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Showing posts from November, 2012

Math Formulas We Can Really Use

If any cry of anguish is universal across generations, it's this one, said by kids in Algebra classes throughout the land: "Why do I have to do this stuff? Am I ever going to use it in real life?"

Kids and adults alike acknowledge that we use elementary-school math in real life on a daily basis. We add, subtract, multiply and divide quite frequently. But when teachers start replacing the numbers with letters, and are introduced to terms such as "variable" and "polynomial", then those instructors meet resistance from students, and their protests often center around the idea that this kind of math will do them no good in the real world.

A lazy adult will simply affirm the students' suspicions by admitting that complex algebraic problems don't make their way into everyday life. It's an easy thing to say, but the truth is that life is full of situations in which formulas are required or at least helpful.

Here are some math formulas that ring …

Obliviots

Sit back and let me tell you a story:

One day a couple of years ago, I made a trip to my local supermarket. I encountered 4 different people during this single trip; together, those 4 individuals confirmed for me what I always suspected:  people can be very selfish, and have no idea that they are. 

1. When I arrived in the parking lot, I wanted to turn into one of the lanes so I could park, but the car ahead of me had to go forward or somehow get out of my way. Alas, that driver didn't see things my way, so he just...kinda...stayed...where...he...was for a while. He didn't seem to care that someone might be behind him.

2. When he finally moved, I drove toward an empty parking space that I had spied on the way in. It turned out to not really be empty, because another person in another car in the adjacent space went wayyyy past their yellow line and effectively took up two spaces. And they were in a smaller-than-average car, I might add. There was no need nor excuse to take tw…

The Best Songs You've Never Heard, Part 5

I'm going to post a few links to Youtube clips of my favorite tunes that have been criminally unknown or underappreciated. This is Part 5. click here for Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

In no particular order:


Sam Moore, from 60's R&B legends Sam and Dave, showed in this late 80's recording that his voice was as strong as ever. He played an R&B singer in the movie John Cusack/Tim Robbins comedy "Tapeheads" and was featured singing this song in a sparsely-populated nightclub. While the movie is extremely funny, this song is as serious as it gets.  The powerful lyrics, combined with incredible vocals and a nice sax solo by Junior Walker, make this one irresistible.



"The Flame", by Spyche


Technically, we can't say this song is unknown, as it was a big hit for Cheap Trick. But this version, by a local Dallas musician with a day job, is a big improvement over the original. Take away the Cheap Trick over-emotive vocal, and strip away the over-production…

The Best Songs You've Never Heard, Part 4

I'm going to post a few links to Youtube clips of my favorite tunes that have been criminally unknown. This is Part 4.  Part 1Part 2Part 3
In no particular order:

"Old Habits Are Hard To Break" by Ronnie Milsap


John Hiatt wrote it and recorded it, but no version can compare to this one. Milsap's vocals here are as good as anything he's ever done. If you didn't know he had done syrupy ballads before, and heard him here for the first time, you'd swear he was a lifelong bluesman. This story of a man appealing to his female friend to get out of a destructive, soul-killing, relationship grabbed me the first time I heard it. It may be my favorite recorded song ever. 


"Only Human" by Rosanne Cash

Many years ago, I noticed a consistent theme in Rosanne Cash's music: it's extremely important to her how people treat each other, and when someone is less than considerate to her, she's going to say something about it. this is epitomized in "…

The Best Songs You've Never Heard, Part 3

I'm going to post a few links to Youtube clips of my favorite tunes that have been criminally unknown. This is Part 3.  Part 1Part 2Part 4.

In no particular order:

"It Ain't Real If It Ain't You" by Mark Gray


Mark Gray was a country singer who never caught on, but this is a gem. His vocals are as soulful and meaty as it gets. Sadly, country fans probably ignored this song in order to pay attention to some line-dancing nonsense. I still have the 45 for this one.


"Nail It Down" by the Meat Puppets


I may be wrong, but believe that Dwight Yoakam's friend Pete Anderson produced this one. Straightforward rock and roll.



The Best Songs You've Never Heard, Part 2

I'm going to post a few links to Youtube clips of my favorite tunes that have been criminally unknown. This is Part 2. Part 1Part 3Part 4. In no particular order:



"Infested" by Course of Empire

I don't know if I'll ever understand why this one didn't make this band famous. It had a cool video. Course of Empire had a great regional following and a great stage presence. The sound fit in at a time when Grunge had brought back crunching guitars.   Ah well.
"Infested" needs to be cranked up to be properly enjoyed.




"Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps" by Doris Day

The two songs on this page could not be any more dissimilar. Still, a great song's a great song. This one's from the pre-rock era, early 1950's.  It has an irresistible melody that's not easily forgotten. "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" will stick in your head.

The Best Songs You've Never Heard, Part 1

I'm going to post a few links to Youtube clips of my favorite tunes that have been criminally unknown. This is Part 1.
For the rest of this series: Part 2Part 3Part 4.

In no particular order:

"Penny To My Name" by Eva Cassidy
Eva Cassidy had one of the greatest voices I have ever heard. She recorded in a friend's studio and sang at local places near her Maryland hometown, but only became well-known after her death from cancer at age 33. "Penny to My Name" tells a heartbreaking story of a young woman trapped in a hard marriage, with young kids, barely scraping by while running a gas station and dealing with a drunk for a husband. What's really heartbreaking is that she's living in a place that many people want to escape to, but she has no appreciation for the gorgeous view she enjoys daily, and she only wants to see city lights and get away from what she thinks is an unexciting life.



"Don't Change On Me" by Ray Charles



He looks young he…

Eyes on My Father

DING!  With a swing of the bat, the little white ball, headed toward the catcher’s mitt, was forced to do an about-face, and was now outfield-bound. The 11-year-old batter, realizing the ball was well-hit, was determined to stretch this one into a double.  As he rounded first base, the right-fielder reached the ball. The runner headed toward second as the outfielder scooped up the ball, transferred it to this throwing hand, then let it fly toward the infield. As the runner slid into second, the ball came in, just a tad late.  Jacob was safe with a double. With a big smile on his face, he stood up and looked toward the dugout, where his dad, the team’s manager, was standing and cheering. The son’s eyes locked in on his father’s, and they shared a proud smile.  Neither noticed the noise around them, but it sure was loud.


That loudness was a combination of 40 or so adults cheering, clapping, and yelling not-very-helpful instructions to the players. Half of them were parents on Jacob’s t…