One of my favourite groups.
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).
I realize it is small-sample stuff with no statistical significance, but it is consistent with my own preferences (giving it added weight, of course, in true Baysian style). Premature babies seem to do better when exposed to Mozart than when exposed to Bach and both trump no music (h/t MA):
Twelve premature babies, born in the 30th week of pregnancy, averaging 1.2 kilos weight, were divided to three groups, who were each exposed to the music of Mozart on the first day, to Bach on the second day, and to no music at all on the third day. The music was played from Ipad’s [sic] placed outside the incubators, with earphones in the incubators adapted to the babies’ ears at a volume of 75 decibels. An instrument measuring the absorption of oxygen and emission of carbon dioxide was attached to the babies, enabling researchers to calculate the babies’ metabolic rates.
The compositions chosen for the study from Baby Mozart and Baby Bach discs were calm, and not performed by large orchestras. Following only half an hour of exposure to Mozart’s music, the metabolic rate dropped by 9.7 percent in comparison to babies who weren’t exposed to music at all. Listening to Bach led to a drop of 4.5 percent in the metabolic rate, in comparison to those not exposed to music, but this drop wasn’t deemed to be statistically significant.
The effect of Mozart’s music was very swift: Ten minutes after beginning to listen to his music, the metabolic rate dropped by 4.5 percent. This drop continued as the music went on, in comparison to the babies who weren’t exposed to music.
“Lowering the metabolism rate of premature babies causes them to lose fewer calories and increase their weight faster, which is a positive state,” Mandel explains.
“In medical literature, there is an assumption that repeating musical themes, characteristic to most of Mozart’s compositions, is partially responsible for the calming and beneficial effect of the music.”
I wonder if any music with repeated musical themes would work: bubble-gum rock? The song that never ends? A hundred bottles of beer? Steve Reich?
Addendum: When I conducted the Blyth Festival Orchestra, we played pieces by both Mozart and Bach (and many others, of course). I enjoyed conducting just about anything, but I think I had a slight preference for Vivaldi and Mozart.
I recently saw a television commercial for some car (I honestly don't remember the brand) in which a young-ish couple is driving down the road, singing along with the song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" [the classic hit by Meat Loaf].
At one point the woman starts to caress the man's thigh. And as the two are singing along, suddenly we see their two kids in the back seat going "Yuk" "ew" etc.
"Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is an absolutely hilarious, eight+ minute send up of teenage love, sex, and romance in the 1950s. Parking the car by the lake, describing petting and teen sex as "getting to second base" etc., made even funnier with the play-by-play done by Phil Rizzuto.
But what demographic group are they targeting with this ad? Seniors who remember what it was like back in the 50s and 60s? Or people who were teens in 1978 when the song came out? Or young families of today who might remember their own parents' antics and songs?
This Youtube version has the lyrics but horrible spelling, which just adds to the humour.
I saw Les Mis on stage a number of years ago in Toronto, and didn't much care for it. I pretty much agreed with this review of that production. An excerpt:
The wife said she thought the singer who played the mother was pretty good, but I thought her voice was weak and over-amplified. I said, "The only good thing about her was that she died, so we don't have to listen to her again." Imagine my shock when she came back in the second act as a ghost. I'd've choked on my popcorn if they'd've let me have any at my seat.
It was also pretty funny during the show, when them smart-alec university students thought they knew what was good for us workers while we didn't know or care what they was talking about. I figure the real reason the workers didn't join the students at the barricades, though, is that they was singing stupid songs. The outcome would've been a lot different if Sigmund Romberg had written the rally songs: "Give me some men, who are stout-hearted men, who will fight for the right they adore..." Now that's the sort of thing to really rally the troups!
And after reading this review (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I doubt if I'll see the movie either. An excerpt:
I must say, though, that there's a chance I'll watch it some day, despite these reviews. My granddaughters love it, and one of them won a singing contest performing "On My Own" from Les Mis, which is a big plus for us.
And then there's the second French revolution, and Cosette falls in love with rich student/slumming revolutionary Marius (Eddie Redmayne), and Javert still hovers in the background, obsessed with bringing Valjean to what the officer believes is justice. One of the nefarious powers of "Les Misérables" the movie is its ability to reduce Victor Hugo's novel, considered one of the great achievements in world literature, to a hacky melodrama that even a young D.W. Griffith might have found overly precious.
Oh, the performances: Jackman and Hathaway are both playing to the back balcony, rather than to the camera lens that's just inches away. Jackman over-articulates, over-gesticulates and pretty much over-everythings. Worse still are those moments where, rather than singing all his dialogue, he has to transition from speech to song within the same line. ("We're leaving now, PACK YOUR THIIIIIIINGS!") Even his "Bring Him Home" paled next to the version performed by that actor who came to Dallas 20 years ago, raising nary a hair on the back of my neck.
Hathaway, meanwhile, takes every opportunity to suck all the oxygen out of "I Dreamed a Dream," the number that is this show's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." Earlier in the film, Fantine sells some of her back teeth to a shady dentist who promises to leave her "enough to bite." Clearly, he also left her enough to gnash. It's a ghastly, eyelid-fluttering, self-serving, sympathy-begging performance; Oscar voters are guaranteed to eat it up.
We will be in Houston during the Lyrid Meteor Shower on April 21-22, visiting my son Adam Smith Palmer and family. He has suggested (probably not seriously) that they might hold a large, loud backyard party (no lamps or lanterns, please) at 4am to watch the meteors.
I have offered to provide music for the occasion.
Here are some of the suggestions so far (please post other suggestions in the comments):
and maybe at the end of the party (as the sun rises), The Animals version of The House of the Rising Sun.
Addendum: An internet acquaintance sent me these suggestions as well. I especially like "Starry, Starry Night".
Berlin in the late 1920s and early 1930s was a hotbed of exploration and experimentation. Communists and socialists were strong, and at the same time sexual freedom was at an apex. Clubs abounded to present and/or satisfy nearly every sexual fantasy. Suppliers of these services were often young people (and their families!) who had lost their savings either in WWI or in the hyperinflation of the early 1920s. Others were simply young people who loved the sense of freedom and exploration.
It was against this backdrop that Christopher Isherwood visited and revisited Berlin and wrote his stories and short novel that led, eventually, to the musical "Cabaret". Any performance of Cabaret that does not capture both the ecstatic freedom and the depressing near-slavery of this era misses the mark. To see what I mean, take some time to look at the documentary "Berlin - Metropolis of Vice" (broken into three parts for posting on YouTube) below [h/t Paige Miller, our director/producer].
In our upcoming performance, one of my roles is Max, the creepy owner of the Kit-Kat club, a small seedy nightclub where anything is possible and for sale.
The second part of the documentary explicitly mentions Isherwood. And the third part shows the puritan-like views of the Nazis and the impact of their rise to power in the early 1930s.
Now put all this to music, singing, dancing, and acting; then throw in a substantial secondary love plot involving a Jew, and you have "Cabaret".