Sunday, April 27, 2008

Guitar lessons - continued

I now know enough chords to officially be in a punk band. My assignment this week was to practice transitioning between the chords I knew, and explore their sonic intricacies (changing volume, changing rhythm, etc).

I even wrote a little song. It's called "I Can't Transition Between These Chords Very Well." It's a work in progress.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Celebrity Obsession

Information overload
Kiss a prince, turn into a toad
Point and stare, hound and goad
Feel all smug when they implode

Google, MySpace, CNN
"Weren't you someone, way back when...?"
Look them up in Facebook, then
Just forget them once again

Britney, Brittany, Carmelo, Wentz
Convicted with no evidence
And they ain't got no defense
Because this whole thing makes no sense

We sit and watch them on tv
And live through them vicariously
Wasting our lives in this lunacy
It all seems such a waste to me

I came up with the first two lines of the first stanza while I was sitting at lunch, daydreaming. They seemed to have promise so I ran with it.

The AAAA BBBB rhyme scheme is a little uncommon, but that's how it played out. Sue me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Me and David Gates

Those of you who read my blog with any regularity (both of you) know that I love music. You may even know that one of my regrets is that I never learned to play an instrument.

Well, my friends, I shall eliminate one item from my regret list. This past Sunday, at the urging of my wonderful wife, I bought an acoustic guitar. I've also signed up for lessons.

Given my age and that I've never played before, I know I won't be giving Jimmy Page or Bert Jansch a run for their money, but one hopes that, with some time and struggles, I'll soon be able to scratch out a couple of semi-recognizable tunes.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday in the...

It was a brisk, clear spring morning. Despite the cooperative weather I was filled with trepidation. (It's not as messy as it sounds.) For the first time in ages, I was about to enter

Was I ready? Could I handle it? And did I have my towel?

The lecture was scheduled for 2:30. I was due to meet a friend at 1:45 to carpool. Despite my best intentions I made it on time.

On the drive to the lecture we discussed trivial things: the excess of clover this year, the political race, the possible threat of nuclear war. I think I hid my blind panic well. Besides, he can replace the upholstery in his car, right?

Rick Maue and David London were on the bill that day. I had corresponded with Mr. Maue some years ago so I knew he was a fan of one of my favorite musical artists. I happened to have some memorabilia of said artist, and I gave a piece from my collection to Mr. Maue. (Pronounced "maw" for the uninitiated. If you're initiated, feel free to pronounce it any way you wish.) He seemed to appreciate it.

There were only five attendees at the lecture. There were two reasons for that:
1. a previously scheduled event
2. not enough advance publicity

More on the sparse attendance later.

Mr. London opened the proceedings. He started by saying he rarely did card effects, so naturally he opened with cards. The effect was clean, clear and a stunner. It was in the "twisting the aces" genre but with a couple of kickers. He was on for far too short a time. I liked the effects and bits he taught, but far more than that, I really appreciated the way in which he explained the development of each piece and of his character. He also talked about his act as an organic whole, which was a shock as far as lectures are concerned.

We ("we" being the aforementioned five) asked periodic quesions, and Mr. London would provide detailed answers. He said that even though we were the smallest group yet, we were the most engaged group they had yet seen.

Mr. London only had about 30 minutes (as I said, far too short), then Mr. Maue took the stage. And by "took the stage" I mean commanded the stage. Another thing I appreciated about both gentlemen is that they gave their all despite the meager turnout. Mr. Maue obviously thinks about all facets of his magic - both as a performer and as a teacher - and he is remarkable in both capacities.

I'm really hesitant to describe any of the effects he performed and explained because I don't want to spoil the surprise should any magicians be reading this and get an opportunity to see him. Trust me, he'll fool you. Let me just say this; at one point, after performing one effect and just prior to teaching it, I turned to David London and said in all sincerity, "I don't want to know how it's done." I was sorely tempted to walk out of the room. He had just toasted my brain and that's a feeling to treasure.

After the lecture we all went out to dinner, and had even more of a grand time. It turns out that Mr. Maue and I have very similar musical tastes. (And yes, Rick, I have This Old Road. It's every bit as wonderful as you said it would be. I especially like "Pilgrim's Progress" and "Final Attraction." Have you picked up Jackrabbit Slim yet?)

Both Mr. London and Mr. Maue kept stating that despite the small turnout they were really pleased with the lecture because we were such an engaged, focused audience. It could be that they say that at every lecture stop, but hey, it was nice to hear.

To recap, it was a terrific way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run off and read some lecture notes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And in the end...

So anyway, a couple of times recently I've had these really bad abdominal pains. Both times were similar; the pain was agonizing for 4 - 5 hours, then it gradually diminished until it disappeared over the course of three days or so.

I've had two different tests so far with zero results. (And for the smart asses in the crowd, that does not include an eeg.) The first was an ultrasound, then today I had a colonoscopy. The doctor I had couldn't decide whether he wanted to be a barber or a proctologist, so he flipped a coin to see if it was heads or -- never mind.

The worst thing they could find in the 'scope was diverticulosis, which is sort of pre-diverticulitis, which would not account for the location, duration or intensity of the pain I had experienced. So in other words, the lab rat gets to run some more mazes. I'm hoping the next few involve considerably fewer laxatives.