Friday, February 29, 2008

Frederic Chopin


Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by Steinway & Sons. Wouldn't we all be concert pianists if we had one of them in our parlor?

Frederic Chopin, composer and piano virtuoso extraordinaire lived from 1810 to 1849. He was born in the village Zelazowa Wola, Poland to Nicolas Chopin, a French immigrant and a Polish mother, Tekla Justyna Krzyżanowska. Frederic Chopin lived only 39 years. But in those years, Chopin would influence music styles and composers for centuries to come (okay 1.5 centuries).
Chopin was born a prodigy and studied beneath his sisters until the age of 6. He later went on to study beneath Wojciech Żywny (like we're all supposed to know who that is). In his early years, Chopin would be compared to the talent and creativity of Mozart and Beethoven (the latter was living at the time but as we all know Beethoven to be deaf, he never "heard" Chopin). At the age of 15, Freddy was deemed the most accomplished pianist in Warsaw and at age 20, left Warsaw for the fruits of Paris.

Unlike most composers of the time, Chopin's creations were mostly for the Piano or for symphonies that featured a piano soloist. His style was revolutionary in sound and technique. His predominant use of tempo rubato (where the pianist is given free reign over how quickly or slowly they will play), chromaticism (interspersing diatonic pitches among other pitches in a chromatic scale) and counterpoints - made Chopin revolutionary in his sound and technique. Okay so I threw all that music theory mumbo jumbo in there to impress you all... did it work?

Chopin's music is passionate. It evokes emotions and moods without telling a story or painting a picture (as opposed to some musical compositions that do just that. But for some reason, since I've given up the dope, I haven't been able to see said story telling or picture painting in music). Chopin was very fond of nocturnes (a romance free-for-all for classical musicians), ballades (similar to a nocturne but poetic without the rhyming), mazurkas (waltzes for Pollocks), and etudes (short pieces of music designed to teach a particular skill).

And speaking of skill - Chopin's music is technically demanding. That's how I impress at parties. As I hover over the nachos and cream puffs, I'd inflate my flat chest and talk of the Chopin piece I'm learning to play. The listener would hear "Chopin" and think me a pianist of grandiose amplitude. They don't need to know it came from "Joseph Schnuckerman's Chopin Arrangements For Dummies" (I keep that next to "Beethoven for Bozos" and "Mozart for Morons" and "Liszt for Loosers" and "Schumann for Shmucks" and you get the idea.)

Towards the end of Frederic Chopin's life, he was rumored to have a lavish and promiscuous distinction - which led my militant 100-pound piano teacher to give me the above-the-reading-glasses-glare, then with pursed lips declare, "Never play Chopin at church."

He also has his own Asteroid - "3784 Chopin".

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Baby's Coming


Let me tell you about The Winder. We met in the spring of 1999. We were two single young hot things amongst a sprightly neighborhood of families. We were both out of our element and I was newly re-converted, so naturally the Relief Society President of that LDS ward assigned The Winder to visit me each month. To keep me on the straight 'n narrow so to speak.

We became friends instantly. Everyone thinks it's because we're both runners, but our running couldn't be any more different. See The Winder was an All American Collegiate athlete who ran short distances (100 to 400 meters) while I was a weekend warrior wannabe athlete who ran long distances (my runs were measured in kilometers or miles, not meters).

Shortly after our introductory visit, I invited The Winder to come to a Jazz game with some of my work cronies. She said sure and we go. At the game, The Winder sits down next to my favorite drunk bald friend (from work that is.... as opposed to all of my other drunk bald friends). He turns to The Winder and says, "Are you a lesbian like all the other girls Rabid brings to these games?" The Winder looked at me as if to say "I thought I left my dyke image at College!" I had a Subaru Outback so I fit the part.

Nine years later, we're both married to men. I've had two Yahoos and she and her hubby tried for six long years (or was it seven?) to have a Yahoo of their own. After 85 different medical procedures, 52 dollar-store pregnancy tests, 17 pounds of clomid, and one blissfully positive blood test, the Winder is pregnant. And due in three weeks.

Here's your Baby's Coming playlist. Enjoy.
  1. Yesterday's Mistake - Oi Va Voi
  2. Woozy - Faithless
  3. Going Fetal - Eels
  4. Wasted - Brandi Carlile
  5. The Water - Feist
  6. Watch Out Below - Echo & The Bunnymen
  7. Visions of You - Jan Wobble's Invasion of the Heart
  8. Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others - The Smiths
  9. Tug of War - Stretch
  10. Under Pressure - David Bowie
  11. Your Time is Gonna Come - Led Zeppelin
  12. I Get a Kick Out of You - Frank Sinatra
  13. Time Is Running Out - Muse
  14. The Scale - Interpol
  15. Love and Marriage - Frank Sinatra
  16. Can't Help Falling In Love - Andrea Bocelli
  17. I'll Tumble 4 Ya - Culture Club
  18. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman-Turner Overdrive
  19. What You Waiting For? - Gwen Stefani
  20. Wonders Never Cease - Morcheeba
  21. Hymn to Her - The Pretenders
  22. When The Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin
  23. Carry That Weight - The Beatles
  24. Beauty of Uncertainty - KT Tunstall

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

English Anomaly for Today


Why does the word incandescent mean bright, brilliant, magnificent? Let's break it up. In - can - descent. In means inside which is the opposite of out. Can means a container of some type. And descent is the act of going down. In my opinion, incandescent should refer to a winter sport of some kind... where you go down hill (fast) in some type of can or container. A garbage can perhaps.

My worry over this particular word is hardly necessary - Congress has outlawed the use of it. Well... they've outlawed the incandescent light bulb. So if that's outlawed, there will no longer be a need for the word incandescent. Or is there?

Let's see how you can use it in a sentence.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Beatles


Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by Extra Strength Bug Spray.... the ferocious kind needed to squash bugs from the Beatnik family.

The Beatles blah blah blah blah blah John Lennon blah blah blah Paul McCartney blah blah blah George Harrison blah blah blah blah blah Ringo Star blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah Love Me Do blah blah blah blah blah Abbey Road blah blah blah blah The Walrus Is Paul blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah Yoko Ono blah blah blah blah Peace blah blah band broke up blah blah blah blah blah shot. Blah blah blah blah Michael Jackson outbid blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah cancer blah blah blah. Blah blah blah model with a prosthetic leg blah blah blah blah blah divorce blah blah blah take him to the cleaners. Blah blah blah blah blah Grammy for "Love".

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Gratitude of 38 Orphans


Having read my recent "Rage of 18 Dragons" rant, I'm rather embarrassed that it failed to represent my gratitude. I'm reading The Secret again and it says to be gracious. (By the way, my sister just told me that if I bring that dang book up again, she's going to slap me - so I wait in anticipation of my cyber slap).

I could start with the obvious... you know... that I'm grateful for Spouse and how he works his fingers to the bone every day to pay our taxes, but I think I'll go for the not-so-obvious this time around. But truly, as far as Spouses go... they don't get better than Spouse.

I'm grateful for strangers that smile. I'm grateful for challenges and conflicts that force me to learn. I'm grateful for loving friends (who more often than not have dug me out of some pretty deep ditches). I'm grateful for technology (specifically the IPOD). I'm grateful for a severely complicated brain that tends to re-think and re-think and re-think (then re-think again). I'm grateful for my health. For the awesomest Yahoos that ever Yahoo'd. But most of all... I'm grateful for you

The Rage of 18 Dragons


I'm filled with it today.... the Rage, that is. It might be more theraputic and/or beneficial to come up with a "Rage" playlist but I've decided to rant instead. What's this all about? THE TAX RETURN. I just completed THE TAX RETURN for the rabidrunner household. It was so ugly it brought me to tears for 30 whole minutes. So ugly - that I used my blogging brain cells to compose a letter to one Oral Snatch (also called Orin Hatch). To which I asked him why, why, WHY the hell did we go to college? So we can pay for everyone else? Hmmm?!

Then I sent him another letter telling him that my IT Band hurts and it's all his fault. That'll show him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Product Reivew


The 2008 Rossignol B78 is Toe-lley Awesome - as in all you need it an intsy tintsy bit of pressure on either toe to make 'em turn. Incidentally, the 166 cm length has led to the discovery that I've been skiing on skis that are too long (as in length) too long (as in duration).

Sad Face vs Happy Face


At church last Sunday, Yahoo #2 was given a straw with two circle faces attached to it. Once side of the face was sad (in the color of blue) and the other side of the face was happy (it was yellow). He was also given a little square peice of fabric with "Comforter" written on it. As in blanket. So in the religion I belong to, the Holy Ghost is referred to as the Comforter. When you're feeling sad, the Holy Ghost "comforts" you and makes you happy. You have a straw with a sad face on it... you bury it in the "Comforter" and voila! you're happy.

It's a cute little object lesson really, but I wanted to hear his interpretation.

Me: Yahoo #2 ... tell me about your faces.

Yahoo #2 (showing me the sad blue face): This is what you look like when the Holy Ghost tells you something rude.

Alrighty then. I'll remember that when I'm sad.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Etta James


Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by Amy Winehouse. I'm a Train Wreck too... can I have a Grammy? Oh, you need talent? Right.

Etta James, the rhythm and bluesy do-wopper from Los Angeles, was born Jamesetta Hawkins (1/25/1938) to an unwedded 16-year-old Dorothy Hawkins. Etta James began vocal training at the age of 5 and by the age of 14, was singing do-wop with a trio called The Peaches. Sometime during 1952, a gent by the name of Johnny Otis discovered the trio. They landed a hit called The Wallflower (Dance with me Henry) which granted them an opportunity to tour with Little Richard (Good Golly!) Being young and extremely "under-age", Etta was introduced to many adult situations and was rumored to form various addictions (drugs, alcohol, hotel soap).

In 1960, Ms James was granted a solo recording contract from Chess Records. From there she went on to release many R&B hits, one being the timeless At Last.

At the age of 70, Etta James is still creating music. She has recorded and released a "range of material that would render most singers helpless" ( Her rich vocals and passionate persona deliver music that speaks to the soul - music that intoxiates with boundless umph.

Here's to my queen of soul - I'd Rather Go Blind - Stormy Weather - Almost Persueded - Sunday Kind of Love - Something's Got a Hold on Me - Stop The Wedding

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Corner Office with Lou Who


I shared an office with this girl, let's call her Lou Who. We were Software Geeks working for a software company. Oh the fun we had. One of my favorite Lou Who stories was her scientific method of loading a dishwasher. When we had a gathering, she'd always end up at an already full dishwasher making room for more dishes. When a dishwasher appeared "full", she'd open it and say... "I like to think of the dishawasher as a puzzle" then she'd move things around to make it all fit. With that kind of cram-style loading, I used to think she had a whole house full of dirty dishes. Maybe I should take a photo of a full dishwasher and turn it into a puzzle... for her birthday.

Our office was a big "corner" office - you know the offices that were reserved for big wigs and VPs. Since it was an empty office and we needed a spot, we petitioned our boss for it. "Boss - we could share it!" He moved us from our inner cubicle to that giant corner office. With a door. (To this day I believe whole-heartedly that Boss was an intelligent human, but that decision left many to wonder).

In the late evening hours when we needed a break, Lou Who and I would count the number of offices with "Glamour Shots" or make fun of Spouse (before he was Spouse - those stories need their own post) or tell jokes or talk about fashion. She might be a Software Geek, but she knew how to dress.

We had a friend, we'll call him Chia Pet ('cause we gave him one for Christmas). Chia Pet was an engineer and referred to our office as "The Air Traffic Control Tower". He'd walk in, put on Lou Who's giant head phones and pretend he was directing airplanes. Every Christmas Chia Pet would receive a nice "Prize" from us. In our last years together, he became really scared each time he opened one of our "gifts." One year it was a mouse pad with Lou Who and I picking our noses. Chia Pet had a classy non-geekish wife who I'm sure thought us to be classy as well.

We liked practical jokes. For a while, we played "let's hide some food in someone's office and see how long it takes for them to smell it." PhishTako worked with us then. I think he ended up with a 6 week old banana somewhere in his office. (It wasn't 6 weeks old at the time of its placement but it was 6 weeks old at the time of it's discovery).

Speaking of PhishTako, he had a microphone and loads of other kidish type toys. His office was always a good place to stop and play or sing or dance. He hosted the "Wall O' Bad Hair" where everyone (at least the fun ones) would bring pictures of themselves sporting their worst hair. Every genre and decade was covered on that wall.

And then there was Derelict. Derelict was a decent looking young guy who listened to Beck daily and had a sun tattoo on his calf. (We were in software development so we could wear shorts and sandals with socks to work.) He had this giant white board that wasn't fastened permanently to anything. He lived and breathed that white board. He wouldn't use the labratory (yes the Jon was a place for experiments) without first writing intentions to do so on this white board. That white board was his life - it contained the most important of all information (you know algorithims and formulas and the lyrics to Loser - "I'm a loser babeh so why don't you kill me.") Anyway, PhishTako decides he's going to play a joke and replace the White Board of the Universe with a blank one. So he does. And Derelict strolls into work, turns on the Beck, then yells "Who the [expletive] erased my white board!?!" Lou Who and I laughed so hard we cried.

Those were the good old days. We worked hard. We played hard. And we supported each other. Lou Who spent a great deal of energy looking after me ('cause I needed looking after back then). She will forever be my Guardian Angel. In the Traffic Control Tower of friendship.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers


CELEBRATE! It's my 100th post!

Today's Friday Flashback - inspired by our dear friend Phish Tako - is brought to you by Super Bowl XXXIVIIXXIIVVIIXXX and Valentine's Day (get it "Heart"breakers?)

If you missed the Super Bowl half time show, well you missed the half time show. That and a bunch of extremely well-dressed old geezers breaking hearts with their wrinkles and old school boogie. That good.

Don't get me wrong... I dig Tom Petty and his Chambercrackers. Their music is fantastic - but maybe it's time for them to really become a flashback. Perhaps Janet Jackson could give them some tips on how to add spice to a half time show. Wrinkled pasties? Uh...

Thomas Earl Petty formed Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in 1976. Mr Petty's interest in becoming a rock star blossomed when he met Elvis Presley at the age of 10. Thomas Earl's father, being a redneck from Florida, wasn't too interested in the "arts" and ridiculed Tommy's rock star aspirations.

After the release of their first self-titled album, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, not much happened. Later that year, a tune from that album called Breakdown hit the radio. They became instantly famous and sickningly rich (I don't know if that's true but it sounds good).

The TP&TH sound can be classified as southern influenced rock. Most of their songs have a quickish beat and lots of guitars. Their storytelling lyrics have half-witted song titles that replace "ing" with an apostrophe whenever possible (as in gettin' makin' nothin'). In a nutshell - good old-fashioned gramatically-incorrect fun!

My favorites are (but not limited to): Runnin' Down a Dream, Don't Come Around Here No More, Free Fallin', Mary Jane's Last Dance, Here Comes My Girl, The Waiting, Yer So Bad, American Girl, Into The Great Wide Open (this one's a must see - it stars Johnny Depp where he got a tatoo then met a girl with a tatoo too and now their future is wide open - maybe it's time for me to get a tatoo and widen my future).

Thirty-two years and 18 albums later, that Tom Petty is still at it - performing great tunes and singing (albeit) badly. But rock is not about quality vocals now isn't it? It's about attitude. It's about guitars. It's about "getting the girl". But most of all it's about Makin' Some Noise.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Heaven Help Us


I have a sneaking suspicion that our choices in November will be similar to ordering at the local diner de dive.

Will you be having the Turd Sandwich

or Dog Brains with Gasoline Sauce?
(Thanks Lois!)

*I'm RabidRunner and I approve this message.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Primary Colors are Red and Blue


Forget yellow. At least for tomorrow. Because in all of the most important states, there will be Presidential Primary Action! Go vote! Your vote tomorrow will mean more than the one in November. I guarantee it.

You need to be registered as either a Democrat or Republican to vote. If you aren't registered, no worries! They'll let you register on the spot (at least in Utah anyway). And if you're like me and prefer to be Independent, no worries again! You can go back to your indie status right after you vote.

Now that's what I call a win-win. Go Hilary, Barry, Ron, John and Mit! (Not necessarily in that order, of course).

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Moody Blues


Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by the January - February blues. Is it me or is everyone "done" and "depressed"?

The Moody Blues created themselves in 1964. I won't bore you with names and dates and record titles and chart toppers. They didn't initially call themselves The Moody Blues. First, they started with El Riot and the Rebels (that sure describes their sound doesn't it - Rebellious Flamenco?), then the Krew Cats (so lame). They finally decided upon The Moody Blues after the M&B Brewing company that was currently sponsoring them.

The Moodies have released 17 studio albums between 1967 and 2003. Interestingly enough (for all you Classically Trained Symphony Buffs) one of those albums was a rock 'n roll version of Dvorak's New World Symphony which somehow morphed into their Days of Future's Past album.

The early Moody Blues sound is instrumental psychadelia illuminated with harmonizing vocals. It's kind of a Beach Boys meets Iron Butterfly (not to be confused with Iron Maiden but I'm sure the Maiden's were influenced somehow by the Butterflies). These Illum-Instrumed-Harmonies can be found in: Nights In White Satin (OOOoooh how I love you!) and Tuesday Afternoon (hey my mom loves that store!) and Question (I was lookin' for some one to change my life too! How 'bout Jesus?) and Ride My Seesaw. I could do this all day. (Link to Moody tunes that is, not Ride My Seesaw 'cause I don't have a seesaw but if I did it would be covered in eight feet of snow.)

Later The Moody Blues developed a cheesy pop sound that was welcome mostly in rest homes (a step beneath elevators). I'll bet you remember Your Wildest Dreams from the Other Side Of Life album released in 1983. Then again that was a cheesy time for pop so let's cut 'em some slack, shall we?

The Moody Blues have since redeemed themselves with an awesomely different Christmas album titled "December" (released 2003, Don't Need a Reindeer, A Winter's Tale, The Spirit of Christmas). I suggest you download this one now... it'll be the best $9.99 you've spent in a while. But then again, Christmas won't be here for a lotta months. Maybe that $9.99 would be better spent on anti-depressants or a trip to a tanning salon.