Words. We writers live by ’em. And sometimes (if you offend the wrong Muslim lunatic) die by them. But they are the essential part of how we do what we do. Words mean things. But not all words mean the same things to all people. And living in the Age of Political Correctness, not all wordsmiths are created equal, at least as far as permission to use certain words goes. Allow me to give you some examples… Continue reading What’s in a Word?→
I think it was humorist and co-founder of the Algonquin Round Table, Robert Benchley (not to mention forbearer of author Peter “Jaws” Benchley) who quipped, “There are two kinds of people in this world…those who put people into two groups, and those who don’t.” I’m definitely in the first group. And for the purposes of this essay, the two groups into which I’m dividing people can be thought of as “Makers” versus “Customers.” To put it another way, when something needs fixing, or you can’t find exactly what you want, “makers” do it themselves, while “customers” hire it done. Nothing wrong with that. Depends on the task, I suppose. If it’s something I can do myself, I’ll do it. If it’s something I can’t (major surgery springs to mind) I’ll hire it done. But some people delegate a lot more than I. For instance, when I couldn’t find an iPhone 6 Plus belt holster to my liking, I made one. No big. Not hard to do. And I enjoy working with my hands. But I’ve gotten lots of questions about the case. It usually goes something like this: Continue reading Blessed are the Makers…→
When Meghan Trainor released “All About That Bass,” I saw the appeal. Catchy tune. Tight arrangement. Cute video. Appealing, “take me the way I am” message. I thought “Hey, cool…a positive message for girls/women that will counter the prevailing messaging in videos that women need to obsess about their weight/looks/sexuality to attract a man.” So I was curious to see what her follow-up video would be.
The King of Pop is Dead. I don’t know of anybody that is really surprised. Think of any other celebrity (except Amy Winehouse) and you’d at least register a blip on the emotional surprise meter. Not here.
Jackson was talented. He was also, obviously a tortured soul, regardless of the reason. From my experience in show business, being a child star is a tough road to travel. Being a child star in what has widely been reported as a dysfunctional family, then add all the pressures of superstardom, and throw in a bizarre addiction to plastic surgery, and you have formula for an unhappy life and a premature death. Continue reading The King of Pop Dies.→
My daughter – let’s call her “Private Digital” – is studying the violin. She played with her symphony orchestra this past Saturday. Way cool. I wish I’d been able to play with a symphonic orchestra when I was in grade school. (I got to play with a lot of jazz combos and rock groups, but that’s another story.)
What I find interesting is that in many ways, she’s much like most of my better students, back when I taught music lessons for a living. I found that the ones that were pretty sharp had more trouble with the mechanics of music, because they relied on their ears instead of their eyes. That may sound odd, since music is an aural media, but using your eyes (to read music) is essential. It’s what makes the difference between someone who plays violin and a violinist. Continue reading I’ve got rhythm. (And you can, too.)→
I went back into the studio again today. Did some vocals. Tried to do some backing tracks on harp, but (believe it or not) I blew out my first reed ever on an A harp. If you’d like to read about my harmonica horror story, mosey on over to our sister blog: blog.grokmedia.com. Today’s story is an in-depth look at how a seemingly simple decision by a major manufacturer had an unfortunate effect on my recording work.
It’s come to my attention that I am like the cobbler’s children, shoeless, in spite of their father’s profession. I am a musician, without any recent recorded samples of my work. This is an inconvenient, but not insurmountable problem.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of country music. I grew up as a drummer, and as far as traditional country music, a drummer is either unnecessary, or reduced to playing “boom-chick-boom-chick” kinda stuff that is mind-numbingly boring. I tended to agree with one of my idols, Buddy Rich, on the topic. When he was admitted to the hospital not long before his death, he was asked “Mr. Rich, are you allergic to anything?” He replied, “Yes. Country music.” When I began to play acoustic guitar, I discovered that there was actually some music that would qualify as “country” that I liked. I developed a taste for bluegrass, traditional folk music, newgrass, and even some pop country. (Still not that crazy about the Porter Waggoner/George Jones/Johnny Cash stuff. Your tastes may varry.) Continue reading This is “Country”?→
When I was a kid, my father (who had turned pro at the age of four, and literally grew up in show business) used to tell me that the biggest stars (or at least the ones who’d been in the business the longest) were the nicest people. He attributed this to the fact that “you meet the same people on the way down as you do going up,” and therefore the successful artists were the ones who were nice to everybody, and made few enemies on the way up. I’ve seen that hold true in my own experience. I’m not talking about the “overnight success” types – poptarts like Britney Spears. I’m referring to people that start in the business when they’re young, usually with either a parent (or two) in the business, or a mentor that has years of show business experience. These are the people that, regardless of their fame or fortune, remain “real” – genuinely nice people, who treat everyone well, without regard to who they are or how they can benefit from a kindness. I recently had the privilege to exchange a couple of emails with one such person, and I’d like to tell you about it. Continue reading Class.→