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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Of Bees and Birthdays

First things first: thanks to all who helped to make my (2^5) birthday party the rousing success that it was. The announced hours were from 3-3, but I’m pleased to say that we really got started around 1:00 and didn’t wind down until 4am. Not quite a record, but a good run. There was yard bocce with gin and tonics, a Spiral Joy Band performance with red wine, capped off with late night old-time music and good ol’ corn squeezings and a surprise appearance by Leonard Nimoy. The cleanup was nearly as epic as the party. Fortunately, I had help with that part, too.

List of gifts, as I remember them: 1 Leonard Nimoy record, 1 Josh Hernandez CD with tote bag, 1 jar of corn liquor, 1 tablet of erectile medication, 3 packages of revitalizing eye patches, 1 Charles Bukowski pin, 1 diner-style spatula, 1 fig tree, 1 hibiscus. And probably some other stuff I just can’t recall due to item #3 in the aforementioned list.
For everyone who’s been wondering; dem bees are doing just great. The ladies of Troy had started to build comb out the top of the inner hive cover, so we added another set of deep frames and gave them plenty of new space. They’ve been reproducing, and there are a lot of them in there now. Ithaca will get their chance for a second story tomorrow. Many thanks to the Apostate Appalachian for her photographic assistance.

And for the attentive — yes, I cut my hair. It’s shorter than the day I was born. And feels good.

Rebuild the Wall

Rebuild the Wall
Luther Wright and the Wrongs
Rebuild the Wall
Parody is an odd musical world to inhabit. Weird Al has made a career out of it. The classic Dr. Demento Radio Hour coasted on it for years. Hayseed Dixie make a living doing bluegrass covers of AC/DC songs; Dread Zeppelin had a good go of it doing reggae covers of Led Zeppelin songs with the added panache of an Elvis impersonator on lead vocals. It’s an odd space because you really can’t ever transcend the source of the parody. You’re always defined in the shadow of the original, and you have to have fun with that. You have to mock and pay tribute at the same time, which is a difficult line to walk.
Hayseed DixieLuther Wright and the Wrongs don’t so much much walk that line as teeter drunkenly down it. Rebuild the Wall is a start-to-finish cover of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, done in a bluegrass/country style. Like Hayseed Dixie, they’ve taken a simple gag and stretched it out beyond all reason and sense. If nothing else, you have to admire the attention to detail. Not only have they covered every song on the original album, but they’ve faithfully spliced in appropriate sound effects to retell the story in a country-western vein. Buzz bombs have been replaced by galloping hooves; distressed moans have become distressed moos.

Does it hang together? Yes — Rebuild the Wall is relentlessly coherent. Does it have listening longevity? Not really. It’s a fine joke, but once you’ve got the punchline, there’s not much to bring you back for more. Because, like other parodies, it just can’t transcend the source material, and ultimately it can’t be more than a footnote — which may be all it was intended to be in the first place.