Saturday, August 21, 2010

Men Eviscerated by CNN Feminists

Since I'll be running in circles for a while working on my independent Joplin / Rainbow studies and current Alfred lessons, I thought it might be time for another rant. This morning wife was watching CNN. Some woman was on explaining how a man's income was a clue to his likelihood to cheat. I was tinkling on my piano, one ear listening to this to pick up some clues to men's aberrant behavior.

So what did I learn? well, guys: Basically, we;re screwed. Not since the days of Sally Jessy Raphael have men been so broadly indicted. Actuality, not since the immortal eagle gnawed out Prometheus' liver has man been so thoroughly eviscerated. First, she said men who relied on their wife's or girlfriend's income were most likely to cheat because men have such fragile egos they have to assert their male power somehow, and if they can't do it with money, they do it with sexual conquest. After rhapsodizing on this theme for a while, it turns out even men who make a lot of money--successful men, CEOs and corporate giants--cheat too--because behind that strong, confident exterior cowers a frightened insecure child. You see, even though they have power, money,and success, they nonetheless have to comfort their fragile male egos through--you guessed it: sexual conquest.

What about ordinary Joes, guys in the midrange? well, they're liable to cheat too because they need to assert...I can't go on. Just suffice it to say we're all emotional cripples who have no inner core and have to assert our weak male egos through sexual conquest. Because guys, you see without women, we're nothing. We have nothing to live for.

Here's the thing: In the history of male/female relationships, you would think no woman has ever cheated on a man to bolster HER fragile female self-esteem. And what about the diet / cosmetic / fashion industries? Exactly what female propensities are they exploiting? EH? Hah?

I always speak here on this blog with total self-honesty. I have been married well, more than once and have had several serious relationships. And I have been cheated on. More than once, actually. But I have never cheated on any of my partners. Not once. Not even in the Bill Clinton sense. Apparently, managing even one relationship seems to tax my feeble organizational skills. Two or more? Fuggeddabouddit.

Back in the bad old days of daytime talk shows (do those days still exist?) It was a weekly topic: TEN SIGNS YOUR MAN IS CHEATING ON YOU. I swear, one of these was "If he takes a shower more often than usual." Another was "If he starts an exercise program." So if a guy starts having chest pains and his doc says, "Hey fatso--you'd better start exercising or you'll be pushing up daisies before you're fifty," and he starts hitting the gym, his wife thinks he has a chippie stashed somewhere on the East Side. Nor does the poor fellow even have a clue why he's in hot water, since women never tell what's really on their minds. We;re just supposed to know through some magical blend of telepathy and Holmesian deduction. He just comes home, his woman scans him like an airport security device, detects SIGNS Number 2, 4 and 9, and renders The Verdict: CHEAT.

Thanks Oprah.

Man I hate TV. Read more comic books people.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jumping Into Alfred, Part Two

I finished Alfred, Year One last night and began on the first two pieces in the Year Two book forthwith. I'm still polishing my mojos on The Entertainer and probably will be for some time. I found some insider tips online from some hardcore boogie-woogie boys on how to spiff up your Ragtime playing and I'm trying to integrate them into the pachydermal lumbering I call keyboard playing.

I feel as if I should celebrate. But nobody in my household really cares, so it would be a party of one. Wife's response was that it was about time i finished--it actually isn't real years, whatever that means. My research on line is that it sometimes takes people with no prior musical experience who do this as a hobby at least a year and often eighteen months to work through this book. Of course wife works in Critical Care at the hospital and deals with more important things than piano playing. My cat says, "carry on." I think my cat just likes to lay under the piano and listen, no matter what I play. She's an uncritical audience. My betta--Siamese Fighting Fish-- who is going on two years old and is apparently immortal, prefers the Russian composers such as Borodin and Mussorgsky. They appeal to his martial spirit.

So my transition to the symbolic Second Year occurs silently and without fanfare. However, I think I'll hold my own ruckus right here in the shadowy corridors of my own secret thoughs:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Someone Die and Leave me a Steinway Please

While I love my Casio Privia--a very awe inspiring electronic keyboard--the keys are what keyboard snobbists call semi-weighted. They sort-of provide the feel and action of playing a real piano. Here's the rub: If you train on a real piano, like the mighty Steinway, and then move down to the semi-weighted keys of an electronic keyboard, then it's okay. But if you do most of your training (as I do) on an electronic keyboard and then are suddenly confronted with the heavier keys of a Grand Piano, well, that's another story.

When I first began this odyssey seven months ago, the difference wasn't that apparent to me. Now I play faster and with greater sensitivity and I'm running into real difficulty. When I go to my lessons it takes ten minutes or more before I can adapt to the Steinway. It was hilarious when I began, with great confidence, to play Joplin's The Entertainer, and my hands were completely out of synch. I'll bet the look on my face was priceless when insead of that strutting cocky melody, disastrous cacophony staggered forth. Because you see, my fingers were performing the correct movements and I expected the end result to be somewhat more successful. But the keys were heavier and required a more forceful attack and quicker release. My teacher timidly asked, "Did you practice the rhythm?" I slowed to about half speed and everything worked. Then I played again and it came together. But that is a difficult piece and it required great vigilance to make it work on the unfamiliar piano after learning it on the lighter, springier keys.

You may ask why I just don't travel to campus and practice there. Well, you'll recall from earlier episodes there is the parking issue. I can fight the campus atrocities one day a week but more than that and I may plunge into the darkest pits of despair. Plus I have several time constraints. I keep meaning to set aside a few hours per week to go to campus but responsibilities get in the way.

So you see, the answer is obvious I, a real man, need a real piano.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

At Last...

While I continue to make incremental progress on good old Rainbow, I have begun work on the last lesson in Alfred, Year One, which is a very jazzy arrangement of Amazing Grace, written almost entirely in triplets. Nothing other than that to report. I did an okay job with Joplin at my lesson once I got past the usual transitory adjustment from my keyboard to the Steinway we use at lessons. The keys on the Steinway are heavier than those on my keyboard so there is an adjustment period where I have to get used to them. The keys on my keyboard are weighted, but they're still not quite like the keys on a grand piano.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Over the Rainbow and Under the Bar

Flushed with success at stumbling through Joplin's labyrinthine syncopation (if a bit like an inebriated yak, nonetheless recognizably), I decided to pick up Over the Rainbow again, which I had set aside a couple of months ago because I didn't feel I had the skills to play it with the proper speed. It really moves you around the keyboard. Now that my skills have improved I decided to take another whack at it. Will these aforementioned skills pay the bills? No, but they may get me through Harold Arlen's ballad about someone dreaming of a better place beyond a dreary little town where nothing happens.

I produced the coffee-stained pages at my last lesson, since teacher was thumbing through my Classics to Moderns book looking for some other knuckle-buster to keep me going (and I haven't properly learned the lovely Schumann piece The Wild Horseman yet--it's played entirely staccato and so far I play it as you might a bawdy lay at an Irish Wake. And when I say "Lay" I use the term in both the musical and physical sense of the word; in other words I do to poor Schumann what Wagner did to Dresden. So rather than commit a ten-fingered assault upon another composer's work and disturb his eternal rest in the afterlife, I made a preemptive strike and asked about Rainbow. We discussed efficient fingering to help enhance the velocity of my playing.

It's taken me about three days to decide I have reasons for optimism. I had learned most of the piece before; this wasn't the problem. It was playing it at speed. At this point it's much smoother and melodious than it was before. My familiarity with the keyboard has increased and I can find the positions almost instinctively. It's very cool. My calcified brain still has a few neurons firing.