Monday, March 26, 2012

Diets and Exercise

In order to keep my and Kathy's health optimal we joined one of the $10-a-month gyms that recently opened up nearby. So far it's been a good thing. One of the hard things is not to be too hard on ourselves if life events or life's busyness gets in the way of making it there to work out! It seems it's always easier to be hard on oneself than it is to positively reinforce oneself. Just have to shrug the shoulders, let it run off like water off a duck's back, and jump back in to the program as soon as possible.

About a decade or more ago I became interested and participated in an exercise and eating program by an exercise "guru," Bill Phillips,
who published a book and program called Body for Life. It's still around and is as good a program then as it is now but Bill Phillips, always a student of the current science on and about nutrition and exercise, has begun a new program entitled Transformation.

A recent blog of Bill's on his Transformation site had a post titled Harvard Asks and Answers, "What's the Best Diet?" What the study showed was that in the two year test of 800 overweight men and women between the ages of 30 and 70 divided into four diet groups - one low fat high protein, one low fat average protein, one the high fat high protein Dr. Atkins diet, and one high fat average protein diet - all the plans worked about the same as long as the participants lowered their calorie intake. These findings were published in the February 26, 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The interesting thing that Phillips found in the study was that participants who attended support group meetings averaged 20 pounds loss of weight in the two year study period while those participants who did not attend support groups lost an average of 9 pounds. Interesting. I wonder if any similar studies have been done in other areas with and without support groups? I wonder if it would make a worthwhile doctoral thesis?

The gym Kathy and I joined considered joining their slim and slender program but the cost is not warranted with my current financial condition. Hopefully, inflation and cost of living doesn't continue to rise to where we can't afford the ten dollars a month individual membership fee as we both enjoy getting out of the house and sweatin' it out!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Google Doodle's Juan Gris and Cubism

I was drawn to the Google Doodle on March 23rd celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Cubist painter Juan Gris. He was the third cubist painter and a student of Picasso. The Google logo was turned into a cubist doodle in the style of Juan Gris. Quite fun stuff!

Here's the doodle.

I was first introduced to cubism by a girlfriend, Mary Griffin, while attending Loyola University in Chicago. She was a fine cubist painter in her own right. Often wonder what happens to folks one loses contact with over the years. I believe she is, or was, a docent at the Chicago Art Institute. Wouldn't surprise me as she loved visiting the institute as well as she loved art! Cubism, an artistic style where recognizable objects are fragmented to show all sides of an object at the same time, was first "discovered" by Pablo Picasso (

Anyway, I found several articles about the Google Juan Gris doodle that was published in several newspapers. This one from the Washington Post has a couple of fine little videos attached to it and you can see it by clicking HERE.

The Huffington Post stated, "The UK's Metro reported that Gris' portrait of the famous Pablo Picasso "is widely thought to be the first piece of cubist art ever that wasn't painted by Picasso or Frenchman Georges Braque." "

Here's a portrait of Juan Gris painted by Modigliani I found on Wikipedia's page about Gris.

Later in the day on local news, I happened to hear a short bit about Picasso where they stated he said something like, "As a child I was taught to paint like an adult. As an adult I learned to paint like a child." I thought that was a very astute, accurate summation by Picasso about his art. Even though cubism itself embodies, perhaps, a more adult-like child's view and practice of painting, perhaps, cubists are/were just more in touch with their "inner child?"

Catchin' My Breath and Gettin' Back to "Normal"

Forgotten how much playing music outdoors takes out of a person. Last Saturday's gig outside of Shenanigan's was great craic with a strong wind at our backs to boot!!!

Here's a pic of the 2012 St. Pat's Day version of Paddy O'Furniture...(left to right: Heather, myself, Rob McDorman, Chris Dunn, and Chris Benner)

I crashed Kristin and Matt Anderson's gig at Mac's Tavern while Paddy O'Furniture was on break. It's always fun to fiddle with a former fiddle student! Should turn into a fine duo. Nothing tighter than siblings. Now to get their other brother playing music with them!!!

Back to reality of the work world and my quest for good music to hear, learn, and play! Curiously enough I keep comin' back to Hot Tuna! And, why not? To find fellow musicians that can put music together and out like they do for as long as they have is a true joy to emulate, strive for, and accomplish! Here's a YouTube from Minnesota Public Radio of Hesitation Blues. Perhaps you readers will agree.

What better way to end a Sunday morning blog post than with a Good News (Gospel) tune? Hot Tuna from Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning show of August 3, 2009

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Busy Week Musically...

Jammed up week with music rehearsals to fill in for a violinist/fiddler in the Paddy O'Furniture. All this comes to a head starting tomorrow with 24 Pints Wiser kickin' off the St. Patrick's Day musical festivities at Lagomarcino's in downtown Moline, IL starting at 11:30 a.m. Following that, I'll be joining Chris Benner and Chris Dunn of Paddy O'Furniture at two senior care/assisted living centers and finally with Greg Fitzpatrick at a church dinner in the late evening. On Saturday we'll be entertaining the masses at Shennanigans following the St. Patrick's Day Bi-State Parade in downtown Davenport, Iowa. Weather looks to be in the 70s, dry and, needless to say, beautiful! Should be a kick!!!

Rob McDorman, of 24 Pints Wiser, put together a great, fun JibJab ecard. It can be viewed HERE.


Slainte, Joe

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Birthday Present of Hot Tuna!

One of my best friends and a friend of 42 years, Mike Wallace (a top shelf guitar tech (Wallace Music, Moline, IL), finger style and electric guitarist and musician), gave me probably the best 60th birthday present I could get…a chance to see Hot Tuna in concert at the Englert Theater in Iowa City!!! Mike reminded me that I had taught him Hesitation Blues back when he was 12 or 13. I'd forgotten that bit of info.

If you don't know Jorma (Kaukonen), then you don't know Jack (Casady)! Nor do you know Barry Mitterhoff! Those three individuals comprise the current Hot Tuna acoustic act and an opportunity to see them live should NOT be missed! Jorma and Jack are two of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane and have been making music together since they were 12. Along with Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin, Jorma on acoustic guitar and Jack on electric bass, are one of the most cohesive, sensitive, dynamic acoustic acts around! As an example view the eTown video of "Things That Might Have Been" below...

And, for more of your listening pleasure, here's a video of "Hesitation Blues" from 2010 in the Pabst Theater, Milwaukee...there is so much more variety and versatility that these musicians bring to the table. I hope that you find the time to explore their offerings as I believe you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Recent Great Musical Craic (Fun)!

The past few days have been filled with several great times musically speaking. It began last Wednesday or Thursday, I've forgotten which now, with being able to help daughter Heather learn the Irish jig, Cliffs of Moher, on concertina. I played it on fiddle and mandolin numerous times, at slower speeds, breaking down parts so she could ferret them out by ear as that is the way she learns.

On Friday night I got to play a barndance with a Welsh and Cornish theme as it was St. David's and St. Piran's feast days. They are the patron saints of Wales and Cornwall. As such, all the dances were traditional dances from Wales or Cornwall. I've played tunes for this event for many years now and last Friday was the first time I felt really good about my playing of that music. Just one of those nights when everything jelled. Or, I've just gotten much better at playing fiddle for dances or this particular group of dancers. Other musicians played electric bass and cello. The dancers were "on." Music and dancing ended together all night long. It was a good mix of ages, too. High schoolers through senior citizen folks.

Saturday night was a local Unitarian Church's annual fundraiser "Occasional Coffeehouse" at which I joined two guitarists, a percussionist, and a harmonica player to perform 20 minutes worth of music. It was great fun!!! We tore it UP!!!!!! Played and sang tunes such as "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay," "Hot Tamales," "Trip to Pakistan," "La La Blues," and "Key to the Highway." John, Steve, John, and Bill were a great group of guys with which to make music!

It's funny how performing 'freebies' is, seemingly more and more, a much better, more gratifying time than performing for money. Maybe it's the fact that the whole reason for the playing of the music is much more for the fun of it than for the money. It definitely evens out those times of feeling frustrated, fed up, and overwhelmed.

Finally, I've sat down and figured out a tune which fascinated me because of the key changes. The tune is "Pinch of Snuff" which is a popular Irish reel played at sessions in Ireland. I love stories behind tunes and this is one that has a good story behind it and is as follows:

Known as a northern Irish reel, and especially one from County Donegal where it is particularly popular. Caoimhin Mac Aoidh (1994) recounts the origins of the tune in the faerie folklore of Donegal (Seamus Ennis appears to have told the same story). It seems that the fairies were trying to abduct a bride at a wedding in the Teelin, southwest Donegal, area by trying to trick her into uttering the magic words which would bind her to them and seal her fate. As luck would have it, hiding in the rafters was a young man who had been her suitor, but whom had lost in the bid for her hand. He saw what was about to happen to his still-beloved (who was dancing below), and from his high hiding place he thought to shake down some snuff upon her. The bride breathed it in, sneezed, and was greeted with a polite chorus of “Dia agus Muire dhuit” (God and Mary bless you) from members of the wedding party. This was anathema to the fairies, who took flight. The tune the fiddlers were playing while the bride was dancing at the time of her rescue was dubbed “The Pinch of Snuff.” - From Andrew Kuntz's The Fiddler's Companion

The recorded source for the version of "The Pinch of Snuff" I've worked out is from a Irish banjoist on YouTube. He and his wife upload videos from time-to-time which are quite good, imho. They are dulahan-irl, a traditional irish music duo based in County Kildare, Ireland.

Hopefully, and in the near future, I'll be posting my rendering of this piece on fiddle (I'm thinking), but for now here's the YouTube video of "Pinch of Snuff" by the banjoist from dulahan-irl...