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Piano + Trash = Pretty Awesome Music.

This is a guy from Germany who calls himself Hauschka. He composes music on the piano that sounds like a team of instrumentalists and different instruments playing together… but it’s just him. Below is a video of an appearance he made on NPR to showcase his craft. They unloaded a collection of random items on him and asked him to use the items in an improvisational piece. The result was pretty cool.

The first few minutes of the video are him explaining his approach and playing with some of the objects. But if you skip to about 4:30, that’s when he starts the improv composition.

That one was only impressive considering it was off the top of his head. This one is even better, though still improvisational.

But while his music is very creative and hypnotic sounding, would you buy his CD?

Go here, to see a few more of his songs performed at NPR.

3 Amazing and Talented People with Entirely Too Much Time On Their Hands.

Prepare to be amazed, because the people in this post do extraordinary things. But you might also find yourself asking, “Why would anyone devote so much time to this?” These three people have great artistic abilities, but in fields and mediums that seem… obscure, at best. Click on the links or the images to see more of their work.

1) Alex Queral carves familiar faces out of pages and pages of faceless names. With a phone book, a very sharp X-ACTO knife, a little pot of acrylic medium to set detail areas and a great deal of talent, Queral literally peels away the pages like the skin of an onion to reveal amazingly detailed portraits.

 

2) Do you ever wonder what to do with those old cassette tapes you never listen to anymore? Well, Erika Iris Simmons has found a creative way to recycle them. And her solution has made her famous! Now, if only I could think of a way to become famous by recycling plastic milk jugs.

The Beatles

 

Bob Marley

 

James Taylor

 

3) Nathan Sawaya is a former corporate lawyer who has become famous for his art created out of… wait for it… LEGO bricks. He quit his job in business law to pursue his dream of being the world’s foremost LEGO artist. His work currently tours through North American museums in an exhibit titled “The Art of the Brick.” Since producing some of the work below, he’s been commissioned to create life size replicas of Conan O’brien, Stephen Colbert, and a 5 foot tall Glass of milk with a chocolate chip cookie. You really should check them out.

How About a Nice 5-Drawer Cherrywood Salt Mines?

Nobody’s perfect, and even with all the double-checking and triple-checking in the world, when you publish anything there is bound to be an error somewhere. That’s why I really don’t give much thought to it when I repeatedly discover grammar and spelling errors in novels that I read, articles from respectable new agencies, and other “professionally” produced content on the internet.

But sometimes I’ll come across something that it’s hard to believe nobody caught. I can’t decide if I’m missing some key piece of information, or if I found a really amazing mistake. Like the following:

I was using Thesaurus.com to look up synonyms to the word “bureau.” This was the result:

SALT MINES?!? Are they serious? But the more I looked into it, it seems like they are:

BWAHHH?!? It’s never even marked with an asterisk to signal that it’s informal usage. Maybe I’m just displaying my ignorance, but I’ve never heard “work” referred to as “salt mines.” Like “Wow, this is really hard salt mines!” or, “All salt mines, no play makes Jack a dull boy.” At least if you plugged any of the other words in those sentences, they would make sense! But wait there’s more…

I looked up “salt mine” on Dictionary.com (the sister website to Thesaurus.com) and here’s part of the definition:

OK, I can kind of get it, based on that definition… But wait, no I can’t, working at a bureau or office may be boring but that doesn’t make “salt mines” synonymous with bureau or office. And now we’ve got a new synonym, “treadmill.” This is getting ridiculous.

Even though they cite Princeton University and Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, this seems to me to be a case of “One guy said it and, and it got published in a thesaurus somewhere, and now every other thesaurus has to repeat it.”

If I’m wrong, please tell me how. But better yet, show how you would use “salt mines” in a sentence. Like “I have a ‘treadmill’ at the salt mines of Labor and Industries, where I have a corner salt mines, with a view!”

The Soundtrack to My Fatherhood

I swear this blog will not become just a journal of my musings and reflections about my son. But you have to humor me at least a little, since there really isn’t anything going on in my life that is bigger to me than him. And besides, this post is only indirectly about Eli.

Primarily I’m writing because I have a new favorite musical interest. It’s someone that already has an enormous following, albeit an underground following. So you might know of him, or this might be your introduction – but I guaranty you already know his music… at least a little.

The man is Rob Dougan. He is an Australian who became notable for his club remixes. He eventually moved to England, where he got his biggest break as a producer and got a gig with a record label there. I won’t go into the rest of his history, because the important thing is his music. He blends modern drum beats and electronic effects with original orchestral/symphonic compositions in a way that is mind blowing.

You probably are already familiar with his most famous song, “Clubbed to Death.” It is perhaps the most recognizable song from the soundtrack of the “The Matrix.” It’s sound is at times driving and dark, and the next moment haunting and conflicted. It is the kind of song that gets in your head, and that you have to play over and over again. This and all the other songs from Rob’s album “Fallen Angels” are similarly intense, but each touching different emotional nerves.

But as great as that song is, it was a different song that inspired this post.

I was doing a great deal of writing at work and I needed some music that would really feed my ability to concentrate with intensity on the task at hand. Well, I stumbled onto Rob Dougan and promptly looked up every instrumental track of his that I could find. (No lyrics when I’m writing)

They were all exactly what I needed, but one song in particular stuck with me over the last couple of days. It is called “One and the Same.” It is a beautiful song, sweetly triumphant, and yet somewhat melancholy. It reminds me of movies like Lord of the Rings and Braveheart, in which the hero ultimately succeeds but the victory is bittersweet.

Well, yesterday I finally internalized just how fast Eli is growing, and how little time I get to spend with him, most days. I spoke about it in my last post, but it didn’t really hit me till yesterday. As Becky and I were going through our usual bedtime routine with Eli (putting his pajamas on, reading him his nightly story, etc.) I felt like it was too soon. I wasn’t ready to say goodnight yet. It was just another day gone by with so little time with him. I began to feel that I was going to miss his entire childhood, at this rate.

And the entire time I was thinking these thoughts, “One and the Same” was running through my head, and it moved me to tears. I can’t remember the last time I wept, but I did yesterday. And now I think this song will always carry that meaning for me. It is the soundtrack to my fatherhood. The song that will always say, “I love my son. I love Eli.” I used it in the video below.

It is so intense it hurts. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks to Rob Dougan for composing such a perfect song.

My Precious Boy

There is nothing in the world more amazing to me than my son. I can be totally engrossed in my work, enjoying what I’m doing, feeling good about the progress I’m making on my projects. Then I might see a picture of a father with his little boy on the beach, or something, and suddenly I miss my son and feel almost guilty for being at work instead of spending time with him.

This is the boy that I see for only twenty minutes every morning before work and only an hour or two after I get home, before he goes to sleep:

I can’t believe he’s mine. He’s the most precious boy I’ve ever seen. I know all fathers must feel this way. But I can’t help it. I am a proud daddy.

But the reason I am writing all this is that a video has made me miss my son today, and mourn the fact that he’ll grow up some day. Some guy made this video of his boy, set to one of my favorite Ben Folds songs. It gets me all choked up.

 

Baby Worshiping…

Question 1: Can a baby that’s probably too young to understand the concept of “God” or even “worship” be really worshiping at church… to music she can’t possibly understand? Or is this just mimickery. You decide.

Question 2: Which is more ridiculous: The baby mimicking the other worshipers in the church, or the parent standing there video taping their baby during the worship service?

One-Stop Shopping For Anyone Planning a Drive-by Shooting!

Apparently there is a truck dealer in Sanford, Florida who is turning arms dealer. He’s running a promotion that anybody who buys a truck from him will get a free AK47!

Woohoo! Alright boys, start making your enemies lists now! We can go pick up an AK47 along with our Ford F150, smoke some 4:20 and commit a 187!

The guy running the dealership said that it was working: he had 47 sales appointments for the day after the sale went public. His daily average is usually 3. I’d be interested to find out how many of those appointments show up with shifty eyes and fake IDs.

The whole thing was supposed to be in honor of our troops! Here’s a suggestion: How about, instead of handing out assault rifles, maybe you could give out American flags, or donate a percentage to supporting the troops. But, then again, that probably wouldn’t attract 47 shady customers per day. And a lot of them will probably pay in briefcases full of unmarked bills!

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