“So which one is Neil?” Rodney asked me between spoonfuls of what looked like rice pilaf. “Is he behind the zombie in the sequined shirt? Or is this still the cover-band?”
I laughed and inspected my friend’s face for some sign of irony. Surprisingly, I saw none. Rodney repeated the question, straight-faced, serious.
“Dude, you do know who Neil Diamond is, right?” I asked, somewhat dumbfounded. ” ‘Sweet Caroline?’ ‘I’m a Believer?’ ‘America?’ Any of this make any sense?”
“These are . . . songs?” he guessed, looking down at his plate. “That ‘Believer’ song was from Shrek, right?”
“Dude, if you didn’t know Neil Diamond, why did you agree . . .”
“Hold that thought,” he cried suddenly, shocked at the sight of his empty plate. “I need another quesadilla.” Continue reading
I received a text from my brother Ryan last week while browsing through the comic stacks at the local Barnes & Noble. A few blocks down the road, Kevin was training for football season at his high school; the heat index that day had risen well above a hundred, adding another complaint to his daily list of grievances: stupid weather inserting itself between annoying little sisters and stupid women who drive foreign automobiles. Anticipating a long drive home, I had decided to slip inside the bookstore for an iced tea and a scone when my phone rang. The following conversation resulted:
Ryan: “Murph! Listen to Bolero by Ravel! The essence of awesomeness! Listen to it loud!”
Me: “Okay, I’ll see if I can find it at home. My phone doesn’t seem to see it. Try Requiem for a Tower. It’s like peering at God’s personal playlist.” Continue reading
Dasad arrived ten minutes before the curtain rose. Luckily I had anticipated my friend’s dragonboat practice and emailed his ticket earlier. Nearly all seats had filled by then, stuffed with men and women in varied degrees of pain. I remained seated as we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.
“Sorry dude, but this is the least uncomfortable contortion I managed in the last half-hour. If I lose it, I might begin to cry,” I said pointed to my knees tightly wedged under my chin. Behind my ear, my left toe twitched miserably.
“Seriously, I’m this close,” I said pressing my thumb and index finger together, “to sawing off my feet until this thing is over. If you think I’m kidding hand me a pen-knife.” Continue reading
Kevin made a startling discovery this morning at the orthodontists office, while perfect strangers probed and prodded his gums. As the doctors adjusted his braces, my brother listened absently to the nearby, offering an occasional grunt to the nurse’s questions. I sat outside in the waiting room reading, my mouth comfortably free of fingers and metal implements.
“Did you hear the radio, Murph, while you were waitin’?” he asked me afterwards.
“Only the ‘Tiny Dancer’ song,” I answered. The local oldies stations maintained a robust playlist of about ten or twenty songs comprising solely of half-a-dozen Elton John singles, a few scattered Guns N’ Roses covers, and Don McLean’s ‘American Pie,’ repeated usually once an hour. Continue reading
Music possesses the innate ability to transport people to realms of their own imaginings. Enchanted snow-covered forests, gem-encrusted caves, sand-blasted temples, and bridge-linked villages roosting high among starlight-encrusted evergreens.
At least that’s where my music takes me. J.R.R. Tolkien poses in his essay on Fairy-Tales that we as humans possess deep within our blood primal yearnings for the impossible. Myth and fairy tales are the actualization of those desires. I do not presume to know much about this myself, yet how often sitting at my desk have I gazed outside and dreamt – for many several moments – to leap outside and take to the skies like Superman. How often do we yearn to converse with a Bengal tiger or coach a sapling into a mighty oak? Is it truly that odd to wish that you possessed the power to protect and save something precious? To lift up a sword and rescue a damsel, a kingdom, a brother or a sister?
Simply put, certain songs inspire the best from me. If everyone could imagine themselves a hero in a story for a moment say three minutes and forty-six seconds, consider the world we might create.
Every once in a while, I yearn for a little Mack the Knife. Seriously, very few songs today communicate the energy and excitement as this little ditty from half a century ago. Moreover, it’s the only song I know about hitmen and killers, so even the lyrics make you want to sing aloud.
One day in the near future they will bring back the big band sound. Of the two versions here, Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra, which one do you think succeeds more? Personally I enjoy the Sinatra’s extended version more, simply because that brass beat never seems to end . . .
The weekend activities rendered me quite dizzy, sick, and laid out with a bad head-cold. Thus, much of Monday and Tuesday — freed from my daily academic commute by online classes — I slept most of the day and therefore found sleeping at night near impossible. Incapacitated by illness and Circadian rhythms, my body and mind found balm in the latest Rock Band game.
Strapping on my guitar, I whipped the crowds into a frenzy in Boston, New York, and Chicago before succumbing finally to restless sleep. Unfortunately the following morning, Beck’s E-pro and several other crowd-pleasers had become lodged in my subconscious. Typically this would have annoyed me to no end, but the hypnotic rhythms of the song provided enough audible caffeine to see me through my programming class:
I still have to unlock Jimmy Eat World, Modest Mouse, Pearl Jam, Silversun Pickups, and AFI so I might come down with some malarial bug tonight. Even without the game, several days of fevers, coughing, and sweating alone might actually trump another database class.