I Love To Say Da-Da… (Learning to Play the Tune That’s Stuck in My Head on Ukulele)

11 Jan

DaDUM da dum dum daDUM da dum dum…

This strumming pattern has bored itself into my brain, showing no desire to leave any time soon. When I first bought my ukulele a couple months ago, I compiled a folder of songs that I wanted to learn to play, the first being “The Boy with the Arab Strap” by Belle and Sebastian. I’ve got that one pretty much down by now (my roommate can best testify the number of times I stayed in my room for hours on end playing the opening chords over and over, mastering my chucking), and I’ve moved my sights on to “Postcards From Italy” by Beirut. This song houses the beats transcribed above, beats that have been stuck in my head for longer than I’d care to pinpoint- just listen to the first five seconds of the song and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

To successfully play the first note, one must execute a move called a hammer, where, in this case, one fingers an F but leaves their second finger up, strums down, and while the strings are still vibrating, presses down their second finger to complete the F note.

…And if that was confusing to read, try actually executing it and making the product sound pretty! A feat up there with trying to lick one’s own elbow or turning water to wine, surely.

Anyway, I found myself with a blessed free night tonight, and my mission was to master this blasted introduction. After several versions of a hammer, I finally stumbled across a fingering and strum that sounded quite like what I was going for. Fancy that! Progress continued after that, and I can now proudly say that I can play the entire first section. Once I got it down, I wanted to play over and over to engrave it into my mind and muscle memory, but sadly my pointer finger had other plans. Not sufficiently calloused yet, after my jam sesh it had what seemed to be a permanent dent in it so that I could no longer play my beloved F’s. Bah humbug, I’ll sleep now and take on part two at the crack of noon tomorrow.

…If I can get to sleep, that is! That darn intro is still going at it in my head, I think the repeat key must be jammed. Anyone got a wrench?


Whistle In… (The New Year!)

1 Jan

My review of the new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would be the same as my reviews of ABBA cover bands and meatballs: the Swedish version was better (thanks IKEA for culturally enlightening me on the latter).

…I’ve got pomegranate fingers and sleepy brain, but I’m going to start this year off right, bloggin’ my little heart out like a good little engine should! Toot toot huzzah!

Last post of 2012!

31 Dec


Christmas Day…

25 Dec

I’ve talked about cover songs before, and their fickle, fickle nature.


24 Dec

(working title: pre-birthday!)

23 Dec

So… this is it. It’s been a good run (7 years, in fact), but my teenage years are 20 minutes from being behind me.

Amy Tan

22 Oct

There is an annual author lecture at my school where big names are drawn to our big farm country, tempted by the big honor of being chosen. I think that down here silver and golden anniversaries take a back burner to 30th anniversaries because this year, the 30th, AMY TAN GRACED US WITH HER PRESENCE. Amy Tan! Amy Tan, the author whom I researched for one of my final projects sophomore year in high school! Amy Tan, the rhythm dominatrix in the author rock group The Rock Bottom Remainders! Amy Tan, my girl!

To make the most of her being on campus, two lectures were scheduled for this Thursday, October 22- the main event in the evening which would be structured more formally in one of our auditoriums, and a more intimate talk preceding in the Philadelphia Writer’s House, right across the street. Being the fangirl I am, I ran (literally) from my Chinese Ink Painting class (a very appropriate themed class for the day) to the Writer’s House and was pleasantly surprised to see how full the main room was. From the events I’ve attended on campus thus far, it seems like there are a fair amount of members of the community who like to be present, which I like. Actually, come to think of it, at the evening lecture there were mostly adults, with actual college students being the vast minority… But I digress! Writer’s House, right. I snuck into a seat towards the middle (as opposed to front and center, where I’d normally scoot to hehe) because… wait for it… I was in charge of covering the photography of Tan’s lectures for the school newspaper! :D At my vantage point, I was close enough to be able to see Tan’s tiny dog in her lap but far enough away so that my snapping away wasn’t too awkward. This talk was advertised as a “craft talk”, and Tan talked about inspirations for her books (mostly her Chinese heritage, her mother, and stories about grandmother), her family, how she got started writing (she took a workshop, wrote a short story, it fell into the right editor’s hands, and the rest is history!), and her original goals for writing (to be published in a magazine by the time she was ninety years old- I think she’s done alright!). She was charming, told lots of stories which felt like secrets because of the close quarters, and was everything I hoped she’d be.

Fast forward a couple hours to the big lecture, an actual ticketed event! The tickets were free (you can’t put a price on Amy Tan!), students just had to pick them up at the auditorium’s box office in advance. I got three, figuring I could rope a couple friends into joining me (or, dare I say, find a couple people who liked / had heard of one of my favorite authors!) but I was shocked, literally shocked when I couldn’t even threaten (joking, kind of…) any of my friends into joining me!