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"12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac,
12 bagels in a dozen, 12 bars in a Blues!"
"You and your woman ain't gettin' along and you're in love.
You can't sleep at nights. Your mind is on her. That's the Blues.
You can't hug that money at night. You can't kiss it."
—John Lee Hooker
"Left hand oom-pah derivatives and comping variants are rather ubiquitous in jazz piano performance practice today, so one's assimilation of said proxy and protocol remains a factor in determining the extent of one's success in efforts of contrapuntal synchrony or the efficient delineation of tension harmony,
as in the Blues."
Like many who grew up before the era of personal computers and video games, I spent countless hours in my youth reading the adventures of superheroes in comic books.
Here are 12 of my favorites and what I learned from each:
1. SUPERMAN — Rise to the occasion. Be courageous, respectful, honorable and selfless. Your strength comes more from your character than your talent. Remember that even the greatest of us has an achilles heel, and sometimes needs solitude. Usually, however, it's possible to hide in plain sight!
2. SPIDER-MAN — With great power comes great responsibility.
3. GREEN LANTERN — Your imagination and willpower are the only real limits to what you can create.
4. BATMAN — Childhood trauma can be a source of strength. Facing your fears can be transformative. And having the right equipment is half the battle.
5. X-MEN — Evolve! Celebrate diversity.
6. WONDER WOMAN — Strong women are sexy.
7. IRONMAN — Dress for success. Clothes make the man. There will be setbacks, but don't let your flaws define you. And innovate! A better version is always possible.
8. FANTASTIC FOUR — There is power in teamwork.
9. THE FLASH — Be the best at what you do.
10. THE HULK — Never judge a book by it's cover. You can't know what a man is capable of simply by looking at his appearance...especially what he might be capable of if he gets angry.
11. CAPTAIN AMERICA — Know your mission. Be willing to take a stand, even if it's unpopular.
12. THOR — Remember your birthright, but don't seek glory. If you do the job right, you'll get it anyway.
I first read Harper Lee's southern gothic story To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 12, at the Brookstone School in Columbus, Georgia.
I was too young to fully appreciate the novel's themes, but its compelling characters made a deep and lasting impression, ultimately becoming part of my personal mythology.
I've always aspired to be like ATTICUS FINCH: a beloved, respected, tireless crusader and a morally upright community leader.
Atticus is educated, honest and articulate, yet free of racial and class prejudice. He does not hold himself to be superior to his neighbors. In fact, he hides his extraordinary skills (for example, he's an expert marksman) until they're necessary. Atticus is the intersection of supreme intellectual confidence and absolute social humility.
As it turns out, I'm no Atticus Finch.
I'm more like BOO RADLEY: a pale, reclusive, misunderstood shut-in.
I keep to myself, emerging for the occasional creative, caring or heroic act. These go, for the most part, unseen, unsung and unpunished.
And I'm more like the MOCKINGBIRD: I don't do much but make music for folks to enjoy...(and that's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird).
Congratulations, Ms. Lee, on the 50th anniversary of the publication of your masterpiece -- and thank you.