Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Man for All Seasons


Psmith Will Help You
Psmith Is Ready for Anything
Someone To Manage Your Affairs?
Someone To Manage Your Business?
Someone To Take The Dog For A Run?
Someone To Assassinate Your Aunt?
Whatever Job You Have To Offer
(Provided It Has Nothing To Do With Fish)
Address Applications To 'R. Psmith, Box 365'

Many thanks to the Oldest Member for bringing this back to mind. A merry two afternoons were spent in his company, and this was one of the many shared treasures excavated during the course of the festivities.

I had a funny day, actually. The early afternoon saw me tour-guiding the esteemed visitor to a picaresque corner of this quaint land. Guinness was hunted, but Hoegaarden settled on. The memories of a sheep and a cow were sanctified. And I was gratified by the eagerness with which my companion took to the sights, sounds and smells of the Sai Kung seashore.

The evening saw me heading downtown for a concert by Chris Botti, jazz trumpeter. I won't say I wasn't apprehensive -- I'd bought the ticket on an impulse two months ago, and returned home to discover that most if not all of this gent's album titles contain the word 'Love'. My fears were heightened when I read the concert program ~ translated from Chinese ~ in which he was described as a leading purveyor of smooth jazz. Moreover, he was quoted as saying that he loved playing jazz, although he played within the pop idiom. I have to confess, I sank a little deeper into my seat.

The show wasn't that bad, though. I mean, they played some real stuff. The guy even paid tribute to Miles, and attempted a cover of My Funny Valentine. And the guitarist quoted from Impressions and Milestones. There was a know-all in the row behind me ("Man that drummer should be in chains. He has something personal against those skins. Did you see how you couldn't even see the sticks? That's the kind I like - not the kind that gets stuck on the snare, like Jack deJohnette.") but thankfully he didn't start until after the show was over, so I only heard him going while we were shuffling along on the way to the exit.

The band members came out to the lobby alongside us. I debated shutting up the know-all by leaning over and asking the bassist if he had deliberately tried to copy Kai Eckhardt's style. (He hadn't -- was nowhere near the same class.) I decided against it. Instead, I walked on out fast into the fresh air. Steered myself towards the piers. Sitting in the ferry watching the amazing Hong Kong skyline slowly recede, the most beautiful Dark Star from DP4 teasing through my eardrums -- that was a moment to treasure.

So that made me want to carpe the bushy-tailed diem, ergo, I made tracks for Ned Kelly's, our local Aussie outback expat jazz bar. Arrived at the end of the first set. Settled into a corner, working in next to a group of Spaniards. One of them a perky young redhead with lovely waist long hair. No roots. Downed a Manhattan. A Guinness. And a meat pie. Fair dinkum. The band struck up. A bunch of middle-aged Filipinos -- guitar, bass, trumpet, drums. More swing in each of them than the whole bloody Botti band. Playing peppy Dixieland style, traces of Pops every time the man blew. Three numbers in a lively round Chinese lady joins them. Quando, quando, quando, she sings. The Spaniards, already lively, pep up even more. The redhead is dancing in her seat. Her name is Marta. She has no madman. The song ends. The trumpet announces the next track. An old familiar. The Chinese lady growls it out. Helloooo-DOL-ly. It's incongruous when you open your eyes, but it hits the spot.

Oh does it hit the spot.

I'm chilled.

I can handle this.

The set finishes, I pay and leave. Across the street is a music and video retailer. I walk in to see what's on sale. Scope out the TV section. Nothing. Across the aisle, a shifty little guy eyes the adults' titles. Picks up something. Puts it back. Looks around. Eye contact.

I give him the inscrutable oriental ones.

I mosey on across to the music DVDs. Fly Jefferson Airplane is on the cheaps. I'd have got it at a quarter of the price if I'd waited two years. Not worth it. I turn to leave. My friend Shifts is at the cash counter. They're having trouble processing his payment. He stands, squirming, as the lady behind him tries to not look at the cash register that says PENTHOU, $100.

I step out and flag a cab. Thanks for all the fish.


Blogger km said...

Smooth jazz. Hmph. One day, I plan to go evangelizing, door to door and convince people why smooth jazz is the devil's music.

BTW, I think you meant "PICTURESQUE corner of this quaint land".

10/31/2006 2:46 AM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

Nice bluesy piece.
Remember what happened to Psmith when Freddie responded to his advertisement?

"I asked you to wear a pink chrysanthemum. So I could recognize you, you know."
"I am wearing a pink chrysanthemum. I should have imagined that that was a fact that the most casual observer could hardly have overlooked."
"That thing?" The Hon. Freddie Threepwood gazed disparagingly at the floral decoration in Psmith's buttonhole. "I thought it was some kind of cabbage. I meant one of those little what-d'you-may-call-its that people wear in their button-holes."
"Carnation, possibly?"
"Carnation! That's right."
Psmith removed the chrysanthemum and dropped it behind the chair. He looked at his companion reproachfully.
"If you had studied botany at school, comrade," he said "much misery might have been averted. I cannot begin to tell you the spiritual agony I suffered, trailing through the metropolis behind that shrub."

10/31/2006 5:21 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

heh, more word play :-D that was a bad pun gone flat. i did mean picturesque - in the normal sense of the word - but i also meant picaresque - in the sense "of, pertaining to, or resembling rogues." you haven't seen the fishermen, fish buyers, and seafood restaurants here. or JAP with his rakish shades and HONG KONG headgear ;-)

while you're at the evangelizing, please make it so i don't have to see any more kenny g in *my* section of the cd store again!

YESSSS! i was GOING to prattle on about chrysanthemums but decided against it. thanks :-D

10/31/2006 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Ph said...

Ah Smooth Jazz and Light Rock. My son calls it the love, love, love channels. Another nicely paced post TR.

10/31/2006 7:52 PM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Was thinking of checking out Ned Kelly's myself. Too late now.

As for picaresque shades and headgear, cue that story about Beaverbrook and Churchill.

Like the sudden change in style. Obviously Guinness agrees with you too.


10/31/2006 11:21 PM  
Blogger km said...

MT: thanks for the excerpt. Funny how those passages embed themselves in our brains.

TR: Ah. The pun that was lost because of lack of familiarity with the geographical context.

JAP wore headgear? And shades? Tell me you took some pictures (from your cigarette lighter, naturally.)

11/01/2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

thank you. and compliments on your son's discerning taste.

guinness agrees with everyone, sir, or at least it should. it's a universal. conceptually that makes it the exact opposite of smooth jazz.

oh, and one thing i forgot to tell you. blog pele, sir, ektu kore deben. amar thamma bolten je e shob jinish body'r bhetore chepe rakhte nei.

more like just really bad writing. the only way that one could have been redeemed is if i'd written "picaturesque". even worse. sorry, the qc department was back at the bar.

i had no cigarette lighter, but jap's photographic bazooka captured significant territory with its megapixelated advances. he had been instructed to Save The Evidence. one has high hopes.

11/01/2006 12:58 AM  

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