300 songs in 2 days

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This weekend I had a goal.

I wanted to play every song I had ever learned to play on the guitar. I would play each song once, and move on to the next song. I would start with the song that I am currently learning (Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’) and end with the first song I learned. (The Beatles ‘Hey Jude’)

In my estimation, over the 2-1/4 years, I’ve learned about 300 songs. I didn’t come close to playing them all.

I sat down with my music on Saturday afternoon. I cranked through about 20 songs pretty quickly. Eric Clapton, Beatles, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Eagles, Pure Prairie League, The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones and even solos from John Lennon and George Harrison.

But I couldn’t play each song only once.

I found myself trying to improve small mistakes and difficult parts. I would go back and play a certain section over and over. Then I’d tackle the entire song again. I found myself trying to fuse together acoustic and electric parts together into one mega part – so I could play all my favorite parts of a song.

I started experimenting with playing songs in different keys, to make them easier for me to sing. (Down ½ step from standard tuning seems to be my magic key.) And of course, I played with different guitars, depending on the song, to see if I liked the way one guitar sounded over the other.

By the time that I realized that I was breaking my own rules, I decided that I was never going to make it through all the songs I’d ever learned.  So I started cheating. Tunes that are basically the same musically over and over again – I would play about ½ the song. Verse, bridge, chorus. Done. Maybe I’d play the ending, if it had an interesting change at the end.  But mostly, I’d just stop.

By Sunday morning, I had made my way through about 75 songs. I will admit my hands were tired. Somewhere I decided to figure out some interesting ‘walk up and walk downs’ to a song to give the impression of the bass line while playing the rhythm part. I switched to an hour of finger picking (which I’m not very good at doing, and I just wanted to force myself to do something that’s not easy for me to do.)

After a huge break to watch a football game, I got back to it after dinner on Sunday. At some point, my son joined me and started jamming with me on the drums. That was fun for a few minutes.

And then it hit me. Somewhere in the middle of playing a Neil Young song I realized that I didn’t have to finish. Pink Floyd would have to wait until another day. As would Lynard Skynyrd, Mountain and Boston and The Yardbird and The White Stripes, The Youngbloods, ZZ Top and dozens more.

But I did play ‘Hey Jude’ to end my weekend. I think it was a perfect song to finish on. It was the first song I learned. The song that got me hooked. The band that made me fall in love with popular music.  And I could sing along without changing the key.

What could be better.

I’m looking for more song suggestions. Please comment below some songs you think I’d enjoy playing.  Thanks and have a great week.







What did you do during your holiday break?


In case you’re interested I did the following (but not in this order):

  • Went skiing
  • Had drinks with friends (a few times)
  • Hosted New Years Eve
  • Played a lot of guitar
  • Hosted friends for the weekend
  • Helped teach someone to snowboard (keep in mind, I don’t snowboard)
  • Opened gifts
  • Ate a lot
  • Cooked a lot
  • Went out to dinner a few times
  • Slept
  • Played Madden 13 on both a Wii (which I know how to control) and an Xbox (which I don’t)
  • Opened Champagne
  • Harassed a 10 year old (It’s a long story)
  • Ate chocolate covered pretzels and cashews
  • Took pictures
  • Danced to 70’s disco classics
  • Entered a ‘dead pool’
  • Sent out holiday cards a week too late
  • Looked at work e-mail exactly 2 times

Things I didn’t do

  • Watch TV – I did not watch a single TV show over the break
  • Hurt myself skiing (which I do from time to time)
  • Do any impulse shopping
  • Look at FACEBOOK
  • Read a book (which is unusual for me)
  • Say “Boy, I wish I was at work today”
  • Have a guitar lesson
  • Go to the bagel store (which I do all the time)
  • Go to the hardware store
  • Fill up may car with gas

So that’s about it. I spent the past week doing a lot of nothing. Which is exactly what I needed. I’m looking forward to the new year.  Here’s to doing a lot of good stuff in 2013.

By the way – My new office has a view of the Empire State Building. I’ll post the view out my window from time to time.



Old Glory

July 4th brings back a flood of memories for me.

I was brought up in a very patriotic family. My father served in WWII and was a flag waving democrat. He cried when JFK died, woke us up when Bobby was shot and never understood all the fuss over Viet Nam.

And he loved the 4th of July.  This was America’s holiday. The flag went outside early and stayed out late. We had a very large, very old cloth American flag. It was proudly and properly rolled in our hallway closet. And on Memorial Day, Flag Day and especially Independence Day – my father would take great pride in unrolling it and placing it outside for all to see.

Growing up, we lived on a fairly main road. And when ever our town had a parade – it would pass right past our front door. For years, I proudly marched by my father’s side in our Memorial Day parade. I carried a flag in an Independence Day parade. And every year we would have a huge cookout in our back yard and the parade went past the front. And that giant old flag proudly waved in the summer breeze for all to see. This house is proud to be an American.

I’m sad to say, I don’t know what happened to that flag.

When my parents moved out of the house, the flag disappeared. Maybe it was too old and too tattered to be saved. Perhaps my father bought a new one. Perhaps it’s still in the house – being used by the new owners. But the flag is gone.

Now I have a flag. It’s new. It doesn’t have the same history. And it’s rolled up proudly in my front hall closet. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t put it out yesterday. I don’t know why – I had plenty of time to do it. I think it’s because this flag doesn’t have the same history for me as the old one.  But that’s just an excuse. I think I have to change that thinking – and start some history of my own.

Next year – the flag goes up early and stays out late. It’s the least I can do for my father.

Happy July 4th.

Now, where was I ?

A lot has happened since the last time I posted. I’ve been using the excuse that I’ve been too busy to write. The real reason is that I haven’t carved out the time to write. I control my schedule. But lately, I’ve been letting my schedule control me.  I’m changing that. So no more excuses.

Here’s some things that have happened since my last post.

• Most Creative Agency – I’m very proud of this award. Recently, our agency was named ‘Most Creative Agency’ by the leading magazine in our field. This was an incredible achievement and one that every member of the agency helped win. This was the third year in a row that we won. Yes, people were actually using the work ‘three-peat’ for a few days. In an announcement e-mail to the agency, our CEO actually mentioned going for a ‘Four-peat.’ I was hoping to enjoy winning for three years in a row without having to think about next year yet. We were the first New York City based agency to ever win in back-to-back years. (Only an agency in Chicago has ever won it more in the entire history of the award show.)  I’m very proud of the award. I actually think we have a good chance to win again next year. Although I shouldn’t say that. But secretly I think we have some amazing work in the pipeline.

• My Son Kicks My Butt In A 5K – Again. – My 10-year-old runs faster than me. I can’t believe it. My 10-year-old is in better shape than me. I’m in denial. My 10-year-old son is now acting as my personal trainer. I’m thankful.  This Sunday, as a family, we ran the Tarrytown Trek 5k. I couldn’t keep up with my son. I was happy for him. Embarrassed for me. So now the training begins. This morning, my 10-year-old supervised my treadmill session. He kept increasing the speed. He kept telling me I wasn’t going fast enough. He kept choosing the music on my iPhone so I’d run a faster pace. And you know what. I felt great afterwards. He was right. I can run faster. He can push me further. Give me the summer. By the time we’re running a 5k in autumn or late summer, I’ll be able to keep up. Maybe even beat him.  It’s time. No more Mr. Nice Guy. (BTW – as I was typing this last sentence, I actually typed ‘No more Mr. Nice Gut.’ Which is probably more appropriate.)

• My daughter completes her Masters Degree with a 4.0 GPA. This is huge. I’m so proud of her. As I’ve mentioned earlier – my daughter has learned to be a great student. This does not come naturally for her. She has worked very hard. She’s always tired. She’s always working on something. She’s always trying to get to the end. But its paid off. Great grades and a great attitude have helped her land a great position in a terrific school district. She’s thrilled. I’m thrilled. It’s every parent’s dream to have their child succeed. And her success is all due to perseverance and hard work. Congratulations and well done.

• My daughter (and her fiance) pick a wedding date. Less than a year from now, I’ll have a married daughter. Tentative date: June 1, 2013. Everything seems to be falling into place. The site, the band, the video guy, the photographer, the flowers. We don’t have a caterer yet, but that not far behind. I’m so happy. The place seems great. They both seem to really love it. It’s so fun to watch them making joint decisions and loving all the same things.  Ah, a June wedding. How perfect.

• My son passes his black belt test. This Saturday, my son will receive his black belt in Taekwondo. You have no idea how hard he had to work to get this far. For the past 3-1/2 years, he’s been working toward this goal. The test was spread out over three days. First there was an outdoor test. Running. Exercising. Pushing yourself as hard as possible. Next there was an oral exam. The students were tested on their knowledge of all the work they have learned over the past 3-1/2 years. Answers in both English and Korean. Finally, the indoor test. The students had to perform everything they’ve learned since the beginning of their training. The indoor test lasted over 3 hours. The students were exhausted. But in the end – he passed. He found out a few days later the results. He smiled for days.

That’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more stuff that’s happened. But that will be for tomorrow. Thanks for reading.



My daughter Kristen got engaged on Saturday afternoon.

It wasn’t that much of a shock, since her fiancé asked permission a few months ago. I knew it was coming. In fact, since we’re meeting his family this coming Saturday, I expected that it would happen before we met.

Ian (we call him I-an Mil-ler – like the groom in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’) did everything right. He asked permission (huge), bought a vintage ring (perfect for my daughter’s taste) and proposed on a picture perfect Saturday at a botanical garden. They will remember that day for their entire life.

The interesting part for me is that everyone asks how I feel about it. Really? I’m thrilled for my daughter. I’m thrilled for Ian. I’m excited to help plan a wedding. I’m excited to watch my daughter enter the next stage of her life. (Just for the record – Ian is an incredible guy. The kind of guy I hoped Kristen would meet.)

And now the planning begins. Sometime after Saturday, I’m sure we’ll begin talking about when, where, who, how many, what kind, what color and all the details which make a wedding a wedding.

A date not too close, and yet not too far away. Something that doesn’t far on a major holiday weekend or someone else’s event. (Like Adam’s bar mitzvah next year)

Let’s avoid hurricane season. Let’s avoid rainy April. Let make sure it doesn’t fall on anyone’s birthday or anniversary. And most of all – let’s make sure it’s not a full moon. OK, I may be overthinking this already.

And since it’s never too early to plan – I have a few requests: The band can’t plan ‘Celebrate’ and the best man’s speech has to be short. I want to dance with my daughter but I don’t want a cheesy song. Perhaps ‘what a wonderful world’ from our favorite movie. (…when Harry met Sally) And of course, I want the details to be just right. Because it’s all about the details. Just like asking permission, a vintage ring and Longwood Gardens.

Because this should be a night, they’ll never forget.

Please join me in congratulating Kristen and Ian.


Cleavage and Crack Are not the same thing

Thanks to American Idol and The Voice, my son has discovered cleavage.

Yes, my (now) 10-year-old son who misses nothing — has noticed that the women on these shows like to show off their ‘chest crack’ (the phrase he was using).

First there was Christina Aguilera on The Voice. Check out the outfit on National TV.

After you get past the stupid hat, you almost can’t miss the neck line. I know my son didn’t.

Next there was Nicki Manaj

17 million people watched this episode – include the very same 10-year-old. And thanks to the wonder of DVR – he’s watched her almost have a wardrobe malfunction more than once. In fact, we got so tired of hearing him talk about her ‘chest crack’ we decided to teach him the word ‘cleavage’ — which isn’t the usual thing we teach our son — so at least if he was going to talk about it, he’d use the correct terminology.

When did it become OK to dress like a stripper on national TV? I thought Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake ended that years ago. When did American Idol – the king of middle America decide to let it all hang out? Am I over reacting? I don’t think so. But I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please fill out the poll below. I’ll let you know how much ‘chest crack’ I see on this week’s episodes.


My Son Runs Too Fast For Me

It’s happened.

My 10-year-old son has become a better athlete than me. OK, I’ll admit that I’ve never been much of an athlete – but I didn’t expect him to pass me so quickly. Why do I think my son is a better athlete? Here are three examples:

He’s a better skier
My son can ski faster. He can ski steeper stuff. He has less trouble in powder. He can ski the bumps. On our last two ski trips I have the feeling that I’m holding him back. And when we ski together, I can actually hear my son thinking “when can I ditch dad so I can ski the trails I want to ski.” And it happened so quickly. A few years ago he was skiing between my legs. He was falling on the green circle rope tow. He used to ski trails like “Paddy Wagon” and “Scooter.” Now he’s flying down “The Rapids,” “KT-22,” “Chute-75” and all kinds of trails that sound scary. A few weeks ago, while skiing in California he actually said to me “if you can’t keep up, I’ll meet you at the lift.” Thanks a lot.

He’s a better runner
This has been coming on for a few years. Once my son joined a running club at school he’s been hooked. He’s a great (OK, maybe I’m bragging) long distance runner. And on any given day, he can run longer and faster than me. Now keep in mind, I’ve run three marathons. I can run. But he can run better. I’ve begun riding my bike through our neighborhood while he runs. That way I can keep up. I can also help pace him. But basically, it’s because I can’t keep up his pace any more.

He’s almost a black belt in Tae Kwon Do
My son has been taking TKD since he was 5 years old. In May, he’ll be taking his black belt test. The information he has stored in his head would make my head spin. He’s very confident about the test. He knows he has a lot of work to do, but feels ready to tackle the challenge. I don’t think I could ever dedicate the time to getting a black belt. But he has. I’m proud of his achievement. It’s amazing to watch.

And yet, there are still a few sports where I can beat him.

I can kick his butt in baseball
I’m sure if I played a game on one-on-one baseball with my son, I could still kick his but. I’d strike him out every time, and he’d walk me every time.

I’m taking him down in basketball
My temporary height advantage would be too much to overcome. (I say temporary, because in about 4 years, I think he’ll be as tall as me, if not taller.)

I’d lap him in swimming
Ah, the only spot where I excelled in my youth. My son would not be able to keep up with me in the pool. But again, that is temporary. A few more years at summer camp, and I can see this advantage ending.

I can still bench press more than him
Hopefully, I’m still stronger than my 10-year-old.

My golf swing is better
As my son said yesterday while watching the Masters “my best score ever is a triple bogey.” I’ve actually ‘eagled’ a whole or two in my golf career. I think I can take him on the golf course for at least 5 or 6 years. But that’s only because he’s too busy beating me in other stuff.

At the end of the day, I’m very proud of my son’s skiing, running and tae kwon do abilities. Although I have to admit, it does motivate me to get into better shape. Yes, I’ll always be competitive. And very soon, he’ll be encouraging me versus the other way around. Oh, and I know it’s only a matter of time until he can kick my butt in everything. Except chess. I’ll always beat him in chess.


My Son Blew Me Off

I know many of you have written ‘where’s the post from your son?’

I’m sorry, he blew me off. He had better things to do. Like watch American Idol, do his homework, and have a play date with a couple of his friends. I was putting too much pressure on him to write. And I think he just decided it was too much work.

Damn. It would have been funny. Maybe someday he’ll be a guest blogger. Just not this week.

Apologies again.

My normal post for today will follow shortly.


Actor, Film Maker, Model, Restaurant Hostess, Receptionist, Special Education Teacher.

I was planning to save this post for when my daughter Nicole graduated from college with her Masters in Special Education but I decided it was time to brag a little about my firstborn.

People often think that things come easily for beautiful people. You’ve heard people say that your entire life, “Oh, I bet someone hired her just to watch her come to work every day.” Or “I know how she got her job.” It just seems that things come easily for people who are attractive.

And at times, I’m sure people think that about my daughter. She’s the typical father’s nightmare. Pretty. Thin. Curves in all the right places. (Her college roommate actually gave her the nickname ‘NikkiBoobs.’) You know, the kind of girl that makes you want to go out and buy a shotgun.

But actually, nothing came easily to Nicole. She was an average student who had to work extremely hard to get average grades. She had no idea what she wanted to do after college – so deciding on which college to attend was a struggle. Her grades weren’t that great, her SAT scores were average and her after school activities were limited. But what she had was a winning personality. She had an ‘I can do this’ attitude. She never gave up. She worked hard.

But the path was not easy for her. She did a little acting in college. But she didn’t want to make a career of it. She worked in various restaurants to pay the bills, but knew that was not a long-term option. She was a production assistant on a feature film, had a modeling portfolio shot, works as a receptionist at an agency I work for and basically did anything she could until she could decide her career/life path.

But then she had a thought. She loves working with children. She loves helping people. And since learning was so difficult for her, perhaps she can help other children who needed extra help learning. So Nicole decided on special education.

In May, Nicole will graduate with her Masters in Special Education. She’s working very hard. She’s stressed every day. She’s working with special needs children during the day and taking classes at night. She’s found her calling.

And her professors clearly like the work she’s doing. Her grade point average is a perfect 4.0. That’s right, the ‘average’ student, and the person who always struggled, made the choice to work her butt off to help other students who were struggling. And she’s become a shinning star.

As a parent, I’m as proud as I can possibly be. And yes, I may be bragging. But every once in a while, I think a parent is allowed.


I Can Believe What My Son Wants To Do

After watching me blog for the past few weeks, my 9-year-old son asked if he could be a ‘guest blogger’ tomorrow. “Of course,” I said, “what do you think you want to write about?” Then he replied, “I think I want to write about all the funny stuff you do.”

Hmmmm, how do I tell him that I already write about all the funny stuff he does. Plus I don’t think I do a lot of funny stuff. Amusing perhaps. Interesting maybe. But funny? I don’t think so. I think he’s much funnier than I am.

So tomorrow there’s going to be a post that says something like “Stupid Stuff My 50-year-old Father Does.” I’m going to let him write tonight. He gets to write anything he wants. I will not edit. I will correct spelling. But I will not change or correct the content at all.

And if you all like what you’re reading – please comment. After all, he is only 9-years-old.