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Saturday, January 03, 2004

It's Groundhog Day All Over Again

I could write an entire post just blathering on and on about why Groundhog Day is one of the best movies ever filmed but I won’t. Not today. I’ll just say that I watched it again and I was once again inspired. New Year’s Day, and our insistence on resolutions, always reminds me of the message of this wonderful movie: We can all become better people if we try—and we must try, every day.

In one of my latest attempts to become a better person I am learning the piano piece Bill Murray played in Groundhog Day, Rachmaninoff’s 18th variation on a theme by Paganini. Rachmaninoff originally scored this piece for two pianos and orchestra. I’ve never been a big fan of all things Russian, just too damn big for me. What I am plowing through is a solo piano arrangement of this piece—kind of like the musical equivalent of cliff notes to War and Peace.

I haven’t had a piano teacher in a couple of years. I think it’s time to start with lessons again. What I miss most about having a teacher is that I can have them play what I am learning so that I can hear what it is supposed to sound like which rarely happens in my imperfect world of musicianship.

There isn’t an awful lot to this piece although it is quite charming. I prefer the jazz improvisation Bill Murray concocts out of this little tune in Groundhog Day but for now I’m happy plinking away at the simple arrangement on my music stand. I’ll probably never be good enough to sit on a stage, bang out a cool riff, and get the girl like in the movie fantasy. You never know, maybe I’ll practice more this year than I did last year.

I have also been studying REA’s Handbook of Spanish, an all inclusive guide to grammar, writing, and style in Spanish. I already try to Speak Spanish every single day. I hang out with a gal from South America and our interaction is entirely in Spanish. I’m close to putting my Spanish over the top and to further that goal I just today booked a two week trip to Spain. I haven’t been to Spain in so long that it will be entirely new for me. I will probably just spend time in Madrid, Salamanca, and Toledo.

To further insinuate myself into the Latin world I watched Y Tu Mama Tambien again. Although the movie is in Spanish the characters use so much Mexican slang that I have a hell of a time understanding a lot of it without subtitles. Understanding the ultra-slangy dialogue in this movie would be the linguistic equivalent of playing the jazz improvisation in Groundhog Day. My Spanish is a hell of a lot better than my piano so I have a lot more hope in this area.

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution before. I don’t believe in them but I do believe in evolution. I’d like to evolve into more of a musical person, more of a Latin person, a better person.

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