From One Father to All Others

 


Other than Christmas and the birthdays of a few select family members and close friends, I'm quite oblivious to holidays and festivities of all kinds, be they national, international, or all across the galaxy. Furthermore it seems that pretty much every group of people, or animals, or things, or activities, has some sort of "Day" these days. I think we pretty much jumped the shark as a species when the UN instituted WORLD TOILET DAY (it's on November 19th. Check it out, if you don't believe me). And just as an aside, why in the blazes is International Men's Day on the same date as World Toilet Day... Coincidence?? But let's move on.

So it should come as no big surprise that Father's Day usually comes as a big surprise to me. Which is exactly what happened again this year. The main indicator that something was afoot was that I received an early morning email with the subject line "Lack These Two Minerals And Risk A Permanent Limp Penis." Yup, definitely Father's Day. After ordering a month's supply of these "crucial penis minerals," I said to myself that something needs to be done about all of this, and grabbed my pen (a modern day metaphor for keyboard) and a freshly squeezed piece of paper (a modern day metaphor for computer screen) and got to work. The fruit of this labor you, dearest reader, are about to enjoy. Which I sincerely hope you will.


Once Per Annum
(A Father's Day Poem)

Composed by a father to honor fathers who are fathers, fathers who were, fathers who were fathers, and fathers who are, as of yet, to be fathers, and even fathers to be, as well as father’s fathers, fathers of fathers to be, and fathers of father’s who may not yet know that they are, will be, or may, perhaps, get a shot at being fathers. And now, before this goes any father, and without father ado, please sit back and enjoy (whether you’re a father or not).



Father! Father! Father!
We don't want to be a bother

We come with gifts
And presents, too
Some socks, a tie
And one brown shoe

The other one we sadly lost
But, nonetheless, we love you most
Because you're cool, and strong, and wise
And that should come as no surprise

So, on this day of fatherhood
We hope you're feeling extra good
Please know that we all do love you
Even with just one brown shoe



Written by Casual-T on the 20th day of the sixth month in the year 2021, according to the Gregorian calendar, somewhere in the middle of Indiana. How he got there, we may never know. Even he is not too sure on the specifics!

When in Doubt - Be Merry

This year has been quite a doozy, and I would be lying if I told you 2020 was all I had hoped for when it all started, these 12 long months ago. Well, I'm sure we all could go on and on, but I figured it would be best to simply charge forward and try and make the best of it.

With that being said, there is, of course, one major ingredient still missing to ensure everyone's merriment and full-on holiday cheer on this beautiful Christmas eve... Uhm... December 26th. Yes, yes, here it is, the thing you've all been patiently waiting for; it's T & Jae's annual Christmas presentation.

As every year, we put together a little something which we hope will brighten your day, make you smile and giggle, and, perhaps, make you say "Oh my, what a talented bunch these guys are." Jae is doing the singing, young Casual is looking cute, and I'm responsible for the music, the video, and the on-set catering (I make a mean taco salad... Just sayin'!). So without any further ado, here is our quirky rendition of...





As so often, things didn't quite go according to plan, and video production was running way behind schedule. Although, nothing a couple of all-nighters couldn't fix. And fix it they did. We do hope this little ditty brings you a bit of joy, even if just a little. We had plenty of fun recording it, so it is your patriotic duty, in the spirit of teamwork, to have a blast watching it. Merriment shall now commence!!


Have a wonderful, magical, and joyful Christmas. Hug those you like, kiss those you love, and most importantly, stay strong and live life to the fullest!


Merry Christmas good people of the world...


T & Jae

What a Wonderful World Indeed

If you're asking me (and you may or may not, yet here we are), it is never the wrong time to remind ourselves that the sky is indeed still blue and trees are yet green; clouds are still fluffy and white, and even if they're not, life still demands to be lived.

With that being said, here's another offering in our incredible remote-recording series entitled The Incredible Remote-Recording Series. This time around we put our spin on a song made famous by that old pioneer of growly (yet delightfully smooth) vocals and splendid trumpeteering. Yes, it is none other than Louis Armstrong of whom I speak, and the song is that wonderfully positive anthem of positivity...





As per the usual agreement, Jae took it upon herself to sing like only she can, while I fiddled around with a multitude of colored knobs and a vast variety of different-sized levers to make sure the music and video came out just right.

You may wonder how it is that Debra Birkhimer is tickling the ivorys while simultaneously performing the sultry alto background vocals you hear. It was no easy feat (let me tell ya!), and involved some highly technical lingo (and a couple of calls to tech-support). Suffice it to say the time-machine works!

I would also like to guide your attention to our newest "Incredible Remote-Recording Series" family member. For the undisclosed sum of ten-thousand and four dollars the ever so delightfully pleasant Amanda Birkhimer agreed to take on the excruciatingly difficult role of lead soprano background vocalist. If you stick around to the very end of the video you're in for a particularly awesome treat. There's a reason why we she was our first "pick."

Stay safe, stay healthy, and, most of all, don't forget that life is here to be lived... So go out and live it!

-T

On a More Serious Note

When I wrote my previous blog post we were smack-dab in the middle of the infamous 2020 COVID-19 lock-down here in New York City, as well as most of the rest of the world. All we wanted to do was to get through quarantine without going stir crazy, restart the economy, and go about our business. How is it possible that since then things managed to get even worse? As it stands now, the US is in upheaval with riots, screaming, yelling, looting, beating, shooting all around us.

Holier-than-thou celebrities “take responsibility” (or so the teleprompter tells them to say) by making somber black-and-white videos while virtue signaling over a sad and ever so profound piano accompaniment, saying “Hey, did you know that racism is bad?” (“Oh?!” you reply, with shame and guilt plaster all over your pasty white face, “I had no fucking idea!”); corporations change product names and remove “offensive” logos, to let everyone know that they, too, have realized that really bad things are really bad things (only wicked minds would think that it is rather because they don’t want to go against the current current of virtue signaling race pandering, so as to keep selling their fair-trade soaps and gender-neutral cereals, their overpriced sneakers and multiracial maple syrups); people kneel before other people, apologizing for things they never did, to people who never had those things done to them; the interwebs, from Twitter to Facebook and beyond, find themselves in a feeding frenzy, doing their best to cancel everyone and anyone who dares to diverge from the narrative of The Party (see Orwell’s 1984 for reference, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about).

We are past the point of claiming that Words are Violence, and we’ve moved on to the much more reasonable slogan of Silence is Violence. So, if you don’t fall in line, if you don’t go along with the prevailing way of thinking, and therefore don’t say the right thing, of, indeed, anything at all, then you are at fault; you are the enemy. The screeching masses don’t seem to realize that inevitably the tide will turn, and then they will be the ones on the “wrong” side of popular opinion. Only this “reckoning” will be homemade. It seems that there are many people these days, people who have never been particularly political, and who have never thought in terms of race, color, sexual orientation, and so on, who are being pushed into more and more extreme ways of thinking (and feeling) by those who blame them for everything, whether these people are actually at fault or not. Facts don’t matter, it seems.

Is there even one amongst us who is so wonderfully perfect as to never have uttered a “hurtful” word, made an “offensive” joke, or said or did something “wrong.” With these full-of-themselves social justice worriers spending their time searching for WRONGTHINK on other people’s Twitter feeds, going back to the year 1751, it is pretty much guaranteed that somewhere something was said that would somehow offend someone in some sort of way. Does anyone remember that old saying about throwing stones while sitting in glass houses?

Even worse than canceling individuals, it is history itself which is being cancelled. “Problematic” statues are being removed (in many cases torn down by a violent mob); schools, streets, and public places renamed (Black Lives Matter Plaza, Calhoun Honors College, etc.); words edited out of (often classic) books (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, etc.); scenes cut from movies or movies being banned, removed, or addended with “expert explanations” of the subject matter (Gone With the Wind); and shows (old and new) cancelled for being offensive to some (Little Britain, Fawlty Towers, etc.), so as to not let anyone see what came before.

Of course we all know the famous saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” How will anyone remember the past as it was, good and bad, and subsequently learn from the mistakes of previous generations, if the past has been sanitized and all traces of wrongdoing, all mistakes, all crimes against humanity, all misunderstandings between people removed? By removing the bad we also remove the good many of those people (and others) did. The world simply isn’t as binary as many would want for it to be. It’s not as black and white (pardon the pun) as many seem to think. Good and evil are intertwined, often within the same person, sometimes with the same action. And let’s face it, what’s offensive to some, just isn’t so to others. Humor, caricature, sarcasm, often plays with stereotypes (racial or otherwise). Those art forms are all but dead in the current hypersensitive social climate. How would people nowadays react to George Carlin, Richard Prior, Lenny Bruce, and others? “NOOOO! He said a word… I’m literally dying!!! Ahh…”

The fact that, according to the social justice police, some groups (those of a certain skin color) are allowed to use certain words, but others are not, is ludicrous. Oddly enough, this kind of thinking is only too prevalent in the groups which are currently yelling the loudest to dismantle police departments across the nation. It’s not that they don’t want policing, it’s just that they want to do it themselves; they want to be in power. And once they are, everyone who doesn’t play by their rules is in for it.

Is the system we currently have perfect? Far from it, but what’s happening right now is not fixing any of the problems we face. If anything, it makes things worse by attacking people who have nothing to do with the issues at hand. I am not referring to those who physically attacked people during these idiotic riots. How does a black man shooting another black man in order to steal a TV, have anything to do with the idea that black lives matter? What I am referring to is attacking people through the concepts of Groupthink and Identity Politics, which permeate everything at this point. Once we start thinking (and speaking) in terms of “the” black people and “the” white people, or “the” police, we’re already on the wrong path. Once we segregate our thinking into black versus white, us against them, we are on the path to segregating society in the same way. I thought this is exactly what we didn’t want!

To make it clear, I, as an individual, am not responsible for the actions of previous generations—whether I am associated with them through the color of my skin, my nationality, or any other arbitrary characteristic—actions which must be seen within the context of the times they were taken in. I have often asked myself how I would have acted had I grown up in Austria or Germany during the Nazi era. I am honest enough to say, I really don’t know. We are all, to a certain extent, products of our time. What if I would have grown up as the son of a slave-owner living down south during the 18th century? What if I had been taught from a very young age that slaves are merely property? Of course we all hope that we would have applied modern day standards, and would have turned out to be heroes of the emancipation movement; that we would have fought for that which we now see as morally correct. But would we really have done so at the time, under those particular circumstances?

I am also not responsible for actions taken by any other person living today, even if that person has the same skin color as I do. It seems ridiculous to have to explain this in the year 2020!

I am responsible for my actions, and ONLY my actions. I will not allow for anyone to throw me into a group of people with whom I share only an arbitrary and coincidental characteristic such as skin color. I am not part of “the” white people, just as I am not part of “the” men, or “the” straights. I am an individual with not allegiance to any particular group, not adhering to any particular school of thought other than my own. If I am treated with respect, I will do the same in return; if I am treated without common courtesy, I will do the same (and will, most likely, not want to have anything to do with people who treat me that way). Don’t tell me what I think or who I am, simply because of your preconceived notions, or, indeed, the color of my skin. That, as far as I understand it, is racism.

Time Flies When You're Having Rum!

My, oh my, has it been this long already? I must admit, it is rather shameful to see that my last post was from Christmas Day LAST YEAR. This is no way to run a blog, and me thinks it's time for a heartfelt apology for having let the reigns dangle for so long. The team of blog-oxen (bloxen?!) needs a firm hand to guide them on their way to plow the field of creativity. Please forgive my tardiness, dear reader, and accept my sincerest apologies. To make good, I will do my best to entertain, enlighten, and engage, with a little catch-up post.

So, what's up, you ask. Well, let me tell you... Much has happened since last we spoke. The world has been turned topsy-turvy, and what once was up, now lays flat on its side, with a flushed face and sweaty brow. Life as we have known it, is no more. What in the world has happened to the world? A virus, you say? Yes, but we've had those before. Why the sudden panic? Why put an "Out of Order" sign on the world, and tell everyone to go home? It makes one think, doesn't it?

Now that we are either wondering why we're cooped up at home and not being allowed to go to work, or why we're forced to keep working while the rest of the world is cooped up at home, many of us wonder what to do with the time we now have. As a musician by trade I fall squarely into the prior category. I'm one of those "unessential" workers, as opposed to medical staff and supermarket cashiers (!!). Who needs live music when all venues and concert halls are closed?

Having been without a gig for over 2 months (my main source of income), and Mrs. Casual having been laid off, we sat and wondered what to do. Whenever there's work, one wishes to have more time to do the things one really wants to do. Well, be careful what you wish for... So, after pondering the situation for some time, and hoping that money won't run out before too long, Mrs. Casual and yours truly went into "Let's do this" mode. Inspired by the old adage about the relationship between life's troubles and the production of a tart fruity beverage, we adjusted the wording ever so slightly and turned it into "When life gives you COVID, make art." It may be slightly platitudinal, but applicable nonetheless.

With pep in our step and singing hearts, we ventured into our living/dining/bed/multi-purpose room, fired up the old idea machine, contacted Mrs. Casual-mother-in-law, and started recording. Below you will find the fruits of our labor; our renditions of 2 classic tunes, which we hold near and dear to our hearts. (The links lead to YouTube)

(from the Wizard of Oz)



(from Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang)



The recordings were done in true quarantine style: Mrs. Casual-mother-in-law recorded her wonderful piano playing in her snazzy music room in Indiana, Mrs. Casual recorded her sultry vocals in our tiny (but over-priced) New York City apartment, and yours truly finished everything up by adding some of that orchestral sugar to our musical lemonade. Came out pretty darn yummy, if I may make so bold.

Now grab yourself some ice, pour yourself a cup, and enjoy. I'm sure you will not be disappointed. If nothing else, Mrs. Casual and I hope these songs will give you little break, a moment to breathe and let things be what they are. We do have a few more songs in the works, and depending on how long this quarantine will last, in the end we might have enough material to put out another album. We may call it "The Quarantine Session"... Silver lining, I guess!

In the meantime, stay healthy, stay positive, and keep creating!

-T

Christmas!

It's the most wonderful peaceful sexy stressful time of the year. Christmas means so many different things to so many different people, but some things we all can count on when it comes to the season of forgiveness, holly jolly sugar overload, eggnog induced tummy aches, and maxing out your credit cards. Here's a short and not very comprehensive list:
  1. The anxiety you feel when there's another little off-pink sticker on the front door, saying that you've yet again missed the mailman.
  2. The stress of trying to finish Christmas shopping in time to miss the mailman, who is just now leaving another little sticker on your front door.
  3. Running to the store on December 24th, because the package you've been waiting for, wasn't redelievered by the mailman, who just left a sticker on the front door while you were out trying to finish Christmas shopping in time to miss the mailman, who left a sticker... You see where this is going!
  4. A Christmas video featuring Mrs. Casual, aka Jae Parris on those sultry vocals, yours truly, Casual-T, on most everything else, with a special guest appearance by Butterfingers Slim on the slide whistle (we flew him in from Lapland, particularly for this incredible performance. Not a cheap endeavor, but well worth it, I'm sure you'll agree).
I'll leave it up to you to decide which of these is your favorite.

This year we present a fancy version of that old Bobby Helms Christmas classic "Jingle Bell Rock." Let the sultry vocals of that gorgeous lass, Jae Parris, and the productions and recording skills of that man, that myth, that pastry chef, Casual-T, rock your jingle bells like they've never been rocked (or jingled) before. Featuring a special guest performance by Butterfingers Slim on the slide whistle. We flew him in all the way from Lapland, for this particular performance. Not a cheap venture, but well worth it. His performance, I'm sure you'll agree, is nothing short of pretty good.

Click right > here < for some super sexy Christmas awesomeness.

And with that I'm wishing every single one of you a very merry Christmas, and a happy and successful new year. And to top it all off, here's a very special Christmas photo with yours truly moonlighting as Santa at the local mall. Gotta pay the bills somehow!!



Ho! Ho! Ho!

The Thanksgiving Tiger




And a very merry (albeit belated) gobble-gobble to one and all. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays I harbor somewhat conflicted emotions about, mainly because I never much cared for the dry and generally flavorless experience of eating turkey. Throughout the years, the thought of ingesting a bowl of freshly harvested bellybutton lint seemed more appealing to me, in terms of providing a rich array of intriguingly complex tastes and beguiling textures.

And so it was until, at last year's Thanksgiving shindig, Mrs. Casual decided to try something new and put that overgrown chicken in an oven bag. Lo and behold, Thanksgiving hasn't been the same tasteless, dry, and rather depressing affair, since that fateful decision was made. Flavor explosion is a phrase I never would have dared put in proximity to the word turkey. But here we are... Just another curve-ball the multiverse decided to throw my way.

So, to keep things in accordance with the occasion, I would like to mention that I am quite thankful for a number of things in my life, not least of which are oven bags. Anything which makes my life juicer, gets a thumbs-up from me.

And since we're on the topic of thumbs, I am also quite thankful for this blog, and for being able to share some of my ramblings with this small but ever so delectable community of readers (yes, that means you over there!). Many thanks to all involved—as well as oven bags. (How this relates to thumbs, I will leave for you to figure out. Please report back, should you find the answer.)

Now, you may be sitting there twiddling your thumbs (Aha!!), wondering what in the blazes the above picture of a tiger could possibly have to do with Thanksgiving. Well, here are a few ideas. Maybe the tiger identifies as a turkey. After all, it is the current year, and from what I’ve been witnessing as of late, nowadays one can claim to be whatever one wants to be. As long as you want it, it must be so... Or must it? (But I digress.)

On the other hand, the tiger’s connection to Thanksgiving may simply be that he just ate a turkey. Do tigers eat turkeys? I assume they do, simply because they can. If you were a tiger, wouldn't you?

Or, perhaps, the tiger is from Turkey… You see where I’m going with this.

But here's the simple truth of the matter. Mrs. Casual and I have a little Thanksgiving tradition, which is that, on Black Friday, when stores are overrun with deal-seekers, consume addicts, and those adventurous (or silly) enough to participate in the customary sales-bin stampede at the local mega-store (risking life and limb in the process), we grab the opportunity to take a leisurely walk in the other direction. We like to spend the day after Thanksgiving at the Bronx Zoo.

This year I figured it’d be a great opportunity to take the new camera for a spin. So, there I was, happily clicking away, minding my own business, capturing colorful images of tropical birds, perched on crooked branches looking like a witches index finger directing Hรคnsel and Gretel toward the oven; shy desert mice enjoying a nibble of fresh fruit, while hiding behind a rock looking like... a rock; when, suddenly, this fine fellow placed himself squarely in front of the lens, barely two feet away from where I stood.

The crazed look in his eyes belied his calm demeanor. I could tell he was hungry. Panic started setting in (me, not him!). Would I be able to get the shot before the monster decided to charge and rip my clothes off, so as to get to the succulent meat within? (My body has been seasoned with all manner of exotic spices and fermented marinades since before oven bags were a thing. I’m sure it would make for an exhilarating culinary experience for any tiger of class and distinction.)

Hungry tiger or not, a photographer is as a photographer does. And what a photographer does is press the shutter button. My trigger finger spasmed. The shutter crackled like a baby elephant stomping across a field of Rice Krispies. My focal point fixated on the eye of the tiger (it’s the thrill of the fight); cold nervousness running down my back. Seconds turned into lifetimes; lifetimes turned into eternities; eternities turned into whatever is longer than eternities.

Did he move? I thought I saw his shoulder jerk ever so slightly. Ready to pounce? The flame of my life mere seconds away from being extinguished. Alas, I knew he wouldn't dare kill me just yet. I hadn’t gotten that shot yet.



And then it happened. The moment in which all the pain and joy of my life, the successes and failures, doubts and convictions, tasty food and olives, culminated into one ultimate climax. "YES!" I shouted, triumphantly. “Yes, indeed!” The elephant took one more, heavy step, as I toppled backward, crumbling into a trembling heap of cold sweat and hot nerves. The perfect picture was mine. Finally.

As I lay there, I looked upon the majestic beast. His eyes became mine, and for the first time in my life I observed the world without fear. Come and feast upon my flesh, king of the jungle. I got the picture. You can kill me, but you cannot hurt me. The purpose of my existence is fulfilled. I am ready now!

I waited.

Eternities became seconds.

Without another word the tiger shrugged his shoulders, and leisurely walked away.

Confused but somewhat relieved about not having been enjoyed for lunch, I pulled myself up. Wobbly-kneed I realized that all this time there had been a 2-inch thick pane of glass separating myself from the tiger. This, I suspect, had been the main reason this Bengal royal hadn’t proposed to tear me to shreds.

And thus the story ends.

You're still sitting there? Still twiddling your thumbs? Ah… You’re probably still wondering what any of this has to do with Thanksgiving. Well, let me come straight to the point (after having spent about a thousand words of circumventing it). All this was simply to say that in addition to oven bags—which keep turkeys juicy and flavorful, and thusly a joy to eat—I'm also very thankful for glass panes of multi-inch thickness— which keep me uneaten (yet juicy and flavorful!).