Calling All Guitar Players


I’ve hit the wall.

I’ve run out of ideas of songs to ask my guitar teacher to work on with me. Perhaps I’m tackling too many songs at once. Perhaps my teacher is throwing too many at me too quickly. Perhaps I can’t see some obvious choices right in front of me.

Here’s what I’m working on right now:

Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival version – this is a lot of fun (a crowd favorite as my teacher calls it). I learned the song in about 45 minutes. It’s really easy. Now I’m working on the guitar solos that I’ll only play if I’m playing with someone else.

Someone Like You – Adele – Yes, I’m working on arpeggios. The interesting thing about this song is that unless you sing along, it really sucks. The music itself is nothing special. And really not that fun to play. And for those of you who have heard me sing – you know that’s nothing special, too.

Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People – is a request from my son to learn something from this decade. (Adele doesn’t count) This song has 4 notes in it. If Proud Mary took 45 minutes to learn, this took 3 minutes. But I have to admit, I enjoy playing this song and it’s definitely a fun sing along song.

Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley version – fingerpicking drills. I hate fingerpicking drills. But this song is so damn pretty, it makes it fun. I wish I could sing like Jeff Buckley. Nobody can except him. Great song.

Dear Mr. Fantasy – Traffic – every now and then, I hear a song and wonder if it would be fun to play. This is a very, very simple song (except the guitar solos which are not easy). I love the idea of this song more than I love playing it. Taking a very electric song and trying it out acoustically.

Now I need your help.

Please comment below on some fun songs you think a (sort of) beginner should know how to play. Added bonus – songs with F and Bm chords. For some reason, I suck at both F and Bm. So I’m looking for songs with a lot of F and Bm chords in them. That will force me to practice them a lot. I need to get better – as virtually every song has either F or Bm in the song.

Thanks in advance. Oh, and songs from this century would be greatly appreciated, but not required.

4.20.12

WILL YOU MARRY ME?


My daughter Kristen got engaged on Saturday afternoon.

It wasn’t that much of a shock, since her fiancé asked permission a few months ago. I knew it was coming. In fact, since we’re meeting his family this coming Saturday, I expected that it would happen before we met.

Ian (we call him I-an Mil-ler – like the groom in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’) did everything right. He asked permission (huge), bought a vintage ring (perfect for my daughter’s taste) and proposed on a picture perfect Saturday at a botanical garden. They will remember that day for their entire life.

The interesting part for me is that everyone asks how I feel about it. Really? I’m thrilled for my daughter. I’m thrilled for Ian. I’m excited to help plan a wedding. I’m excited to watch my daughter enter the next stage of her life. (Just for the record – Ian is an incredible guy. The kind of guy I hoped Kristen would meet.)

And now the planning begins. Sometime after Saturday, I’m sure we’ll begin talking about when, where, who, how many, what kind, what color and all the details which make a wedding a wedding.

A date not too close, and yet not too far away. Something that doesn’t far on a major holiday weekend or someone else’s event. (Like Adam’s bar mitzvah next year)

Let’s avoid hurricane season. Let’s avoid rainy April. Let make sure it doesn’t fall on anyone’s birthday or anniversary. And most of all – let’s make sure it’s not a full moon. OK, I may be overthinking this already.

And since it’s never too early to plan – I have a few requests: The band can’t plan ‘Celebrate’ and the best man’s speech has to be short. I want to dance with my daughter but I don’t want a cheesy song. Perhaps ‘what a wonderful world’ from our favorite movie. (…when Harry met Sally) And of course, I want the details to be just right. Because it’s all about the details. Just like asking permission, a vintage ring and Longwood Gardens.

Because this should be a night, they’ll never forget.

Please join me in congratulating Kristen and Ian.

4.17.12

Cleavage and Crack Are not the same thing


Thanks to American Idol and The Voice, my son has discovered cleavage.

Yes, my (now) 10-year-old son who misses nothing — has noticed that the women on these shows like to show off their ‘chest crack’ (the phrase he was using).

First there was Christina Aguilera on The Voice. Check out the outfit on National TV.

After you get past the stupid hat, you almost can’t miss the neck line. I know my son didn’t.

Next there was Nicki Manaj

17 million people watched this episode – include the very same 10-year-old. And thanks to the wonder of DVR – he’s watched her almost have a wardrobe malfunction more than once. In fact, we got so tired of hearing him talk about her ‘chest crack’ we decided to teach him the word ‘cleavage’ — which isn’t the usual thing we teach our son — so at least if he was going to talk about it, he’d use the correct terminology.

When did it become OK to dress like a stripper on national TV? I thought Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake ended that years ago. When did American Idol – the king of middle America decide to let it all hang out? Am I over reacting? I don’t think so. But I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please fill out the poll below. I’ll let you know how much ‘chest crack’ I see on this week’s episodes.

4.16.12

Inspiring Video “Caine’s Arcade”


From time to time someone sends me something that is really amazing.

Today I received this video about a 9-year-old boy, Caine, who created a cardboard arcade in the front of his father’s auto part store in East LA.

I loved it. It actually made me a little misty.

Please watch. It’s 10 minutes. But you won’t regret watching.

4.11.12

My Son Runs Too Fast For Me


It’s happened.

My 10-year-old son has become a better athlete than me. OK, I’ll admit that I’ve never been much of an athlete – but I didn’t expect him to pass me so quickly. Why do I think my son is a better athlete? Here are three examples:

He’s a better skier
My son can ski faster. He can ski steeper stuff. He has less trouble in powder. He can ski the bumps. On our last two ski trips I have the feeling that I’m holding him back. And when we ski together, I can actually hear my son thinking “when can I ditch dad so I can ski the trails I want to ski.” And it happened so quickly. A few years ago he was skiing between my legs. He was falling on the green circle rope tow. He used to ski trails like “Paddy Wagon” and “Scooter.” Now he’s flying down “The Rapids,” “KT-22,” “Chute-75” and all kinds of trails that sound scary. A few weeks ago, while skiing in California he actually said to me “if you can’t keep up, I’ll meet you at the lift.” Thanks a lot.

He’s a better runner
This has been coming on for a few years. Once my son joined a running club at school he’s been hooked. He’s a great (OK, maybe I’m bragging) long distance runner. And on any given day, he can run longer and faster than me. Now keep in mind, I’ve run three marathons. I can run. But he can run better. I’ve begun riding my bike through our neighborhood while he runs. That way I can keep up. I can also help pace him. But basically, it’s because I can’t keep up his pace any more.

He’s almost a black belt in Tae Kwon Do
My son has been taking TKD since he was 5 years old. In May, he’ll be taking his black belt test. The information he has stored in his head would make my head spin. He’s very confident about the test. He knows he has a lot of work to do, but feels ready to tackle the challenge. I don’t think I could ever dedicate the time to getting a black belt. But he has. I’m proud of his achievement. It’s amazing to watch.

And yet, there are still a few sports where I can beat him.

I can kick his butt in baseball
I’m sure if I played a game on one-on-one baseball with my son, I could still kick his but. I’d strike him out every time, and he’d walk me every time.

I’m taking him down in basketball
My temporary height advantage would be too much to overcome. (I say temporary, because in about 4 years, I think he’ll be as tall as me, if not taller.)

I’d lap him in swimming
Ah, the only spot where I excelled in my youth. My son would not be able to keep up with me in the pool. But again, that is temporary. A few more years at summer camp, and I can see this advantage ending.

I can still bench press more than him
Hopefully, I’m still stronger than my 10-year-old.

My golf swing is better
As my son said yesterday while watching the Masters “my best score ever is a triple bogey.” I’ve actually ‘eagled’ a whole or two in my golf career. I think I can take him on the golf course for at least 5 or 6 years. But that’s only because he’s too busy beating me in other stuff.

At the end of the day, I’m very proud of my son’s skiing, running and tae kwon do abilities. Although I have to admit, it does motivate me to get into better shape. Yes, I’ll always be competitive. And very soon, he’ll be encouraging me versus the other way around. Oh, and I know it’s only a matter of time until he can kick my butt in everything. Except chess. I’ll always beat him in chess.

4.9.12

Four Burning Questions I Can’t Figure Out On My Own


Today on my way to work, I noticed a few things that made me ask ‘why do people do that?’ and I decided to ask you since I couldn’t figure out the answer on my own. So here we go.

1) Why do so many women carry so many bags in the morning? Today on my walk to work I counted over 100 women who were carrying over 250 bags. Most carried at least a handbag and a tote bag. But some had a handbag, tote bag and a larger bag that was probably filled with other bags. Why? What are you carrying? Lunch? Computer? iPad? A stack of gold bars on your way to the Federal Reserve? What is in all those bags and do you really need to carry it around every day? I even noticed a few women who had coordinated all the bags to match their outfit. That’s a lot of bags to buy and have hanging around your house or apartment. Can’t you manage to fit everything into one bag? And if you can’t, doesn’t that tell you something? That maybe you’re carrying too much?

2) Why is it so hard to tie your sneakers? I passed at least 30 people on the street with their sneakers untied. Why? I can understand that they’re easier to get on and off. I can understand that it may look cool. But isn’t it really hard to walk? I know this has been going on for a long time. And it probably started as a fashion trend that has carried over way too long. But I watched the NCAA basketball tournament – and every player on the court had their basketball shoes tied. I even saw someone stop in mid-play to tied their shoes. But their player ‘wanna-be’ guys can’t tied their shoes to walk down the street. I’m assuming they do it to bother people like me. And they’re succeeding.

3) When did wearing jeans become a hardship? I hear this from my son all the time – and I’m noticing it more and more all over the place. When did wearing jeans become uncomfortable? When did sweatpants become the comfortable things to wear all the time? My son hates wearing jeans. He’d rather wear dress pants or sweat pants or just about anything else. I find myself having conversations like this:

Son: Do I have to wear jeans?
Me: Yes.
Son: Ugg, they’re so hard to move in.
Me: We’re going out to dinner, you can’t wear lounge pants or sweats.
Son: I don’t care.
Me: I do.

Has this generation rejected jeans as the fashion of the counter-culture? I hope not. I hope it just a passing thing. But my gut tells me it’s not.

4) When did the “Hunter” brand take over ownership of the ‘fashion rain boot’ category? Every time it rains in New York City they come out of the woodwork. Hundreds of women wearing Hunter rain boots in ever imaginable color, pattern and style. I even saw rain boots with a serious high heel on them. Has Hunter been around forever and I just didn’t notice since I’m not the target market? It this another trend that just hit the mass market in the past few years? When did rain boots become a fashion accessory? Or is this something that has been slowly happening over the past few years, and I didn’t notice until I bought a pair for my wife? I wish I bought stock in Hunter a few years ago.

5) When did the big ‘over the ear’ headphones take over the ‘cool’ headphone category? I have to admit, I hate wearing the white Apple ear buds, as they don’t really fit my ears. But I don’t think I’d really want to walk around the streets of New York wearing the big headphone either. Do they sound that much better? Is it just another ‘thing’? What’s the story about these?

I don’t know – these questions bother me. I like knowing what’s going on. What do you think? Or am I completely over thinking this? Please let me know.

3.4.12