Monday, December 21, 2009

My favorite advent calendar ever:

I didn't find out about this until today, but there are still a few more days left to appear.
I've never seen a better advent calendar in all my 11,239 days.
I'm really excited for the astronomy portions of Millennial University. They'll be the first courses that I sign up for.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Greatest Irony in the English Language

I think my favorite irony in English is that the word pronunciation is said incorrectly all the time as pronounciation.
I'm thinking of this because I got a great book today from a friend that's all about prescriptive grammar. mmmhmmmmm

Just wanted to share.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jazz and Blues

I do not claim to be any form of expert in Jazz or the Blues, but there are some songs that I love listening to. Sometimes it's hard to figure out where Jazz and Blues music hits you. Some of the chord progressions are so amazing; and then when I listen to what the musicians do with the notes of the chords, I can't help but be in awe. But there's another part of Jazz and the Blues that's so much more visceral and inexplicable and I think that is the root of the power of the two musical styles.

So here are a few very incomplete lists:

My Jazz instrumental list is dominated by just a few artists. But they're by far my favorites. If you would like to help me expand my horizons, please tell me everything I've missed.

My all time favorite Jazz song is
Autumn Leaves by Miles Davis

Along with that we've got in no real order, but Take Five might be my #2
Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman
Nutcracker Suite by Duke Ellington
Take Five by Dave Brubeck Quartet
Blue Rondo a la Turk by Dave Brubeck Quartet
Take the Coltrane by John Coltrane & Duke Ellington
Body and Soul by John Coltrane
Somethin' Else by Miles Davis & Cannonball Adderley
So What by Miles Davis (another)
'Round Midnight by Miles Davis & John Coltrane
Dear Old Stockholm by Miles Davis & John Coltrane
Blue in Green by Miles Davis & John Coltrane
Straight, No Chaser by Thelonious Monk
Well, You Needn't by Thelonious Monk
[Apparently, I only really like Thelonious Monk songs that follow this pattern: WORD COMMA WORD WORD]

Here's my list of vocal Jazz favorites. Some of these songs have been covered so many times, that it's the song that transcends--well, unless you're Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald. Those two transcend the songs.:
Body and Soul by Billie Holiday (pretty much anything)
's Wonderful by Diana Krall
Popsicle Toes by Diana Krall (did you know she's married to Elvis Costello? huh.)
I'll String Along With You by Diana Krall
I've Got you Under my Skin by Ella Fitzgerald (again, pretty much anything by her)
The Nearness of You by Ellis & Louis
Cheek to Cheek by Ella & Louis
Let's Fall in Love (tons have covered this. Even this version. And ick.)
Little Drummer Boy by Nat King Cole (Can't find a version)
Embraceable You by Nat King Cole/Billie Holiday/et al
Unforgettable by Nat King Cole/Plus this (granted there are times that I'm not completely enamored with this song. I go back and forth)
Sarah Vaughan

The Blues is a harder one to categorize. But the first musician listed, Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the devil, is the most important in Blues, and perhaps the most important predecessor to Rock music. You listen to his songs and you think, okay, impressive. But then you realize that he's the first one to really play the Blues style that we know with incredible skill, flair and nuance. He died at 27, probably poisoned, and left only a few recording sessions. But his music is awesome.
Cross Road Blues, Walking Blues, Sweet Home Chicago, Terraplane Blues by Robert Johnson
You've got to include B.B. King, too. And the best song of them all is The Thrill Is Gone.
Then there's Bessie Smith, maybe the most influential Blues singer. (As a linguistic aside, you can hear the English Creole grammar in the lyrics. Sweet.)
Eric Clapton plays a great Blues guitar. Here's Before You Accuse Me plugged in (& in a terrible pink jacket), and here it is unplugged. mmhmmm
I can't stand John Mayer's popular Rock stuff, but he's an incredible Blues guitarist with great feel. Here's another clip. When he's on Austin City Limits, he tends to do great Blues stuff.
Blues music is sometimes so hard to peg, because it has influenced every subsequent American music style. There's a song that Bonnie Raitt did in the 70s that I can listen to over and over, Angel From Montgomery.
I know that there are more Blues songs that I could post. And what do you do with Jimi Hendrix? Anyway, the roots of the Blues go back to Africa and are the basis of pretty well every song you hear on the radio.

There, I'm presently done with this list. I hold the right to subsequent updates.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Eccentricity Average

According to the poll, my average eccentricity level is 6.9411764705882355.

And I've been thinking that I'm going to start compiling lists of my favorite songs in various genres. It's gonna take a while, but it'll give me something to blog about on and off.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

True Time Feelings

This comic sums up my feelings about time:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Don't give up, don't ever give up

When college basketball is starting up every year, my mind always starts reflecting on this speech by Jimmy Valvano. He won the ESPY award for courage in '93. He passed away from cancer 2 months after the award. The V Foundation was created right before his death.

The speech is awesome. Enjoy: