Category Archives: music

The BIG One!

This is my gift from the MIster, a tenor ukulele.

This is my gift from the MIster, a tenor ukulele (which I asked for).

Today is my 60th birthday! Celebrate!!

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Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

That little tremor in the world’s equilibrium yesterday was merely me leaving the 10-mile radius of my comfort zone . . . at night. For several hours.

Shocking, right? I cherish all the time I spend comfortably ensconced in my community’s little bubble. Usually everything I could ever need or want . . . including two Chipotles! . . . is right around the corner.

However, last night it was time for the Mister and I to pull on our social pants and mingle with the masses in Houston (where only 18th Street could magically become 20th Street). We met at the Corkscrew wine bar—the Mister zipped over from work, while I actually took on the mean streets and spine-tingling traffic of the big city with a few nerves left still intact.

Wonder where the yellow went?

Wonder where the yellow went?

Luring me to Houston was our disc golf pal Billy. He’s been featured in my blog before, famously wearing a blue dress, as well as wrongly advising me that chickens are harmless. Now that Billy has retired, he’s pursuing his dream of pop stardom. Too bad he’s too old for “American Idol”—this white-haired cat definitely can sing and strum!

Billy took to the Corkscrew’s horribly lit stage with his 12-string guitar and an eclectic song list that included tunes by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, assorted artists I’ve never heard of, plus several that he wrote (the Mister and I liked those the best). We were joined at our table by the Mister’s brother Mike and his wife Paula. Several other disc golfers also attended.

Naturally, I toted my beloved Nikon D700 for documenting the event. The Nikon 85mm (f/1.4) was the perfect lens for the job: It lets in a lot of light, plus it gets me close to the action without being intrusive. I just wish that there had been a lot of light. Talk about your dim bulbs!

Billy gives it his all.

Billy gives it his all.

As you can see from the top photo, the white balance was totally wonky. I put mine on bulb after taking pics on every setting and seeing that it was the “best” and hoped that I could wash away the yellow in Photoshop. My ISO was 4000; Noise Ninja helped tame the grain, which really wasn’t too bad.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening filled with great singing, wonderful family and friends, and Diet Coke and delicious thin-crust pizza.

I might have to shake up the globe a little more often!

Vinyl Memories

Yep, vinyl is back!

As I walked down the rock music aisle at Fry’s last week on my way to buy a printer, something unusual caught my eye. I stopped, looked to my left, and immediately was transported back to a kinder, gentler era of no reality television or nonstop F-bombs in movies.

I was mesmerized by a small collection of what we old fogies called “albums.” When I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, vinyl was the name of the game when it came to music. I would listen to those LPs on my suitcase turntable every night when I went to sleep. They were wonderful, lyrical companions.

Vinyl co-exists among the CDs.

Of course, I haven’t bought a record in years (I had no idea they still were being sold, in fact). Cassette tapes were easier, and then CDs seemed even better. Now, almost all my music purchases are of the digital nature. It’s nice that you can think about a song, go to iTunes or Amazon.com, and quickly download it to your computer. So convenient!

The Beach Boys’ 1966 epic “Pet Sounds” was a breakthrough album.

One album on Fry’s shelves I immediately remembered: “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys. It looked exactly the same as it did in 1966 . . . well, except for the price tag. Back then it was about three bucks. Now it’s $16.99 plus tax. Ouch!

In 1966, I didn’t have extra cash to buy “Pet Sounds,” even though I really wanted it. And now I’m not about to spend 17 bucks . . . especially when I can download it for $9.99 from iTunes and easily put it on my iPod.

Although I’m firmly committed to the digital music world, it’s nice to be reminded of one’s younger days every now and then . . . even if it does happen when you’re looking for a printer.

Which was known as a “typewriter” during that wonderful vinyl era.

Marimba Music

Tanner T. plays the marimba in our high school’s marching band.

Per . . .

Josh does, too!

. . . cus . . .

And Nicholas, three!

. . . sion!

Giving Thanks

The Beatles have come “home!”

When you’re at the grocery store this morning, and there’s a two-person traffic jam by the shopping carts, it gives you time to think about Thanksgiving. There’s so much to be thankful for!

• I’m so grateful that the Beatles, my favorite rock group, finally are on iTunes! I’ve been waiting seven years for it to happen, ever since I got my first iPod for my 50th birthday. I do own several Beatles CDs, but most of my albums were of the archaic vinyl persuasion. Not being into file sharing, I’ve waited not-so patiently for this historic digital download day, and I’ve finally been rewarded.

How often will I listen to the Beatles on my iPod now? Probably eight days a week!

My #2 son smirks.

• I suppose I should be thankful that I have a son who loves to challenge me photographically. Last night while we were watching “The Biggest Loser,” he was mimicking some of the contestants’ workouts by lifting weights. Of course, the minute I swung my Nikon in his direction, he stopped and just lifted his arm. Then he pulled a blanket over himself and used the weights underneath it where I couldn’t see them.

All while smirking. Good thing he’s so darned cute!

A couple of my #1 son’s favorites.

• Of course, the reason I was at Kroger in the first place waiting for the traffic jam to dissipate was because I needed to buy food that I haven’t stocked since the Labor Day weekend. Yep, my older son will be home from college tonight! We’re looking so forward to seeing him again and having our house back to normal . . . until Sunday when he has to go back.

He’ll return home for the long winter break on December 14th . . . when I could be facing that shopping cart traffic jam once again.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow . . . Even Though It’s 67 Degrees

12-15 rch shuffle playlist

Part of the holiday song playlist

Yesterday at 6:15 a.m. when I got ready to run my 12-miler, I paused at my iMac and checked the outside temperature widget.

67 degrees. On November 15. Too warm for running comfortably. Much too warm.

ipod-shuffle1

The second-generation iPod Shuffle

So I decided my best strategy was to drink a lot of water, consume several GU energy gels, and opt for music on my iPod Shuffle that might help me forget that 67 degrees will be at least 70 degrees in an hour. Yep, I broke my longstanding rule about not listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.

Of course, hearing “Oh, the weather outside is frightening,” just reinforced the feeling that the conditions were awful. But I always tend to jolly up when I hear holiday songs . . . whether Christmas, Chanukah, or generic . . . so I figured I had nothing to lose.

frostyWe don’t see much of Frosty the Snowman here in south Texas (in fact, my sons have only experienced snow twice in their lives; it seemed almost miraculous to them), but the song always puts a smile on my face. Even when I’m slogging through mile eight wishing a breeze would start to blow the stale, hot air.

The Christmas songs I like best are sung a cappella (Rockapella, the Blenders, and the Groove Barbers are personal favorites) or played acoustically on guitar (Doug Smith and Ed Gerhard are especially gifted musicians). But what I really prefer best? Anything that takes my mind off the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other death shuffle as heat is rising off the pavement, and I’m starting to mentally crater at mile 10.

Listening to those holiday classics did help raise my spirits during most of the long run. However, none of the tunes were as uplifting as one wonderful sight: My front door when I finally finished!

Random Snippets and Apertures

Nailed it!

Nailed it!

Or should that be Apertures & Random Snippets?

This is a bonus shot from Monday’s roofing blog post (where “bonus shot” means I liked it, but it didn’t seem to fit with the other photos). It was snapped after the original shingles and detritus were tossed off the roof. Shot wide open (f/2.8) with my Nikon 17-55mm lens on my Nikon D300 for a bit of lovely bokeh blur.

Sidebar: I’ve seen the word “detritus,” which means waste or debris, several times lately, both online and in the newspaper. Trend follower that I am, I felt compelled to use it. Originally I had typed “what-not.” Not very trendy. But actually somewhat descriptive!

Moving on . . . random snippets fill my mind

Aly Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, and Gaelan Connell star in "Bandslam"

Aly Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, and Gaelan Connell star in "Bandslam"

The Mister and I dragged the #2 son with us to see “Bandslam” recently, and we all really liked it. The actors are talented and cute, and even the music is good.

Sidebar: When it comes to music, I believe the best songs were produced between 1964 and 1972 or so. Almost anything else isn’t worth listening to, as I like to tell the #1 son, who loves music so much he practically considers his iPod Touch to be as essential as his aorta. Oddly enough, he doesn’t agree with my astute assessment.

The movie’s title, “Bandslam,” comes from an annual music competition. Will, played soulfully by Gaelan Connell, remakes a band fronted by Aly Michalka (who plays Keely on “Phil of the Future”; love that Disney Channel!). Will falls for the characters played by Aly and Vanessa “High School Musical” Hudgens, followed by a fair quantity of the kind of teenaged angst that the 17-year-old #1 son is going through. Lisa Kudrow does a wonderful turn as Will’s mother.

The song I liked best in the movie was a remake of Bread’s “Everything I Own,” sung by Hudgens. When was that song released? 1972. So no surprise that it’s great.

Middle-aged PDA

Be thankful that I don’t have a photo of this!

I was in the express checkout lane at my local HEB grocery store the other day. In front of me was a couple that had to at least be in their 40s. They were all over each other, kissing and hugging, right in front of me and my Banyan Foods’ Original Tofu Egg Rolls (they’re so good!). Gag me, peeps!

It’s bad enough when the teens have their public displays of affection, but people close to my age?!? Wait until you get in your car!

Fruit for Thought

I was chatting with the boys about the movie “X-Men Origins.” I looked over at my 14-year-old #2 son and noticed he had a quizzical look on his face.

“I thought you said ‘sex and an orange,’ ” he explained.