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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blues for Advanced Beginners - Judith Podell

Here is the official "sequel" to
"Blues For Beginners" or "How To Sing the Blues" -

"Blues for Advanced Beginners"
by Judith Podell

"Woke up this morning and went back to sleep..."
-- "Epstein-Barre Blues"
attributed to Memphis Earline Gray

1. You have an inalienable right to sing the blues if you were born under a bad sign. Capricorn is a bad sign to be born under. Jesus was one. So was Nixon.

2. The right to sing the blues may be earned if you:
     a. suffer
     b. lose
     c. pay some dues

3. It's not the blues when your loss is tax deductable.

4. Some examples of dues:
    a. working for the man
    b. hating your day job
    c. losing your man

5. Some forms of suffering that will never be blues - worthy:
    a. anorexia nervosa
    b. low LSAT's

6. It's the blues if you:
    a. wish you'd never been born
    b. feel like a motherless child

7. If your mother is dead and you miss her it's Country.

8. Good times to have the blues are:
    a. Christmas
    b. Mother's Day
    c. every night when the sun goes down

9. You can't sing the blues in Chinese.

     "Mouth full of toothache
      Head full of network news
     Gonna go downtown
     Buy some alligator shoes"
      "Silverpoint Blues"
     attributed to Blind Drunk Johnson

10. Blues women never sing "Send in the Clowns".
       They pack heat and eat meat.

11. Just because you shot that two-timing man doesn't automatically make you a blues woman, but it's a good start. So is buying him an Armani suit, or paying his child support.

12. Blues sports are:
       a. drinking
       b. gambling
       c. running around

13. Blues men are not team players.

14. You can't sing the blues in Gore-Tex.

15. The following drugs don't belong in the blues:
       a. ecstasy
       b. speed
       c. multi-vitamins

16. Blues women don't wear Chanel. Other fashion no-no's:
       a. running shoes
       b. lace
       c. Botox

17. Blues men don't get born again.

18. There is no word in French for "hellhound".

19. You can't sing the blues in French,
       not even if you are blind.

Excerpted from "May Contain Nuts"
(Harper Collins, Perennial Currents imprint, 2004)
Copyright 2003 by Judith Podell
used by kind permission from the author.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blues For Beginners - by Judith Podell

In early 1997, Judith Podell published an essay on "How to Sing the Blues" in Wordrights Magazine.  
Without her permission, it was transcribed and distributed around the world via email and various websites. In most cases, the text was modified, added to, some parts were completely changed, and in almost all cases the original author credit was missing.

By way of trying to right the wrong, I present the original text that was published in Judith Podell's book "Blues For Beginners and Other Obsessions" (Argonne House Press, 2001)

You can read a few more essays by Judith in my recent entries here
"Blues For Advanced Beginners"
"Animal Behavior"
"Death of the Blues"

Blues For Beginners
by Judith Podell

woke up this morning
cat threw a hairball on the bed.
said, i woke up this morning
cat puke all over the bed.
went to the kitchen
mr. coffee was dead.

"Post-Graduate Blues,"
(attrib. to Memphis Earline Gray)

1. Most blues begin "woke up this morning."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line.

i got a good woman-
with the meanest dog in town.

3. The Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes.

got a good woman-
with the meanest dog in town.
he got teeth like Margaret Thatcher
and he weighs 500 pound.

4. The Blues are not about limitless choice.

5. Blues cars are Chevies and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues transportation is Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Walkin' plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers cant' sing the blues. Adults sing the Blues. Blues adulthood means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just depression. Chicago, St Louis and Kasas City are still the best places to have the Blues.

8. The following colors do not belong in the blues:
a. orange
b. beige

9. You can't have the blues in an office or a honky-tonk. The lighting is wrong.

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. the highway
b. the jailhouse
c. the empty bed

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
a. your first name is a southern state.
b. you're blind.
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied.
No if:
a. you once were blind but now can see.
b. you're deaf.

13. Neither Frank Sinatra nor Meryl Streep can sing the blues.

14. If you ask for water and baby give you gasoline, it's the blues. Other blues beverages are:
a. wine
b. Irish whisky
c. muddy water

15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, or being denied treatment in an emergency room.

16. Some blues names for women:
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama

17. Some blues names for men:
a. Willie
b. Joe,
c. Little Willie
d. Lightning

Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia will not be permitted sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

Copyright - 1997 by Judith Podell and 2001 by The Argonne House Press
used by kind permission from the author.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Animal Behavior - further ponderings by Judith Podell

Animal Behavior
by Judith Podell

1. Cats never apologize and never explain. Dogs let it all hang out on Oprah.
Dogs are hot, but cats are cool.

2. John Travolta, Demi Moore, and President Clinton are dogs. Dogs get in your
face: they leave nothing to the imagination.
Lawrence of Arabia was a cat.

3. Cats do not play well with others.

4. Favorite teachers are dogs. Teachers you get crushes on are cats.

5. Opera singers are dogs. Ballet dancers are cats.

6. People who need people are dogs.

7. Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie were dogs. Any jazz musician who doesn't
shoot heroin is a dog.

8. Cats have the killer instinct. If you put your cat on a vegetarian diet she
will go blind.

9. Dogs let others do the killing and hang around for the leftovers. They are
natural born shoppers.

10. Dogs are shameless, but easily guilt-tripped. Cats are without guilt, but
sometimes you can embarrass them.

11. Dogs are resilient, courageous, and sentimental. They buy vacuum cleaners
for their wives, and neckties for their boyfriends. They hang their children's
artwork in their cubicles.

12. Cats despise cubicles. If they bother with gifts it's always what you wanted
but never thought to ask Cats are the ones who break up first.

13. Cats can handle high fashion but dogs look better in the classics. That
means no spandex, and no see through. It's more fun to design for cats, but the
money lies in making products for dogs.

14. No one wants a cat for a lawyer.

15. Dogs have sexual energy, which is not the same thing as sex appeal." I just
made love to a million people", Janis Joplin said after one of her concerts,
"but I'm going home alone".

16. Only dogs can sing the blues.

Excerpted from "Blues For Beginners and Other Obsessions" (Argonne House Press, 2001)

Copyright - 2001 by Judith Podell and by The Argonne House Press
used by kind permission from the author.