Trombone Tuesday

In last week’s Trombone Tuesday, I hinted that the trombone is the Rodney Dangerfield of musical instruments. It gets no respect.

But it should. From Trombone Technique by Denis Wick: “The trombone has been described as the only perfect wind instrument.” That “claim refers to its capacity for perfect intonation by means of the infinitely variable tube length of the slide.”

Today, I’d like to present a little history. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt and there won’t be a quiz.

Throughout the history of popular music, there have been gifted musicians who were able to elevate their instrument from simply sharing duties with their section in the band to bringing it front and center, thrilling audiences, and influencing generations of players to come.

The fiddle had Nero, for example, who didn’t merely bring the house down when he played, but all of Rome. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

The trumpet had Louis Armstrong, the saxaphone had Sydney Bechet, the guitar had Django Reinhardt, the piano had Franz Liszt (seriously, Lisztomania was a thing long before Beatlemania, replete with screaming women tearing at his clothes), and the trombone had Jack Teagarden.

Teagarden is called the Father of Jazz Trombone and is regarded as one of the most innovative jazz trombone stylists of the pre-bebop era.

Largely self-taught, he developed a widely imitated style that featured unconventional alternative positions and unusual special effects. He was also considered one of the best white male jazz singers of the era, with a singing style as improvisational as his trombone playing.

His career spanned the Swing era of the 1920s and the New York Jazz scene until shortly before his death in 1964.

His music might be much too old school to be appreciated today, but Swing was the music of the kids of that day; it was their rock & roll.

Here is a wonderful sample of his innovative style, a solo from the song, “Lover,” complete with transcription. See if you can follow along:

And here is a great example of what Swing was all about, a lively rhythm that gets the feets to tappin’ and the heads to noddin’.

Teagarden’s style had a huge influence on popularizing the trombone and raising it to lead status.

Without him, we probably wouldn’t have James Pankow (how’s that for a seque?).

Who? Someone asked.

James Pankow, one of the most enduring trombonists in rock music. He’s a founding, and long-tenured, member of Chicago and has played with such acts as Toto, Three Dog Night, Earth Wind and Fire, The Doobie Brothers, and Bee Gees.

He has composed most of the brass arrangements for Chicago and wrote many of their songs over the last 50+ years, including such hits as “Make Me Smile,” “Just You ‘n’ Me,” “Colour My World,” “Old Days,” “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long” and “Alive Again,” and he co-wrote (with Peter Cetera) the popular hit, “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

Here’s a random sample of songs from Chicago.

Here is “Beginnings” that features a short solo by Pankow beginning around 4:15.

Here is “Wake Up Sunshine” live from someone’s cellphone. Pankow has a solo that begins around 1:39.

And lastly, “Liberation.”

Another brass rock band that also formed in 1967 was Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Dick Hallogan played trombone on their first album, but when lead singer and bandleader Al Kooper left, Haalogan abandoned the trombone and switched to keyboard and flute. No accounting for taste.

Here’s an example of their sound from that first album.

And here, just to throw an unrelated curve, is a clip from the Foo Fighters.

“Wait,” I hear someone say, “There are no trombones in the Foo Fighters.”

That you know of! Watch this!

If Dave Grohl thinks trombones are cool, who are we to argue?

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Is it a new year?

One of the things I’ve never truly understood is the whole new year thing. It’s just so arbitrary and random and yet everyone seems to treat it as an absolute truth.

Nothing ever changes. We don’t pass through some cosmic doorway that signifies the passing of another year. There is no intergalactic speed bump in space the Earth has to rumble over to get from one year to the next.

We don’t pass go and we don’t collect $200.

Yet every December 31st at midnight everyone acts like there is a change and they look forward to good things happening in the new year.

Yet nothing is different.

Yes, we may have completed one orbit around Sol, our sun, according to our manmade calendars, but is December 31st to January 1st the factual date when that happens? When the Earth actually completes it’s full circuit?

I mean, the Earth has been circled the sun approximately 4.54 billion times. But we don’t know on what date that very first first orbit began, do we?

No, we aren’t even sure of the Earth’s exact age. Earth lost it’s birth certificate a long time ago.

Maybe it was born in May, or July. If do, then it completed it’s very furst orbit around the son a year later. All this time we’ve been erroneously singing Happy Birthday to the Earth (which is, after all, what New Year’s is all about right?) on the wrong date, which probably makes the Earth very sad.

It’s bad enough we pollute it’s air and water, shit on it, strip mine it by leveling entire mountains, destroy the environment, spew toxic carbon emissions into the atmosphere causing catastrophic climate change, but then to forget it’s actual birthday?

How would you feel if everyone arbitrarily celebrated your birthday whenever they felt like it?

Unappreciated, I’d think.

But that’s how Man is. Always thinking about himself and nothing else.

But besides all that, why did we pick this time of year to start the new year? Why didn’t we pick a significant event, like the Spring Solstice, for example.

That would make more sense. The Spring Solstice ushers in the beginning of life. The Earth is warming, plants are sprouting (well, in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway).

Or how about the Winter Solstice because it it the shortest day and well, again, that’s just the Northern Hemisphere.

I don’t want to appear hemispheric-centric.

How about Earth Day? That way no one hemisphere will feel left out. But then Earth Day woukd be just as arbitrary as New Year’s.

I guess, until we can positively identify the exact day the Earth was born (or if we find it’s birth certificate), we can just keep our current arbitrary date.

In the meantime, could we at least treat the Earth with a little more kindness, love, and understanding?

Happy birthday, Earth.

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TGIF

A few thoughts this TGIFriday…

Mile-a-Day Running Challenge

Day 9. If there are any changes or benefits happening to me, they are so subtle that I don’t notice them. Unless you count being stiffer than normal.

Although I have been finding that it seems like it is becoming easier to carry my 70-pound Dalmatian up the stairs to our bedroom at night. 

You see, he’s getting old, and already has one lame back leg, so he has trouble climbing stairs. And if I leave him downstairs, he just whines because he wants to be where my wife and I are.

Therefore, I carry the big galoot. The things we do for our pets. Amirite?

Speaking of Aerobics

I know. No one said anything about aerobics, but I needed a segue. 

I’m curious about the aerobic benefits of running just a mile a day. Last I heard, the advice was that to achieve good cardio fitness you needed 20 to 30 minutes of brisk aerobic activity a day at least 3 times a week. 

Maybe that has changed. I also remember for a while they said to exercise briskly at least 12 minutes to see any aerobic benefits. And more recently they were bandying about the idea that it was all cumulative. So if you ran 5 minutes in the morning, 7 minutes in the afternoon, then you’d only need to exercise 8 minutes in the evening to achieve your goal of 20 minutes total aerobic activity for the day. Sounds like horseshit to me spewed by lazy people.
I’m running a mile, briskly yes, but only for 9 minutes. Am I reaping any aerobic benefits or is it all anaerobic? Like, instead of working my heart and lungs, am I just working my butt? Which isn’t a bad thing if I get a nice butt out of it, I guess.

Ok, I just checked. The American Heart Association now recommends:

  • For Overall Cardiovascular Health — at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes OR at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity AND moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
  • For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol — 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.

Now you know. 

Weigh-in Friday

Now your think with running a mile every day I’d lost weight, right? Wrong. I gained again.

I’m up to  202.8 pounds, up 1.8 pounds from my last weigh-in. But I’m not down. Do you know why? Because it looks like my Average Fat percentage went down 3.4% while my Average Muscle Percentage went up 2.3%. 

In other words, while my weight may have increased, I still lost fat and gained muscle. And we all know muscle weighs more than fat, right?

Go me.

Zipper Ajar

Cars have warning pings if you have a door ajar or someone fails to fasten their seatbelt. My Fiat has a particularly annoying ping if someone fails to seatbelt up. 

It would be nice if pants had that feature as well. It would have alerted me twice this week.

Orange Turd rant/

This morning King Orange Turd tweeted, “…and WOW, Comey is such a leaker.” after James Comey, former FOB Director testified on the Hill. 

Really? We’re getting tweets that sound like a 5th Grader wrote them from the Leader of the most powerful nation on Earth? What next? Calling someone lame-o or rat fink? Maybe he’ll start saying things like, “so’s your old man!”

He is an embarrassment to not only the United States, but humanity, as well.

/endrant 

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In with the new

For runners, what is our most exciting day?

OK, besides pizza day.

Right! Buying more equipment!

Today I struck gold, so to speak. I bought two pairs of new running shoes.

I went in not sure what I wanted, not even sure I was going to buy one pair, much less two. In fact, I went in just sort of thinking everyday walking shoes. But as I walked down the rows of running shoes, picking some up that grabbed my attention, flexing them in my hands to see how much give they had, and oohing and ahhing over the colors, I came upon a pair that this particular shoe store had never had before.

They had Hoka One One. (Someone told me that’s pronounced ohnay ohnay.)

Now to be honest, I’ve read about Hoka One One and they were never on my radar. Seems runners either love them or hate them. Plus, I was thinking more along the lines of another minimalist style pair of running shoes similar to the Puma Mobium I have that I like. Certainly not the exact opposite: a pair of maximal shoes. C’mon! They’re like 1970s disco platform shoes. It would be like being on stilts, or I’d look like Herman Munster! Who wants that?

But, for shits and giggles, I thought I’d try on a pair. I put them on, tied them tight, then jogged up and down the aisles.

Oh my! (You have to say that like George Takei to get the right effect.) They felt wonderful. I admit, I’m a heavy lander and these made it feel like I was running on a cloud. So I picked up a pair.

2017-03-11 19.08.35

Hoka One One Clifton 3

Another pair of shoes that attracted my attention were a pair of Adidas Alphabounce Engineered Mesh running shoes. I liked the feel of the sole, it seemed soft and giving, almost like the Hoka’s, so I tried them on as well. I did like them and was about to buy them when I saw the newer Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17. I’ve had my 16s for almost a year now and because they served me well, I thought, “What the heck? I’ll try these on.”

Well, one thing led to another as they say and I ended up liking them more than the Adidas, so I ended up purchasing the Hokas and the Brooks.

2017-03-11 19.08.57

Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17

So I came home with two new pairs of running shoes.

Maybe I’ll review them later after I’ve actually run in them a few times.

Run. Buy new shoes. Run some more.

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A Cautionary Tale

I wrote the first 400 words of this six years ago, but never could figure out what to do with it. Until now. Its a short story of a dysfunctional future. Enjoy.

The rains came, sizzling as it passed through the still burning radioactive atmosphere, creating more steam and more fog to cover the planet.

Ort stood in the mouth of the cave listening to the rains. It reminded him of the sound meat makes it’s cooked over an open fire. He made a gesture and his young son appeared next to him. Ort pointed out into the distance.

“Look, Hokins, how the falling rocks carved a new world last night. That cliff on the edge of Blu Mountain is gone, battered into a ragged pile of rock.”

“Why do the falling rocks come, father?”

“They come from Troompah, the Bringer of Fire, son.”

“Is he mad at us?”

“Mad? No. Troompah is mad at the Prahgs. That’s why he throws rocks at them.”

Ort’s son nodded. He knew that Prahgs were evil creatures that lived in the earth, were one with the earth; they protected the trees, rivers, and animals. Prahgs often attacked his people, the Ahltryts, especially preying upon unwary children. At least those are the tales his mother always told him. “Stay out of the crater fields or the Prahgs will get you.” “Don’t stay out past dark or the Prahgs will get you.”

“Think he’d learn better aim.”

“You watch your mouth, boy, or the Prahgs will get you!”

The boy stood slightly behind his father and mouthed the expression along with his father. He was sick of the Prahgs, sick and tired that they prevented him from having any fun.

“What are my two boys doing?” It was Hokins’ mother, calling from the back of the cave.

“We’re just watching the rains, hon,” Ort answered.

“Well, don’t stray from the mouth of the cave. You know the rain brings out the Prahgs. If you aren’t careful they’ll get you.”

The boy mouthed the words then found himself on the ground, his ear stinging.

“Don’t you ever mock your mother, boy!” Ort was furious and stood shaking in anger above the prone child.

Hokins picked himself up, holding back the tears, and ran to the back of the cave. “I hate the Prahgs. And I hate you, too!”

He passed his mother, who turned to give Ort a stern look. “You didn’t have to hit him, you know.”

“I’m sorry, Jyn,” Ort said.

“Don’t apologize to me.”

Ort stared into the darkness that was the back of the cave. He could hear Hokins sobbing. He should apologize; the boy was just being a boy.

“He’ll get over it,” he said, finally.

“Ort, you know he’s reaching that age where he needs ‘The Talk.’”

“I don’t want to give him ‘The Talk.’” Ort sighed. “It makes me uncomfortable.”

“Ort, if you don’t tell him, he’ll learn it from his friends. Is that what you want?”

“That’s fine. That’s where I learned it.”

Jyn made a wry smile and shook her head. “Exactly my point on why he needs ‘The Talk.’”

“Why don’t you give it to him then?”

“Now, Ort. You know it’s always been like this. Fathers give ‘The Talk’ to their sons; mothers give it to their daughters. Now just go and get it over with.”

“Fine.” Ort looked like he had eaten a glow frog from down by the killing waters.

Slowly he strode to the back of the cave.

“Hokins? Can I talk to you?”

“It’s a free country.”

“That’s what I want to talk to you about.”

“What?”

“Our past, as it’s been handed down father to son for generations beyond knowing.”

“Is it about how we got the sacred words?”

“Yes. It’s about how the sacred words came to be.”

Father and son both glanced at the cave wall where a faded blue sign rested in a carved-out depression to hold it. The sign showed signs of age, and an attempt to destroy it at one time; it’s edges were blackened and ragged.

They both came to attention, arms raised in a palm down salute, and recited, “Troompah Maikee Aimrisa Grehaht Agaheen.”

Then Ort began his story.

“There was a time, ages agone, when there was but one people, united in thought and deed. Those people achieved great things, created a glorious, shining kingdom. And the people were happy.

“But gradually there came the grumblings. Some of the people weren’t happy. They wanted more. They felt not everything was fair for all. And they felt many of the old ways were wrong, even hurtful to many people, and this started the divide. The Prahgs wanted change, wanted new ways of doing things, of thinking about things, while the Ahltryts believed the old ways worked best, that the changes proposed by the Prahgs would destroy the very way of life that had made the kingdom great.

“As the Prahgs grew in strength and number, they began to instill their ideas and the Ahltryts watched as the kingdom changed, becoming unrecognizable to them.

“And soon there grew intolerance. And hatred. And the Kingdom grew divided. The Ahltryts believed the Prahgs were weak when it came to outsiders, allowing these others to enter the kingdom at will.

“Soon, hostilities between the two came to a head. The violence between the two grew and soon the uprising began as many gods of the Ahltryts fought for dominance, for the chance to lead their people back to greatness. But one stood above the others. He embodied all the primal energy of the people. Within him raged all the suppressed hatred and anger his followers had been forced to suppress for so long. His name was…”

“Troompah?” his son interrupted excitedly.

Ort nodded. “Yes. When the dust cleared, our great God Troompah was triumphant, ready to lead the way, but first he had to defeat the champion of the Prahgs.

“While the Ahltryts gods fought, so too did the Prahgs champions. Kings and a Queen fought for dominance, but whereas the Ahltryts stood united and powerful, no longer hiding, joined as one behind Troompah, the Prahgs were very much divided and unhappy with their choice. Many chose not to fight, and because of their inaction, Troompah and his followers were triumphant. For how can a mere queen stand before the angry wrath of a god?

“And the Ahltryts celebrated and now it was their turn to send the Prahgs into hiding.

“But Troompah wasn’t satisfied with just sending his enemies into exile. He wanted to also destroy the outsides. He taught us that the outsiders were to be fears and they wanted to destroy our way of life.  And he launched an attack against them. But our outsiders had power as well, and launched a counterattack. The skies and waters were on fire. And the Kingdom burned.

“And that is why we and the Prahgs live as enemies. They could have joined us, but Troompah taught us their ways are evil, they are sinful while we live in his glory.

“And that is why Troompah still punishes them with his blazing rocks that he hurls from the sky.

“One day, we’ll again live in the glory of the kingdom. Maybe you or your children will see the dawning of that bright new day.”

Ort wiped a tear from his eye. “The Talk” always left parents emotionally drained.

“OK, you two, dinner time.”

The pair rushed from the back of the cave. Mother was carving the great bald fire bird.

“Uh, uh, uh,” Jyn said, wagging a finger. “You know what day it is. Put on the dye.”

Father and son exchanged glances and shrugged.

“Oh, for the love of . . . You just gave him ‘The Talk!’ It’s the Day of the Ascendency when Troompah won the kingdom.”

“Oh.”

Gyn shook her head, but wore a smile. She watched the two dip their fingers into the dye and apply it to their faces in preparation of the feast.

When they finished, all three turned their now orange faces toward the cubbyhole. All three saluted and spoke the sacred words.

“Troompah Maikee Aimrisa Grehaht Agaheen.”

Before sitting down to the feast, they took a moment to silently reflect upon the sign in the cubbyhole.

The fading blue sign with white words, written in a language they could no longer read or understand, stared mutely back:

Trump: Make America Great Again.

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Addicted to Puma

My very first pair of running shoes, and probably my first name pair of athletics shoes of any sort, was a pair of Pumas. Prior to that, I think I mostly had things like PF Flyers or Keds.

The Pumas were from way back in the day when the top maker of such shoes was Adidas. Puma, Reebok, Nike, New Balance, Converse, were also popular.

Anyway, I’m a sentimental type for my firsts. I’ve finally purchased the very first pair of audiophile loudspeakers I ever owned, the Polk Audio Monitor 7. And they still sound as magnificent as I remembered them. I still have fond memories of the first car I ever drove, the 1971 VW Superbeatle. And thus, my first pair of running shoes, Puma, also give me fond memories.

But Puma seemed to disappear from stores for many years. I tried looking for them, but most regular shoe stores or department stores didn’t carry them. For a while there, I thought they’d gone out of business. And I have never seen them in any specialty running shoe store I’ve been to.

Then I found a Puma store in Gurney Illinois. I didn’t purchase a pair because they seemed a little pricey and I didn’t feel like paying Illinois sales taxes. But this showed me that Puma either never went away or was making a comeback. So I kept looking.

Then I found a local store, Rogan’s, sells them. And I bought a pair. Then, like Lay’s potato chips, “you can’t eat just one,” I bought another pair. Then another. And another.

But none of them were running shoes. Not real running shoes. Sure, they looked like running shoes, but that’s all. They didn’t have any of the features top running shoes had. You couldn’t even pull out the insole. It was glued in.

Even the one pair that seemed like running shoes, and the one that received some fairly positive reviews, the Bioweb, was a poor running shoe compared to many others (and I reviewed it in my last blog).

So here’s a picture of my addiction:

2016-10-08-19-35-15

…so far.

These are all are “running shoes,” except only one of these shoes I would consider a real running shoe. That’s the one on the furthest right.The one on the left is a Puma Roma Rugged running shoe, that really seems more like a cross-training sneaker. The next is the Puma Cell Surin Engineered2. The next is the Puma Tazon, followed by the Bioweb.

I just acquired the Mobium Elite through Amazon. They are the Puma Mobium Elite V2 and I’ll put up a review of them in a few days after I’ve had a chance to run in them a few times.

The other shoes I use for walking and wearing to work. I like their looks and they are comfy as all get out.

It’s funny. I used to make fun of my wife’s collection of shoes. I never thought I’d become a shoeholic, but I guess I have.

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Catastrophe avoided

Sunday night about 7 or 7:30 pm, we heard the back door shut. I thought it was our son who is always on the move, but no, he didn’t come running through the kitchen.

So it was chalked up as one of those things. The wind. The door hadn’t been shut properly and the piston finally pulled it shut 

It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized I hadn’t seen our female cat all night. Usually she’s crawling into my lap or chasing or being chased by one of our two male cats.

In fact, the last time we saw her she was in a standoff with our youngest cat.

So I wandered around the house shaking a treat container, being followed by the other two cats and our two dogs, who thought it was treat time.

But no sign of Moana Lisa, our white cat. 

Our son came up with that name. When we first got her, she had been abused and for the first week she just hid under our bed moaning loudly. It took several weeks before she stopped moaning any time someone would come near her. It took another six months before she stopped clawing and biting anyone who tried to pet her. And it was almost a year before she’d crawl up into your lap, but you still weren’t allowed to touch her. If you did, she’d moan, bite, and leave. She’s never been the most loving cat.

So we went to bed thinking she was just in a hissy mood because of the previous confrontation with our younger cat and she’d come out when she was ready. (We never connected the door to the possibility she had gotten out.)

In the morning, still no sign of her, but we all had to leave for work and school so we couldn’t look for her.

That evening, still no sign of her. OK. Maybe she wasn’t pouting somewhere in the house after all. Did she get out? That’s when we recalled the door closing the previous night.

But of all the cars, she’s been the least interested in trying to go outside. (We don’t let our cats outside, they’re pets, and I don’t understand people who do.)

We have a fenced-in yard. She’s not a climber, rarely uses the cat tower in the house, so if she got out, we reasoned, she would be in our yard and the dogs would have keyed on her. “Here she is! Cat! Here she is!” But no, they acted like there was no new scent in their territory. So where could she be?

We looked in the bushes and around the house just in case. No sign of her.

I decided to take the dog for a walk and maybe he’d catch her scent or something. Yeah, silly. Cobie isn’t a scent hound, he’s a dalmatian/lab mix. The only thing he can sniff out is food.

I went down the street and turned up our alley, hoping she’d have stayed nearby. I kept calling her name and thought I heard her answer, so I kept calling, but it turned out to be a stupid crow mocking me.

We passed a garage and saw something moving next to it. It was a white cat. How many of those are around? But this one was all dirty, with grease spots, and her hair was all disheveled. It didn’t look like her.

But I called her name anyway and she stopped, looked at me, and came running over, “You found me!”

But Cobie was all excited too, and Moana wouldn’t come near enoigh to let me grab her, so I had to take the dog home, then go back for her.

She was now under a car, but she came quickly when I called her. I picked her up and took her back home.

Once inside the house, she was so happy she rubbed herself against anyone who came near her, even the dogs.

But, as I said, she was covered in grease and dirt. I wasn’t sure how she’d take to a bath so I got a wet soapy washcloth and tried to rub her clean. That didn’t work very well.so I threw caution to the winds, and put a little water in the tub and put her in, fully expecting to be clawed to death. Instead she just sort of made “meh” sounds. She wasn’t happy, yet she wasn’t angry either. She tolerated it. 

So I shampoed her, then did my best to dry her.

And the rest of the night she kept snuggling with my wife or with me, purring loudly, as if to say, “There’s no place like home!”

Later that night she slept in her bed and never moved. She was still there in the morning. Her harrowing adventure in the noisy, scary outside must have wiped her out.

We still aren’t sure why she went outside. She’s never shown any interest. The only thing we can think of is she was sniffing by the back door and our youngest cat pushed her out.

You know how brothers are toward their sisters. Besides, he looked guilty. 

Then the door banged shut and must have scared her so she just ran until she realized she alone and lost.

I doubt she’ll do that again. For the moment, she seems like a changed cat. Before she tolerated us. Now, it seems, she really appreciates us.

Cobie thinks Moana smells much better after her bath. (He won’t admit he missed her.)

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