Farewell to a mentor.

15 08 2012

I learned today that Mr. Frank Farina passed away early this morning.

Mr. Farina was the band and musical director at my high school, North Allegheny.

You can say what you want about NA. I know I’ve heard awful things, had people walk away from me because I went there. But here I am, college degree and back in school for another degree. Whatever. It’s just a darn school.

Back to Frank Farina.

When I first joined the marching band, whoo boy, was he scary. He stood on the auditorium stage and yelled. Are you a load (someone late to call time.)? I seriously hoped I wasn’t… He put you to place. He was demanding, but understanding. That man had a great heart. And I learned so much from him.

To stand in line.

To march.

To FEEL the music.

To DANCE, kind of like the Ohio University band did…

(I swear on my life, the day that the OU band came through my quad at OU, I cried, remembering what we did at NA) Especially because I didn’t have the time to devote to that amazing band. I wish I had, but I didn’t.

To LOVE the music.

To be the person you were meant to be.

To succeed in music. And life.

To be in multiple honor bands.

To try to quit. Have your parents tell you NO. And on top of that, to have Frank Farina, tell you no, you cannot quit marching band.

To give you another instrument. One you’d amazingly succeed with. A baritone horn.The euphonium.  One that Mr. Farina would challenge you to try out for an honor band. And you make it. And you have a solo. An epic solo, in your mind…

I still can’t decide if I love the sound of the clarinet or the euphonium more… We’re tied…

The one you actually tried to play in the symphony band at OU, because you loved the trust that man gave you, but couldn’t find the hours or place for practice…

I will always regret that last part. That I could not find the time or place….

I still remember practicing my clarinet when my parents would have liked to run for the hills over the noise.

I remember so many band camps. Yes, I know, it happened at band camp… But for most of us, those who I know? it didn’t. It was fun. It was hard.

I’d like to think I never let you down. I love music of all kinds. Really. And I love to dance, when I can…. It will never end. I’m now dancing in my seat to things my lovely niece loves… It will never end…

I will miss you so much, Mr. Farina. I can’t even put it into words. But my tears will make you understand. I play music in my mind, for you. As I have for years.

Thank you, Mr. Farina, for giving my music a voice and a path to follow.

I will come pay my respects to you on Sunday. It’s probably going to be a very hard thing for me… Alone. Thank god I’m a strong woman.
You leaving this earth is going to take multiple trips to the symphony or NA band stuff for me to be ok…

Super Bowl

7 02 2010

Ok, so this is where I’m going to tell you something that will be bad. Prepare yo’ selves.

I don’t think I’ve watched an entire Super Bowl in a kagillion years. Every Steelers Super Bowl appearance as of late, I worked at My Living Room and left early so I could make it to work the next day.

I don’t remember the commercials from any year what-so-ever.

This year is different. I don’t have cable, so I am watching the game. And the ads.

And I don’t think it’s ever happened before, but my favorite song EVER made it into a Super Bowl ad… Boys & Girls, I give you Ravel’s Bolero and Coca-Cola. Two of my most fave things ever:

I swear God opened heaven and the sun shined (shone? I dunno) down on me while I watched that ad…

And then I returned to Twitter. And to two new Tweeps telling me about this:

I know I’m snowed in, and nearly killed someone with my shoulder earlier today, but that’s just in the past few days, so how in the name of all-things-under-the-sun, and my super love of Bolero did I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?! Blast!? Doing Bolero? My inner band-geek self’s dream? Who do I blame about this? Taking suggestions now on who to blame, BTW.

and these? My inner band dork is going to hurt someone….

Also, I’d like to point out that while @Chachisays was NOT behind this ad, I might have been the first to question his involvement. Everyone I know on Twitter suspects his anti-pants obsession is behind it.

As of this post, there have been no fewer than FOUR, yes 4, anti-pants ads on TV. I swear that the ad peeps are secretly watching @Chachisays and his tweets.

Old school.

10 11 2009

(This should have posted for 11/8. Apparently I didn’t correctly set the auto-publish since I wrote it the night before. Oops.)

So, I think we’ll all agree that I’m old, and that I might actually go a little more “old school” than the rest of you in terms of music. Before a game, I might listen to my guys from Shiver, but I also might pull some Ravel Bolero, or Eduoard Lalo. Or country. Or crazy Static X, Metallica, 80’s, dance, whatever…

I’m okay with it. Music IS My Muse. I wasn’t kidding when I started those posts. (They’ll return this month, starting with this one.)

I was given a copy of the new Michael Buble CD – Crazy Love.

And it’s what I listened to before the games on Saturday.

I give you Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” from his new CD “Crazy Love”

Hi, I’m a band dork that is a hard core rugby player. Do you have a problem with that?

Music is My Guest’s Muse

12 10 2009

Today’s guest is my good friend, the PghRugbyRef. This guy and I, we go way back. Well, like 7-8 years or so… I first met him when I joined the club and helped out at Coopers Lake. Shortly after that he became a dad. Some background story:

One day, in My Living Room, I offered to hold his son, The Nugget, in his carrier so that PghRugbyRef could eat and socialize.

It was terrifying. I think The Nugget was maybe 6 months old. First baby I’d held in years. But me & The Nugget? We became super friends. For the next year or so, I tried to help PghRugbyRef out when he had to ref, and I showed up to random matches to entertain The Nugget.

I somehow came to own this huge yellow inflated ball that had a big smiley face on two sides of it. It was the perfect small kid toy. The Nugget and I have spent countless hours at Boyce Park kicking, pushing and throwing that ball around.

I hadn’t seen My Nugget in a while until a year or two ago, and when PghRugbyRef pointed me out? I was immediately taken my the hand and asked to play trains. *love* *melt*

Since then, PghRugbyRef has become a father a second time, to the adorable Q. He’s a charmer, that one. I showed up recently to a rugby match with Chick-Fil-A leftovers… Q immediately spotted it, and PghRugbyRef told him to ask if he could have something. I offered him all of my fries. He was very thankful, and only took one waffle fry each time (granted once or twice they were way too big for his little mouth!)

Q and I aren’t as good of buddies as The Nugget and I are, but I haven’t been around, and I hope to fix that. Because these boys are sweethearts. Good mannered, adorable, kind. PghRugbyRef has done a great job raising these little men!!



I know you gave me a deadline of last Monday morning and I apologize for not meeting it.

Things as a single father can be hectic, I’m never caught up. I think I need to take a vacation day to get my house in order (but if I do, I probably just sit on the couch and play video games; I’d better take a vacation week).

When you first asked me to write something for you, I had planned on “A Week in the Life” story. I even started it on Saturday. It is in no way ready for publication.

I tried to appease you with Q’s “Spoonful of Mustard” but I understand the limitations. Don’t worry about uploading the movies, I will. This whole thing has made me create two new email addresses* to go along with the five I already have.

Ed Note: I wanted to post the “Spoonful of Mustard,” believe me. But I can’t figure out how to on WordPress w/o using YouTube! It’s seriously adorable!!

*I don’t have a YouTube account, so I made a new hotmail account for that purpose. When I tried to make the YouTube account, I saw it was tied in with Google, so I whipped up a new Gmail email address instead. I hope I can remember all these passwords (and no, they’re not all the same).

I got your reminder text tonight on the way home from The Nugget’s soccer practice; in fact, we were in the drive thru line. The rest of the way home I was thinking of what I could do on short notice (not your fault, mine entirely; I had plenty of time to create the post for you, but I’m a procrastinator).

I give to you Music is My Muse.

We get home, finished dinner and I started searching YouTube. I got so wrapped up, the boys were each an hour late getting to bed, and since I’m still writing, I’ll probably be three hours late myself.

The first song you get I stumbled upon again a couple of days ago, from a guy called The Parody Rapper (www.parodyrapper.com) It’s one of those “Literal Videos”, hilarious…

I could spend hours YouTubeing literal videos, well, not hours, at least a good half hour. {Never mind, I just got sucked in again, hours…}

Next, a band that I have been a huge fan of since my youth, They Might Be Giants (www.theymightbegiants.com). Their music is upbeat (like me), happy (also like me) and sometimes a little silly (coincidence I like them?). If you remember the show Malcolm in the Middle, the theme song “Life is Unfair” is one of theirs, as well as the theme for Higgleytown Heros (you’ve got to have kids a certain age to remember that one, I don’t even know if it’s still on the air).

Over the past half decade, they have created some children’s albums, including Here Comes the ABCs, Here Come the 123s and most recently Here Comes Science. All of the sets come with interactive DVDs. Amazing stuff. What I give you next is The Nugget’s favorite, “E Eats Everything”.

The nature of the last song, and the fruit on the counter, got my next search underway. A song that brings back memories of The Hobo that lived on my couch after college. (He really did live on our couch at at least two different apartments; we gave him the closet to keep his stuff and I don’t remember him ever paying rent…) {I hear he has an apartment down the street from ~Your~ Living Room and now frequents the place.}

There are lots of songs that I could have played from Folk Hero Harry Chapin. Lots. This one is a favorite (see above) but also because it’s one where you get your money’s worth in a jukebox. From his Story of a Life album it runs a whopping eleven minutes. I also like to play “In-A-Godda-Da-Vida” (a seventeen minute number) when I feel cheap at the jukebox.

The next one I wanted to find wasn’t on YouTube, but I do have an MP3 of it. More happy upbeat music, this time from Bred’n Buddha


They claim to be “A delicious combination of down-and-dirty funk rhythms and bluesy guitar stylings, with enough in-the pocket grooves for anyone to get their boogie on.” I agree. I love jamming out to their album (yeah, it’s only one) on camping trips, around the fire, long drives, well, anytime. My favorite song (and The Nugget’s) is Sid’s Soliloquy. It’s there for your listening pleasure on their MySpace page and it’s seven minutes long (not to shabby for those juke box penny pinchers, although I have yet to find it on any jukebox {including the internet type}).

The next song I found will have to wait (I have saved them as “Favorites” and I have over a dozen of them for you). It’s only two hours past my bedtime [after final editing, it’s now three hours past], but I’m done, the alarm goes off at six a.m.

I hope that these make you (and your readers) happy {or at least kill a half hour of their time}.

I know how much work I had to do for The Organization to run the first few BrewFests and what you have done is amazing. The way that it has grown is all because of you. Thank You AA! Thank You and Good Night!


P.S.  Perhaps beer is my muse. I’ve had a few while I was writing this…

Tuesday, I was taking the boys to the grocery store and saw a sign at the beer distributor for Schlitz “The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous”; I had to grab a case. Not because I’m particularly fond of it, but because it reminds me of a poem I read in a book that my maternal grandparents had, a book called “Graffiti of the Big 10”. The authors of the book visited various schools of higher learning and recorded the words they found on the bathroom walls, things like “There’s no need to stand on the seat, OSU crabs can jump three feet”. There was one particular poem that I remember. One that I have edited to make as The Great Guinness Toast, but tonight I give to you the original version…

I think that I shall never hear,
A poem lovely as a beer.
That good old brew tastes best on tap,
With its golden base and snowy cap.
That lovely stuff I drink all day,
Until my memory melts away.
Poems are writ by fools I fear,
But only Schlitz can make a beer.

Good Night!



25 06 2009

Farrah Fawcett passed away this morning after a battle with cancer. Just after she had finally accepted Ryan O’Neal’s proposal for marriage… finally.

Then, on the way home, I heard a news story on KDKA Radio about Michael Jackson passing away.

All the tweets I received seemed to question the validity of the news. But it was true. Michael Jackson has, in the words of @Mindbling, Beat It.

I remember getting the Thriller album (yes, the actual VINYL record) for Christmas. 1982. It was one of the things top on my list that year!! Wow. That was a really long time ago… I’m pretty sure my mom just sold that album, among others, at a recent garage/yard sale in Florida.

I happened to watch So You Think You Can Dance on Fox tonight (I have maybe 4 channels since the digital switch, I don’t have many choices) and even that show took time out to mention MJ’s death and to announce that on Monday there will be a special MJ episode…

Wow. Just Wow.

Some of my favorites that I could find on YouTube…

Heh. And there were more that I couldn’t find… Oh well…

18 days…

23 05 2009

Really, only 18 more days? We’re so close to 2 weeks now… I might freak out at the 2 week mark… except I have nothing to pack except for hang out clothes, and one “be seen in public” outfit since I talked to Lili tonight and told her I’d rather sew a quilt for her best friend’s baby rather than a bib & burp cloth.

Sewing a bib & burp cloth for her just didn’t seem right. I’ve known her forever it seems, and I just couldn’t accept making a bib for her – even though I was okay with it being for the Cleveland Browns!! This friend deserves more… So we’re going to make a quilt happen…

I will be playing rugby tomorrow. Not softball practice. Although I’d rather be playing softball. Even though I have zero softball skills, and comparably 100% rugby skills, if you will… but I have this commitment thing and guilt thing that are teaming up to make tomorrow miserable for me.

So, since I know all of you who read this feel my pain, I watched the pilot of Glee the other night, and not surprisingly, me being a band nerd & all, I loved it… (btw, my school’s Jazz Band? Did NOT look like the ones they trot out on this show…) BUT more importantly, they sang a song by Journey. A song we all know and love. A song I’d love to go back & hear a certain person perform @ karaoke. Just sayin’…

So, for your viewing pleasure:

I have a feeling that not just the band nerd in me is going to love this show… These are the things that make me hate that I gave up music. Really.

And please, if you like me at all, you should try to watch… isn’t it about time we start to appreciate HS music stuff? The answer is YES. And I’m not kidding.

Music needs to be in schools. All schools. And be taught well. Because when you get that bug? It helps you. Believe me.

Everything I do…

10 03 2009

…lately is for my sister’s baby shower or the baby. And you know what, as much as I have a deadline for it, I really enjoy it. No, I’ve loved it. Personally crafting things for this baby and my sister… Re-discovering my sewing abilities. Testing myself at those abilities. I’m proud of most of the things I’ve made. I’ve also realized I’m done sewing for now (I hope) and it’s time to prepare to ship things to my sister. (Hi, Lili…. I’ll be shipping a package to myself, c/o you next week, and if you open it… I will take D & C from you. Not kidding. Well, maybe kidding. I don’t want to deal with your psycho dog crying over missing you, but still… I might take C… he is totally calm… kidding. But don’t you dare open it if it arrives before me. Cause you’ll ruin all my fun!)

I kinda wish I knew if it was going to be a boy or girl, because it’s hard to refer to this kid without doing the boy/girl and niece/nephew thingy. It’d be much easier if I knew. However… I think part of my recent overwhelming excitement about the baby has to do with the fact that we don’t know. And I’m entirely depressed that I’m not closer and can’t be there to see the baby the second it arrives. Or even an hour later. Or a day. We haven’t even figured out when I’m going to visit after the baby is born.

The only salvation I have there is that when I visit in a week or so, I’m getting a web cam. I know a lot of people who chat via webcam. I see no need to participate in that, really. Sorry. I also can’t see my sister having the time to take pics/video and post them. I only want one for the sole chance of my sister booting up her laptop and letting me see the baby as much as possible. Sleeping, even!!! Since I am so far away, I hope to start to develop a relationship with the baby/toddler via the interwebz. I’m really hoping that once it’s able to, it can say hi to me via the webcam. I’m also doing this so that my few and far between visits won’t result in the child freaking out because they have no idea who I am…For now, I hope that this method of contact will help the baby recognize me when I am able to visit…

I really have so much to do before next Wednesday. What does one wear to a baby shower? I’ve never been to one… It’s in Florida, so I’m going with Capris. Except all my capris are black, brown, denim & khaki… Hmmm… I some how think I should be more festive… I will be in Miami, after all. And heck, what clothes that I own actually fit me right now??? No idea!!!! I’m facing a big fail chance right now… the only positive going forward is that I can wear flip flops. I might have to wear jeans. I don’t know. I might have to take 20minutes on Friday before the shower to BUY something to wear!!

I also still have to pack up all those fun gifty things. At least I think I found a box at work today that will fit everything…

I’m totally stressing right now, but I’m not. Because something about my sister and this baby makes me feel totally at ease… I can’t wait till next Thursday night when I see my sister!!!!!

(I hope you remember this song, Lili… And NOT for the name of the song…)

Oh, St. Patrick’s Day…

8 03 2009

st-patricks-day-thumb1912992… how I hate you. Mostly based on my mother’s reaction to it. I just remember her saying that I was more Irish than the people who think the are “Irish” were. And for the most part, she’s 99% correct. See, my mother’s family is Irish. Not a family who arrived here oh, so long ago, and raised their family here like most “Irish” people on St. Patrick’s Day. But really Irish. As in my Nana and Granda were born there. As were my two uncles and my aunt. Shortly before my mother was born, the family picked up and moved to Glasgow, Scotland. So in reality, I am a first generation Scotch-Irish (more on the Irish) and French-Canadian (more on the Canadian) American.

And everyone who thinks they are Irish because some family member came here oh-so-many years ago, I am more Irish than you are. Believe me. How do I know? Because I despise the way people react to this one day a year.Saying you are Irish, does not mean you should or can drink as much as you weigh.

For the past 7 years, this coming Saturday will be the 8th straight, I have worked the daylight shift at My Living Room on St. Patrick’s Day Saturday. The day of the parade. We’re not busy for a while. But all of a sudden, the you-know-what hits the fan. It gets so bad that my shift, the 11am – ? shift, which usually ends around 6 or 7 pm, ends at oh, somewhere between 8 & 10pm. And we’re so busy that we can’t even reconcile a cash register drawer. We’re lucky to get out with our tips in hand and hope our drawer ends up straight.

I can’t tell you how many people come in and ask, “Are you Irish?” No, I’m not. Those green eyes and super-duper pale skin are just for FUN. And the sunburns in the summer? Also for fun. I may not be a redhead, but good lord, did I get all the Irish my mom had to pass along. My sister? Not so much.She got more of my dad when it comes to it. (However, I’m sure if the two of us were ever seen on St. Patrick’s Day by a bunch of drunkards, they’d think they stumbled into Irish heaven. Just sayin’)

Knowing my job, and how to make money at it when I need or have to… or on days like this, when it rolls in… I dress the part. So I’ll probably get a haircut Friday night, to tame my curls a bit. (And cause Florida does NOTHING for my hair. Ever.) And I’ll wear green. And if you can’t see those Irish Eyes at that point, well, you’re too drunk to wait on.

Good luck next Saturday y’all. I hope we all make it through in one piece. And of course, all of my friends are welcome to stop in and say hi. Just be sober enough to not make the nice Claire angry. Cause after this weekend, there’s no way I’m showing up at My Living Room NOT angry.

Again, Good Luck, y’all.

I only added that song for those of us who missed the show last week. And for “my” Danny, with whom I intend to share this blog with tonight. Yes, my rugby friends, I’m sharing it with him. After I saw his response to my email today about my blood issues, I think I gained a new-found respect for him supporting the bar. Love it. Thank you, Danny.

Pretty Effed Up

22 02 2009

That would be me – well, my life – right now. Besides my car and tire issues, tonight as I closed the bar, I knocked my phone into my co-worker’s “shift drink.” A White Russian. It may or may not be dead. I don’t know yet. It’s sitting next to me in a bag of rice – my attempt at drying it out.

Thankfully, I have my old phone that I can use. But geez… when is the suck going to end?

The Lincoln Penny Test

19 02 2009

Since age sixteen, I have had 5 vehicles:

1) 1988 Olds Delta 88
2) 1993 Plymouth Acclaim
3) 2000 Chevy Prism
4) 2003 Chevy Cavalier
5) 2005 Chevy Aveo

That’s over 17 years… And maybe only once, with one of the first two cars, do I recall needing tires. Back with those first 2-3 cars, my dad always took care of my vehicle isues. So there’s a chance one or both of them needed tires at some point… But somewhere around car #3, I started taking care of going for oil changes, inspections etc. That is, until the Midgie.

The Midgie is a 2005 Chevy Aveo. I love her! Dearly. Probably more than any other car on the list besides my first car. (Point of information: when I went to college and my parents kept the Delta 88, my mom accidentally backed INTO the back driver’s side quarter panel of it. She was terrified to tell me for FOUR MONTHS.)

Anyway, with my purchase of my Midgie, I also got a nifty little maintenance plan built in. I have a little coupon book that makes ALL oil changes and tire rotations etc. FREE. I also got 4 free emissions inspections. All I have to do is pay attention to my mileage, show up on or near the date an oil change is needed, produce my nifty little coupon book, and wait 30-60 minutes for it to be over. It’s great. One of the best things I’ve done to maintain my car.

That being said, my tires have been rotated whenever needed since July/August 2005. So when I tried to move my car during a snowstorm in February 2007, I was shocked to realize that my two rear tires were nearly bald. Almost no tread whatsoever. So I went to my nearby Pep Boys and wasted an entire workday getting two new tires. Yay! Fun!

Then, in July 2007 when I had my car inspected, I was told that my two other original tires had passed inspection, but weren’t looking so good, and I’d need to replace them before my next inspection in 2008. Well, I managed to cut that timeline short a few months later, in October. I cut too close to a sewer well and blew a tire. I replaced the tire with the “donut” from the trunk and a day or two later, dropped my car off for two MORE tires at the Sears Auto Center in Tarentum while I worked nearby.

If you saw yesterday’s post, you know that I was told on Monday that I need TWO MORE TIRES!!!  (FYI – Monday’s mileage was 48,774.) I started thinking about the two previous tire purchases and realized that at least one of those purchases MUST still be under warranty. So today I dug out the paperwork.

I still have to check the “DOT code” & “Date of Manufacture” on my tires to figure out which are from where. I’m hoping both failed tires are from the same place… And I think I see a warranty issue in my future:

In February 2007, when they replaced the first set, my mileage was 25, 064. So if these are the failed tires, they lasted two years and 23,710 miles… The stated mileage warranty is “65,000 miles prorated…”

In October 2007, my mileage was 36,119. If these tires failed, they lasted 17 months and only 12,655 miles. The stated mileage warranty on the Sears receipt is 40,000 miles…

However, both of them, especially Sears have some references to treadlife and the amount of treadlife remaining… So tomorrow, I’ll try the “Lincoln Penny Test” to see what’s up. But right now, I can tell you that the crap tires? Yea, there’s ZERO tread on the outer sides of the tire…

So, if any of you men out there are “tire experts” and would like to accompany me to Sears or Pep Boys, let me know. I can hold my own in a lot of situations, but tires and the warranty of tires is new territory. I’m going to learn. And I’m going to be angry… I just want backup. If you’re willing & able, please email me. 🙂

I’ve probably already posted this song, but I don’t really care…