Problems That Lions Don’t Have

Have you ever had a frustrating moment in your day and thought, “If I were a lion, I wouldn’t have this problem”?

Really? Me too. Those lions. They have it made in the shade. Here are some common people problems that wouldn’t be problems for lions.

Getting “Burn” by Ray Lamontagne Stuck in Your Head

You know when you get a song stuck in your head and it just plays over and over and over and over again, and you sing it in your car, and in the kitchen while you’re doing dishes, and you try to figure out how to bleep out the g-d part because you don’t want your toddler singing that? And then finally you have to look up the guitar chords so you can get the full effect in your living room?

Yeah. Not a problem for lions seeing as they don’t have CD players, and even if they did, Ray Lamontagne might be a little too indie for the average plains-dweller.

Listening to Angry People Talk About Politics

Civility in politics is dead, and if you take the civility out of politics, you’re left with annoyance. If some yammerhole gets all red-faced and absurd about politics while talking with a lion, the lion wouldn’t have to feign interest or try to find an interesting segue to plants or (obviously) Ray Lamontagne. No, the lion has simpler solutions.

Deciding What to Make for Dinner

I’m pretty sure lions just eat whatever’s running by. Sure they probably get bored with zebra from time to time, but their lives are simple; they’re not bombarded with a thousand restaurants, and 400 kinds of soup, and a million new uses for the crock pot which they discovered on Pinterest. See it. Catch it. Eat it.

Yes, the life of a lion: so simple, so bloody. Plus, they look really comfortable when they take naps. Which of your problems could be solved by being a lion? Do share.

Problems That Lions Don’t Have

Mr. Mraz Teaches Love 101

Love ? I love love love you.
Photo By @Doug88888 @ Flickr.

This week I’d like to talk about love. Specifically, what Mr. Jason Mraz has to teach us about it. But first, look at these freaking girls:

Isn’t that the cutest/most awesome thing you’ve ever seen? That much talent so young…whoa. I could squeeze their little cheeks straight off.

Now that we’ve got that cuteness out of the way, let’s talk about how this song is basically all you need to know about what you should want in love. That’s right. Mr. Mraz just covered the whole kit n’ kaboodle in one pop song. Impressive, sir. Impressive.

So, let’s break it down. Here’s what you should be looking for in love:

Someone Who Thinks You’re Freaking Amazing

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

Do you hear that crap?! Those are like EPIC compliments. Big, gorgeous, gushing, not-at-all-gun-shy compliments. That’s how compliments should sound coming from someone who loves you. You should feel better than you think you are. You should be blown away. And notice that he didn’t say anything stupid like, “You’re keepin’ it tight” or “I love that booty” or some other trash. He’s not just ogling. He’s complimenting eyes and the soul behind them. He’s complimenting the person, not the body the person is in. A+, Jason. A+.

Someone Who’s a Kick Ass Friend

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

I am loving the crap out of this line. Not only is he supportive of the life/soul work people inevitably need to do, but he’s waiting, excited to see what happens. That’s what you want. Someone who’s waiting…waiting to see who you’re going to be tomorrow. Someone who’s convinced it’s gonna be good. You’re gonna be good. Love it.

Someone Who’s In It In It

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up

Love is hard. Not the beginning, usually, but along the road, it gets hard. It’s hard because life is hard. We lose our cool, we’re selfish, we’re needy, we get depressed…there’s a whole myriad of things that make life and love a tough gig. So when you’re thinking about loving someone for a long time—about inviting them into the forever part of your life—you want someone who’s dedicated. Someone who’s going to hold on as hard as you will. Someone who’s gonna do that because “God knows we’re worth it.”

Someone Who Writes and Sings Pretty Songs

Just kidding. (But it doesn’t hurt. I mean, use what ya got, people.)

I think everyone deserves love that’s potent. Love that rips right through you. Love that makes you forget what came before and incapable of imagining anything better. Everyone deserves to be loved in that way that makes you cry when you’re happy. Love that makes you thankful to be alive. Love that you can only meet equally if you love with your whole, entire heart. Everyone deserves that. Everyone.

Here’s hoping love finds its way to you.

Mr. Mraz Teaches Love 101

And This, Fine Folks, is an EP Review: Rodesodes by Creepy Pizza

Guys…this is fun. For real.

Okay, so I got a message from cool guy and owner of Way Grimace records, Sean Duncan the other day. He asked if I wanted to take a listen to an EP being released by the label. He literally described it as “dark, old Nintendo dance music.” Hmmm…

Now, I don’t know how you were raised, but if someone asks me to listen to dark, old Nintendo dance music I kinda have to, right? Because what the deuce is that? Good thing I was saying yes to life!, and yes to listening requests that day because it’s kinda great. How, you say? Well, let me tell you.

The eight track EP, Rodesodes, is a fun romp through what seems to be the entire archive of Casio keyboard sounds, set to steady driving beats that lure you into a magical, digital dream land wherein you use the marimba to fight bad guys in leather pants. The steady stomp of “Trip Chips” gives way to a subtle groove in “Challah Back”, which fades into a staccato vibe reminiscent of early 90s rap in the third track, “Farfel.” Each song, though distinct in its own way, gives a similar feeling, and I can see why Sean describes it as Nintendo dance music. It’s fun, campy, and rhythmic, but more grounded than the grating tunes you endured while trying to get to level 10. It’s video game music, elevated. Some of the tracks, like “Rode Sodes”, have sections that remind me of Dance Dance Revolution. In a good way.

Rodesodes manages to simulate music that could absolutely drive you out of your mind without ever actually being obnoxious. Instead, the EP stays on the good side quirky with each energetic keyboard run and tireless bass line.

If that description’s not enough, let me give you three reasons why you might like this music.

1. The artist is called Creepy Pizza.

Ummm…awesome. It makes me feel awesome saying it. Creepy Pizza. Creepy Pizza. You try it. See? Fun, right? And you know I have a thing for band names. Creepy Pizza is almost as good as the other band I’m in, Pleasure Holiday.

2. It makes you feel peppy.

Did you notice how chipper this post is? I’m listening to Creepy Pizza, right now, y’all. Specifically, track 5, “Caserosmith.” I totally want to kick the air or jog in place in front of a mirror or do some jazzercise or something. Except I hate to exercise. But if it weren’t for that I’d totally be doing jumping jacks and faux-break dancing.

3. No lyrics = good for working.

If you’re trying to write or concentrate, sometimes all the words get in the way. Like that song, The Words Get In the Way. Can anyone get anything done with those lyrics rambling through your brain? Gloria Estefan, curse you and your tender songwriting! But not with Rodesodes. Nope, between the distraction-free soundscape and the pep-making I mentioned earlier, this is music for taking over the world.

So, those are my thoughts on this snazzy EP. And now my thoughts are published on the internet, so you should probably listen to them. Leave your thoughts and feelings on Creepy Pizza below (it’s interactive!). Oh, and for posterity’s sake, you should know that I didn’t receive any payment for this review. That is, aside from the feather boa and four pounds of saffron, but Sean was going to send those to me anyway. People send me boas and spices, like, all the time.

And This, Fine Folks, is an EP Review: Rodesodes by Creepy Pizza

No Means No, Dean Martin!

It’s Christmas time! And the only kind of Christmas music that I like is the kind that swings—you know, the old, classic, Big Band kind. I even have a Pandora station that plays THE BEST music. It’s awesome. (You can listen to it here if you like. You’re welcome.)

There’s only one teensy weensy problem—you can’t listen to any Christmas station without hearing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and that song has been ruined for me for all time. Why? Because my dear friend Cookie told me once that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” sounds a whole lot like date rape. Perfect. Ruined.

Dean Martin - Baby It's Cold Outside
No means no! Even for you, Dean-o.

At first, I thought, “That’s crazy!” but then I started listening to the lyrics. Even the description on Wikipedia sounds totally suspect:

The lyrics in this duet are designed to be heard as a conversation between two people, marked as “mouse” and “wolf” on the printed score. Every line in the song features a statement from the “mouse” followed by a response from the “wolf”. Usually the “wolf” part is sung by a male and the “mouse” by a female.

via Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

So, a lady mouse is being stalked by a dude wolf. No big deal. And the song starts off kinda friendly. She’s saying she has to go, and he’s just giving her some sensible weather information, and pointing out that he’s built a lovely fire to warm her hands by. What a gentleman. So then she says, “Oh, okay, I’ll stay for half a drink.”

Lady Mouse: I really can’t stay    Dude Wolf: But baby it’s cold outside
LM: I’ve got to go away                 DW: But baby it’s cold outside
LM: This evening has been          DW: Been hoping that you’d drop in
LM: So very nice                            DW: I’ll hold your hands they’re just like ice
LM: My mother will start to worry   DW: Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
LM: And father will be pacing the floor   DW: Listen to the fireplace roar
LM: So really I’d better scurry    DW: Beautiful please don’t hurry
LM: Well maybe just a half a drink more    DW: Put some records on while I pour

“Yessssss…” he says to himself whilst rubbing his wolfy paws together. And a couple of lines later…

LM: Say what’s in this drink?

“Oh, it’s nothing,” says the wolf, “Just a little eggnog, with some nutmeg. And rufies. Your hair sure looks nice.”

Later on she says, “The answer is no,” and lists off all of her relatives and associates that will be calling her a floozy in the morning (including her “maiden’s aunt”, whose “mind is vicious”…kooky) to which he responds by incessantly complimenting her lips.  It doesn’t sound like she ever leaves. They just end the song with both of them singing “It’s cold outside!” and that’s it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you ruin a perfectly good, campy, Christmas-time song.

No Means No, Dean Martin!

Screw it, Imma be a Musician

The Doobie BrothersLast night, we got the very unique pleasure of attending a benefit concert for Promises 2 Kids, featuring The [fabulous] Doobie Brothers. Now, I’m 31 and not quite in the generation that remembers their music as the soundtrack of their lives, but man, oh, man…they are good! So many bands/artists/musicians these days are all about pyro and dancers and all that fancy business, but when it comes down to actual performance they’re not that hot. Not The Doobie Brothers, no sir. Each musician was just totally, 100% on it. Perfect rhythm. Perfect pitch. Impeccable guitar licks. John McFee (whom I got to meet!) was whipping out a new instrument every other song (banjo, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, & more!). A-maz-ing.

Somewhere in the middle of the set, I just thought to myself, “Screw it, Imma be a musician.”

Enough with writing and whatever other stuff I’m working on. Enough with my career ambiguity. There’s just something so crystalline, magical, and sacred about music. Live music brings people together, tears down our insecurities, and draws us in to the  inner sanctum of the shared human experience. I smashed my self right up against the stage, clapped with the beat until my hands were numb and smiled until my cheeks were sore.

And you know what? The band smiled back.

Maybe I’m just being naïve, but I don’t think they were faking it, either. I think they smiled back because they like playing music as much as I like hearing it. As a musician, when you see the love you’re pouring in to your music weave around the audience and get them drunk on happiness, well, that’s a pretty damn good feeling. I miss that feeling—that connection. I miss being a musician.

Now, at 10:30 the next morning as I get ready to resume working on the screenplay Stephen and I are writing, my inclination to pack our lives in to a van and play every bar from here to Poughkeepsie has decidedly vanished. And that’s okay.  But the reminder of how much I love music is still there. So maybe we’ll hit up an open mic night soon. And we’ll try to see a few more shows this year. I’ll turn on Pandora, turn it up, and thank the Lord for the magic of music.

Screw it, Imma be a Musician

What Makes You

Over the past 24 hours, my new neighbors downstairs, the musicians, have been experimenting with the electric organ and its possibilities in the landscape of their music. Primarily, this has consisted of two chords being played one after another, over and over in a sort of trance-like repetition. They worked with these two chords for many hours last night. Then again, today in the morning. And right now, they’re still playing the two chords.And they’ve added a very 90s-esque electric guitar.It’s not terrible, it’s just part of being a musician. I get it. Sounds like crap to everyone who has to hear the process, but that’s how music is written. It’s just that most of the time we don’t have to hear the rough sketch.

But now…now they’ve added bad electric drums. And the synthetic bass drum is buzzing in my ears, threatening to drive me insane or wake my napping child (or likely a combination of the two). It’s taking everything in me to not go down there, channel my inner 85 year old woman, and tell them to, “keep that derned racket down!”

I started a speech in my head. It went something like, “Hey guys, can you keep it down a little? Maybe plug in some earphones? I mean, I’m a musician…I get it, but…”

I had hit a sticking point in my imaginary speech. “I’m a musician?” I asked myself. I mean, I am. I think. The thing is, I haven’t written anything new or recorded anything new in many years now, so I’m getting dangerously close to the phrase “I was a musician.” Now that my mind had unearthed this little insecurity, I had to grab it. Pick at it. Figure it out.

Am I really so out of practice that I can no longer be called a musician? Was I ever good enough to make that claim to begin with? What makes you a musician? What makes you anything?

Bach off I'm a Musician
By ryanmotoNSB

In the end, the thing that makes my noisy neighbors musicians is this: they are actively playing music. Right now their fingers are pressing down on those same two chords, searching for something to come out in just the right way. They are playing music. They are being musicians. And that’s it.

When my older brother and I were in high school he got on the tennis team. He wasn’t the school champion or anything, but he worked hard and he was steadily improving. One day, he came home after tennis and made a bold proclamation: “I’ve figured out the key to playing tennis!”

I had no real interest in playing tennis, let alone being any good at it, but it’s hard for me to pass up the key to anything, so I asked him what it was. “You just hit the ball over the net,” he said. He gazed out the window with a quiet reverence as if he had just discovered string theory. I thought he was a little bonkers. I wondered what he had been trying to do with the ball up until that point.

Looking back, though, I think he’s kinda right. Getting the ball over the net really is the whole goal, right? Maybe the key to being a musician is just to play. And the key to being a writer is just to slam your fingers against the keyboard relentlessly until the words pour out.

Get the ball over the net. Let the notes ring out. Get some words on the page. Sooner or later you’ll get the ball over the net more times than not. And you’ll have a 45 minute set. You’ll have a book, or a memoir, or a journal, or a screenplay. And then maybe you’ll be what you set out to be.

Perhaps it’s simply the doing that makes you.

What Makes You