0

The secret life of yoga

Posted by Marlinee on Nov 14, 2017 in Middle Age

I first encountered yoga in the 1970s when a sun salutation was a mere shadow of its incarnation today (like for example, not involving anything other than bending from the waist and moving your arms). Fast forward a few decades and yoga is well entrenched as a ‘thing’. There are purveyors of yoga of every description on every corner and yoga pants (a genre of clothing that barely existed in the 20th century) are on every bum everywhere, whether or not the wearer has ever darkened the door of yoga class.

But just in case you are not a yoga regular, this is what goes on in the average yoga studio these days. First, everyone brings their phone. Never mind that the whole point is to be on an inward journey for an hour and half – their definition of being in touch with the universe means making sure they can deal with those important messages right up to the first ‘om’ and immediately after final relaxation.

Second, everyone has their preferred mat location. Or actually, there are a limited number of preferred mat locations, which boils down to by a wall so that nobody is behind you or only one person is beside you. This means it is necessary to rush to yoga class to get there at least 15 minutes early to snag a good spot. Or it used to be sufficient to arrive 15 minutes early. The mat turf battle has since escalated so that sauntering in a mere 20 minutes before class means you are relegated to the middle of the room. But at least that gives you more pre-class phone time.

Third, there is such a thing as competitive yoga. It is not enough to work within the confines of your own body, you need to strive for perfection of pose and to be better at downward dogging than your mat neighbour. Maybe it is just me, but competitive yoga seems like the penultimate oxymoron. And should you wish to participate in this anti-yoga yoga stuff you need to get yourself to an International Yoga Asana Competition. This is where you get to show off your yoga ‘prowess’ to the universe and the assembled masses that marvel at your flexibility, contortionism, and general athleticism.

If you want to compete in the IYAC, you have to perform six yoga poses within three minutes. I don’t know about you, but I go to yoga five days a week and could barely trot out six yoga poses without prompting. But also, these are not merely warrior posing, or dancer posing or even demonstrating a decent boat pose: these are what would be considered extreme yoga, like balancing on your head while crossing your legs in an impeccable Lotus pose, or doing a Crow while your cat is on your back (honestly, working on it). At least there is one thing I can be sure of. None of it matters in the least.

Tags:

 
0

Playing in the big league

Posted by Marlinee on Oct 27, 2017 in Travels

Apparently, these days you can make serious money doing almost anything – especially things that have nothing to do with solving world hunger, avoiding global nuclear war, or talking some sense into the US of A. Case in point: I have just discovered the world of Major League Fishing. MLF (as those in the know like to call it) is a real thing. A thing that you can perhaps win millions of dollars doing if you are a man, a fisherman, a fisherman in the U.S., and in particular, a bass fisherman.

Much like the major league baseball championship is called the ‘World’ series (and by the way, the story that it’s because a newspaper called ‘The World’ sponsored the playoffs back in the day is not true), there is in fact a World Championship for bass fishing, held of course in the centre of the world and universe otherwise known as the U.S.

I would not know this if I hadn’t happened to be in Natchez, Mississippi a week ago. Leaving aside the long story for being in the lower Mississippi river valley in October, I was staying in one of the fine accommodation options in Natchez, the Magnolia Bluffs Hotel and Casino. Luckily, the casino was not actually in the hotel but down by the river. But that is yet another story. Unluckily, this was the official hotel of the MLF elimination round competition for the prestigious 2018 Lucas Oil Challenge Cup (I swear I am not making this up!).

When you are a MLF guy, you have serious gear. It appears you haul your (immaculate and heavily logo encrusted) boat around from place to place via your (equally immaculate and also heavily logo encrusted) Ford F750 truck. Or probably, you have peeps that drive the boat to the next competition location and you show up at your leisure. While the ‘anglers’ (which is apparently what you call fancy fishermen) are catching their private planes to obscure places in Mississippi, their crew sets up a massive tailgate (or tailboat?) party in the back lot of the local hotel. I am pretty sure that in between Busch beers (official beer sponsor) they talked about the ones that got away. And probably about whose gear is bigger and better. The saving grace is that the bread winners had to be up by the crack of dawn to get to the start of the derby so the rowdiness was kept to a minimum.

One advantage I can see of MLF versus other ‘MLs’ (like for instance hockey, basketball or baseball) is that your ‘uniform’ pretty much consists of a baseball cap, jeans and a t-shirt (all appropriately MLF branded). No need for bespoke suits for travel days or major bling or (I imagine) trophy wives, but maybe their definition of trophy wife might be a little different. Like for example, that she can gut a fish with her eyes closed and is always happy when you bring home a new trophy (along with your mega dollars) from the MLF competition.

Tags: ,

 
0

Supper’s ready

Posted by Marlinee on Oct 6, 2017 in Middle Age

It all started with dropping the lid of the slow cooker on my foot. No wait a minute, it actually all started with the idea of baked beans. Seeing as how I would have my hands full getting Thanksgiving dinner under control, I decided it would be a good plan to get Friday dinner off the to-do list by delegating it to the slow cooker. I gave the beans a good soak overnight, then packed them away to bring to the cottage on Thursday. So far so good. When I arrived, I loaded them into the cooking device with the appropriate fixings and congratulated myself on a job well done: Friday dinner would be done, dusted and in the fridge before bedtime.

Except for some reason the slow cooker went berserk and started belching smoke just before the beans were done. At which point I snatched the lid off, which promptly slid off the counter and intercepted my ankle. Once the air stopped turning blue, I salvaged the beans, which didn’t look too worse for wear. I then used up all the ice cubes I had been hoarding for T-day cocktails to try to mitigate the elephantine proportions of my ankle.

On Friday morning I checked out the state of the beans: hard as rock, but if I do say so myself, in a rather tasty sauce. So much for an easy Friday dinner. But that was not my key concern at the moment. My key concern was to get the day’s pre-work done so that Saturday would not be an ultra-marathon of cooking. First up: pumpkin pie and apple pie. Being the super organized person that I am, I had roasted the pumpkin the week before and the processed innards were already waiting in the freezer. Come to think of it, I could have saved myself some ice cubes by just using the frozen pumpkin ziplock for first aid, but I digress.

Since both pies need prebaked crusts, in the interest of time I decided to do both at the same time. When the penny started to bid a fond farewell, I started keeping them to build up a pie weight collection. You will see where I am going with this in a moment. Anyhow, I prepped the pie shells with parchment paper and penny pie weights and popped them in the oven. Now normally, I put pie shells on a cookie sheet so they are easier to get in and (more importantly) out of the oven in one piece. In my own defense, my cookie sheets were otherwise occupied with my stuffing bread at that moment. Eleven minutes later my oven told me to take the naked pies out of the oven, at which point one of them collapsed and broke, spewing pennies all over the oven. Nothing more could take place from a pie perspective until the oven cooled enough to take all the racks out to retrieve the pennies…

Luckily, I had another pie shell and as it happens, my recipe for pumpkin pie advises that for optimal results it is best to put hot filling into a hot (prebaked) crust – a step I was planning on skipping in the interest of time. So in goes the third pie shell, now on a baking sheet (fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, double shame on me) while I tended to the filling. Since the clock was ticking louder and faster, I decided that it seemed silly to heat the cream and pumpkin before adding the eggs. Why not whisk the eggs into the cream and save a step? Why not indeed? Well, because It turns out that even over low heat, eggs cannot resist becoming scrambled. But I had no more pumpkin. So I strained out the lumps as best as I could and carried on. And made another dessert just in case.

Now it’s just a small matter of getting the turkey cooked without incident, but given my track record so far this weekend, I’m thinking the odds aren’t the greatest. At least I think I can manage to make more ice cubes without incident. Stay tuned.

Tags: ,

 
0

The story of civilization

Posted by Marlinee on Sep 17, 2017 in Middle Age

While browsing random content on the internet the other day (as one does) I happened across ‘The 7 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco’. This is a great example of prime clickbait headlining: you must use an odd number (but not too high an odd number or it will seem like too many things to bother with) and the topic must be something to do with something cautionary or something that most people have a morbid fascination with. Anyone who has been to Costco will know it fits the bill on both counts.

Anyhow, this ‘article’ (and I use the term very loosely) focused on the bulk items that do not save money in the long run because they will spoil before you get to the bottom of the ‘club sized’ vat. Most of them were pretty much what you would expect: large packages of delicate produce, industrial cans of ketchup (it comes in cans??), etc. So that’s not what struck me about this particular collection of interweb ‘information’. In order to bolster the gravitas of the edict not to buy olive oil at Costco, the article offered the factoid that the average American household goes through 1.5 bottles of olive oil per year. I am guessing this equates to about 1.1 litres, assuming a 750 ml bottle (but who knows how they package these things in the U.S.)

Many people would read this and then move right on to ‘11 Ways to Take Better Selfies’ without further ado. I am not one of those people. This random piece of data stopped me in my web surfing tracks. That’s because I go through at least a litre of olive oil per month and I don’t think that’s because I’m several standard deviations up from average. Based on the shelf space allocated to olive oil at the average grocery store (or even below average grocery store for that matter), I’m guessing most of us could get through a gargantuan can (or maybe it’s sold in six packs of bottles or some other conspicuous consumption variation) of Costco EVO without batting an eye.

You would also think that, given the proliferation of cooking shows and even entire cooking channels, olive oil would have earned a bit more stature in the average American kitchen. In which case you would be wrong. People who watch cooking shows don’t actually cook – they just like the idea of cooking and aspire to the notion of cooking if only it didn’t require buying and processing raw ingredients rather than buying something already prepared that kind of looks like you might have cooked it yourself.

In the most recent ranking of the best (and worst) countries in the world (from a living in perspective), Canada ranked number two behind Switzerland, the same position we occupied in 2016. The U.S. has fallen from number four to number seven. We all know what happened in the interim, but I think that’s just part of the problem: no country with such a paltry consumption of olive oil could possibly be considered completely civilized.

Tags:

 
0

September, we’ll remember

Posted by Marlinee on Sep 10, 2017 in Houses

We are barely into the double digits of September, but already Fall is encroaching on the final weeks of summer. I had to pick my meager crop of green tomatoes (that is, the crop was meager not the green tomatoes – in fact, precious few of my tomatoes made it to red in their natural habitat) to dodge the frost warning. The jury is still out on whether they will ripen prior to rotting.

Then there are the birds. A huge flock of black birds has been relaxing in the trees for the past few days, swooping randomly around the island making a sound like a helicopter taking off. I first thought they were solid black but they also have a band of bluish purple around their necks. Purple martins maybe but maybe too big. Anyhow, there were dozens of them but now they have moved on in a southerly direction. Another thing that’s moved south is the water temperature (on the thermometer, that is). Last week the lake was still on the good side of bearable and then bam: see you next Spring.

The cats are in full chow down for winter mode. I could feed them every five minutes and they would still be yelling for more. The cure for this is to feed them every five minutes.

However, the hijacking of September does not mean it is time to throw in the cottage towel just yet. That would just be rewarding the weather for its behaviour. But it is perhaps time to concede defeat to the things that could have, might have, possibly have gotten done this summer but never will.

For example, I did not sew my needlepoint into cushions. In my own defense, the needlepoint part has been completed for some time now, it was just waiting for a sewing machine to show up. The sewing machine did indeed show up in May. It is a marvel to behold: it does stitches I never knew existed, it threads the needle itself (if I could only figure out how), and it has a built-in button hole feature. It also has a manual as thick as a brick. But maybe I’ll rally forth and knuckle down in October. It could happen.

There is a set of Siamese twin Muskoka chairs (the kind joined in the middle by a shared table) languishing in a state of partial assembly. I was very gung ho at the beginning of this project (which, to be honest, began about six years ago). I painted each piece before starting to put them together, I got the chair parts almost finished before I realized I messed up and ended up with places screws needed to go but no predrilled holes. So this year I was going to drag them out of the overgrowth that has sprung up around them, power wash them, repaint them, drill holes where holes are required, and be done with it. Maybe there is still time before the snow flies…

Yet again, I did not make a quinoa salad and I even have quinoa in the cupboard (anyone know how many years you can keep quinoa?). I think I will draw a firm line in the sand on this one: quinoa you are dead to me. And September, you are on notice. Unless you pull your socks up you are dead to me too.

Tags: , ,

 
0

My friend Walter

Posted by Marlinee on Sep 3, 2017 in Middle Age

Okay, maybe Walter Becker wasn’t really my friend but I’m guessing you didn’t spend a week with him. Okay, maybe I didn’t really spend a week with him per se, but I did spend a week at the same place he was at, had dinner with him several times and hiked the same morning hike every day. He happened to be at my favourite Mexican spa along with his personal physician. He was just a regular guy. I’m guessing maybe the attraction of said spa was the focus on activity, mindfulness and organic vegetarian cuisine. And definitely no beach bar with Margaritas.

I have to admit I wasn’t really a fan of Steely Dan when they arrived on the scene in the early 1970s. I did not mind Can’t Buy a Thrill but not much of Becker/Fagan was in my regular rotation. Anyhow, to honour Walter’s untimely death today, I thought I would do a bit of research and provide you with some Steely Dan facts you may or may not know.

1. Prior to forming Steely Dan, Becker and Fagan were part of a cover band called the Leather Canary, which also included Chevy Chase. Needless to say, fame and fortune did not ensue at that point.

2. Barbra Streisand covered a Becker/Fagan original called “I Mean to Shine” on her 1971 Album Barbra Jean Streisand. Fame and fortune still did not ensue.

3. Although a key part of the song writing duo, Becker did not actually play on a Steely Dan album until Pretzel Logic. Also, although Fagan is lead vocal on many recorded tracks, he refused to sing live. Kind of like if Paul never played on a Beatles track and if John never sang in a concert. Although come to think of it, who would have known since no one could actually hear them over the screaming anyhow. I also learned that Fagan said in defense of the session musician modus operandi that the Beatles regularly used pitch hitters in their recordings (Billy Preston on the keyboard comes to mind, but also Eric Clapton standing in for George on many occasions). But I digress.

4. Michael McDonald and Jeff Baxter were both part of the Steely Dan crew until they left to form a little known band called the Doobie Brothers. Fame and fortune did ensue.

5. Anyhow, eventually Steely Dan caught on, selling 40 million albums worldwide and gaining a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

6. I guess it’s the jazzy nature of Steely Dan that was at odds with my musical taste at the time. But I have found Becker and Fagan to be kind of like olives: an acquired taste best left to grownups, or at least best left to those old enough to drink martinis. And that is exactly what I shall do at cocktail time tonight, while contemplating the wisdom of Bodhisavatta.

7. I still don’t know why Rikki shouldn’t lose that number and silly me, I never thought to ask Walter.

Tags:

 
0

Bookends

Posted by Marlinee on Aug 31, 2017 in Middle Age

When Pamela Paul was 14, she started keeping a journal of every book she read. While this is certainly what one would expect of someone who would later become the current editor of the New York Times Book Review, I couldn’t help but have a huge twinge of envy accompanied with stern admonishment to my teenage self for not having done the same because my book based on my journal would be on the bestseller list instead of hers (and likely be in the New York Times Book Review). At least I’m pretty sure that would have happened.

But maybe it’s not too late. I have had lots of time to read this summer. My ereader says I have finished 41 books since May and if you add the analog versions I have ploughed through it adds up to close to 50 so far. Now I know it’s a little late in the game to be recommending a summer reading list, but just to show Pamela I have potential, here is a baker’s dozen of books I have digested (some with gritted teeth, some with interest, some with abandon).

1. Toni Tennille (fittingly by Toni Tennille) Now I don’t usually read the celebrity biographies (auto or otherwise) but I did like Keith Richards’ book (while remaining rather dubious that he actually wrote it himself). I don’t know why I decided to read up on Toni, however it wasn’t half bad. I learned several new things about the Captain (I did not know he played keyboard with the Beach Boys) and Tennille (she wrote the hit songs, and was also a backup singer for Elton John, Pink Floyd – on the Wall, no less, and Art Garfunkel, and in her spare time took over from Julie Andrews in the travelling edition of Victor Victoria). Anyhow, light and lively reading with a good bit of dirt on how weird Daryl Dragon is.

2. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. This is of course about the genesis of the North American women’s movement in the early 1970s but also about the civil rights movement before that. Generally there was too much discussion about American politics for my liking, but I did learn that Gloria’s father was a travelling salesman. She is also 83. Yikes! But juicy details were otherwise AWOL.

3. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Elizabeth Strout is also the author of Olive Kitterage, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize and which you must read if you haven’t already. You should also read Lucy Barton. I think one of the things I liked most about it was that Lucy is a writer and writing teacher. One of her own writing teachers tells her “You will have only one story. You will write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story. You will have only one”. And this I believe to be true.

4. On Writing by Stephen King. I don’t remember whether I read this before or after Lucy Barton (sorry, Pamela) but this is a wonderful summation of the craft of writing (fiction or not) and offers very common sense advice. For example, King says “if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write”. Two major takeaways for me were that I’m not wasting my time reading, I’m really building a better foundation for digging into writing (and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and that I already know the things you need to know to be able to write so no excuse not to just get on with it.

5. Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. This is pretty much what you would expect: a history of the show and analysis of its impact on the pop culture of the day. You know, two standup comics have a conversation in a Korean deli and turn it into a pitch for a show, and yada, yada, yada, the rest is history. I liked it.

6. Delancey by Molly Wizenberg. If you follow food blogs, you will know Molly Wizenbert from Orangette. This book is a memoir about opening a pizza restaurant in Seattle with her husband, while knowing not much about pizza or running a restaurant. Synopsis: husband drops out of PhD program in astrophysics (or some other likely to be lucrative career – I forget which one – sorry Pamela) and decides to learn how to make pizza. For most of us this would end up in a few pizza meals for friends. But Molly and Brandon go big or go home, so a restaurant in some derelict part of Seattle seemed like a good idea. Mayhem ensues.

7. February by Lisa Moore. Now we are back in a literary groove. I did not read this when it won Canada Reads and did not know it was on the Booker Prize shortlist, my bad. It is set in the aftermath of the sinking of the Ocean Ranger but it isn’t really just about that. Suffice to say I need to read more Lisa Moore.

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I had never heard of Neil Gaiman before, although he is a very prolific and well-awarded author of both children’s and adult books of many different genres, including comics. I stumbled across American Gods in a bookstore display as a tie-in to a TV series on Starz. It is not even a new book – published in 2001. Anyhow, it is a little difficult to describe because it features mythical gods clashing with 20th century gods (e.g. technology), but I really liked it. Be warned though, it weighs in at about 500 pages so might suck up your entire vacation.

9. The Girl Before by JP Delaney. This is one of those books you see advertised on the subway. At least that’s where I saw it. I guess it was a good ad because I immediately put a hold on it at the library. Synopsis: creepy landlord, creepy electronic house, villain you think is the villain doesn’t turn out to be the villain, you figure out what’s happening before the big reveal. JP Delaney is a pseudonym. Beach bag potential, but pack another book just in case.

10. Love, Loss and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi. I picked this one up mostly to get some dirt on Salmon Rushdie (in case you missed the connection, Padma was his fourth wife) and Padma does deliver on that score. Apparently, Salmon is a grumpy narcissist. There – I have saved you some reading time.

11. Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong. Back to light and lively territory. Weird, secret community somewhere in the north. Weird people, who all have a secret past. I liked it and have since devoured the sequel. Hope the series gets much longer.

12. The Saucier’s Apprentice by Bob Spitz. Bob’s claim to fame is writing biographies of the Beatles and Bob Dylan (two different books, mind you). This one is about his midlife crisis spent trying to learn to cook via a variety of dubious cooking schools in Europe. What I learned is that perhaps there are only dubious cooking schools in Europe and also that Bob is a bit of a know-it-all. Took me a while to get the joke re the title. It does have a few recipes in it though.

13. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I gave this one a miss for a long time. Apparently, Joan Didion once said that to be a writer is to always be ratting someone out. There is some of that in this book but I agree with the reviewers that there isn’t enough. There also isn’t enough about books. But I did read it to the end.

Tags:

 
-

Bon voyage

Posted by Marlinee on Aug 24, 2017 in Travels

NASA recently announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has moved into interstellar space. This journey has taken forty years and that is merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to the time it would take to actually get somewhere tangible beyond our solar system. People that know these things say in about 300 years it will reach the Oort cloud (which is apparently an icy shelf just beyond the reach of our solar system, but of course since no one has actually been there, there is no proof of icy-ness or shelfage-ness that I can accurately report) and then spend a leisurely 40,000 years to only get within 1.6 light years of star Gliese 445, which is at present in the constellation Camelopardalis but has a nasty habit of moving around so may not even be in the neighbourhood once Voyager 1 finally gets within hailing distance.

But although its itinerary is interesting, Voyager’s travelogue is not our topic for today. Our subject of interest is the gold record it carries with messages for the Camelopardians. This record is state of the art for 1977, which was unfortunately before CDs, DVDs and USB drives existed.

Unfortunate because whoever intercepts it will think we are still stuck in the analog era (although at least it carries a message from President Carter not President Trump, who probably would not have provided a message because the Donald doesn’t believe in the universe or thinks he is the universe), and also unfortunate because of the storage limitations of the record which meant substantial triage was required to determine what to put on it. So they ended up with some photos and sounds of our environment (likely a bit of false advertising at this point), some greetings in 55 different languages (likely very confusing to any alien since according to Star Trek they all speak only one language per planet), and some music including Mozart and Chuck Berry (likely also very perplexing, especially the Chuck Berry part since there were all kinds of other options available in 1977 including a little band called the Beatles).

Anyhow, it would be an interesting exercise to decide what would go on the record substitute if Voyager was starting out today. Here is my vote:

1. Episodes from the Walking Dead. That would prevent any aliens with bad intentions from messing with us, because either way, the zombies or the zombie apocalypse would make them wait until we had annihilated ourselves completely before swooping in to take over the little blue planet.

2. On second thought, a message from Donald Trump would be a good idea if we wanted to keep random outer space creatures away.

3. And if we are being more positive, I think we should load that sucker up with Van Morrison, Coldplay, Blue Rodeo, Ella Fitzgerald, K.D. Lang, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and Elvis Costello. Just sayin’

Tags: ,

 
0

Yellow Bird

Posted by Marlinee on Aug 21, 2017 in Middle Age

I was walking home the other day and saw a yellow bird. But of course there is much more to this story. I was walking home on Oriole Parkway, a Toronto street in an otherwise leafy and urban area with a volume of traffic and illicit speed that makes it more like a major roadway, although it is lined with multi-million dollar houses (but come to think of it, every street in Toronto is lined with multi-million dollar houses, but I digress).

Anyhow, as I passed one of the driveways I noticed a whole bunch of those little brown birds that are kind of like a smaller, cuter pigeons because they spend all their time scavenging on random pieces of pavement. Except one of the small brown birds was yellow. Really yellow. Like canary yellow. Like maybe even a real canary. I don’t know if this was a case of a swan mistaking a flock of ugly ducklings for his peeps, but I do know that this yellow bird was not where it should be. However, I figured there was no practical way to rescue it and by the time anyone saw a posting on Craigslist it would be long gone. So the mystery remains.

But that is one good thing about taking the time to observe the world around you when you are walking – you never know what you will see. Yesterday I think I thwarted some spy’s secret mission by picking up a USB drive that was lying under a bush near a park bench very close to a midtown subway station. It makes perfect sense that this would be an ideal ‘exchange’ point: lots of people going to and fro. I haven’t looked at what’s on the drive yet, so I don’t know whether or not I need to go into hiding. Stay tuned (although come to think of it, if I decide I need to go into hiding perhaps it would be a good idea not to broadcast it to the internet).

While out for a walk one day last spring, I found a huge floral arrangement on the curb. Obviously, somebody had received it for some occasion but who knows what? Birth? Birthday? Wedding? Death? Retirement? Hard to tell from the flowers themselves, although the preponderance of lilies might indicate more of an end of life thing than a beginning of life thing. Anyhow, there are several strange things about this. Usually any situation that calls for flowers results in more than one arrangement, yet only one was kicked to the curb. Plus, the flowers were all in perfect condition. I carted it home and cobbled three vases full of floral profusion that lasted nearly two weeks. And made my house smell like a funeral parlor.

There are many other mysteries you can encounter simply by walking around. What’s with those single shoes? A single glove I understand, but how do you misplace a shoe? And why would you be carrying a small fold up ironing board on the train? Anyhow, now I feel guilty about that bird…

Tags: ,

 
0

I hear music

Posted by Marlinee on Aug 13, 2017 in Middle Age

You know you are getting old when you start hearing some of the music of your youth that was considered edgy at the time wafting gently out of the speakers while you are at the grocery store. I swear I heard ‘White Rabbit’, ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, and ‘Dead Babies’ all in the course of a single shopping trip.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but elevators don’t actually have elevator music anymore. What you have now is the disembodied voice that tells you which direction you are going and what floor you have arrived at, and a video screen that makes it legitimate for everyone to look blankly at a spot on the wall and pretend to be very interested in the weather and traffic (even though they have already arrived at work and therefore neither subject is particularly relevant). But I digress. Today we are going to delve into the phenomenon of Muzak.

Apparently, the concept of piped in music was first invented in 1910 but it didn’t really start to catch on until a company called Muzak was acquired by Warner Brothers in 1937. Here are some fun facts about ‘elevator’ music.

1. The initial commercial use for Muzak was as a productivity aid, piped into offices and factories. The ‘music’ was programmed in 15 minute intervals that gradually increased in pace and volume. I’m guessing ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ was one of the more popular tunes. Not surprisingly, once workers caught on to this productivity initiative it started to have the opposite effect.

2. Remember the soothing music piped into the space station in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’? Well that was actually a real thing. In the 1960s, NASA used Muzak on space missions – although I think they probably kept to the soothing kind as opposed to the manic kind. Here is another U.S. government Muzak factoid: Dwight Eisenhower was the first president to pipe it into the West Wing. I’m guessing if it is still piped in today, it’s the manic kind, not the soothing kind. Just sayin’.

3. There is a difference between background elevator music and foreground elevator music. The background kind is the classic Muzak – instrumental only and mostly indistinguishable as specific tunes. The foreground kind has lyrics and is recognizable as a particular song. On a related note, one of the most outspoken non-fans of Muzak is Ted Nugent, so I guess we won’t hear either the background or foreground version of ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ in the mall any time soon. Nugent even tried to buy the company to put us all out of our misery, but alas his bid was refused.

4. However, maybe Ted was on to something when he said “Muzak’s been responsible for ruining some of the best minds of our generation”. Muzak was eventually acquired by a company called Mood Media. If that doesn’t sound subversive, I don’t know what does.

5. Perhaps the one consolation is that you can be pretty much guaranteed that rap will never be converted to Muzak because of course the main prerequisite is the music part.

Tags: ,

Copyright © 2010-2017 marlinee.com All rights reserved.
Desk Mess Mirrored v1.6 theme from BuyNowShop.com.