Five Top 5’s

Two of the main tips to “good” blogging that I made the concise decision not to follow are 1) use lists to get people’s attention, and 2) invite interaction in the comment section.  Ok, so I’ve made two lists, but I think constantly doing that would get old quick, and I’ve never been one to make things easy. I never ask for comments because it seems like sort of a cop-out. I’m writing because I chose to. You are reading because you chose to. You don’t need someone harassing you to think of something clever, witty or thoughtful to say when you’re just trying to kill a couple of minutes at work (“Whaddaya think of this?! Whaddaya think of that!? Huh? Huh? Go ahead, say it, I dare ya.”) And honestly, I would feel like bad or unloved or something similar if no one left comments, but then people would tell me, “I love your blog, I just never have time to write anything. I will one of these days, though.”

This week I decided to take both ignored pieces of advice and run with them full steam ahead. Below are random lists I made up over the years. I can’t really make one or another its own post because they’re pretty self-explanatory.  I invite one and all to add their thoughts on any and all list items you strongly agree or disagree with, egregious omissions, and/or lists that would make for good conversation starters.

Without further ado:

#1) Top five foods I could eat a near endless amount of:
5) donuts
4) buffalo wings
3) pancakes
2) ice cream
1) lasagna

#2) Top five bands / musicians I don’t like but feel like I “should” which leaves me thinking that I just don’t “get it”:
5) the Beatles (I don’t NOT like them, I just don’t enjoy their music nearly as much as everyone else in the world)
4) Jeff Buckley
3) John Coltrane (except most stuff with Miles Davis)
2) Radiohead
1) Elvis Costello

#3) Top five web sites for killing time that won’t leave you hooked / addicted:
5) thedailysaw.blogspot.com
4) theonion.com
3) lamebook.com
2) cracked.com
1) freerice.com

#4) Top five favorite sounding words in the Bulgarian language (spelled phonetically and accompanied by a definition):
5) na-tu-tuck – a little down the way
4) Sne-jank-a – Snow White’s name
3) strellets – shooter or Sagittarius
2) mu-neech-ko – a very little bit
1) za-kuh-chal-kuh – coat hanger

#5)Top five proudest moments of mine, that don’t involve family or career:
5) throwing a bag of McDonalds trash out of a speeding car and triumphantly watching it land in its intended trash can.
4) pulling out a stuffed parrot at the mechanical claw machine in the Northampton, MA, bowling alley. I immediately retired from attempting the claw machine again.
3) not vomiting after getting stuck on the Pirate Ship in Old Orchard Beach, ME, in 1988. The brake broke and we had to wait for the ride to naturally come to a stop after swinging for what seemed like an eternity.
2) jumping into a frigid Danube River in January in search of a wooden cross.
1) graduating from UMass in four years without ever getting arrested of failing a class

 

So there they are.  Feel free to argue or add to anything above, or if the spirit move you, even create a new list.

Don’t forget to click through the link on the left when shopping at Amazon.com, and check out the Firecat Central photo gallery at http://firecatcentral.blogspot.com/ to purchase prints of any photos featured here.

Thanks for reading, everyone!!!

Mother Love Bone, Addiction, and Artists

In researching the song to represent the “Singles” Soundtrack this week, I came across this eerie video, most notably between the 1:00-2:15 marks. Originally, I wanted to be all funny ‘n’ stuff and put up a “Hey everyone, remember this band!?!?” comment, but seeing this video got me more thoughtful than a simple “Monday Song” post should.

Back-story: Mother Love Bone was a Seattle band in existence between ‘87-‘89. Their lead singer, Andrew Wood, was a unique talent and an inspiration to many, but died of a heroin overdose days before the scheduled release of their debut album. The album was well known in the underground grunge community, and two of the members, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, went on to form Pearl Jam, but the band performing here broke up after Wood’s passing.

This clip provides a rare look into a music scene that was just about to blow up and a band that was one of the most talented, at a time when video cameras weighed about 20 pounds and there were no websites to put concert footage for all to see. An up and coming band and scene, at a time when few had reason or strength to hold a camcorder for the length of a concert means this is some rare footage. Doing some quick youtube-Wikipedia-setlist.fm cross checking, I found out this footage was from September 3, 1989, six and a half months before the death of the lead singer. All logic would assume that he was having major issues with his heroin addiction at the exact moment this concert.
The sight of this guy, at the piano, obviously owning the crowd, playing this great song,* his whole career in front of him, and I all I can think is, “Was he high on stage?” We know he was addicted to drugs. We know he died shortly after this concert. He was either under the influence or needing to feed his habit, neither option is really conducive to the layperson performing, yet he was making it happen. How was he able to move a mass of people the way he did even while his inner demons were getting the best of him? How much of his talent is being suppressed by his substance use? How did he hit notes perfectly in sync with people who are presumably not in the same mental state as him?

It boils down to one ultimate question: Are artists who battle addiction helped or hindered in the moment while under the influence? I have definitely pondered this question before, being a long-time Grateful Dead fan. Were Jerry’s fine moments towards the end when he was high or clear headed? I’m sure there are interviews with family, friends, and band members that hold the answers, but I don’t think I want to know. Seeing as many of our most beloved artists were conquered by their bouts with addiction or mental illness, it is worth thinking about. It is hard not to get into “what if’s…?” when thinking about some of our favorites (Jerry, Van Gogh, Len Bias) . It is equally hard not to get sad at the lost potential these people represent. Ultimately, we have to be thankful for the joy they bring into the world, try to accept their faults (because no one’s perfect), and ask ourselves, “Who around us is being held back by their own inner demons?”

Watching the above clip, knowing what happens to Andy Wood, I see grainy, bootlegged footage of a man who is slowly dying on stage while showing the world his artistic gifts that will never fully be realized. That, to me, provokes a strange and creepy feeling.

On a lighter note, don’t forget to click through the link on the left when shopping at Amazon.com, and check out the Firecat Central photo gallery at http://firecatcentral.blogspot.com/ to purchase prints of any photos featured here.

Thanks for reading, everyone!!!

*Studio version of Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns:

Great Ted Talk on cultivating creativity in a healthy manner. Watch it!! NOW!!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE DADS OUT THERE!!

Monday Song #24

Here’s the next installment of “Songs From Movie Soundtracks I’ve Actually Bought.” After a faithful reader mentioned the “Singles” soundtrack on Facebook, I had a flashback involving Newbury Comics in Braintree, a Parisienne Brougham, and an HQ Warehouse paycheck. After coming to, I realized I bought that album many moons ago, so it shall be on the list. After much deliberation, I chose the Smashing Pumpkins contribution out of a process of elimination. Alice in Chains would be too ironic (they were really not good at all, looking back, though I owned multiple albums of theirs). I could not pick Pearl Jam over Chris Cornell or vice versa. The Screaming Trees music just does not transcend. Mother Love Bone inspired an entire blog post for Thursday (teaser). I was just listening to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness yesterday, so there you go.

Enjoy

Singalong Songs You May Actually Like

Below is the link to my first post for the new web site I am writing for.  If you didn’t see it on Facebook, feel free to check it out.  I am glad to have the opportunity, but just know it will not affect the quality of the work done on this site.

http://stayworkplay.org/blog/ready-to-make-it-happen/

This week I am posting a piece I wrote and shopped around over the winter with the hopes of having it published around this time of year.  I did learn a lot about the freelance experience, but sadly, there were no takers.  If anyone out there knows anyone in the publishing industry, let them know the rights to this are still for sale and I would gladly take the piece off of here in order for it to appear in a publication.

Sing-along Songs You May Actually Like

By Jonathan Sadowski

If you’re singing “The Wheels on the Bus” for the 7,000th time and you’ve realized you’re out of people, animals, or parts of ‘the bus’ to imitate, if kids aren’t laughing when you purposely mess up the ABCs again, or if the entire family has memorized every scene and song from every DVD in the van, you can rest assured that a) you are not alone, and b) you can easily change the in-car entertainment.  Introducing child-friendly songs by artists my wife and I enjoy has been a worthwhile endeavor that helps us stave off long car ride fussiness and has dramatically reduced the number of days I have walked around singing “Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring, banana phone.”

family car electronics

We started this in an attempt to create more “unplugged” time while the family is together, and to expose our kids to a wider array of music.  Many long car rides were spent to watching the same Barney episodes a million times or listening to some second-rate musician butcher songs that our parents sang to us, because the same songs were sung to them.  As I lamented with my classic-rock loving friends about what to do, we put our heads together and came up with a list of songs that were short (under 3 minutes), would have lyrics accessible to children, clean language, and a simple beat.  Below is a list of the five that are the biggest hits with my family.  They are all available on youtube and iTunes.

  1. Monkey and the engineer – The Grateful Dead:  The logical progression of events helps kids learn story-telling skills, and the idea of a monkey driving a train is a hit with light-hearted people of all ages.
  2. Yellow submarine – The Beatles:  A great introduction to the Beatles, “Yellow Submarine” has an easy-to-learn chorus, encourages imagination / imaginary play, and is a good reinforce for those who are learning colors.
  3. Big rock candy mountain – Harry McClintock:  We decided to change two or three words (ex: whiskey to ice tea), but what young mind wouldn’t want to swim in a lake of stew or drink from lemonade springs?
  4. If I had a Hammer – Sam Cooke:  While many versions have been recorded, Sam Cooke’s is by far the most “danceable.”  It is also a great song for substituting your own objects into once the existing verses become too familiar.
  5. Dance to the Music – Sly and the Family Stone:  Younger generations will recognize this track from the karaoke scene at the end of Shrek, but nothing can beat hearing your kids try to imitate the “dumm dumm, dumm da doo doo dum…” that the group lays down on the original.

Introducing new songs does take some planning.  I have found that the middle of the day, at home, after a little snack is the best setting for my kids to hear something different.  They are fresh, in their own element, and full energy.  Having space in a playroom also allows for some room to have a silly dance accompany the new song, which helps with audience participation dramatically.  After sharing a couple of laughs while listening to a song you like, try it in the car to see if they recognize it out of the context they are used to.  If so, you are home free.  Implementing this plan will allow your kids to stick a toe out of their comfort zone, create an avenue to discuss recent historical periods (when they are old enough), and help wrap their minds around different sounds and the emotions they evoke.  Car rides will rely less on electronics, you will have less regrettable songs stuck in your head, and there will be an increased chance your children will develop more diverse musical interests.*

*That statement is based on no scientific evidence at all, just a hunch.

Monday Song #23

Ok, this month’s theme is “Songs From Movie Soundtracks That I’ve Actually Bought, Other Than Snatch.” The narrow scope of the theme leaves me with three albums to choose from, so one of the movies will have two representatives. To start things off, I figured ringing in the summer with some Hawaiian music couldn’t be a bad thing.