Saturday, July 29, 2006

Musical Plagiarism

So I read about the "Winner of the National Anthem Project" in the Star Tribune this morning (unfortunately the Trib's website does not have the story online, so here is another site with the story).
Here's my problem.
If you read the blurb about her, the big thing that made a difference was, "the twist at the end."
Her "twist" is to take high note at the end of, "The land of the free," and go higher with it.
People have been talking about how original and different that is.
The problem?
I've seen someone who's been doing that for six years. It's not original.
Mike Schmidt is the anthem singer for
The Minnesota Wild. As he reaches the end of the song, he takes the high note and slaps it up a full octave with a Pavoratti vibratto. My wife HATES when he does that. "It demeans the song...makes it about him instead of the anthem."
Yet, here is Ms. Malone doing what Schmidt has done for six years and being called and genius. I would love to know if she goes to Wild games and that's what gave her the idea.
Borrowing from other singers is nothing new.
At the last home Wild game, they played a techno-version of "Adagio for Strings" (The song used throughout Platoon).
Hell, all of modern music is nothing more than covers and sampling.
Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" used a part of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go." This is funny as Rihanna's "S.O.S" uses "Tainted Love" as a sample.
Need I remind you how Puff Daddy/ P. Diddy/ Diddy/ Sean Combs actually has a career.
Sampling Sting, Led Zeppelin, and more.
Remember, one of the most popular songs of the 90s was MC Hammer's "You Can't Touch This." I think Rick James and "Superfreak" may have had something to say about that.
Vanilla Ice's "Ice, Ice, Baby" was nothing more than "Under Pressure" with a slightly different beat.
Very few musicians can actually write original songs anymore. It's kind of sad.
As for Ms. Malone. Hey, congratulations on winning, but make sure you don't sell your "technique" as your own, because I know about 18,000 people who will say someone else did it before you.

Friday, July 28, 2006

It Takes Balls

I am a patient man.
I am.
It takes a heck of a lot for me to show my anger and frustration.
Hell, ask my students.
One student, a kid we'll just call "D" to protect him, spent the whole year trying to upset me.
His goal was to have me turn red and yell at him in order to prove that he could be annoying (he never did it).
I believe in The Tao, and it keeps me calm.
Yet, here I am at midnight, after an exhausting twenty-four hour period, and I am angry. I mean I destroyed the sand-filled stress ball (it popped).
Let me show you my day. We'll start at midnight of yesterday.
My son can't sleep, so I take the midnight shift so my wife can sleep. I invent games and talk to him for two hours, then he eats. After changing his diaper, I fall asleep around three a.m.
I'm up at 6:30 when he starts crying to be fed. (He's still at the needing to eat every few hours stage, but it's getting longer in between.) My wife has plugged ducts, so I have to run back and forth from the kitchen to microwave towels so she can have moist heat on the ducts. Then I change my son's diaper, and go shower.
With my son still eating, I start breakfast (bacon, eggs, waffles), plus I empty the dishwasher.
My wife, full from eating, goes back to sleep with my son. This is my only break until I started writing this. I read the Star Tribune and USA Today, then I check my email, read some blogs, and do some work for my mother (she needs some help...and I'm doing it for free).
I also start the laundry and figure out the chores for the day. Being Thursday, tomorrow is trash pick-up.
The kitchen is first, I wipe down all of the counters and appliances, then sweep the floor.
My son wakes up and needs to be changed, so it's diaper number three for me.
After the change, I see that I have to get to my dentist appointment, so I run out the door.
(Side note: I still don't like the dentist. The curse continues, however, as the young, "hot" dentist everyone liked left a week after seeing me. My hygenist was not happy about that and cut my teeth to hell with the floss.)
Back home at noon. I've only eaten one piece of bacon and one waffle.
My wife hasn't had the opportunity to shower, so I take my son while she does so. This also leads to diaper number 4. I care for my son for 3o minutes, then my wife takes him back, so I can mow.
Now I mow the lawn, then trim and edge, then clean up all the weeds, and take the can and the bags to the curb.
Next I take out all the trash from around my house, wipe down the bathroom, and change the kitty litter.
My wife has to feed again, so I'm on warming duty again (it's every other feeding), plus we have diaper change number 5.
Once done with that, I run down to finish the laundry and change the sheets on our bed.
Evening rolls around, and I make dinner, plus, while getting fresh herbs from my garden, I discover and pick all the ripe tomatoes.
Dinner is finished, so I do the dishes, and take out the last bag of trash.
Then I take my son so my wife can nap again.
Finally, I help my wife feed him again, then I change his diaper again (number 6) and play with him while my wife does work-related stuff.
Then he eats again (he's starting to cluster-feed as he is about to have a huge growth is almost week 6 of his life), so I'm on warming duty again and change diaper 7.
Finally, my wife goes and lies down and I take my son until ten minutes ago when he eats again (and I changed diaper number 8).
So why do I bring this up? Well, for starters, this is a typical day for me now. Just change the dentist office to the grocery store or some sort of errand that needs to be run (I will be getting the oil changed in the car soon. Still have to do that one).
And the anger? Well...someone had the audacity to claim that I wasn't, "pulling my weight," around the house. Another comment was that I wasn't doing enough.
And the killer? My wife said that I had it easy, "because you don't have to feed him like I do."
Ok, my wife I will forgive. She's having a bit of a rough time right now with the plugged ducts, the guilt trips from her mom about how far away we live, and with her boss trying to get her to do work even though she has six more weeks off from work. I'll let her go.
However, the other people who tell me I'm not doing enough can kiss my ass.
I'm not doing enough? What am I supposed to do, get implants so I can feed the kid? Am I supposed to take him 24/7 so my wife can be free to do whatever she wants when she wants?
It takes a tremendous amount of balls to tell a man who hasn't really slept in awhile, because he's doing everything he can to help his wife keep her sanity that he isn't doing enough.
It's like telling the robber that he isn't holding his gun the right way. He isn't going to appreciate it, and neither do I.
I get that you miss her, I get that you want her back to party, and I get that you feel we live too far away, but back off!
You know, Jesus wouldn't have the patience I have been showing. He would go all Willem Dafoe in The Last Temptation of Christ on your asses.
Those of you without children cannot even fathom how much work this is. Those of you with children but who had nannies do all the work cannot say anything period.
Did I say things I shouldn't have? Yes! I admit it, and I apologize. I'm doing it in the blogosphere like I did it in public.
However, I will also be blunt. Just because your husbands or significant others never lifted a finger, just because they slept through the night and said things like, "your turn," for years on end doesn't mean I am like them.
I would love to go to a movie, but it won't happen, and I'm fine with that.
And I'm sorry, the dentist visit is not, by any means, "a resting period." That doesn't count as time off. It's not a mini-vacation.
Bottom line: Shut the fuck up, back off, and stop telling my wife all this bullshit!
She's kind of fragile right now, and you aren't helping her.
In the next few weeks you'll either see her or have her back. Until then just let her rest.
As for me...well...we all know how you feel about me. You stay out of my way, I'll stay out of yours.
(Sorry for the rant folks. I just needed to vent.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ramblings for the Evening (7/26/06)

When it rains, it pours, then your house floods, then your cat drowns, then the insurance company won't pay for the damages, then your sibling won't take you in, and you credit card is maxed out.
Wow...that's bad.
I'm really not having a good day here.
These are the People in Your Neighborhood:
I really like most of my neighbors. I've said that before many times. However, my overall neighborhood is hit or miss.
Now, next tuesday is
National Night Out. My neighbors and I are throwing a party. I'm bringing the grill and wine, they're bringing the meat and veggies, and everyone else who comes is to bring chairs and side dishes.
I drew the short straw, so I got to be the one who went around with flyers to each of the neighbors.
It sounded great in my head. "Hey, I'm the guy who lives in the brown house down there. They call me Leab. We're having a party for National Night Out, and we'd love you to be there."'s what happens instead.
One house sees me coming...and turns on the sprinklers. I step back and do the person across the street first (he just moved in and wanted to meet people). The sprinklers are off, so I decide to go back. As soon as I touch the walkway, they turn on again. It's at this point I see the guy turning them on and off by the window. I'm not going to give up, so I keep coming up even though I'm gettting wet. When I get to the door, the guy takes the flyer and crumples it up in front of me.
"See you there," I say.
"No you won't, fag," I hear back.
One couple told me they weren't coming because, "it's too far away. Unless it's in front of our house...forget it."
Never mind that it's four doors down. God forbid these people...walk or something.
The people who didn't want to come, rather than just give a polite, "Thanks, but no thanks," had to do something to make me go away.
How hard is it to just say, "No thanks," when asked?
It's no wonder that more and more people are becoming socially inept. It's no wonder that people have no manners. Look at the role models.
I get that people hate having Jehovah's Witnesses show up at their door, but come on now.
Et Tu, Monopoly?:
Monopoly, the board game that many people claim to love (but few finish) is getting a major overhaul this upcoming fall. The game, which has been around for over 70 years (that's amazing...) will no longer be based on Atlantic City (If you didn't know, the avenues are in or near Atlantic City). Instead the new "Here and Now" edition will have American landmarks, such as Wrigley Field, Times Square, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
But wait...THERE'S MORE!
The railroads have been replaced. Who takes the train anymore? (I know, Dad, I know...ssshhh.)
The railroads will now be...airports. Four famous airports from around the US. JFK! LAX! O'HARE! I have no clue what the fourth will be!
Is that all? Heck no!
New playing pieces are being introduced. No longer will we see the Boot, the Car, and the Dog. NOOOOO! That's so 1930's! Instead we will have to wait, but they are promising "more hip" pieces (though they are to be a surprise, the rumor is that there will be the following:
A cell phone
An ipod-like piece
A hamburger
A "modern" car)
And the capper? No more paper money.
That's right, the paper money, much like in real life, is being replaced with a debit card. You'll run the card through the included "ATM" and that's how you'll buy things, pay for things, and get your $200 when you pass go.
It's modern, which is great, but I'll miss the paper. It's like Risk. You ever play Risk? They're changing it to reflect a more modern world, and it's going to be electronic.
There was something fun about the setup. That was the point. You took the time to be civil and set up the game. The end was always crazy (or abandoned in the case of Monopoly), but the begninning was great.
All I ask is this: If you're going to change all the old games, Life has to be next and has to reflect the reality we live in now:
Lost your job to outsourcing! Go back and find a new career.
Spouse left you for best friend, leaves children with you. Remove from car, lose a turn, and feel the shame of knowing your couldn't give your spouse what was needed!
Child is abducted and killed in Utah. Remove one child, lose a turn, lose cash, and feel the shame of being a bad parent!
And, when you get to "Retirement": Assess your wealth. If you have X amount of cash, you may retire, otherwise you go to work at local super store.
Any takers or ideas?
Uh oh, Uh oh...Sherpa Time!
So here's the story, morning glory.
Like the selfless sherpa I am, I carried my son throughout my wife's work today. I watched as a few of her co-workers fawned over the Poozer (that's good), fawned over my wife's breasts (that's bad), and made comments about me not, "being one of them" (which I could care less about...though it is rude).
Part of the time I spent talking to one of my wife's co-workers (Wanda, who I really like...because we are amazingly alike) about her upcoming trip to Cincinnati (or America's Mole).
And then there was lunch.
I didn't realize that the people invited were all in my wife's new group within her company. It was mostly women, which I expected. There were 12 people, 2 men including myself and another guy named Ken.
My wife's boss, however...did not show up. Now he had a viable excuse (so his admin said) of his wife having to have Gall Bladder surgery due to huge stones. My father almost had that surgery, so I'll let it go.
The problem, however, was that the whole reason I was there was to take care of the baby so my wife and her boss, "could connect." With him hot there, it became pointless.
Lunch was Buca in Maple Grove, which is a nice restaurant, but we were in the Pope Room, which was small and hot. There wasn't enough room for the baby to be in the Baby Holder Thingy they brought, son and his car seat sat on the lazy susan at the cent of the table with only the Pope's faux head to protect him. Many times during lunch, he was spun around so that people could look at him, poke at him, or talk about him.
Let's look at some fun topics:
1. Breast issues: We talked about 16 year old girls getting fake boobs (apparently a woman at my wife's work is buying breasts for her daughter's sweet 16). They also talked about breasts getting beaten due to feeding. Ken and I shrank a little.
2. Defending public schools: That was up to me. See most people there have kids in private schools, and one gal was homeschooled and talked about how she was so much smarter than the other kids in college. I defended as best I could. I also slipped at one point and ripped on the homeschooled gal talking about the social aspects and more (she married an actual rocket scientist...and he's apparently afraid of me because of the way I talk, how animated I get, and the fact that I have crazy stories).
3. How men don't do anything: This was my favorite part. First of all, I didn't get to eat. I ordered soup, but I never got to eat it, because when it arrived, my son woke up and wanted to eat. By the time I was done feeding and changing him, my soup, which I never even took a bite of, was gone. ("It had gotten cold," I was told. "It needed to go." Never mind that it could have been warmed up?)
Now, as I mentioned, I fed my son. I got the hot water, I warmed the bottle, and I fed him. Then, when he filled his diaper, I excused myself and changed him in the bathroom. (Ken, followed me and talked my ear off. It was obvious he NEEDED a guy to talk to working with all those women.)
I returned to the table to overhear a conversation about how men never help out.
"Never?" I asked. "What about me?"
"Well this is only one time. Do you do it all the time?"
"I've changed almost every diaper since he was born. Does that count?"
"What else have you done?"
"Well, what else do I need to do? Seriously. What do men need to do to be considered 'helpful' by you?"
"Feed the baby, change the baby...basically make it so I can relax for a while."
"Isn't that what I'm doing?"
"Do you do this every day?"
"Yes. I just said I change every diaper just about. I can't feed him all the time as he is breastfed. He will be weaned eventually."
"Whatever" the quiet girl in the corner says ending the conversation.
4. My wife drinking: This is a big deal. Basically my wife is a great deal like her father. She LOVES being the center of attention. She will drink and then party it up. Minnesotans, who are mostly reserved, love this because it's fascinating to them. It's something they can't do.
I heard over and over again about how my wife will be, "partying it up," when she comes back to work. "I mean you can pump and dump, right?" asks one co-worker.

All in was a waste. My wife got a headache because she missed a feeding. I got to deal with incredibly annoying people, one of whom remembered me from the Christmas party we went to (the one with
carols and such) because I was, "The Jew."
However, I love my wife. I would kill for her.
So I deal.

I'm Just the Sherpa

Tomorrow I am supposed to go with my wife and my child to her work and to lunch with her co-workers and friends. I was not asked if I would like to go, but merely told.
Not by my wife, mind you. No, that would be too easy to get out of in that case.
No, the message was from my wife's new boss and her co-workers.
You see I have been home all day with the Poozer, while my wife has been at the doctors (note to ladies everywhere: breastfeeding is not the most simple, nice action ever. Those commercials lie).
It was a rough morning for the both of us (compounded by the fact that I may have a cold, and I haven't really stopped working for longer ever long it takes to blog).
I decided that Little Leab and I needed to go for a walk, so I packed up our stuff, took the stroller, and we went for a walk around our neighborhood (this was also done because we lost power today for a few hours).
Though it was warm, the walk was nice. I got some much needed exercise in, and Poozer slept.
I returned home to find my wife just returning as well. After discussing the issues at the doctor, we went inside so Poozer could eat.
I listened to the messages, but discovered my wife had first (they were saved, not new). The first was from my wife's new boss:
"Hey, looking forward to lunch tomorrow. I need you to come in before then though, so we can discuss your upcoming trips. Hope the husband is ready for some good alone time with the boy (insert annoying laugh here). Annnnyway, your husband should come tomorrow. He'll have to pay for his own lunch buy at least he can get some practice dealing with the kid in public. I mean, you can't feed him at lunch, right? (Another fake laugh.) Ok, call me."
I tell my wife the message. She just nods her head (this does not bode well).
The next message is a co-worker who I know quite well. I like this gal, but her message makes me snap the pencil in my hand.
"Hey, it's J. Looking forward to tomorrow. We can't wait to meet the little guy. P (my wife's boss) says your hubby's coming. That's great. He can handle the baby while we party. Hey, maybe if he feeds him, then you can have a drink. After all...Pump and Dump, right? Of course, if Hubby looks like he did the last time I saw him, you might want to tell him to go get a haircut...and to shave. After all, the boss IS going to be there.
And remember girl, if Hubby complains, just explain that you are the Mountain Climber and he's the Sherpa. No one listens or remembers the Sherpa. He's only there to carry your stuff and make you look good . We only care about the Mountain Climber. See you tomorrow. Byyyyyeeeee!"
So, now I am expected to be at this lunch tomorrow, and I am expected to be the following:
1. Quiet. I am not allowed to talk, because I don't work at the company.
2. Well-dressed. Again, not part of the company, but I have to look it.
3. Well-mannered. This goes back to #1 as well. In the past, I have called my wife's co-workers and bosses on B.S. I am NOT allowed to do that with this new guy. Plus...he's hard-core Catholic...SIGH!
4. (My favorite) Babysitter. The baby is solely my responsibility. No one else's. If my wife and her co-workers decide to go on from lunch (to a bar or whatever), I am expected to come along, keep my wife aloft, and keep my child quiet and happy.
My wife's reasoning behind all this? Well, this guy can really launch her career. That's really important to her. "I NEED you on this," she tells me.
How can I say no? She had a difficult labor and has had to take care of Poozer so far as I couldn't feed him before now.
I'm just the Sherpa. I schlep things where they need to go. That's my job now. That and reality comes back a month from now.
As for Poozer? He's fantastic. Had a rough morning being stuck with his dad, but he's a trooper.
Then again...I'm just the Sherpa.