Sounds stupid when you think about it

"I’m glad I never learned how to read music or anything about theory. It makes my music more honest."

Lots of people think that way. Let’s see how well this sentiment holds up by applying the same logic elsewhere.

"I’m glad I never learned how to read or anything about the English language. It makes my writing more honest."

Still not convinced?

"I’m glad I never learned civil engineering or anything about math. It makes my bridge building more honest."

How about one more.

"I’m glad I never learned medicine or anything about biology. It makes my pediatric practice more honest."

You get it now? If you love music then LEARN music. Yes, that means you, guitarist who obstinately refuses to learn how to read music. Yes, that means you, singer who doesn’t know the names of the notes you sing. Yes, that means you, percussionist whose sole education in rhythm is from drum circles. I promise 100% that it will not make you a sell out, will not make your music sound complicated and weird, and will not rob you of any of your authenticity. Those people you admire and cite endlessly every time I bring this up learned to play great music IN SPITE of the fact that they never learned theory, not BECAUSE of the fact they never learned theory.

Vanilla Milkshakes


Right around 1982, a new breed of punk music started coming from California with all the rock of New York and all the snark of London, but with its own kind of erudition. Bands like Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys were expanding punk’s lyrical vocabulary in the same way that the Ramones and the Sex Pistols expanded its musical vocabulary. One listen to "How To Ruin Friendships and Influence Douche Bags" is all you’ll need to be able to see the clear influence of Henry Rollins or Jello Biafria on Denver’s The Vanilla Milkshakes.

Punk and I have a complicated relationship. I always find myself wanting to like it more than I actually do - so the nice thing for me about this album is that I get to experience the adolescent joy of it all without having to revisit works that always leave me ambivalent. This is music for playing loud in the car to vent off the road rage that your hour long commute instills. This is music for feeling superior about feeling inferior about feeling superior. If, at any time, a passing car or a shop window has made you smile by unexpectedly hitting you with “California Uber Alles” then get “How to Ruin Friendships and Influence Douche Bags.”

The standout track for me was “I’m No Prize Myself” if for no other reason than the high bpm count - and the intro to Kreep certainly seems like a nice little nod to Tom Verlaine and Television.

Some of My Favorite Things from RiffTrax

Surely you know about RiffTrax by now. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett from Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing on Hollywood Blockbusters, educational shorts, and B-movie deep cuts. It’s easily my favorite thing currently on the web, but their catalog has grown so very large that I thought I’d take a moment to list a handful of my favorites to help you get started.

Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny

Santa’s sled is stuck in the sand, and Santa himself is about to pass out from heat exhaustion. He mentally calls for a group of local kids to help him out. They try using a sheep, a donkey, and a guy in a gorilla suit to get him out, but eventually he gives up and tells the kids a story about a girl in a theme park who visits a Thumbalina attraction - until the Ice Cream Bunny saves the day. For real.


Where RiffTrax shines is in making these terrible movies not only bearable but downright amazing. The scene where Edward takes Bella to the top of the mountain so she can see him sparkle is now one of my favorite scenes in any movie thanks to Bill Corbett’s pitch-perfect commentary.

Three Magic Words

A newly married housewife unwittingly finds herself the plaything of three singing butchers as they assume a series of more perplexing roles in her life, all in the name of the promotion of pork. Of course.

The Out-Of-Tune Piano

As I write this, I’m listening to the Tom Waits album “Closing Time”. I really love this album. Listening this time, it occurred to me what a very different musical experience it would be if he was playing a different piano. The weariness, introversion, longing, self-doubt all comes out so very beautifully on the out-of-tune piano he’s playing. If here were playing a giant, meticulous concert grand, it would be a different feel entirely.

That got me to thinking. Piano really is the only instrument that, if it’s a little out of tune, it’s still musically viable. A guitar, or a sax or a trumpet - out of tune means the player needs to work on their ear or intonation. Out of tune piano, though, creates its own atmosphere. There are connotations of playing the beat-up instrument in the bar, striving, poverty, atmosphere.

You can’t play just anything on an out-of-tune piano, though. Chopin, no way. Brubeck, forget it. But you can play the hell out of “Ol’ 55” on an out-of-tune piano.

Dear Braves,

I’ve been a fan of the Atlanta Braves for as long as I can remember. Every summer visiting my father, he and I would watch every TBS broadcast. I have fond memories of Skip Caray and Pete Van Wiren announcing. I still remember clearly Phil Niekro’s ‘82 heroic, almost single-handed win against the Padres which clinched a spot in the playoffs. To this day, Dale Murphy remains my ideal of what a baseball player should be, on and off the field.

I heard about your plans to move the stadium to Cobb County. While this has the potential for real disaster, particularly as the traffic on 75 and 285 for a 7pm weekday game is going to be nightmarish, there are also some real possibilities for positive change. Here’s a small list of three things this one fan thinks you should consider:

1. It’s time to change the mascot and team name. Change it back to the Beaneaters if you must, but the era of the acceptable use of ethnic iconography is long passed (if it ever existed). Ancillary to this, don’t go the route of the Angels and become “The Atlanta Peaches of Cobb County” or some such ridiculousness. Remain an Atlanta team.

2. I realize that it is hard to pass up on the massive funding that comes with auctioning naming rights, but please consider rectifying the error made in 1996 and name the new facility “Hank Aaron Field.”  At the very least, make the inclusion of Hank Aaron’s name a requisite part of the name, regardless of which company wins the naming rights. I would be fine with “Hank Aaron Coca-Cola Park”.

3. I read that the new stadium will have 42,000 seats. That is a lot of seats to fill. Please consider something like $5 upper deck ticket prices for all games, so that a family of 4 can see a game for less than $50 inclusive (tickets, parking, and food).

Thank you for your consideration,

Revisiting Big Pink


Recently, Emilee and I have taken to listening to an album or two as we’re preparing dinner. I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit, as I’ve begun finding it harder and harder to carve out time to just listen to music. Last week, I landed on The Band’s “Music From Big Pink” and decided that it was more than time to listen to it again.

It was pretty early into the album - probably the opening chords of “In A Station” - when I turned to Emilee and said “wow, this is really good music.” And yes, beginning to end, it was amazing.

Days later while apparently seeming pensive, Emilee asked me “what are you thinking about?” and I had to honestly reply that Music from Big Pink was still playing in my head. When she asked me why I thought that was, I told her a version of this story:

Early in high school, as my own musical tastes were evolving, I spent a large amount of time listening to anything I could get my hands on, including my mom’s large vinyl collection. Among these was The Band’s eponymous “brown” album, which I found to be absolutely brilliant at the time. I still do. Side two of that album contains some of the most moving, haunted, brilliant Americana ever created in any art form.

When I bought Music From Big Pink in college, I think I was expecting more of the same, and while there are elements of it, there is more of Dylan’s influence on this first album, I think, so I kind of relegated Big Pink to the “not as good” category in my brain. This meant that whenever the urge for music of The Band came to me, I’d play the brown album instead.

But wow, listening to Music From Big Pink with new ears has made all the difference. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard this one, or if you’ve never heard it before, I think you’ll be amazed.

tumblrbot asked:


Thank you for your questions, tumblrbot. This is a question I think about often. I spend lots of time on Google Maps street view virtually visiting places. Right this very moment, the place that interests me most is Nuuk, Greenland.