Sunday, September 18, 2011

Guitar Videos and Cat Excrement

It's been a long weekend...  haven't been terribly motivated plus my wife and I seem to be playing ping pong with some sort of flu.  In her, it travels from her head to her chest (lucky flu).  In me, I just seem to feel off (moreso).

So it eventually became about nine o'clock Sunday night when I saw the handy link sent by a fellow guitar player.  This bunch is a surprising lot from all over the world, which meets whenever on the Yahoogroups' Stratlist - a list for guitar players of the Stratocaster variety; but moreso an excuse for six-stringers to chat, share tonal tips, and your mother jokes.

The link was for the angriest guitarist in the world.

I passed.

The next link was for the fifty heaviest songs before Black Sabbath.

I bit.

I don't spend much time on YouTube.  In fact, I only recently bothered to watch a video or two, when I was bored and wanted to play Stump YouTube.  This is a game wherein I think about really obscure guitar players I like and look them up.  I found, much to my delight and dismay, that YouTube really does have a great inventory of guitar players, famous and not.  Unfortunately it tends to take me into the depths of YouTube Oblivion<tm>, where I can dwell for hours.  I showed it to my wife, who was bored one day, and it literally sucked up most of the rest of her day.

It was a dark, but not a stormy evening.... 

It became apparent to me at nine pm that my wife wasn't going to join me for dinner.  Some would say I learn slowly.  Others would say I keep strange hours.  The rest of you who eat dinner at nine or ten would notice nothing out of the ordinary.

The cat (Satan, aka Ren) has been a bit clingy lately.   He's got this whole sibling rivalry going with the dog (Marshall, aka Muppet Paws).  If one of them gets something, the other wants it, regardless of whether he really likes it or not  If you call one, both come.  If you scratch one's ears, you had better be scratching the other's ears.  It has gotten so bad that if a mouse makes it into the house, Ren will chase it and then Marshall will all of the sudden develop a taste for rodent (simply because Ren has it).  I'm not entirely sure what a cocker spaniel can do with a mouse but fortunately the cat's much faster.

When the little monsters were younger, we noticed the house starting to smell like cat urine for the first time.  After a quick trip to the vet, Ren was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection.  The vet explained that Ren was peeing on the carpet because he associated the pain of peeing with his litterbox.  Ok, so much for Feline Logic<tm>.  While we were waiting for the antibiotics to kick in, the vet recommended her foolproof way to keep a cat from peeing on the carpet: lay down a covering of aluminum foil.  Cats hate aluminum foil and wouldn't pee there.  Remembering back twenty years of so, I was at a friend's house, who liked to show me his cat's tricks.  He'd get out a roll of aluminum foil, crinkle a piece, and the cat would literally disappear.  For a week or so.

Sounded as reasonable as anything else, so we, only having owned one cat before, laid the foil over his preferred spot by the door.  The next time we walked through the door, we spotted Ren rolling all over the foil and putting tiny claw holes through it.


What does this have to do with guitar videos?  I'll tell you....

After having recovered from the Great Urinary Scare, the little bugger developed diabetes. This cost a few grand in insulin (yes, they use the same stuff) and Cat Darts (I had to take a prescription into the pharmacy for syringes).  The good news is that he actually became cured (no need for insulin) but requires special food.


I'm getting there- hold your horses.

So recently the house started smelling like cat urine again.  My solutions always run along the lines of Feline Aviation.  Being of longer memory, the wife suggested UTI treatment.  As we know, it's sometimes best to let her win, so antibiotics it was.

While you're treating with antibiotics, it is recommended to put up a second litter box.  And poof, Ren started using the box immediately, which was good news.  You're supposed to move it toward the original until it gets close enough to use the original again.  The bad news was that the box was in front of the tv in the living room.  The badder news was that it's cold, so we closed the windows and there's little ventilation.

The worst news is that I'm sitting here, with my solo dinner, and the little bugger has just made use of the facilities.  Normally I wouldn't notice this, as the box is in the back room.  Because the box is in the same room with me now, dinner took on a completely new aroma.

I also got to observe the Bathroom Ritual<tm>, which is beyond fascinating in many ways.  I'm discovering that people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have absolutely nothing on cats.  He can't simply go in the box, no sir.  It must be accompanied by so many rituals I lost count.  First there's the walking around the box.  Then there's the whole burying and obscuring thing (instinct?).  Then there's more walking around, followed by exiting the box.  After the Grand Exit, there's strange walking and extending of the paws, as if they're suddenly straight as a rod and incapable of flexing.  Finally there's shredding of newspaper, which is the bit that put me over the edge.  I can drift during all of the above phases except shredding.  It drove me NUTS

He shredded an entire Sunday paper before I exploded.  He simply looked up, as if to say `you talkin to me?' and stopped the shredding activities.  He almost looked embarrassed, if that is even possible for a cat.  It sure as hell is for a dog, especially when people dress them up.  When I become president, I will impose the death penalty on people who dress up their dogs (except for the cold).

So dinner has taken on a new and less exciting complexion, yet somehow I managed.

Between bites and after, I finally got around to viewing the 50 heaviest.... etc.  While somewhat interesting, it linked to much more amusing folly, namely the 50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time.  Now this is something all guitarists can relate to.  Guitar players tend to enjoy speed, even more than long hair, hats, equipment, and possibly women.  The only thing more important to a guitar player than speed is Guitar Faces.  Nothing is a greater sign to the universe that you're serious about your instrument than your Guitar Faces.  If you don't believe me, search YouTube for Robin Trower. 

Told you so.

I strongly suspect many singers today of being closet guitar players.  For example, Mariah Carey can and does sing a million notes a minute, oversinging just like a guitarist overplays.  I understand the classical term for this is melisma, knighting her Melisma Carey.  Best to watch her videos with the sound down.

The problem with rating guitarists for speed is that there's no scientific basis for this.  Recognizing this conundrum, Guitar World went for alphabetical order, a truly wise move.  If they had used any other criteria, the letters to the editor emails would burn up their internet connection.  Guitar players are a rather stubborn, religious lot and you don't mess with their opinions (which they take as fact).

Going through Guitar World's list from fifty to one was truly an interesting experience.  It was done via YouTube videos, with a bit of biographical information thrown in. 

My problem with this exercise is that you get some real speed demons in the list, many of whom I know by name only.  While they truly live up to their inclusion in the list, the `music' is so abhorrent that I can't sit through it long enough to enjoy their playing.  I'm speaking mostly of the thrash and death-metal genres.  I give them points for staying true to their vision but more people would appreciate their talents if they lent them to something more.. ummm... musical(?).

The list included people from before I was born to some of today's hottest shredders.  Truly worth a listen and watch.  Good luck trying to get through some of the less tonally appealing pieces.  One high point was Steve Vai's live performance with an orchestra.  And hate him though you may, I still can't play the stuff Yngwie Malmsteen plays.  And although I don't think Johnny Winter belongs on this list, you have to admire the way the quasi-blind guy gets around in 70's high heels.

And here I am, hours later, wondering what's for dessert and why the place still stinks of cat excrement.   

Perhaps I need an additional job to keep my mind occupied and out of the houseYou will notice that the dog doesn't do this stuff.

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