Wednesday, July 01, 2015

One Year and Four Strings Later...

it was exactly one year ago that i sat in my apartment, working on my computer and humming the Everclear​ tune, “The Honeymoon Song” from their album, ‘Songs From an American Movie, Volume 1: Learning How to Smile’ (for reasons i will never understand, since no music was playing in my home, no TV or radio turned on, and i don’t recall hearing the song playing anywhere in local elevators), when i said to myself, “hey, i really like this song… i’d like to learn how to play it on the ukulele… i guess i have to buy a ukulele”, and that lead me to Amazon where i ordered an Oscar Schmidt Concert Uke (cheapest 5-star uke i could find), a padded gig bag, and a tuner, and having clicked on “Place Your Order”, promptly forgot about the entire event until, about a week later, when i arrived home to find a large package was waiting for me on my doorstep, prompting me to say, “what the f&ck this is? i didn’t order anything” (that’s often a problem), and, taking the package inside and opening it up, further prompted me to remark, “huh… i bought a ukulele… i guess now i have to learn how to play it…” and the rest, as they say, is a tiptoe through the tulips of history.

what i didn’t know was that The Honeymoon Song, the Oscar Schmidt, Ukulele Bex​, Jim Carey​, the Santa Cruz Sons of the Beach Ukulele Group​, and so many others i’ve met along the way would bring the joy of playing music back into my life and the lives of a number of my friends, and would provide me with an infinite number of opportunities to giggle like an idiot, acquire a stupid number of ukuleles (where stupid > 10), and learn how to take a $30 Chinese/Aliexpress uke and, having more guts than brains (or as i like to say, “The Confidence of an Idiot”), teach myself kitchen-table luthierie working with emory boards, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser bricks, a pocket screwdriver from AAAAA Appliance Repair, avocado oil and fishing line, turning those pieces of wood into a very nice instrument.

these days i’m never more than few feet away from a ukulele (quite literally, i have one with me pretty much 24hrs/day), and this has led to impromptu concerts at many a local car wash, in the hallways of the Apple law dept offices many afternoons after 6pm, and this past spring in Los Angeles where i attempted (with 1100 of my closest friends) to break a Guinness Book of World Records record for Ukulele Playing along with Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho (we didn’t, but i was at least able to check an item off my bucket list). i’ve recorded personalized Happy Birthday tunes for a number of friends, wrote a parody of the song “Hero” by Family of the Year​, (the song that played throughout the film Boyhood​,) for my friend John DeKoven​ (he claims it was his favorite movie of all time! ;^)), and last weekend, when i couldn’t find the chords or sheet music anywhere online, transcribed the Harry Ruby tune, “Father’s Day” (made famous by Groucho Marx) and posted it all over the web for ukulele players to learn and play for their own fathers… playing the uke has also revived my interest in playing piano and keyboards, and encouraged me to try and learn the guitar, again (i’ve tried, unsuccessfully, every 5 years since 1975, so apparently the 9th time’s the charm!)

music is good… live music is better… playing your own live music is the best (and as i often remind myself, if you don’t know a chord, just sing louder!)…  or, as the little old lady who lives across the street remarked as i opened my eyes after intensely making my way through all the verses of Marrakesh Express (falsetto fully intact for the requisite, “well, let me hear you now!”) and realized she had been standing at the edge of the driveway, watching me the entire time:

You’re getting better.

yes, i am… in more ways than i could have imagined…


Sunday, June 21, 2015

"Father's Day" Chords & Lyrics (Groucho Mark / Harry Ruby)

a favorite memory from childhood was seeing Groucho sing "Father's Day" on the late-night talk shows...  i used to sing it to my dad each year and decided to see if i could find the chords to play on the ukulele... nothing turned up, so i prepared the transcription below... feel free to suggest corrections... (the original song was written by famed composer/screenwriter Harry Ruby, who wrote the music and screenplays for both Duck Soup and Horse Feathers, as well as writing the music for Animal Crackers)... enjoy...

(F) Today, (C) father, is (F) Father's Day
And (C7) we're giving you a (F) tie (F7)
It's (B♭)not much we know
It is (F) just our way of (F/C) showing you
We (G7) think you’re a (G7sus) regular (C) guy

You (B♭) say that it was nice of us to (F) bother
But it (C) really was a (C7) pleasure to (D7) fuss
For (Gm7) according to our (C) mother
(C7) You're our (F) (A7) (Dm) father
(B♭)And (F) that's (Dm) good (F) enough (C) for (F♯dim)(D7) us
(B♭)Yes, (F) that's (B♭)good (C) enough (C7) for (F) us

you can also watch Groucho sing it on the Dick Cavett Show

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

well, i didn't make the cover of Vanity Fair, but...

they did just publish my brief essay over at the New York Times Transgender Today Opinion Pages...

now i know Caitlyn Jenner is the story everyone is focusing on (and i am certainly happy for her and the fact that she has finally allowed herself to become the person she felt herself to be), but if you really want to read about brave people who embraced their true selves without the social, emotional or financial safety nets that Jenner has at her disposal, look at a few of the 200+ essays linked to, below, and be inspired by folks of every age and background who found the courage to live an authentic life and share their stories (without the benefit of a Annie Leibovitz glam-photoshoot)


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Third Time's The Charm - Opening Day's With Arthur

(for those who missed the back story on this interesting encounter, you can read the blog entry, "Court Jester to the Gods (Arthur Rock/Baseball Edition)".

OK... Here's how it went down...

Got inside the ballpark about 12:40 and went directly to my seat, where I found myself alone... About 2 minutes later the Arthur Rock entourage arrived and I gave Arthur a friendly/smiley "Hi! Good to see you again!", which was met with stoney silence (what? he doesn't remember me from the one day a year we see each other, twice before? -lol-)... I shifted my focus to the opening day ceremonies (Blue Angel flyover, hoisting of the World Series Championship Banner, etc.)

Then, same as last year, shortly before the first pitch the "Lunch Order" was placed (for those keeping track, this year it was a chicken sandwich, no cheese, extra mayo). This should have been my opportunity to engage with Arthur, but there were two people sitting to my right who knew him well (very nice folks who were season ticket/license holders), so I was relegated to the role of 'Background Actor/Food Passer'. Once they yelled "Play Ball!" Arthur was deeply focused on his score card, so there wasn't an opportunity to chat, and with the Giants playing catch-up the entire game, the mood in our section was cordial but not overly friendly (though i did get a big smile and 'thumbs up' from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Giants CEO Larry Baer).

As we pushed towards the bottom of the 6th, I realized Arthur could leave at any moment (my memory of our first two encounters was that he's not necessarily a 'full game' kind of guy), so I reached into my bag and pulled out the manilla envelope containing my copy of the Jan 23, 1984 issue of Time Magazine ("Cashing In Big - The Men Who Make The Killings", the one with Arthur on the cover) that I had purchased on eBay specifically for this occasion. I also pulled out the black Sharpie® marker I had clipped to the edge of the envelope, and waited for my chance. In the middle of the 7th, everyone in the park stood up and sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and as I was belting out, "ROOT ROOT ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM!!!" I realized everyone in the park stood up ::except Arthur!!:: Seeing my chance, I finished singing and quickly sat down while everyone else was still standing, pulled out the magazine and said, "Arthur... could i ask you for your autograph?"He said yes and did I have a pen?, and I pulled out the Sharpie® (chance favors the prepared mind). Arthur signed the issue and I said 'Thank you!' and stashed it back in my bag.

The nice folks on my right saw this all go down and asked what it was all about and I told them the entire story and they laughed and then we all watched the Giants lose their 2015 home opener. 

As we were shuffling out into the isle I chatted with Arthur and told him this was the third year in a row that I had managed to randomly get the seat next to him, that I hoped he didn't think I was stalking him, albeit very slowly. I also said I was hoping to turn my amazing skills towards something more profitable, like playing the lottery. He smiled and said he hoped to see me next year. I said that seemed improbable and he suggested I start working on getting my ticket now!

That sounds like a very good plan..

For those who would like to see all the shots I took of the San Francisco Giants Opening Day - 2015, you can find them here => SF Giants Opening Day - April 13, 2015

And since I haven't said it in a long while:

Show Up
Pay Attention
Tell The Truth and
Don't Be Attached To The Outcome

(and thank you, again, Arthur!)


Friday, March 20, 2015

Court Jester to the Gods (Arthur Rock/Baseball Edition)

This is Arthur Rock. He is considered one of the first venture capitalists. He was an early investor in Apple, a member of the board of directors, and may have been responsible, directly or indirectly, for Steve Jobs' ouster from Apple, depending on which blog you read.

In 2013 I purchased a ticket for the SF Giants Home Opener through and discovered he was my seat mate. We didn't talk much.

In 2014 I again purchased a ticket for the SF Giants Home Opener, again through, and got this:

An amazing coincidence given he's a season ticket holder who sits behind the Giants dugout whenever he wants, and i'm a schmuck with an internet connection and a credit card randomly punching buttons on the interweb. We chatted a bit and early in the first inning Arthur wanted to buy a hot dog. As i was sitting between him and the isle (and the roving "Premium Field Club Waiters"), i played the part of 'middleman" (lots of negotiation surrounding condiments and colas and arbitrage on some grilled onions... it was pretty complex). After it was all done Arthur said "Thank You", and I replied, "No, Thank You! Now I'll be able to tell people that I assisted Arthur Rock with a financial transaction." He stared at me for a long moment and then gave me a big smile which, according to my calculations, was worth about a million bucks.

Today I decided to see if I could purchase a ticket to the 2015 SF Giants Home Opener and again went to MLB, chose the April 13 game, clicked on the "Best Available - All Price Levels" button and this is the ticket the system chose for me.

But of course you knew that was going to happen (and in my heart, so did I.)

Don't tell me the universe doesn't have a sense of humor.



Saturday, March 07, 2015

3AM Movie Review®: "Whiplash"

this morning's insomnia lead to renting and watching "Whiplash", the 2014 drama about a sadist and his protege that's not "Fifty Shades of Grey", and which earned J.K. Simmons (Juno, Spider-Man, Farmers Insurance) an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Florida Film Critics Circle Award.

this is a deeply disturbing film about a music school teacher with no redeeming qualities, who taunts, berates and physically abuses his students to no discernible end... into this tableau we drop Miles Teller (no relation to the silent half of Penn &) who is Owl Jolson of Warner Brothers cartoon fame, come to life, except drumming instead of singing, and a WHOLE lot more blood... Miles is a freshman at the country's most elite music college where none of the other first year students seem to be able to play an instrument... Prof. Fritz Owl, in the form of Simmons (who confuses making the veins in his neck bulge with acting) takes Teller under his wing (see what i did there) to mentor him (?) humiliate him (?) teach him (?) ... no idea... and, truth be told, i don't care... being constantly on guard while waiting for the next episode of explosive rage isn't entertainment, its a flashback to my childhood... we're not given any reason to believe that being successful in the eye of this R. Lee Ermey wannabe leads to anything other than suicide (oops... spoiler alert...), plus he directs with the cat-like movements of Bubba Watson sinking a birdie (and who knows if he's a great drummer, let alone a good musician... we only get a tiny glimpse of his own playing, and its uninspired and uninspiring)... 

the film ends with the glee club getting to go to regionals (or something... it was close to 4:30AM by that point) and with Miles giving a drum solo that goes on and on and on and on until the screen goes black and Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" plays over the credits (or something... it was close to dawn by that point)... 

you don't need to see this film. if the only way you can see to become really good at something is to tie your identity and self worth to an abusive asshole, you may want to think about trying to be really good at something else (maybe conducting?)... save the time, the money and the emotional abuse and watch this cartoon, instead... you'll thank me!
Classic Merry Melodies cartoon, "Owl Jolson" featuring the song, "I Love to Singa." It's a surprisingly great story about parents learning to love their chil...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

We Pause To Mourn The Passing Of The Wonderful Taylor Negron

sonovista, my friends...  it is with great sadness that i share news of the passing of great comic, actor, writer, painter, and artist Taylor Negron.

those of you who have been with Schnauzer Logic since our earliest days will remember that Taylor was the special guest on our first anniversary show in January of 1977. Jann Karam made the introduction and during a brief pre-interview Taylor made it clear we could talk about anything and everything... and we did and he was fast and funny and later on, off the air, reiterated the offer of a pear tart and said i should come on by with Jann the next time I was down in LA.  i had the occasion to try and do that about 6 months later and though he wasn't available that afternoon, he spoke with me (someone he didn't really know) for about 45 minutes about life and art and love and sex... it was a master performance for an (appreciative) audience of one.

Deadline Hollywood has a very nice write up of his life.

The twitterverse is full of words of love and praise.

And if you want to (re)hear the interview we did with Taylor and Sean and Sheri, i've uploaded it to SoundCloud.

wishing you all a joyous and healthy 2015 and asking you to remember to:

show up
pay attention
tell the truth, and
don't be attached to the outcome.