Monday, November 28, 2005

Canaries' Sophomore Gig

The canaries flew into Claremont once again to wing it with another Bob Dylan hit, ruffling the feathers of many folk purists with their uke-o-centric rendition. This time, they thrashed "Maggie's Farm," the title of which is actually longer, but I'm too damn lazy to type the whole thing, even though typing this sentence has taken longer. I mean "thrash" in a good way.

Canary Limo once again provided power vocals, setting many young girls hearts a-flutter, while Billy Canary and Canary Jeff lit the stage with their ukes. Canary Jeff attacked his ukulele solo with the ferocity of a young tiger raging through a forest of Frosted Flakes, bringing an otherwise complacent to it's feet for the first of many standing O's.

Other acts at the Open Mique (and I'm going to be occasionally serious here) were plentiful. Kudos to the nice elderly lady who started an impromptu jam session while we all waited in line. But I have to take at least one kudo back. The lady was first on the list and, in spite of the new Folk center policy of one song per, asked if she could do a second song. The first song was good. The second song was kind of "faux" folk and not very good. The FC open Mique MC return to the one per policy for every act that followed. To make matters worse, after making us sit through her two songs, she couldn't be bothered to stay until the end--major chutzpah in my book. She left during the break. What's wrong Granny, didn't get your nap?

For those of you classical music fans, Paganini Man was back, trying to recapture the glory that he so elegantly didn't capture the first time. This time, he brought his own sound equipment, which didn't make the piece any better, or shorter. Again, he had to be stopped before someone killed him.

My theory is that he is actually a long-lost son of Andy Kaufman.

But there were a lot of fine performances, with a lot of unusual instruments featured.

One of the FC's employees played tubular kind of banjo-esque thingy that. A good instrumental performance.

One regular put aside his guitar and pulled a charango off the wall and played that. Another fine instrumental.

Special ed and the Guy Who Looks Like Jim Croce returned with another Croce tune. It was okay, but I hope they realize that you can only take that Jim Croce gimmick so far.

The highlight was this perky little Chinese lady who showed up with the Japanese version of a koto and played that. It was a haunting, exquisite performance. It was probably the most surprising and even best thing I have ever seen at the FC. It was one of the reasons I go to these things.

That, and to catch the Canarie's in their latest performance.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Haircut (My 100th Post)

Huzzah. Who knew that, back when I first started this venture, my readership would explode into to the upper single digits as quickly as it has?

Yesterday, I got a haircut. And this was no ordinary haircut. It was a haircut touched the essence of haircut-ness.

I knew from the moment my stylist approached me, smiled seductively, and led me to the sink to wash my hair, that this was going to be something special.

I had only asked for the wash and the cut, not the scalp massage. But her technique during the wash was kind of a half massage that gradually evolved into a full scalp massage that left my toes tingling. Oh yeah, it did.

Then, she asked me what I wanted done. I said that I wanted about an inch all around (I never know what to tell them, I'm not a hair guy--just make sure my bald spot is covered).

But, from the first snip, I knew that she was in control. As I watched in the mirror, helpless, I could see that she was cutting off much more than an inch--perhaps an-inch-and-a-half, maybe even two. But I could do nothing to stop her. She was so good. At this point, I just hoped she would be kind and make it even.

My God, she even trimmed my ear hairs--just the exterior ones around the lobes, though. She left my inner ear hairs alone. You have to leave something for next time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Great Moments in Slightly Higher Education

So, I teach this night class at the local CC and my students have this final paper due, which is supposed to be an argumentation piece and I have each student discuss their proposal in class tonight. One of the real treats of the evening is where I espouse like an expert on each of my students' topics.

One nice lady told the class that she was going to write about women in leadership. I couldn't figure out what her real point was and after commenting on that, I smiled and looked musingly up at the ceiling and said "Hmmmm, I wonder if I will ever see a female president--imagine, President Hillary Clinton."

At which point this one young lady, clearly upset, shot back, "Not no Hillary Friggin' Clinton--what about Condoleeza Rice!"

"That girl's got it going on," she said.

I had espoused significantly already for the night. As professor, I try not to dominate with my opinions because the class is really about helping students express their opinions. That, and I knew this young lady's husband had served in Iraq and might be going back.

So, I straddled the fence of forcing this woman to explain what Condi-I'm-too-Busy-Buying-Shoes-to-even-pretend-that-I-Care Rice has done for this country (really, what has she been successful at, folk?) or be silent and let other folk chime in. I decided to be silent.

Maybe I was wrong. But, were I the student and had my professor been neo-con, I wouldn't want him using up class time to promote his views. The classroom should be a place for the students to discuss and develop their ideas.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Canaries on DVD

Went to the Folk Music Center to pick up the open mike CD (which, by the way, the Folk Center folk spell "M-I-C").

The sound and picture quality is better than I thought it might be, considering it was a single camera. You can see all of the performers very well and the sound is clear--in the case of the Paganini-playing guy, too clear.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Blues

I was down today. I sometimes get that way these days--what with my mother's illness, my car thing, my kidnapped Oscar Schmidt, and on, and on.

I left my music stand inside between classes. The wind was strong enough that I feared it would blow my music away. So I stood outside and absentmindedly strummed some chord progressions to songs that I already knew.

Iz, my prize ukulele disciple came out and stood there awhile and said, "Mr.O, that's so sad." I was playing "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime." It's one of those songs that I practice often because it has a grip of chords.

I guess I was really selling it.

So Iz goes in and grabs my music stand and turns to "Daydream Believer." Fewer Chords. But much happier. She has been practicing this one and so have I.

So we started playing.

Soon, a few non-uke students grabbed some rhythm toys out of my grab bag, and we had a jam session going.

I felt better, then.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Accident, Not My Own

But before I get to thesis, I am half-watching SIDEWAYS. There was just this scene with Paul Giamatti standing and looking at pictures from his past, which included a picture of him standing with his father, who is either Bart Giamatti, the late Baseball commissioner who famously tussled with Pete Rose, or an actor who looks like him. Of course, Bart was Paul's actual dad, hence the name similarity.

But back to biz. On my way to the Rubeedoo walk, I swung (swang?) by Blockbuster's to return a video. The way back, traffic was slowed to an almost stop. In the ten to fifteen minutes it took me to travel 1/10th of a mile, I discovered it was due to some accident.

Hence, I stand by my previous post(see Four Guys, Four Guitars). Not the part about it being a great concert--although I do stand by that too--but the part about drivers around here being increasingly idiotic. Still feel compassion for the victims, but hating on the pricks who feel they MUST challenge the odds and drive stupidly. In their hands, cars become weapons.

As I drove by the car that must have rear-ended the car in front of it, the jerk who must have been driving it was standing there with his little camera taking pictures of the damage, smiling.

In the last two years, I have had three accidents, two from the rear. The first, the woman not only ran a red light and plowed into my side, she stopped at the red light, and, when I had entered the intersection on my green light, she THEN ran her red light and plowed into my side. No insurance, of course. It was her boyfriend's car of course.

The second was on a rainy morning where I got up extra early to get to work. The turn lane was backed up. The guy behind me said his "foot slipped." He had insurance.

The third one, no damage, merely bumped me from behind while I waited for the light to turn green. I got out to check my car only to meet her stepping out, cell phone in hand, and told me that she had turned around for a second to discipline her kids.

I need to get a skateboard.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Four Guys with Guitars

I saw that Lyle lovett, Joe Ely, John Hiatt, and Guy Clark were playing at the Disney Concert Hall in LA and got it in my head that I wanted to see them. These are four singer-songwriters from Texas, not twangy country-western, more country-folk. I am most familiar with Hiatt and Lovett. I barely know Joe Ely's stuff. Guy Clark I am only aware of because Lovett did a song of his on his CD "Come into This House." In fact, Clark's song is the title Clark. I also know of Clark through a contribution on a CD tribute to Townes Van Zandt.

Billy Canary had been interested in going, but had to back out. I thought about asking a couple of people, but decided to go on my own. I had a stressful week and just decided it would be good to get away from people.

Also, the concert was sold out, so I was going through the cancellation Line. I figured one person would stand a better chance of getting a ticket than two.

I planned on leaving early enough to be there two hours before the concert. It was a good thing, because traffic was pretty bad. That's the problem with Southern California these days. What used to be an hour drive can actually be a two-hour drive. I was slowed down by traffic jams four times during my two-way trip--once by ordinary congestion, once by a break-down, twice by accidents.

I arrived at the Disney Hall and the line was short. After standing in line for about 1/2 hour, I got a ticket for the Orchestra West. This gave me a nice, slightly angular view of the performers.

They audience received the quartet warmly as they walked out. They took there seats, just four singers and four guitars.

Guy Clark announce that there had been "no planning, no set list, and no rules" and then performed "LA Freeway," which was a hit for Jerry Jeff Walker. Clark is probably the least famous of the four because, while he made records, his songs have been made famous by others.

I had not heard the song before, but it was tasty. As he finished, some guy across the hall from my seat let out a huge "Wahoo!" to which Clark replied, "As long as I can reach just one person..."

Clark then introduced Ely. And so the evening progressed, with each singer playing a tune and handing the spotlight to the singer on his right.

The Wahoo Guy wahooed several times throughout the evening. In fact, he tried to control the show. He clapped along with the songs enthusiastically, and always off by a beat. Every other song, he yelled out a request to either Joe or John, couldn't tell which, for one particular song, couldn't tell what.

I don't think they ever played it. It reminded me of something I heard Steve Martin say when he still did stand-up. Guys like that can really mess with a performer's concentration. They could have taken the man's request, but that would have given control to one guy in the audience, who might not ever stop making requests. So, they just smiled up at this fellow and kept with their format.

The guitar solos were all handled by Ely and Hiatt. All four would occasionally harmonize with whomever was singing. It seemed unplanned, which made it all the more lovely. Lovett acted as MC. Among the best tunes were "Baby Don't Tolerate," "My Chihuahua," "Real Fine Love," "Come into This House," and "If I had a Boat."

They closed there initial set with a Carter Family tune that I did not recognize. They came out for one encore, each singing another tune, then closing together as a quartet with "This Land Is Your Land."

Great concert.

They are moving up to San Francisco, Oregon, and Washington this week.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Good-bye Oscar

So, I'm rethinking my anti-gun views. Early, early Thursday morning, my car was broken into while sitting in my driveway and some stuff was either wrecked or stolen.

I admit, the phrase "broken into" doesn't exactly apply here. I couldn't have made it easier. I got home at around 10, after teaching my night class, and was tired, having been up since about 5 AM. Forgot to unload my briefcase containing my school stuff, my Oscar Schmidt OU-5--and, most of all, I forgot to turn on the car alarm.

I know, I know...

Anyway, I realize that, to be able to catch the thief and shoot him, I would have had to run out of my house at some ungodly hour, in my naked-ish glory,
locked and loaded, not knowing what kind of fire-power the perp might have brought with him, not knowing how many there were.

So, I guess I'm still anti-gun.

At least my insurance will cover the expensive stuff, like fixing my dashboard, where the perp tried to pry out my XM radio and failed (but he did take the removable face and the remote, which I think is pretty worthless without an actual radio).

But my insurance won't cover my Oscar, the very uke that I played at the Canaries' debut. Since it was stolen from my car in front of my house, it is covered by my $250 deductible home-owner's insurance, which makes it essentially uncovered. If the perp had dropped it and broken it and left it there, it would be covered by my car insurance.

So, uke-wise, I am trying to practice Buddhist detachment form worldly items. Plus, I have a few other ukes to play. It's just that the Oscar does have some sentimental value.

On another note, I recently got Kurt Vonnegut's latest, A Man without a Country. I just started it, but the first twenty or so pages are just a rehash of things I have already read from other of his non-fiction books. I happen to like his non-fiction more than his fiction. A full review as soon as I finish it. In the meantime, go read Wampeter, Foma, and Ganfalloon.