Sunday, August 31, 2008
Here's what it looks like with the doorway.
Notice the ineffectual "No Soliciting" sign.
We'd welcome them with open arms if they had plumbing to accommodate their droppings.
Here's a close up.
I should send Spouse up to transport their home.
But those broken heels won't go near a ladder.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Just get me to the airport put me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna Be Sedated
They say that the secret to a successful, fulfilling, rewarding, joyful, life... is finding joy in everyday moments. But the truth is, I don't find it at all fun to get after my housemates to flush after they finish, pick up their dirty undies, turn off lights, shut the door after coming in or out, or throw away that milk carton that just so happens to be RIGHT NEXT TO the garbage can.
And the chores... OH THE CHORES. The laundry, the toilets, the dusting, the fighting over tooth brushing, piano practicing, and going to a movie or the pool. That last one gets me. Since when do youngsters need coercing for fun? Spoilt. That's what they are and I suppose it's all my fault. Everything else is my responsibility why not throw in their crappy attitudes? Apples don't fall too far from trees...
Most of the time I can find some humor in it all. Now? Not so much. I've been sick for a week and I've seriously needed that week to wallow in bed with a lusty novel and three boxes of aloe vera laced tissue. But you all know what happens when you take a few off right? You wake to chaos.
The kicker to the chaos of today (after my hour and a half rest)? Turning on the hose to water flowers only to have the dang hose burst and soak my white t-shirt. Trust me. My neighborhood isn't exactly the right place for a wet t-shirt contest. And my neighborhood didn't appreciate the explicative either.
The other kicker? Finding the puddle of water at the bottom of the freezer, only to look up in horror at the dang thing being left open a crack. Open the freezer further and voila! half of it had thawed. Being as we're in the midst of an economic bump (a few steps beneath a crisis), this ain't good news. There's around 700 bucks in meaty chunks that need cooking. Not to mention my precious popsicles. In their liquified state I promptly, with the rage of 18 evil rock stars, threw them out and stomped on 'em.
Sadly I didn't feel better. I had to clean it up.
Truth is... I'd be a better person if I could "Roll With The Punches" and declare things as "It Is What It Is." Sometimes it's not so easy when you're the one primarily responsible for things being as "It Is What It Is."
It's time to defragment. And the first step to the defragmentation of my filled-with-crap life? Throw out the plants. All of them. No more living plants that need watering. Next year the grass will be astro turf.
There is a bright side, however. Spouse and I have plans to travel to Vermont on Thursday. But being as today is how today is, there's another [surprise!] bump. The babysitters are going to Vermont too and we have no one to take the children. Actually. Let me rephrase that. We can't think of anyone we dislike enough to impose on.
Maybe Spouse will go on that romantic getaway sans his wife-o-the-year. Can you see him smiling now? Sweet! No wife!
Who the [bleep] is Domenico Alberti? Why, let me tell you!
Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by Yahoo #1, who after only 7 short months of piano lessons has learned to play Alberti Bass.
What the [bleep]
Domenico Alberti was born in Venice in 1710 and died 30 short years later. Being a music aficionado (it is Friday you know, so it's all about music), Alberti wrote operas and sonatas for keyboard instruments. The harpiscord mainly. For a minute of musical instrument history, note that the mondern piano (or the piano as we know it - and not the Yamaha Clavinova variety) wasn't fully invented until the early 1800s. Until that time, most composers preferred the tingy pitter of the harpsichord.
Domenico Alberti's claim to fame was his overuse of a certain left-hand chord pattern. In fact he used it so much, the chord pattern was named Alberti Bass. What is Alberti Bass, you say? I'll tell you what Alberti Bass is and then maybe bribe Yahoo #1 into a demonstration.
To illustrate, we must first talk about blocked chords. A blocked chord is where all notes in a chord are played simultaneously. For example, let's use the plane jane boring C chord which houses the notes C, E and G. A blocked chord will play all three of these notes at the same time.
An Alberti Bass line, on the other hand, does not play the notes at the same time, but individually, in the same pattern (did you see all the commas in that sentence? Wow). The low note is played first, the highest note next, the middle note third and the highest note again last.
Let's go back to our plane jane C to elucidate. To play the C chord in Alberti Bass would go like this - C, G, E, G. Then you'd keep playing that pattern over and over until the chord changes to say, an F chord. At this point you'd switch the pattern to C, A, F, A.
Genius huh? I'll tell you what's Genius. It's the Yahoo's piano teacher. It took me eight years to learn this crap. And he can do it in interesting D flat. (Why would any one refer to a "D" as being flat? An "A" maybe, but not a "D").
Here's that demonstration.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by vinegar, wine, and yeast. Because they're better if you let 'em sit a while.
The Rush story began August 1968 in Toronto. Alex Lifeson played guitars, Jeff Jones was the front man and John Rutsey played drums. After a few months with Jones as the singer, Alex Lifeson decided to replace Jones with superhuman bassist and wailing vocalist Geddy Lee. The reason for the replacement is unknown, but you have to admit that Rush without the crooning uniqueness of Lee's vocals would cease to be Rush right? And the bass? Outstanding. There'd be no Les Calypool without Geddy Lee. I'm sure of it.
Rush would perform covers at random establishments and school dances. They had some original material, but nothing substantial enough to make a breakthrough. In 1974, drummer John Rutsey had some health trouble - mostly diabetes - and resigned. The remaining Rush members held auditions for a drummer and found the grandly talented and mostly immortal Neil Peart. Do you think Peart is a vampire? Look at his stone smooth skin, his piercing eyes and strength shown while banging on his bongos like a chimpanzee! A vampire fer sure.
Neil Peart's official employment date with Rush was July 29, 1974 - just a few weeks before Rush would embark on their first U.S. Tour as an opening act for Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann. Because Peart had a way with words (yet more proof of his vampiredom), he would become the bands primary song writer and lyricist.
The addition of Peart changed the direction of Rush dramatically. Peart had a thing for science fiction and literature. Rush songs would henceforth and forever become engrossed in fantasy, depth and symbolism. But most of us are in the music for the music not the words right? Which is a good thing 'cause if I were a lyric listener, my religious orientation would require that I junk most of what I frequent.
The Rush sound has layered musical themes amidst rock infused blues and a dash of synthesizer. The synthesizer era came in handy during the Laser Show fad of the late 80s and early 90s. Remember that? Laser Rush at the Planetarium? Great stuff. It was better if you entered with blood-shot eyes.
Rush Albums include: Rush (1974), Fly by Night (1975), Caress of Steel (1975), 2112 (1976), A Farewell to Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), Moving Pictures (1981), Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987), Presto (1989), Roll the Bones (1991), Counterparts (1993), Test For Echo (1996), Vapor Trails (2002), Snakes & Arrows (2007).
Call me strange and/or musically retarded, but one of my favorites is Roll The Bones. Their rock/blues foundation and musical maturity is displayed nicely on this one. Listen to: Roll The Bones - Dreamline - Ghost of a Chance. More of My Favorites: Xanadu Live - Farewell To Kings - Anthem - Working Man - Tom Sawyer (his mind is not for rent you know) - and my all time favorite with the all time best lyrics in the biz: Spirit of Radio (Emotional feedback On a timeless wavelength Bearing a gift beyond price).
I've purposely left out loads of info so as you - my generous reader - can contribute.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Today's Friday Flashback is not finished! I'm beat. And worse yet, I have a race tomorrow (insert frets of various pitches and volume here). Stay tuned. In the mean time, can you guess who? And no, it ain't the Guess Who.
We were watching the Olympics last night (big surprise I know). Spouse became interested in the results of the 800 meter hurling (as in barf) steeple chase. Actually, I don't recall the event. I know fer sure that it was track and field 'cause they were running on a big orange oval with white stripes.
Anyway, in a sport cankered with U.S. and Jamaican domination, a tiny gent from Latvia took the silver. "Huh. That's a surprise," I said while doing dishes and sweeping crumbs.
"Latvia, Astonia.... I've always been a fan of those countries" said Spouse.
"No you aren't!" I said while laughing out loud (no LOL at this house. When it truly is "Laugh Out Loud" funny, it's worth SPELLING IT OUT IN ITS ENTIRETY.) Spouse tends to tilt towards the libertarian sphere of politics. I was under the impression that those Russia Reject Countries were on the borders of communism.
Spouse replied with, "Yes I am. They have a flat tax."
There you have it. Sports and taxes.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by Sad Songs, Crocodiles, Candles that stay lit (even in the wind), and a Yellow Brick Road. Today's Friday Flashback is also brought to you by Island Girls, a Rocket Man, Bennie, some Jets, and a Bitch that is Back.
Yip... you guessed it. Today's Friday Flashback is the one, the only, the wacky-gone-serious Elton John. Actually if you think you guessed it, you're wrong! It's in the title. Duh.
Once upon a time, on a brisk English spring morning - March 25, 1947 to be exact - Sheila Eileen and Stanley Dwight gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. They named him Reginald Kenneth Dwight. The sweet child made his grand entrance while screaming "Give me a piano and some feathers and big rhinestone covered glasses before I throw a big diva fit!!!" Just kidding. He didn't ask for a piano until he was 3.
I've always been a big fan of the name Reginald (my firstborn's name while inutero). Why on earth would you ditch "Reggie Dwight" for "Elton John"? Mystery. Even today.
At the age of 3, Elton John began playing the piano by ear (no silly! Not with his ear but with his hands - playing what he heard - that's called Playing By Ear). His parents, being somewhat musically inclined, fetched a teacher for the prodigy pronto. (Daddy Dwight played big-band trumpet and Mommy Dwight liked to buy records).
Around the age of 15 and with the urging of his mother, John began playing in local bars, clubs and whatnot. His father and mother had divorced some years earlier and John's father wanted him to ditch the goofy stage act and become a banker.
Could you imagine? What would happen to your money if Elton John owned your bank? He'd lose it and sing I'm Still Standing... after all he'd be wise enough to secure himself from financial ruin with the purchase of insurance (FDIC, etc).
Elton John played in a number of bands and blues acts. In the late 60s, John was introduced to Bernie Taupin. Taupin wrote lyrics. John wrote music. Together they made beautiful songs.
Reminds me of those popular Reses Peanut Butter Cup commercials. Remember the guy with the peanut butter and the girl with the chocolate? They bump into each other coincidentally and yell at each other for contaminating their favorite treat only to discover that their treats together are out of this world yummy!
Same with the John-Taupin combo. Serious talent. But why didn't someone do a Saturday Night Live skit about those two bumping into each other and yelling "You got some lyrics in my music!" and "You got some music in my lyrics!" and then "Heeeyyyy!" Probably because I'm the only one in the universe who would think it's funny. Oh well.
Back to the flashback... So John and Taupin would create songs on again and off again until about 2003. John would have a complicated life. First when he decided his sexual orientation, second a drug problem, and third the drama associated with acquiring THE most expensive car ever. Complicated!
In the end he was rewarded with a KnightShip from the Queen of England so the complications must have been worth it. Could you think of anything better than your own KnightShip? Would that be a space ship or an ocean ship? Either way it's pretty cool.
The rabidrunner's favorite part of Elton John's career? Guest appearances on the grandest creation ever, The Muppet Show. Check it out: Yellow Brick Road - Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Bennie and the Jets - Crocodile Rock. (I have the Elton John Muppets episodes on DVD. If YouTube drives you crazy let me know and you may borrow it for a small fee.)
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I've learned a Valuable Lesson: Take care of your own crap before you meddle with other people's crap.
Here's how this little lesson (with a burly punch) came to be.
As mentioned earlier, I'm reading one of the 827 biographies written on the great Albert Einstein. A couple of new facts came to light in the progress of its fourteen thousand and twelve pages. (It might take a while to color the story adequately so bare with me.)
In all of his genius Albert managed to impregnate his girlfriend, Mileva. Being as Albert was trying to find a job and acquire Swiss citizenship, he couldn't be bothered by the social ramifications to follow an illegitimate child. Albert shipped his lovely girlfriend to Hungary (with mom and dad) to have the child - a girl. The child was born and the fate of this child is still a mystery. Some say she was adopted, others say she died from scarlet fever at the age of 2.
After the scandal had dissipated, Albert married Mileva and later had two boys. To put it bluntly, Albert had eyes only for science and other women. He and Mileva would divorce, Albert would move to another country, and the boys were rarely considered. Months or even years would go by before the little ones would be graced with the presence of their genius father.
Albert was also a politically active pacifist. Isn't that funny? I'm active but I'm passive! He hated war and was active in his quest to end military force in any form. He also wanted a world government to rule and force the world to be peaceful (we won't elaborate on what type of pipe dream that is). Albert spent a great deal of energy and time tooting his my-political-views-are-the-greatest horn.
To this I say... "Albert. Save your own family before you take on the world."
Ran a race yesterday. Oh I hear you now. Actually I see you now. Rolling your eyes and yawning and ready to check out. But hold on! This isn't really a story about running. This particular race (labeled the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase) was a 16 mile tour to the highest peak in Park City. Why did I do this? Not because I'm tough and all that but because I'm STUPID. Seriously. Why on earth did I do that? And why do I want to do it again?! (Okay so I lied - there's a bit of running in this story. But unlike other posts, this one actually has a point. Bare yourself and stay with me.)
The race was a mix of single tracks (an outdoor techy term for dirt trails that accommodate only one person across) and dirt access roads. The trails weave in and out of ski runs, ski lifts and abandoned mine shafts. Fascinating stuff. On the day of the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, the route was marked with biodegradably blue spray-chalk. One rain storm and the markings are toast.
During my 3000 foot descent (which had to take place after the 3000 foot ascent)... I noticed a blue rock atop some college rule with scribbling on it. I passed the rock and its accoutrement and had to stop. It reeked of tree-hugging BO and patchouli oil. What did that paper say?! I delicately crouched (so that I could get back up after the crouch) and took note. It said, "PLEASE!!! STOP painting rocks!!"
To this I say, "START worrying about your litterbug problem before you save the ski resort (peppered with the blemishes of ski lifts, trails, silver mines, and now... temporarily painted rocks)!"
Need I say more? Nope. But I wanna. Oh how I wanna. OH HOW I GOTTA!
It appears as if John Edwards managed to father a child of illegitimate nobility while running for president and nursing his wife through chemotherapy.
To this I say, "John. If you can't take care of your family (or your family making member), forget about becoming the peace-making, economy-saving, global-warming savior of the US!"
Here's the lesson again: Take care of your own crap before you meddle with other people's crap.
If you find that you're going through some crap and I inadvertently neglect you (or your crap for that matter), please do not take offense. Just note that I'm taking care of my own (crap).
And speaking of my own... did you know the Olympics have a Women's 10 meter BB-Gun event? I could have been good at that.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
Today's Friday Flashback is brought to you by an "R" that makes a "juh" sound. As in Duh Vohr Jack. Not to be confused with Devour Jack as in let's eat copious amounts of Jack Daniels, Colby Jack, Cracker Jacks, etc.
Today's Friday Flashback is also brought to you by my goofy parents, who in all of their religious glory, hold a particular reverence for this guy. Growing up, lamentous tears are brought forth at the mention of his honorly name. Making mom cry was just too easy.
Mom: "Get in there and clean your room!" Me: Dvořák! Dvořák! Dvořák! She'd run away crying every time. He really is that great. Now. Had I been a smart child (even in my rebeliousness), I could have saved my bacon many a time by saying "Ma, let's go in and listen to a Dvořák string quartet" when I got caught doing something wrong (sneaking out at 2:00am for example.)
Antonin Dvořák was born 1841 in a town near Prague called Nelahozeves. Don't ask me how to pronounce this one - those wacky Czechs seem to think they can make up how stuff sounds. Or maybe it's the English...?
Dvořák's father was a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. Just kidding! He was a butcher though and he played the zither (yet again, I've thrown in some unrelated facts for spice).
Dvořák attended Prague's only Organ school and went on to become an accomplished violist and violinist. He specialized in romantic yet bohemian music and composed mostly symphonies, operas, chamber music, string quartets and concertos. (You have to look twice at that concertos word to make sure it isn't really cheetos. They are quite different you know. One is crunchy, inconsistent, and noisy. The other is orange.)
Dvořák received his big break when fellow composer Johannes Brahms took note of Dvořák's foxy musical style. Brahms referred Dvořák to a publisher of music who commissioned his first set of Slavonic Dances. Putting the Dvořák tunes in print made him ferociously popular in London and earned him an honorary degree from Cambridge.
In 2008 terms, that would be like the Disney people finding Miley Cyrus.
The parents will get me for that one. (Comparing the great and only Dvořák to Miley Cyrus is downright sacrilegious).
In 1892 Dvořák's was employed as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. It was in New York that he composed the earth shattering Symphony Number 09 also called the New World Symphony. After a few years of a measly 15k anual salary, Tony became homesick and returned to Prague.
Antonin Dvořák's died in 1904 and was buried in Prague's Vyšehrad cemetery where many a musician will pass by and pay tribute. If you're the rabidrunner parents, you visit the site and weep with joy. The rabidrunner child, on the other hand, would stand by and make fun.
Precisely why I wasn't invited.
I'm sure you wonder why. After all, most know me as totally and completely challenged when it comes to the rocket sciences (unless of course you're talking about how to recharge the AC in a car - I know how to do that now).
I'm reading this book because the guy fascinates me. I realize Alby's a genius and everything, but why so famous?
I'm also reading it because it makes me look smart. If only I could hear thoughts and read minds. Prolly not a good idea because it would be impossible for me get through the book with all those adoring mutterings of passers-by. Wow. She's reading about Einstein. I'll bet she's gooder at math. Or There's that girl. And what is she reading? Wasn't he the first guy to fly in an airplane? Or I'll bet she has a PhD from some Ivy League college.
I'm finding, however, that I need Phsics for Dummies to help me through the smarty-pants parts. I would love to borrow your copy if you have it laying around.
I'm about half through (with the book that is, let's hope I'm not half through with my living time). Albert says some pretty smart things - and not just the rocket science stuff.
It is now my humble and gracious intent to share a problem-solving snippet from the mouth and/or pen of one Albert Einstein. Every day (er most days). How's that?
Put that in your Quantum Pipe and smoke it!
"I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterwards." And because I'm feeling generous today, another: "I believe that love is a better teacher than a sense of duty."
(If you'll notice the labeling of this article, you might see that I consider the reading of this book an adventure. Pathetic huh? Or is that me trying to look smart again?)