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The Greatest Thing In The History Of Ever

I must admit, I detest the entire format of almost everything that’s vaguely factual on television. Apparently it’s the same format everywhere on our orb. There’s all this filler and all these strange dullard people that have nothing to do with what’s being discussed interjecting themselves into the frame. The only time I see TV newscasts is in a two-minute blast on YouTube, and it looks so bizarre to my eye now that I feel like I’m a Martian.

Scene: Two hair farmers seated at an elaborate but shabby desk that looks like it’s designed to attract the attention of a four-year-old with a learning disability. The man with a shrine to Rock Hudson in his dressing room speaks to his partner across the desk in a Phil Hartman voice without the humor:

Well, Katie or Bev or Shanile or whatever your name is, in a minute we’re going to show you something interesting. It will be interesting to see the interesting thing that’s just behind our man on the scene, Biff or Tavon or Mikayla or whoever it is that’s really angling for our jobs so they can sit down and be vapid and make six figures instead of being sent out with only a microphone and a yellow slicker to ask a hurricane how it’s feeling.

Yes, Ted, or Bill, or Stone, or DeMario, or whatever the hell your name is, it sure will be interesting to wonder exactly what interesting thing is directly behind Biff or Jenna or whoever’s sleeping with the program director this week because his wife doesn’t understand him. And we’ll show you the interesting thing in an interesting way right after these interesting messages from our sponsor about fixing your leaky gutters or vaginal discharges or yellow toenails or whisky dick  or whatever.

Winter In America

Winters aren’t hard in Maine where I live. They’re not harsh. They’re not long. Adjectives like hard, harsh, and long don’t help describe the thing. What winter is here is A Fact.

Before we moved here, winter was not A Fact in my life. I lived in various places in Massachusetts, but you could basically pretend winter was just a few nasty weeks left over from fall, or a ghastly beginning to spring, but you didn’t really have to pay attention to it in any meaningful way. I went years without owning an ice scraper, or having a proper winter coat. You could just sort of clap your hands over your ears and sing la la la for about two weeks in January and pretend it didn’t matter.

They’ll find you in the spring in western Maine if you pretend winter doesn’t exist. You’re not going anywhere, and you’re not doing anything without paying attention to it when it shows up. And you’re not staying home, either, without paying winter’s attention vigorish. If the power went out in Massachusetts, we’d have a jolly fire in the ornamental fireplace, made entirely from cardboard and bits of cut-off wood left over from building the house, and wait for the television to be restored. If the power goes off overnight in Maine in January, you’ve got about four hours to do something about it before the water in the toilet bowl turns to slush. I have a back-up plan for heat, and a back-up plan for that plan, too, and I’m probably considered woefully unprepared by my wiser neighbors. But I do get the concept, so elegantly put by my dead neighbor, E. B. White: just to  live in winter is a full time job.

Of course he lived on the coast, where’s it’s warm and doesn’t snow much. I live over by Mount Washington. It’s west of here, about an hour and a half’s drive –and a bit southerly.

Wanna Know Why Movies Look So Damn Good?

They do, you know. Look good, I mean. Sound good, too.

They’re terrible, mostly. They’re just puerile, pointless Batman movies, the stale, made fresh monthly, I know. But they do tend to look and sound amazing. That’s because everyone but the actors and the people who write the scripts are very talented. The average set dresser, scene painter, soundtrack music writer –hell I bet the catering’s amazing — is so talented, and that talent is so cultivated by education and experience that any dreck you throw at the screen has a thick veneer of wonder on it.

Ever watch those one of those “How They Made This Wonderful Movie” movies? I find the back end of entertainment interesting, so I’ve seen many. Speaking of back ends, you learn that the back end of a horse is in charge of making the movies, generally. They all would be more accurately named if they were called “How This Wonderful Movie Was Made By Idiots By Accident.”

There’s an insanely detailed homage to the making of Raiders of The Lost Ark available on Vimeo. We watched it. If you watch it, and see who the makers of the movie wanted to cast in the movie, but weren’t allowed to, and the ideas they had to make it more interesting, like a robot arm for Indy, who would be played by Tom Selleck, natch, you’d know it’s all the little people that made that movie great entertainment. They eventually wear down the people in charge with their common sense, I think.

I think movies look so good because the people that are charged with making a movie look and sound like a specific period in time and populating it with accurately depicted persons — well, at least the way they’re dressed — have access to reams and volumes of source material. Like that look into a glass factory in Holland in the fifties.

Me? I just watch the glassblowing videos. It’s blissfully free of Batmen, and the leading men look like they could actually grow a beard if they wanted to.

She Thinks I Steal Kale

I tried to explain something to my musician son the other day. I had a hard time. The concept is nebulous. You have to ken it peripherally. If you try to look right at it, it can’t come into focus. It’s as much art as science. Hunch-y, really. I tried to describe to him what makes a song have “legs” — a term we used to use to indicate that a song is potentially useful to a performer by its very nature.

OK, so the Clutch Cargo of Country™, George Jones, had a big hit with this one back when Minutemen still rode dinosaurs to the Post Office to use the only telephone in town. That fact alone isn’t going to cut any ice at the disco, brother. Besides, he didn’t write it. He had to spot the legs in the song in the first place. If you want to glom onto the esssence of the song, and milk it to go along with your own performance cookies, the song needs to have legs. It’s got to be the framework for entertainment. It has to allow others to produce their own artifact, not just trade on the previous artifact.

The wrong people have to be able to “get over” with a song with legs. The sum of the component parts have to add up to more than the parts themselves. So you become a kind of vivisectionist, taking songs apart to see what makes them go. But just like taking that frog apart in science class, the frog doesn’t work anymore if you take it apart. The animation comes from somewhere else. To choose a song that’s going to have legs, you have to understand the frog well enough to replicate it, but you can’t kill it while taking it apart. That’s why it’s so hard to know what’s going to work.

You had a disc jockey at your shabby, expensive wedding because you didn’t want music; you wanted a list of cultural artifacts, laden with the context of your memories of what you were doing when they first came out of the radio. You wanted to eat at Musical McDonalds ™ because you wanted to know exactly what was on the menu before you entered the building. You didn’t want to rely on a chef, even a world renowned chef, because improvisation is fraught with peril. Something might happen, and your wedding would be on YouTube for all the wrong reasons — the only reason anything is on YouTube. To perform a song that has legs, you have to make the audience forget there’s another version of it they prefer for a little bit.

You’re on to something in your selection if a wave of nervous laughter passes through the audience at first, finding, perhaps, a delicious irony in the resurrection of a hoary old thing, and then the dead silence of rapt attention has to follow it.

So you search without looking directly at anything, the way a man searches for a mate in a bar. Sometimes you find exactly what you’re looking for, and the audience thinks to themselves: What a cute couple they make.


I’m currently beezy making twenty tables for a sale at Sippican Cottage Furniture. I’ve never made that many things at one time. If you want to be notified when they go on sale, (heavily discounted, natch) sign up for an email notification at the top of our home page there. We don’t flood your inbox if you do. It’s a once-in-a-while thing.

In the interim, I’ve still got one lovely Kipling Table left over from the last batch of stuff. It’s deuced handsome:

It’s solid Tiger Maple. It’s our Cinnamon color. Marked down to $199, which includes free shipping to anywhere in the lower 48. It’s 15″ square, about 28″ tall.

Did you know that Rudyard Kipling lived in Vermont for a while, amongst the sugar maples and Calvin Coolidge’s laconic relatives? Wrote the Jungle Book while he was there, if memory serves.  Ah, yes, Wikipedia’s on it:

A little maple began it, flaming blood-red of a sudden where he stood against the dark green of a pine-belt. Next morning there was an answering signal from the swamp where the sumacs grow. Three days later, the hill-sides as fast as the eye could range were afire, and the roads paved, with crimson and gold. Then a wet wind blew, and ruined all the uniforms of that gorgeous army; and the oaks, who had held themselves in reserve, buckled on their dull and bronzed cuirasses and stood it out stiffly to the last blown leaf, till nothing remained but pencil-shadings of bare boughs, and one could see into the most private heart of the woods.

That’s purty good writing. He might add up to something someday if he keeps it up.

Me? I’m angling to have: HE HAS POTENTIAL written on my gravestone.

Last Thursday, I Lied

[Editor’s Note: Welcome Instapundit readers. Since you’re new here, I should explain that our little boy in the video is three years older now, and not all that interested in Presidents anymore, but he is the Greatest Ten-Year-Old Drummer In The World.]
[Author’s Note: There is no editor]

Er, I misspoke. I was wrong. Flat wrong. The wrongness, it burns. I messed up. Brain fart. Don’t be mizzled, brother; I misled you. I disseminated misinformation to the point of dissimulation. I bore false witness, even if it was against myself, mostly.

Here’s the whopper I told, almost without thinking:

Our children are homeschooled.

That’s not quite correct. Mi dispiace. I best get to expiating my guilt by explaining myself to you fine people, before I end up asking a ghoul with a hot trident for a glass of icewater for all eternity.

Words mean things. At least they used to. They’re currently debased and euphemized until nobody knows nothin’ about nuthin’ by reading the newspaper. “Homeschooling” has been freighted with meaning, and it’s not the meaning I want it to have, but I used it anyway, because newspapers that call someone’s boyfriend their “partner” have worn me out. I tried using the lingua franca to save time. It was a mistake. Let’s fix it.

It would have been much more accurate for me to tell you that my children are receiving a public school education at home. They are. They simply don’t attend the public school; they’re getting this education from my wife, inside my house.

Hmm. But that’s bound to give you the wrong idea, too; you’ll assume that means we’re giving the kids the same sort of education that’s being offered in those buildings they still call public schools. You see, there are no public schools in America that I know of. They’re reeducation camps for people that weren’t educated in the first place, maybe, or little prisons, or pleasure domes for creepy teachers, or places where tubby women work out their neuroses about eating on helpless children at lunchtime — but there’s not much schooling going on in school. A public school is a really expensive, but shabby and ineffectual, private school that collects their tuition with the threat of eviction from your house.

I grew up in the same town as Horace Mann. I know all about public schools. The concept is as dead as a Pharaoh. The idea that universal literacy and a coherent public attitude toward citizenship would result in a better life for the country as a whole was a sweet one, and it worked for a while, until they “fixed” it. They’ve been fixing the hell out of it for over half a century now. They fixed it the way a veterinarian fixes dogs, to my eye.

Here’s Wikipedia’s list of Horace Mann’s reasons for public schooling:

(1) the public should no longer remain ignorant
(2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public
(3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds
(4) that this education must be non-sectarian
(5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society
(6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers. Mann worked for more and better equipped school houses, longer school years (until 16 years old), higher pay for teachers, and a wider curriculum.

Let’s take them in turn, and see how Old Howlin’ Horace’s ideas have turned out in what’s called the public schools, but aren’t anymore.

1) Is that cursive? I don’t read cursive.
2) The public seems completely uninterested in what happens in public school, or they wouldn’t send their kids there. Anyone really interested in public schools is horrified by what they find out. Talk to a teacher about what they’re required to do in there — after they’ve had a few drinks. I have. One I spoke to referred to themselves as a “tard farmer.” Do you want to sent your children to a “tard farm”? We don’t.
3) My children are from a variety of backgrounds, all by themselves. We didn’t turn either of them away. Tell my Irish grandmother and wife’s Calabrian grandfather that all white people are the same. Bring a weapon to defend yourself. A “back-up piece” is probably a good idea if you’re talking to my grandmother, by the way.
4) Public Schools aren’t non-sectarian. They teach their own religion, and persecute any vestige of any other, except for momentary alliances with subcultures that will help them persecute what they feel is the dominant culture outside the school.
5) Parents are not allowed to enter a public school, even to walk their children to the door. Children are routinely persecuted for any behavior that deviates one iota from the what a militant vegan on a recumbent bicycle prefers. That’s not the spirit, method, or discipline of a free society.
6) Teachers are well-trained and professional — just not in delivering an education to children. They are trained to be vestal virgins in a weird temple that forgot where they put the statue of the deity of mammon they worship. If public school worked, everyone who graduated from it would be capable of teaching in one.

The teachers in public school are as much at the mercy of this weird situation as the students. A teacher recently told us she has to keep a dossier on every child in the class, every day. That’s the Stasi, not Goodbye, Mr. Chips. They said that it’s not possible, really, so they have to make stuff up to finish it. All that time is subtracted from what little time they have for the kids in the first place. The teachers don’t know where all these weird directives come from any more than you do. They just don’t want to get fired for forgetting to rat out little Timmy if he chews his Pop-Tart in to a recognizable weapon-like shape. They go along to get along.

We like our kids too much to go along to get along, so my wife and I set up our own public school. The desks are in a row. There’s only one row, with one desk, but still, it’s a row. There’s a flag on the wall, unironically hung, because we’re not ingrates. The public –our children — have not remained ignorant. My wife and I would appear to an alien as the most “interested public” on the face of this earth, since we’re doing it ourselves, with no help and no money, and a lot of opposition, while the rock-and-roll moms abandon their children at the public school so they can go get their infected tattoos looked at. Oh, and by the way, 100 percent of our students are immunized against childhood diseases, because Jenny McCarthy isn’t regarded as an adequate peer reviewer for Jonas Salk at our school. She is at the public school.

Our children are taught moral rectitude, by word and deed, just like Horace Mann intended. His term, “non-sectarian,” had nothing to do with being irreligious. He explicitly said one kind of Christianity shouldn’t trump another kind in school. That’s it. A very strict Know-Nothing religion, consisting of little more than a fetish for recycling and ancient imaginary score-settling, is all that is allowed in public schools. That’s not non-sectarian. That’s one sect. Hell, we allow our children to know that there’s more than one kind of light bulb. That’s blasphemy in public school.

As I said, I grew up in the same town as Horace Mann. So I know for a dead cert that they tore down Horace Mann’s house and put up a shitty stripmall in its place in the 1960s. It’s the absolute perfect metaphor for what happened to his idea, too.

There’s A Spot In Me Heart Which No Colleen May Own

I always dreamed of meeting a girl with long, silky brown hair, really long legs, and a nice rack. Pained me to learn only the males had antlers.

On another front, it’s nice to see the animal kingdom is fully on board with the Unorganized Hancock school of accessorizing:

Reader Rob informs us that Unorganized Hancock’s sweet style is big in the “my pants are full” demographic as well:

If I dressed like that, people would probably assume my pants were full, too.

In Furtherance Of My Evil Plan To Resurrect Wichita Lineman And Make It The Official Cover Song Of The Twenty-Teens: Glenn Tilbrook

(Earlier on Sippican Cottage: Another In The Long List Of Songs I Don’t Like That I Like  )

There appears to be a magical barroom somewhere in Great Britain where you can stumble in on an odd night and find Glenn Tilbrook, along with a motley assortment of other musicians — and some people just dragged out of the audience at random — in the corner, banging away at whatever song comes to mind. Glenn Tilbrook was the driving force behind Squeeze, if the name doesn’t sound familiar.

When I started playing music for money, I more or less stopped going to musical performances. I really couldn’t derive any enjoyment from them, and simply fidgeted until I could bug out early. The only exceptions were performances that were so unlike what I was doing that they didn’t even seem like the same thing. I went to La Boheme with my wife, for instance. That’s another galaxy removed from pop covers in the corner of the pub, so it didn’t count. There’s no way my lizard brain could transmogrify my presence just behind the orchestra pit while How Cold Your Little Hand Is soared overhead into the urge to be facing the other direction and helping out.

Another exception to attending other musicians’ performances was Glenn Tilbrook, although it didn’t start out that way. A fellow musician and friend dragged me to a geriatric music tent in Cape Cod to see Squeeze, and it turned out they’d gone bust and were touring as two buskers instead of a power pop band. It was there that I came to the realization that Glenn Tilbrook is the most talented busker in existence. Every venue on this planet with a liquor license should have entertainment like this in the corner all the time, and never does any more.

I was the worst of the bad musicians I generally played with. But the last bunch I ended up with did entertain people, without exception. Whoever showed up got a show from us. Four people or four thousand, we DID THE SHOW. Glen Tilbrook DOES THE SHOW. It’s nice to see.

That YouTube video is the first time in a long time I’ve seen THE SHOW being performed anywhere. It’s almost exactly the format for what we used to do. None of us were a shadow of the singer or player that Glenn Tilbrook is, but the bones of the thing are there. We’d drag people from the audience, and make them play a note or sing a word, or pretend to sing along, or just dance around with us and have fun. We talked to them, and they to us, and if a pretty girl and her tubby friend said they like Brown-Eyed Girl A LOT, we’d play it two times in a row to make them happy, because what’s the harm?

This is sort of uncanny for me to see:

Twenty years ago, my friend Paul, the stand-up drummer, would halt our show, and mockingly threaten our audience: “If you don’t start dancing, (Sippican) is going to sing Tom Jones!” He’d repeat the threat mordantly from time to time, like reeling in a fish, and then we’d trot it out if things got quiet. Stevie would throw me a wig, and the two guitars and drums would start vamping It’s Not Unusual. There was an ubiquitous TV commercial back then, featuring a bald guy with a muskrat glued to his head, selling weaves or wigs or something, called the Hair Club for Men, with the tag line: “I’m not only the Hair Club president; I’m also a client.”

So then I’d stuff the wig partway down the front of my shirt, and Paul would say that I was not only the President of The Chest Hair Club For Men, I was also a client, and then I’d sing an amusing version of It’s Not Unusual — amusing being the only kind of version of it I could sing, because I never could sing, really — and when we’d come to a hard pause at the end of each line, I’d bow my head like some exhausted Fat Elvis while running my fingers suggestively through my nylon chest hair,  and wordlessly lever my wrist to point the microphone I was holding towards the audience, and without exception, no matter whether the audience looked like a nursing home or a biker bar, guys and girls, young and old, deaf and dumb, mean or jolly, drunk or sober, labor or management, barfly or barkeep, every manjack of them would roar in unison: BA DA DA DA DA DAHHHHHHH.

It was glorious. I think I improved our approach to the thing when I started stuffing a second wig down the front of my pants for the full Tom Jones effect, but then again, I’m not sure it was possible to improve the effect of the original.

Cooking With Gas In The Kitchen

[Editor’s note: first offered in 2007. Look at anyone else’s blog from 2007. It all sounds like insane drivel five years on. We’re proud to only offer sane drivel here, year in, year out]
[Author’s note: There is no editor]

Could you take this picture in your kitchen?

I don’t mean are you baking your own bread, that’s unlikely now. But is there any place with a hint of the picturesque in your kitchen?

You cannot worship the god of hard surfaces and become the priest and priestess of the picturesque. The kitchen has become the altar of sacrificed comfort. Reject it. It needs to return to being a pleasant room with a kitchen in it, not a hole in your house into which to ram appliances and particleboard boxes. Formaldehyde! It’s what’s for dinner!

I will say before we begin that even poor people are generally well housed in the United States, and the reliability of utilities into every home like water, sewer, electricity, and so forth would be a source of envy for great portions of the world. We are not complaining here. We have been given the luxury of worrying about small things instead of where our next meal is coming from, so we can turn our attention to… well, where our next meal is coming from.

Let’s make a list of generalities.

  1. The room has to be pretty big. We’re going to eat in there.
  2. No low ceilings. No vaulted ceilings.
  3. If you yanked out all appliances, fixtures, and cabinetry, would the kitchen be a pleasant room? If not, start over.
  4. Forget row after row of cabinets. Add a walk-in pantry next to the kitchen and get rid of the majority of your wall cabinets. Add windows. The pantry can have all open shelves. Put a door on the room to hide clutter. Putting casework into niches in the walls, so the face of it is flush with those walls is dynamite. Look at the china closet in the second picture.
  5. You need light coming in from at least two adjacent sides.
  6. Make the sink and drainboards huge. Doesn’t matter what they’re made from Just plain huge.
  7. Gang at least two windows over this huge sink, with a broad sill. Three’s better.
  8. Never cook with electricity. Fire, baby.
  9. Maximize the horizontal space at waist level with nothing on it.
  10. Put dishes and glasses on open shelves, or shelves with glass doors. They naturally stack and display well. Keep things you use all the time close at hand. Don’t hide them in the endless cabinets.
  11. Never ever show the side of a refrigerator. Any cabinet over a frig should be flush with the face of frig, and extend right down to the floor. Refrigerators used to be sleek and rounded and looked good standing alone in the landscape. They’re not any more.
  12. Almost all kitchen cabinets are bland and ugly. Frameless cabinets particularly so.
  13. Lower cabinets with doors are almost all useless. Use drawers below waist level wherever possible. Drawers behind doors are four car collision designs. Just have drawers.
  14. All corner cabinets are useless. For all the money and trouble you go through to get your stuff diving off a lazy susan in there, or worse still, the floppy door with all the hinges that bangs around and pinches your fingers, they’re not worth doing. Have the corners boxed in and forget them. Use the money you saved to help build the pantry.
  15. Never put the microwave above the stove or in the upper cabinets. Pulling occasionally superheated stuff out at eye level is madness. And you always want to defrost things while you are cooking something else. Don’t work over a hot stove. Put it in a lower cabinet and then your kids can make their own popcorn.
  16. A cooktop with a separate wall oven is great. It was standard issue in tract houses in the fifties. Now it’s seeing a resurgence. Great. Gets the oven up where you can see it, too. But never NEVER put a cooktop in an island counter that humans have anything to do with the other side of, especially if people sit and eat there. Are you insane?
  17. A real table that can be moved around and has fold up leaves that people can eat at in a kitchen is five hundred times more convivial than a counter. Make sure there’s room for the chairs to be pulled away from the table on all sides.
  18. A door to the outside if there’s any way it can be done. A real door. No sliders.
  19. Frameless cabinets look industrial. If you must go industrial, do it with some exuberance and get yourself a quilted chrome/formica/enameled steel/neon/Cadillac finned 1950s thing going on. Or an elegant 1930s Bauhaus modern if you can’t stand hominess. But eschew the brutalist concrete/honed stone/nuclear power plant plumbing/ expiatory chair look please.
  20. Overlay cabinet doors are…are… Never mind. Face frames with inset doors, period. Nothing that looks like it was yanked out of a box and screwed to the wall. Make sure all upper cabinetry has some sort of cap or head on it. The particleboard stuff wrapped in woodgrain wall paper with bland overlay hardwood doors always looks bad. Your cabinetry should look like casework or furniture. And it should look good, or ideally better, after you use it and wear it out a little. You’re going to live in there, you know. If it relies on the look of pristine sterility, that makes you a bacillus in the body kitchen.

The day couples put a television in the bedroom, it signifies a fundamental change in outlook. Placing one in the kitchen is the same. I’m not saying it’s bad. It just represents the failure of the cook, the food, or the company to hold your interest. Just sayin’. But you need music. Plan for it early.

Well there you go. Go to the kitchen designer with this list. Bring defibrillator paddles. You’re going to need them.

It Appears To My Eye That My Wife And I Own The Greatest Ten-Year-Old Drummer In The World

Well, we don’t “own” him exactly. We feed him most every day, and he sleeps in our house. He’s sorta like the cat. But you never really own a cat, or a ten-year-old drummer.

My two sons, otherwise known as Unorganized Hancock, performed at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. It’s a lovely place, hard by a scenic lake in the mountains in Madison, Maine. It’s a summer retreat for artists of many kinds. They’re from all over the world, but they’re mostly living in New York City. They were young to old farts like us, but they’re all young adults. They were the most energetic, pleasant, and interesting crowd of people I’ve seen in a decade or two. There were two most excellent videographers there, and look at how wonderful the kids look when they’re not stuck with their idiot father pointing a flip camera at them. The soundtrack of the video is just the ambient mic on one of the cameras, but it sounds pretty good. The Heir edited it himself from the wonderful raw material.

It was the boys’ third job in a week. When I say that the Spare Heir is the best ten-year-old drummer in the world, that’s what I’m talking about. Scour YouTube for “ten-year-old drummers.” There’s lots of them. There’s a numbing sameness to all the videos. Some father that never had a cup of coffee in the real music business, with a very elaborate and expensive drum set and recording equipment that’s never left the house, has been living vicariously through the poor kids, and forces them to play along with the worst possible music selections from their wasted youth. The kids aren’t really playing music, and mostly look bored while they do what they’ve been taught robotically. It’s data entry, not music. They’re just playing Guitar Hero on dad’s instruments instead of the TV.

Our children are homeschooled. I’m ostensibly their music teacher. People assume that means I have unlimited time and resources, and the children are made to practice music every waking hour of their day while I beat their knuckles for missing a note. How else could they get so competent, so fast? It’s the exact opposite of that. The public school has, compared to us, unlimited money and equipment and time to teach music. They just don’t do it. They squander all they don’t plain waste. The children that attend public school can’t play music after they’re finished with their education. They often have been demoralized to the point they’ll never try on their own, after, either.

I have an approach to teaching the kids music. It works. It doesn’t work because we have unlimited time and money. My children are poorer than every other kid in town, although they don’t know that. I work all the time — all the time, I’m not joking — trying to extricate us from our straitened circumstances. So the kids get a little encouragement and very little practical advice in a short blast from me, and that’s about it. But we let them. WE LET THEM. To let to do. Laissez faire. The bontemps will rouler if you’ll just let kids do things.

My two boys practiced together for two years in a room with no heat or electricity, with the plaster falling on their heads in chunks the whole time. They do not play along with recordings to attempt to impress people on YouTube. They play music, intended to entertain an audience, with other humans. It’s not their fault there are no other little humans that can keep up with them, so they have to do it together, alone. And if you put them in front of almost any audience, including the one in the video, who are about as sophisticated as you can find in this world, they get over — big.

As I said, we own the greatest ten-year-old drummer in the world. Prove me wrong; show me a better one. Ours can, and has, performed for two hours straight, three days in a week, for money, for strangers. He can play so competently –nothing flashy, mind you, I don’t allow flashy, a drummer has a job to do — that you completely overlook the fact that his seventeen year old brother can sing and play with real muscle for hours at a time with only a ten-year-old drummer to help him.

(Nota Bene: If you’re one of the legion of my readers that have contributed money and/or offered encouragement to my boys over the last year or so, look what you’ve accomplished with your generosity. They boys have enough equipment to play out, and even have a seat in the back of my truck, because of you. My wife and I are immensely grateful to everyone that reads, watches, comments, and contributes to our PayPal fund for the boy’s musical stuff. We love you all)

[Update: Dr. Dave has absolutely pegged the generosity meter at our PayPal button this morning. Many thanks!]
[Up-Update: Kathleen M. in the Nutmeg State is unfailingly generous and pleasant and we love her for it. Many thanks!]
[Upper-Date: Many thanks to Drake from N.D. for his generous support!]
[Most-Uppestdate: Many thanks to Julie from FL for her generous support and friendship!]
[Yet More Up-To-Date: Loads of thanks to Norm S. in beautiful San Jose for his generous support!]

Month: August 2013

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