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Apres Zumba

22 Jun
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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tonight was my first Zumba class ever.

It reminded me a lot of aerobics. Combined with dance moves that don’t come naturally for people of English origin. My genes don’t take kindly to shoulder rolls, meringue, or excessive hip-shaking.They upset the natural balance of being uptight and anxiety-ridden.

But I did it anyway, and it was kind of fun.

Plus I didn’t fall down or run into anyone else, which means that I consider the experience a win for myself and a few other ladies.

I’m confident that if evaluated on my technique and/or artistry, I would have scored in the bottom decile of the class. My contribution pretty much involved bouncing around like a goofball for an hour, a few beats behind the instructor at all times, trying not to APPEAR too winded.

I was careful to position myself in the back of the room, well behind my daughter who was also in the class. Two reasons for this: Not wanting to embarrass her, and if I couldn’t see the instructor I could watch my daughter and figure out what I was supposed to be doing.

One benefit to the Zumba is that the instructor didn’t seem quite as intent as my yoga instructor on killing me during the class. I didn’t feel close to death at any time, which also gives Zumba extra points.

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RIP Kurt Cobain

5 Apr

A little bit of reflection.

Eighteen years ago today, I had just finished a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. I’ve already written about how special this place is to me, because it is where I can go to be with “God Alone.”

It was a beautiful spring, and I took the winding back roads heading north back to Ohio. It was storming a little bit, but the bright green rolling hills and blooming bulbs were beautiful as I started my drive home.

After being on the road for a few minutes, I turned on the radio and had a rude awakening back to reality: Kurt Cobain had shot himself.

I remember cursing a little bit (probably not appropriate after so much time with God) and then crying for a while–in anger. What a loss. He could have created so much more.

It hit close for me because I was the same age as him at the time (27), and because I appreciated the music. Cobain was no musical genius, by his own admission, and he wasn’t the best singer or musician. But he put things together in the right way, for the time. He learned about catchy melodies from the Beatles, and combined that with drastic changes in volume that highlighted his band’s talents.

If he were still alive today, he’d be a great producer.

Addiction, mental illness, and the nasty results on mind and body. A lot has already been said about this.

Today’s a good marker for my generation. It is through luck and hard work that we can celebrate life and fulfill the potential we had when we were young. Not everyone has the personal capability to do this–by their own choosing or because of demons they cannot control. Many live but just get by, never being everything they could be.

Rest assured that I’ll play some Nirvana today to remember Kurt Cobain’s accomplishment. Even though he cut it short at the tender age of 27, his life was a blessing to many. “In Bloom” indeed…rock on wherever you are, K.C.

The Black Keys

11 Dec

Image: Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I rarely get the chance to go to concerts, so when I do it had better be worth my money and time. March 4, The Black Keys are coming to Columbus, and I am going with someone who likes them as much as I do and is willing to pay what I paid to scalpers for great seats. Who’s in?

Since I started playing guitar again, I’ve become more interested in the band. My guitar teacher knows the guy who is their recording studio technician. They record on tape (analog), not digitally, which makes their raw sound even more “real.”

Another interesting item of note: They tested out the sound of their last album, “Brothers,” at local custom guitar-building experts Fifth Avenue Fret Shop (owned by the inimitable Phil Maneri, who is my kids’ godfather). They wanted to listen and compare the sound of the CD to the playback on tape, and Phil has all of the right equipment.

These guys are down-to-earth Ohioans who also happen to be very talented. Kind of amazing that their hometown, Akron, also produced Chrissie Hynde and Devo. It’ll be a bit strange seeing them in such a large venue–at the Schott.

Anticipation for this sure to be stellar show is another way to get through winter.

Not Just Rhythm

28 Nov

I just finished reading Rolling Stone’s new 100 Greatest Guitarists issue.

Out of 100, 2 were women: Joni Mitchell (#75) and Bonnie Raitt (#89). Marnie Stern was listed as an up-and-comer (compared with several men her age on the “100” list).

I am not often inclined to cry sexism, but this was a serious miss. I am an amateur guitarist and was inspired by men and women in equal shares: A bit  Randy Rhodes, a little Nancy Wilson. The Rolling Stone judges are professionals and should have known better and/or done their homework.

Who hasn’t heard and appreciated these greats?

These new young guitarists should have been listed on the up-and-comer list:

  • Orianthi Panagaris (w/Steve Vai) – “High Strung
  • Ritzy Bryan (w/The Joy Formidable) – “Whirring

So take that, Rolling Stone.

Women guitarists rock, in rhythm and lead.

Duke Ellington, My Dad and YouTube

23 Apr

images1My dad is 72 years old and full of life. He is a self-described “character” who enjoys hunting, relic collecting and sitting in his recliner drinking beer. He is a man’s man and often calls himself “The Old Ranger,” which I think of as his personal superhero signature. After all, he is my dad, and in only that way a daughter can look up to her father, I most certainly do.

Dad and I have had our challenges over the years. We are both “hard-headed” and can outdo one another in our stubbornness. We also are both somewhat intellectual and possibly passive-aggressive at times, preferring to hunker down and outlast the opponent with fortitude in situations of conflict, rather than waste energy and lose face in an all-out fight. We both appreciate a good sense of humor, as well as an entertaining story, true or not.

Recently I discovered something about my dad that I never knew: He likes to dance.

He and I were having a conversation about big band music—his favorites are Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Artie Shaw. He made a comment about “Cotton Club” being one of the best songs to dance to. What’s that? DANCE? My dad, with the big hands and construction worker build? Nahhhhh.

Much to my surprise, it’s true. We discovered together probably the only reason that he would EVER consider buying a computer: YouTube.

I told him that we could probably find some video of actual Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday performances, and we did. He was amazed. He then started calling out requests for particular bands, singers, songs and dates, and away we went, all the while with him declaring, “Well, I’ll be darned….”

We even found some footage of his favorite show to watch in the 1940s, “Captain Video.” This is hilarious…an amazingly low-tech variety of “special effects” strung together by an even less sophisticated plot. Their prop budget was $25/week. Now, spending limits like that force creativity.

Now back to the dancing. I could imagine it for my mom, but not for my dad. Why is it so surprising, as you get older, that you have MORE similarities than differences with your parents?