Jul. 26th, 2007 10:20 pm
jwgh: (Default)
Tonight, at SnB, one of the ends of the circular knitting needles I was using broke off, resulting in me dropping about 40 stitches and not having much to do with the rest of the evening. The immediate result was that I said "fuck".

Me swearing in this way (at least around other people) is uncommon enough that it was the source of a certain amount of glee among the other SnBers, so I swore a few more times for good measure. Later, I dredged up an oath I hadn't used in a while and said 'Land o' Goshen' in reference to something (I don't remember what), which confused everyone. (One person thought I might have said 'Atlantic Ocean', which would be a pretty puzzling thing to say.) So to clear things up: I picked that one up from reading Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in high school. I guess it's a Biblical phrase.

So, basically, I am a dork, which probably is not news.

In other SnB-related news, the owner of Perkatory (the coffee shop we met in) told us that if our group came back there he would give us 10% off. So, good.
jwgh: (self-portrait)
When I play at events with a bunch of other songwriters, I get to compare myself to them, for better or worse.

I would say that my guitar playing is generally stylistically pretty different from most other singer-songwriter types. I don't use a pick, and I would describe my guitar playing (for the most part) as being pretty crude; I've learned a couple of pieces which have some complexity, but for the most part this hasn't translated to my original pieces (with the exception of the guitar version of 'Hybrid Car Blues', which is mostly ripped off from Robert Johnson's 'Kind Hearted Woman Blues').

The other thing I noticed last night is that I think I sang louder than anyone else on the stage, although it's a little hard to judge. (Is anyone in a position to verify this?) [I should note that the 'Songwriters in the Round' series is completely acoustic, with no PA or other amplification.]

As far as my lyrics go, my songs tend to be more upbeat than most, in attitude if not in actual content. Reading that, maybe I'm just trying to avoid saying that pretty much all of my songs are, on some level, funny, while other songwriters tend to write by and large serious or even sad songs.

This isn't really intentional on my part; I mean, I guess I like writing songs like that, and other people like hearing them, so it's worked out that way, but, well, I don't know. I guess I will just continue writing the songs that I want to write and will see what happens (which I imagine will be that most of them will be, or will aspire to be, funny).
jwgh: (Van Halen)
This is the second in a series of posts that are in response to some questions from [livejournal.com profile] palmitas268. This one deals with where I like to play.

answer )
jwgh: (Van Halen)
This is the second in a series of posts that are in response to some questions from [livejournal.com profile] palmitas268. This one deals with how I select my music.

answer behind a cut )
jwgh: (Van Halen)
[livejournal.com profile] palmitas268 asked me some questions about my musical career, and the response is turning out to be pretty long, so I'm going to split it into parts and post it to my livejournal over the course of the day. The first question is about my influences and inspirations.

my response )
jwgh: (Default)
It's more involved than you think!

I'm going to head up to Boston shortly, so thought I might as well fill up the rest of my time talking about how I wrote 'T for T. Rex', which I think will be interesting to me if nobody else.

As is often the case, I got the idea as I was falling asleep. Jimmie Rodger's 'Blue Yodel #1' (aka 'T For Texas') went through my head with 'T. Rex' instead of 'Texas'. I got a phone call around midnight, woke up, remembered the line, thought it was funny and thought, hey, I could do that for the whole song!

So I had to begin with the lyrics to 'T For Texas'. They are:
behind this cut! )
I also had a list of dinosaur-related terms that I got from some website. After fooling around with the first verse:
T for T. Rex, T for [????]
T for [???], the [???]
I realized that that was going to be pretty hard and went back to bed.

Over the rest of the night, I remembered the term 'Theropod' and realized that it more or less rhymed with 'dog'. (This is arguably more cheating than Jimmie Rodgers himself indulged in in his song, depending on how you feel about rhyming 'barrel' with 'gal'.) Theropods were around in the late Triassic, so that gave me the rest of the second verse.

Onwards. The 'If you don't want me mama' verse is probably a little too obvious, but it's not like I was aiming for an extremely nuanced, complex satire, so after trying a few different dinosaur names in that verse I stuck in 'Apatosaurus' and left it at that. Verse #3 was complete.

I didn't see much that could be done with the 'water drinks like cherry wine' verse, so I figured I'd finish verse #1 and do a verse about guns and call it a song. Returning to verse #1, I decided to try:
T for T. Rex, T for Tarbosaur.
Then I tried to figure out what else 'T' stood for and what that person or thing did that rhymed with 'Tarbosaur'. In keeping with the original song, it seemed like it should be relationship-related somehow.

Finally I thought that instead of being Thelma, it should be someone she left me for. ('For' rhymes with 'Tarbosaur!') This led to me trying to think of names that began with 'T', but that wasn't all that helpful. I was quite relieved when 'time traveller' came to me -- two 'T's, and it made the presence of dinosaurs make sense, sort of.

That makes the gun-related verse easier to figure out, because for some reason when time travel is discussed people always bring up the possibility of killing your own grandfather as a potential problem. (It never seems to be your grandmother or any other blood relative. Also, whether it is your maternal or paternal grandfather isn't specified. There is also a lot of concern expressed about being your own father or grandfather [I guess if you think about it the former implies the latter], but I decided to leave that alone.) So, yeah, if you're willing to accept that 'Theropod' almost rhymes with 'dog' then perhaps you'll also forgive the attempt to rhyme 'tall' with 'grandpaw'. Also, you will maybe not worry too much about whether Thelma is supposed to be the singer's grandmother or not.

And there's your song. Not a very original song, or a particularly good song, or even a song that is especially worth recording (since if you've heard the original Jimmie Rodgers song then you know exactly what this one is supposed to sound like, and if you haven't heard the original then you won't understand what the point is), but a song nonetheless.


The Plan

Jun. 19th, 2006 12:08 pm
jwgh: (Hat)
Now that I've turned 34, I have a (somewhat flexible) goal for the next year: figure out whether I want to switch careers and what I would need to do to do so.

Specifically the career I'm thinking of switching to is a public high school math teacher.

The main advantages of my current job are: I'm good at it and generally don't find it to be too difficult, it pays pretty well, and since I work from home I have a lot of flexibility as to where I can live (basically anywhere with an Internet connection). The main disadvantages are that it's not very exciting and there aren't any obvious ways to change the job so that it will be more interesting. It is basically a job that puts food on the table, which is not to be sniffed at, but in terms of any sort of deep fulfillment I generally have to look elsewhere in my life.

While I was taking time of from college I did some substitute teaching at the high school I graduated from and I really enjoyed it. I hope that I would be good at it and I think I would be making more of a contribution to society.

In some ways this is a good time to be going into teaching. According to my father, the last big wave of teacher-hiring went on in the seventies; when he started working as a teacher almost all of the other teachers were people in their twenties. Now all those teachers are starting to reach retirement age, and in ten years almost all of them will no longer be working. (My dad says that it is exciting and fun to work with a lot of new, young teachers.)

On the downside, with the rise of testing and 'no child left behind' it isn't one of the more pleasant times to be a teacher. Statewide standardized testing generally also requires a statewide standardized curriculum, itself generally a bad thing. In fact, for these reasons right now I really don't think I would want to teach in Massachusetts, as their educational policy is particularly bad. (I would like to stay in New England, though, mainly so I can stay close to the rest of my family, but also because I just like it here.)

So this week I'd like to look at the policies of the New England states to see which ones are least intrusive. Then I'll see what the requirements are to become a teacher and will try to set up a timetable of some kind.

Some of y'all have more knowledge about this stuff than I; any pointers or suggestions are welcomed!
jwgh: (Hat)
[livejournal.com profile] jwgh wanders into his poorly-lit kitchen, not really looking where he's going. He stumbles into the large cardboard box that his accordion gig bag came in.

[livejournal.com profile] jwgh: Ah, yes, giant box of cardboard.

He realizes that that sounds kind of stilted.

[livejournal.com profile] jwgh: Giant cardboard box, one might even say.

He notices that he has now taken a turn towards self-criticism (while still being incredibly stilted).

[livejournal.com profile] jwgh: One might also say that I'm a big dork.

Hmm, even worse.

[livejournal.com profile] jwgh: I have to go post to my livejournal about this now.


jwgh: (Default)
One of the things that I have been thinking about regarding the dance band is that when we play at AS220 we will have to perform all original material (I assume that policy will still be in place), and almost all of our original material is written and performed by Chris (the exception being a song I wrote for my nephew Ezra in February).

So I've been thinking about writing more songs; kind of difficult. The other week I was listening through some stuff I recorded and I thought that Interests Are Stupid might have some dance band possibilities, although I wasn't sure whether we would actually want to do it or not. So I emailed the link around to the other members of the band and asked what they thought.

Some time passed, and after a week or so Chris sent me a note about something unrelated which included this:
Also, on the orrig JH song you asked about last week: Musically I like it and I think we could do some interesting thing. Lyrically I think its kind of thin. I rarely feel that joke lyrics hold up to repeated listenings. This week I told the same jar-of-jellybeans joke 4 times 4 different people. It was not funny after the second time, because it wasn't funny to me and I couldn't put my heart into it. That being said, if you want to stand by the lyric and you want to do the song, its OK with me.
...which is reasonable and fair enough. However, the font I use to read my email (Monaco) has the unfortunate feature that lowercase 'a's and 'o's look pretty similar, so where Chris had written 'I rarely feel that joke lyrics hold up to repeated listenings' I thought he had written 'I rarely feel that jake lyrics hold up to repeated listenings'. 'Ow! The sting of honest criticism!' I thought.

Anyway, I was relieved today when I reread the email and discovered what it actually said.

The end.
jwgh: (piano)
Yesterday I was asked some questions about why I perform music on stage, what it's like, what the difference is between performing solo and with another person, etc. This essay grew out of that. Obviously I am speaking only for myself; other performers will have different experiences and different motivations. If any other performers reading this have any comments I am interested in reading them, and if anyone has any questions feel free to ask them.
Why perform publicly at all? )
What is performing like? )
What am I doing while I'm performing? )
jwgh: (bunny ears)
I sometimes look back fondly on the days when I had no life.
jwgh: (accordion santa)
[livejournal.com profile] urbeatle posted earlier that he took one of those online Myers-Briggs tests, which reminded me that a few years back my employer paid for me to take an 'official' personality test from the Frank Whyte Education Services people and later to take a training class where we learned about the different kinds of personalities and what-not.

I'm deeply suspicious of the whole thing because, first, it's not really clear to me how falsefiable it is (I believe the instructor said at one point that the test was incredibly accurate and at another that your results might vary depending on what was going on the day you took the test, etc.) and also how meaningful it is (the choice of the four dualities seems pretty arbitrary; I bet there are others that could have been chosen that would be as measurable or more so). But, you know, the whole thing was sort of interesting.

Anyway, while I was cleaning my room the other day I happened to find the report they sent me, so let it be recorded that I am an INFP! Now if someone asks me while I'm online I might actually be able to find this information.

They also gave me a little bar graph showing that my test results showed that my preferences had the following level of 'clarity':

Introversion: Moderate [opposed to Extraversion]
iNtuition: Clear [opposed to Sensing]
Feeling: Clear [opposed to Thinking]
Perceiving Moderate [opposed to Judging]

These are along a scale that goes: [no label], Slight, Moderate, Clear, and Very Clear. [Insert Scientology joke here if desired.]

My recollection is that the majority of people are I, N, F, and P as opposed to their opposites, making me a super-freak! Phear me!


jwgh: (Default)
Jacob Haller

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