Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out: The Yum of Music. (No Talent Required)

When we are children, there are many opportunities to be loud. The playground, the playing field, playing an instrument and performing in the school play all provide kids the chance to make grand, passionate sound. Though if you asked your average child, he or she is likely to complain of frequent shooshings. For some perspective, however, ask yourself when was the last time you were shooshed. For most of us adults, it has been far too long since we've earned ourselves a good “Shoosh.”

Adulthood provides few socially acceptable outlets for the joyful creation of tremendous sound. Music is one of the few exceptions our culture provides.

(Shouting team cheers and chants like, Boomer Sooner, Go Wings, and Purty Cow at sporting events is another. That discussion, however, is for next week.)

Music is recreation. Whether you play an instrument or play the stereo, the operative is “play.” To the Yummish, there are few concepts holier than “play,” defined by the Yummish Council as “an act whose sole purpose is to bring pleasure, firstly to the “player” and secondarily to any “playmates.”

Music gives us emotional release. From manically happy pop to the most soul-sucking emo (is that still a thing?), there is music to match any emotion you might have... or wish to have. It also gives structure to that emotion, allowing you to fully experience and express your emotion of choice, but only for the length of the song. Be it a three minute pop song or some multi-day Mahler fiasco, there is a definite beginning and conclusion, letting you experience intense emotion for a short period of time rather than allowing it to take over your life.

The tragedy is that there are many people who do not allow themselves to experience this Yummiest of treats, simply out of fear that they aren't good at it. Out of fear that others might not enjoy their singing, they stay silent. They don't clap, out of fear they'll miss the beat. They deprive themselves of the simple pleasure of listening to music they honestly enjoy just because others might mock their taste.

The Yummish Council is deeply saddened by this and wishes to reassure these musically-deprived that talent is not necessary for the enjoyment of or participation in music. It is necessary to be able to sing like Lea Michele if your goal is to sing on Glee, but not for you to enjoy singing in the shower. It's OK if you aren't Frederica von Stade. She is. You don't have to be. Being intimidated by her, vocals-wise, makes sense if you are auditioning for a Rossini opera, not when singing “Happy Birthday” to your child-of-choice.

Nor is it necessary, or even proper, to apologize for your taste, which is part of your unique Yum. Whether you like M.I.A or ABBA, revel in the Yum you share with others who feel the same. Remember that no matter how esoteric your taste in recorded music, there is at least one other person who likes the song at least as much as you - the musician who created it.

So... if you want to sing out, sing out! If you miss the note, call it “experimental jazz fusion.” If you clap off beat, you've just invented “percussive harmony”. If you get off pitch, celebrate it as your own unique interpretation of the piece. Don't worry about “performing” and enjoy simply “playing.”

Today's exercise: Join your church choir, local drum circle or other. Sing in the streets or in your shower. Turn the stereo up to ear-bleed levels (read: 11). Make some noise!

Next: The Yum of Sport

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Second Yummish Saint

(Our apologies to all of those who were hoping we'd punk out again and post another cookie recipe. )

In all honesty, the Yummish Council went to bed last night intending to announce Joseph Campbell as the second Yummish Saint after St. Alfred of Peets. High on mythology and cheap Swedish vodka, we were satisfied that the issue had been successfully put to bed and decided to follow suit.

We woke up this morning, however, headach-y and uncertain (and passionately rededicated to our charcoal filtered friend Stolichnaya). While Joseph Campbell's insight, brilliance and Yummishness are hardly in doubt, the Council found itself having second thoughts about his place as the second Yummish saint. After all, it was through the efforts of another man that we, like so many people, first came to know the beautiful mind that was Joseph Campbell. Was it not more proper to honor the man who, in addition to many other Yummish acts, helped to promulgate Campbell's Yummish teachings? (Relax. It's not Bill Moyers.) His worth seemed undeniable. His message is largely hopeful, noble-minded and positive and the influence of his aesthetic is nearly immeasurable. The more we considered it and the more our hangover faded, the more obvious it became. Thus, the Yummish Council takes great pleasure in announcing the Second Yummish Saint:

George Lucas*

If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Lucas, let us be the first to welcome you to the planet we call Earth. Otherwise, the Council will assume that all humans over the age of 6 months are aware of his vast body of work. For nearly 40 years, Mr. Lucas has been one of the most influential storytellers humanity has ever known. His stories center around honor, bravery, love, sacrifice and, perhaps the most yummish of all, redemption. He gave us such fanciful concepts as the 3D animated chess set, a forest planet inhabited by talking teddy bears, and Harrison Ford. (Based on those twin Yums of “forgiveness” and “forgetfullness” the Yummish Council has elected to disregard the first Star Wars prequel from the criteria for consideration and to pretend that it simply never happened. Some did feel, however, that positive mention should be made of Liam Neeson's hair extensions. We intend to speak to her about this later, in private.) There is also the whole concept of “The Force,” but we're feeling lazy and have opted to save that for a later meditation, should we run short of ideas/vodka some week.

Though the Yummish Council is hardly above shameless self promotion, we feel it is important to say that this decision was made entirely devoid of promotional concerns. (And if you believe that...) However, if you remain unconvinced as to the validity our decision, the Council invites you to record how many references to Star Wars you encounter in any given week. We suspect you'll concede our point by lunchtime Wednesday. (Note: If you work in IT, a single day's count should prove sufficient.)

Tangential note: If you ride a motorcycle or drive a sporty car in the Bay Area and are unfamiliar with Lucas Valley Road, correct this oversight immediately. For extra Yummishness, turn right on Nicasio Valley Road and follow it to Rancho Nicasio for homemade potato chips and Sierra Nevada on tap. Yum!

Today's Exercise: Watch your favorite George Lucas movie. (Extra points for the inclusion of draft beer & homemade potato chips.)

Next: If you want to sing out, sing out. The Yum of music. No talent required.

*Runner up: The inspired genius who first looked at a potato and thought “I wonder if there is any way this thing can get me drunk?” Well done, sir! Well done!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Angels & Demons: We Are All God's Particles

The God Particle

What is the "God Particle"?

The answer to that question varies greatly depending on whom you ask.

If you ask "Science" (or as I like to call it, "Wikipedia"), it will tell you this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson

If you ask writer of airport newsstand novels Dan Brown, he will scribble something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oNO7_BOovI

If you ask guru of electronic awesomeness Raja Ram, you get this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Dk4RMY0o1c

If you ask Seekers of the YUM, they will probably point their fingers at you and laugh.  (Don't look at the finger!  If you look at the finger, you'll miss all the heavenly glory!)

This gesture should not, however, be mistaken for an act of aggression. Rather, to the enlightened seeker of the YUM, it is a gleefully absurd question to even ask "What is the God Particle?" To them the answer is simple: You are, silly!

To the Yummish mind, each of us is a tiny part, or "particle", of something indefinable, yet greater, stretching backward and forward through space and time. Your body and everything that surrounds it is made up of materials set free into the universe to reassemble in myriad, almost unimaginable ways (Apples! Cockatoos! The planet Jupiter!) by the explosion of an ancient star, a sun whose rays reached, and still reach, across space and time, as do the rays of our own sun. The energy from the sun's rays doesn't simply heat the earth and the air, but is the source of all energy currently available to us, from the power harnessed in crude oil, to the energy in the food you eat and your body's own kinetic expenditures. Follow the path to it's roots: Cells break down to molecules, molecules to atoms, atoms into protons and neutrons, then to quarks, and E=mc2.

You've heard it a million times before, but there is just no escaping it:

All is One.

There are no “angels” or “demons”. No “Us” and no “Them", but 7 billion absolutely unique and absolutely equal simultaneous human expressions of the one thing.  And a universe of everything, which is one thing.

Or, as The Senior Member of the Yummish Council put it:

Today's Yummish Exercise: Follow your bliss!

Next: The Second Yummish Saint (Take 2!)