Friday, June 10, 2011

had a busy week so when the google guitar doodle was invented i didn't have time to sit down directly and strum it until i could get some decent noise out of it. like everyone i get this kind of harmonic cello-like stuff that is pleasant enough but doesn't fit well into a coherent tune until you really work with it for a while, which of course some people did and within days, got some you-tubes up with three parts, or playing stairway to heaven, or you-name it, they made it and already within two days there's quite a collection. and some people are offering lessons.

my classroom has had lousy airconditioning all term, so we've taken to leaving the door open all day every day unless there is extreme listening exercises going on, and we sit beneath the main generator which is more or less silent and wonder why the cooling never comes our way regardless of what we do with the controls. but lo and behold thursday morning at about nine in comes the chancellor of the entire university, and she's being led around by this physical plant dude who's trying to show her all the hard work they've been doing on what is generally agreed to be an impossible building. we invited them in as we were just about to start a second class and what the heck we'd just had a huge quiz so they were kind of mind-dead anyway.

well my class which is mostly from saudi but also from oman, china, kuwait and maybe a couple more didn't know what to make of it since she was in shorts and tennis shoes and clearly thought it was break and she could walk around casually and all. i introduced her as doctor and left out the chancellor part and she began asking them where they were from and how long they'd been there and all and when we got to the part about the physical building itself i allowed as how we'd had a few problems and complaints but we knew it was a pretty tough assignment, and she told the story of how it was built for an arid california climate but as a big concrete behemoth nobody had reckoned with true humidity etcetera etcetera. i was thinking, well, i could lay into him for leaving us sweltering here all these weeks and that's kind of what i wanted to do, but on reflection i could also have laid into her for putting us all on furlough, not paying us what they'd agreed, riling everyone up into going on strike etcetera etcetera. instead in a small town way i just kind of said, you know my wife i believe, and she did, and when she left i said that was the chancellor of the university.

whereupon the class went up in an uproar. how come we pay good tuition and they can't even fix that big old clunking airconditioner. how come the football coach makes twice what she does. can a person really go and talk to a chancellor? well you can but you can't exactly take the routine complaints you are mentioning up there so easily. actually i'd seen her in the starbucks so i knew who she was, but rather than start in on her right there in the starbucks when i'm between classes and she has her husband with her, i'd decided to wait and i hadn't really met her at all, i guess if you just stand there and teach virtually everyone comes around to visit you eventually anyway.

going home at night i noticed the room which is the first in the hallway was full of workers and sure enough they had fixed the airconditioner by morning and it was quite cold when i went to teach at eight a-m...but there was an e-mail saying that the whole hallway had gone on the blink in the afternoon and they had to get at that main thing that was right over my little table, and in the process of that of course they had to move the table, so as we were taking our little quiz this morning there were these disoriented little bugs scurrying around which must have been used to the table being where it was for a couple of centuries. the students recognize that it's an open question, whether her surprise visit had anything to do with the suddenly fixed airconditioner.

meanwhile all i want to do is play the google-doodle guitar which waits on google every time i want to search for something, and was given an extra day due to popularity but by now, having hundreds of youtubes already, is surely bound for the all-time. what they have done is combined the mouse-over with the guitar, and a new generation of instruments is born, these with more esoteric controls than merely fingers on strings but with basically the same idea, and here comes someone with the star-spangled banner sure enough, just missing a couple of notes.

in the flurry of quizzes, and midterm, and all that kind of stuff, i'm afraid i didn't learn even a single tune on my google-doodle guitar, much less my favorite these days, which is called last chance texaco and which i keep hearing as a banjo song, rich and full of harmony even though it's good & slow. that's kind of how i see life, all in a nutshell. it's slow and easy, by itself, you add the harmony, you make sure it's in tune, you only speed up on your own terms. and it's last chance texaco in the sense that you only live once, from here on in, you never know what you're going to find, might be a desert of a long dark tunnel, and if someone gives you a google guitar and puts it smack on your desktop, there isn't hardly an excuse not to sit down & figure out what it can do.


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