Wednesday, November 11, 2009 8:12 PM


Yesterday, in the car, I was playing Abbey Road when Angela started contributing her own lyrics.

Something in the way she moves... Is like a pony in the water...

We all laughed a bunch, but Angela doesn't know how lucky she was to sing that because she's been driving me up the proverbial wall for the past few days and I've needed something positive to think about. I've mentioned before how nothing that works with the other kids works with her, and we're up against another one of those difficult phases where her prime goal seems to be to make everyone's lives miserable and to do it all with an evil grin. I have to get to the bottom of this, but for right now, I'm just so glad to have an evening with my paints, Glee, and a bag of potato chips.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009 3:16 PM

in which I apparently control music with my behind

My kids think I can control the music in the car by car dancing. Seriously.

While we listen to lots of Beatles music at my house, it's usually on the radio and so I've been trying to play full albums for the kids. Because I love how on the good ones, the songs just fit together in a way that "shuffle" just doesn't satisfy. Anyway, we've done Sergeant Pepper and so now I've been playing my favorite album for them while we're in the car. As we pulled up in our driveway, the song "Wait" came on. (Totally underrated, I love that song.) So I parked the car and did a little car dancing in the driveway to the percussion.

On each verse, the first line just has a little tambourine, then maracas or some other kind of shakers on the second line, and then all out drumming. The kids weren't as familiar with that song and for some reason honestly thought I made the drumming happen, with my booty. Peter demanded to know how I did it and when I didn't understand what he was asking, he was furious with me for keeping the secret to myself. He got all red in the face and yelled, "I! Asked! You! How! You! Did! That!" And the other two just looked bewildered.

Once I explained it and played the song again while staying still, they cooled off a bit. Now they make me play it and actually say "clap clap" when they get to those parts in the song (while clapping). I don't think Ringo needs to quit his day job just yet, but I am pretty proud of their sense of rhythm. And they are learning to accept that I don't have any magical powers. At least not when it comes to the car radio.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008 7:02 PM

The catchiest songs you've never heard

Thank you so much for all the book suggestions! Some of them are favorites of mine too, and I can't wait to get to the library and share them with the kiddos. I could go on and on about books all day because I love them so much.

I have been hard at work on paintings for Christmas, and the dolls (hopefully will be posting a photo of them tomorrow), but in the meantime...

In that photo of the fridge Thanksgiving week, you saw a picture of Paul McCartney that I clipped out of Blender Magazine, with a balloon coming out of his mouth singing "Obla-di Blah Blah Blah." (Taken from an article naming him one of the worst lyricists of all time. That photo just cracks me up.)

Anyway, one of the things I love about the interwebs is the fact that people post their bootlegs! Woo! So... if you ever wanted to hear unreleased gems and stuff that got bumped from albums, here are a few of my favorites. And I must remind you: pay no attention to the lyrics. Lyric disdain must always be suspended when reviewing a new McCartney tune.

A Love for You, which I shouldn't really list because it's been plucked from the vault and now has been released. But it has such great raw energy to it.

Waterspout. The catchiest darn thing ever, and we like to dance around the house to this. Kind of like C-Moon in that respect.

Two Fingers/Mary's Song. Great story, and interesting in how he was inspired by art to write a song with only two-fingered chords. This song eventually got words, but I like the whistling version much better.

Ivonne. It's a demo for 10cc, but I've never heard their version. When I was in high school and first heard this, I used to have a whole set of alternate lyrics made up about my brother and his beard. Something like "Antoine's the one I've been counting on... "

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008 7:13 AM

Don't forget the pumpkin pie

Words of wisdom (and warning) from Sophie.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008 7:52 PM

nice tomatoes

We are so totally loving the produce from our garden, scanty though it is. I'm rejoicing in every ripe tomato. (This one fell off when we were painting the side of the house.) I refuse to eat tomatoes in winter, because that's NOT a tomato.

The other morning I took a work break to grab a bowl of granola while the kids were eating breakfast, and I was singing the song that had been playing on the Beatles station, "Three Cool Cats*." As I was adding the strawberries, I sang,

Well up popped that first cool cat,
He said: "Man look at that.
Man, do you see what I see?
Well I want that middle chick."
"I want that little chick."
"Hey man, save once chick for me!"

And so on, about the three cool cats and the three cool chicks. So of course, the kids want to know why cats and chickens are eating potato chips.

"No," Paul explains, "It's slang. The cool cats are three guys and they're calling the three girls chicks, but you shouldn't do that, it's not that nice."

"I don't know," I said. "There are worse things to be called, like a tomato. Unless someone calls you and a friend a pair of gorgeous tomatoes, that would probably be okay. And in England back in the day if someone liked a girl, they would say they fancied that bird."

The kids by this time are completely confused, because honestly, they could picture actual cats and chicks walking down the street eating potato chips, that would be just fine with them, but now we've muddied it all up with people being called animal and vegetable names. They shrug it off and go back to their granola, because Mama dancing into the room singing, getting something, and dancing out is a regular occurrence and really not a reason to stop chewing. I'm just waiting to see the pictures they're going to draw based on this.

*George sings lead, and Pete Best, who got canned on my birthday, drums. I have a cassette from high school fished out of the discount bin at Sears that honest to God, says "The Silver Beatles" on it, and until the Anthology stuff came out, nobody else I met had any idea what I was talking about. As best I can figure out, it's a selection of songs from the New Year's Decca recordings. I like it better than the versions on the Anthology set which seem too subdued. My other fave would have to be their cheeky yet delightfully smarmy rendition of "Bésame Mucho" (cha-cha-boom!)

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Thursday, July 17, 2008 8:55 PM

Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you

If you have ever been in the same room with me and a piano (and ahem, we have quite a few of them in our house), you know that sooner or later I'm going to go play "Martha My Dear." Only my most favorite Beatles song ever, with sugar on top. "She Loves You" is a very close second, but "Martha" wins the day for me for its sheer pluckiness and relative obscurity.

My love affair with "Martha" started back when I was a teenager and taped WNEW's "A-Z Beatles Weekend", to supplement my growing desire to learn the entire catalog. My parents had no Beatles records other than an instrumental version of the Hollyridge Strings doing Magical Mystery Tour - my mom said, "Every time you turned on the radio, they were playing a Beatles song, so who needed to buy the records?"

Later in my teenage years I would start teaching myself to play songs by ear, playing my tapes (and eventually, records) over and over, writing down lyrics in a large spiral notebook and adding in my fake chords above them, in red pencil. I would even write down the date, so thorough was I. Generally, fake chords were good enough for me, but there was something about "Martha".... this was something that I might actually be able to play. I've never had piano lessons, and my big thing prior to this was studying the sheet music and teaching myself the intros to "Against All Odds" and "Honesty". But for some reason, I found myself loving this song and wanting to play it exactly like the recording.

I think I was 16 or 17, and I remember a summer where I spent a lot of time at our broken-down piano with a tape recorder by my side, playing, listening, rewinding, replaying, finally pressing the piano keys, and listening again. And finally, I HAD it. Same key, same intonation, same exact notes, same everything. I had to go back to fake chords once the orchestra kicked in at the middle section and I couldn't hear the piano as well, but the main part, the part that makes "Martha" MARTHA, I had. I owned it.

Over the years, I played it all the time - because we were passing a piano, or to cheer myself up, or once even on the radio, when I was called as an early morning phone gag and wound up taking them up on their offer to play it on the air, and they sent me prize money and a sweatshirt. I played it when I was pregnant and the kids must have heard it in utero!

About 20 years have passed since I taught myself to play "Martha My Dear." And while I've grown in that time as a musician and singer, my piano skills haven't improved - I still play "Martha" the exact same way; awesome intro, fake chords in the middle section. And I was starting to feel a little frustrated about it, because I could hear everything I wanted to do, but couldn't figure out how to make my hands do it. Oh, and the three preschoolers and the job and the lack of any semblance of quiet have put the kibosh on any arranging time too. :)

Yesterday, while looking up something entirely different on YouTube, I found a tutorial. TO PLAY MARTHA MY DEAR. This was so exactly the way I needed to see and learn this, that I swear that the sound of something clicking into place in my brain must have been loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Sheet music for this song looks like this, and while I have an amazing piano teacher for a husband, looking at that jumble of notes makes me dizzy. This guy shows his fingers, and then posts the notes of the chord above the keys. Yes, yes, and for goodness' sakes, YES already. It's like someone tapped right into my brain to see the way I'd learn best, and then made a video.

My family has been enjoying watching me running back and forth between the computer and the piano. I watch the computer.... pause it ..... say the names of the notes over to myself ... bang away at the piano, shout, "AHA! D major 7th! Yes!", and then run back to the laptop. I was watching it yesterday, grabbing Paul and yelling, "OCTAVES! He's doing OCTAVES in the left hand! Yes! Why didn't I think of that?" You would think I was discovering gravity or something to hear me go on, but my family's getting a kick out of it. Silly girl...

So in case you have ever been secretly jealous of my amazingly single-minded talent, you too can learn how to play my favorite Beatles song. And thank you to the Internet, for proving that while I may be obsessed, I'm certainly not alone.

And please see...

Wikipedia's entry on Martha My Dear. Lyrics from James Joyce? Uh, I don't think so.

How to Play Martha My Dear, Part 1 and Part 2. The tutorials I've been watching and exclaiming over, and he does many other songs as well. I plan to write him a thank you note.

Martha My Dear performed on classical guitar. Just amazing and really lovely. If this man has an album, I'm buying it. Lots of other songs too; give him a listen.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007 8:03 AM

imagine peace


Yesterday I was really frustrated because after all the planning for the business cards, when I was ready to send them, they upped the minimum quantity to 250, instead of 100 (meaning I couldn't do three, possibly could only manage one, had to start all over again). Paul helped me see that I was spending too much time researching printers and not enough time doing what I loved (painting, designing, getting ready for the fair), so we decided that for now we'll print the cards here, on glossy card stock, off our printer. I can do as many as I want, bring them all to the fair, and see which ones get taken; that'll help me decide which ones to get for real, when I'm not pressed for time. Done. (And thank you for those who voted, because you all pretty much win. :)

That decision made, I took a walk downtown and got my hair cut. At least three inches off the bottom, some bangs, colored it too. The hairdresser barely spoke and it was lovely - blessedly quiet except the radio, I didn't need to make small talk, and I felt like I was doing something else good for myself (last haircut was at least a year ago, maybe longer, as I am a pretty low-maintenance kind of a girl). Check.

Most importantly, I started a new painting. I want to do it for this week's Illustration Friday, but in reality, it's to keep my sanity. Even if I work on it for 1/2 an hour a day, it's not on the computer, there is no undo, and if it doesn't work out nobody cares but me. I thought at first I was crazy to start something new, but now I realize it's not crazy at all. Not enough painting makes me verrrrry cranky (and David, I haven't forgotten Alice, she's almost done!).

And as another reminder to myself to stop being so frustrated and tense, today would have been John Lennon's 67th birthday today. Go visit and add your thoughts of peace to the millions of others.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007 8:42 AM

I've got too much on my plate

Brand new video! Maybe showing this to the kiddos will convince them once and for all that he is not saying "pinkeye, pinkeye, doo" which is what they love to scream whenever this song plays at my house.

On the holiday front: I sent out a few emails, made some calls, and did a little hunting on amazon yesterday. All adding to my growing gift list; all I'll have to do then is divide it up into what gets ordered online, and what I go out to the store for. Currently looking up Star Trek YA novels for my nephew, who digs Data and Spock. I love that boy.

Getting crafty: Made a ton of business card designs and sent them to the Inner Circle for feedback. Realized that everyone was choosing them based on which illo they liked better, so have done more research and found another printer that does smaller runs (meaning I could print 2 or 3 pics/designs instead of just one, for actually less money.) I also confirmed the size of my table and started to draw out plans of what needs to go where. It's a start!

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Friday, June 22, 2007 8:35 AM

Memory Almost Full, basement almost empty

Getting ready for a garage sale this weekend, which I don't feel in the least bit prepared for. I refuse to hire a sitter to help with the kids during the sale, because there's the profits of the garage sale - I can just hand it over! :) Paul pointed out that the goal is not to make any money, but to get rid of stuff to someone who can use it, so if I look at it that way, it makes perfect sense. We have three of everything baby related (car seats of various sizes, clothing, booster seats, a highchair, toys... ) and we can certainly use the space!

Helping to take the edge off is repeated listenings of Memory Almost Full - it's in extremely heavy rotation at our house. I had written a review for my friend Craig, but the more I listen, the more songs I like and more things that grab me. The one thing I will say is that "Mr. Bellamy" is far and away the standout track. There are some posts going around online that are saying that it's about a cat in a tree, but the lyrics are clearly about a guy on a ledge and the people trying to talk him down (which Paul confirms in an interview). It makes me wish I was an animator, because it would make a marvelous video in the same style as "Free As A Bird".

♥ Hear "Mr. Bellamy" with a slide show with lyrics here
♥ See "Free as a Bird" here


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Wednesday, June 06, 2007 8:38 AM

Hello, Beatle People

While I'm going through and trying to tag each post for ease of finding artwork so that you can search for things like "Illustration Friday" or "fairies" and making myself a form (not to mention hanging out in the hammock in my pjs), make sure you check out these goodies:

♥ It was 40 years ago today: Macca Radio is playing "Breakfast with the Beatles" showcasing Sgt. Pepper with commentary from George Martin and Paul McCartney. I loved George's book, "All You Need Is Ears" which breaks down everything you hear on the album, from the calliope music and the alarm clock to the air conditioning system in the studio. I even learned that "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields" were originally supposed to be on Sgt. Pepper but they needed to rush out a single...

Memory Almost Full: Unless you have been living under a rock :) you know that Paul McCartney has a new album out, which you can listen to here! Annnnnnd, iTunes FINALLYhas Paul McCartney's entire back catalogue! (underline, bold bold bold, picture me dancing around my living room) While it seems really odd to me not to be holding an album physically in my hands, we might just go all-digital for this one. I look forward also to updating my copies of, well, everything I have vinyl for, purchased at Beatle festivals and used-record places over the years. Plus all those bonus tracks... I can finally get a clean copy of "Daytime Nighttime Suffering", at last.


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