Tag Archives: music

Moreover

When I was young my father used to tell me the story of a professor who, after a lengthy absence—perhaps years—finally returned to the classroom, and began his lecture with “However, . .” You may know the story. I failed to find it on the internets, and my father, now 81, is on the road working, and I hesitate to interrupt him.

Four months since my last blog post, I shall begin this one with “Moreover, . . .”

The Word Nymph last laid on you a tale of woe, of illness and death and, my apologies, it has hung out here like a slab of decaying flesh since Memorial Day. Anyone visiting this place has read of my husband’s and my medical mysteries, our friend in the ICU, the passing of a cousin, and other sharp stones the universe has flung in our path.

Moreover, the friend died after seven months in the ICU, while the cousin’s brother died suddenly four months later, followed by two additional losses in the same family. A friend here and there also left this place and, sadly, there are others in the queue. Moreover, my mother is struggling to recover from a terrible tumble she took in August.

If you’ve become acquainted with the people I spoke of on May 31, you’ll be happy to know that the babies born four months premature are home and healthy as of this past week. I know I am.

As for my husband and me, we’re doing better. My body is functioning at full throttle and my husband’s brain waves, according to that zany take-home EEG, are hunky-dory.

I continue to suffer from a severe case of creative writer’s block, long unsuccessful at keeping the technical and scientific writing I do in my day job from infecting the right chamber, but we’ll get back to it, I promise.

However, I do have a new concern about my husband; perhaps you have some advice.

The last two mornings, I’ve gone downstairs to find him, instead of watching the news as usual, listening to the Carpenters’ greatest hits.

By the way, I know I misused “Moreover.” I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

9 Comments

Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Music

Isn’t it ironic?

I take this opportunity tonight to express my distaste for Alanis Morissette.

I take this opportunity tonight because my husband isn’t here to argue with me about it. He’s at an Alanis Morissette concert.

I didn’t go because doing so would have hurt my ears.

I’m not calling Alanis Morissette a bad musician. She might very well call me a bad writer. It’s simply a matter of taste.

Or science.

The human ear is sensitive to different kinds of sound. In some ways, my ear is sensitive as a dog’s ear is sensitive. I hear high pitched sounds many humans don’t.

Alanis Morissette’s whiny voice gives me goosebumps – and not the good kind.

Her lyrics are similarly annoying. Take one of her early hits, Ironic. Her examples of irony include “like rain on your wedding day” and “a black fly in your Chardonnay.” Alanis, honey, look it up.

Obviously, my husband and I have different tastes. Whereas I go for the deeper, richer, often whiskey-soaked alto vocals of Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Carole King (as well as Lady Gaga and Rihanna, singers with wide vocal ranges who are lauded for their ability to go low beautifully), he likes the voices that pierce my ears – Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Charlotte Church, Nanci Griffith and, don’t hate me, Joni Mitchell.

In other words, he has a high tolerance for high-pitched whining–which, come to think of it,  might just explain nearly 27 years of marriage.

Ironic? Not really.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Born to entertain

I’m picky about my rock legends.

Having been to scores of concerts, I’ve seen most of the musical greats live on stage, even met one or two. I still listen to all my favorite recordings, singing along and reliving the highlights of my career as an avid listener.

But I rarely go to see these idols live anymore. It often pains me to see how they’ve aged, how some have lost their ability to sing as they used to. Aging is a natural part of life, I know; I just prefer to remember the legends as they were.

Bruce Springsteen still is as he was. Only better.

I’ve told you before that I’ve been to more Springsteen concerts than I can count, the first one 37 years ago. As many Springsteen concerts as I’ve attended, I hadn’t been to one since I was in my 20s. I’m now in my 50s, as were most of the fans filling Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center Sunday night, some of whom have spawned a whole new generation of fans.

If you’re a fan, I don’t need to tell of the magic of Bruce. If you’re not, then you likely already quit reading after the third paragraph.

This isn’t a concert review; rather, just a recap of the impressions occupying my consciousness in the afterglow of the evening.

Bruce Springsteen is a man who . . .

  • At the age of 62, is as fit and energetic as he was at 25–and plays a better guitar than ever.
  • Speaks out boldly for his passions—personal, professional and political.
  • Might not enunciate his lyrics clearly, but has millions of fans sing along verbatim.
  • Still looks on the outside like the rugged bad boy we all fell in love with, but has mellowed into a sensitive and humble man who isn’t afraid to sing about Jesus and end his show with a “God bless.”
  • Has brilliantly mastered the art of musical orchestration and stage production to the extent it seems impossible to top.
  • Deeply misses, nearly to tears, his friend and saxophone player Clarence Clemons.
  • Had the wisdom to bring in Clarence’s nephew, Jake Clemons, to fill the Big Man’s big shoes and throw in four additional horns for good measure.
  • Has proven it’s possible to work successfully, side by side, every day, with one’s spouse.

Bruce gave 20,000 lucky fans three hours of musical muscle for their money. And while he was in town, he saw to it that wounded veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as well as those served by DC Central Kitchen, were included in the magic.

Yes, indeed. The man’s still got it.

More…

For a real review, today’s Washington Post says it more eloquently than I, and had more space to work with: Read David Malitz’ excellent account.

Previous Word Nymph pieces:

The Boss
Big Dream

7 Comments

Filed under Music

Divine misery

It was a fitting backdrop.

Gloomy skies. Hovering gray clouds. Damp, chilly air. Persistent rain, following a month of persistent rain. Profound fatigue. Even a sinus headache. Miserable. Just miserable.

And perfect. Perfect for going to see Les Misérables.

I had given the tickets to my husband for Father’s Day.

We had never seen the show. It was coming to The Kennedy Center on its umpteenth tour, so I thought it was time to see what the 25-year-plus sensation was all about.

I hope it’s safe to divulge that I knew next to nothing about the play. Granted, it’s said to be the longest-running musical in the world, the third longest-running show in Broadway history, based on one of the most notable novels of the 19th century. I should have done my homework but, because the weekend sneaked up on me, I didn’t read up as I normally do before seeing a show.

A friend was kind enough to give me a synopsis over lunch on Friday—between bites and meeting agenda items. Otherwise, I might have surmised that Victor Hugo penned an entire story around a Susan Boyle hit.

After an insufficient night’s sleep, a long morning at church and a big lunch, the first act of yesterday’s matinee was an exercise in foggy frustration, as I struggled to piece together, ce qui au nom de Dieu, was happening on stage. The novel—1900 pages in French, 1400 in English—is composed of 365 chapters, so I cut myself un petit peu de slaque.

I found that the music itself created a story through sheer emotion, even without the lyrics; in fact, my husband and I agreed it was the best score of any Broadway production we’d seen. Otherwise, we’d have been tempted to walk out at Intermission for as well as we could follow the plot.

But we hung in. Between acts, we re-read the program synopsis and hoped for the best. Besides, we had great seats.

The curtain rose on the second act and all became sharply clear. My headache even went away. The social and spiritual themes came  to light—grace, forgiveness, sacrifice, redemption, love. I cried as the finale was sung, first by Jean Valjean and then by the ensemble. I put on the CD last night and played the song several more times.

I might need to see Les Miz again. In the meantime, I now have one more selection to add to my funeral playlist: “Finale,” and isn’t that fitting as well?

Subject for another day: Do you have your funeral music picked out?

9 Comments

Filed under Music, Theater

Gone to heaven in ’77

There was much ado about yesterday being the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. All kinds of memories, trivia and salutations blasted from live and social media platforms everywhere. Michele Bachman even wished Elvis a happy birthday.

Elvis died August 16, 1977. It was as big a deal then—my senior year in high school—as Michael Jackson’s sudden death a couple of years ago.

One reason I remember this so vividly is that another cultural icon died later that week; but the news was a bit overshadowed by the passing of The King.

My younger brother was deep in mourning because he lost both of his favorite entertainers in the same week. Elvis was one; the other was Groucho Marx.

My brother had been Groucho for Halloween just that year. No, wait. It wasn’t Halloween; he just dressed and got made up like Groucho. I had a theatrical make-up kit that contained hair for mustaches and eyebrows, as well as greasepaint to draw circles under, and wrinkles around, the eyes. There’s a framed picture somewhere; I’ll have to see if I can find it. Stay tuned.

Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx was almost 87 when he died, which might be why it wasn’t program-interrupting news. Elvis Aaron Presley was 42. All I know is that my little brother was one mopey 10-year-old.

Could it be that Elvis is really still alive? I Just Can’t Help Believing.

Should we honor the great Groucho this Friday? You Bet Your Life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family and Friends, In Memoriam, Movies, Television and Radio, Music

Lame that tune

I’m back from the beach, where my husband and I enjoyed a few days with some long-time friends. We came home with sand in our shoes, color on our cheeks, some soft ice cream stains and a terrific new game.

Our friends made up this game, which was great fun. I encourage you to play it, but one of the creators is a prominent intellectual property lawyer, so you’d best not steal the idea.

The homespun dinner table game offers the best in musical entertainment, laughter and profound humiliation.

Each person staying in the house was asked to bring his or her MP3 player to the table and hand it over to the leader. We had 10 players. One by one, each person’s song list was set on Shuffle and three songs were played—at random; for the benefit of the Podless, that’s what “shuffle” means.

I believe, anthropologically speaking, that our iPods are telling relics, revealing much about our true selves. And admit it, don’t we all have one or two songs in our libraries that we’d rather not have anyone discover?

Well, that’s the point of the game, and somehow the Shuffle function can bore right through to that one song that reveals to your loved ones—and the fellow dinner guests you’ve just met—your inner pathetic dweeb.

So here’s how it works. The first player, who happened to be I the other night, surrenders her iPod to the leader, who pops it into the speaker system. When a song comes on, the rest of the group gives it a thumbs up, thumbs down or some sort of gesture that in essence means, make it stop—now. It’s a little like Pandora Radio. We all decided that the make-it-stop option should be limited to three per voter, as some people are natural-born critics.

My first song was a little lame. It was Chris Isaak’s version of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man.” As uncoolness goes, I’d hoped Chris Isaak and Neil Diamond would cancel each other out. Turns out, in a group where half the members were over 50 and the other half under 27, I wasn’t so lucky. Thumbs down. Shuffle stopped at my second song, Heart’s “Crazy on You,” which nearly everyone agreed is one of the best songs ever. Saved. Number three killed me. It was Ray Stevens’ “The Streak.”*  ‘Nuf said. (Don’t look, Ethel!)

A few other players were almost as exposed and embarrassed. The hostess blushed as her device found “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The group agreed that my husband took the prize with Claudine Longet’s “Lazy Summer Night.” Who remembers Claudine Longet? The elder half of our group remembered Ms. Longet–her having been married to Andy Williams and having been convicted of fatally shooting her Olympic skier boyfriend and having been with the family at Robert Kennedy’s assassination and funeral.

The younger half of the table was busy banging out a drum chorus of “Make it stop.”

Try the game at your next dinner party and let me know how it goes.

*In the meantime, who’s old enough remember “The Streak?” Who’d like to hear a real life story about 1973’s fleeting pastime?

8 Comments

Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Movies, Television and Radio, Music, Sports and Recreation, Travel

A capital getaway

We just got in from a mini-getaway in our state capital of Annapolis, so close in distance from our home, yet so far away in atmosphere.

The occasion blended a rhythm and blues show, a friend’s birthday party and a gift certificate for a local bed and breakfast into a 16-hour vacation.

To sketch a picture of Annapolis for those who haven’t been there, it sits on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and, in addition to being the state capital, it is home to the United States Naval Academy. Its narrow streets are lined with restaurants, crab houses, craft shops, taverns and trendy boutiques. It also hosts an impressive 500-seat music venue, the Ram’s Head Tavern, where we attended a superb performance by the Tom Principato Band.

Our base of operations for this 16-hour vacation was a local inn, sadly, the kind of place you want to stay for no longer than the time between putting your tired head on the pillow and going downstairs for breakfast. I don’t mean to be unkind, but camping might have been cleaner and more comfortable. There’s no lobby; you come in through the kitchen of the deli below, to the cash register, which serves as the front desk. If you come back after 11:30 p.m., which we did, you have to climb what is essentially their fire escape to the third floor.

The real treasure, however, was the deli, rather, delly, below the inn. It turns out that Chick & Ruth’s Delly is a well known, family-run Annapolis landmark that’s been in business 45 years. And, while it’s very much a local hangout, I now recall it was featured recently in The Washington Post magazine recently as a favorite for brunch.

“Here you go, sweetie pie,” was how my husband’s crab omelet was served. ‘Nuff said.

We bought fresh crab cakes to cook at home tonight, just to extend the delly experience. I just hope no one expects a side of “sweetie pie” with those.

Do take a minute to peruse their website. Who knows, you might be interested in one of their Colossal Challenges, involving a three-pound deli (er, delly) sandwich, a three-pound hamburger or a six-pound milkshake. Read about the family who started and still runs the place and how the kids got started serving behind the counter, standing on milk crates. And don’t miss the web page that highlights all the couples who got engaged at the Delly.

Best of all, go to Chick & Ruth’s at 8:30 a.m. on any weekday, 9:30 any weekend day, and join your fellow patrons in the Pledge of Allegiance.

God bless America, the great state of Maryland and Chick & Ruth’s Delly.

3 Comments

Filed under Food, Music, Travel