New Musical Car Names

DSC_0154I’ve written about this subject before and come back to it today after being on the road this morning and finding myself bored.  While in heavy traffic, I began processing the names of car models.  I saw a Honda Odyssey, a Honda Fit (more on the Fit in a future post), a Dodge Dart, darting in and out of lanes only to be stopped like the rest of us at a traffic light.  Let’s see, there was a Toyota Venza whose name perplexes me – Venza?  Is this short for Venezuela? Or is the meaning a bit deeper?  In Spanish there is a phrase – sin verguenza which essentially means without shame and indeed the driver seemed to have no remorse for tailing me closely and then sharply passing me on a winding road.  I should add that the Venza was nearly impaled by an oncoming Impala.

One of my favorite car names on the road is the Hyundai Sonata, although I don’t particularly like the car.  I think automakers should turn more to classical music forms to name new models or rename tired and boring old ones.  Here are just a few I would recommend: The Mitsubishi Mazurka, and it’s mid-size companion the Mitsubishi Rhapsody; the venerable Hyundai Scherzo; the Ford Fugue and a hybrid version, the Ford Fantasie; the Chevrolet Concerto, (Chevy should bring back the Caprice Classic); the full-sized Pontiac Polonaise and the sporty Pontiac Poco Adagio (Do they even still make the Pontiac?) Dodge flopped with the Neon so why not repackage it as the Nocturne? I could go on for days with Italian names, but let’s just go with the Fiat Finale and the Fiat Tutti micro car, to replace the monotonous Fiat 500.  I never much liked the Lincoln model names, so let me suggest The Lincoln Largo (to replace the Navigator) and a new compact and fuel efficient Lincoln Lento; I could have fun with the German makes, but let’s keep it simple – the VW Waltz, and the concept car, the VW Variation on a Theme.  BMW just numbers their cars, so they need a refined BMW Bagatelle.  Here’s one make I forgot about and so have most Americans – Buick.  They are definitely on the right track with the Buick Encore, but they steered off course with the Buick Enclave so how about renaming it the Buick Berceuse, which in musical terms means lullaby and would be the perfect auto for a family with a crying baby suffering from colic and insomnia.  And I know the theme here is classical music, but I am going to deviate a bit and rename the Buick LaCrosse the Buick Jai-Alai.  And last on the list, Volvo, the old Swedish make needs a makeover for its infamous station wagon box.  I’d suggest the Volvo Vocalise.

Coda: For good measure, I’d rename the Nissan Leaf, the Nissan Conductor and the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Impromptus.  By the way, cudos to Nissan for the Versa Note, and the Nissan March, but whatever happened to the Stanza? And Honda, what did you do with the Prelude?


Who is Alexander Scriabin?

DSC_0421 I enjoy writing about things I know nothing about.  Take wine and classical music for example.  They couple nicely.  And if you read wine tasting notes or reviews of classical music, it all sounds like bullshit meant to be exclusive and alienating.  It’s the language of snobbery, not unlike the language of academia.  It’s not meant to be read by anyone without club membership and in case you happen to slip in without your membership card, you will be outed the moment you open your mouth.  Best to stay quiet and simply look the part. To be fair, I have come to love both wine and classical music.  And if I wanted, I could become a first class snob of a journalist writing erudite wine notes and haughty classical music reviews worthy of an entry in the Wine Spectator or the Penguin Guide to Classical Music. I have even posted several tongue in cheek concert and wine reviews on this blog in years past exposing myself as the real plebe that I am.  Which brings me to my point.

Scriabin.  No, it’s not a new cholesterol drug.  Hint: Russia.  If you guessed person, you’d be right.  If you guessed Vladimir Putin’s Chief of Staff, you would be wrong, very wrong.  I don’t know what music Putin listens to, but likely not the works of Alexander Scriabin, the most famous Russian composer you have probably never heard of or if you have, only because you graduated from a music conservatory or are a classical music nut.  Scriabin died in 1915 and was free to compose as he pleased unlike Shostakovitch who came later who along with Prokofiev was subject to Soviet censors. Scriabin was in the same class as Rachmaninoff at the Moscow Conservatory and was said to be a prodigy both as a composer and pianist.  Initially, his work was influenced by the Romantics, most notably Chopin, but as he matured, his compositions became less conventional and more esoteric, even delusional.  According to his own writings documented in Schonberg’s terrific book, Lives of the Great Composers, Scriabin identified as God and tried to unify all art and philosophy into a symphonic masterpiece to be performed over the course of several days at the foot of the Himalayas with incense burning and a contraption that would convert musical notes into colors. Scriabin, it was thought, was a synesthete – he literally saw music in technicolor.  He never finished this masterpiece, but someone did for him and it can be sampled here:

Long live Scriabin!

Noise Pollution Allegation against Spanish Pianist


This BBC headline caught my attention: “Spanish pianist faces jail over noise pollution claims”.  What?  A pianist?  I can understand if it were heavy metal thrashers, or a kid with a guitar and a loud amp.  But a classical pianist? There must be something more to the story.  Turns out that there was a heated dispute between neighbors.  One apparently did not appreciate hearing the other practice 8 hours a day for years.  The article doesn’t give too many details except that the family of the pianist tried to sound proof their apartment. The “music critic” neighbor is suing the pianist to collect damages for prolonged exposure to noise pollution.

Could this pianist be such a bad player to have caused her neighbor so much suffering? What was she playing all those years? I have to confess that I like classical piano music, but there are some composers of it that I do not like, and one happens to be Joaquin Rodrigo, himself a Spaniard and world class pianist.  His music really is pretty out there in terms of accessibility.  I wonder if this budding noise polluter was banging out Rodrigo pieces 8 hours a day?  Another composer I am not in the least fond of is Liszt.  His stuff is virtuosic rubbish in my opinion and  it would be torture for me to be a captive listener for 8 hours a day.

If I were a conflict negotiator for the feuding neighbors, I would suggest that the pianist take requests.  Surely there’s some musical compromise possible here.  Everyone likes a little Chopin, right? I would recommend that the pianist play a Nocturne just before bedtime twice a week and alternate with the meditative and relaxing sounds of Ravel and Debussy on the other nights.  During the day, I would propose Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier which is perfect practice music and quite soothing.  If the complaining neighbor were not a classical music fan, I’d suggest Elton John or Billy Joel; if partial to jazz, Herbie Hancock or Bill Evans might help bring about peace.  Herbie Hancock actually is a peace ambassador to Japan.

I think the feud is all a big misunderstanding.  The two could be best of friends really if they just tried.  The pianist could even offer piano lessons.  Before long, they could be a famous duo playing Schubert: Piano Music for Four Hands.  And wouldn’t that be grand!

PS:  If you hit the links, they take you to Spotify where you can listen to any of the music I referenced here for free.  It’s well worth the minute or so it takes to sign up.  You can keep the free account or upgrade to a paid account.  I do not work for Spotify and am not paid a penny to say any of this.  I’m just a fan.

Skipping Kitty

I was toying with the idea of playing the guitar over the skip on this record, but when my cat jumped up and began to investigate the sound, I decided to make a video.  Can anyone guess the music?  It’s from a Nonesuch label recorded back in the late 60’s or early 70’s I would guess; I couldn’t find a date stamp anywhere.