TBT: Beethoven’s Routine

I’m on the cusp—in a calendrical sense, quite literally—of Summer Break 2023.  Going into summer vacation is like heading into the weekend at that magical moment around 4 or 5 PM on a Friday afternoon, except the “weekend” is two months:  endless possibilities spread out before me.

Of course, every summer I say, “I’m not going to squander this one,” and proceed to squander it.  Then it’s back to the grind in August.  But I’m sure this year will be different—right?

Yours portly actually does make the most of his summer.  I kick off June with a couple of weeks of Minecraft Camp, and I teach lessons all throughout summer.  My roster of summertime lessons is looking fairly healthy at the moment, so that should buoy my finances during the relatively lean summer months.

The key to success, it seems, is keeping a good routine.  I’m not always the strongest in this regard, but when I do keep a routine, I find it does make the rest of the day easier.  No less a genius than Beethoven adhered to a fairly regimented routine, and his was pretty awesome, full of strong coffee, long walks, and composing.

With that, here is 25 May 2022’s “Beethoven’s Routine“:

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Open Mic Adventures XXXIV: “Chase’s Dilemma”

In keeping with the vacation vibes of Memorial Day Weekend, it’s going to be a pretty short edition of Open Mic Adventures this week.  The good news is that very soon I’ll be back to showcasing footage from actual open mics, and not just me noodling on the piano in my school’s tiny music room.

That said, I hastily recorded a video of a very basic piano piece I wrote for one of my students, whose name is Chase.  It was a very quick sightreading exercise for him, and an opportunity for me to write some more student-focused material.

I suppose the “Dilemma” in the title refers to the presence of an F# accidental, as well as the necessity to move the right hand from C to D position and back again.  The left hand is a simple ascending line with that playful F# tossed in the mix.

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Happy Memorial Day 2023!

In time-honored TPP tradition, I take Memorial Day off from writing movie reviews.  Memorial Day marks the last day off from work until summer break, which literally starts in about three days for yours portly.  It makes the day off somewhat superfluous, but, really, the next two or three days of work will be largely superfluous, too.  We’ll finalize grades for our classes by department, and by the time you’re reading this brief post, I should be done with report card comments (all 100 of them, exactly!).

But for today, I’m (hopefully) kicking back after a busy weekend of Spring Jamming and graduation-attending.

What of Memorial Day itself?  Back in 2021, I wrote the following:

Memorial Day typically marks the beginning of summer.  Given that it’s a day to remember those who have died for our liberties, some might see it as somewhat ironic, or even disrespectful, that we spend the day at the beach eating hot dogs.

I prefer to think of it another way:  it’s a celebration of everything for which those men died.  Hot dogs, pool parties, familygood musicgood times; in essence, freedom, the kind of freedom that Americans savor.

That freedom was bought with a heavy price—and it’s been bought over and over again.  Indeed, the fight continues here at home.

Don’t take these freedoms for granted.  Take a moment—between bites of hot dog—and give thanks to those men for our liberty, and to God that we live in the United States of America.

That pretty much sums it up.  Here’s to hot dogs—and liberty!

God Bless,


Lazy Sunday CCIV: Myersvision, Part VI

When it comes to Lazy Sunday, I really put emphasis on the “Lazy” part of that title.  When I find something good, I milk it dry, which is probably what will happen to Bigfoot if we ever get the big lug into captivity.  Imagine drinking “Squatch Juice”—the sweet, slightly gamey, milk of the female Bigfoot (Bigfemme?), packed full of anti-oxidants and invisibility serum.

Uh, ahem… I digress.  Right now I’m only milking Bigfoot metaphorically in the form of Audre Myers‘s excellent Bigfoot-related posts.  March inadvertently became “Bigfoot March Madness” at The Portly Politico, to the point that even Audre expressed concern that she was doing irreparable damage to this site’s reputation, to which I responded (again, metaphorically), “What reputation?”

And so I digress yet again.  Here are three editions of Myersvision from 8, 15, and 22 March 2023, all about our favorite, elusive, hairy cryptid:

  • Myersvision: The Books” – Audre offers up a short bibliography of Bigfoot books, including some by Jeff Meldrum, a Full Professor of Anatomy and Anthropology at Idaho State University.
  • Myersvision: Other Sources” – Here Audre offers up some other Bigfoot sources, including an interview with Jane Goodall (who herself falsified some of the wild findings she made concerning apes).
  • Myersvision: Structures” – Bigfoot is a builder (perhaps he should sign up for my Minecraft Camp).  There are apparently eerily similar structures that are attributed to Bigfoot, which suggests a certain degree of intelligence in our mystery pal.

That’s it for this latest retrospective into Myersvision.  There’s more milk to come!

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Even More Graduation Day Wisdom

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Another graduation ceremony is upon us, signaling the end of the school year and the beginning of another summer vacation.  The grand cycle of the academic calendar continues, coming to a stately close after a hectic few months.

I never anticipated being asked to speak at graduation, and I long doubted I ever would.  I still have not—lest the last sentence come across as misleading—but after delivering the baccalaureate sermon this past Sunday, I suspect the odds of being asked to speak at commencement at some future date has increased, even if only slightly.  What was hovering at around 1% might be up to 5% right now, but I possess no special insights into the vagaries of my administrations hive mind.

Regardless, if I did get to speak before our graduating seniors, I’d offer up some of my dubious wisdom, such as it is.  The first time I wrote on this topic I offered mostly financial advice; last year, after experiencing the effects of The Age of The Virus, I revised my wisdom to include more spiritual concerns.

This year, my advice is a grab-bag of plainspoken wisdom—take it or leave it.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Gig Day VII: TJC Spring Jam III

It’s time for another front porch concert!  This event—the TJC Spring Jam and Recital—will be the sixth Front Porch concert I’ve hosted (I think), and I’ve learned quite a bit from the others, including the last Spooktacular.

This year marks the third Spring Jam, which has become a popular event with my private music students.  These front porch concerts started out as a way for my buddy John and me to play gigs during The Age of The Virus, when nobody was open for live music.  I realized that if I wanted to play in front of a live audience, I’d have to circumvent the hysteria and become the venue and talent.

Gradually, the concept morphed from a self-indulgent concert into a recital for my private music students.  The Lord has really blessed me—far beyond what I deserve—with a large clientele of private music students (around twenty-two at the time of writing, working out in practice to anywhere from twenty-to-twenty-four lessons a week), so it made sense to offer a couple of recital opportunities a  year for them.

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TBT: Zelda Game & Watch

Last year I picked up a nifty little from Nintendo with both of the classic NES Legend of Zelda titles, as well as the Gameboy LoZ game.  I proceeded to spend a good chunk of the summer playing through and beating all of the games, and tried to avoid guides as much as possible in an attempt to replicate the feel of playing these games at the time of their release.

At that time, you could only get tips from three sources:  an expensive 1-900 hotline (not a realistic option); friends on the schoolyard or at church; or Nintendo Power.  That last one was worth its weight in video gaming gold.

When it came time to play through Zelda II, I broke down and used a guide to navigate the final temple.  I remember my brothers painstakingly mapping it out on graph paper one summer, but there are limits to nostalgia.  The Internet exists for a reason.

I haven’t picked up the old ZG&W much since beating all the games, but it might be time to dive back into it.  With the newest Zelda game out on Switch, it’s a great time to revisit the classics.

With that, here is 31 May 2022’s “Zelda Game & Watch“:

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Open Mic Adventures XXXIII: “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance)”

I found myself with a rare bit of free time last Thursday, 18 May 2023.  It was Field Day at school that afternoon, and while the kids were frolicking in the rain (yep, it was raining steadily yesterday), I slipped inside for a few quiet moments.  I found myself at the piano and, staring down a blank sheet of manuscript paper in my music journal, I decided to compose.

While I didn’t name it right away, the result was “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance).”  I’d been wanting to compose a piece named “Spore Song” after reading Stacey C. Johnson‘s post “Spore Song” at her blog Breadcrumbs.

The more I listened to this airy, atmospheric piece, the more I realized that this was “Spore Song.”  Because it’s mostly in 3/4 time (with two brief measures in 4/4), I added the parenthetical title “Mushroom Dance.”

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Monday Morning Movie Review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

Those of us who were children in the early 1990s will remember Super Mario Bros. (1993).  It was the first time a video game had been adapted for film—ever, and, sure, WarGames (1983) was about playing a computer game, but Super Mario Bros. was the first time an actual video game IP had been made for the big screen—-and we were all super (no pun intended) excited to see our favorite 8-bit (well, 16-bit, by that point) heroes, Mario and Luigi, on film (note—there was a WarGames video game, but it was released in 1984 and was based on the film, not the other way around).  I was eight when the movie was released, so I was old enough to be aware of the hype surrounding the film.  The schoolyard was abuzz with anticipation.

Unfortunately, you probably know how the rest of the story goes:  it was an abysmal failure.  The film bore little resemblance to the 2D platformer we all loved, and while Dennis Hopper certainly makes for an intimidating antagonist, he bore little resemblance to Bowser (he was “King Koopa” in the film).  I remember watching the movie as a kid (we rented it) and being baffled by what was happening.  Why was everything so dark and dystopian?  It was a far too impressionistic endeavor to work as an adaptation of a beloved video game that captured the imagination of children.

The film was such a disaster, critically and financially, that Nintendo shied away from any more forays into cinema for thirty years.  Other than some cartoons on television, Nintendo did not go near Hollywood for three solid decades.

Now, when movie-going is struggling to revive itself after The Age of The Virus, Nintendo has reentered the ring with The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), a film that may very well save Hollywood from its penchant for wokery and poor box office receipts.  More importantly, it’s the Mario Bros. movie we should have gotten thirty years ago.

Better late than never, eh, Nintendo?

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