Janis Joplin's, "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz" lampoons the misuses of religion and prayer, focusing on human greed. I thought it was great when I first heard it, and I still like it.
Janis Joplin's, "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz" lampoons the misuses of religion and prayer, focusing on human greed. I thought it was great when I first heard it, and I still like it.
For our April concert, Encore (the Concert Band) will be performing selections from Carl Orff's CarminaBurana. I love the piece and have been looking forward to rehearsing and playing it. It should be interesting with a concert band and a top local male chorus.
Tonight we had our first run at the piece. All was going pretty well for me on the 4th horn part until we hit the 13th movement, "Fortune Imperatrix Mundi" (Fortune, Empress of the World).
It started out being relatively easy stuff. Notes below the staff in the treble clef are not always easy for horn players used to playing above the staff in treble clef, but the first couple of lines were a piece of cake for a career 4th-horner like me (whose chops are going and who has troubles playing notes above the treble clef staff).
And then I hit the 3rd line (beginning bar 13) of the 13th movement:
I can play low notes. In a recent concert I had fun playing an E-flat below the staff of the bass clef (yes, that's right, bass clef!) but look at this section. If I'm reading this music correctly, that's a frickn A waaayyyy below the staff.... below the bass clef staff. I have never been able to play any note below a C# below the bass-clef staff. I don't know if ANYone can play the note as it is written. Certainly none of the top-flight horn players in Encore can even come close, so far as I know.
I figure Carl Orff was just having fun with this (or was it the arranger who is responsible? I've never seen the full orchestra music).
I cheat. I play the A at the bottom of the staff in the bass cleff. It seems to work. And I'm grateful they weren't eighth-note runs in that range.
Many years ago, I heard someone say,
One problem, among others, with white elephants is that once you build them, you then find you need to build bigger zoos to keep them in.
I was reminded of that quote today when former student/colleague/co-author John Henderson sent me this:
The city of Timmins finally closed its white elephant Shania Twain Centre. Had never heard of it myself, then again I can't imagine ever listening to a Shania Twain song. This, unusually informative bit, from Wikipedia:
Annual attendance for the Centre was originally projected at 50,000 but never reached above 15,000. Annual subsidies to the center cost the city of Timmins $7 per resident, or $33.72 per centre visitor.
For more on the closing of the centre, see this:
A failed tourist attraction in Timmins is set to become the gold mine the city always hoped for.
The Shania Twain Centre permanently shut its doors Friday.
International gold miner Goldcorp will officially acquire the property in June. The company plans to demolish the structure to make it part of a massive open-pit gold mine.
City councillors decided several weeks ago the centre was too big a money pit to keep subsidizing....
The centre has racked up more than $1 million in operating deficits ...
Goldcorp, which will officially acquire the property June 28, plans to demolish the structure to make the gold-seeded land underneath part of a massive open-pit mine being developed adjacent to the town.
Recent media reports have suggested the centre cost as little as $3.7 million to build. But a May 2011 analysis by PKF Consulting Inc. in Toronto says the figure was actually about $10 million for all construction, including the building, site development and upgrades to the co-located gold-mine tour attraction.
The entire 65-acre site is to be razed, including the gold-mine tour facilities, and added to Vancouver-based Goldcorp's planned open pit.
Here's hoping local politicians everywhere use this as an example before committing zillions of taxpayer dollars to more white elephants.
I will likely have some extra luggage when going to Regina next week to give my seminar on "An Options Market for Human Organs", so I went to the WestJet website to see what the charges might be.
Here is a portion of the explanation of the fees at their site:
If you are paying a fee at the airport, we will accept Canadian dollars or the equivalent amount of the local currency. Much as we'd like to, we can't accept payment in the form of songs, yardwork or feats of strength. [emphasis added]
Some interesting, digressive notes:
A friend sent this around earlier today. Since tomorrow is a holiday in Canada and the weekend will be a holiday in the US, I hope some people will try this:
Last week, internet correspondent MA sent me the link to this youtube video:
It is absolutely beautiful, and the photography accompanying it is wonderful. It is mellow, relaxing, and at the same time inspiring. However, it is pretty long (27 minutes) and becomes a bit much after awhile.
So even though I loved that piano version, I actually prefer this version by Blood, Sweat, & Tears:
I think I prefer the second one because
Many years ago I was talking with a friend about then-contemporary music. He said he hated everything. I said I liked both Chicago and Blood, Sweat, & Tears. He relented and agreed they were both excellent (but then, of course..... he's a brass player!)
An amazing, spine-tingling performance [via Ted Frank]:
Swing Xing featuring Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, Vinny Raniolo , and special guest Hamilton Live Production Manager Daniel Schwartz perform Benny Goodman's Sing, Sing, Sing at The Hamilton Live, September 8, 2013
A real keeper!
Back in the early 1960s, I played drums with the Carleton College pep band. As you might imagine, this was one of my favourite pieces.
I find that when I'm on a plane or train, my noice-cancelling headphones are a wonder. Even if I don't listen to any music or podcasts, the noise canceling dramatically reduces my discomfort and maybe even reduces stress levels.
Here is another reason to wear them [via MA]. They will likely make the food taste better.
[S]eparate research revealed the sort of noise we are subjected to inside aircraft cabin affects taste buds, reducing our sense of saltiness and sweetness - and increasing crunchiness.
To test the theory, 48 diners were blindfolded and fed sweet foods such as biscuits or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones at Unilever's laboratories and the University of Manchester.
Each volunteer rated the foods for flavour and said how much they liked them.
Background noise led to the foods being rated less salty or sweet. They were also perceived as more crunchy.
I'm not at all sure I believe this. And I'll grant that carrying over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones is just another thing to worry about on an airplane. But often the bother is worth the effort.
Are the Monkeys really going on tour? Without Davy Jones?
It won't be the first time.The three did a concert tour in honour of Jones in 2012.
And no seniors' prices for these concerts because the audience will primarily be seniors.
I was a year behind Peter Tork before he dropped out of Carleton College back in the early 1960s. He had adopted the nickname "Tork" then, several years before the Monkees were created.
I am quite certain that in grade school we used to sing a song that went something like this:
Susie, little Susie, now what is the news?
The geese are going barefoot because they've no shoes.
The cobbler has leather but no last to use.
Who will make the goslings a pair of red shoes?
But I cannot find it on the internet with that last line. All the links that appear when I google any of the lines from the song WITH quotation marks have no results or have a different last line.
Too bad. I distinctly remember the last line. The imagery of gosslings walking around with red shoes always tickled me. Does anyone else remember having learned this song with that last line?
Which brings me to an update about the Goose Patrol.
Six geese showed up at about 9:15 this morning. I chased them down the hill, across the street, and into the park where finally I persuaded them to fly away. We've had none since then.
Helping matters is that the temperature is above freezing now and is forecast to stay above freezing, even overnight, for the next 48 hours or so. The melting of the snow will open many more venues on which the geese will be able to dine in comfort, away from me.
Update: seven geese showed up about 11:30 EDT but were soon hurried on their way.
I play French horn in Encore.... The Concert Band. Our next concert is Sunday, April 13th, at 2pm at Central Secondary School. Here is one of the pieces we'll be playing. It has a wonderful lilt to it, despite all the 5/8, 3/4, 7/8, etc. time changes.
If your don't want to listen to the entire 16+ minutes, just skip ahead to a little past the 12 minute mark for lots of rhythmic fun.
digressive note: I wish people who video concerts would
I thought the question was dumb. But I was disappointed in the answer. I cannot fathom Justin Bieber's popularity nor can I understand why a 19-year-old tennis star would say he would be her dream date.
But Canadian Eugenie Bouchard did just that.
Maybe it's just that I'm from a different generation?
Anyway, here's hoping that from now on when she is asked personal questions like that, she'll just say, "That's too personal to answer."
About 5 or 6 years ago, we bought a package of three mooses/meese who sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". All three of them used to rock back and forth while singing, but the alto (on the right) became overly exhuberant, fell off the mantle, and has been quite staid ever since then. And for two years, the baritone wouldn't sing or move at all, but somehow we managed to fix him up this year. The trio provides great fun for us every year.
As you know from this, I was in Regina, Saskatchewan last week and weekend for the Grey Cup, the championship game of CFL (Canadian Football League). I play trumpet in the Roughrider Pep Band and was there in that capacity. Here are some thoughts:
Cheerleading in the CFL (and probably many other places) is basically an artistic, high-energy, athletic skin show. The routines the cheerleaders go through are beautifully and/or intriguingly well-choreographed, and the cheerleaders have to be supremely well-conditioned to perform 5-8 times a day while they are out here at Grey Cup.
I may be biased (in part because one of my former students is one of them), but the choreography of the Saskatchewan Roughrider cheerleaders is especially intriguing. The people move gracefully from one position on the floor to another, morphing seamlessly into new positions and shapes, shifting different people from front to back, etc.
By a slim edge, the best I've seen (cheerleaders often perform just before the Regina Pep Band, and so we've been able to see several different shows) are the cheerleaders from Edmonton. They have great skill but also seem quite lively and alluring. Their choreography is good (though not the same as the Riders cheerleaders) but just overall I enjoyed their performances more than any of the others.
My friend and fellow actor, John, is a very talented man. He wrote the music for and performs the song "We Broken Men of War" in this YouTube piece:
At the YouTube site, John writes:
The lyrics for this song, were written by Tom, a dear friend of mine, who experienced the horrors of war and the life one leads when coming home, and speaks from his heart. I simply added some music to his words.
The full lyrics to the song are available at the site as well. John played this piece for us Saturday night, after one of our recent performances. We urged him to submit it to a local radio station before today.
There are many more of John's performances on YouTube listed under "MonkeylessJohn"
I vaguely know who Paula Abdul is. I think I've seen her, briefly, on television on shows I skip through when changing the channel, and I'm sure I've heard her sing. But out of the blue the other day, Jack sent me this interesting clip about her from Wikipaedia.
“Abdul was born in San Fernando, California, to Jewish parents. Abdul's father, Harry Abdul, was born into the Syrian Jewish community in Aleppo, Syria, was raised in Brazil, and subsequently immigrated to the United States. Her mother, the concert pianist Lorraine M. (née Rykiss), grew up in Minnedosa, Manitoba in Canada, with ancestors from the Jewish community in Katerburg (Katerynivka since 1944) Ukraine and Russia, and Abdul derives Canadian citizenship through her. She has a sister named Wendy, who is seven years her senior. In 1978, she graduated from Van Nuys High School.”
Last night I went to a downtown club because a friend was celebrating his birthday there. Why do people go to those places? The music is so loud you can't hear what anyone says. In fact, I had trouble understanding the bouncer who told me there would be a cover charge just to go in and look for my friend.
I opted to leave. I'll buy my friend a birthday drink in some quieter place some other time. But on my way home, about 11pm, the club scene was just beginning to come alive in downtown London. Limos pulled up in front of them and disgorged young adults, mostly dressed in black.The young women were so scantily dressed, they were shivering as they queued up to go in. And the young men were dressed in black.
I asked a bouncer at a different club on the way home if I could step inside for a moment and look for my granddaughter. He just laughed with me. :-)
But seriously, if you can't hear or be heard, what's the draw? Just pulsating ear-shattering music? You can't even meet new people very easily in that environment. Drugs? There must be more pleasant ways to acquire and use them.
As I said, what's the draw? I don't understand clubs.
At a recent get-together with family and friends, we persuaded Phebe (one of my six terrific granddaughters) to sing "At Last".
Here it is. She has an amazing talent! It's less than two minutes long.
Yesterday we went to see the rock opera, "Tommy" at Stratford. We left at the intermission. But that isn't saying much because we also left "Hair" at the intermission when we saw it at The Grand Theatre a little over a year ago.
We had been warned that Tommy was loud [and great thanks to several FB friends who warned us]. So, just in case, we took earplugs. I quite smugly said to Ms Eclectic that I'd put my earplugs in as the house lights were dimming, but the buggers started the loudness before dimming the house lights. :-( It was WAAYYY too loud.
For me the problem with both "Tommy" and "Hair" was that the band/orchestra was too loud --- so loud, in fact, that I couldn't hear the singers very well. Is it just me, or are the sound mixers and balancers right out to lunch on this? Why on earth would they consistently make the bands too loud to hear the singers?
I took out the earplugs twice during the first half of the show: once when they sang "touch me, feel me", and then again when they sang "Pinball Wizard". The volume was deafening. I don't know how people could stand it, and I don't know why more people didn't leave when we did (or maybe they did; how would I know?). If I hadn't had earplugs, I'd have left after the first minute and probably been screaming "Turn down the volume" on my way out.
"Pinball Wizard" was a great party/club/dance song back when it first came out. Everyone loved yelling/singing "He played a mean pinball," but until I read about the plot of Tommy, I had no idea what the story was behind the song. To be honest, back then I couldn't understand the rest of the words in the song and for that reason didn't much care for it.
We got cut-price tickets for the show and at those prices we were glad we saw the first half of the show; we certainly would NOT have felt that way if we had paid full price for our tickets. It was "interesting"... "Very interesting".
The review in the Trono Globe & Mail of a May performance was a pretty accurate description of the show we saw. The singer who played Tommy's father was quite good. But the staging, while intriguing, was so fast-paced with all the screens and colours, that it amounted to sensory overload.
I think that will be our last visit to a rock opera. I just don't trust them not to kill us with the sound.
I love the song, and I love the big full moon.
There is a lot of detail at the site, but here's the summary:
With these being the very last few days of summer, the full moon that graces our skies tonight becomes the Harvest Moon. So named because it helped farmers to bring in their crops on time, it also marks a special time for sky watchers and gives a great opportunity to see an amazing optical illusion that makes the moon look exceptionally big.
...[T]he curious optical illusion known as the 'Moon Illusion' will likely be especially noticeable to anyone watching the moon as it rises tonight or sets in the morning, making the moon look huge when it's near the horizon.And here's a version I remember (please let me know if it doesn't show up):
Over the past few days, my frequent internet correspondent [MA] has sent me numerous examples of Amazon music pricing that seems unusual. In most of the examples he sent, CDs are priced at roughly 2/3 the price of MP3s with some priced much less than that even.
Why would Amazon price MP3s more than CDs? Are there distinct markets?
One possible explanation might be that many young people don't even have CD players (except on their laptops) but listen to music only on MP3 players and especially like having accessibility to their music via the cloud. So while the cost to producers (and to Amazon) of producing MP3s is lower, the demand for them is higher.
Another possible explanation comes from the economics of durable goods considerations: those who want CDs have more choice, including being able to buy used CDs for considerably less than the prices of new ones (check out the differences between the new and used prices in item #2 below). I have no idea how the market in used MP3s would work, if there even is such a thing.
A third possible explanation is that many people (like me) do not wish to store so many CDs. Storage is costly, and if I can pay a bit more to have someone else store my music or to have music in a form that allows me to store thousands of tunes on a very small device, it might very well be worthwhile.
Here is just one example. They abound on Amazon.
To add to the weirdness, if you buy the above CD, Amazon will include the MP3 at no extra charge. So why would anyone buy just the MP3?
In other instances, however, the CDs are much more expensive. Here is just one example: the complete set of Haydn's symphonies performed by Philharmonia Hungarica, conducted by Antal Dorati.
And it is not just Amazon.com. Similar anomalies appear for the same items at Amazon.uk. MA writes that,
First the CDs:
Haydn: The Symphonies
Haydn: The Complete Symphonies (This is no longer being sold by Amazon. MA paid £49.98 for this a few years back - - it was always more or less this price - quite a bargain compared with the first set)
Then the MP3s:
Buy the MP3 album for £149.89 at the Amazon MP3 Downloads store.
Buy the MP3 album for £37.49 at the Amazon MP3 Downloads store.
MA tells me that London and Decca are owned by the same company. Is this pricing of the CDs just a weird case of the right hand not knowing what the other right hand is doing? Or is the Decca set really that much higher quality? As he said, bizarre.
I just checked the Amazon.uk prices for the first example, and the pricing for them is reversed. What is the possible explanation? Are market conditions all that different in the UK compared with the US?
It really is difficult to believe that rational maximizing economic actors thought long and hard about these prices.
. . . .
This is unbelievable, I know, but I have been asked to be a part of a combo by a couple of other musicians in our building. They are both quite good musicians, and since it is (as of now) only a three-piece combo, I can't follow my usual strategy of "I'm not good, but I make up for that by being loud."
So sometimes I play my trumpet, and sometimes I play my E-flat alto horn with them. We don't sound great, but we're not all that bad either. And we actually have a minor gig (VERY minor, but at least we don't have to pay for the privilege of performing) lined up for late next week.
I think we need a name. Since I am by far the youngest member of the group, I think we should be called "The Old F***s", and you can fill in the stars as you wish. But an extension of that, might be to call us "The F-sharps" or just "The F#s". After all, we are old f***s, but we're pretty sharp, too (looking, that is. We never play too sharp or too flat).
Quite clearly the tickets for tonight's Paul McCartney concert at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK, were over-priced. Two weeks ago we saw ads for tickets at 90% of the face price. Then this article appeared, which prompted me to jest on FaceBook that I was thinking of going to the stadium tonight and offering $5 for a ticket. I would, maybe, and it looks as if it will be a lovely evening for a concert. But I'm not all that interested in McCartney's music (unless he's doing something by Vivaldi or Shostakovich, which I expect is unlikely). So it's just a fun econo-nerd thought.
From the article,
Paul McCartney is playing a concert in two days (August 14) at Canada’s Mosaic Stadium in Regina and there are still plenty of tickets available through Ticketmaster starting at $48 ($35 for the ticket plus $13 of exorbitant fees that add more than 37% to the cost of the ticket!).
The ticket scalpers/speculators must have gotten stuck with a lot of extra McCartney tickets for the Regina concert because there are also almost 800 available for sale right now on StubHub starting at only $13 (plus a flat fee of $4.95 fee to print your tickets).
Economic lesson: It’s all about supply and demand and market prices. Sometimes the “face value” of a ticket is way below the true market price and ticket prices in the secondary market are higher than a ticket’s face value. Other times like the McCartney concert in Regina (and his recent concert in Winnipeg), the “face value” of the ticket is above the true market price of the ticket, and ticket prices in the secondary market are way below a ticket’s face value.
So what do you do if you have some spare tickets? Offer them for a low price, as happened on University of Regina's email system this morning:
[events] - Half Price! Paul McCartney Tickets for sale.
Mosaic Stadium, tonight.
Section 25, Row 10
Seats # 27-28
Cost: $300 for the pair.
If interested, please email
I wonder if that person will actually be able to sell the tickets at that price, given the buzz about how the concert isn't selling out.
And for some fun, read the originally cited article about people in Winnipeg who paid full price for tickets for the McCartney concert there and, upon realizing they could have bought tickets for much less had they waited, were quite upset (and not with themselves, of course).