, or souls, or partaking of the divine nature. The faith of an atheist really offers only half of life. It offers nothing that I want to take back, because I have discarded my anti-depressants, I haven't drank in almost seven years, I have zero desire to scroll porn (because people have souls and are not objects), I pray for my enemies and enemies of the Church. Daily, I meet with whole people of faith that astonish me in their own miraculous underdog comebacks. I start and end my day with prayer and gratitude to God. What more could I possibly want? (If you're an atheist, you scoffed there, and that's ok. If you're a Protestant, I probably lost you back at my “faith alone” rant. To both - I'm sorry, but this is my blog site, and this is my body and soul story. There are many things I admire about Protestants, but I believe that Christ's Body in the world is the Catholic Church.)The strangeness of it all is this: it all fits together. All of it. Somehow, someway. The bizarre storytelling and miracles and parables and Marian dogmas and relics and Sacraments - they all bake into something perfect and unendingly satisfying - a bread that never stops feeding you. That is, I believe, what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the bread of life.” Hence, the Eucharist at Mass is food for the body and the soul. It is food for the faithful. It is a meal with God himself. The tie that binds is Jesus. “Love God. Love others. Let's all get together and eat my body. Do this in memory of me.” I recall reciting the Nicene Creed as a teenager and skipping certain elements, mostly the ones that required supernatural belief, which means a large portion of it. As the years went on, when I had to attend a funeral or wedding, I started to notice that certain elements had become less difficult to accept, as a rudderless life had tossed me about so much that I reached a state of openness. Through the use of alcohol, I had moored my ship on many rocks, on islands of ideologies and empty pursuits. Of course, this process of getting to shore meant getting both the rudder and the sail working together, not against one another. Switching metaphors, I'll move over to Chesterton's “lock and key” example. For me, it was not that one single grand moment made all the difference, but many small moments that carved away untruths and honed edges down. I could not open the door using the key I had, because the key just hadn't been fully prepared yet. At first the key was just a cylinder that did not fit the keyhole at all. But over twenty years, with many books and life experience, the grinding of the search shaped the key, until one day I tried the key again, and I felt the thunk of the lock as it sunk into the center. A stick might fit a hole or a stone a hollow by accident. But a key and a lock are both complex. And if a key fits a lock, you know it is the right key. (From Chesterton's Orthodoxy)Perhaps you know the feeling. When the key fits, you think it's the right key, but if haven't yet turned the deadbolt, you're still not certain. I'd had that feeling before, but the key wouldn't turn. A key seemed to have the fit, yet I still couldn't open the door. With modern versions of stoicism and epicureanism and humanism, I felt I'd had the key before, but none of those could turn the bolt. But then this time, when I twisted, the bolt moved. Then I had to decide, did I really want to open the door? Because I knew that opening the door meant the change of everything in my entire life. This is what Catholics call “cooperating with grace.” Even if the key has been given, and the door unlocked, each of us must still choose to open that door. The mystery of why God gives us trials and temptations in life is clear to me now: they key that we need to unlock the door needs to be shaped, and God shapes the key using these struggles. Of course, I had to open the door. After all, I'd spent a long time looking for that key and having it shaped. So what other choice did I have? How could I go back to the prior attempts that left me locked out? None of them had made me happy. If you have been given the key, you may think there is no choice but to use, but God does not coerce or force us to do anything. He wants us to open the door voluntarily, but he doesn't fling it open for us. He just gives us the key. And then opening the door, the treasure is there, the one that makes sense of all the struggle and searching. This is the key we are all looking for. If you haven't gotten the key fully shaped yet, you still might, given more time and experience. But you have to come back to the door now and then to test the key, because that is the game that God is playing with us. He's doing something in your life, but you may not understand it until much later.So that is my take on coming to faith. As Jesus said, we are only drawn to God if God draws us. This is confusing, but if you feel drawn, you should set down your busy life and try the key again. Free will is a powerful thing, because God beckons us but we have to take action. If the beckoning happens, then you are likely being called. If you ignore the beckoning, you may miss the opportunity. “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.” (John 6:44)Now, most people today have a real beef with the Catholic Church, so let me take some time to comment on that. Everyone seems to have this in common, especially Catholics themselves. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

Composers Datebook
HK Gruber

Composers Datebook

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 3, 2023 2:00 Very Popular


Synopsis In Austrian culture there is a theatrical tradition that pokes fun at anything somber and serious. Mozart's opera “The Magic Flute” taps into this in the person of Papageno, and in the 19th century the Austrian actor Johann Nestroy deflated pomposity in his satirical plays, including one wicked sendup of Wagner's opera “Tannhauser.” In our own time, this tradition is alive and well – and even Mozart is not immune. How else do you explain a 1991 Austrian film titled: “Bring Me the Head of Amadeus!” – a work ostensibly released in honor of the 200th anniversary of the composer's death? That film's soundtrack was written by a musical jack-of-all-trades named H.K. Gruber, who was born in Vienna on today's date in 1943. Gruber has composed what might be called “normal” concertos and such but is best known for “abnormal” works, including a piece he describes as a “pandemonium” for voice and chamber ensemble titled “Frankenstein!” “Frankenstein!” is a musical setting of some very macabre poems by a fellow Austrian named H.C. Artmann. Oddly enough, its bizarre Viennese humor translates well with audiences worldwide. As Gruber puts it: “The poems evokes in each culture a unique set of metaphors and associations. The gloomy Russian temperament, for example, seems to find our ‘Frankenstein' particularly amusing!” Music Played in Today's Program HK Gruber (b. 1943) Three Mob Pieces London Mob Ensemble; HK Gruber EMI 56441 HK Gruber (b. 1943) Frankenstein!! HK Gruber, singer (?); Salzburg Camerata; Franz Welser-Most, conductor. EMI 56441

The Unauthorized History of the Pacific War
John Basilone's Hour of Glory-Henderson Field with special guest Dave Holland

The Unauthorized History of the Pacific War

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 3, 2023 100:49


This week we would like to welcome back Dave Holland.  Dave is a former United States Marine, owns and runs the facebook and youtube channel called Guadalcanal: Walking a battlefield, a Solomon islands battlefield guide, and most importantly, a Guadalcanal expert.  Welcome back, Dave. We've been building up to this specific event for some time now, and so have the Japanese.  As you will recall, the last several months on Guadalcanal have seen steadily larger Japanese assaults hit that Marines with intents on grabbing Henderson Field.  The Japanese have tried and failed at Tenaru in August, tried and came very close at Edson's Ridge in September, tried a few smaller attacks here and there the next several weeks, all failures.   Now we sit in late October and the Japanese have finally built enough forces on Guadalcanal for their almighty “decisive battle”.  All the Japanese thrusts, both ashore and at sea, have led to this operation.  This is the all or nothing, the decisive battle that the Japanese have clamored for and the Americans have been preparing for. This is the tipping point for better or worse.  Talking Points: Preparations:The Japanese had been steadily sending troops and supplies, more troops than supplies, to Guadalcanal for several weeks in anticipation of this specific offensive. The IJN fully supported the operation in just about any way that they could. On October 14, two battleships, Kongo and Haruna, along with screening vessels shelled Henderson Field in what was easily, the worst bombardment of the entire campaign.For nearly an hour and a half the two battleships fired over 900 rounds of 14 inch ammunition into the Lunga perimeter to knock out both airfields and destroy the Cactus Air Force's aircraft.The shelling, known as “the Bombardment” by the Marines and soldiers ashore destroyed about half of the Cactus Air Force, and heavily damaged the two airfields, although one was back in operation in a few hours.This bombardment, as well as others in between, were all in conjunction with the large-scale offensive, all with plans to soften the defenses of the Americans. The Japanese had begun steadily moving troops into the attack area for many days, through the jungle (again), with the date of the main assault set for October 22, but would actually take place two days later.   To distract the Americans attention from the main location of the attack, the Japanese set up a series of diversionary infantry assaults. The Japanese were under the assumption that only 10,000 Americans were ashore, when in actuality the number was over 23,000. The Americans, aware that a large scale assault was eventually coming, had been preparing their defensive perimeter for weeks.The addition of the Army's 164th Infantry Regiment gave Vandegrift a total of 13 infantry battalions to defend the perimeter in an almost continuous line.  Prelude to the main event: The Japanese had been moving their main assault force through the jungle, along a trail blazed by their engineers, for days…completely undetected by American forces. At dusk on October 23, one of the diversion attacks under COL Nakaguma, alomng with 9 tanks, attacked Marine defenses at the mouth of the Matinikau river. The Japanese tanks advanced near the river under the cover of an artillery barrage, however, the Japanese tanks were either disabled or destroyed by Marine anti-tank weapons on the opposite side of the river.   In response to the Japanese assault, and the Japanese artillery, 4 battalions of Marine artillery fired over 6,000 rounds at the Japanese inflicting heavy casualties and essentially stopping the assault at the river. In between the artillery detonations, Marines on the line could audibly hear Japanese screaming and moaning in pain.  The artillery, yet again, was devastating.It should be mentioned that while this was happening, Vandegrift was in Noumea at the bidding of newly appointed head banana, Admiral Halsey. We'll get to Haley's installation as main man in another episode when we discuss the leadership, both good and bad, of the Guadalcanal campaign with buddy and friend of the show Jon Parshall.  The Main Event October 24:At first light on October 24, Marines along the Matinikau caught sight of a long column of Japanese infantry  on a ridge to the left rear of the American lines.  COL Hanneken's 2/7 redeployed to the rear and loosely tied in with the Marines of 3/7, albeit with a gap in the line. With the departure of Hanneken's people, Chesty Puller was forced to stretch his single battalion over a regimental front.Only 700 men guarded an area designed for the protection from over 2,000.Puller, ever vigilant, personally walked the line inspecting each area, and each emplacement ordering improvements or movements as he saw fit in each area. As the Japanese under GEN Maruyama approached the area thought to be the correct position for attack, they began to get bogged down again by the jungle and now, also, heavy rain.The original kick off time for the attack, 1900, came and went as the Japanese continued to grope towards American lines. Finally, around 2200, elements of COL Shoji's people stumbled into the leading elements of puller's defenses.The fighting was short but fierce as Puller's men eventually drove off the attackers, making no progress and gaining no ground.Oddly enough, the Japanese sent a message back to 2nd Division HQ that stated that Japanese infantry were moving into the grassy area at the edge of the airfield, when in reality, they were nowhere near the airfield and had certainly not broken through any lines.   COL Matsumoto called and stated that the airfield was now completely in Japanese hands. The 17th Army signaled “2300 Banzai-a little before 2300 the right wing captured the airfield.” This odd transmission is even stranger when one considers that the “right wing” had marginal, at best, participation in the event at all. Meanwhile, the left wing of the Japanese assault decidedly did attack.3rd Battalion 29th Infantry 11th Company under CAPT Katsumata reconned American lines in the area, found a soft spot between 2 MG emplacements and began a low crawl advance towards the American gap in the lines that was threaded with barbed wire. Japanese engineers began snipping the wire, unbeknownst to Americans, as the infantry low crawled through the grass to spring a surprise assault.Either due to delirium from the long march, fear, excitement or a combination of all 3, one lone Japanese let out a war cry that was soon picked up by many others alerting the Americans of their presence.   Almost instantly American machine gun fire erupted as did mortars. The Japanese now knowing the surprise was gone, leapt up and charged.  They began to get entangled in the barbed wire and were summarily annihilated by the Marines holding that area, which was Puller's A Company at about 0100. Shortly thereafter, Japanese of the 9th Company moved to the left in the wake of the now dead 11thCompany and prepared to attack.After giving a great Banzai, the men of the 9th Company charged Marine lines, running straight through the prepared machine gun position firing lanes of Puller's C Company. Within 5 minutes, the 9th Company was wiped out. John Basilone After the majority of the infantry were killed, American artillery began dropping, killing what was left of the Japanese. Puller was now aware that he was under attack from a large and well-seasoned Japanese force. He immediately fed 3 platoons from 3/164th into his lines to beef up the defenses.The National Guardsmen were led, sometimes by hand, through the torrential rain into the raging battle and fed piecemeal into the Marine lines, mixing with Marine units and holding their own in the fight. The only real success of the initial assaults came in the form of COL Furimaya's assault at dawn. Realizing he had little to work with, Furimaya assembled what he could and personally led an assault that partially pierced the American lines.About 100 Japanese broke through and held a salient in the Marine lines that was eradicated in the morning. The Main Event October 25:By mid-morning, it was obvious that the Japanese were not through with their assault.  As a result, Marines and Army troops began to reshuffle their defenses and prepare for another night time assault.  For over an hour after 2000, the Japanese fired artillery into the positions of Puller's 1/7 and LCOL Robert Hall's 164th IR.  The majority of the assault fell on the soldiers of the 164th who held their ground again, all night long.  With the main push coming through an artery between the 2nd and 3rd BTLN 164th.  However, that artery was manned by a couple of Marine 37mm guns that were firing canister into the charging Japanese.A few Japanese parties broke the lines, but those were hunted down and killed by soldiers and Marines within hours. The return of Col Oka…His attacks concentrate on the area held by Hanneken's 2/7Just before midnight, the Japanese surged forward against the Marine positions, finally culminating in an all out assault at 0300.Company F bore the brunt of this assault…Mitch PaigeDespite Paige's heroics, Japanese scaled the slopes in front of F Company and ejected them from their positionsMAJ Odell Conoley led a group of Marines that counterattacked and eliminated the Japanese in the former positions of F Company. The Battle Over: Rough US casualties run about 90 KIA Japanese casualties are unknown in exact figures but estimates range in the neighborhood of 2,200 but probably more than that. The Japanese blamed the terrain, the march through the jungle, no air support, poor physical condition of the troops, inadequate supplies, faulty intel, etc, etc…all of which were accurate. While this isn't the last land battle on Guadalcanal, it certainly was the most crucial to the Japanese, and the most decisive for the Americans.  For all intents and purposes, the land campaign, in terms of Japanese all-out assaults and large-scale operations, was over.  While there were plans for yet another assault in November, as we shall see, this does not end well for the Japanese. 

HC Universal Network
In Other News January 2, 2023

HC Universal Network

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 2, 2023 7:07


The ongoing technocratic World Economic Forum's and the United Nation's plan to annihilate billions of humans and enslave us all in digital prisons by any scheming means necessary.  We have to begin to openly talk about this and stop hiding behind the flimsy excuses people use everyday to deny what they absolutely know is true, and it is of the highest priority. Not the war in Ukraine, Not police brutality or racism, not any narrative that ultimately divides us. A Country Club of billionaires run by geriatric dementia riddled sociopaths. Many of whom made the the decision to never have children. Despise the family and embrace the cruel joke of Marxism and the nightmare of Communism. Their narcissism and isolation from cold hard reality will likely, in the very near future, morph into an outcome of temporary carnage between their side and that of the rest of humanity that will eventually unveil decades of DARPA level technology that has remained hidden by this eugenics obsessed technocracy. Humanity utilizing the unyielding spirit of Liberty will  eventually seize this hidden technology which includes life extension, free energy, and robotics  to do the bidding of the future of Space Age humanity. But humanity must do its part now, turn the corner and refuse these handlers from continuing to control our corrupt institutions. And those institutions must be restored rather than torn down to meet the technocrats decades of planning. And the human race can only do this if it turns towards the ethical spark instilled in everyone one of us through aeons of DNA. Oddly enough from our ancestors. Better known as family. This of course maybe incredibly obvious to many of you. But that of course a very positive sign.

HC Universal Network
In Other News January 2, 2023

HC Universal Network

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 2, 2023 7:07


The ongoing technocratic World Economic Forum's and the United Nation's plan to annihilate billions of humans and enslave us all in digital prisons by any scheming means necessary.  We have to begin to openly talk about this and stop hiding behind the flimsy excuses people use everyday to deny what they absolutely know is true, and it is of the highest priority. Not the war in Ukraine, Not police brutality or racism, not any narrative that ultimately divides us. A Country Club of billionaires run by geriatric dementia riddled sociopaths. Many of whom made the the decision to never have children. Despise the family and embrace the cruel joke of Marxism and the nightmare of Communism. Their narcissism and isolation from cold hard reality will likely, in the very near future, morph into an outcome of temporary carnage between their side and that of the rest of humanity that will eventually unveil decades of DARPA level technology that has remained hidden by this eugenics obsessed technocracy. Humanity utilizing the unyielding spirit of Liberty will  eventually seize this hidden technology which includes life extension, free energy, and robotics  to do the bidding of the future of Space Age humanity. But humanity must do its part now, turn the corner and refuse these handlers from continuing to control our corrupt institutions. And those institutions must be restored rather than torn down to meet the technocrats decades of planning. And the human race can only do this if it turns towards the ethical spark instilled in everyone one of us through aeons of DNA. Oddly enough from our ancestors. Better known as family. This of course maybe incredibly obvious to many of you. But that of course a very positive sign.

Be Ye Lifted
1-1-2023 Frogs, Fugitives and Fulfillment

Be Ye Lifted

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 2, 2023 19:01


What is the meaning of our hosannas to the newborn Jesus if we, at the same time, stand silent before the Herods of our day?Transcript:Part of the reason I wrote the Juniper Bog is that frogs get a bad rap in the bible. Frogs are mentioned in the bible a total of 15 times; 14 of those times they are literally, a plague. The 15th occurrence is in the Revelation 16:13 where unclean spirits are described as looking like frogs. And trust me, it's ugly. But during the pandemic, we watched Life in Color on Netflix. Narrated by David Attenborough, it is a documentary about the many ways animals use color in their lives, and frogs were the headlining act. And that got me thinking about how much we miss when we don't look beyond our initial impression of an animal or a person. Take fugitives for example. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word, fugitive? Maybe it's Harrison Ford running from a literal trainwreck or hiding in a St. Patrick's Day parade. But chances are, the word fugitive, all by itself, has a negative connotation. We have laws that forbid concealing people from arrest, concealing an escaped prisoner, fleeing to avoid giving testimony or avoiding prosecution, and they are all detailed in the U.S. Code under the heading: Fugitives from Justice.But according to Webster, a fugitive is merely “running away or intending flight” and the first example given is, “a fugitive slave.” Which gives me pause. If someone is being harshly treated, abused, held against their will, and they escape, and run, ought we label them as a “fugitive?”Today's Gospel is often referred to as the Holy Family's flight to Egypt. Flight. They have fled Bethlehem as recommended by an angel, in a dream, to Joseph. They are fleeing because Herod has issued an edict that all baby boys under the age of two should be killed; his strategy? If Jesus was a baby boy, and all the baby boys were killed, surely Jesus, who threatened Herod, even as an infant, would be killed as well. To protect Jesus, Joseph takes Mary and Jesus and flees to Egypt. They were, by definition, fugitives. We tend to focus on the joyful reaction of angels and shepherds and magi to the birth of Jesus, but the truth is that Jesus birth so frightened grown men in power, that the plot to kill him began while he was still an infant. And this makes sense because when the Good News of Jesus Christ , including his birth, is proclaimed in the world, it brings fear and loathing to those whose lives are focused on the accumulation and maintenance of power.  And that brings me to fulfillment. Matthew views Jesus' escape to and return from Egypt as a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I called my son” (2:15). It also hearkens back to the first exodus, with Israel being identified as God's son. In verse 18 Matthew cites Jeremiah 31:15 to express the horror of Herod's slaughter of the innocents. We dare not imagine the blood-curdling screams and inconsolable sobbing throughout the region as little boys were mercilessly killed. Yet the use of this text signals a glimpse of hope. In Jeremiah's day, as the Israelites were taken into captivity, on leaving Jerusalem they would have passed by Ramah, a town six miles to the north, on the way to Babylon. Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob and mother of Israel, wept over this national tragedy. If we continue on in Jeremiah 31, however, we will hear God's words of comfort, his new covenant with Israel, and his commitment to his people's salvation.  The third citation, “He will be called a Nazorean” (2:23), claims that Joseph's decision to settle his family in Nazareth was also prophetically anticipated. Oddly, these exact words cannot be found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Could this be why Matthew uses “through the prophets” in thSupport the show

A History of England
122. Events, dear boy, events

A History of England

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 25, 2022 14:59


After discussing his relative success with a moderately liberal programme in England last time, in this episode we talk about Palmerston's far greater difficulties abroad. There was another Opium War in China, as Britain fought to enforce the East India Company's right to push drugs there, and then an uprising in India, which Brits still like to think of as a mutiny though many Indians see it as a War of Independence. Both events involved extensive brutality, most of it by Britain, but Palmerston did just fine in the debates on both. The stumbling block proved to be something far less significant: a terrorist outrage in Paris by a man who'd had some connection with England. The French demanded that Palmerston take action, and he responded by proposing new legislation. That had seemed to many like kowtowing to the French, and the Opposition in parliament was able to engineer a victory in a vote against his government's behaviour. Oddly, that was on the very night after his victory over military action in India. One evening, he was victorious, the next he was out. Events, you see, events are the real killers in a statesman's existence. Illustration: Sepoy Mutiny, 1857 by Charles Granger, showing a scene from the 1857 Indian uprising. From Wikimedia Commons. Music: Bach Partita #2c by J Bu licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives (aka Music Sharing) 3.0 International License.

The From Burnout to Recovery Show with Dr. Kate: Your Journey to Recovery Burnout Starts Here
Happy Thinking Healthy Life - Master Your Mindset and Get $#it Done!

The From Burnout to Recovery Show with Dr. Kate: Your Journey to Recovery Burnout Starts Here

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2022


Holiday Food- Holiday Stress- Holiday Burnout Is it possible to get through this busy time of the year without the pressure of eating, saying or doing the right or wrong thing? Absolutely! We bring you another look at Happy Thinking, Healthy Life with simple and easy steps to pace yourself through the holidays in a way that puts you in control of you and how you respond to old triggers. Oddly, we don't hear this enough: you have more choice in your life than you are taught or led to believe. If you can control your breath, you can control (AND CHANGE) your thoughts to live a happier and more positive life. Who doesn't want a less stressful visit home for the holidays? Thoughts Become Things- says author Matthew Luccetti. What you think about you bring about. If you focus on the negative at the holidays, you'll only be able to see the negative. If you choose to shift your perspective and look through the positive and non-judgemental lens, you'll start to see your relatives, and situations in a different way. You can guide and direct your personal wellness with the 3 steps of the Steiner Self Reflection model: observation, preparation and Recovery. My guest Dr. Kate Steiner is confident she can help you create your own recovery formula when you start with observing how you feel when you are in stressful situations. You can use the CALM Method anytime you notice you re feeling an unwanted emotionor when you want to feel better about a situation or circumstance in your life as Nikki Gangemi teaches to manage your mind and reset your reactions! Join us for a robust conversation from 4 authors who joined together to collaborate on an easy to read book to help you live the life you want to live, with purpose, meaning and a lot less stress! Take us home for the holidays... trust me. You won't regret it.

Kathy Sullivan Explores
Exploring the High Arctic: An Audio Adventure

Kathy Sullivan Explores

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2022 15:17


My latest grand expedition was back in September in the Arctic. I spent most of the month with Lindblad-National Geographic exploring several of my favorite places: Norway, Greenland, and Iceland. Oddly enough, although I grew up in Southern California, I've always been drawn to higher latitudes—the Arctic in the north and Antarctica in the south—and my expedition with Lindblad-National Geographic was a great opportunity to go far north again and get back to some of those favorite places. In this episode, you'll hear about my voyage in the High Arctic with Lindblad-National Geographic. I describe our voyage through the far north of Norway and the volcanic Jan Mayen island. I discuss the spikiest summits I've ever seen and explain how frost-shattering weather rocks into jaggy mountains. I describe my fellow passengers on the expedition—including bestselling thriller novelist Lisa Gardner—and their fascinating, diverse backgrounds. You'll also learn how I conducted an experiment inspired by this podcast's theme—Spaceship not required—and the characteristics that make an explorer. “Spaceship not required—nor a certain job title, nor a certain percentage of your working hours; if you're curious, going, testing, and learning, you're legitimately an explorer.” - Kathy Sullivan This week on Kathy Sullivan Explores: Sailing among witches' hats: our voyage through the far north of Norway The awe-inspiring Jan Mayen island Our time at the Northeast Greenland National Park The spikiest summits and craziest mountainside I've ever seen Iceland—a true marine geologist's paradise The site of the first democratic parliament in the world My fellow passengers, their diverse backgrounds, and my mini experiment “Doing” versus “being,” and the things that make an explorer Our Favorite Quotes: “The peaks are the result of frost shattering the rock into tiny little bits, so you get absolutely jagged 6,000-foot-tall mountains right above.” - Kathy Sullivan “I think you're exploring if you're tuning in to this podcast, even a little bit, and I hope you keep exploring.” - Kathy Sullivan Spaceship Not Required  I'm Kathy Sullivan, the only person to have walked in space and gone to the deepest point in the ocean. I'm an explorer, and that doesn't always have to involve going to some remote or exotic place. It simply requires a commitment to put curiosity into action. In this podcast, you can explore, reflecting on lessons learned from life so far and from my brilliant and ever-inquisitive guests. We explore together in this very moment from right where you are--spaceship not required. Welcome to Kathy Sullivan Explores. Visit my website at kathysullivanexplores.com to sign up for seven astronaut tips to improve your life on earth and be the first to discover future episodes and learn about more exciting adventures! Don't forget to leave a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts! Spotify I Stitcher I Apple Podcasts | iHeart Radio | TuneIn | Google | Amazon Music.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Screaming in the Cloud
Holiday Replay Edition - Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery Made Easy with Rob Zuber

Screaming in the Cloud

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2022 38:53


About RobRob Zuber is a 20-year veteran of software startups; a four-time founder, three-time CTO. Since joining CircleCI, Rob has seen the company through its Series B, Series C, and Series D funding and delivered on product innovation at scale. Rob leads a team of 150+ engineers who are distributed around the globe.Prior to CircleCI, Rob was the CTO and Co-founder of Distiller, a continuous integration and deployment platform for mobile applications acquired by CircleCI in 2014. Before that, he cofounded Copious an online social marketplace. Rob was the CTO and Co-founder of Yoohoot, a technology company that enabled local businesses to connect with nearby consumers, which was acquired by Appconomy in 2011.Links: Twitter: @z00b LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robzuber/ Personal site: https://www.crunchbase.com/person/rob-zuber#section-overview Company site: www.circleci.com TranscriptAnnouncer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host cloud economist, Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.Corey: If you asked me to rank which cloud provider has the best developer experience, I'd be hard-pressed to choose a platform that isn't Google Cloud. Their developer experience is unparalleled and, in the early stages of building something great, that translates directly into velocity. Try it yourself with the Google for Startups Cloud Program over at cloud.google.com/startup. It'll give you up to $100k a year for each of the first two years in Google Cloud credits for companies that range from bootstrapped all the way on up to Series A. Go build something, and then tell me about it. My thanks to Google Cloud for sponsoring this ridiculous podcast.Corey: This episode is brought to us by our friends at Pinecone. They believe that all anyone really wants is to be understood, and that includes your users. AI models combined with the Pinecone vector database let your applications understand and act on what your users want… without making them spell it out. Make your search application find results by meaning instead of just keywords, your personalization system make picks based on relevance instead of just tags, and your security applications match threats by resemblance instead of just regular expressions. Pinecone provides the cloud infrastructure that makes this easy, fast, and scalable. Thanks to my friends at Pinecone for sponsoring this episode. Visit Pinecone.io to understand more.Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. I'm joined this week by Rob Zuber, CTO of CircleCI. Rob, welcome to the show.Rob: Thanks. Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.Corey: It really is, isn't it? So you've been doing the CTO dance, for lack of a better term, at CircleCI for about five, six years now at this point?Rob: Yeah, that's right. I joined five and a half years ago. I actually came in through an acquisition. We were building a CI/CD platform for mobile, iOS specifically, and there were just a few of us. I came in an engineering role, but within, I think a year, had taken over the CTO role and have been doing that since.Corey: For those of us who've been living under a rock and recording podcasts, CI/CD or Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery has gone through a bit of, shall we say, evolution since the term first showed up. My first exposure to it many moons ago was back when Jenkins was still called Hudson, and it was the box that you ran that it would wait for some event to happen, whether it was the passing of time, a commit to a particular branch, someone clicked a button, and then it would run a series of scripts, which sort of lent itself to the idea of the hacker news anthem, "That doesn't look hard. I can build that in a weekend." Now, we've seen a bit of growth in that space of not just, I guess the systems you can run yourselves, but also a lot of the SaaS offerings around this. That's the, I guess, the morons journey from my perspective to path through CI/CD. That's almost certainly lacking nuance. What is it, I guess in the real world with adults talking about it?Rob: Yeah, so I think it's a good perspective, or it's a good description of the perspective that many people have. Many people enter into this feeling that way. I think, specifically when you talk about cloud providers in CircleCI, we do have an on-prem offering behind the firewall. No one really runs anything on-prem anymore. But we have an offering for that market, but the real leverage is for folks that can use our stuff, multi-tenant SaaS cloud offering. Because, ultimately it's true. Many people have start with something simple from a code based perspective, right? I'm starting out, I've got a small team. We have a pretty simple project, maybe a little monolith Ruby on rails, something like that. Actually, I think in the time of the start of CircleCI. Probably not too many people kick off the rails monolith these days because if you're not using Kubernetes and Docker, then you're probably not doing it right.Corey: So, the Kubernetes and Docker people tell us?Rob: Yeah, exactly. They will proudly tell you that. We'll come back around to that point if we want to, but so you have simple project and you have simple CI, right? You may just have a simple script that you're putting in a Jenkins box or something like that, but what ultimately ends up happening is it gets complicated, and as it gets complicated, it becomes a bigger and bigger distraction from the thing that you're really trying to do, right? You're trying to build a business to ... I don't know, to do ride hailing, to do scooter sharing, what's big these days. You might be trying to do any of the ...Corey: Oh, my project is Twitter for pets. We're revolutionizing the world of pet communication.Rob: Right. And do you want to spend your time working on pet communication or on CI/CD, right? CI/CD is a thing that we understand very well, we spend our time on it every day, we think about some of the depths of it, which we can go into in a second. One of the things that gets complicated, amongst others, is just scale. So you build a big team, you have multiple projects and you have that one box under your desk where you said, "Oh, it's not that hard to build CI/CD. Now, everybody's waiting for their stuff to run because someone else got in there before them and you're thinking, okay, well how do I buy ... maybe you're not buying more boxes, you're building out something in a cloud provider and then you're worrying about auto scaling because it starts to cost you too much to run those boxes, and how do you respond to the amount of load that you have on any given day?Because you're crunching for a deadline versus everybody's taken a week off. Then, you want to get your build done as quickly as possible. So you start figuring out how to paralyze the work and spread it across those machines. The list goes on and on. This is the reality that everyone runs into as they scale their work. We do that for you. While it seems simple and ... I said I came in through an acquisition, we were building CI/CD for iOS, and I was that person. I said, "This seems really simple. We should build it and put it in the market." It didn't take us very long to get that first version to build, and it had to be generic to support many different types of customers and their particular builds.It was a small start but we started to run into the same problems, and then of course as a business, we ran into the problem of getting access to customers and all those things and that's why we joined CircleCI and that became what is now our iOS offering. But there is a lot of value that you can get quickly, to your point, but then you start focusing time and energy on that. I often refer to it, others in the industry refer to these sorts of things as undifferentiated heavy lifting. Something that becomes big and complex over time and is not the core of your business. Then as you start to invest in it, as we invest in it, then we build capabilities that most people wouldn't bother to build when they write that first bash script off a trigger or whenever, around helping you get your project set up, handling the connection into hooks, handling authentication so that different users only have access to the code they should have access to, maybe isolating access to production secrets, for example, if you're doing deploy.The kinds of things that keep coming up over and over in CI/CD that people don't think about on that first pass but ended up hunting them down the road.Corey: What do you think that people tend to misunderstand the most about CI/CD as you take a look at that throughout the ecosystem? From my perspective, when it was a box that you ran, behind the firewall as you say, the problem was is that everyone talked about, "Oh yes, we use cattle, not pets, except the box that does the builds. Of course, that box has a bunch of hand-built stuff on it that's impossible to replicate. It has extraordinary permissions into production environments and can do horrifying things, and it was always the star of various security finding reports. There are a number of us who came up from an operation side viewing CI/CD as, in some ways, a liability, which I understand is a very biased and one sided perspective. But going beyond that, what are people missing? What are they not seeing about the CI/CD landscape?Rob: One thing that I think is really interesting there, well, one thing you call that was just resiliency, right? We think about that in the way that we operate that system. We have a world of cattle because we've managed to think about that as a true offering. So, as you scale and you start to think, "Oh, how do I make this resilient inside my operation?" That's going to become a challenge that you face. The other thing that I think about that I've noticed over the years is, I want to call it division of labor or division of responsibilities. Many of those single instance or even multi-instance self-managed CI/CD tools end up in a place where, past any size of team, honestly somebody needs to own it and manage it to make sure it's stable.The changes that you want to make as a developer are often tied to basically being managed by that administrator. To be a little clear, if I have a group responsible for running CI/CD and I want to start building a different type of code or a different project, and it requires a plugin or an extension to the CI/CD platform or CI/CD tool, then I need to probably file a ticket and wait for another department who is generally not super motivated to get my code out into production, to go make a change that they are going to evaluate and review and decide ... or maybe creates conflict with something somebody else is doing on that system. And then you say, "Oh well actually we can't have these co-installed so now we need two systems." It's that division of responsibilities. Whereas, having built a multi-tenant cloud offering, we could never have that. There is no world in which our customers say to us, "Hey, we want this plugin installed. Can you go do that for us?"Everything that is about how the development team thinks about their software and how they want their build to run, how they want their deploys to run, etc, needs to be in the hands of the developers, and everything that is about maintenance and operation and scale needs to be in our hands. It has created a very clear separation out of necessity, but one that even ... I mentioned that you can deploy CircleCI yourself and run it within a team, and in large organizations, that separation really helps them get leverage. Does that make sense?Corey: It really does. I think we're also seeing a change in perspective around resiliency and how this works. I once worked at a company I will not name where they were. It was either CircleCI or TeamCity. This was years and years ago where I don't recall exactly what they were using, but it doesn't matter because at one point the service took an outage, and in typical knee jerk reaction, well, that can never happen again. So they wound up doing all of the CI/CD work for some godforsaken reason on a Raspberry PI that some developer brought in and left in the corner of the office. Surprise, it took an awfully long time for tests to run on basically an underpowered toy project. The answer there was to just use less tests because you generally don't need to run nearly as many.I just stared at people for the longest time when it came to that. I think that one of the problems that we still see, I know when I write code myself, I'm as guilty of this as anyone, I am a terrible developer and don't believe in tests. So, the CI/CD pipeline that I tend to look at is more or less a glorified script runner. Whenever I make a commit to this branch, go ahead and run the following three lines script that does a serverless deployment and puts it where it needs to go, and then I'll test it manually, or it's a pre-production environment so it's not that big of a deal. That can work for some use cases, but it's also a great thing that no one actually depends on the stuff that I write for day-to-day business operations or anything critical. At what point does it stop being a script runner?Rob: Well, to the point of the scale, I think there's a couple of things that you brought up in there that are interesting to me. One is the culture of testing. It feels like one of these areas of software development, because I was around in a time when no one really understood what it was to do automated testing. I won't even go into TDD, but just, in general, why would I do that? We have this QA team, it's cost effective to give it to a bunch of people. I'm thinking backwards or thinking back on that, it all seems a little bit well, wrong. But getting to the point where you've worked effectively with tests takes a little bit of effort. But once you have that, once you've sat and worked on something and had the feedback loop of, oh, this thing's not working. Oh, I'll just change this, now it's working.Really having that locally, as a developer, is super rewarding, in my mind and enabling I guess I would say as well. Then you get to this place where you're excited about building tests, especially as you're working in a team, and then culturally you end up in a place where, I put up a PR and someone else looks at it and says, "I see you're making an assumption or I believe you're making an assumption here, but I don't see any way that that's being validated. So please add testing to ensure that is actually true." Both because I want to make sure it's true now, but when we both forget that you ever wrote this and someone else makes a change, your assumptions hold or someone can understand that you were making those assumptions and they can make appropriate changes to deal with it.I think as you work in a team that's growing and scaling and beyond your pet project, once you've witnessed the value of that, you don't want to go back. So, people do end up writing more and more tests and that's what drives the scale at least on the testing and CI side in a way that you need to then manage that. Going the opposite direction of what you're describing, which is, hey, let's just write fewer tests and use cheaper machines, people are recognizing the value and saying, "Okay, we want that value, but we don't want to bottleneck everyone with an hour long build to run all these. So how do we get a system that's going to scale and support that?"Corey: That's what's fascinating, is watching that start to percolate beyond the traditional web applications with particular blessed languages and into other things. For example, in my copious spare time, I'm the community lead for the open guide to AWS, which is a GitHub project that has 25,000 stars or so, so you know it's good, where it's just a giant markdown document that lists the 10,000 tips and tricks that we all wish we'd known when we'd gotten started with AWS, and in a format that's easily consumable. The CI/CD approach we have right now, which I believe is done through Travis, is it just winds up running a giant link checker in parallel across the thousands of links that are ... sorry, I wanted to say 1,200 links, that are included within that document.There's really not a lot else we can do in that type of environment. I mean, a spellchecker with all of the terms of art involved would more or less a seg fault itself to death as soon as it took a look, but other than making sure we don't have dead links, and it feels like there's not a lot of automation or testing opportunity in something like that. Is that accurate? Am I completely wrong and missing something?Rob: I've never built that particular site so it ... I mean, it sounds reasonable. I think that going the other way, we often think about, before we kick off a large complex set of testing for a more complex application, maybe then a markdown document, a lot of people now will use things similar to what you're using, like maybe part of my application is a bunch of links to outside docs or outside sites that I'm referencing or if I run into a problem, I link you to our help site or something and making sure all that stuff is validated. Doing linting on the structure and format of code itself. One of the things that comes up as you scale out of the individual script runner is doing that work in parallel. I can say, you know what? Do the linting over here, do the link checking over here. Only use very small boxes for those.We don't happen to have Raspberry Pi's in our infrastructure, but we can give you a much smaller resource, which costs you less if you're not going to be pushing the limits of that. But then, if you have big integration tests or something which need more space than we can provide that as well, both in a single channel or pathway to give you the room to move faster and then to break that out and break up your work. At an extreme example, and of course, anyone who's done parallelization knows there's costs to splitting up work in like the management overhead. But if you have 1200 links, like you could check them all at the same time. I doubt that would be a good use of our platform, but you could check 600 in one and 600 in another, or 300s at a time or whatever, in find the optimal path if you really cared about getting that done more quickly.Corey: Right. Usually, it's not that big of a concern and usually it winds up throwing errors on existing bad links, not something that has been included in the pull request in question. Again, there's nothing that is so awesome that I can't horribly misuse it for something ridiculous. It's my entire stock and trade. It's why I believe route 53 remains the best database option for everyone, but it's fun going through this space and just seeing how things have evolved. One question I do have since you come from a background, by way of acquisition, that was aimed squarely at this, historically, it seems that running a lot of testing on mobile devices, specifically iOS devices, was the stuff of nightmares because you couldn't really run that in any meaningful way in a virtualized environment. So, it generally required an awful lot of devices. Is that still the case? Has that environment changed radically since I last worked at a mobile shop?Rob: I don't think so, but I think we've all started to think a little bit differently. We got started in that business because we were building iOS apps and thought, wow, the tooling here, it's really frustrating. To be clear, at CircleCI and at that business, we were solving the problem of managing the machines themselves, so the portion of the testing that you would run effectively in a simulator, not the problem of the device farm, if you will. But one of the things that I remember, and so this is late 2013, early 2014 as I was working on mobile apps was people shifting the MVC layers a little bit such that the thing that you needed to test on a device was getting smaller and smaller, meaning putting more logic in, I forget what the name was specifically, but it was like the ... I don't want to try to even guess.But basically pulling logic out of the actual rendering and down into what we'll call state transitions I guess. If you think about that in modern day and look at maybe web frameworks like React, you're trying to just respond with rendering on top of a lot of state change that happens underneath that. In that model, if you thin out the user interface portion, you make a lot more of your code testable, if that makes sense. The reason we're all trying to test on all these different devices is often that we've baked a lot of business logic into the view layer. Does that make sense?Corey: Yeah, it absolutely does. Please continue.Rob: Instead of saying, well, all our logic's in the view layer, so let's get really good at testing the view layer, which means massive device farms and a bunch of people testing all these things, let's make that layer as thin as possible, and there's analogies for this in even how we do service design these days and structure the architecture of systems, basically make the boundaries as thin as possible and the interaction with the outside world as thin as possible. That gives you much more capability to effectively test the majority or much larger portions of your business logic. The device farm problem is still a problem. People still want to see how something specifically renders on a particular screen or whatever. But by minimizing that, the amount that you have to invest in that gets smaller.Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by our friends at Uptycs, because they believe that many of you are looking to bolster your security posture with CNAPP and XDR solutions. They offer both cloud and endpoint security in a single UI and data model. Listeners can get Uptycs for up to 1,000 assets through the end of 2023 (that is next year) for $1. But this offer is only available for a limited time on UptycsSecretMenu.com. That's U-P-T-Y-C-S Secret Menu dot com.Corey: You mentioned device farm, which is an app choice, given that that is the name of an AWS service that has a crap ton of mobile devices that you can log into and it's one of my top candidates for the, did I make this service up to mess with you competitions? It does lead us to an interesting question. CI/CD has gotten an increased amount of attention lately from pretty much everyone. AWS, as is typical for Amazon, tends to lie awake at night worrying that someone somehow is making money that isn't them. So their product strategy distills down to, yes. So, they wound up releasing a whole bunch of CI/CD oriented products that at launch were, to be polite, terrible. Over time, they've gotten slightly better, but it's still a very confusing ecosystem there.Then we see things like Azure dev ops who it seems is aimed at a very similar type of problem and they're also trying to challenge Amazon on the grounds of terrible names of services. But we're now seeing an increased focus from the first party providers themselves around the CI/CD space. What does that mean for existing entrenched players who have been making a specialty out of this for a lot longer than these folks have been playing with it?Rob: It's a great question. I think about the approaches very differently, which is probably unsurprising. Speaking of lying awake at night or spending all day thinking about these things, this is what we do. You've the term script runner a few times in the conversation, the thing that I see when I see someone like AWS looking at this problem is basically, people are using, the way that I think about it, is maybe less the money, although it translates pretty quickly. People are using compute to do something, can we get them to do that with us? Oddly enough, a massive chunk of CircleCI runs on AWS so it doesn't really matter to them one way or another, but they're effectively looking to drive compute hours and looking to drive a pathway onto their platform.One thing about that is it doesn't really matter to them in my perspective, whether people use that particular product or not. As a result, it gets the product investment that you put in when that's the case. So, it's a sort of a check the box approach like, hey we CI and we have CD like other people do. Whereas, when we look at CI and CD, we've been talking about some of the factors like scaling it effectively and making it really easy for you to understand what's going on. We think about very much the core use case, what is one of our customers or users doing when they show up? How do we do that in a way that maximizes their flow? Minimizes the overhead to them of using our system, whether it's getting set up and running really quickly, like talk about being in the center of how much of the world is developing software.So we see patterns, we see mistakes that people are making and can use that to inform both how our product works and inform you directly as a user. "Hey, I see that you're trying to do this. It would go better if you did this." I think both from the, honestly, the years that we've been doing this and the amount that we've witnessed in terms of what works well for customers, what doesn't, what we see going through just from a data perspective, as we see hundreds of thousands of builds running, that rich perspective is unique to us. Because as you said, we're a player that's been doing this for a really long time and very focused on it. We treat the experience with, I guess I'm trying to figure out a way to say this that doesn't sound as bad as it might, but a lot of people have suffered a lot with CI/CD.There's a lot that goes into getting CI/CD to work effectively and getting it to work reliably over time as your system is constantly changing. Honestly, there's a lot of frustration, and we come in to work every day thinking about minimizing that frustration so that our customers can go spend their time doing what matters to them. Again, when I think you sort of ... a lot of these big players present you with a runtime in which you can execute a script of your choosing. It's not thinking about the problem in that way and I don't see them changing their perspective. Honestly, I just don't worry about them.Corey: Which is a very fair tack to take. It's interesting watching companies and as far as how much time and energy they spend worrying about competition versus how much they focus instead on customers. To turn it around slightly, what makes what you do challenging in some respects, I would imagine is that a lot of your target market is themselves, developers. Developers, in my experience, are challenging customers in that, first, they tend to devalue their own time to the point where, oh, that doesn't sound hard. I'll build that overnight. Secondly, once you finally win them over to the idea of paying for something, it's challenging to get them to have the necessary signing authority. At best, they become champions. But what you do has to start with developers in order to win widespread adoption and technical buy-in. How does that wind up manifesting as approach to, well, some people call it developer relations, developer advocacy. I refer to those folks as developers because I have problems, but how do you folks view that?Rob: Yeah, it's a really insightful view actually because we do end up in most of our customers, or in the environments of our customers, however you want to describe it, as a result of the enthusiasm of individual developers, development teams, much more so than ... there are many products certainly in enterprise software and I don't really think purely in enterprise, but there are many products that can only be purchased by the CIO or the CTO or whatever. Right? To your question of developer relations, we spend a lot of time out in the market talking to individuals, talking at conferences, writing content about how we think about this space and things that people can do. But we're a very product driven company, meaning both, that's what we think about first, and then support it with these other things.But second, we win on product, right? We don't win in the market because you thought the blog posts that we wrote was really cool. That might make you aware of us, but if you don't love the product, I mean, developers, to your point, they want to use things that they really enjoy using. When developers use the product and love the product and they champion it and they get access because they might work on a side project or an open source project or maybe they worked in another company that used CircleCI and then they go somewhere else and they say, "What are we doing? Life is so much better for you Circle CI, those sorts of things. But it very much comes from the bottom up. It's pretty difficult to go into an organization and say, "Hey, you should push this down to all of your developers."There's a lot of rejection that comes from developers on mandated tooling. We have to provide knowledge, we have to provide capabilities in our product that appealed to those other folks. For example, administrators of our tooling, or when it gets to the point where someone owns how you use CircleCI versus just being a regular user of the product. We have capabilities to support them around understanding what's happening, around creating shared capabilities that multiple teams can use, those sorts of things. But ultimately, we have to lead with product, we have to get in into the sort of hearts and minds of the developers themselves and then grow from there and everything we do from a marketing, developer relations myself, I spend a lot of time talking to customers who are out in the market, is all about propping up or helping raise awareness effectively. But there's nothing that we can do if the product doesn't meet the needs of our customers.Corey: That's what it seems like it comes down to a fair bit. It's always weird to consider that, at its heart, developer relations is marketing. The folks I talk to who argue against that, it seems that it comes from a misunderstanding of what marketing actually is. It's not buying ads in airports, it's not doing podcast advertisements. That's a subject near and dear to my heart. It's not about annoying people by showing up at their office with the sales team. It's about understanding what their challenges and problems are and then positioning a solution that ideally solves them in a place that and in a way that they can be receptive to. Instead, people tend to equate marketing to this whole ridiculous statistics driven nonsense that doesn't really resonate with anyone and I think that that's unfair to everyone involved.That said, I will say that having spent a fair bit of time in this space, I've yet to see anything from CircleCI that has annoyed me to the point where I would have remembered it, which is awesome. I don't see it in flight magazines, generally. I don't see it on obnoxious people try to tackle me as I walk through an expo hall and want to scan my badge. It just seems very well executed and you have some very talented people working for you. To that end, you are largely a distributed company, which is fascinating. Did it start that way? Did it happen that way by a quirk of fate?Rob: Yeah, I those two things probably come together. The company, from very early days, now I wasn't there but I think some of our earliest engineers were distributed and the company started out basically entirely as engineers. It's a team solving problems of other engineers, which is ... it's a fun challenge. There were early participants who were distributed. Mostly, when you start a company and no one has ever heard of you and no one knows if you're going to be successful, going and recruiting is generally a different game than when you're, certainly, when you're where we are now. There were some personal relations that just happened to connect with people around the globe who wanted to participate.We started out pretty early with some distribution, and that led to structuring the org in a way, both from a tooling and process perspective. A lot of that sort of happens organically, but building a culture that really supported that. I personally am based in the Bay Area, so we have headquarters in San Francisco, but it doesn't really make a difference if I go in versus just stay and work from home on any given day because the company operates in such a way that that distribution is completely normal.Corey: We accidentally did the same thing. My business partner and I used to live across the street from each other and we decided to merge a week before he moved out of state to Portland. So awesome. Great. We have wonderful timing on all of these things. It's fun to build it from that way, build that way from the ground up. The challenge I've always seen is when you start off with having a centralized office and everyone's there, except this one person who, no matter how you try to work around it, is never as involved. So it feels like the sort of thing you've absolutely got to be building from day one, or otherwise, you're going to have a massive cultural growing pain as you try to get there.Rob: Yeah, I think that's true. So I've actually been that one person. I, at some point in my career prior to CircleCI, was helping out a company founded by some friends of mine based in Toronto. I grew up in Toronto. I kicked off a project and then the project grew and grew until I was the one person out of maybe 50 or 60 who wasn't in an office in Toronto. It got to the point where no one remembered who I was and I was like, "Cool, I think I'm done. I'm out." I was fine with that. It was always meant to be a temporary thing, but I really felt that transition for the organization. I would say in terms of growing, I mean, yes, if you start out, it goes both ways, if you start out distributed, you're going to remain distributed.There are certain things that get more challenging at scale, right? If everybody is sort of just in their home all over the globe, then the communication overhead continues to increase and increase in just understanding who people are, who you should be talking to. You need to focus-Corey: There's always the time zone hierarchy.Rob: Ooh, the time zones are a delight, yes. I would say like we talk a lot about, in this industry, Dunbar's number and sizes of teams and the points at which things get more complex. I think there's probably a different scale for distributed teams. It takes fewer people to reach a point where communication gets challenging, and trust and all the other things that go with Dunbar's views. You kind of have that challenge and then you start to think, oh well, then you have some offices, because we actually have maybe six physical offices, partly because in our go to market org, we've started to expand globally and put people in regional offices.There's this interesting disconnect. I don't know about disconnect, but there's a split in how we operate in different parts of the org. I think what I've seen people ... well, I don't know about succeed, but I've seen people try when you start out with one org, or sorry, one location is, let's not jump to that one person somewhere else and then one person somewhere else kind of thing, but build out a second office, build out another office, like pick another location where you think you ... it's often, certainly where we are, in the Bay Area, it's often driven by just this market. Finding talent, finding people who want to join you, hanging onto those people when there are so many other opportunities around tends to be much more challenging. When you offer people alternatives, like you can stay where you are but have access to a cool and interesting company or you can work from home, which a lot of people value, then there's different things that you bring to the table.I see a lot of people trying to expand in that way, but when you are so office-centric, a second office I think is a smoother transition point than just suddenly distributing people because, especially the first and second one, unless you're hiring in a massive wave, are really going to struggle in that environment.Corey: I think that's probably one of the more astute things that's been noticed on this show in the last couple of years. If people want to hear more about what you have to say and how you think about the world, where can they find you?Rob: I would say, on our blog, I tend to write stuff there as do other people. You talked about having great people in the organization. We have a lot of great people talking about how we think about engineering, how we think about both engineering teams and culture and then some of the problems we're trying to solve. So, off our site, circleci.com, and go to our blog. Then, I attend to is to speak and hangout on podcasts and do guest writing. I think I'm pretty easy to find. You can find me on Twitter. My handle is z00b, Z-0-0-B. I know I'm not super prolific, but if someone wants to track me down and ask me something, I'd probably be more than happy to answer.Corey: You can expect some engagement as soon as this goes out. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I appreciate it.Rob: Yeah, thanks for having me. This was a ton of fun.Corey: Rob Zuber, CTO at CircleCI. I'm Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple podcasts. If you've hated this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple podcasts along with something amusing for me to read later while I'm crying.Announcer: This has been this week's episode of Screaming in the Cloud. You can also find more corey@screaminginthecloud.com or wherever fine snark is sold.Announcer: This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.

Fearless Warrior: Self-help| Success| Confidence| Motivation| Inspiration| Fearless| Awareness| Rejection| Action

Never be afraid doesn't mean that you will always get what you want, but it puts you in a better mood and mentality despite whatever outcome you'll get.  Oddly enough the more you are afraid of making mistakes or being wrong, the higher a chance you will make one. So whether you are afraid or not afraid, you will make a mistake anyways. So why not act like you have nothing to lose?!

BJ Shea Daily Experience Podcast -- Official
Woman pronounces Cucumber oddly

BJ Shea Daily Experience Podcast -- Official

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2022 17:48


Simon Pegg recently shared they he thinks Star Wars fans are toxic.

The Taproot Therapy Podcast - https://www.GetTherapyBirmingham.com
Lament for the Dead Psychology After Jung's The Red Book Review; By James Hillman Sonu Shamdasani

The Taproot Therapy Podcast - https://www.GetTherapyBirmingham.com

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 20, 2022 28:03


“The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”   ― C.G. Jung, preface for The Red Book: Liber Novus   James Hillman: I was reading about this practice that the ancient Egyptians had of opening the mouth of the dead. It was a ritual and I think we don't do that with our hands. But opening the Red Book seems to be opening the mouth of the dead.   Sonu Shamdasani: It takes blood. That's what it takes. The work is Jung's `Book of the Dead.' His descent into the underworld, in which there's an attempt to find the way of relating to the dead. He comes to the realization that unless we come to terms with the dead we simply cannot live, and that our life is dependent on finding answers to their unanswered questions. Lament for the Dead, Psychology after Jung's Red Book (2013) Pg. 1     Begun in 1914, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung's The Red Book lay dormant for almost 100 years before its eventual publication. Opinions are divided on whether Jung would have published the book if he had lived longer. He did send drafts to publishers early in life but seemed in no hurry to publish the book despite his advancing age. Regardless, it was of enormous importance to the psychologist, being shown to only a few confidants and family members. More importantly, the process of writing The Red Book was one of the most formative periods of Jung's life. In the time that Jung worked on the book he came into direct experience with the forces of the deep mind and collective unconscious. For the remainder of his career he would use the experience to build concepts and theories about the unconscious and repressed parts of the human mind.  In the broadest sense, Jungian psychology has two goals.    Integrate and understand the deepest and most repressed parts of the the human mind    and    Don't let them eat you alive in the process.    Jungian psychology is about excavating the most repressed parts of self and learning to hold them so that we can know exactly who and what we are. Jung called this process individuation. Jungian psychology is not, and should not be understood as, an attempt to create a religion. It was an attempt to build a psychological container for the forces of the unconscious. While not a religion, it served a similar function as a religion. Jungian psychology serves as both a protective buffer and a lens to understand and clarify the self. Jung described his psychology as a bridge to religion. His hope was that it could help psychology understand the functions of the human need for religion, mythology and the transcendental. Jung hoped that his psychology could make religion occupy a healthier, more mindful place in our culture by making the function of religion within humanity more conscious.    Jung did not dislike religion. He viewed it as problematic when the symbols of religion became concretized and people took them literally. Jungian psychology itself has roots in Hindu religious traditions. Jung often recommended that patients of lapsed faith return to their religions of origin. He has case studies encouraging patients to resume Christian or Muslim religious practices as a source of healing and integration. Jung did have a caveat though. He recommended that patients return to their traditions with an open mind. Instead of viewing the religious traditions and prescriptive lists of rules or literal truths he asked patients to view them as metaphors for self discovery and processes for introspection. Jung saw no reason to make religious patients question their faith. He did see the need for patients who had abandoned religion to re-examine its purpose and function.    The process of writing The Red Book was itself a religious experience for Jung. He realized after his falling out from Freud, that his own religious tradition and the available psychological framework was not enough to help him contain the raw and wuthering forces of his own unconscious that were assailing him at the time. Some scholars believe Jung was partially psychotic while writing The Red Book, others claim he was in a state of partial dissociation or simply use Jung's term “active imagination”.    The psychotic is drowning while the artist is swimming. The waters both inhabit, however, are the same. Written in a similar voice to the King James Bible, The Red Book has a religious and transcendent quality. It is written on vellum in heavy calligraphy with gorgeous hand illuminated script. Jung took inspiration for mystical and alchemical texts for its full page illustrations.   It is easier to define The Red Book by what it is not than by what it is. According to Jung, it is not a work of art. It is not a scholarly psychological endeavor. It is also not an attempt to create a religion. It was an attempt for Jung to heal himself in a time of pain and save himself from madness by giving voice to the forces underneath his partial psychotic episode. The Red Book was a kind of container to help Jung witness the forces of the deep unconscious. In the same way, religion and Jungian psychology are containers for the ancient unconscious forces in the vast ocean under the human psyche.     Lament of the Dead, Psychology after Carl Jung's The Red Book is a dialogue between ex Jungian analyst James Hillman and Jungian scholar Sonu Shamdasani about the implications the Red Book has for Jungian psychology. Like the Red Book it was controversial when it was released.    James Hillman was an early protege of Jung who later became a loud critic of parts of Jung's psychology. Hillman wanted to create an “archetypal” psychology that would allow patients to directly experience and not merely analyze the psyche. His new psychology never really came together coherently and he never found the technique to validate his instinct. Hillman had been out of the Jungian fold for almost 30 years before he returned as a self appointed expert advisor during the publication of The Red Book. Hillman's interest in The Red Book was enough to make him swallow his pride, and many previous statements, to join the Jungians once again. It is likely that the archetypal psychology he was trying to create is what The Red Book itself was describing.    Sonu Shamdasani is not a psychologist but a scholar of the history of psychology. His insights have the detachment of the theoretical where Hillman's are more felt and more intuitive but also more personal. One gets the sense in the book that Hillman is marveling painfully at an experience that he had been hungry for for a long time. The Red Book seems to help him clarify the disorganized blueprints of his stillborn psychological model. While there is a pain in Hillman's words there is also a peace that was rare to hear from such a flamboyant and unsettled psychologist.    Sonu Shamdasani is the perfect living dialogue partner for Hillman to have in the talks that make up Lament. Shamdasani has one of the best BS detectors of maybe any Jungian save David Tacey. Shamdasani has deftly avoided the fads, misappropriations and superficialization that have plagued the Jungian school for decades. As editor of the Red Book he knows more about the history and assembly of the text than any person save for Jung. Not only is he also one of the foremost living experts on Jung, but as a scholar he does not threaten the famously egotistical Hillman as a competing interpreting psychologist. The skin that Shamdasani has in this game is as an academic while Hillman gets to play the prophet and hero of the new psychology they describe without threat or competition.    Presumedly these talks were recorded as research for a collaborative book to be co authored by the two friends and the death of Hillman in 2011 made the publication as a dialogue in 2013 a necessity. If that is not the case the format of a dialogue makes little sense. If that is the case it gives the book itself an almost mystical quality and elevates the conversation more to the spirit of a philosophical dialogue.    We are only able to hear these men talk to each other and not to us. There is a deep reverberation between the resonant implications these men are seeing The Red Book have for modern psychology. However, they do not explain their insights to the reader and their understandings can only be glimpsed intuitively. Like the briefcase in the film Pulp Fiction the audience sees the object through its indirect effect on the characters. We see the foggy outlines of the ethics that these men hope will guide modern psychology but we are not quite able to see it as they see it. We have only an approximation through the context of their lives and their interpretation of Jung's private diary. This enriches a text that is ultimately about the limitations of understanding.   One of the biggest criticisms of the book when it was published was that the terms the speaker used are never defined and thus the book's thesis is never objectivised or clarified. While this is true if you are an English professor, the mystic and the therapist in me see these limitations as the book's strengths. The philosophical dialectic turns the conversation into an extended metaphor that indirectly supports the themes of the text. The medium enriches the message. Much like a socratic dialogue or a film script the the authors act more as characters and archetypes than essayists. The prophet and the scholar describe their function and limitations as gatekeepers of the spiritual experience.    Reading the Lament, much like reading The Red Book, one gets the sense that one is witnessing a private but important moment in time. It is a moment that is not our moment and is only partially comprehensible to anyone but the author(s). Normally that would be a weakness but here it becomes a strength. Where normally the reader feels that a book is for them, here we feel that we are eavesdropping through a keyhole or from a phone line downstairs. The effect is superficially frustrating but also gives Lament a subtle quality to its spirituality that The Red Book lacks.     Many of the obvious elements for a discussion of the enormous Red Book are completely ignored in the dialogue. Hillman and Shamdasani's main takeaway is that The Red Book is about “the dead”. What they mean by “the dead” is never explained directly. This was a major sticking point for other reviewers, but I think their point works better undefined. They talk about the dead as a numinous term. Perhaps they are speaking about the reality of death itself. Perhaps about the dead of history. Perhaps they are describing the impenetrable veil we can see others enter but never see past ourselves. Maybe the concept contains all of these elements. Hillman, who was 82 at the time of having the conversations in Lament, may have been using The Red Book and his dialogue with Shamdasani to come to terms with his feelings about his own impending death.    Perhaps it is undefined because these men are feeling something or intuitively, seeing something that the living lack the intellectual language for. It is not that the authors do not know what they are talking about. They know, but they are not able to completely say it.  Hillman was such an infuriatingly intuitive person that his biggest downfall in his other books is that he often felt truths that he could not articulate. Instead he retreated into arguing the merits of his credentials and background or into intellectual archival of his opinions on philosophers and artists. In other works this led to a didactic and self righteous tone that his writing is largely worse for. In Lament Hillman is forced to talk off the cuff and that limitation puts him at his best as a thinker.    In his review of Lament, David Tacey has made the very good point that Jung abandoned the direction that The Red Book was taking him in. Jung saw it as a dead end for experiential psychology and retreated back into analytical inventorying of “archetypes”. On the publication of The Red Book, Jungians celebrate the book as the “culmination” of Jungian thought when instead it was merely a part of its origins. The Red Book represents a proto-Jungian psychology as Jung attempted to discover techniques for integration. Hillman and Shamdasani probe the psychology's origins for hints of its future in Lament.   HIllman and Shamdasani's thesis is partially a question about ethics and partially a question about cosmology. Are there any universal directions for living and behaving that Jungian psychology compels us towards (ethics)? Is there an external worldview that the, notoriously phenomenological, nature of Jungian psychology might imply (cosmology)? These are the major questions Hillman and Shamdasani confront in Lament.Their answer is not an answer as much as it is a question for the psychologists of the future.    Their conclusion is that “the dead'' of our families, society, and human history foist their unlived life upon us. It is up to us, and our therapists, to help us deal with the burden of “the dead”. It is not us that live, but the dead that live through us. Hillman quotes W.H. Auden several times:   We are lived through powers that we pretend to understand.  - W.H. Auden   A major tenant of Jungian psychology is that adult children struggle under the unlived life of the parent. The Jungian analyst helps the patient acknowledge and integrate all of the forces of the psyche that the parent ran from, so they are not passed down to future generations. A passive implication of the ethics and the cosmology laid out in Lament, is that to have a future we must reckon with not only the unlived life of the parent but also the unlived life of all the dead.    It is our job as the living to answer the questions and face the contradictions our humanity posits in order to discover what we really are. The half truths and outright lies from the past masquerade as tradition for traditions sake, literalized religion, and unconscious tribal identity must be overthrown. The weight of the dead of history can remain immovable if we try to merely discard it but drowns us if we cling to it too tightly. We need to use our history and traditions to give us a container to reckon with the future. The container must remain flexible if we are to grow into our humanity as a society and an aware people.    If you find yourself saying “Yes, but what does “the dead” mean!”  Then this book is not for you. If you find yourself confused but humbled by this thesis then perhaps it is. Instead of a further explanation of the ethical and cosmological future for psychology that his book posits I will give you a tangible example about how its message was liberatory for me.    Hillman introduces the concepts of the book with his explanation of Jung's reaction to the theologian and missionary Albert Schweitzer. Jung hated Schweitzer.  He hated him because he had descended into Africa and “gone native”. In Jung's mind Schweitzer had “refused the call”  to do anything  and “brought nothing home”. Surely the Africans that were fed and clothed felt they had been benefited! Was Jung's ethics informed by racism, cluelessness, arrogance or some other unknown myopism? A clue might be found in Jung's reaction to modern art exploring the unconscious or in his relationship with Hinduism. Jung took the broad strokes of his psychology from the fundamentals of the brahman/atman and dharma/moksha dichotomies of Hinduism. Jung also despised the practice of eastern mysticism practices by westerners but admired it in Easterners. Why? His psychology stole something theoretical that his ethics disallowed in direct practice.    Jung's views on contemporary (modern) artists of his time were similar. He did not want to look at depictions of the raw elements of the unconscious. In his mind discarding all the lessons of classicism was a “cop out”.  He viewed artists that descended into the abstract with no path back or acknowledgement of the history that gave them that path as failures. He wanted artists to make the descent into the subjective world and return with a torch of it's fire but not be consumed by it blaze. Depicting the direct experience of the unconscious was the mark of a failed artist to Jung. To Jung the destination was the point, not the journey. The only thing that mattered is what you were able to bring back from the world of the dead. He had managed to contain these things in The Red Book, why couldn't they? The Red Book was Jung's golden bough.    Jung took steps to keep the art in The Red Book both outside of the modernist tradition and beyond the historical tradition. The Red Book uses a partially medieval format but Jung both celebrates and overcomes the constraints of his chosen style. The Red Book was not modern or historical, it was Jung's experience of both. In Lament, Hillman describes this as the ethics that should inform modern psychology. Life should become ones own but part of ones self ownership is that we take responsibility for driving a tradition forward not a slave to repeating it.   Oddly enough the idea of descent and return will already be familiar to many Americans through the work of Joseph Campbell. Campbell took the same ethics of descent and return to the unconscious as the model of his “monomyth” model of storytelling. This briefly influenced psychology and comparative religion in the US and had major impact on screenwriters to this day. Campbells ethics are the same as Jung's. If one becomes stuck on the monomyth wheel, or the journey of the descent and return, one is no longer the protagonist and becomes an antagonist.  Campbell, and American post jungians in general were not alway great attributing influences and credit where it was due.    Jung was suspicious of the new age theosophists and psychadelic psychonauts that became enamored with the structure of the unconscious for the unconscious sake. Where Lament shines is when Hillman explains the ethics behind Jung's thinking. Jung lightly implied this ethics but was, as Hillman points out, probably not entirely conscious of it. One of Lament's biggest strengths and weaknesses is that it sees through the misappropriations of Jungian psychology over the last hundred years. Both of the dialogue's figures know the man of Jung so well that they do not need to address how he was misperceived by the public. They also know the limitations of the knowable.    This is another lesson that is discussed in Lament. Can modern psychology know what it can't know? That is my biggest complaint with the profession as it currently exists. Modern psychology seems content to retreat into research and objectivism. The medical, corporate, credentialist and academic restructuring of psychology in the nineteen eighties certainly furthered that problem. Jung did not believe that the descent into the unconscious without any hope of return was a path forward for psychology. This is why he abandoned the path The Red Book led him down. Can psychology let go of the objective and the researchable enough to embrace the limits of the knowable? Can we come to terms with limitations enough to heal an ego inflated world that sees no limits to growth?   I don't know but I sincerely hope so.    I said that I would provide a tangible example of the application of this book in it's review,  so here it is:   I have always been enamored with James Hillman. He was by all accounts a brilliant analyst. He also was an incredibly intelligent person. That intellect did not save him. Hillman ended his career as a crank and a failure in my mind. In this book you see Hillman contemplate that failure. You also see Hillman attempt to redeem himself as he glimpses the unglimpseable. He sees something in the Red Book that he allows to clarify his earlier attempt to revision psychology.    Hillman's attempt to reinvent Jungian psychology as archetypal psychology was wildly derided. Largely, because it never found any language or technique for application and practice. Hillman himself admitted that he did not know how to practice archetypal psychology. It's easy to laugh at somebody who claims to have reinvented psychology and can't even tell you what you do with their revolutionary invention.   However, I will admit that I think Hillman was right. He knew that he was but he didnt know how he was right. It is a mark of arrogance to see yourself as correct without evidence. Hillman was often arrogant but I think here he was not. Many Jungian analysts would leave the Jungian institutes through the 70, 80s and 90s to start somatic and experiential psychology that used Jung as a map but the connection between the body and the brain as a technique. These models made room for a direct experience in psychology that Jungian analysis does not often do. It added an element that Jung himself had practiced in the writing of The Red Book. Hillman never found this technique but he was correct about the path he saw forward for psychology. He knew what was missing.    I started Taproot Therapy Collective because I felt a calling to dig up the Jungian techniques of my parent's generation and reify them. I saw those as the most viable map towards the future of psychology, even though American psychology had largely forgotten them. I also saw them devoid of a practical technique or application for a world where years of analysis cost more than most trauma patients will make in a lifetime. I feel that experiential and brain based medicine techniques like brainspotting are the future of the profession.    Pathways like brainspotting, sensorimotor therapy, somatic experiencing, neurostimulation, ketamine, psilocybin or any technique that allows the direct experience of the subcortical brain is the path forward to treat trauma. These things will be at odds with the medicalized, corporate, and credentialized nature of healthcare. I knew that this would be a poorly understood path that few people, even the well intentioned, could see. I would never have found it if I had refused the call of “the dead”.    Lament is relevant because none of those realizations is somewhere that I ever would have gotten without the tradition that I am standing on top of. I am as, Isaac Newton said, standing on the shoulders of giants. Except Isaac Newton didn't invent that phrase. It was associated with him but he was standing on the tradition of the dead to utter a phrase first recorded in the medieval period. The author of its origin is unknown because they are, well, dead. They have no one to give their eulogy.    The ethics and the cosmology of Lament, is that our lives are meant to be a eulogy for our dead. Lament, makes every honest eulogy in history become an ethics and by extension a cosmology. Read Pericles eulogy from the Peloponesian war in Thucydides. How much of these lessons are still unlearned? I would feel disingenuous in my career unless I tell you who those giants are that I stand on. They are David Tacey, John Beebe, Sonu Shamdasani, Carl Jung, Fritz Perls, Karen Horney, and Hal Stone. Many others also.   I would never have heard the voice of James Hillman inside myself unless I had learned to listen to the dead from his voice beyond the grave. It would have been easy for me to merely critize his failures instead of seeing them as incomplete truths. Hillman died with many things incomplete, as we all inevitably will. Lament helped me clarify the voices that I was hearing in the profession. Lament of the Dead is a fascinating read not because it tells us exactly what to do with the dead, or even what they are. Lament is fascinating because it helps us to see a mindful path forward between innovation and tradition.    The contents of the collective unconscious cannot be contained by one individual. Just as Jungian psychology is meant to be a container to help an individual integrate the forces of the collective unconscious, attention to the unlived life of the historical dead can be a kind of container for culture. Similarly to Jungian psychology the container is not meant to be literalized or turned into a prison. It is a lens and a buffer to protect us until we are ready and allow us to see ourselves more clearly once we are. Our project is to go further in the journey of knowing ourselves where our ancestors failed to. Our mindful life is the product of the unlived life of the dead; it is the work of our life that is their lament.