Thursday, August 30, 2007
Alright, so I admit it. I read it in this month's Reader's Digest. How about this one, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." - Jesus, quoted by Matthew in Chapter 7, KJV.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I do not possess this gene, but in my musical life I've known a handful of people with perfect pitch. More than one of them mentioned that it is both a blessing and a curse. One of them, a friend who is a gifted bass player, said that it can be maddening at times, living in a world that wheezes, whistles, bellows, and mutters as it does. Because most sounds are no where near perfectly pitched, he would often find himself obsessively noting that this sound or that sound was almost right, but off by just so much, clashing abrasively with some other sound. The upside, though, was that he never, ever played out of tune, he could readily play numerous instruments surprisingly well without practice, and he could easily recall and analyze in detail complex melodies and chord progressions. He is a successful commercial real estate agent.
There are, in fact, teaching methods for sale that claim to be able to teach people to have perfect pitch. While that may well be possible, it is far more common among musicians to develop a heightened sense of relative pitch which, I've always believed is based on memory. My wife and son both have excellent pitch memory. When they sing a song, spontaneous and unaccompanied, they almost always nail it in the original key. I am not as good a singer as they are, but I am usually in the ballpark. These are handy skills and, while not intrinsically difficult to attain, typically come only with practice and experience.
A related skill that I have is that I can tune my guitar, both electric and acoustic, with out a pitch standard, even without being able to really hear the instrument. It is not "perfect", but it is usually close. I can sense by the way the strings feel, especially the A string. And once the A feels right, it is pretty easy to get the rest close. What my brain is doing in this case is responding to the tension of the string and the way it feels under my fingers when it vibrates, so it is more like muscle memory and less like an aural experience. I don't think this is an unusual skill, per se, and there are probably many guitarists who can do this. I developed it in my 20's when I worked in a couple of different music stores in Texas for several years. I have restrung and tuned many more guitars than most people, and I'm sure that is the source of this peculiar ability. It is all about familiarity and conditioning and I'm sure many other people in other disciplines have similar experiences.
The way we process and experience musical information and respond to sound is a never ending source of wonder and fascination, though. And it never ends. It is science, it is emotion, it is spiritual, and it is experiential. We will never figure it all out or reach the end of what there is to hear. There is infinite variety in musical expression...it is a glimpse into something beautiful, something personal, and something eternal. I understand only a few very small pieces of it, but I can't put it down. And I don't want to.
Monday, August 27, 2007
(click to enlarge)
A friend of mine describes the public lotteries as "a special tax for people who are bad at math." I always liked that definition. There are any number of reasons why lotteries are a bad idea, and one of them is, in fact, that it it preys on people who do not have an understanding of or appreciation for basic statistical analysis. The same could be said, broadly, of many of the participants in the US Stock Exchange, I realize.
Another problem with lotteries is the brazen deceit that is perpetuated by proponents selling its virtues as a source of public money that will reseed regional economies, fund state projects, build schools, eliminate poverty, fund public healthcare, etc ad nauseum. Not surprisingly, there is typically far less than 50% of the money left over for such altruistic aims after the various commissioners, agencies, advertisers, and bureaucrats get there slice of the pie. Money that could have been far better spent at the grocery or any number of other places.And, of course, it has been shown repeatedly that the target market for lottery customers consists of people who cling to the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.
And there are theological reasons that I won't even get into unless provoked.
All that notwithstanding, nearby Richmond, Indiana has made international news this weekend as the sight of the winning $314.3 million dollar lottery ticket purchase. So, hopefully we'll have a new millionaire among our neighbors. I pray it doesn't wreck their life.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
I had purchased it and Simple Minds' "Once Upon A Time", but I listened to Rush first. I was blown away by the fact that where there was no music, there was the most profound, utter silence. I imagined that it was silent like in a vacuum, like in outer space. I had an excellent pair of Sennheiser headphones and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard, that silence.
The CD is 25 years old.
Tell me what you listened to first.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
We left fairly early on Monday morning, July 30th, as you can see.
It is about a 9 hour drive (with stops), and we kept up a pretty consistent clip through Ohio. But there was a reason for this.
Nancy and I wanted to stop in Point Pleasant, WV, and check out the infamous Mothman. This area also has an extraordinarily rich history of alleged UFO phenomenon. I say alleged not because I doubt the reports of the people who say they saw them. But simply because we didn't see any and, well, best to err on the side of skepticism in order to maintain our thin veneer of respectability.
We stopped in at this little cafe' which, if local legend holds true, was the inspiration for the cafe in the movie, The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere. Turns out the movie was actually shot somewhere in Pennsylvania, but they did use a lot of the Point Pleasant townfolk as extras. The movie gets a lot of the facts of the story wrong, too, but it is still pretty entertaining.
Here we are dining in said cafe'. I had the "Big Ed", which was basically a big hamburger. There was no sign of the actual Mothman.
The Silver Bridge used to run parallel to the old railroad bridge that you can see in this picture.
This picture seems to demonstrate that the residual power of the Mothman consists mainly of making men look older, balder, and fatter than they actually are in real life. Curse you, Mothman!
We had a great trip to Virginia, a fun quick visit with loved ones, and then a pleasant leasurely trip home.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Here are some pictures from the recent contest at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. This is considered one of the last, big contests before the finals. The Cavaliers came in second place, behind the Blue Devils by 0.6 of a point. This is a shot of the finale performance.
For this performance, we got to go with Jordan's grandparents, and his great-grandma, which was really excellent. It was their first opportunity to see the Cavaliers in action. They had never seen a drum corps competition and had a great time. To say that they are proud of JP is a massive understatement.
In this photo, you can see JP, the 5th trumpet from the end, in the back row.
He has made some great friends in this group. The Cavaliers are like a fraternity, a brotherhood that stretches across generations.
After the finale, we were able to walk down from our seats and talk to JP. He was so glad to see his grandparents and great-grandma. And they were tickled, too.
After the show, at about 11:45 pm, the corps went back to the buses, packed up its gear, and served a meal for 135+ young men. Nancy walked back to the buses with Jordan and I drove the folks there, so we got to spend some quality time with him before they headed out to drive back to Chicago. Here they are giggling about something...
He will fly home this Sunday from Pasadena. Hopefully he'll be here for a couple of days, but then it is off to Bloomington to move into a new house and get geared up for another semester at IU.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Yes, I know this horse is dead. And yet I am strangely compelled to drag it out and beat on it periodically. Technology should make art, and therefore, life, better, not worse. (Is that too many commas? I couldn't decide.)
I've got things to say. But I've been fiendishly busy lately, plowing the fields of commerce.
UPDATE: "Big-selling albums by Linkin Park and the White Stripes were not enough to prevent widening losses at Warner Music, which suffered a drop in income as fans shifted from compact discs to digital downloads."