Monday, September 29, 2008

All the Right Moves

It really began last Wednesday night. Cold Stone Creamery was having a fundraiser and giving away free ice cream, so after supper we loaded up in the car and headed to our local store. We arrived during a lull, quickly grabbed our free ice cream cups, spoons, and napkins, and went to sit outside. Joy and I were talking and laughing at Noah who was flirting with everyone who walked by, so engrossed that we almost didn't notice the college-age student with the tight pants and low cut shirt walk by.

Sam, however, was a different story. He actually stopped licking his bowl and craned his neck to watch this young woman pass. Joy and I were a bit taken aback by this 13-year-old-boy behavior, but quickly forgot the incident until Saturday night.

Once a month, a large group of young families from my church gets together and has a potluck. The kids generally range in age from 3 months to 5 years and enjoy playing together. We've had a recent surge of babies in our congregation and many of those babies are just reaching one year old, which means they are mobile and like to play with the big kids. One little girl just had her first birthday last Thursday and was sitting happily in the living room floor when we were gathering up Sam and Noah, our leftover food, and all the paraphernalia that comes standard with modern babies. While we were giving our goodbyes, Sam drops down on all fours, crawls over to this little girl, takes her face in his hands, and plants a huge kiss right on her lips.

That's right, he's already putting the moves on younger and older women. We were so flabbergasted (and the company too polite for me to shout out "That's my boy!" as I was tempted) that we forgot the diaper bag in our rush to the door.

The next day, I received an e-mail from the girl's father jokingly asking what Sam's intentions were with his daughter. I calmly replied that I would offer Sam a position in my firm and an annual salary of 100 pounds to break off any relations with her. But if he's this bad at almost-3, think how he'll be at almost-13.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Parental Gross-Out Factor

As Sam has aged, and especially now as he's potty training, Joy and I have discovered that we have different levels of gross-out. When you are first married and talking about having children, you picture angelic, chubby babies resting contentedly in your arms. When you imagine them older, you picture snuggling down with them in bed, reading books together and telling stories as the fall sky dips toward sunset.

You don't picture dirty diapers that explode all over their backs and all over your front. You don't picture marathons of throwing up all over their beds and their bedroom floors and the hallway floor and the bathroom walls. You don't picture the strange ways they find to hurt themselves that involve blood and bile. You don't picture the continuous lines of drool or snot that fall from their faces and manage to make their way into your hair (which, granted, you don't realize until your spouse points it out or you find it the next morning as you shower.)

I've discovered that I have a pretty high gross-out factor as a parent. I don't mind cleaning up the vomit; as Sam has had accidents in his underwear I haven't been bothered by cleaning him or the underwear or even the floor up. For the most part, bodily fluids haven't gotten to me the way they sometimes have Joy. But this week, I've discovered exactly where the line sits in gross-out for me.

It sits on Sam's toe.

Two weeks ago, Sam dropped a can on his big toe. The nail turned black and blue and a few days later, the blister under the nail burst and his toenail started to fall off. He's been fascinated and likes to pull at it, especially when things like sand get under it. I've been repulsed by it, especially when he climbs into bed with me in the morning, burrows his feet under my legs for warmth, and I can feel the toenail bend back against my leg.

See why this completely weirds me out?

Fortunately Joy took matters into her own hands and clipped the nail this morning, ending my week of unending horror. Of course now, Sam has started picking at his other big toenail, trying to discover if it can come off as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Listening Journals

You may remember that last year I began teaching a writing intensive version of the standard undergraduate music history sequence. As part of that class, I had my students keep a blog where they posted their writings about recordings we were listening to that fell outside what we normally covered in class or amplified what we discussed in some way. I've continued that tradition this fall with the early music history section, only now I have my students reading each other's blogs and writing responses. I think it's turned out extremely interesting and thought you might enjoy reading what my students discovered about medieval music. You can find the main page here, as well as in the links at the side of the page.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You Mean That's Sleeping through the Night?

Hi. Perhaps we haven't met. We have a three-month old, you see, and haven't been as regular on the blog as we'd like. Or really, as regular in our life as we'd like. We show up to places late, we look haggard when you see us, we keep forgetting things or mis-stating things, we just aren't ourselves these days.

But, like many of you with children, we kept hearing how everything changes at 3 months. "Just wait and see," the experts proclaim, "between three and four months most kids start sleeping through the night."

What the experts don't bother to tell you is that "sleeping through the night" really means a 5 hour stretch of sleep.

5 HOURS?!?!?

That means, after you put your baby down, get ready for bed yourself, read a bit to settle down, and finally drift off yourself, you're getting 4 1/2 hours at the most, usually more like 4 hours. Who calls four hours at a time "sleeping through the night?"

So experts, please call me when you revise your definition to one most people understand - 8 hours at a time would be nice. Sure it may not happen until he's at least 9 months old, but at least I have a realistic goal instead of feeling cursed that my baby isn't sleeping more at 3 months. So call me, but understand that I may not know what you're talking about when you do. I'm only sleeping through the night and still a little forgetful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Awareness Test

I've got a writing deadline today, so I'm busy revising, revising, and revising a bit more. But I did want to give you all a little something for stopping by. So here's a video that intrigued me:

Thoughts after watching?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Minimalist Weekend and the world of Palestine

This past weekend, between Sam and Noah and concerts and parties, neither Joy nor I got much sleep. "Concerts and parties?" you are asking yourself, remembering that we have two small (and one of them very small) children, "what concerts and parties?" Kyle Gann, one of my favorite writers on American music, explains on his blog.

That's right, we had a dinner with Kyle, a concert Saturday evening, and multiple planning sessions for the Second International Conference on Music and Minimalism that we are hosting next year. Looking through the listing of people featured on next year's conference, I'm sure one name jumped out at you - Charlemagne Palestine. His was the one name that David McIntire sent me when KC was selected as the next host of the conference and the one name that subsequently had me jumping up and down in my office. Here's why:

Charlemagne is one of the most important and largely overlooked early minimalists in music. From 1962 to 1970 he was a carillonneur at St Thomas's Church, New York, a job that directly influenced his subsequent music as he became fascinated with the overtones produced by the giant bells. (He evidently still has a carillon set-up in his home). In the 1970s, he was legendary for evening-length piano works (almost always on a Bösendorfer grand for the extra notes) that featured sustained chords repeated rapidly using a technique he termed "strumming." The result, which is hard to hear on the video, was a build up of harmonics that resound throughout the hall. As you can imagine, his music is best heard/experienced live, but the opportunities to do so are few and far between. He's lived overseas for the past 30 years, and rarely performs in the US as he finds it hard to travel, especially with his family, the stuff animal menagerie with which he always travels and performs. I've been entranced with his music since my adviser introduced me to it during my master's, so the opportunity to hear him live is the icing on the cake for this conference.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Stuff on my Son

I'm sure you've seen the websites such as Stuff on my Cat and Stuff on my Mutt, where pet owners find ordinary things and put them on their companions to humorous effect. I'm sure you've laughed at such antics and thought how sad it must be for those animals. I'm sure you never expected to see such shenanigans here.

Think again.

We used to leave various objects (toys, blankets, etc.) around Noah while he lounged in one place on his playmat. But now that he can roll and grasp, Noah keeps ending up with strange things on him. Joy took this trait to its logical extreme the other day when she made our son into a Koopa Troopa:
He and Sam had been playing with the huge package of Mini Bilibos that Joy had purchased for Kindermusik (and if you've never seen a kid play with a bilibo, you don't know what you're missing - they come up with the most creative stuff to do with these little plastic molds). Sam had declared that his was a turtle shell, and when it went on Noah, we had instant Koopa.

Who knows how far this will go, but I'm sure before long Noah will join Sam in the game of "what food can I put on my body and where can it go?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Campaign Goes Musical

It's turning into campaign week here with posts about running for office all over the place. But I'm not interested in the current non-debate about sexism (since both Obama and McCain used the line, neither times directing it at a person). Instead I'm interested in who is really going to change America. That's right, I'm talking:One of the blogs I read put together a collection of bumper stickers imaging slogans for various composers running for elected office. Babbitt and Wuorinen write music where, unlike in tonal music where one pitch is the primary one, all twelve chromatic pitches are used equally. I'm not so sure about Wuorinen as VP, but Babbitt is a 12-tone composer who manages to make serial music with a sense of humor. And anyone who can accomplish that task could probably get us out of our various messes with ease.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Continuing our Campaign Theme

Mondays and Tuesdays are double smackdown days here at sonicgranades. Those are the days when both Joy and I teach and so we swap off kid duty - she puts both boys to bed Monday nights and I put both boys to be Tuesday nights. Obviously we like Wednesday nights much better.

So far no offer from the McCain camp on the birthday party even though the candidate and his super-star celebrity VP pick were in town Monday. But since I raised the specter of the current election cycle on the blog, let me direct your attention to a race right here in Kansas City. Back in the spring when the turnout for the Democratic caucus in Kansas was unprecedented, many new faces decided to run as Democrats for state office including Sean Tevis. He launched a little website asking for $8.34 from 3000 people so he could run a competitive campaign without being beholden to any special interest group. He asked for this money through a clever cartoon that makes me smile when I think about it. The results were so startling that papers as far away as Los Angeles began writing stories about it.

No matter if you agree with his policies or not, here's a politician making good use of the internet who also shares my sense of humor. (don't believe me? Read his blog - especially about his appearance this past weekend in a parade. ) Who knows if he'll win or not, but it certain makes for great reading.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Candidate McCain Comes to Dinner

Joy and I have filled our nights the past two weeks by watching the DNC and the RNC and then discussing what we've heard and read online at supper. Most of our discussion fodder recently has been coming from our new favorite website, PolitiFact. PolitiFact checks out the truth behind all candidate claims and rates them as true, almost true, half true, barely true, false, and, most importantly, Pants-on-Fire (they've also got a great Flip-O-Meter). Completely non-partisan, PolitiFact has made watching the conventions that much more fun. But it has also made for some interesting discussions with Sam because he cannot stand to be out of any conversation. If we are talking, he'll pick one of us, cock his head, tap our arm, and say "Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad...what are you and Mom talking about?" We then try to explain the workings of the world to an almost-three-year-old which inevitably leads to more questions.

Not last night.

We were discussing McCain's upcoming speech and all the hoopla surround the week, when Sam bursts into the conversation by stating, "McCain is going to come to my birthday party and we'll eat some chocolate cake."

I suppose this serves as McCain's invitation - Senator, if you're free in early October, you're welcome to stop by.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Holst?

There has been a lot of ink spilled and a lot of bandwidth consumed over Hurricane Gustav, but the following quote from the British tabloid The Sun takes the cake:

" The hurricane — possibly named after Gustav Holst, the British composer of The Planets — weakened to a depression over Louisiana."

That's right, in trying to find words to describe the aftermath of the storm, The Sun claimed that the hurricane was named after one of the foremost British composers in history. I'm not sure if I admire their ability to make everything connected to the former British empire or I shake my head over "journalistic" excess. All I know is that it gives new meaning to his obscure 1898 work "Clouds o'er the Summer Sky."

We Have a Roller

I just got the call from Joy - we have a roller in our house. Noah's been thinking about rolling over for a few weeks now, getting up on his side and kicking his little legs in desperate attempts to run and jump like his big brother. This morning, he evidently got that determined look in his face, put his arms down, and rolled right on over.

This is the beginning of the end for our house. Soon, nothing will be safe with two boys getting into everything.