Tag Archives: Music

So, What Do You Want From CRGardenJoe?

I have not posted a “Tune for Tuesday” for several weeks, and the outrage from the blogosphere has been totally not deafening.

It appears that my blog fans do not need me to find and post random songs for them weekly. They don’t use CRGardenJoe as their radio, which seems OK, to me.

I don’t promise I won’t sometimes do a future tune, now and then, should one strike my fancy and mean something to me. In fact, I posted a Led Zepplin song on my bike blog today, because it reflected my reaction to biking in somewhat chilly weather.

But the Tune for Tuesday is officially retired from CRGardenJoe.

Which brings me to another question: What would you like to see more of in this blog? What are your favorite topics? Do you want more “garden?” Childhood memories? Witty political commentary? My reflections on media today as a journalism professor?

Please comment and let me know. Of course, I don’t promise anything. A writer usually writes first for an audience of one. Then again, if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t ask, so please dare to share right there:



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Tune for a Wet Election Tuesday: The World Isn’t Ending


Late afternoon sun over Cedar Rapids, seen from Mount Mercy University, Nov. 5. The day and the election cycle are coming to a close.

It’s all over but the counting. I’ll miss this election cycle, believe it or not. No—not the incredibly negative ads—but the sense that things are still up in the air and people are engaged in their government. Still, I think it was a scary election cycle partly due to the collapse of traditional media and the resulting information vacuum being filled with shouting.

This campaign has become so bitter, the battle so pitched, that close to half of the electorate is in for a big disappointment. There are all kinds of scenarios about how this election might play out—from a Romney popular vote victory with an Obama electoral win to a rather one-sided victory for one side or the other.

What’s really going on? Despite the odds I’ve seen, I’m not 80 percent sure that Obama will win. I think this election is almost impossible to predict. Whatever else happens, I do hope we have fairly clear-cut results at some reasonable hour today.

Well, life goes on. Audrey turns over another year today: Happy birthday, sweetie. You get to pick the network to watch election returns on tonight, but please, no Fox.

And the sun will come out tomorrow. Let’s recall the joint compact that has kept this Republic going. We can, and should, fight like cats and dogs for each election victory or defeat. And in between, we need to find ways to be governed and to govern. Whoever is elected faces some pretty steep problems in a dangerous world.

May wisdom guide the winner, whoever he is. May supporters of the winner not crow or brag too much—there is work to do. And may the losers not vow to obstruct and prevent—but rather to face the future and work together with the victors to find solutions.

That’s pretty naive, I know. But I can’t help it. The sun will come out tomorrow.

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MMU Concert Goes Better Than I Expected

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“De Colores” was written by a Spanish sadist.

That’s clearly the only explanation for a song so packed full of 8th notes in 3-4 time. And after about 8 measures playing on the “and” of every beat, other patterns suddenly intrude, and then I get to play with mallets.  Joy.

Well, despite several awful practice sessions, in the end it was not so bad. The 2012 homecoming concert, featuring the hand bells, the group I’m in, and the choir and band was not so bad. Pretty cool.


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The bells, the bells, the bells …

Bell Poster

The poster I created to promote our Mass on Sunday. Note that the bells shown are G and A. Guess what I play?

Do you like the poster design? I’m kinda proud of it, I did it in a few minutes this week to publicize the Mount Mercy Bell Choir participating in Sunday Mass on Jan. 24. I am not familiar with this particular Bob Dylan song I am quoting, but yes, it is “that” Bob Dylan, the one who should never sing Christmas songs.

Y’all are invited.

After the fact Fr. Nick e-mailed me to let me know that “performance” is not a good verb since music is part of the liturgy and not really entertainment. Point taken, although the posters have already been printed, and he’s a cool guy, was just glad someone did something to try to get people to Mass.

Anyway, I’ve been in the MMC chimes choir since January of last year, and this January we put down our chimes and picked up bells.

It’s been an interesting learning experience. Music is pretty darn complex. It’s taken me a year to memorize that G is my left hand and A is my right hand, and G and A in the bass clef are the only two notes I know (I guess 3, if you count my sharp and flat). I’ve been marking our songs, writing an A or G under each of my notes, and Carolyn, our director, wanted me to try to sight read this January.

It was a disaster. The notes are just too darn fast and small for my middle-aged eyes and brain. Yes, I can “read” notes, as long as it’s only the A and G on the bass clef, but I can’t read as fast as the choir plays. If I have not marked my notes in advance, I quickly get lost (and I’m too prone to getting lost anyway).

Not me.  If I wear a watch (rarely do) it's on my right hand because I'm a southpaw.  And I have an old brown Yamaha, not whatever fancy pants black piano is shown.  This was just an imaged labeled for free use ...

Not me. If I wear a watch (rarely do) it's on my right hand because I'm a southpaw. And I have an old brown Yamaha, not whatever fancy pants black piano is shown. This was just an imaged labeled for free use ...

Anyway, since I inherited my mother’s old out-of-tune piano, I’ve started working on a “How to Play Piano” text book, mostly to learn more notes and how to read them. I’m only on lesson one right how, but promise I will practice more tomorrow night (not tonight, because tonight it’s bowling on an MMC team and then Project Runway—Thursday is our one night of TV and includes The Office, 30 Rock and PR. By the way, I think 30 Rock may be one of the best under-watched shows on TV.)

There are other bell issues I face. My G bell has a “wandering” clapper. The clapper has different settings, a soft setting and two loud settings that you adjust by “clicking” a dial from one setting to another. But my bell clapper, while I’m playing, mind you, will “unclick” and end up between settings, which leads to a horrible “claaaaaang” instead of a nice clear G.

Carolyn, and her husband Bob, both experienced bellers, have tried to figure it out and have contacted the bell maker. Apparently, I’ve caused a new unheard of problem—“Sheller Syndrome?”—that involves a mysteriously mischievous clapper.

Lucky me.

So, how have I enjoyed the year struggling to keep up and trying (but failing) to read music?

Quite a lot, actually. I really like learning weird new things, and this is just a fun group to be part of.

So, even if I have to wait for a pause to correct my G clapper, and even if reading the music is still a bit of a mystery to me, I say if you have the chance to join a bell choir, go for it.

Ring them bells.


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