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Monday, October 27, 2003

Chili gives you wings.

We went to a neighborhood chili party last night. Damned good food. And, by George, we actually know our neighbors enough to go to their chili party, which is a rarity in today's suburban America. Might help that we share one inch thick walls with them, I guess.

The brother-in-law of one of our neighbors is a professional jazz guitarist, based in Minneapolis... in his words, he spent most of his life working for IBM, and now he does music, usually playing in the various musicals that tour on their way in to Broadway. He had brought along a beautiful Ibanez jazz guitar, and our neighbor invited me to bring my axe over so we could play together (which I guess means she doesn't mind my late-night practicing sessions). He had chops, to say the least. We jammed a bit, starting out with a little twelve-bar-blues and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." He was kind enough to let me take the lead (in the sense of calling the tunes, not lead guitar--I'm strictly rhythm, or at least I should be) at first, then I came to my senses, and said to myself, "Squelch, you idiot, you should be learning from someone this good!"

So he taught me the progression to "Tequila" and a whole new kind of twelve bar blues from G, with ninth chords and thirteenth chords and... I realized just how much of a world of guitar-playing there is that I don't have a clue about; that's even without playing solos. (He could play solos. Damn, but he could play solos!)

It was an interesting way to jam with someone, no doubt, while people were munching on hot dogs, corn bread, and chili, crammed into a tiny living room because it was raining outside, and my son trying continuously to grab my pick away or play along.

I'm very much self-taught, musically; there's a certain honor about that, especially if you're a rock-and-roller, but I often, in jam sessions, am acutely aware of how limited my vocabulary can be. Not to say that I can only play I-IV-V--though there's a lot of songs you can sing on I-IV-V--but I certainly don't know jazz chords at all.

After the party was over I exercised the Stay at Home Dad's prerogative and took a night off to see a movie. There's an art house within walking distance from my home and they were showing Winged Migration, which, if you have any interest in avian biology, animation, culture, whatever, you must see. I don't know how they did it, but Canada geese and other species were filmed so close you could see the muscles on their backs working as they flapped their wings. Absolutely incredible, and with some beautiful touches of humor... I'll never forget the ballet music that played as a bird landed, stuck its tail feathers in the air, and strutted in perfect unison with its mate.

Migrating thousands of miles isn't all ballet, of course. A scene where a penguin cub is killed by some sort of gull (as its parents look on, helpless) is heartbreaking. They also had some pre-9/11 shots of New York City, too, which were heartbreaking for entirely different reasons.

All in all, it was insert pithy rejoinder here before publishing

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