All About Beethoven: Part I (The Part Where He Is Born And Has To Be A Teenager For A While)
All about Schroeder's favorite composer, and then some.

PART ONE OF A SERIES (SEE PART TWO)

Most kids these days think Mozart is the name of Katy Perry’s chinchilla and Beethoven is that dog in the movie their parents showed them when they were kids to keep them quiet in the van after drinking too many Slurpees at the Qwikee Stop after soccer practice. Ha ha! Crazy kids! Little do they know about the world of adventure and suspicious diseases that awaits them in the study of music composers from the 18th century (Official Motto: “Well, At Least Some Of Us Have Toilets Now”.)

A crucial musical figure who straddled both the Classical and Romantic eras of music, Beethoven must have had an incredibly wide stance. But, this not withstanding, he was apparently also able to sit at a piano bench and compose a lot of music, which you can still hear today if you listen to that one station that broadcasts “All Things Considered”.

One bad apple doesn’t spoil the wig powder

[pullquote type=”right”]Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, not unlike the Jackson 5, except without the stylish dancing and Afros.[/pullquote]Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, which, according to Wikipedia, “has developed a concept of international co-operation and maintains sustainability oriented project partnerships in addition to traditional city Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…… Sorry, dozed off there. I’m sure Bonn is a very exciting place, and when Beethoven lived there, he must have enjoyed roaming its fun-filled streets full of Germans and wig powder shops. Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, not unlike the Jackson 5, except without the stylish dancing and Afros. Although tradition has it his father was a harsh instructor, often driving the young prodigy to tears, at least he didn’t have to sing “One Bad Apple” on the Flip Wilson Show.

Obeying official Child Prodigy Rules, Beethoven was expected to show off for snooty courtesans with fake moles on their cheeks at as young of an age as possible. Therefore, he made his first appearance in March 1778 at age 6, where posters show he opened for “Honey Hornblower and the Stuttgart Steppers” at the Kaiserkeller, beating The Beatles there by 146 years. His first three piano sonatas, called “Kurfürst” (literally, “Gesundheit”) were published in 1783 and turned him into an overnight nothing, because, let’s face it, no one cares much about piano sonatas.

Like most teenagers in Bonn, Beethoven also spent his share of time getting into trouble doing burnouts on the Kappellmeister’s lawn in his Chevy, and getting into baton fights with rival gangs of composers. Still, he persevered, and soon found himself ready to pursue his life’s dream of becoming a Full Time Composer (Official Motto: “At Least I’m Not A Painter, Mom”).

Leaving the Big Macs behind

After graduation, Beethoven, as most accomplished musicians have throughout history, worked at a MacDonald’s for a year while trying to make his way as a composer in the Big City. Soon he began to gain the attention of local music supporters, such as Count Ferdinand von Waldstein, who, despite his name, was, unfortunately, not a vampire. It was through supporters such as these that he was able to pursue his craft as a composer, and, more importantly, to vow never to eat a Big Mac again. Beethoven also supported his income by playing viola in the court orchestra, which familiarized him with many important viola jokes, such as, “Hans, what’s the difference between a viola and a violin?” (pause for effect) “A viola incorporates a longer combustible period relative to the width, girth and weight of the respective instruments.” Trust me, back then, that was a knee slapper.

In 1792, having grown as a musician and having finally paid his dues to the Local Musicians and Viola Joke Union 102, he left Bonn for Vienna, which is in Austria, where the Sound of Music was filmed, but without any Beethoven songs. Sending his  friend off to Vienna, Count Waldstein wrote in a farewell message: “Through uninterrupted diligence you will receive Mozart’s spirit through Haydn’s hands. Also, try the weinerschnitzel at The Brown-Wigged Pig! (Official Motto: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Wig, No Pig)”. So Beethoven left for Vienna in a broken down VW van with faded flower power stickers on it, determined to make his way as an established musician in Vienna.

Next Time: The Vienna Period (WARNING: No Sausages)

Shoe Shopping Survival for Men
Navigating the no-man's-land of women's shoe departments.

In our continued efforts to educate men and sell column space we provide you with this brief guide to Shoe Shopping Survival for Men, which we hope will help you better understand why women – hey, wait, come back! It’s not that bad! We’ll even use a Sports Analogy!

Shame Waves and Shoe Fashion

If you’ve ever been in the shoe section of any major department store, you now know what the gross national product of Belgium would look like if it consisted of footwear, which, for all we know about Belgium, it does. Take a deep breath and you can smell the shame waves wafting from multiple manufacture’s displays, telling you that what you are currently wearing should be a punishable crime compared to the suspiciously similar pieces of fake leather proudly displayed on the well-lit Plexiglas shoe holder stands before you. Why, how can you even show yourself at the next book club meeting? You might as well not wear shoes – in fact, you should just go around with your feet wrapped in soggy cardboard left over from a rotting fish throwing contest. Okay, that didn’t make sense, but then neither does shoe fashion.

All the Shoes in the World

As of last count, according to the website allaboutshoes.com, “You are not authorized to access or query our WHOIS database through the use of high-volume, automated, electronic processes”, which is to say, allaboutshoes.com is not an active site and can’t help us here. But if it were, we expect it would say there were approximately 34-to-the-third-power styles of shoes on the market. This is enough shoes to encircle the globe 14 times, causing traffic to be stopped behind rows of tiger-striped pumps and darling flats with those little roses on them, and making your wife angry because she can’t get to the store to buy more shoes. You, however, would be ecstatic, as then all of the shoes would now be outside and not here, stretching endlessly before you as a veritable sea of needless fashion. But you are here, and it is time to make the best of it.

The Inexplicable Need for Shoes

[pullquote type=”right”]To the untrained, and therefore stupid (i.e., “male”) eye, there is no rhyme or reason to the styles and variety of shoes.[/pullquote]To the untrained, and therefore stupid (i.e., “male”) eye, there is no rhyme or reason to the styles and variety of shoes. You, like most humans, have only two feet, and your simple caveman brain has calculated, quite proudly, that you can therefore only wear two shoes at a time; therefore, your outdated, never-were-in-style Harvey’s Department Store and Bait Shop discount specials you wear to everything but your wedding (even though you still can’t see why not) serve your feet just fine. However, we can only surmise that to a woman, there are variances in the Shoe Plane of Existence that only the female eye can perceive. Where you see one pair of black shoes, they see all other black shoes that Do Not Exist On Their Feet, and therefore, must be had, ergo, their life is incomplete. to whit, buy more shoes. Geneticists call this the “X Chromosome Shoe Extrapolated Footwear Variance”, or, they would, if we hadn’t just made it up. But it sure would explain why, in most women’s closets, a male will see 26 pairs of the same black shoes, but a woman will see a dangerously incomplete shoe collection, because she doesn’t have an off-black, not-quite-dark-gray slip-on half-sandal with a tiny silver (NOT gold) buckle ON THE SIDE not the top, you hairy Philistine.

So men, we hope we have helped you understand a little more about shoe shopping, which, as we promised you earlier, is a lot like a Sports Analogy, which we’re forgetting at the moment but involved NASCAR and a crash at lap 343.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h6″ looks_like=”h6″ icon=”book”]This column is featured in the book Shopping Survival Guide for Men[/feature_headline]

Photo Credit: jef safi cc

Hairless Chick Magnets
It's never too late to really stink at learning to play guitar.

Have you ever wanted to play the guitar, but thought, “No, man, all I want to do is ride my bike and not be hassled by The Man!”? If so, you were probably in the movie Easy Rider, which, of course, has nothing to do with our informative article on “You Can Still Learn To Play Guitar (Not Necessarily Just To Get Chicks)”.

Knowing Your Reason to Shred

Every adult has thought about playing the guitar at one time or another, usually after seeing their favorite musician on TV and thinking, “Wow. He really got old. What happened to his hair?” Then you may have thought, “Hey! I got old! Maybe I can play the guitar, too!” Well, whether you’re 5 or 500, you can learn how to play the guitar, even if you don’t have hair. It will just somehow make it more sad.

[pullquote type=”right”]If you are like most guys, and you know you are, you should be pursuing the guitar because you love music, or you really want to annoy your kids.[/pullquote]Guys, the first thing you need to understand about playing guitar is that it is not going to automatically turn you into a Chick Magnet, unless, of course, you already are one, such as George Clooney, in which case you may be transformed into a Chick Black Hole, where women will disappear into your sexy gravitational pull. But if you are like most guys, and you know you are, you should be pursuing the guitar because you love music, or you really want to annoy your kids. And ladies, remember that playing guitar is not just a guy thing; it is also a great way to remind guys how much they lack as men as you shred their face off with “Voodoo Chile“.

Time to Choose Your Axe

Choosing a guitar at your Local Music Store is a fun, yet loud, process, so you may want to bring ear plugs. As you enter the store, all you need to do is follow the sound of the intro to “Sweet Child O Mine” that some troubled, angst-filled pre-teen is horribly destroying on a guitar that he will never be able to afford. This will lead you to the guitar section, where soon, a helpful employee will ask you if that is your kid and can you please tell him to knock it off. Once you inform him that you have your own troubled teen at home and this is not him, you can begin the process of choosing your guitar. Let the helpful salesperson know that you actually have a job and can pay in real money, and he or she will begin to ask you questions that will quickly help you decide on a guitar, so he can get back to kicking other pre-teens out of the store. First, you will need to choose between an acoustic or electric guitar. The acoustic guitar is a beautiful, sensitive instrument capable of sweet, introspective folk musings, while the electric guitar is the one that gets the chicks. Next, you will need instruction, whether that is a beginners’ guitar book or a guitar-instructing washed-up ex-hippie who just wants to ride his bike and not be hassled by The Man.

Whichever path you choose, make sure you practice consistently, so that your wife doesn’t complain about how you bought this thing and it’s just gathering dust by the TV. Soon you will be on your way to improving your musical status from dark-sock-with-shorts-wearing-dad to that of head banging Rock Guitar god. Even if you don’t have hair.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h6″ looks_like=”h6″ icon=”book”]This column is featured in the book Dubious Knowledge (Book One)[/feature_headline]

Photo Credit: D.Clow – Maryland cc

This %$#@! House
For those of you who want to experience the thrill of

Hello, and welcome to the world of Home Improvement, a world filled with muttered curses and the exact wrong wrench for the job!

This week, we’ll look at the first steps you novices need to take when starting on the long, dusty, rusty-nail-sticking-out-of-the-board-and-poking-into-your-foot-because-you-forgot-to-wear-your-boots-like-your-wife-told-you-to-but-no-way-are-ever-going-to-tell-her-THIS-happened road of starting your home improvement project. First, go to the bank and get a loan. We’ll wait.

Got it? Okay, now double that, go to another bank and mortgage your car and your dog.

Ready?

How do I pay for it?

[pullquote type=”right”]However, we know some of you want to experience the thrill of “having done it all myself” and “knowing the fastest way to the emergency room”…[/pullquote]Most people choosing a home to fix up will spend countless hours poring over home improvement books and house plan websites in order to determine what style, age and cost-in-body-parts-type of house best fits their needs. This could waste many valuable hours of loan interest accruement. Instead, use this simple three-point plan: 1) Win the lottery. 2) Force your home loan officer into bankruptcy. 3) Move into his house. However, we know some of you want to experience the thrill of “having done it all myself” and “knowing the fastest way to the emergency room”, so this is a good time to mention our book “This %$#@! House!” which is available in paperback, or check out our new video “This %$#@! House Is Alive!”, which features a unique musical approach to home improvement, featuring such hits as “$22 A Square Foot?!?”, “Honey, I Think I Dislocated My Heart”, “Shake, Rattle, and Leak”, “I Got A Saber Saw Kids, So Get Out Of The Room!”, “Metric Conversion? We don’t Need No Stinking Metric Conversion”, “We’ll Fix It With Putty”, and “CALL THE PLUMBER NOW!!”

And now, some letters

D. Branhurst of Newport, Connecticut writes:
I have a Williams/Shank busling-type pipe joint on my refurbished Winkmeister oil-burning Sharnot-filler (with retro-shot bevel-dropped nipples on the intake and a 4-barrel dual carb with a Hemi and 4 on the floor and let me tell ya that baby really roars!) My question is, should I re-fit the blast retorsion wing-type brass woolcock hand-held mini-lasers, or send out to the Federal Government for a grant to develop a simple in-home fusion reactor?”

Dear D: Yes.

R. Newport of Branhurst, Connecticut writes:
We’ve been waiting four weeks for the plumber to come back and replace our kitchen sink, and my wife is tired of washing the dishes in the shower. Any hints?”

Dear: R: Try the toilet.

C. Connecticut of D. R., Connecticut writes:
If I had a hammer, could I hammer in the morning?

Dear C: Yes; you could also hammer in the evening, all over the continental United States. Keep in mind, however, that if you wish to hammer about Justice or Freedom, you should check with your local zoning office for the proper permits, and some states may require extra fees for any Love Between Your Brother and Your Sister.

So tune in next week, when we’ll be showing you more practical home improvement tips, such as how to reconnect your heart monitor after seeing the bill, how to scratch under your new cast with a screwdriver, and how to tell your spackling job from a hole in the wall. Now we have to go look up our loan officer’s home address.

Photo Credit: farenough cc

How to Twitter Your Hashtag Into A MyFace Blog
An attempt to help you understand the latest trends in — oh, look! A funny cat photo!

If you’re like me, you’re kind of bald, but since that has nothing to do with our topic today, we won’t be addressing that issue, so I’m not sure why you would bring it up, since it is such a sensitive topic for most men with this condition. Please, let’s talk about “Social Media” instead.

“Social Media” is the common term used by internet marketers to describe their latest books, such as “Holy Cow, It’s Social Media!”, “Here Comes Social Media!”, “Social Media And Goiter Prevention”, and “Social Media: How You Can Use It To Buy My Book”. If you looked at the world around you this morning, you probably noticed that it had computers in it, which are very important to our topic, as the Social Media expert book authors need you to use one in order to order their book. So let’s set off on the merry road towards Social Media literacy.

MySpace

[pullquote type=”right”]These days, having a MySpace page is likened to wearing plaid pants with a striped shirt; something you did in the 70’s because everyone was doing it and you had no idea how uncool you were, which is to say, very uncool.[/pullquote]MySpace is now considered the festering left earlobe of the social media world, and no self-respecting media expert would touch it with a ten foot computer, unless that computer happened to be resting on top of a copy of their book which they were trying to sell you. But at one time MySpace ruled the online world, where, if you were in a band named “The Atomic Mushroom, Part II”, the first thing you would do, even before practicing, would be to start a MySpace page so your bassist’s girlfriend could “like” it, right before she dumped him and took off with the guitarist, leaving you with the bill for the band t-shirts. Today, having a MySpace page is likened to wearing plaid pants with a striped shirt; something you did in the 70’s because everyone was doing it and you had no idea how uncool you were, which is to say, very uncool. These days, any self-respecting marketing expert would just as soon put a diseased gerbil in their triple-mocha venti double-espresso decaf white mocha latte rather than have a MySpace page, unless the gerbil was buying a copy of their book (“21 Ways Social Media Is Like A Diseased Gerbil”).

Facebook

Facebook was invented by Mark Zuckerberg in that movie I didn’t see called “The Social Network”, which also starred Barry Livingston, who was also in “My Three Sons”, which was an old TV show about, I think, three sons, which I never really watched a lot because it was probably on at the same time as “Lost In Space”, which had a LOT of computers in it.  Anyway, Zuckerberg apparently was looking for a way to tell all of his friends what he just had for lunch, and that it was both “yummy” and had “veggies” in it, because that is pretty much what I see on my Facebook page, which is coincidentally called a “feed”. Since its beginning, Facebook has grown to over 1.23 billion users, which means it has probably fomented a world-wide uprising of Spanish Spinach Quiche with Caramelized Shallots (yummy!) lovers by the time you’ve read this.

Twitter

Twitter is the newcomer to the Social Media block, much like the neighbor that moves in across the street and seems pretty nice but then immediately asks to borrow your hedge trimmers and you’re thinking “What the heck? I don’t really know him that well yet”, but you do it anyway because you’re a nice guy and the next thing you know you notice your mailbox has been knocked sideways and you think he did it with his truck but you can’t really prove it, plus he hasn’y given the hedge trimmers back. Twitter has risen in popularity in large part do to the use of “hashtags”, which used to be the number sign, but apparently Twitter is so cool it can change the laws of language without telling anyone. This sign (#) was invented by two social media authors who became so bored waiting for their books to sell (#buymybook) that they couldn’t even finish a game of tic-tac-toe (#bored), much less draw the squares vertically (#lazy).

SnapChat

If you have a 12-year-old girl, you are very aware of what SnapChat is. If you don’t, omg, lol, (insert duck lips photo here), rotfl, #omgdidyouseewhatshewaswearing you have no idea what I just said.

There are, of course, many other social media outlets that allow you to share with your friends the vast, uplifting world of cat photos, including Digg, Dugg, Dagg, Reddit, WantToReadit, RedditSawTheMovieButTheBookWasBetter, StumbleUpon, StumbleOver, FallOverStubYourToeAndCurse, and Rashtag, a site devoted exclusively to describing your current worrisome skin condition.

So there you have it, a complete guide to help you navigate the cat-photo-filled waters of the ocean in the world in the universe that Social Media lives in. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash my hair. #ForgotHeWasBald #Moron #Sad
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h6″ looks_like=”h6″ icon=”book”]This column is featured in the book Dubious Knowledge (Book One)[/feature_headline]

Photo Credit: rishibando cc