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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Paul Tevis

Entries in music (9)


Don't Call It a Comeback, I've Been Here for Years

Remember how my friends Diana and Adam got a married a few weeks ago? They had karaoke at their reception (making it the second wedding I’ve been to that has), which made me ask them, “How come we’ve never done karaoke together?” The response was “We didn’t know you did it.” And at least for the last little while that’s been true.

I’ve always been a singer. I did a ton of school choir growing up, I was in a guys’ quartet in high school, and I sang in an a cappella group in college. But my first real experience with karaoke was almost five years, when I started doing improv. There were several people in the group who had connections to the Ventura karaoke scene, so it was common for us to head over after Monday workshops to a nearby bar that had karaoke. I had a lot of fun with it, but as the group’s membership changed, we lost some of that connection, and I moved up to Thursday workshops, I stopped doing it entirely.

Until this week, of course. Last Thursday while I was out for drinks with the SBTweetup group, Adam texted me about doing karaoke this week. I said yes, and my friend Erica — who happened to be with me when I got the text — decided to come along. This Tuesday I made my triumphant return with Lynryd Skynyrd’s “Call Me The Breeze”, The Talking Heads’ “And She Was”, and Bobby Darin’s, “Mack The Knife.”

I’m already thinking about what to do next week.


Fitness: Ran 2 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 330 words, 271 seven-day average, 285 average, 54239 total, 761 to go for the week

Classical, Bluegrass, and Hymns

As I was driving to work the other morning, I realized I’d forgotten to update my iPhone with podcasts, so I turned on the radio. I decided I didn’t want talking heads, so after flipping through several stations that were on “morning commute” breaks from music, I ended up on KDB, a local classical station, and caught the beginning of Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme by Haydn.” I thought to myself, “That sounds familiar.”

When I started singing along, I realized why. The “theme by Haydn” is the Saint Anthony Chorale, which is the tune for Hymn #67 in the United Methodist Hymnal, “We, Thy People, Praise Thee.”

This is not the first time something like this has happened; there are fair number of hymns that I grew up with that are based on Baroque (usually Bach) or Classical tunes. I hadn’t realized that until I started digging into music history in the last several years. Learning more about musicology has not only given me a sense for what happened when, it’s made me realize how deeply ingrained certain harmony structures are in my musical sense. I think one of the reasons I’m enjoying getting into bluegrass right now is because it draws on some of those same sensibilities. Certain kinds of music just resonate with me, and I’m slowly getting a better and better understanding of why.


Fitness: Ran 6 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 338 words, 366 seven-day average, 279 average, 47757 total, 243 to go for the week; 11-day streak

Moving to the Music

I said I wasn’t going to write about writing for a while, so I guess I’ll write about fitness instead.

There are certain things that I like a lot of structure around; exercising is one of them. I mentioned yesterday that I have a deck of Strength and Toning cards. Gwen gave these to me for Christmas a few years ago, and I’ve gotten good use out of them. Each card has single exercise or stretch on it. The front side has illustration of a person performing the exercise, and the back has instructions. The design works really well. The first time or two I tried a new exercise, I looked at the back to figure out how to do it. After that, I just looked at the front to spur my memory. The illustration was the key part, as just reading the name wouldn’t have worked as well.

The idea with these cards is that you assemble them into a set of exercises and stretches for a workout. The included booklet has a few different suggested sets, depending on how long you have or what you want to focus on. I’ve built a few of my own, and I’m happy with my current one, in no small part because of the soundtrack.

I really enjoying working out to music. It helps put me in the right frame of mind for whatever it is I’m doing. Last summer I was putting together playlist for the 5K races I was doing, based in part on where on the course I expected to be at a given time. My running workouts aren’t nearly so structured; I have a large playlist of songs with the right rhythmic structures that put on shuffle.1

For my card-based workouts, I have synchronization points, where each song on the playlist should start and stop. This ensures that I don’t go to slowly or quickly through the set, and it lends and overall structure to the workout. What’s it like? Have a look (and listen):

Don’t Stop the Pop
by DJ Earworm [5:10]

  • Calf raises (x12 each side, 10 lbs.)
  • Toe raises (x12 each side)
  • Standing calf stretch (10-15 sec each side)
  • Standing quad stretch (10-15 sec each side)
  • Lunges (x12 each side, 10 lbs. x2)

Just Stop Believing (Lady Gaga vs. Journey) by DJ Tripp[4:37]

  • Seated leg extensions (x12 each side, 10 lbs.)
  • Foot presses (10-15 sec each side, 5 sets)
  • Push-ups (x12)

Black Sabotage (Led Zeppelin vs. The Beastie Boys) by DJ Moule [2:32]

  • Chest flies (x12, 10 lbs. x2)
  • Bicep curls (x12 each side, 10 lbs.)
  • Upright rows (x12, 10 lbs. x2)

The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground2 [6:31]

  • Lateral raises (x12, 10 lbs. x2)
  • Outer-thigh Leg Lifts (x12 each side)
  • Inner-thigh Leg Lifts (x12 each side)
  • Leg-press bridges (x12)
  • Foot turns (10-15 sec each way, 3 sets)
  • Crunches (x24)
  • Oblique crunches (x12 each side)

Dynamite Pressure (Taio Cruz vs. Queen and David Bowie) by DJ Tripp [4:11]

  • Heel dips (x12 each side, alternating)
  • Plank (60 sec)
  • Back extensions (x12)
  • Lying hamstring stretch (15-20 sec each side)
  • Lying inner-thigh stretch (15-20 sec each side)

Fireflies by Owl City [3:48]

  • Lying outer-thigh stretch (15-20 sec each side)
  • Full-length torso stretch (15-20 sec each side + both)
  • Deep buttocks stretch (15-20 sec each side)
  • Lying knee-hug stretch (15-20 sec each side)

All together that gives me about half an hour of a good mix of upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises. Plus it’s got a good beat.




Fitness: Ran 2.25 miles
Writing: 264 words

1 The rhythm is important. Think about trying to run to Take Five.

2 By rule, this must be included in every workout playlist I make.


Leave Me Alone

I’m sitting in a coffee shop, headphones in, listening to the greatest song the world.

That song is, of course, Splendid Isolation by Warren Zevon.

I shouldn’t like the song as a much as I do. I’m an extrovert! I like people. I power up by interacting with people. So why does a song about telling the world to bugger off speak to me so?

“I want to live all alone in the desert / I want to be like Georgia O’Keefe / I want to live on the Upper East Side / and never go down in the street.”

Probably because I do dream, at times, of running away to live alone in the desert. It would be so nice to be able to concentrate, to create something, to make art, without people bothering me. Even extroverts need to be alone sometimes.

“Splendid isolation / I don’t need no one / splendid isolation…”

It’s so conflicted, too. I mean, you can hear how much he knows what’s saying isn’t true, even at the same time that it is true. Life has no simple answers. Warren knew that. And as much as I love his other work, he doesn’t sing anything else with as much raw honesty as this.

“Michael Jackson in Disneyland / Don’t have to share it with nobody else / Lock the gates Goofy, take my hand / And lead me through the world of self.”

What the heck does that even mean?!? Metaphorically, of course. I don’t know. But I love the image of Michael Jackson in his Bad costume walking hand in hand with a Disney cast member in a Goofy suit as the gates of Disneyland swing close.

“Don’t want to wake up with no one beside me / Don’t want to take up with nobody new / Don’t want nobody coming ‘round without calling first / Don’t want nothing to do with you.”

And how is a song that’s just four repeated chords so musically interesting? Ok, there’s a bridge, but other than that it’s dead simple. I’ve listened to this song on repeat eight times in a row now, and I’m not even close to sick of it. Genius? Yes! And how can you not love a song with a harmonica solo? Who cares about more cowbell? I’ve got a fever, and the only cure is more harmonica!

“I’m putting tinfoil up on the windows / Lying down in the dark to dream / I don’t want to see their faces / I don’t to hear them scream.”

By the time I get to this point in the song, I don’t care if there’s a zombie apocalypse outside. Just leave me alone with my dreams.


This post is part the Fourth Friday Challenge my friend Becky and I are doing together. Becky’s challenge to me:

“Paulie, I want you to wax rhapsodic. To gush. To write with your emotion first and with your brain not at all. Think of something that you like then stop thinking and start writing and be frivolous in your writing style. I require at least three exclamation points. Silliness in an entirely uncalculated form, but totally sincere.”

Read Becky’s response to my challenge.

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