Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Month: May 2010


Happy Memorial Day folks.
Please don’t forget to thank a soldier today.
At the very least, pray for one.
Lighting a candle here . . .


I’ve played piano for 40+ years and one thing that’s always
pissed me up the wall is the size of my hands.
They’re incredibly small and very unlike Sergei Rachmaninoff, Dave Brubeck, Ray Garland,
McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, George Gershwin and Charles Ives. (and I love them all)
These guys have gorilla sized hands.

Palm a basketball?
No problem.
Palm a watermelon?
Hand me that piano?
No worries.
Play a chord with more notes than the fingers on two hands?
Got more ivory?

To try and play a Garland or Gershwin tune you need about 800mgs of ibuprofen an hour
before playing so you don’t cramp up too much.
I’m serious.
Small and fast hands, the little bastard.
He was a magician and quite the sex fiend from what I hear.
Russian hands and Roman fingers.

I saw this video a while back and forgot all about it.
Tonight I am tickled pink to post it.
Interesting though that to play the Charles Ives ‘Concord Sonata’ you need several pieces of wood
cut to specific sizes and weights in order to play the piece.
I guess his hands weren’t big enough.
Enjoy this amazing and funny video.
I love it from a musical standpoint as well as a comedic statement.
This is Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor with much added levity.

“Small hands. But only hands small.”
I like this guy.


I opened my Yahoo this morning and had a ‘birthday’ alert.
I have many so it’s no surprise when they appear.
I thought, “Who has a birthday next week?”
I opened the email and frowned a bit.
It would have been my father’s birthday tomorrow and I’d totally forgotten about it.
One part of me felt ashamed, one part just felt real sad.
Happy (what would have been 81) birthday, Dad.
I miss you, man, but I also know that you and mom are probably lighting up some serious candles today.
First birthday in heaven rocks from what I hear.
Enjoy the angel food cake, buddy.
And don’t skimp on the chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
Oh, and please light some candles for us too, okay?
Still love you, my frozen man . . .



What would Christopher Walken do?
I have a real hard time believing that Walken has a hard time doing anything.
Maybe transcribing chords for a Steely Dan song or playing a digeridoo but jeepers,
the guy acts, sings, and does comedy.
Not everyone likes him but I am a definite fan.
If you haven’t seen these videos (and are a Walken fan) you are in for a serious treat.
The guy amazes me from the standpoint of an artist.
If they ever come up with a ‘WWCWD’ bracelet, let me know.
I want one.

He dances too . . .

Good stuff.


The Q

What is it all about?
My wife asked me this question the other day and I have to admit it puzzled my puzzler.
It’s a good question.
A deep question.
As busy as we both are with work, the 3 girls, the house, getting the cars fixed,
cooking supper, making a life, at the end of the day we look at each other and
shake our heads and wonder; what is it all about?
There was a point in our lives that we thought we knew but now we’re not so sure.
I know what it’s not about.
It’s not about the internet, Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail, the Stock Market, major league sports,
water polo, horse races or the lottery.
Not about cats, dogs, parakeets, beta fish, koalas or
freshly shucked oysters with freshly squeezed lemons.
It is definitely not about horseradish. (although I like to think so)
It’s not about the greenhouse effect or the nasty oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The question is why do we work our fingers to the bone only to die so soon after we have retired?
Tired is a lonely town.
I realize that bills need to be paid and food needs to be put on the table
so work needs to be done.
But at what cost?
It is something to ponder.
Pamela is still thinking about it, I’m sure.
Me, too.
And for most of us, life goes on.
Or so we hope.
Maybe it’s just (in the words of Douglas Adams) all about the number 42

{1 \over T}\int_0^T \left| \zeta\left({1 \over 2} + it\right) \right|^6\,dt \sim {42 \over 9!}\prod_p \left\{1-{1\over p}\right\}^4 \left( 1 + {4 \over p} + {1 \over p^2} \right) \log^9 T

Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Here’s to the answers and the endless Questions . . .


Suck Factor

I recently began teaching piano to someone that’s been asking me about some lessons for several years.
This ‘student’ of mine is currently working on many things but mainly pop tunes.
She takes on these artist tribute gigs like it’s her job and generally has 30-40 tunes on her plate.
She comes to me with the ones she’s having issues with and we go from there.
A bit avant-garde but it seems to work.
Although many things I say are met with that ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ stare,
there are moments when the light goes on and the aha moment presents itself.
This week we were going through several songs: I’m in you by Peter Frampton,
Yesterday Once More
by the Carpenters and
by Barry Manilow.
No cheap-shot Manilow comments, okay?
(and my student kind of gags when she plays these)
She generally goes to the web and finds a chord chart for a given song
and prints it out hoping to get a head start before she has her lesson.
I easily figured out why she’s been having so much trouble.
The chord charts suck.
Bad, appalling, ridiculous, shitty, WRONG are all adjectives that describe these
toilet paper-like charts that I wouldn’t even wipe a strangers ass with never mind my own keester.
These charts were written by someone that #1, has no ears (literally & figuratively),
#2, has little to no natural musical talent and #3, wouldn’t know what a minor seven flat five chord was unless it bit them is the ass.
I could not believe what I was seeing.
They should come with a *disclaimer:

“These chord charts are guaranteed to raise your suck factor
to levels beyond your wildest dreams.
They’re so poorly written you won’t even be able to play the song!”


“Musically illogical chord charts. Yeah, they do sound like shit, don’t they?
Hell, we don’t think we got one chord right!”

Jesus Krispies.

Figuring out chord changes to a song is not brain surgery
but for the bonehead that put some of this crap on the web I really have to wonder.
Bottom line?
It you’re trying to learn a song, stay the hell away from the web.
It will musically scare the hell out of you.
I am still shaking my head.

For your edification, THIS is one of the URL’s in question.

And not to totally diss this site (which I have done) this is a chord chart from someone
that doesn’t have their head up their ass.
Deacon Blues


On wings, fly to where you all need to be.
Know that we are here for you no matter what . . .
24/7, we will be here.
4 always . . .

Mom & Dad


Yeah, that’s me.
Minute by minute, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.
It gets weak sometimes, folks.
The train between Boston and Worcester seems to take on an almost elastic quality these days.
I want to be home.
Maybe I just need a vacation.
See all of you next week.

Pax . . .



It is an impossibly gorgeous day today.
There’s copious sunshine, more than ample warmth, stuff growing and skies bluer than blue.
We haven’t had a spring here in New England for about 15 years.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be alive and enjoying a day off such as this.
Life is good . . .


At teh Monkey Bar

A monkey can tell a great joke.
This one is a classic . . .


*and yeah, new theme, go figger

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