Category Archives: Music

Broken Bells “The Ghost Inside” Video

Danger Mouse (Brian Joseph Burton) + James Mercer = Broken Bells

Not at all saying I know music. But in my review of Broken Bells I stated:

I’m also a big fan of “The Ghost Inside,” a beat that I can see sliding into top 20 charts eventually (not to mention the lyrics are straight silk).

Here is the link to the blog as evidence. I’m including the lyrics below the video. I can certainly relate to the highlighted verse and if you know me and my hand, you can understand why. Maybe not all my blogging is nonsense, but then again maybe so.

The Ghost Inside

She sold her love to a modern man
Cause solid currency’s the hardest to love
All that money helps you cover your eyes
Don’t let the lady finger blow in your head

Give it up for that dollar
She’s a star tonight
Without warning
She gave up the ghost inside

Just like a whiskey bottle drained on the floor
She’s got no future just a life to endure
This good Samaritan’s shaking her hide
“Too Late to Leave Him” are the songs in her car

Give it up for that dollar
She’s a star tonight
Without warning
She gave up the ghost inside

You call it chivalry
Never pull a punch for free
You ever wonder why they had to move on
This phony honor code
That puts you on your throne
A double standard
You invoke when you want

For that dollar
She’s a star tonight
Without warning
She gave up the ghost inside

Was it all for show
Don’t turn into one of them
Turn another page
Trust me darling
I’m carving a road through the dust in your town
Crawling over rubble
Just to sort it out
Now I tend to wonder why

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Musical Wednesday: DeWyze & Bowersox, King & Taylor Duets, and a Ballin 6th Grader

This should be a recap of American Idol last night. But I’m not really going to do a recap until it comes down to the final two: Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. I put this prediction out there weeks/months ago. However, I didn’t know they were going to do duets this week on Idol.

Call it chance or call it timing. I was listening to the radio this weekend while gardening/planting for Moms and they were playing the entire concert of James Taylor and Carole King at the Troubadour (one of my favorite venues in LA, which ironically I went to less when I wasn’t living there than when I was). To you young bucks out there or the musically deficient readers of mine, you have to peep out both of these artists. Not musicians or songwriters, but artists. Individually they are masterful but together they exemplify, duet.  “Up On the Roof” was originally written by Carole King, popularized by The Drifters, but dominated by the duet of King and Taylor. The song reminds me of all the good times on my old rooftop in downtown Los Angeles.

Not at all to compare Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox to James Taylor and Carole King, but figured the last song was a good lead in to this video. I’m a sucker for musicals or movies based around music. Peep the “Who is the Penning Panda?” page and you’ll find a few of such movies. One of the movies based upon musicians is the movie Once. That movie gets me EVERY time for a number of reasons, some personal, but mostly for the story and the music. Keeping that in mind, you’ll understand the next part of this blog.

One of my dearest friends, Mags, lives in the Central Time Zone and she sent me a text before Idol aired West Coast time that read: “Oh God you’re going to have an orgasm when you watch a certain song on Idol tonight!”

This of course had me wondering as she knows me as well as anyone out there… I was out and about and didn’t get to see it “live,” but when I did finally get a chance to watch it on DVR I’d have to say… she was right. Not only were DeWyze and Bowersox paired up, but they sang one of my favorite duets of all time from the movie Once, “Falling Slowly.”

Let’s be honest there are really only two “stars” to come out of American Idol: Kelly Clarkson (probably because she was the first winner) and Carrie Underwood (mmmm, Carrie Underwood). Again not saying DeWyze or Bowersox will be as successful as either of those two, but I’m really vibing off both of them. If they can keep their heads on straight and find a good support team, they can do good things. And hopefully they pull off another duet in the future… best performance all season, hands down.

Speaking of people with musical skill. This was posted by a friend of mine and I can’t help but snag it and repost it. If you haven’t heard of Greyson Michael Chance yet, I have a feeling you will. At least virally online. This kid is amazing and to think he’s only 12. I’m thinking it’s only a matter of time before someone “discovers” him and signs this kid.

This is the video that my friend Jillian posted of Greyson covering Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at his school’s Edmond’s Sixth Grade Festival. Definitely check out his YouTube Channel that also features two of his original songs. A brilliant songwriter and musician, this kid if he can keep his nose clean (all puns intended) could be on the fast-track to stardom. I often have my qualms about the Internet, but it’s amazing how fast something like Greyson’s talent can spread. I mean if Greyson was on American Idol, he’d be getting all the teenie bopper texts (look at the girl’s reactions in the background). This kid is probably all-time dude when it comes to “7 in Heaven” at his middle school parties. Or in the words of my boy Sam, “They want to jump his bones.”

Hey Greyson, do you need an agent?

American Idol: Bowersox won the contest tonight

So again I’ve had a busy week, but I have to make time for an American Idol post. For all intensive purposes, unless someone comes up with an amazing performance this could really be my last American Idol post. The contest is over. Also I won’t be writing one next week, as I’ll be chillin on a hammock in Puerto Vallarta.

The theme for tonight’s episode was “inspirational songs.”

Inspirational to my heart was Siobhan Magnus; again she looked amazing tonight. Despite Simon’s confusion of the “leaves” (actually butterflies) on her dress, she looked stunning (do I have an infatuation? Most likely). Unfortunately, her performance was not inspirational. I mean taking on “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey is tough for anyone. She may be in the bottom three tomorrow. I feel like she’s working more on her justification speech after her performances rather than her actual singing. Still love you and still think you’re right on for standing up for what you want to do.

The rest, for the lack of better description… BORING. I’m not even going to talk about them. The competition has come down to two contestants: Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. Lee is just ready to cut an album, I’m sure after doing his obligatory songs picked by producers he’ll be on point.

Though the competition in my eyes is down to two people (has been for a month now), there is one contestant who is BY FAR head (dreads and all) and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

I believe my years of American Idol fandom warrants this paragraph. The past few years of Idol has been sorely lacking on talent. It should be no surprise that Simon Cowell will be leaving the show after this year. There have been a few gems in the rough, but no real stars. Album sales are indicative enough (even though album sales by no means qualify talent). That being said, Crystal (apt for this analogy) Bowersox is a diamond.

Now you should know that Carrie Underwood pretty much makes me stop anything I’m doing. Keep that in mind with my next statement. Crystal Bowersox is on a whole other level, on the level of Carrie Underwood (for American Idol purposes). I might, might, even venture to say she is ahead of her. Every week she comes out almost mocking the rest of the contestants with her talent (though Lee can definitely hang, but just hasn’t climbed to the top of the Idol rock).

I’m going to post both Lee and Crystal’s performances. But I could really just post Crystal’s. I’m posting Lee’s because his song choice of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” was money. It’s one of my favorite songs. Lee gave his standard professional performance. But as far as it being “Inspiration Week,” it was about five steps behind Crystal’s performance of Curtis Mayfield’s CLASSIC “People Get Ready.”

I literally got goose bumps from Crystal’s performance. I didn’t even get goose bumps from Carrie Underwood’s performance of Heart’s “Alone” (it just made my heart melt). My boy Jack says she’s a “huge star,” and I agree. In a simple equation she’s Joss Stone + Janis Joplin + honest soul + an instrumentalist = huge star. I’ve been tentative to crown her Season 7’s winner, but after tonight the level she’s on, really it’s Crystal Bowersox and the rest of American Idol. The way she keeps it honest and real (helps that she’s a mom) will go a long way in this industry. Watch those tears at the end of the song as she hit the lyrics “you don’t need a ticket, you just need to thank the lord.” A genuine star that the industry needs.

Amendment to original post. Okay I can see one way that Lee DeWyze may sneak in the victory. But these song choices have to be timed perfectly to steal it. From the wonders of YouTube I found these two performances of the Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.” Lee, my dude when you read this (because I know you do)… well this may be the only way you’ll win American Idol (just don’t do that dance before Sex on Fire, it would defeat the title of the song). Do work son… but the crown is already on MommaSox.

Shuffleboard, Glee, Killer Whales, American Idol… Guess, I’m no longer hibernating

So I wasn’t going to blog this week. I am in April hibernation (it’s not going very well). But two things happened yesterday that has forced me to write a blog: a weird interaction, Glee returns, and the compulsory American Idol review.

Bizarre Brother-Sister Relationship

First thing, first… Alyssa, you missed another semi-adventure, but they’ll only continue with Booger now in town.

Okay, so last night (like every week) was $2 Tuesday at my favorite local watering hole. Last week they put out a new shuffleboard table. For those of you who don’t know, the house I lived in during law school had a legit shuffleboard court in the backyard. By legit, I mean the one with the clay disks and shuffleboard cues. The type of shuffleboards you see on cruise boats.

Look I’m Asian, we have a knack for doing well in skilled games. Don’t hate, it’s just true. So naturally we hop on the shuffleboard table. My first partner was the hommie Justin, we ran our first two games. We decided to switch it up and I gained one of my best friends Booger as my new partner. We again ran legs. By running legs I mean we were playing against some dudes, about 7 points down. Boogs comes through with a 7 point round I followed it up with a 4 pointer by knocking my opponents puck off the 3 zone and leaving my puck in it’s place. Muscled up homeboy in his size small Hard Rock t-shirt was furious. Basically I have a secret spin to my table shuffleboard game, if you think you have skills meet me at a bar. I’ll bring the quarters, you bring your tissues.

The point of all of this happened when Justin and I were partners. We played against a big dude (by big, I mean beer belly big) wearing a polo shirt with some martial arts patch on it. He was on Justin’s side. On my side was this feisty little girl (by little, I mean her head came just above my elbow) wearing a shirt trying it’s best to expose her cleavage.

Mmm... Hayley

So we’re playing, she’s getting all feisty. She pops on Paramore in the juke box. I’m going to stop right here. Look I’m in love with Hayley Williams, even more than Siobhan Magnus (discussed below). No, but seriously my boy works for Fueled by Ramen and has her phone number. He’s discussed my obsession with her, that she actually finds hilarious (meaning he didn’t paint me as a creeper, props Slice). He also said that he’d give me her number. I just fear asking for it, because I know I’ll just call her and say, “What are you doing tomorrow? Nothing? Sweet let’s get married and make babies.” So you now know how I felt when Paramore came on.

Turns out this feisty lil girl loves her just as much evidenced in her line, “I will have sex with Hayley.” Anyway she’s all bouncing around, getting all up in my biz. So the beer belly dude is about to shoot, she leans over and is pulling down her shirt screaming, “Shoot it here. Shoot it here fag.” I’m thinking, “Man these two have a bizarre relationship and I wouldn’t want to ever be in their house.”

Every time he shot she’d do the same thing (of course she did it for Justin also, but that’s besides the point). Midway trough the game we find out that Beer Belly and Elbow Height are brother and sister. The worst part is that Beer Belly was encouraging the antics of Elbow Height, it actually got worse. I’m a fan of awkward situations, but not at all of obnoxious drunks (yes sometimes I’m that guy, I’m usually not a fan afterwards).

When I found out they were brother and sister, I kinda got sick a lil bit. Between rounds they were getting awfully close to each other, seriously it was awful. I turn to Boogs and said, “Man if that was my sister, I’d tell her to put a jacket on.”

Anyway Elbow Height starts talking about her daughter to me. Then was all asking what I was doing later. Being the guy I am, I respond, “Not baby sitting.” She gets all bent out of shape, and pulls down her shirt, and goes “Even for these?” Being the guy I am, I actually held back. What I was going to say was, “Dude is your brother the father of your kid? And I’ve seen better.” Thankfully, Justin felt my flow and we ended the game in a blistering manner.

I was feeling a bit hung over this morning, but not from the $2 drinks… rather from that awkward ass scene with Big Belly and Elbow Height. I’d fear Elbow Height reading this blog and the fact that I may see her again at $2 Tuesday, but I’ve concluded she probably doesn’t know how to read.

Glee One-Liner

I actually just got into Glee a few weeks ago. I’ll thank a certain friend for making me watch the entire first half of the first season with them. It should be known that I’m a fan of singing, especially in shows and movies i.e. Amadeus, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, and anytime Family Guy or Cartman breaks out into song. (Seriously click on those links, especially Cartman singing Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”).

So it shouldn’t surprise you that I think Glee is on point. Further it should not surprise you my favorite line from last night was (thanks to Maggie for reminding me):

“Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?”

Oh man that get’s me. And now I feel like I can repeat it without sounding homophobic. Dolphins are definitely not Killer Whales. For those who don’t know, the Panda will die by getting eaten by an Orca, quite possibly a pod of transient Orcas. Seriously, it’s in my prophecy along with a pool with a lion rock facade. You doubt me? What’s your prophecy?

American Idol Top 9 Redux

So the biggest news of this week for American Idol was the fact that last week Michael Lynche was saved by the judges. Rightfully so. That’s the bummer about this show, it’s really up to teenie bopper texters to vote for who remains. Before I get into my opinion of last night’s episode I’m going to put it out there, Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia will be the bottom two. Despite Andrew’s pre-Idol YouTube following, I just don’t think he’s grown and done enough.

What else can I say about Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox? Not my favorite performances, but both of them did a stand up job once again this week.

Siobhan Magnus, not your best and I fear you’re slipping a bit. But my babe has soul and I love it. You looked your hottest tonight, yes please with a cherry on top. And I hate cherries. She’s got the POWER vocals. Don’t back down Darlin. Though she did lay the best line by a contestant ever on American Idol, “I’m not just one kind of singer or one kind of vocalist. And if I can’t even label myself, I don’t think it’s even necessary to be labeled. I just love to sing.” If you know me and categorizations, I hate them. That’s it I’m flying down to LA to give her a proper hug. The Panda is in love. Siobhan = Bamboo.

Katie, you sassy little girl. Lovin it. I think of everyone she has the most potential. She has a Christina Aguilera attitude in her voice. Calm down folks, I don’t think she’s the next Christina Aguilera. I can only hope she can surround herself with the right people. I can see why my boy Jack is in love. I’m gonna take que from Maggie though, what is up with her outfits? Not that I’m a fashion guru in any sense, but I have some stylz (with a z). I smell good anyway, I bet she smells good. Playin. However hen she ages a year, I’ll give my true opinion. Jack, easy buddy.

Michael Lynche, not my favorite performance. But Big Mike proved he should’ve been saved last week. I wanna kick these teenie bopper text voters in the teeth. Too aggressive? Maybe, but damn. His vocals are silk. I enjoy the Marvin Gaye and Al green steez. Yet I still question where his niche is to sell records. Unlike Siobhan, he’s not unique enough. And I fear he may get lost in the money mongering label mix. He needs the Panda as his manager. Hit me up Big Mizzle.

Casey James can jam. Reminds me of Doyle Bramhall or Derek Trucks. And for all intensive purposes, those two sell records. I could get down with some Jack Daniels and Copenhagen and jam with him. I’m all about the blues rock, feelin it hommie. Just keep rockin it and swing that axe, you’re a musician dude. Stick to it and don’t forget it.

Aaron Kelly (my Moms’ favorite) has a good voice. The thing I dislike about the judge’s commentary to this date is that they judging him on his age. They want him to be like that lil bro-bag Justin Bieber. But seriously Aaron has a great voice. But if he is to succeed in this biz, he needs to believe in himself. He needs to believe that he has talent, unlike said Bieber. Hopefully that will come with age. Shit I know kids out of law school with no clue on who they are. Own it youngin.

I’ve said it before, but why is Tim Urban still on American Idol? Now my problem is magnified, last week’s performance was decent (I mean he did what he had to do for that particular Beatles song). This week, albeit nothing show stopping, but he came through again. Obviously he’s not near my top three Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, and Michael Lynche (in that order). But hey, during Elvis week all the contestants ran the risk of sounding like glorified karaoke singers, dude did all right. Not at all saying I’m a fan now.

Andrew Garcia, sorry my dude. Ask my friends, especially girls, I’m all about the cheeze. But for a second week in a row, that was excessively cheesy. You can get away with it with your song choice during Beatles week, but this week was not great. My dude, I’m one of those who was a follower of you on YouTube, but I believe your time has run out. If by chance you return next week, grab your acoustic and spill that soul brotha.

Wondrous Wednesday

I kinda pinned myself into a corner and now must stick with the blog theme of the week… Days of the week. I have a sneaky suspicion this will turn into a music blog, seeing how it was American Idol night last night.

So I might as well drop my first music video of this post. Simon & Garfunkel’s “Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.” If you’re looking for a Wednesday song, this is the one you should listen to. Though it was recorded in 1964, it still is a very relevant song.

Wednesday. Known as “Hump Day.”

Wednesday. The name of my endearing friend Alexis’ cat, affectionately nicknamed Dubs. RIP Wednesday, you’re the only cat that I can say that I miss our cuddle times.

Wednesday. My good friend (and best neighbor/cook) Alyssa had an on point thought about Wednesday last night (on a Tuesday), “Wednesday, half the week is over. It’s all downhill from there.” I cheers to that.

I’ve been fortunate lately to fall into great conversations with great people. I’m not ready to blog about such ideas, yet. But like one of those made for TV dramas, there was my obvious foreshadowing.

Instead, this is now my apparent weekly blog about American Idol.

John, Paul, Ringo, George - Musical Legends

Big week in the eyes of the Penning Panda. First it’s getting down to the nitty gritty of the top 9, it’s time for the cream to rise. Another reason why this was a big week, is because the contestants were to take on THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME, The Beatles. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I think The Beatles are THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME. The contestants were asked to give their renditions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney written songs. John and Paul, saints? Well in name yes, but pretty much some of the best lyricists. Look, how many decades has it been and their songs are still relevant? As my dawg Randy Jackson would say, “Know what I’m sayin’ dude?”

Oh and the following paragraph there is a smattering of links to videos, I HIGHLY encourage you to click on em… there are some songs in here that you may not know about, but SHOULD. Picking a Lennon or McCartney song, the possibilities are endless. I have my favorites, sure. “Something” is the greatest love song of all time. “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” is just a solid jimmy jam. “In My Life” might be their best song (actually that’s a hard statement to make, but it is one of my favorites). The acoustic version of  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a masterpiece by George Harrison. The trio of “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/In the End” could exemplify my life on almost any day. Basically the fanatic I am, I could think of a Beatles song for ANY occasion. Pop music owes The Beatles. And the at times simplistic lyrics carry so much weight. Most people don’t know about their non-number 1s. But I can excuse it, there’s a reason they are number 1s. You don’t think The Beatles are current? Well if Rock Band isn’t current, then you could make that argument.

Now if it was me on American Idol, these would probably be the two Lennon/McCartney songs I’d choose from: “Oh! Darling” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” in Eddie Vedder fasion.

Now to the actual American Idol show. As I said I was already on the critical tip being Beatles week. Slightly nervous that they would ruin the songs, I was pleasantly impressed. For what it’s worth I believe that almost all of the contestants had their best weeks. I also had to raise my glass of beer (because I had one or four in my hand while watching) to the show in it’s entirety. I have to say it was one of the best all season.

Yes, yes, and yes I still love Siobhan Magnus. So basically these blogs are Siobhan infatuation posts, sorry. She chose to sing a song that SO MANY have butchered in the past. “Across the Universe” is one of those Beatles classics that you can’t do too much with it or else you’ll miss it’s essence. Siobhan’s high note has almost became her trademark, but this week she strategically placed it. I’d agree with Randy that it may be a bit sleepy, but technically I though it was an awesome rendition. I mentioned the high notes, but her falsetto was on point. One of her best performances this season? Probably not, but she kept it real… and for her to succeed in this industry that’s what she needs to continue to do. Oh and I love “amazingly weird.” Love it.

To the rest of the highlights. I’m not going to post Tim Urban’s “All My Loving”, but hey he sang within his range and kept it Beatles poppy. His ass still needs to go home, or go try out for Glee. He’ll probably stay, damn you teenie bopper texters.

Andrew Garcia gave a pretty good performance of “Can’t Buy Me Love“, a little cheezy, and that’s what you can fall into when you sing a Beatles song. I had high hopes for my dude, due to my YouTube following of him pre-Idol. All I’m gonna say is, stick to the acoustic my man.

Aaron Kelly’s “The Long and Winding Road” unfortunately followed the title of the song. This young buck can sing, no doubt. But it’s starting to become repetitive. He needs to come out swinging, loosen up, and connect with the songs. As it was a good rendition, it didn’t leap off at me. You need to find your “moment” son.

Michael Lynche is my dude. I thought his song choice of “Eleanor Rigby” was a good one. I’d agree with Simon that it had a bit of a musical flavor to it. But I mean with the strings and the meaning behind the song, that’s the essence, and Big Mike hit it. Here’s my thing, Big Mike will probably be in the top 3 when it’s all said and done along with Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. The difference between Big Mike and the other two, is that I really don’t know what kind of album he’d put out. He’s an entertaining dude and can sing well. But I have trouble seeing him sell many records. I could be wrong though, I gotta admit he’s been a pleasant surprise all season. For singing contest purposes he’s been solid every week.

I’ve always thought Casey James would be a good headliner to a rock band. He can definitely, definitely rock his axe. I applaud his song choice of “Jealous Guy“. It is one of those unknown songs that when you do hear it, realize that it could’ve been a hit for anyone other than the Beatles. Like I said Casey could be and probably will be a great frontman, but his acoustic flavor tonight was on point.

All season I’ve been pushing for Katie Stevens to break through. I dig her voice. I think her ceiling at age 17 is pretty damn high. But like Aaron Kelly they’ve been struggling to find the right song. I believe they are trying a wee bit too hard to compete with the more mature contestants who know themselves a bit better, and that only comes with age. My boy Jack said Katie Stevens’ performance of “Let it Be” was life-changing. Normally Jack and I are on the same page with music. First this is definitely a big song, like “Across the Universe” you can’t do too much with it. But what Katie did with it last night, was pretty awesome. THIS was the performance I was hoping for all season. Life changing? Jack there’s only been one life changing performance on Idol, Carrie Underwood’s rendition of Heart’s “Alone.” But if Katie can keep it up, she can be a dark horse. And like I said she has mad potential.

I’ve said this early on, Lee DeWyze could make an album right now. It would sell like chestnuts on a street in NYC during Christmas. The folky/rock tone of his voice is solid. The judges get on his case because he does not have confidence. I just think the dude is a cool customer and wants to perform the best he can. The recent weeks he has been doing just that. When I heard he was singing “Hey Jude” I thought he had the potential to kill it, and he did… but not in the deathly way, in a great way. Keep on keeping on my dude.

Crystal Bowersox. She is my favorite in this competition. I seriously believe she has the best artistic talent that I may have ever seen on American Idol, and I watch A LOT of American Idol. People keep comparing her to Janis Joplin, a good comparison sure. But I think she has it a bit more together than Janis. She’s great on the guitar, knows when to tone it down, and seriously knows how to rock and bring it. Her style, whenever she finally records albums, is definitely an injection of soul/rock/honesty that contemporary music needs these days. That lead in applies to her version of “Come Together“. Crystal is a professional to the P. I love Siobhan, but Bowersox knocks my socks off.

Monday Meanderings: Everybody’s Free

Garfield Loves Mondays... or not

It’s Monday and for most people (like The Bangles) Mondays are just “one of those days.” The only other person aside for myself who doesn’t really despise Monday is my boy Schaefer. But then again playing poker for a living and traveling to look under every rock in the world like Schaefer, I wouldn’t imagine really hating any day. I’m not as fortunate as my dude, but I generally don’t dislike Monday more than any other weekday.

I look at Mondays like this; for most, Monday is the start of the the week. Monday is a day for a fresh seven day stretch. Instead of wasting the day moping about it, how about get ahead of the billions of others who just limp around? For you Weekend Warriors raising glasses together, Monday isn’t an end to the weekend, it simply means one more day closer to another one. True Tuesdays and Thursdays may be the hottest days of the week, I’m just sayin to not be like Garfield and give Monday’s a chance.

This whole Monday business came up for a few reasons. The obvious, it’s Monday. The not so obvious. I was flipping through my iPod and my ears fell upon Baz Luhrmann’s single “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).” Seeing how most people reading this blog are my friends, most of you have heard it before (it’s the kind of company I keep). I won’t post all of the words, but I will post the video.

Since some of you are suffering from the Monday Blues, give this a listen. I actually listen to this from time to time on the six other days of the week, it’s a good motivation speech and only seems to get better with age. Also a quick tidbit of information (I try to drop knowledge every now and again), this was not written as a graduation speech nor originally by Baz Luhrmann.

The song is actually inspired from Mary Schmich’s “Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young” 1997 column in the Chicago Tribune. (The words to the song can be found there). The column was actually described as a commencement address if Schmich were asked to give one. My favorite part of the column/song:

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Thus Spoke Penning Panda through Zarathustra

To get you in the mood I’m posting a song that I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately and possibly for the first time actually fits the post. So hopefully Mumford & Sons’ “Awake My Soul” will provide a good background as you read through this blog and get to know the Penning Panda a bit more.

Some of you have heard me talk about how I dig Friedrich Nietzsche’s writing. I’m sure some of you also have your minds racing and are judging me on that statement. But you can put your religious judgments about me aside; remember one of my heroes is Pope John Paul II. Ever since I met him in Kindergarten, everyone else I’ve met since is just a bonus (I’m grateful for you all though, through the good and bad). Keeping that in mind one of my favorite books is Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and a favorite quote from it is:

“One ought to hold on to one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too.”

I’d say it was ironic that Nietzsche broke down insane in 1889 and later died from his insanity (if that’s even possible).  But understanding that quote and the life I’ve lead… I can see it.

With my logic, it should follow, that one of my created life mottos is:

Craziness is hard to find. But when you do find it, embrace it.

The motto makes life that much better when you embrace craziness, and at times it gives an understanding to what we may consider crazy moments.

To the actual point of this blog, the following passage/chapter from Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the one that resonates with me the most… and it could, or could not, help to explain a little bit more about me.

The Penning Panda Kixin it With Confucius at the Confucius Temple in Beijing. Yes, Nietzsche, Pope John Paul II, and Confucius all in the same posting... and this isn't even about religion.

The Stillest Hour

What happened to me, my friends?  You see me distracted, driven away, unwillingly obedient, prepared to go-alas, to go away from you.  Indeed, Zarathustra must return once more to his solitude; but this time the bear goes back to his cave without joy.  What happened to me?  Who ordered this?  Alas, my angry mistress wants it, she spoke to me; have I ever yet mentioned her name to you?  Yesterday, toward evening, there spoke to me my stillest hour; that is the name of my awesome mistress.  And thus it happened; for I must tell you everything lest your hearts harden against me for departing suddenly.

Do you know the fright of him who falls asleep?  He is frightened down to his very toes because the ground gives under him and the dream begins.  This I say to you as a parable.  Yesterday, in the stillest hour, the ground gave under me, the dream began.  The hand moved, the clock of my life drew a breath; never had I heard such stillness around me: my heart took fright.

Then it spoke to me without voice: “You know it, Zarathustra?”  And I cried with fright at this whispering, and the blood left my face; but I remained silent.

Then it spoke to me again without voice; “You know it, Zarathustra, but you do not say it!”  And at last I answered defiantly; “Yes, I know it, but I do not want to say it!”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “You do not want to, Zarathustra?  Is this really true?  Do not hide in your defiance.”  And I cried and trembled like a child and spoke: “Alas, I would like to, but how can I?  Let me off from this!  It is beyond my strength!”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What do you matter, Zarathustra?  Speak your word and break!”

And I answered: “Alas, is it my word? Who am I? I await the worthier one; I am not worthy even being broken by it.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What do you matter?  You are not yet humble enough for me.  Humility has the toughest hide.”  And I answered: “What has the hide of my humility not borne?  I dwell at the foot of my height.  How high are my peaks?  No one has told me yet.  But my valleys I know well.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “O Zarathustra, he who has to move mountains also moves valleys and hollows.”  And I answered: “As yet my words have not moved mountains, and what I said did not reach men.  Indeed, I have gone to men, but as yet I have not arrived.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What do you know of that? The dew falls on the grass when the night is most silent.”  And I answered: “They mocked me when I found and went my own way; and in truth my feet were trembling then.  And thus they spoke to me: ‘You have forgotten the way, now you have also forgotten how to walk.’”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “What matters their mockery?  You are one who has forgotten how to obey; now you shall command.  Do you not know who is most needed by all?  He that commands great things.  To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult.  This is what is most unforgivable in you; you have the power, and you do not want to rule.”  And I answered: “I lack the lion’s voice for commanding.”

Then it spoke to me again as a whisper: “It is the stillest words that bring on the storm.  Thoughts that come on doves’ feet guide the world.  O Zarathustra, you shall go as a shadow of that which must come: thus you will command and, commanding, lead the way.”  And I answered: “I am ashamed.”

Then it spoke to me again without voice: “You must yet become as a child and without shame.  The pride of youth is still upon you; you have become young late; but whoever would become as a child must overcome his youth too.”  And I reflected for a long time and trembled.  But at last I said what I had said at first: “I do not want to.”

Then laughter surrounded me.  Alas, how this laughter tore my entrails and slit open my heart!  And it spoke to me for the last time: “O Zarathustra, your fruit is ripe, but you are not ripe for your fruit.  Thus you must return to your solitude again; for you must yet become mellow.”  And again it laughed and fled; then it became still around me as with double stillness.  But I lay on the ground and sweat poured from my limbs.

Now you have heard all, and why I must return to my solitude.  Nothing have I kept from you, my friends.  But this too you have heard from me, who is still the most taciturn of all men–and wants to be.  Alas, my friends, I still could tell you something, I still could give you something.  Why do I not give it? Am I stingy?

But when Zarathustra had spoken these words he was overcome by the force of his pain and the nearness of his parting from his friends, and he wept loudly; and no one knew how to comfort him.  At night, however, he went away alone and left his friends.