Happy SPRING, rockers! You’re welcome.
On Covering Black Sabbath’s A National Acrobat.
Nothing says Spring like a little 1974 heavy metal, right?
Guess it depends on your point of view..and maybe your appetite for existential musical content. This song from the Black Sabbath album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is quite the opposite of what most people would expect from The Godfathers of Heavy Metal. If you thought these guys were all doom and gloom, the lyrics to this tune oughtta turn that perception around.
It’s a rare twist of lyrical genius that gives character to the miracle of life itself; it’s sung from a place of total awareness, from conception, to birth, to death and beyond. Heady stuff indeed, but when you set it against a backdrop of bone-crushing British guitar riffology, it’s not so hard to navigate!
It’s the kind of tune that can help ground you when things get challenging, too…which in this case was particularly relevant for me. As the birds start chirping and the trees start budding, I’m preparing to help my father navigate some serious life or death stuff. Thrashing my way through this track was one way to cope. Getting a couple of old friends to collaborate and contribute was another.
The great thing about music is that it changes shape when you need it to; it lulls, it supports, and sometimes it empowers. And it always surprises you with something new, even a dusty old song like this one.
Photos by Jen Salt.
That’s me, accompanying novelist Douglas Wynne during his reading of The Devil of Echo Lake (Journalstone). Lots of fun to play spooky guitar weirdness while Doug brings his characters to life – hope to do more with this format.
Dig horror/fiction? Get The Devil of Echo Lake here.
Code.Org’s video “What Most Schools Don’t Teach” is getting a lot of rotation this week. All kinds of people have something to say, and BoingBoing’s Dean Putney grabbed my attention with his take on it.
I’ll keep mine brief: This is just a stealthier, sexier (yet still nerdier) version of a military recruiting video.
It’s a rather pleasant, star-studded – and I believe well-intended – version of the same old story; “find hope, belonging, and inner strength by joining up.” In this case, we’re talking about joining the new breed of open floor plan Corporate American Codefarms; hip, skateboardy interiors decorated with flatscreens and IKEA. Free coffee. Full refrigerators. Gollum-eyed programmers essentially living in a spacious, fluorescent-lit hotel Starbucks.
Now, compared to crawling through a muck-filled trench with a gun, life as a coder in this context ain’t such a bad choice. And maybe, for your average programmy youngster coming out of high school or college, the video’s promise really does resonate. And why shouldn’t it? All that camaraderie and self-sustaining income has got to seem more exciting than a typical day in the burbs watching Buffy reruns, right?
But through my more, um, seasoned lens, I see something missing here; a clear message that what matters most is how we apply our skills, and how that relates to what we stand for as people. And if we truly want to empower people, that’s not something that you wanna glaze over in favor of “Wizards of Tomorrow” metaphors. If anything, Code.Org missed a big opportunity to tell personal stories of change - how learning to code and applying that experience over time has changed the way tech leaders view the world, and thus, their role in it.
This vid starts off great with a positive message and a title that suggests that our educational system needs some updating. Great. But then it devolves into depictions of a popular – however meaningless – lifestyle archetype, that in under 5 years we’ll all be referring to as “old-school.”
No matter, though, ‘cause anyone who picks up any kind of instrument (including computers) and dedicates themselves to their craft will find like minded people, collaborate on amazing things, and kick all kinds of ass.