Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Plays Well With Others, Part II - Hero Worship

We survived our early morning plane ride yesterday and are now deeply ensconced in the Deep South. Baby Liza is adorable and we're having a great time helping out and missing sleep.

Before coming, whenever we asked Sam who he was going to visit, he always neglected every member of the family except one - Eli. He was a little sad when we arrived and Eli was playing at a friends, but since Eli returned right before lunch, they've been playing together constantly.

Here's an example: This morning, Sam was in bed with us when Eli padded by on his way to his parents' room. We were trying to get Sam back to sleep but as soon as he saw Eli he declared, "Eli play trucks with Sam."

Yes, nothing is more important than being with Eli. But my favorite moment so far was when they were outside on the playset this morning. Sam was in the sandbox and Eli on the swing, when Sam suddenly got up and stood in front of the swiftly swinging Eli.

"Eli play in sandbox," Sam said.

"No! I'm swinging," responded Eli.

Sam thought about this for a moment before confidently stating, "Eli all done swinging!"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Big Boy Chair

Last week, while I was gone, Sam decided he'd had enough of the high chair.

"No, no, no," he proclaimed, using his favorite new word to great effect.

So we've graduated from the high chair to what Sam calls his "big bo-eeeee chair." It's great fun except now when he finishes his supper he wants it off his tray. I suppose it's just too small to contain his meal once he's done with it. So he shoves it onto the table. And if the table is out of reach, you might ask?

Onto the floor it goes.

Still, all in all the new booster seat with optional tray is a big hit. And we like it because we can color coordinate his entire dinner attire.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Plays Well with Others

We've been hosting some of our closest friends from grad school this weekend and having a blast. We've laughed over old stories, caught up on each others' lives, shared meals and late-night confessions, and played more games than we have since Sam was born.

We knew the four adults would have a great time and have been looking forward to this visit for several weeks, but there was one wrinkle - our friends have a son who is six months younger than Sam.

Remember the post about Sam saying "excuse me?" What I didn't mention is that he usually says it while pushing another child out of the way. Needless to say, we weren't sure how Sam and Will would get along.

When our friends arrived Friday night, they put Will on the floor and he crawled right to Sam. They looked at each other and burst out laughing before playing chase around the couch. Sam spent the rest of the weekend crawling and babbling baby talk with Will, starting each morning with a croaky, "where's Baby Will?" It was truly amazing to see them play together and have such a good time.

Now, hopefully the rest of the week with Eli will be just as smooth and just as much fun for the little ones as it will be for us.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Context Matters

We've been working hard on teaching Sam to say "excuse me."

"What good parents you are," you might be thinking, "teaching your child such good manners at such a young age."

Uh, yeah. It actually is out of necessity. You see, when Sam decides he needs something, he needs it right now. What if you are using it? Too bad, Sam needs it right now. What if you still want to play with it? Too bad, Sam needs it right now. What if you won't let go of the toy? Too bad, Sam needs it right now. What if you are in Sam's way? Well, you get the picture.

The result of this tenacity (that's the kind word we use), Sam ends up pushing other children; bigger or smaller than he, it doesn't matter. So we're trying to teach him to politely say "excuse me," and to wait turns.

Last night we got proof that some of our teaching is taking. In his bath, Sam decided to scoot around the tub's perimeter on his bottom. He made a few circuits of the tub when he encountered an obstacle. His stacking cups and his drum that he had been playing with were caught in the small whirlpool he was creating and slowly spinning in his wake. When he came up on them he politely said, "excuse me, cups," and maneuvered around them.

Not exactly what we've been trying to teach him, but at least he said the words. I'll let you know if we make any headway in the right context.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Book - A Guide

It's Friday, right before a long weekend, and I thought you might enjoy a good laugh. I'm thinking I'll show this to my classes on the first day, just to make sure they understand all the technology we'll be using in the semester.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are You Smarter Than A Fourth Through Eighth Grader?

Sure Fox has a hit show in Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader and people scream over the Spelling Bee on TV and in movies like Akeelah and the Bee and Spellbound. But I have the real challenge today - the National Geography Bee! So test your geo-knowledge against these questions from yesterday's finals (the answers are below the handy world map. No cheating, but you are welcome to use the map if it helps.)

1. What is the Arabic term for a valley in the hot desert areas of northern Africa and the Middle East that carries a stream occasionally?

2. In late March 2007, Protestant and Catholic leaders from Northern Ireland agreed to form a power-sharing government that took effect in early May 2007. The leaders met in what city that lies at the mouth of the Lagan River?

3. The second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa is also the richest Portuguese-speaking country in Africa. Name this country.

4. Lampedusa, an island whose geographical location has made it a target for illegal immigrants seeking to enter the European Union from Africa, is administered by which country?

5. A city that is divided by a river of the same name was the imperial capital of Vietnam for more than a century. Name this city, which is still an important cultural center.

1. wadi

2. Belfast

3. Angola

4. Italy

5. Hue (Hway)

Feeling smart anymore? You can always get ready for next year with National Geographic's daily quiz.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sleep Training for Parents

Sam slept through the night last night.

I know that might not be a cause for celebration for many of you; after all, he is 19 months old and should have been sleeping through for a year now, right? Not Sam. We've had sleep issues from day one, issues exacerbated by his reflux. We've since discovered that sleep is a major topic of conversations among moms, dads, grandparents, complete strangers in the supermarket - most people have a story to share and everyone has a solution. Don't believe me? Just search "baby sleep" at and notice that you get over 8,600 books! There are advocates of the Cry-It-Out Method, or a modified version: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and the infamous Dr. Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. There are advocates of the No Cry Sleep Solution such as the aptly-named The No-Cry Sleep Solution. There are books on how to co-sleep, blogs on tips to get your baby to sleep, lists of useful books and scary articles about how your baby's head will explode if he doesn't sleep, Idiot's guides to baby sleep, and even yoga positions for babies. All in all, a bewildering array of advice and solutions.

But Sam is (mostly) sleeping through the night now, so why bring all this up? Because I've found an untapped market - Sleep Solutions for Tired Parents. This morning I stirred awake early. I'm not sure what time it was, but at least after 5:00 since the sun's saffron light was slowly infusing our room. My first thought was to go in and check on Sam because I hadn't heard him all night long. What if I selfishly slept on while he whimpered for help? What if he had stopped breathing? Such are the sleep-addled thoughts of young parents.

Then it hit me - last week, even though I was thousands of miles away from Sam, I still woke up in the night as though he were crying. Sam has trained me to not sleep. So, where are the books to help parents learn to sleep again? Where are the advocates for our weary souls? I must bravely step into this publication black hole and fill it. I see appearances on the Today Show, on Oprah, on Conan in my future. Or, I suppose, we could all just take Lunesta.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm Home

After a week of travels, I'm finally back home and Sam isn't sure what to make of my presence. When I arrived yesterday, I drove from the airport to school for Kindermusik. When I walked in the room, Sam ran and gave me a big hug, then turned around and hugged me again a minute later. It was one of those moments that you want to imprint on your heart and in your mind forever.

But since then, he's looked at me with a "why aren't you as much fun as Grandad and Nana" glint in his eyes. I mean, he's never gotten to paint his face and ride a bike while I've been around. And I'm busy at work on a book review I've got due next week, which means my normal Sam time is reduced.

Still, I can tell there's one area that makes him especially glad I'm home - discipline. He figures I've forgotten that he isn't supposed to climb on chairs or throw things in the house so we've seen balls, trains, water bottles, whatever Sam can get his hands on flying through the living room today. Crazy life and I wouldn't exchange it for the world.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

You Know You're In New York If...Part III

While riding the subway you happen to notice the Hasidic Jew sitting next to you in tennis shoes, listening to his iPod.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why I Go to Conferences

Sometimes I wonder why I go to conferences. Listening to people read their papers at you all day can be mind and behind numbing. Also, conferences are usually held in enjoyable cites, but you are so busy with the conference that you don't get to enjoy the city. In some ways, conference attendance seems masochistic. But today I was reminded of why I go to conferences. Sometimes you hear a paper that startles you with a new way of looking at music or music and film.

Earlier this afternoon, I had such an experience. Steve Allen of Rider University presented a paper on this video:

I'm a fan of Radiohead, but I hadn't seen this
particular video before. Seeing it I was immediately reminded of this image of 2001: A Space Odyssey and expected Prof. Rider to go in that direction with his paper.

He didn't.

Instead he began to dissect the music and its video through the Christian symbolism inherent in it (and telegraphed through the collage of images that interact throughout OK Computer's CD booklet). Taking apart the lyrics first, he demonstrated how the entire work is divided into threes: a list of three items in every line (a landfill, a job, and bruises in the first verse, for instance); three repeated lines in the chorus (no alarms and no surprises) that is repeated three times during the song; and so on. He then referenced Romans 6:1-4 as an analog to the lyric's progression:

1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

The lyrics paint the picture of a man who, through despair, through sin, attempts to kill himself. But he doesn't die. In the instrumental interlude between the second chorus and the final verse the man is raised from his death through baptism to new life in "such a pretty house, such a pretty garden." Combined with the harmonic analysis that he completed (just notice how the vocal line slowly flattens until a second voice in harmony is able to join in), this was a persuasive reading and a refreshing one, given that most readings ignore any Christian allusions. In fact, one respondent even remarked that it could be celebrating secular humanism because she was obviously uncomfortable with the Christian reading. I suppose she's right, but most secular humanism doesn't refer to death through water and new life afterward.

So you've seen the video and read this particular interpretation. Thoughts?

You Know You're In New York If...Part II

While you're eating lunch in a random restaurant you happen to notice Carson Daly walk in, sit down, and have lunch as well (of course, it was hard to recognize him without hordes of screaming girls)

Friday, May 18, 2007

More Reasons to Love Target

We're big fans of Target at our house. We regularly go since they have a great baby section and Joy likes to drool over all the great design. I should say, all the great design for reasonable prices, which is the reason I like it. But today I got another reason to like Target (also strangely related to the reasonable prices)

Target Free Friday Nights at MoMA.

That's right, every Friday night from 4:00 until 8:00, MoMA is free thanks to the generosity of Target. MoMA was in Queens last time we visited New York City, so I missed it. This time I desperately wanted to go and so when I found I could go for free, I skipped out of the conference and headed uptown.

MoMA was glorious. Truly. All the art I show my students in Music Since 1900 was there. I stared at Picassos, Lichtensteins, Matisses, Johns, Rousseaus, Boccionis,
Mondrians, and, of course, Rothkos. And the best part was that I had my little iPod, so I was able to make my own modern music soundtrack to go with my art. What could be better than viewing Kandinsky with Schoenberg or Rothko with John Luther Adams?

You Know You're In New York If...

You go out for Chinese food and on the menu are:

1. Spicy Duck Tongue
2. Lamb Testicles

and the best
3. Spicy Beef Penis

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New York, New York, It's a Wonderful Town

After being at the Lake of the Ozarks during the first part of the week, this morning I continued my trip around America by flying to New York City for the Music and the Moving Image Conference. I've finished my presentation (but will probably continue to tweak it over the next few days since I don't present until Sunday) which means I got to enjoy New York a little today.

And what did I do to enjoy New York, you might ask?

I went to the Daily Show!

Joy and I enjoy Jon Stewart tremendously and if we had cable it probably would be to watch his show every night. Last time when we were here doing dissertation research, we desperately wanted to get tickets and couldn't. This time I could and it was a blast. You should watch tonight and see if you can see me in the audience as I got on the second row. I'm wearing a black shirt and probably clapping my hands to pieces. And if you don't see me, you'll be able to watch the brilliant Telemundo piece and see John Hodgman, the hilarious writer/performer/humorist you probably know from the marvelous Mac vs. PC ads and should know from his book The Areas of My Expertise (which has a genius list of 700 hobo names, something that particularly tickles my funny bone as someone who writes about hobo music via Harry Partch).

You Can't Be President Forever

On Sunday, a 400 piece orchestra was playing in Jamestown for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the town's founding. JoAnn Falletta was conducting when she felt someone looking over her shoulder. It was our 43rd president, and he wanted to conduct. What's a conductor to do? She handed over the baton, and President Bush led the orchestra in Stars and Stripes forever.

Even ex-Presidents need a job, so perhaps when Bush leaves office, he could take a side job conducting the National Symphony Orchestra. It's something to think about...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You Should Be In the Movies

I've just discovered the most enjoyable website of the day. MyHeritage takes a picture you upload, runs it through its magic machine, and matches it to a likely celebrity. It's like casting your own bio-pic of your favorite people. Just for fun, and because my mind is consumed with the Harry Partch paper I'm writing, I decided to run the four composers I taught in my American Mavericks class this past spring semester. And, as the immortal Dave Berry would remark, I'm not making this up.

First in our lineup is Mr. Charles Ives. Connecticut's state composer evidently looks like David Carradine. No word yet on when Mr. Ives will be showing us his kung-fu moves, but I'm sure the composer who once remarked "I don't write music for sissy ears" has some moves in him.

Next up is composer of the whole world of music, Mr. Henry Cowell. Evidently, Cowell would work well in a superhero movie because he looks like none other than Sir Ian McKellen.

Amazingly, the recognition software knew our next composer, Mr. John Cage. But an equal match for himself was Gary Busey. Is it the hair or the grin?

Finally, there is good old Harry Partch. I figured Kenny Rogers might come up or someone else with an impressive beard or mustache. No, tonight the role of Harry Partch will be played by none other than David Cronenberg, director of Videodrome.

Go ahead, give it a try. The whole process is endlessly fascinating.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Yesterday afternoon, we went to Deanna Rose Farmstead for Mother's Day. Deanna Rose is a local park with cows, sheep, pigs, goats, bunnies, and moms and dads running after their errant children. Sam loves Deanna Rose and we've been several times. Since learning his animal names and sounds, he enjoys going up to the horses and yelling "NEIGH!" and then waiting for them to respond with an appropriate "neigh." Then he careens to the next stall, heedless of anyone in his way or his parents desperately trying to keep up.

In our days as a childless couple, we used to naively dream about how we would parent our future children. We would see parents with their children on a leash and scoff at them, whispering to each other “Why can’t they control their children?” when we were feeling charitable and “How can they treat their children like dogs?” when we weren’t.

This was all pre-Sam. Now when we go out to places like Deanna Rose, Sam looks like this:

His leash is a monkey backpack with a long tail that we can hold onto as he races ahead of us. Sam loves his monkey; it rides with him in the carseat when we’re going to the park, and if he sees it as we’re leaving the house and we are accidentally leaving it behind, he asks for it to go. This plush little toy is the best invention ever if you have a child who has to go full throttle at all times and can’t be bothered to hold hands with Mama or Dada because they are way too slow. And for us it serves as a great reminder of the one central truth of parenting – never say never. If you do, you’ll eat your words many times over and be the one wearing the monkey on your back.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Introducting Baby Liza!

Since I'm still writing my paper (when will it ever end?) I'm doing a quick and easy update by posting pictures of my adorable new niece Liza and her proud parents.
If you want the full slideshow with 68(!) pictures, check here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

As Promised...

Here's more on Baby Liza. Needless to say we've been praying for this little girl hard for the past day, never more so when we learned that her birth was strangely similar to Sam's. But all is well and for that we're thankful.

Welcome Baby Liza!

Our new niece Kathryn Elizabeth Granade was born this afternoon. She weighs 7.7 pounds, was 19 inches long, and was a typical stubborn Granade in that she didn't want to come into the world, she was perfectly happy where she was thank you very much.

Join us in prayers for rest and a speedy recovery along with congratulations.

More later...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

We Need a New Alias

Sadly, last night we finished our tour through Alias. Sure it had its stretches of implausibility and outright lunacy, but how can you get mad at a show that uses that red wig on Jennifer Garner at least twice a season?

In any event, we need a new show. When we moved here, we decided not to get cable and instead opted for Netflix. Our typical pattern is to have one TV show going amongst all our movies. We have some ideas of what to watch next, but we''re open to suggestions.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Mister Rogers Does What?

I'm swamped this week with writing. The first part of next week I'll be away for the last retreat for the New Faculty Teaching Scholars program I've been participating in all year. Then, next weekend, I'll be in New York City for the Music and the Moving Image conference at NYU. That's the paper I'm trying to finish up this week.

So, since I need to be writing on other things, and our blog has revolved so far around children and music, I give you one of the great mergers of those topics ever committed to film - Mister Rogers Breakdancing.

Monday, May 7, 2007

When it Rains...

We've been a bit overwhelmed here at Sonic Granades for the past few days. First, it was the truck being totaled and learning to live as a one-car house for a bit. Then came Joy filling in for one of her Kindermusik teachers on Saturday. And Saturday's graduation ceremonies where I served as Marshall for the undergraduates. And Saturday night's graduation party. And Sunday's Musicology Major's end of the year potluck. And the rain.

Yes, the rain. We got over 2 inches yesterday and they are saying we'll get 3 more this afternoon. This on top of the over 2 inches we've already gotten this month (yes, in the 5 days of the month so far). Our ground is so soaked that Sam hasn't been able to play outside in a few days, water is beginning to leach through our basement floor, and we've got a leak in our roof. I've patched it as best I could with all the rain and slowed the drip to a trickle, but I still need to get on the roof and fix the shingles. The only problem? It's still raining and is supposed to through Saturday!

For Sam, being cooped up inside means more opportunities to get into trouble. And more timeouts. Whenever he has a timeout, we always say, "Uh oh, so sad," and then go on to explain why he is receiving his timeout and put him on the stairs for a minute.

Saturday morning, while I was putting Sam in his clothes for the day, he threw his pacifier off the changing table and proclaimed, "Uh oh, so sad!" That was so funny that he immediately threw a second pacifier off the table.

That coupled with him stroking various houseplant leaves while muttering to himself "Sam, no touch plants," has kept us hopping, and in stitches, all weekend. We can't wait until the backyard dries out.

Can someone please stop the rain?

Friday, May 4, 2007

New Review - Rolfe Kent's "Reign Over Me"

Some of you know, but many of you don't, that I moonlight reviewing film scores. It all started back in 2002. I was finished with my masters degree, mired in my doctorate, and desperately needed to remember that I actually liked music.

I've always enjoyed listening to, discussing, and even dissecting music in movies, so I sent out an e-mail to a website I enjoyed reading, submitted a sample review, a two weeks later was a full-fledged critic.

Since then, I've averaged one or two reviews a month, both of recent releases and classic scores. When I post a new review over at, I'll link it here if you're interested.

My most recent review is of Rolfe Kent's score to Reign Over Me. I've previously reviewed his scores to Sideways and The Wedding Crashers, both examples of a score equal to its movie in terms of artistic accomplishment. In this case, however, the music is far better than the movie. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Power of Possessives

Sam has discovered possessives.

This might not seem like such a big thing; we use possessives every day to define our world (and other people in relation to it), but for Sam it has become another tool in fighting to find his individuality.

This morning at breakfast Sam was taking a bit longer to eat than usual, so I hopped up to put away dishes and clean up the kitchen a bit. When I came back in to keep Sam company, I sat down in the chair nearest the kitchen. The chair happens to be the one Joy usually sits in.

"Mama's chair!" Sam exclaimed.

I wasn't sure what he said at first, so I asked him to repeat himself.

"Mama's chair!" he said again, pointing to where I sat. "This Dada's chair," he continued, jabbing his yogurt-covered finger at my usual seat.

Suitably chastened I moved over to my assigned seat. We're just waiting until everything in the house slowly becomes Sam's.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Golf 1, Truck 0

Yesterday morning it was dreary. Rain was spitting out of a leaden sky, Sam was grumpy because it was, evidently, a good day to be grumpy, Joy was singing at a funeral, and I had a faculty meeting. With a grumpy child and both of us trying to get ready for work, ours was a hectic household.

Joy headed out early to practice with the organist, and I settled down with Sam to read through at least four books on trains before going to Kindermusik. Then the phone rang. Joy explained that she had an accident. A sudden turn, roads slick with a bit of rain, and my truck had gone into the back of a Volkswagen Golf. Joy was, thankfully, only shaken up, but while the Golf got to drive away from the accident, my truck got towed to the auto body shop.

That's right, my big, gas-guzzling, American-made truck was taken down by a two-door hatchback from Germany. And to add insult to injury, this happened on Loyalty Day. What is the world coming to?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

John Cage Has a Secret

Since John Cage has made an appearance on this blog a few times the past month, I thought I'd give you a chance to see the man in a rare television appearance.

In 1960, at what could arguably be the height of Cage's infamy, the composer appeared on the hit show "I've Got A Secret." Running from 1952 to 1967, the show featured a panel of four who took turns questioning and then attempting to guess the contestant's secret. I'm sure American audiences weren't quite prepared that Wednesday night on CBS when John Cage appeared and performed his "Water Walk." In fact, my favorite part occurs when Garry Moore attempts to prepare Cage for the audience's reaction. Cage's response? "Of course I consider laughter preferable to tears."

Thanks to WFMU for finding this and making it available.