Tag Archives: love

What books are you reading?

Men across the globe are praising the Fifty Shades of Grey series of books for the increase in their sex lives the books have provided as these sensual stories have been devoured by female readers.  If you are not familiar with the Fifty Shades of Grey books, well, apparently the two main characters have sex… ALL. THE. TIME! In any case, nothing like a little literary fantasy to get people revved up.

In the past, other series of books haven’t worked out so well…

Prior to the Fifty shades of Grey series, the Hunger Games books were topping the charts. Now granted, I read the first one and I thought it was a very good book. But in all honesty, horrible, desolute poverty and kids killing each other just doesn’t put people in the mood. I mean, the average guy could spend hours out in the woods collecting and preparing stuff for a romantic dinner of stale bread, roots dug out of the ground, nuts and berries, mice and squirrel meat and porridge, his hands dirty and bloody from digging in the soil and tearing meat from bone… only to have his wife crush all his dreams when she walks in the door with a pizza and six cartons of Chinese food. It would be enough to want to fire an arrow through her heart. Not very romantic.

Before the Hunger Games, most women were, of course reading the Twilight series of books and men were thinking, “this is it, a sexy vampire story, I am so in, I just need to spend a lot of time down in my basement so I can get that pale white skin!” Plus, the average, grunt-speaking man had to learn to talk in short, breathy sentences while staring off into space and saying things like “you are utterly indecent — no one should look so tempting, it’s not fair” and “yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin.”  Of course, if a guy was able to master those things, he had to attempt to move through rooms at light speed while shirtless and wearing tight pants.  This of course came with the high risk of knocking himself out while tripping over the unused exercise machine and flying head first into her nightstand.

Then, who can forget the Harry Potter years, when women wrapped their vivid imaginations around wizards and magic. It seemed like those years went on forever, but most men thought, “what could be sexier than a guy in a wizard costume with a pointy hat?” Sales of those little circular glasses went through the roof and men interacted with their wives by saying things like “woulducus likto havicus sexicus” and “engorgio erecto, can you takus carathis” while simultaneously opening up the black cloak that they were wearing as a bathrobe.  Apparently women didn’t find any of this arousing in the least.

So, now that the Fifty Shades of Grey books will slowly fade from the best seller list, men around the globe are concerned about what books will become the next craze. As most men don’t follow the best seller list and/or know what’s popular maybe you female readers can help us figure out what we can look forward to next!

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The Greatest Song Ever Written

What is the greatest song ever written?

That’s a discussion that has gone on for decades, if not centuries, and will continue to go on for an eternity. Radio stations have Top 100 song marathons on holiday weekends. Websites abound categorizing music fan’s varied choices. Music pundits are always available to share their expert opinions based on sales and stats and song rankings and weeks stuck atop the music charts.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight.  The greatest song is not Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. It’s not Don Maclean’s American Pie. It’s not a song by the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Nirvana or Elvis Presley or Woody Guthrie. It’s not even a song by my all time favorite musician, Jackson Browne, whose music has had a more profound effect on my life than any other. It’s not a song written during the 20th or 21st centuries when what we all know as traditional Rock and Roll music became the backdrop to our every living moments.

The greatest song ever… well, it’s not really a “song” per se. Let’s see, what’s the proper word… it’s a Piece, it’s a Movement. In fact, it’s the 10th movement of the cantata Herz und Mund Tat und Leben, BWV 147.

Huh?

Don’t worry, if you don’t recognize the formal name, you’ve heard it, believe me. I don’t have scientifically garnered evidence of this but I’d venture to guess that no piece of music has been covered by as many musicians, arranged more often into so many distinct versions, played by so many different musical instruments. It’s been performed on church organs, pianos, and classical guitars. It’s been performed by full symphonic orchestras and small chamber groups. It’s been performed with vocals and without. It’s been played on kids xylophones and recorders and toy pianos. Check out youtube… there are classical versions, pop versions, heavy metal versions. There’s even a guy who plays it by rubbing his hands over a table full of water filled wine glasses! Very cool!

Here’s a particularly stunning rendition of it in my opinion. Although not originally written for guitar, I find classical guitar versions the most powerful and moving. Take a listen.

Yes… you’ve heard it.

I grew up playing the cello. I started in fifth grade and stopped when I graduated from High School. I took personal lessons and played in the school orchestra. I participated in contests and festivals.  I got pretty good at it, although not as good as I could have been if I had really put the effort in. When I went away to college the music department wanted me to continue playing but I was tired of it. I wanted to drink and chase girls and screw around… oh, and of course, study. These days I realize that I will always regret not continuing but it was one of those decisions that you make as a teenager that sounds right at the time. Although I still own the instrument, these days I can barely bang out Mary Had a Little Lamb.

What it taught me though, was a love… okay, maybe love is too strong a word… how about a deep respect for classical music. Colby College, where my wife Kim and I went to school, offers what is called a Jan Plan, a month-long class you can take during January when the school is mostly closed down and most of the students have gone home. One year Kim and I took a Chamber Music class taught by a four piece, string chamber group, who would basically sit in the front of the lecture hall and play for us, while teaching us the musical structure and history of chamber music.  It was one of the few classes in college where I somehow managed to pull off an A grade.  But Kim and I would walk to class together and walk back to the dorms together. We would eat together in the cafeterias. We would sit through the class in the mornings and when it was over, the days were free with no other classes or homework to be concerned about. It was a part of me that I was able to share with the girl I was falling in love with and although many of the details are lost to my aging memory, it was a month that I will remember always.

I still listen to classical music occasionally. It’s very soothing and grounding to me. I often like to have it playing in the background if I am working at home or washing dishes or writing. It puts me into a place and a frame of mind that is very difficult to obtain in this hectic and stressful world we live in. When it comes to composers, Johann Sebastian Bach was the fucking rock star of his day, in my opinion the greatest to ever compose music. In a very simplistic viewpoint, without over analyzing every note, his melodies are happier and more upbeat than any other composer, less dissonant and grating than many of his counterparts. I won’t claim to be an expert on any of this but I know what sounds good to me.

And his greatest piece of music… Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

Now don’t go thinking I’ve gone all religious and spiritual on y’all. I have not! But if there is a piece of music that can put someone, even a hell-bound, heathen like me… in a spiritual place, this is it! I don’t really consider it a wedding song, like I consider the classic Pachelbel Canon which was played at my wedding, although I understand it has become a wedding staple.  I don’t really consider it a Christmas song either, although it gets a lot of play time in its many versions during the holidays.

For me it’s a piece of music that transcends all of that. If you’re happy it can make you happier. If you’re sad it can make you sadder. It makes me cry… yes… cry, pretty much every time I hear it. I can’t help it… I’m listening to it as I type this… can you see the tears falling on my keyboard? It’s the one melody that I think, if I had to hear over and over for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t tire of hearing. It’s a melody that reminds me of my Mom who is no longer with us. It’s the background music to a life of love and friendship and family and happiness and sadness. It’s classical music that has become mainstream and will stand the test of time longer than any other piece of music. And in my opinion, it’s the greatest song ever written.

It turns out the underlying melody that has become so recognizable to the world was not written by Bach himself, but by composer and violinist Johann Schop. I never knew that until reading some Wikipedia notes. That’s okay, just like today’s musicians who don’t write all their own songs, if it’s your face on the album cover, you get all the credit.

Even 300+ years later!

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Roadkill Stew

This is the tale of Billy O’Hill.
Who lived all his life in the town of Saville.
In a lil ‘ol cabin, he’d made his abode.
At the end of the dirtiest, dirty, dirt road.

Now Billy O’Hill had been married a time.
To a girl named Pearl, a lady sublime.
But Pearl’d got sick, dun gone up to heaven.
Ten long years ago, or maybe eleven.

So he kept to hisself, stayed mostly alone.
‘Cept for his pooch who he called Al Capone.
And a few of his friends that he’d see now’n then.
Down at the coffee shop now’n again.

The Hill Top Cafe is what it been named.
Cornbread and Johnny Cakes what they was famed.
They’d sit there fer hours not talkin’ ‘bout much.
‘Cept for some gossip and weather and such.

And on his way yonder he’d pass by the house.
Of the purtiest lady, as cute as a mouse.
She’d sit on her porch, a-sippin’ her tea.
In the shade of a giant magnolia tree.

See Billy O’Hill had a crush on this lady.
A purty ol’ girl named Myrtle O’Grady.
She lived in a house in the center of town.
Where them wealthy folks lived, the rich and renown.

But he never could git up the nerve to suggest,
“Wouldya meet me for coffee, I’d surely be blessed?”
‘Cuz what would a girl so swanky and chic,
See in a guy “from the hills”, so to speak?

So Billy would wave as he briskly walked by.
He wouldn’t say nuthin’, cuz he was right shy.
When Myrtle would smile her purtiest smile.
Billy’d be floatin’ on air for awhile.

Then one day he asked for some friendly advice.
From his closest of friends, named Earl Versluice.
‘Cuz everyone privy knew Earl could charm.
Like a rooster that woos all them hens on a farm.

Now Earl had fetchin’ advice to impart.
“The stomach’s the way to a good woman’s heart!”
“Let’s throw a party like we used to do.”
“Invite all our friends, we’ll serve roadkill stew.”

“Every-un brings somethin’ fresh that they’ve found.”
“From the side of the road, just plain dead on the ground.”
“Squirrel or coon or rabbit or beaver.”
“We’ll slice ‘em all up with a very large cleaver!”

“We’ll mix in some collards and veggies and rice.”
“Add in some ‘shine to give it some spice.”
“We’ll invite Ms. O’Grady to join us that day.”
“Then you can dun meet her, whatdaya say?”

So Billy went home, started makin’ a list.
Of who’d be invited and who could be missed.
At the end of the list he penned really neat.
“Myrtle O’Grady”, the list was complete.

He wrote out the invites, said R.S.V.P.
We’re throwin’ a party on Sunday ‘bout three.
We’ll serve roadkill stew and plenty-a ‘shine.
I’ll break outta jug of my dandelion wine.

Then he mailed ‘em all out and dun prayed for the best.
Would Myrtle O’Grady show up for this fest?
When the day dun arrived, his friends all came through.
They’d all brung some roadkill to add to the stew.

Ms. Blossom brung possum…

June brung raccoon…

Mr. Monk brung a skunk…

Mr. Babbitt brung rabbit…

Jake brung some snake…

Mr. Weaver brung Beaver…

And his best friend Earl? Well, Earl, he dun brung lots of Squirrel…

Then Myrtle arrived and the place got real quiet.
What had she brung, would anyone try it?
Every’un watched as she walked through the door.
She carried a bag from a fancy clothes store!

She handed that bag to Billy O’Hill.
Who opened ‘er up with the most gracious skill.
And Billy looked in and dun said with a grin.
I reckon Ms. Myrtle O’Grady fits in!

‘Cuz Myrtle…

Well… Myrtle… she brung Turtle.

In fact… she dun brung the freshest, most purtiest turtle, bigger’n any of ’em had ever seen!

So they cooked up the stew ‘n that party was grand!
And Billy’n Myrtle hit it off just as planned.
And the rest be dun history, them guests they all knew.
That Billy and Myrtle fell in love over stew!

Listen to the Audio Version!

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So Many Days Before

One day he woke up an old man.
He rolled over in his bed and saw his wife was not there.
But he knew she had awoken before him and gone downstairs.
Just as she had so many days before.

He rolled his old, worn body out of his bed.
And rubbed away the remaining sleep from his  eyes.
Arthritic pain and stiffness reared its ugly head.
Just as it had so many days before.

A glance in the mirror revealed deep creases in his skin.
He wondered where those wrinkles had come from.
He remembered the days when he seemed invincible to aging.
Just as he  had so many days before.

Downstairs the windows were opened wide.
And a fresh, cool, country morning breeze was flowing through.
He felt blessed for another day of reasonable health.
Just as he had so many days before.

His wife glanced up at him from the other room.
Her long gray hair in a  pony tail and glasses perched on her nose.
She paused from her book, smiled and said “good morning”.
Just as she had so many days before.

In the kitchen he poured a cup of coffee.
Into his favorite coffee mug with its brown stained porcelain.
The deep, rich aroma awakened his senses.
Just as it had so many days before.

As he took the first sip from the coffee cup.
He stared out the window at the fenced pasture outside.
Where his animals would be spending their day grazing.
Just as they had so many days before.

For a moment he thought about his children.
He wondered what they would be doing today.
Spending their hours working hard and raising his grandchildren.
Just as they had so many days before.

He wondered what the weather was like where they lived.
Whether it would be sunny and warm or rainy and cold.
And he missed them and wished they lived closer.
Just as he had so many days before.

He thought about what he might do today.
What activities would  fill the many hours available to him.
He remembered the days when so much freedom seemed implausible.
Just as he had so many days before.

He was reminded of those years when there just wasn’t enough time.
When excuses for putting things off were readily available.
He thought about some of the things that he’d never accomplished.
Just as he had so many days before.

But in reality he knew he had accomplished so much.
He knew that he had lived and loved and been a good husband and father.
He knew he could still write words that might have a small effect on someone.
Just as he had so many days before.

So he sat down at his computer and began typing.
The dark veins in his hands pulsed through his thinning, aged skin.
It reminded him of his grandmother’s hands when he was a boy.
Just as it had so many days before.

He typed a post about life and love and growing old.
A post about finding the time to do the things that are important to you.
The words flowed onto his computer screen effortlessly.
Just as they had so many days before.

When he finished he knew that he had produced something meaningful.
He knew he had written something small, yet substantive and important.
Words that would be eagerly read and digested by friends and strangers.
Just as they had so many days before.

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