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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

22: Steppin’ Out, Into the Night, Into the Light

I am in a fairly rambunctious mood today, probably because, though this won’t go online until later, I am currently anticipating an evening with a happy hour at the end of it. Earlier today, prior to my current good mood’s arrival, I re-examined the concept of the term “happy hour.” I know that for me “happy hour” is synonymous with cheap drinks and/or or fried food items, making drinking as much as possible as fast as possible to achieve a bargain buzz (or low-economic-impact gluttony) an attractive aim. But even absent the booze, “happy hour” is a delightful concept. An hour set aside in which to be happy. If you knew there was an entire hour every day in which you would be guaranteed to experience happiness, how delightful it would be to get to the day’s end? The appointed happy hour could even move time slots throughout the week. Someone would have to assign a new start time daily, but then you could look forward to an hour focused on happiness and what it takes to achieve that sensation – by any means necessary!

I think I may have just found a realistic premise for a new blog here, if the crockpot ever gets crusty (which it may already be! feel free to voice that idea - i know my brain has).

Today my inspiration for the first step toward my happy hour - what I used to warm up my happy muscles to maximize happy potential – was a xylophone song! Well, ok, a song relying heavily on what sounds like the xylophones employed by marching bands. And maybe the rainbow painted keys of the tiny xylophones Fisher Price makes for toddlers - also a great thing.

The song: Steppin' Out by Joe Jackson

I heard this song today while driving on the 110 South freeway.
By the time the song was over, I was elated, alive, and considering that the song would make a wonderful wedding song (I am not getting married, by the way, the song just inspired such thought as it seemed to be
that self-contained a bit of fantastic). Then I thought - no, the song would actually make a better soundtrack with which to create a fast-moving, live-action wedding ceremony montage instead of actually backing a standard ceremony at one point or another. It would play over the actual to-do of things. That way a couple could still have a private exchange of thoughts while bringing those they care about along to witness the atmospheric sense of things! Sounds absurd, but I think it'd have tremendous production value, and sentimental value, since I hear that's a big day for most.

Great themes explored in that song -

Frustration squelched by potential:

We -
So tired of all the darkness in our lives
With no more angry words to say
Can come alive

A call to self-reflection offset by the pulsing, constant rhythms of bass, piano, and xylophone. Nothing stops, so GO:

We -
Are young but getting old before our time

Really - a good song. Great inspiration for a happy hour with its message of "Have more fun! It's probably your best bet."

It was only in reacting so strongly to this song, with its not-so-subtle xylo-background, that I remembered another time that I almost made the topic of my post how underrated a song, and how amazing a percussion piece, is "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss him Goodbye" by Steam. Another fantastic use of xylophone! You HAVE to move to it. You simply have to. It has captured the primal whatever-it-is that makes humans respond to rhythm and syncopation very very well.

Two xylophone songs of note under my belt, I began to wonder what made the xylophone so much gosh-darned funky fun? Were these two lucky songs, or had I been overlooking a phenomenon in the midst?

I remembered that classical piece that made symphonies give music to dancing skeletons, but that just created a strong mental image in my mind and did not give a name to the music of which I was thinking. In doing some searching I found "Fossils," but it's still not the one I'm thinking of, though xylo-mite in its own right.

THEN i remembered another piece that made me smile and move and expect great things, regardless of my mood prior to hearing the song.

A few weeks ago I was discussing my own confusion at my newfound comfort in the Golden Arches with my friend. It made no sense to me at the time - why the hell was I suddenly emotionally affected and comforted by a company whose ubiquitous convenience practices and non-food food items could be tied to any number of childhood obesity concerns. Public health could lay one Big Mac of a claim of blame at the giant red-shoed feet of Ronald, and yet in recent weeks, I'd been flocking there to find pre-packaged peace. This friend, being infinitely smarter than most, pointed out that McDonald's is so comforting because it is learned as a source of childhood delight and reward. It's where you go for treats as a child. Totally nutritionless treats, but treats with bright colors and happy characters and processed cheese nonetheless. If it was a place of happiness then, imagine now, in an adult world of autonomy, how easy it is to slip back into a happy place - especially when it is right around the corner and you're old enough to drive your own car.

So too is the ease found within the driving tingling of the xylophone - reminiscent of the theme from Sesame Street circa 1982. The opening theme to Sesame Street has some very upbeat, happy sounding tinkly chimes in its rhythm. And you know where that sound in its upbeat movement was taking me? To a place where people hugged muppets and, therefore, smiled. A place that the xylophone could tell me how to get - how to get to - Sesame Street. So if the driving force of xylophones has now been transplanted as a soundtrack candidate for what would hypothetically be one of the happiest moments of adult life, can anyone be that surprised?

On my way to where the air is sweet....

Happy hour for me today was a multi-hour affair. I know I am lucky to say such a thing and have it be true.

Even getting there was half the fun. President Obama's helicoptor passed over our car on the way! We clapped. That was happy. The time sharing our anticipation of happy hour was happy. And then beer and fried foods, as usual, were happy. And red meat - I was happy. Medium burger, Well-done happy.

Sometimes what you need when you need it is friends. Friends who'll share a beer with you. And friends who work together to appoint an hour in which to be happy at all costs. Friends who will go steppin' out.

When I returned to my courtyard tonight - the one with the flowers in bloom, the one with stars above, the one with cats in hiding - the air was warmer than it has been, the sky was clearer, the cats were missing. But I did notice two snails, creeping their way on individual paths around the courtyard. Their patient movements left trails of morse code as they made their way. Somehow their slowness and persistence caught me and made me watch for a moment.

That's when I had the thought that it is not their pace or progress that is their biggest challenge, it's gaining enough notice that someone does not step on them.

In seeing one, I looked for others. The
y made each other more visible to those that might crush them, kept moving forward with their individual progress, and left unique messages behind them in their own glittery sludge paths.

Though I purchased "Steppin' Out" today online for its motivational drive and message, I also purchased another song that I find to be as supportive as the Golden Arches, as comforting as those friends, and hopeful for happy hours.

This video also makes me happy because it combines many elements to be esteemed as beloved:
The Smothers Brothers, the optimism of folk music shared by a crowd clad in polyester, and Peter, Paul and Mary. It is such a love-fest that I feel like the muppets should be in that crowd hugging people.
And though it should be corny, for me it is comforting.

The sparkling assemblage of persistent snails? Perhaps. Or it might just be the mustaches that make me happy.

Happy hour will be tomorrow afternoon from 3:40 p.m. to 4:40 p.m., with optional extensions as any are able to achieve. In the meantime, in the words of a wise friend, peace and clovers.

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