Music is Life

I love music.  I enjoy hearing it echo throughout my home.  I installed speakers everywhere and I am always searching new styles of music to enjoy.  When I was a teenager, I listened to it as loud as possible while driving my car that my trunk would rattle.  Many a concert that I attended- I don’t remember much about them. But I have ticket stubs to say I was there. I’m surprised that I have only lost just under a quarter of my hearing in my right ear for certain decibels. 

We have kept music alive in our home for years. Once our children were born, we bought into the whole “Baby Einstein” thing.  I loved the music playing from the tv.  I think it helped to raise an appreciation for music and the arts in our children. When our children where in preschool, every month they learned about a different classical musician or artist.  It sure was better than hearing theme songs from Dora or Disney JR sung over and over.

Our children have been taking piano lessons since they were each in grade 1. We bought a grand piano nearly a decade ago.  It cost us the price of a car.  But it has brought much joy (and some anger) as they have played and practiced over the years. Today, our middle child had her Royal Conservatory Exam for Grade 3 piano.  Tomorrow night all three will be performing at a piano recital put on by their piano teacher.

Next year at school, our youngest will have an opportunity to start playing an instrument for band. My wife and I feel he should do trumpet.  He wants to try for a string instrument like the cello as well. Our kids love trying more unique instruments. This year, our middle child took on learning the Bassoon. She already had two years of clarinet, but wanted to stand out a bit more in music.  Our oldest joined choir this year.  I never knew she could sing at the caliber that she can. It also helped her with getting herself out there and perform for an audience.

I hope that our children have a lifelong appreciation for music.  I’d love to see them pursue more long term in the arts after leaving school.  I don’t want them to have regrets about not continuing on like many of my adult friends have had.

Radio Waves

My household loves music.  Our kids play a variety of instruments from piano to bassoon.  They all attend a Fine Arts School and major in music as well.  I have also set up speakers throughout the main floor and back deck in order to enjoy music in almost every room.  I often use Kodi to search out a variety of radio stations and styles of music to fit my mood.  Oftentimes settling on Chamber Music or top 100 from the 80’s/90’s.  Occasionally Bluegrass or J-Pop sneaks in…

When I drive, I always have the radio on. Since getting my Rogue back in December, I’ve been listening to SiriusXM every time I drive my car.  We have had the satellite radio service for years in my wife’s Pathfinder, but we also listen to regular radio stations as well in her car.  Usually it’s NEWS1130 in order to keep up with current events both locally and internationally.

In my car however, the type of XM radio stations I listen to has morphed over the past few months.  First it was all music.  Disco, Grunge, 80’s, 90’s, even Classic Rock. Then I decided to start listening to the Comedy stations.  A few good laughs were had.  Now I am onto Talk Radio.  Specifically “SiriusXM insight”.  I find I really enjoy hearing people talk about everything and anything.

My issues with satellite radio are: The programming seems to be on repeat every 11-14 hours.  Which is rather annoying.  You’d think that with satellite radio and the money people spend on it, that there would be more variety constantly. Which brings me to my other point: Why should I pay for radio? I haven’t discovered the value in it.  

So when my six month subscription runs out in September, I will not be renewing.  The button on my car’s radio shall become useless.  Although, it feels that way for my FM button at the moment.  I don’t think I’ve even programmed in the local radio stations.  

In the end, I can live without paying for radio.  It’s just another expense not worthwhile.  Kind of like cutting off the cable tv.  There is so much more out there to be entertained by instead of wasting money on these strange luxuries. I just need to find a way to stream J-Pop into my car…

Making Good On My Promise

It’s hard to keep a promise sometimes.  Especially when it’s one that is ongoing.  But this promise is one that I have upheld for many years and will continue to for many more years. 

I promised to support my children in whatever avenues they choose to go on for their education. I also promised to be there whenever I could to watch and cheer them on. It’s something I promised to myself.  I know that our children appreciate the support.

Tonight is no different.  Our middle daughter will be performing in both choir and concert band at her Fine Arts School.  Moments like this are what make all the hard work worthwhile.  

I know she is anxious and nervous.  I am as well.  It’s difficult and thrilling at the same time to watch your child perform.  You want them to succeed.

It was hard for me growing up because my parents weren’t always there for my performances.  My mother tried to push me, but if I wanted to give up- that was fine as well.  I found I gave up more often than I should have and it became easier each and every time.  

Not our kids. If it gets tough, we make them work through it.  Giving up isn’t an option.  We make sure that they understand that there are more people relying on them to see their performance to the end. Hopefully this is the right thing to do.

Tonight is about showing off the hard work and talent.  Both of which our children succeed in.  I’m still nervous as hell to watch them take the stage.  But after a few minutes, it’ll all be over.  And they can focus on their next goal.  All while I’m keeping my promise- without them knowing I had made it.

Laugh and Sing

Yesterday and today my life has been filled with laughter.  Ya I know, the world is awful at the moment, but in my little universe all we can do is laugh to cope.  And laugh we did.

“Mmm beer.” -Homer Simpson

Last night my wife and I met some of my coworkers at the Trading Post Brewery for the Thursday “Cask Night”.  It has become a regular weekly habit of mine.  Last night we were really loud and raucous.  No, we weren’t drunk.  We were laughing and joking and just happy to be alive.  Sharing crazy stories, poking fun at each other, and just hitting a volume that announced to the brewery that we were there.

This morning, after I dropped the kids off at school, I repaired the dent in my car.  Remember a few days ago that I was complaining about it? (Read it here: It’ll Buff Out).  My wife took my car in to get a quote on getting the dent fixed yesterday. $300.  So I finally took a closer look at the dent this morning and “Fonzie Punched” beside it on the door.  It popped back out.  Winning!

I then enjoyed a few videos on the Internet that made me laugh.  After school pick up- my kids made me laugh.  During dinner we sang and danced to Queen.  Ever since I wrote about Queen– I was wanting to buy the Greatest Hits album.  So I did earlier today.  The kids loved it.  Parenting win!

So my life has little joys and laughs.  I’m glad to be able to share them with friends and family.  It brightens everyone’s life.  On to a quiet evening watching some Netflix.  Fridays are made to relax.

Happy Talk

In the early 80’s there was this strange phenomenon called “The Mini Pops”.  I owned a VHS copy that got played over and over until it finally just gave static lines.  This was my first introduction into “real music” and not just Disney songs from Jungle Book and Snow White.  We also owned a “Christmas” Cassette and the “Let’s Dance” cassette.  Car rides with my mom were the best.

This was also my introduction into pop music.  I knew the words for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Video Killed The Radio Star” by age seven.  But one of the songs that stuck with me was “Happy Talk”.

Captain Sensible?

The Mini Pops did a cover of Captain Sensible’s version who originally did a cover of the song from the musical “South Pacific”.  The song is fun.  It shouldn’t have been a pop hit even in 1982- but it was.  For a young child, the song was catchy and inspirational.  

Talk about things you’d like to do.

You gotta have a dream-

If you don’t have a dream,

How you gonna have a dream come true?

This is today’s earworm for me as well.  But the words are uplifting still.  If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?  I am constantly making new dreams and doing my best to achieve them.  Perhaps in my youth, this song hit my subconscious and remains locked there.  Maybe this is the motto that drives me to keep writing and doing more for my life.  It’s what I like doing…

Keep talkin’ happy talk.

The Part We Play

“One artist does not make an Orchestra.”

I read that online somewhere and it definitely rings true.  Our middle daughter took on the role of performing the bassoon in her junior high band class.  Previously she was playing clarinet, but at the end of school last year she wanted to challenge herself.  So she asked to take on a new instrument.  I wrote about it here: School Concert Band.

When I was in high school, I played the clarinet. The very same clarinet that my daughter started on when she was in grade 5. I remember practicing and playing alone in my room. I also remember that even though we had a large classroom of thirty or so musicians- there was never anything extravagant in the sections. There were flutes, clarinets, alto sax, tenor sax, trumpets, trombones and a couple people performing percussion. We were a basic high school band. Not an orchestra.  The school my children attend is willing to push for strings, brass and woodwinds that aren’t of the norm in order to achieve this.

After last summer, months of practicing commenced.  Sometimes she was eager to unpack and play.  Other times it was a bit of coaxing to get her to practice.  As any parent with a child taking a music/band class knows- practice is imperative.  But it doesn’t always sound quite right.  An instrument playing it’s part could involve merely a repetition of notes or long rests.

Over the past few months, we have heard the one part.  The bassoon has a unique sound.  Sometimes we could hear the mistakes.  Other times we were wondering why such a song piece would be chosen.  There’s nothing magical about hearing an orchestral instrument playing by itself when it’s meant to be in the ensemble.

Today we attended the performance put on by the middle school students.  Every child performing their instrument.  Every one of them proving that hard work pays off.  Together they sounded like a real orchestra.  

I’m proud of our daughter for trying a new instrument.  Half a year later and the results are amazing.  After the performance, I saw her teacher in the hall and he was saying how excellent she is at the bassoon.  That was a proud parent moment.  A moment when you realize that your child is able to take responsibility for their life and prove that they can achieve their goals.  And it doesn’t go unnoticed.

What?  What?  Let Me Turn This Down…

Never too old to crank the tunes.

I have a tendency to enjoy my music really loudly.  Our home is wired up as well.  However, having four other humans living here makes it difficult to agree on what to listen to.  My children are also constantly practicing piano, guitar, flute, bassoon, clarinet or sime other instrument. So usually the music isn’t played at home.  

Driving alone is my time to enjoy music.  Loudly.  No matter what style of music it is.  From bluegrass to disco, metal to classical- if I’m listening to music, guaranteed everyone outside of the car is as well.

This is what Supernatural has taught me.

The music goes on when I’m enjoying a drive with my family.  Usually at a comfortable volume.  But… I’ll turn up the music when I really like a song.  Or… I feel like pissing off my family in the car.  This is especially fun to do to my oldest.  Nothing like cranking out some 80’s hair band music while dropping her off at school.  

It’s a vicious cycle.

Music is meant to be enjoyed.  I enjoy music.  I always have.  As a teen, I had a car with two 12″ subwoofers that rattled the trunk something fierce.  My stereos have refined over the years and I enjoy the Bose speaker systems that came in our vehicles.  The Sirius XM has been a pleasure as well to enjoy.  I’m not sure I see a value in paying for a subscription radio though.  The regular FM channels are good, except for the commercials.  I do have plenty of music in MP3 format I could use.

Honestly, what am I supposed to do with my old cd collection? 

Christmas Morning


Well, maybe not as much as it once was.  Our children have grown up to an age that they allowed us to sleep in until 8am.  Unwrapping gifts was a pleasure.  Everyone remained calm and there was lots of smiles and joy.  This year all the lovely women in my life received the gift of music.  

Our youngest daughter was super excited about her vintage turntable.  Now she can pull out our old vinyls from the 80’s.  We also gave her a Nightmare Before Christmas Album with images printed directly on the records.  

Our oldest received her first acoustic guitar.  She had been sneaking some practice time on her younger sister’s electric one earlier in the year-which caused a few good fights.  So I took her out to the music store and asked her to find one she liked.  She surprised me by finding an acoustic one.  This morning, after almost all of the gifts were opened, she had a bit of disappointment on her face until I moved a blanket that had covered her new instrument.  I’m not saying she wasn’t happy with what she had already unwrapped- but she knew she was going to get this.  I think she was just waiting for it.

For my wife I bought her a bass guitar and amp.  She wasn’t expecting it.  But the joy on her face when she opened it was awesome.

She has since been Instagraming photos of her new instrument.  I hope she learns to play!

We also received a bunch of Lego as a family (somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 pieces when added up!)  There were lots of books and I received a bounty of craft beers.

Our children made some lovely paintings as gifts to my wife and I.  Encouraging their artistic side is something we love to do.  I have kept a bunch of their art as well as hung it up to display.

It was a funtastic morning.  In all my hurriedness last night to put out gifts, I forgot an entire bag full of gifts for my wife.  Oops.  So we opened them with her just before breakfast (which was at 1pm).

We are off for a walk now to talk about Christmas and spend some more time together for Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas from us goofballs!

My Least Favorite Holiday Song

Every year around this time, Christmas music is played everywhere you go.  I even have it playing on the speakers throughout my home.  My children are also practicing festive songs on the piano this month.  With all of this combined, there are hundreds of songs to go through.  Some are catchy, others are traditional, and some are just plain terrible.  Not including the comedic styles like “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” there is one song that I just cannot stand to hear- no matter who sings it.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Here is a link to the creepy Tom Jones version where he appears to be the devil with a woman in a cage.  This video really exasperates the meaning behind the song.

But Josef, what about the time Buddy the Elf sang it in the hit movie “Elf”?

Seriously.  He is in a woman’s change room while a girl is taking a shower.  Not cool Will Ferrell, even by your standards of comedy.  Probably the number one reason I don’t like this film.

The song itself has always bothered me.

  • Lady wants to go home
  • Dude keeps trying to put the moves on her
  • She says no
  • His pride is hurt, but he insists
  • She gives in to shut him up

Unfortunately, this is what society is teaching people what to do and how to act.  Granted the song was written in 1944 and starts innocently enough:

I really can’t stay (but baby, it’s cold outside)

I’ve got to go away (but baby, it’s cold outside)

So it’s cold outside and it sounds like genuine concern from the guy until a few bars later:

Say what’s in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)

I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)

WOAH NOW!  What’s in her drink?  She’s clearly saying no to his advances.  But further on in the song she gives up:

At least I’m gonna say that I tried (what’s the sense in hurtin’ my pride?)

You’ve really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)

But don’t you see? (how can you do this thing to me?)

The poor female in this song is facing pressure to fulfill this guy’s needs.  He is still playing the scoundrel right up until the end:

There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (think of my lifelong sorrow)

At least there will be plenty implied (if you got pnuemonia and died)

I don’t like this song.  Never have.  It really bothers me that so many artists think of it as a great duet as well.  

Last year Fun or Die nailed this song perfectly.  Have a watch and see what it is about that song that bugs me:

Funny Or Die: Baby It’s Cold Outside

Bohemian Rhapsody 

I’ve been a pretty big Queen fan for many years, since before “Wayne’s World” made Freddie Mercury popular again in 1992… (I watched that movie a dozen times in the theater- I could recite it almost verbatim back in the day).  It was back in 1984, at the end of “Revenge of the Nerds” when We are The Champions played.  The song and feel good moment struck a chord in me at the young age of 9.  I was never going to be a jock.  I was a nerd.  That song set my life on a path that made me proud to like what I like.  

Ah, cassettes. Good times… good times.

As an adult, I used to play Queen all the time in my home.  That is, until my first daughter was born.  Before even reaching age two, she cried whenever I put Queen on so I stopped listening for many years in my home.  Even on cd, there were complaints in my car.  This was probably more due to the volume and dad’s *amazing* singing voice than the Queen songs themselves. 

Bohemian Rhapsody is a song that I have heard many times throughout my life.  I’ve rewatched live performances of Queen and wished that Freddie was still alive.  But since that’s not the case, his music lives on in recorded sound and imagery.  The Muppets even made a music video a couple years back as a tribute.  Everyone I know can sing this song… And sing the opera part, and sing the guitar & drums… Lots of singing and head banging.  But Freddie did it best.  Some say he could sing in four different octaves and was able to manipulate his voice in order to create the sound.  Quick link here.

Google. It’s like you’re in my head!

Earlier this month Google released a VR version titled The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience.  So, I downloaded the app.  I have watched and rewatched it numerous times already.  It is visually appealing and is so well done, that I wouldn’t be surprised if living artists try it as well.  Viewing it was reminiscent of watching a Pink Floyd Laser Show at the planetarium… Oooo flashbacks

What’s in the box?

I’m a big proponent of VR and have experienced many forms firsthand.  Now I am tempted to purchase a VR headset for my iPhone in order to truly immerse myself into that world.  Besides a $15 cardboard box from Google, real VR is actually kind of pricey.  VR still remains in its infancy as it jumps from being science fiction to reality.  Seriously though, try out the VR App of Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ll thank me.

Just try not to head bang too wildly, the VR headset may come flying off and you would come back to reality too quick.