An Online Tuner worth Tuning Into or “In Perfect Harmony…”

May 27, 2008 at 5:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

There are those times when you are on the internet and you think, “This is the perfect use of this medium…” One of those times was when I discovered “just strings.com,” an online string retailer based out of NH. They sell only strings (surprise, surprise), so their overhead is cheap (a relatively small warehouse), they buy in bulk, and shipping is negligible, so *PRESTO* anyone in the world (with access to the internet) can have cheap strings! You can find them here: www.juststrings.com/ (and I promise, I don’t own stock in the company).

There is the pesky little issue of keeping those strings in tune once you’ve got them – which brings me to my latest discovery – ‘Get Tuned.com’ (http://www.get-tuned.com).

I’ve been working on my ukulele skills – love the instrument, but, man, does it go out of tune a lot.

I know the uke is tuned to “My Dog Has Fleas,” but it’s hard to figure that one out when your sitting at the fretboard (at least for me). So THANKS Get Tuned.com – not sure how you win in all of this, other than the satisfaction of knowing that more people in the world will be in tune, but sometimes, I guess that’s enough:

(I don’t own stock in Coke, either – just like the song!)

Introducing The Nameless…

May 21, 2008 at 5:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In March, I had the opportunity, along with my bass player and fellow teacher, Gavin, to spend a week with five high school kids as they wrote and recorded original music. We coached them, offered feedback and criticism, set up the time in the recording studio and picked up the pizzas. The result is a six song EP that is available on CDBaby.com (HERE), and here it is on iTunes.   The name of the band is “The Nameless,” and the EP, “Winter Sessions.”

Here are a couple of clips from the songs these very talented young musicians recorded:

The kids elected to have all proceeds from the sale of their music go to a charity that focused on music. We chose Tipitina’s Foundation, which provides musical instruments to public schools in New Orleans.

Go, listen and download a few tunes from The Nameless – it’s great music for a great cause.

Is Time On My Side? (Or What Rudolph’s Shiny New Year Taught me About Life)

May 4, 2008 at 7:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I turned forty last week and I’m reading Water for Elephants – probably not a great combo – if you’ve read Water you know why…here’s the beginning of the synopsis from Amazon:

“Jacob Jankowski says: “I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” At the beginning of Water for Elephants, he is living out his days in a nursing home, hating every second of it. His life wasn’t always like this, however, because Jacob ran away and joined the circus when he was twenty-one. It wasn’t a romantic, carefree decision, to be sure. His parents were killed in an auto accident one week before he was to sit for his veterinary medicine exams at Cornell. He buried his parents, learned that they left him nothing because they had mortgaged everything to pay his tuition…”

Existentialism…remember that? It’s that philosophy they taught you about in high school when (and if) you read The Stranger, Crime and Punishment, and/or Hamlet’s “To be or not to be…” soliloquy. The basic idea is that, if we assume some higher power isn’t justifying our existence what is?

At the very least, it’s an interesting mental exercise, especially when you have kids. What justifies your every day? Really? What happens when you die, and I’m not talking about where you’ll end up (is it heaven or nirvana…?) – I’m talking about looking around you and wondering how things might be different if you disappeared tomorrow.

At the most basic level, I hope, for your sake, that you can say that they would be different – very different. If not, you’ve got some changes to make – start now.

Pick up shells with your kids…play “pretend you’re a lion – a dog – a baker – Spiderman – my pet – etc. ” Read a few books with them, leave the dishes undone, wrestle every now and again – you know. Make it matter – every minute. I began this blog by citing a Rolling Stones song – here’s anonther “T-i-i-ime is on my side…” Is it?

I remember a Rudolph special, “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.” It presented a direct challenge to the Stones (although I have to wonder who would win in a fight…) Father Time, the guy who goes from a baby to an old man in one year, knows we have to make it all count, but isn’t so sure that time is on our side. Here’s what he has to say about it…

Thanks Father Time – we’ll keep your advice in mind…it seems to amount to this: Time is not on your side, but you’re a lot happier if you go down fighting.

There’s a Puddle and Some Mud…

April 22, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We have a massive puddle in our driveway – it’s so big that every spring my neighbor and I joke about having waterfront property (and somehow, the joke never gets old – I think it’s because we’re delerious due to the warm weather).

Spring is finally here – and the kids are out all day, every day in the puddle and mud. I thought I’d share a clip from my tribute to puddles – it’s a song entitled “Puddles” (ok, so I’ve never been terribly creative in the title department). Enjoy!

Puddles Clip – Steve Dreher and Friends

Snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…snow…sno

March 31, 2008 at 5:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I love the snow as much as the next guy, I just want to say that at the outset. I know that for those of you outside of what I have come to call “the inverse global warming belt,” it may be hard to imagine three feet of snow on the ground in late March (yes, I did say THREE FEET and meant it). Furthermore, it might be impossible for you to imagine the the despair of having a foot of snow fall on you AGAIN. See, we’ve had over 10 feet fall on us since November, so we’re approaching six months of being covered in ice and frost – AND WE DON”T LIVE IN GREENLAND – but sure enough it hit yesterday.   The late season storm that started with predictions of 1-2 inches, became 7-8 inches (predicted) and then became 12-13 in reality…

Let me tell you how we spent our Easter. We have a very nice little ski area about 10 minutes down the road. It’s amazing to be able to jump into the car and be on the slope within 20 minutes. Well, that’s exactly what we did on Easter. No white shoes, no Easter bonnets, just Rossignol boots and Head skis strapped to our feet. The thing is, daffodils couldn’t peak their delicate little heads out to say hello to the spring on a lovely Easter morn because they are buried beneath (did I mention?) 3 feet of snow…so we made the best of it and hit the slopes.

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Easter on the Slopes…

I love skiing, especially with my kids – there is nothing quite like seeing them become coordinated and realize how all the moving parts work together to get them down the slope – often more gracefully than I could ever hope to be. BUT, enough already.

So, consider this my sun dance of sorts, my plea to the gods who control these things to fire up the furnaces and warm up our little corner of New England – we know that under all that snow the daffodils are waiting to give us a proper spring.

Bloggin’ Fun –

March 23, 2008 at 7:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So, just thought I’d share that I just had my first blog posted at www.dadbloggers.com – It is, not surprisingly, a group of Dads writing about being Dads.  You can find my first post here…I’ll be writing a new one for that site on the 21st of each month.  Enjoy!  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I signed on as “RockerDad” – Steve was already taken.  Rock on!

So, how much money does your tooth fairy leave…?

March 21, 2008 at 5:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A kid in my daughter’s class gets five bucks for every tooth…apparently, his tooth fairy comes from the other side of the fairy tracks (the rich side), because Isabel only gets $1 for the regular teeth and $2 for the front four.

Now, according to the National Institute of Health, kids have 20 teeth; so little Johnnie’s tooth fairy is going to drop $100 on teeth between now and the time he’s 14 – and he’s going to brag about every dollar. In the meantime, Isabel’s tooth fairy is making the conscious choice to NOT give her $5 per tooth.

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cha-ching!… $5-$10-$15-$20…

I gave Isabel’s tooth fairy a call recently, to talk about this situation, and she (tooth fairies are woman, right? – I’m not trying to be sexist here, but I just can’t imagine a guy spending an extra five bucks on anything less than, say, a craftsmen wrench.) patiently explained that, in more than one way, it doesn’t pay to over-pay kids for their teeth.

She pointed out the fact that a six year old doesn’t really understand that money matters – they’ll have a long life to figure that out, so why start so early? Furthermore, she asked, what does a six year old need $5, $10, $15, etc. dollars for anyway? Granted, a “My Pretty Pony” is going for about $4.76 at Wal Mart, but if we teach our kids anything, shouldn’t it be the joy of waiting…saving up and finally being able to get something (remember my “Let Her In” post…) ? Wouldn’t it be better for her (the tooth fairy that is) to give Isabel $1 for each tooth, and invest $4 in a 529 college fund? That way, she (and Isabel) could take advantage of the wonders of compound interest…

Our tooth fairy had some excellent points. When I ask her what was up with little Johnnie’s tooth fairy, she said, “Tooth Faries these days have lost touch, know what I mean? They’ve forgotten that the wonder of childhood is about anticipation and imagination…once a kid gets the thing, it loses it’s magic.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Let’s (not) talk about sex – aka – The 7:00pm dance party

February 20, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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This post is dedicated to Young MC – sorry I can’t play you for my kids…

There is no better way of ensuring a good night’s sleep for the kids than some serious move-bustin’ right before bed. Ben Franklin said, “…in this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” I would like to add ‘kids dancing’ to that list. They love it and they’ll do it almost on demand.

But, speaking of bustin’ a move, how many songs are there that are great but just a little too racy?

Theatre gets dark just to start the show, then you spot a fine woman sittin’ in your row.
She’s dressed in yellow, she says hello, come sit next to me ya fine fellow.
You run over there without a second to lose, and what comes next,hey, bust a move…

Here’s a short list of songs kids would love but that…you just don’t want to be answering the questions until they’re 15 (or 16…or 23…)

  • Bust a Move – Young MC
  • I’m Too Sexy for My Shirt – Right Said Fred
  • Let’s Talk About Sex – Salt and Peppa
  • A whole bunch of Barry White tunes
  • Let’s Get Physical – Olivia Newton John
  • Love Shack – B-52’s
  • Vous le Vous Couche Avec Moi ce Soir…although this one at least introduces bilingualism, but I’d go with Dora the Explorer as opposed to Patty LaBelle.
Luckily, there are a few tunes that can fill in when you tak 2 Live Crew off the playlist…and that get the kids crankin’. Here’s our playlist:
  • We are Family – Sister Sledge
  • Dancing Queen – ABBA
  • Pump Up the Volume – Colourbox
  • Movin’ On Up – Primal Scream
  • Funkytown – Lipps, Inc.
  • Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order (Don’t ask, because, in spite of the title, I have no idea what this song is about. It does make a great dance tune for the kids, though. As a bonus, it is so stunningly ’80’s, it’s like synthesizer history lesson for the little ones…here’s a clip – bizarre-love-triangle.mp3)

In the end, it doesn’t matter.- put on whatever it was you danced to (be sure it’s the radio mix unless you want to supplant story time with a talk on the birds and bees) and…well, you know – bust a move.

AC/DC or AB/CD?

January 22, 2008 at 8:48 am | Posted in Being a Dad, Musings, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I remember when I got my first AC/DC album – I was 12, it was “Back in Black.” My older sister’s bad-boy, motorcycle driving boyfriend gave it to me for Christmas (he must have been moved by the season). You probably remember the first song, “Hell’s Bells;” it starts with that ominous bell and then the really cool guitar riff – here it is, in case you forgot –hells-bells.mp3. I have to be honest, here, even after 27 years, it’s really good! It has it all – Angus and that riff, a great build-up, some serious drumming and Brian Johnson’s singing – it rocked, I can’t play it for my kids, though, it would scare them – bad.

So, as I dusted off my old cassettes, I started to ask, how can I give this stuff to my kids…? Take “You Shook Me All Night Long,” ouch – we all know what that song’s about, our five year olds don’t…”Shoot to Thrill,” no way, “Have a Drink on Me,” uh-uh, “What Do You Do for Money, Honey?”… yeah, no. In spite of Angus and the boy’s intentions, though, I hear potential for kids here…

“Shake a Leg,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” a few more, I’m sure – rework them and before you know it, you have a set list for a kids’s show…almost.

Stay tuned – I’ll throw up a couple of AC/DC numbers redone for the kids in the next day or two –

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