music


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One of the local radio stations has been playing Christmas music since early November. Not that there was a rush to beat because most of the stations in the Edmonton area shun holiday tunes before the week before or even the day of Christmas. Edmontonians are not big on the genre.

The station in question is an easy listening slash pop rock venue. Nothing that offends or taxes the ears. Just background music for the retail or office space. But they have one of the most limited Christmas playlists I think I have ever encountered and it includes the dreadful Beach Boy’s Little Saint Nick, Jose Felicano’s 70’s earworm,  Felice Navidad, Dean Martin’s Marshmallow World and the worst Christmas song ever – Santa Baby, the Eartha Kitt version.

I am being subjective when I single out Santa Baby because I know that country music has its own offense to the genre with the tear-jerkers written about dead moms at yuletide, but the only other Christmas song that comes close to the sheer materialistic whoring of Santa Baby for awfulness would be Baby, It’s Cold Outside with its creepy seduction meets quasi date rape theme. Not that the latter can’t be a tiny bit charming depending on who is singing it, but Santa Baby is always a song about a woman whoring herself to a sugar daddy no matter who sings it.

The local station plays it every effing hour, and that is not an exaggeration. I can almost tell where the minute hand is based on the songs that pop up in rotation. It’s gotten to the point where either Dee or Rob will chortle madly when it comes on and say,

“They’re playing your favourite song!”

On the way into town today, we were stuck listening to the pop-rock Christmas carol channel because Dee has finally come into her tweener tunes taste and Rob remarked,

“I’ve got to dig around and find the old Christmas cd’s because I can’t take much more of this.”

And I agreed. I grew up on carols of which many where religiously influenced. Despite the “war on Christmas” proponents insistence that the holiday is more secular than not anymore, the fact remains that it is a religiously influenced holiday from paganism to Christianity, the holiday is not devoid of spiritual roots. Even Santa has his start in “saint”.

In the meantime, I continue to grit my teeth and gird my eardrums.


All sixteen years of it, begging to be immortalized in black on a white pages.

I shouldn’t poke fun except at the lunacy behind the notion that a 16-year-old teen idol with a combover has anything to add to life’s discourse that he couldn’t just croon to little girls who will outgrow his feminine-tinged attractiveness soon enough.

Dee expressed mild interest in Justin “Beaver” recently. Her best friend, Tina, let her listen to the collection of Bieber tunes on her iPod.

“The other kids on the bus make fun of her and say that Beaver sucks,” Dee commented.

We were watching a clip of the boy on You Tube. He is very young and not the least bit masculine in the way of most teen idols. I remember a distinct preference for slightly girly boys myself when I was young – longish hair, trendy dress, no facial or chest hair. My, how I have grown up.

“Well,” I said, “what do you think?”

“I think his music is okay,” she said.  She did not comment on the boy himself. This past year she has abandoned her chatter about boyfriends and husbands and even babies.  She is “just friends” with boys because she is “too young to date” and anyway “I am never getting married or having babies.  I will have a dog instead. Only after you are gone, Mom, because of your allergies.”

I didn’t query about where I might be going.

“You don’t have to like the music that other kids like,” I said. “If you like his music, then don’t worry about what other kids think.”

“Oh, ” she said, “I don’t. That’s just what kids tell Tina. That Justin Beaver sucks.”

Dee begged for Miley Cyrus‘s autobiography, which interestingly was written when she was sixteen as well. A milestone year for the too famous/too early crowd. I don’t think she’ll be asking Santa for the Life of Bieber for Christmas though.


The unknown narrator, or is he Tyler Durden, ponders an IKEA catalog, wondering what his stuff says about him. But it’s not just stuff, it’s attitude about/identification with things and how what we wear, listen to, read and watch comes to represent us in the world.

Programmed from near birth, we come to view externals as part of ourselves and believe that they lift us or damn us according to society’s ranking of them and hence us.

Our musical tastes, for example, allow the majority to rule us. We are cool or not so much depending on our earworm preferences. Liking Nickelback and Taylor Swift earns scorn while pretending to get the deep meaning of Tool rates high social marks.

I like Nickelback by the way. Just plain old pop/rock and occasional boy band ballad-e-ness with a bit of growl. Pretentious? Perhaps. Lyrically challenged? Most definitely. Fun? In my opinion, yes.

I listen to Tool as well though I prefer Perfect Circle. It’s also pretentious, but it’s angsty in a discomforting way that allows people to pretend it’s more meaningful than Daughtry and therefore elevates the listener to some level the masses just “wouldn’t understand”. Forgetting all the while that music is poetry and poetry’s meaning is subjective and totally relative.

What kind of music defines me as a person?

And what does it say about me that I need external definition?

Yesterday was “cheer up, Keanu day”. Generated by a viral paparazzi shot of the actor morosely munching a sandwich on a park bench in a decidedly homeless guy sort of way, people with a soft spot of maligned movie stars decided to dedicate a day – and a Facebook page – to share their fond memories of his movies, music and their actual encounters with Reeves.

It reminded me of a memorial service.

For a man who’s not dead in case anyone missed that. Although maybe in a world obsessed with whatever one has done lately, a career not in full throttle is akin to a death of sorts. Even middle-aged men are put to pasture in Hollywood, however, but if I had Reeves resources, I doubt that I would be pushing myself very hard either.

Oh, wait. I am not pushing myself. Nevermind

What kind of movies define me as a person?

Can I be defined by the fact that I sometimes watch films just because the actors are pleasantly attractive? Or that I am sufficiently imaginative to be able to immerse myself in a story regardless of the quality of the acting and the CGI?

The latter perhaps is the more admirable quality but the former is nothing to hang one’s head shamefully over.

My fondness for Virgo men aside, I like Reeves the actor. I never have difficulty believing he is his character in a way that “better” actors like Tom Hanks, for instance, can never not be “Tom Hanks” regardless of the film.

Because I prefer to not wear make up, live in my yoga togs and forsake underwear, am I bohemian? Does being a yoga teacher/blogger make me trendy or edgy? Or does the fact that I’ve blogged for money blogs rob me of “cool” cred?

I’ve viewed people from way atop the bridge of my nose, but that vantage point didn’t put me above anyone as much as it revealed my own pettiness and superficiality.

What defines you as a person? Music? Movies? A dining set?

I’m still trying to find my true self. Excavate her, really.

But in the meantime, I like Nickelback and Keanu Reeves’ movies and buying my yoga duds at Sears.


Yoga grounds itself in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Sutra (get your mind out of the gutter) means “rule” or summary or a listing of “doctrinal summaries”. More simply put, they are teachings. Literally translated it means  “a thread or line that holds things together”.

The Yoga Sutras are the basis from which yoga emerges.

Part of my training includes studying, pondering, trying to make sense of Patanjali’s sutras.

Who was Patanjali? He’s the guy who, thousands of years ago, wrote down everything a person needed to know in order to reach the goal known as Yoga.

No one really knows who he is. In his workshop, Michael Stone told us that Patanjali was mythologized even – half man/half serpent. Scholars, however, are of the opinion that he really existed.

The second sutra, according to Sri Swami Satchidananda – whose translation I am reading, actually sums up the end goal, and means to it, of yoga.

YOGAS CITTA VRTTI NIRODHAH

The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.

Huh?

It’s deceptive in its simplicity.

“If you can control the rising of the mind into ripples, you will experience yoga.”

Yoga is union.

So, if the mind can be hushed and thoughts tamed so they are not running off with the slightest distraction, you have achieved yoga.

Yoga is not the physical practice – the “asanas” or poses. That is a simplification of itself. Asanas are practiced to help a person still the mind by learning to focus on breath through movement.

It’s another way to learn meditation.

Bet those Bikram people feel all foolish now seeing how it’s not an Eastern Jane Fonda way to yoga butt.

It’s deceptively simple though because – in case you’ve never tried – reigning in thoughts isn’t easy. Try it. Take a few moments and silence the parade of thoughts stampeding through your mind. Or, just try to herd one thought in a single direction and see if it doesn’t get away from you. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

(musical interlude for the lazy)

Not so easy, is it?

It takes no time at all for the mind to wander off to the day ahead or the troubles of yesterday or off into a daydream or lament or idle speculation about why I am boring you with my yoga training again.

Our minds are programmed to modify. It’s perfectly natural for thoughts to meander. Sometimes it’s a good thing. But just as often, it isn’t.

The modifications or “vrittis” are named by Patanjali, the man-serpent.

Right-knowledge, misconception, imagination, sleep and memory.

They are neither good nor bad except for – as Shakespeare would put it later in Horatio’s mouth – thinking makes it so.

There is no good or bad in the world because they are labels only and projections of human interpretation – figments of our mind-stuff so to speak.

The world itself is nothing more than a projection, a shared one sometimes, but it makes sense when a person stops to consider how differently a group of people can view a common event or idea.

Kat, my training instructor, asked us to come up with two examples – good and bad – for each of the vrittis and write about them.

Ah, you think, this is why she is torturing us with her Eastern mumbo-jumbo.

Partly.

I have to admit that I am a bit stumped.

Right-knowledge is that which is a universal truth. But are there truths that everyone agrees on really? Human beings pay lip-service to truth more than they actually practice most of them.

Killing for example. The killing of humans is bad. Except if they have killed or if the killing takes place during war and they are on the winning side or in instances of self-defense or if a person chooses to kill his/herself unless they aren’t terminally ill and it’s okay for police officers and white people who need land and resources from browner people. Just to name a few exceptions to that “truth”.

All humans are created equal. Except, it doesn’t say that. It says “men” and thus begins the “excepting”.

Misconceptions are the “eye of the beholder” thing that gets most of us into trouble. It’s the projection of our perception onto others, events, universal truths. Its the way we read into everything regardless of the actual depth.

Imagination are the fanciful thoughts that lead us into trouble or inspiration depending.

Sleep is either in feast or famine and nearly always we control that.

Memory. Ah, memories. Faulty and more prone to misconception than our real time dealings, in my opinion.

I’d be curious – and most grateful – to know your opinions on the vrittis. How can they be both good and bad? Positive force or negative?

Examples would be appreciated.


… attracts more flies than vinegar, or something like that. Now that things seem poised to tip down South – because if lynching a government census worker is just unrest as usual then there has been a serious lowering of the tolerance for dissent – I think it might be time for the media mongerer’s to couch their distaste, ridicule and hatred in something uptempo and with a beat that sets toes tapping.


The “power of three” is not to be trifled with and is not subject to earthly explanation. In the celebrity realm the more famous or iconic you are, the more danger you are in of succumbing to the it.

Michael Jackson could attest to this were he not dead. He is the third in the Grim Reaper’s trio of famous recalls this week, Ed McMahon and Farah Fawcett having gone on ahead.

According to my husband, talk radio was ablaze with the news of Jackson’s death on his drive home from work late this afternoon.

“Shepard Smith sounded like he was about to burst into tears,” he told me in a bemused tone.

The Facebook and Twitter feeds were running about fifty-fifty between genuine grief and good riddance. I understand those who feel Jackson’s loss as deeply as though he were a friend or extended family member. He grew up with some of us. We remember he and his brothers. And he become a pop-icon to a generation or two as a grown man during the 80’s, leading him to self-christen himself the “King of Pop” and lead them along with his fantasy view of himself and the world.

I remember the cartoon.

I can still listen to Jackson 5 stuff without cringing – almost. But I can’t listen to Thriller. Although I think the LP is still at my mom’s, and I danced along with everyone else in college, Jackson was a pedophile and his music – for me – is as tainted as he was. Being dead doesn’t change that for me.

I read a tweet that summed it up nicely:

RT @Sarcomical: media/individuals seem to be mourning loss of what Jackson represented for them in 80’s. not the human he recently was.

Poor Farrah and Ed – people who probably deserve more memorializing than they will get now that the behemoth that was Michael Jackson has eclipsed them with his passing. I don’t think talent or a long past celebrity is reason enough to overlook the kind of man he eventually revealed himself to be.

Just saying.


HOW TO CREATE YOUR DEBUT ALBUM COVER*   

1 – Go to “wikipedia.” Go to a Random Article at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band. If the first article you hit is short, hit Random Article two more times. (My first two hits were biographies, so I had to go a third time.)

2 – Go to “Random quotations”
or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 – Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” or clickhttp://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 – Use photoshop or Picnik.com or some other photo editor to put it all together.

5 – Post it to FB with this text in the “caption” and TAG the friends you want to join in.

This was mine.
*Courtesy of Alica.