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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Investigations in Comparative Linguistics #512



No matter how long I live in Spain, when I hit my finger with a hammer the first 25 words out of my mouth are in English, in upper case, and way too vulgar for this forum. Integration is really hard.

My Native American name is Swears-Too-Much. I actually receive a medical pension from the Air Force for the Tourette Syndrome I caught while serving. Almost all vets suffer from this debilitating disease sometimes called the not-so-silent-and-very-profane killer.

Don’t be impressed by the word count as it’s sort of a prepared statement. I claim to be an atheist but it sounds a lot like an obscene prayer and the big guy’s name comes up a lot. As I said, I blame the military (for my language, not the fact that I'm crap at hammering).

People have told me that I should substitute other words, so instead of, for example, screaming out “shit” you use another word. That’s a lot to think about after a painful, self-induced injury but I tried that once or twice. Instead of screaming “shit” I yelled out “cocksucker” which didn’t seem to be any sort of improvement so why do people advise that?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Forget Me Not



Lists are for wimps (this includes Schindler’s List—why couldn’t he just remember their names?). Shopping lists are very wimpy. With this said I sometimes keep forgetting essential items even though I have a supermarket in the bottom floor of my building. When I do commit to paper my list usually contains profanity and insults to spur my memory. Example: “Buy F#%¿ing TOOTH PASTE, you idiot!”

P.S. I have been logging some long hours on the piano these days. To what avail has yet to be determined. I plan to continue my assault on this instrument through the summer months to see if it is possible to rise above the “completely sucks” stage.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Parenting Streamlined



I just thought of an idea for a virtual parenting app on your phone. It would be like auto-pilot for parents. You simply record a series of threats and admonishments in differing tones of voice, from impatient rebukes to full-throttled yelling, with stock phrases like “I’ll give you something to cry about;” or “Put that down;” or “I’m not going to tell you again. I mean it this time;” or “I’m gonna smack you silly, I swear;” or “Dad’s chainsaw is NOT a damn toy;”and, of course, lots of “SHUT UP, SHUT UP, for the love of all that is holy would you please SHUT UP!” in your highest pitch scream. For passive-aggressive parents you could record pleas and begging if you think that stuff works. 

I’m sure it would be easy enough to create an accurate timetable for when kids act up but even if these threats aren’t synchronized with the outbursts of your precious progeny at least the random paroxysms of outrage coming from your phone may keep the little guys on their toes. It would also help you to feel that you're trying just a bit as you sit behind your locked bedroom door with a bottle of wine while binge-watching TV.
 
The first thing that parents will say to this is that it won’t work. Probably not but neither does the actual talking, squawking, and screaming so at least you won’t have to repeat yourself a thousand times a day.

Monday, April 24, 2017

La Cumparsita Cumple 100 Años

You can either walk or dance down this street


Without a doubt the most famous song in all of tango, La Cumparsita was written by Gerardo Hernán Matos Rodríguez from Uruguay around 100 years ago, give or take a year. I think that it was first recorded in 1917. Of course, it has gone on to become the most iconic piece of music in all of South America.

The video above is the tutorial that I'm using to learn this song on the piano. The pianist, Pablo Keilis was kind enough to send me a copy of his original arrangement for students of the piano.

Because La Cumparsita is a tango and the tango is a dance I have posted the video below of two great dancers ripping up this song on the floor.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Piano Diary: My First Rag


 I doubt that I will ever play it this well.

One of the things I decided when I began playing the piano again was that I would explore different kinds of music outside of the usual classical music repertoire for amateur piano players. I have learned a bit of boogie-woogie and some blues stuff. The Santa Lucia Rag arranged by Martha Mier has been my first attempt at a piece in ragtime, or a rag as they are called. Syncopated rhythm is completely alien to me so this has been something of a struggle.

It has been a real pleasure to become acquainted with Martha Mier through her music. She is very well-known among folks who are learning the piano as she has dedicated her life to education and composition in this field. This great little arrangement can be found in her book Classical Jazz, Rags & Blues 2.

My initial work on this song has been like chipping away at a huge piece of granite (but much harder than granite!) with a very small hammer (and my hammer seems to have been made out of cork) trying to make a sculpture. Somewhere inside of that chunk of rock lies the song. After two days of work there is almost no indication of music apparent in what I am pounding out. I think that I may have been born without whatever organ is responsible for rhythm and timing. I felt so clumsy when I first began on this piece that I nearly fell off my bench. At this point in the struggle I can’t be sure if there will be any survivors.