Category Archives: Music

drip, drip, drop

It rained today, a little April shower.

I didn’t get any photos of the rain today, but here is a photo from March. I liked the way the drips lined themselves up. (And now I like the way we no longer have snow on the ground. We were away for the weekend, and the last of the snow had departed by the time we returned.)

The drips and drops remind me of the song “Little April Shower,” which I loved as a little girl. We had the record (it must have been a single) and I used to play it over and over on a little plastic record player. I’d do a little dance (not shown). Here is the clip of the song from the Disney movie:

As an adult I have enjoyed the Natalie Merchant version off the album Stay Awake. I can’t believe that even that album is now over 25 years old.

Who’s who?

With the excitement building for the new episodes of Dr. Who to start¹, there has been a lot of who-buzz. But Dr. Who is not the only Who who is out there. I offer you this list of whos: a sort of Who’s Who of Whos.

  • who: an English interrogative word a relative pronoun used to stand in for a person².
  • WHO: The World Health Organization
  • who: the sound made by a hooting owl
  • Dr. Who: A British sci-fi/fantasy TV show that has been on for decades, about The Doctor, a time-travelling alien who gets to have a new body every so often.
  • Whovians: Fans of Dr. Who (you know who you are)
  • The Who: A British rock band, originally formed in the 1960s
  • Who Are You? A hit song by The Who. (And the title track of the album “Who Are you?”)
  • Who am I? A 1998 Jackie Chan movie where he plays an amnesiac spy. (It features this very memorable fight scene with a man with very long legs and very good balance. [youtube])

  • Who dat? A phrase used to show support for the New Orleans Saints (a football team)
  • Who’s Who: a type of publication listing biographical information
  • Whoville: a fictional town (or possibly two towns of the same name) in two Dr. Seuss stories: Horton Hears a Who and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Whos: Inhabitants of Whoville. Cindy Lou Who is one such Who.
  • Who’s on first? Abbott and Costello’s famous comedy routine of name/pronoun ambiguity. (If you don’t know it, you can read the full transcript. Better yet, watch this clip from the 1945 movie The Naughty Nineties on [youtube])
  • whodunnit: a nickname for a type of story where the reader (or viewer) tries to solve a mystery along with the protagonists
  • Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

  • “Guess who?” Something sometimes said by a person sneaking up behind another person, often while preventing that person from seeing by covering the eyes.³
  • The Guess Who: a Canadian rock band best known in the 60s and 70s
  • Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?: A 1967 drama/comedy movie starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn. (It’s not actually about dinner with a Canadian rock band, but about a family coming to terms with an interracial relationship.)
  • Who can it be now?: A song by Men at Work
  • Who’s that girl?: A song by the Eurythmics
  • “Who’s a good boy?” Something often said to dogs.Cf this Onion article:
    Nation’s Dog Owners Demand to Know Who’s a Good Boy

    With canine-cuddliness levels at an all-time high and adorability-boosting ribbons and chew toys plentiful at pet stores across the nation, no resolution to the good-boy-identity issue appears to be on the horizon.

  • “Who cares?” A question sometimes asked by someone who doesn’t⁴

Who’s got more whos?

¹Season 7, part 2 starts this Sunday, March 30th
² Prescriptive grammarians will say that who is only to be used in cases where the pronoun/interrogative is in the subject, or nominal, position, and that whom is what you must use in object positions. However, contemporary usage allows for use of who in object positions.
³ I’ve never enjoyed this game.
⁴ I care.

Whose whos are whose? (image credits):Horton Hears a Who!, Whoville from the 1966 animated movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas (based on the book), Who Dat, The Guess Who Greatest Hits album cover, The Who logo, Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, Who’s On First? screenshot from youtube clip from The Naughty Nineties,Tardis, World Health Organization logo, and Introspective Pug.

Hey diddle diddle

It was the day before the big blizzard was expected to hit Massachusetts, and people all over the state were scrambling to buy their eggs and milk and bread and wine. I found myself in a school, in front of a crowd of several hundred people. And I played the fiddle.

I wasn’t wearing my pajamas, and I wasn’t late for a final. It was not, in fact, a nightmare. It was real, and I was actually supposed to be there. I was one of a small group of parent musicians accompanying the elementary school concert.

Flash back to December. Phoebe mentioned that her school music teacher was looking for an adult to play small violin part in the upcoming February concert. I was intrigued. I’ve been taking violin lessons for a few years, but I have never labeled myself as a violinist. I mean, I take lessons. I am, if anything, a student violinist. The only performances I had ever done with violin were a handful of recitals with my violin teacher and her other students, playing a single song in front of a moderately small audience composed mainly of the parents of the other students. (Who were mostly kids.) And the last of these was 5 years ago.

After some rather fruitless efforts trying to communicate with the teacher via Phoebe, I tracked down the teacher’s email address, and let her know I was interested in learning more about what she needed. She wrote back that another parent had already responded, and she was waiting to hear back. She decided to send me the music to look over, anyhow, in case the first parent decided not to participate. It turned out that there were more violin parts than I had expected, with violin parts to accompany 9 of the songs that the kids would be singing. Nine. On the bright side, they were fairly straight-forward. They were American folk songs, including “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” and “Skip to My Lou.” Phoebe really wanted me to play the violin part of “Fiddle-I-Fee,” one of the songs her grade would be singing, and which featured a prominent fiddle part. I started to learn the music, and became really taken with the idea of playing in the concert.

In the end (and there was a lot of back and forth and waiting and anxiety on my part in the meantime), we worked it out that the other parent and I would both participate, and we’d split the songs. We each took on the violin parts for 4 songs, which were grouped by grade, and then both learned the final song, which was a number sung by all the grades.

I spent a lot of time practicing, and worked on the music with my violin teacher during my lessons, in place of the classical music I usually play with her. I pretty well immersed myself in those songs. I played the CD, provided by the school teacher, of computer-generated instrumental versions of the songs in my car for a month straight. (I mean, when I was driving. I didn’t go out of my way to sit in the car to listen.) I played along with the CD. I played without the CD. I watched YouTube instructional videos on fiddling techniques. I worked myself up. I talked myself down. I played till my fingers were sore.

The concert came, with its two performances to accommodate the crowds of family members of the 400 students of the school, and felt I did pretty well. At the very least, I didn’t embarrass myself (or Phoebe).

I had a great time.

I could write loads more about the whole experience, but I should probably just move along. But I will say that I’d love to find more opportunities to perform.

Anyone need a fiddler?

The Hey diddle diddle image is from

Tidings of comfort and joy.

For the past several years, Neil of Citizen of the Month has put together a remarkable online concert to celebrate the many and varied holidays of the winter season, and he has graciously hosted once more. Please go check out the amazing musical and photographic stylings on exhibit at The Seventh Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. As always, the entries are varied and wondrous.

I didn’t manage to get my act together this round, for a variety of reasons, but I hope to again next year. You can find me and my voice in several of the past concerts, but I’m too lazy to see which. Last year was one.

I have been in a dark place since Friday, but I’m not yet ready to share those thoughts. Too many thoughts. I wrote something on Monday, but it is still too raw to post. In the meantime, I have taken comfort in many things, including music. Most of all, I take comfort in having my little ones with me and holding them close.

May they remember only joy this holiday season.

Saving All My Pants For You - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
This edition of National Pants Radio is dedicated to those who seriously love pants: a playlist of classic pants songs to fit all body types.

  • All You Need Is Pants – The Beatles
    However, shirts and shoes are also required for service in most establishments.
  • Pants Me Two Times – The Doors
    Pants me once, shame on you. Pants me twice, shame on me.
  • Pants Will Keep Us Together – Captain and Tennille
    Especially if they are stitched well.
  • Pants Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
    At the seams.
  • Can’t Buy Me Pants – Beatles
    I’m not buying that. Money can buy many things. Even pants.
  • Making Pants Out of Nothing at All – Air Supply
    Would these be invisible pants?
  • Do You Believe In Pants? – Huey Lewis & the News
    Yup. Except maybe the invisible ones.
  • You Give Pants a Bad Name – Bon Jovi
    That style is really unflattering.
  • You’ve Got to Hide Your Pants Away – The Beatles
    Just toss them in the hamper.
  • Tainted Pants – Soft Cell
    I don’t even want to know what those stains are.
  • Where Did Our Pants Go – The Supremes
    Did you check the dryer?
  • A Man Without Pants – Engelbert Humperdinck
    Is he, by any chance, wearing a trenchcoat?
  • Need Your Pants So Bad – Fleetwood Mac
    Um, I’m using them right now. Can’t you get your own?
  • They’ll Never Take Her Pants From Me – Elvis Costello
    That’s just creepy.
  • Addicted To Pants – Robert Palmer
    You and me both, Robert. Better than heroin, though. Or leggings.
  • The Power of Pants – Huey Lewis and The News
    Sustainable. Renewable. Fashionable.
  • Saving All My Pants For You – Whitney Houston
    Um, thanks. I’ll be sure to make space in my closet.

Today marks the 6th anniversary of this blog and a special day for me to reflect on the meaning of pants.

Ce matin, un lapin…

This morning, as I went about my business, which included doing tasks which I shamelessly attributed to an imaginary rabbit, a song popped into my head that I remembered from when I was little. “Ce matin, un lapin…”

I don’t know when the last time I thought of this song was, but there is a good chance it’s been many a year. For one thing, I don’t think I ever googled it before, so that may be an indication.

Back in 1980, I moved to France (along with my mother and sister). My sister and I went to an international school outside of Paris. We weren’t exposed to a huge amount of contemporary popular French culture, as we didn’t have a TV, and went to a school with primarily non-French students. However, at some point in the year, I went on a trip with my class into the French Alps. I don’t remember how long of a trip it was (2 weeks, maybe?), but there was a bit more cultural immersion, staying in a dorm run by French employees. There was certainly more music played than was typical of our regular school. I’m pretty sure this was when I would have heard the song, because those are the memories it triggered.

It probably shouldn’t surprise me that I remembered the lyrics a little wrong, or perhaps that I’d misheard them in the first place. (I was 9, and not a native speaker of French, and I don’t remember how often I would have heard the recorded version of the song, and how often I would have heard it sung by other kids.)

I’d thought it went:
Ce matin, un lapin. Ou tu es un chasseur. Ou tu es un lapin qui avait un fusil.
(“This morning, a rabbit, or you are a hunter. Or you are a rabbit who had a gun.”)

I think 9-year-old me interpreted the song to mean something rather philosophical, and somewhat twisted, along the lines of: “Today, will you be the rabbit, or the hunter? Or will you be a rabbit with a gun?” The tenses don’t really make sense for my interpretation, though.

It turns out the song was much more literal:

Ce matin un lapin a tué un chasseur.
C’était un lapin qui avait un fusil.

“This morning a rabbit killed a hunter. It was a rabbit who had a gun.”

Yes, a perky little kids’ song about a homicidal rabbit.

Happy Easter!

holiday traditions and musical interludes

Guitars reflected in a silver ball at the music store.

A few nights ago, John had a company party to go to, so the kids and I started in on the evening routine without him. Inspired by having sampled some delicious latkes at Phoebe’s class holiday party on Monday (which included both Christmas and Hanukkah treats and activities), and having just bought a big bag of potatoes, I decided I would try my hand at making latkes. (Wow, that was a really long sentence.) Anyhow, I made latkes, in honor of Hanukkah. I consulted the great oracle of Google, and got down to business peeling and grating. I have to say, I made some pretty tasty latkes.

The whole process also took probably longer than I’d intended, and it was after 6 by the time the kids and I sat down to eat our meal of latkes, fried eggs, latkes, steamed broccoli, and more latkes. (Phoebe declared the meal so delicious that she high-fived me.) I may have eaten far, far too many latkes. (From what I understand, that is also a Hanukkah tradition.)

After dinner, it was time for Phoebe and I to practice the violin. John usually takes Theo upstairs to start his shower while Phoebe and I practice downstairs. Since John wasn’t home yet, I thought Theo could keep us company in the parlor, which is where we always practice. (Really, some people my call it the living room. But when we moved into this house, we declared the “family room” to be our “living room,” and the official “living room” became the parlor. I like the word parlor. I mean, who would remember something like “‘step into my living room,’ said the spider to the fly.” Not that this is how the actual quote from the poem went. It’s just what people remember. I mean, with “parlor,” in place of “living room.” I suppose “den” might have also worked, for the spider, at least. But not for our house. We have a parlor.) The parlor is also where we have our Christmas tree. (I mention this, because this will be relevant shortly.) (Notice my subtle attempt at foreshadowing.)

When Phoebe and I practice her violin exercises together, we both sit on the floor. However, I had just bought myself a book of Christmas songs for the violin, and since Phoebe putters around a lot as she sets up her violin, I sat in a chair so I could set the book in my music stand, and played a bit. Theo was hanging an ornament he had made at daycare on the tree. Phoebe sat on the floor, opened up her violin case, and then suddenly wandered off to look at her gingerbread house. At that moment, Theo stepped back to look at his ornament on tree…and stepped directly onto Phoebe’s violin.

I’m not sure what noise escaped from me as I looked up and saw his foot land on the neck of Phoebe’s little quarter-sized violin (I think it was some sort of squeak), but I remember the exceedingly alarmed look on Theo’s face. I jumped up, and hurriedly set down my own violin. The trouble is, you can’t really hurriedly set down a violin. I basically dropped it. It made a loud crack and thwong noise as a couple of the pegs hit the coffee table and came unwound. I may have made additional noises.

Both children wailed.

In the end, I was able to assess that both violins were pretty much okay, if seriously out of tune. Happily, Theo managed to step on one of the less fragile parts of the instrument, and his weight was probably somewhat taken by the case, since the violin was still in it. He still felt awful. And so did Phoebe, for having left her violin open and on the floor. And so did I, for not having been paying enough attention to the actions of my small children around rather fragile instruments. And for having dropped my violin. Phoebe, though, was much comforted by the fact that we had, all three, made mistakes, which she enumerated repeatedly.

Did I mention I made latkes? They were delicious.

In case you didn’t manage to check out of all Neil’s fantastic Christmahanukwanzaakah Concert, which had musical contributions from a variety of different holiday cultural traditions, I wanted to share with you this trio of lovely ukelele productions. These talented women inspired me so much that I looked longingly at the ukeleles at the music store when I went to my violin lesson. (Not that I expect that ukeleles are much sturdier than violins.)

I’m totally smitten with the uber-catchy “we like to celebrate chrannukah,” by Jenny Mae.

Then there’s Elly of Buggin’ Word, Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree. (Please check out the adorable “shuke” (shirt uke) her son is wearing)

And lest the southern hemisphere feel left out, here’s Juli Ryan with her charming rendition of a New Zealand folk song: “Haere Mai Everything is Ka Pai”

Baby, it’s cold inside.

It’s time for The Sixth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, and I managed to get my act together this year. (As promised.) I wrote lyrics. I sang. A duet. I even made a short movie. If you want to hear me singing, and want to see more proof of my insanity, go check out the concert at Neil’s place. (I’m all the way at the bottom, probably because of the lateness of my submission. I said I got my act together, not that I did so in a timely way…) Make sure you check out some of the other fantastic submissions of songs and photos, too. It’s a whole load of multi-holiday festiveness.

And here are my all-new¹ lyrics, based on Frank Loesser’s holiday standard:

    Baby, It’s Cold Inside

      This cold really blows
                      (Yeah baby it’s cold inside)
      I can’t feel my toes
                      (Yeah baby it’s cold inside)
      This whole house has been
                      (Been keeping the fuel use down)
      As cold as snow
                      (I know the temp’s been kept real low)
      My fingers will start to fall off
                      (Well why did take your gloves off?)
      My thumbs will surely drop on the floor
                      (I’ll try to stop the draft from the door)
      I’m going for the thermostat now
                      (No, baby just put on your hat now)
      But maybe just a half degree more
                      (Are those all the layers you wore?)
      My earlobes will freeze
                      (Look at this scarf I wear)
      My limbs will all seize
                      (Try some long underwear)
      I wish I knew how
                      (You look like a snowman now)
      To warm my feet
                      (Put on more socks, don’t touch the heat)
      I’m sure that I’ll freeze my ass off
                      (We’re lucky it’s not the gas off)
      This cold is going to break my will
                      (At least we’ll have a lower fuel bill)
      This cold really blows
                      (oh baby don’t give in)
      Baby it’s cold inside
                      Baby it’s cold inside
                                      Baby it’s cold inside

        ¹ “All-new” is not entirely accurate. I wrote this last December, but not in time for Neil’s concert. Last winter, as you may or may not know, was a particularly long, cold and icy one in New England. Seeing as I’ve been working at reducing my personal fossil fuel dependency, I have lobbied for setting the thermostat lower in the winter in our house. While our house isn’t really old, it isn’t super new either. What it is is super drafty. The result is that it can get downright chilly at times. I have many memories of the cool indoors from growing up; wearing layers of sweaters and warm socks is a winter tradition. I bundled up quite a lot last winter. But there aren’t enough socks and sweaters in the world to make me tolerate the wintertime temperatures in our downstairs bathroom:

    The Opposite of Chipmunks: Cloying Holiday Songs and Their Antidotes

    Has the holly jolly omnipresence of Christmas music been threatening your sanity? Before you let Rudolf drive your sleigh over the edge, just adjust your dials. I’ve put together a playlist of holiday song antidotes to help get the relentless ring of jingle bells out of your ears. ¹

    • All I want for Christmas Is You: What do I get? The Buzzcocks
    • The Happy Elf: Working for the Man, P. J. Harvey
    • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: Man That You Fear, Marilyn Manson
    • Here Comes Santa Claus: Psycho Killer, Talking Heads
    • Frosty The Snowman: Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangsta, Geto Boys
    • The Little Drummer Boy: Don’t Bang the Drum, The Waterboys
    • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Lapdance, N*E*R*D (No one Ever Really Dies)
    • White Christmas: Black Celebration, Depeche Mode
    • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Only Happy When It Rains, Garbage
    • A Child This Day Is Born: Birth, School, Work, Death, The Godfathers
    • Holly Jolly Christmas: Helter Skelter, The Beatles
    • Oh Holy Night : Head Like a Hole, Nine Inch Nails
    • Sleigh Ride: Garbage Truck, Sex Bob-omb
    • Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire: Burning Down the House, Talking Heads
    • Do You Hear What I Hear? Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana
    • All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth: Bloodletting, Concrete Blonde
    • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails
    • Christmas Shoes: These Boots Were Made For Walkin’, Nancy Sinatra
    • It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas: Atrocity Exhibition, Joy Division
    • Home For The Holidays: Institutionalized, Suicidal Tendencies
    • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, The Smiths
    • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer: Don’t Push Me, 50 Cent
    • The Chipmunk Song: That’s When I Reach for My Revolver, Moby

    How about you? Any songs in particular spurring you to spike your eggnog or jam candy canes into your ears? And what songs might you use to counteract?

    ¹ I did a bit of Christmas shopping yesterday, mostly looking for things like pajamas for the kids. I can’t even count how many times I heard Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You.” All I wanted for Christmas shopping was a break from the treacly music. It was such a relief to get back to my car and put on my iPod. When Joy Division came up on shuffle, I knew I’d found an antidote to the ravages of holiday cheer.²

    ² For the record, I don’t actually hate holiday music. Some of it I actually like. I just can hear too much of it, especially when the songs are so saccharine that they make me throw up a little.³

    ³ Oh, fine, I do hate some holiday music.⁴

    ⁴ Would this be a good time to promote Neil’s Sixth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert? I may even participate again. You’ve been warned.