Day 376: It’s A Raggy Post

Here’s the main reason I chose the title of today’s post:

“It’s a Raggy Waltz,” by Dave Brubeck, has been playing in my mind a lot, lately.

Here’s the original version of that tune (with just the album cover as a visual), which I listened to, when I was a kid:

(thanks to MasterXelpud)

Here’s Dave Brubeck playing that tune (not with his usual crew) in some 60’s British movie which I’ve never seen (according to the YouTube comments):

(thanks to Jane8948)

So why has that tune been playing in my head?

How the hell should I know, people?  My mind is very mysterious and complex (as I’m sure yours is, too). But it IS fun to guess. So I’ll ask myself that same question, again:

So why has that tune been playing in my head?

Hmmmm. I’ve got nothing for “why,” at this point.  However, I shall now free-associate about the title, and perhaps the “why” may appear, in some way. And if it doesn’t, so what?

When I was a kid, I liked listening to Dave Brubeck, especially the albums “Time Out” and “Time Further Out.”

I liked playing “Take Five” and “It’s a Raggy Waltz” on the piano.

Even though my family didn’t eat any ham when I was growing up, I was quite the ham when I was a little kid. That is, I loved singing, dancing, and telling jokes. (By the bye, I still love doing those things.)

And, also, I loved acting.

When I was in nursery school, I played the baby bear in the Big Annual Production of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”  This was quite a coup, because I was the ONLY child in the younger class who had a part in the play. This amazing triumph may have been the result of type casting (I looked the part). I prefer this explanation: it had to do with my talent.

When I was in junior high school, I eagerly joined the drama club.  Early that year, there was a contest: to write and put on a skit.  Because of Writing Rule # 1 — “Write What You Know” —  I, with my friend Laura, put together a collection of jokes about Being in the Hospital, which we then performed, in front of everybody else in the club. My memory is:

  1. I stole most of the jokes in that skit (but not all of them).
  2. Laura and I won the contest.

Aha!  Now I know why “It’s a Raggy Waltz” has been going through my head!  I believe it was triggered by my use of the word “braggy” in some previous posts (here and here). Yes, indeed, that Dave Brubeck tune has been playing on my internal radio station, since I coined the word “braggy,” a few days ago. (Yes, “braggy” sounding like “raggy” is enough — in my mind — to trigger that sort of thing.)

And … this has been a braggy post so far, too.

At this point in the post, though, I’d like to turn my attention to the other side of “braggy.”

If “braggy” is the word I use about things I’m proud of — successes — what word might I use to describe  … failures?

This is an especially challenging question, since I invite myself (and others) to let go of the concepts of failure and success, since we continually re-evaluate what success and failure mean, as we move along the paths of our lives. Also, I believe those concepts don’t really help (especially the concept of “failure”).

Nevertheless, I shall return to this question: if I use the word “braggy” about “successes”, what word should I use for “failures”?

This reminds me of the Miller Analogies Tests I had to take, to get into Film School AND Social Work School. Okay! Cue the Miller Analogies Test, for this post:

Success:Braggy :: Failure:

(a) Are you kidding?  We have to take a Miller Analogies Test, just to read this friggin’ post?

(b) “Braggy” itself is a made-up word! How dare you make us guess another one of your made-up words?

(c)  Oh, all right, I’ll take a guess for your stoopid test, just to get this over with.

(d) Shamey.

While all those answers are legitimate, I would say the answer is “d”.

Where was I, before the phoney-baloney Miller Analogies Test?

Oh yes. I would like to turn my attention to something that felt like a failure, when it happened, no matter what language I use to characterize it.

Here are the facts:

After my braggy moment in the Junior High Drama Club, I tried out for the class play that year (I think it was “Alice in Wonderland”). My memory is that I didn’t get a part. I’m not sure about the accuracy of that — I may have gotten a teensy-eensy part —  but I do know I was very disappointed. It felt like a failure. Also, around that time — age 13, people! —  I was getting more self-conscious and self-critical. I began to think of myself as “bad” at certain things, including acting.

I didn’t try out for any more plays, throughout junior high and high school.

However, my last year in high school, the drama club put on an old-time, spoofy melodrama, called “Love Rides the Rails.” And I did participate in that play, in a different way.

I became the piano player for “Love Rides the Rails”,  which also involved arranging all the music for the show.*  I got to plan and play all the music, which included chase music, romantic music, villain music, and so on. I stole pretty much everything, from the silent movie musical vocabulary**, but it still felt I was creating AND performing. That was so much fun: to arrange the music, to play for the rehearsals, and to watch the actors create and build the play.

Time out, for a very early memory:

Since I was very young, I always loved watching actors create plays, My first memory of that is my friend Debbie Popkin’s mother, Nancy, creating plays for a local children’s theater.*** Watching that process backstage and watching the plays themselves, was …. magical.

For “Love Rides the Rails”, it became even more fun when I was given a partner, to help play the music. His name was Richard Pollack, he was a Junior (so I didn’t know him before we got to play together),  and he played a string instrument (my memory is that it was a mandolin****).

Here’s a photo, of Richard and me, during a performance night:


This is what I want to point out to you, about that picture:

  • It was taken by one of my parents, probably my father.
  • You can see Richard’s musical instrument, which I still think was a mandolin.
  • Richard is tipping BOTH of our hats, since I’m using both my hands to play piano, in that moment.
  • I can recognize some of my classmates, in that photo.
  • People in that photo look very happy.

Before I end this post, I need to ask one final question:

What in the Wide Wide World does all of this have to do with the title and the topic of this post?

Just this: For the intermission of “Love Rides the Rails”, when I was in High School, I played a song that was really fun, and which I really loved to play.

“It’s a Raggy Waltz.”

Thanks to musicians everywhere (to whom I always like to give credit), to Morland Cary (who wrote “Love Rides the Rails“)*****, to people from my high school (including my friend Harry, who was a great villain in that play), to my friend Debbie’s mother Nancy, and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

* My official title, for the play, was “Musical Coordinator at piano” (which I just found in my high school yearbook).

** I’ve searched YouTube for specific examples of that music I stole, but no luck yet. Actually, this post includes some of the romantic music I stole.

*** I can’t remember the exact name of that theater group, but it had the words “light” or “lantern” in it. I remember that because (1) somebody held up a lantern at some point during the introduction of the play and (2) those plays brightened up my childhood, for sure.

**** The high school yearbook doesn’t help my memory, here, because it just lists him as “musician.”

***** Yes, I really linked to the complete script of “Love Rides the Rails” there. And here, too.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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32 thoughts on “Day 376: It’s A Raggy Post

  1. thanks
    now it’s playing
    inside my head 🙂

  2. I’m not alone! Thanks so much for the visit and the comment.

  3. Great post! Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” is an all-time favorite, though I didn’t discover him till I was an adult. So thankful that I had a chance to see him in concert before he passed.

  4. Enjoyed reading this with the waltz as background. You were a cool girl in high school! What a great memory.

    • Thanks, Ellen! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and — also — to hear that I was a cool girl in high school. I guess it’s never too late to find that out (or believe it).

  5. To echo back the sentiment of some hypo-therapy messages I listen to – Life is a series of learning encounters. When we fail at something, we learn what doesn’t work for attaining the goal we aimed for, and if and when we approach that goal again, if we approach it in a different way taking with us what we have learned, we are more likely to successfully attain it having had some experience with it already.

    I think a lot of the self-help and ten-steps to success stuff out there is hogwash because of the complexity of lives, and how often what works for some doesn’t work for all, but some of the principles in the messages I’m making a habit of listening to are helpful in redirecting unhelpful self-criticism. The phrase “mind over matter” that suggests your mindset towards somethings has more influence on events than we tend to believe, I believe is often true. I have quite a history of self-fulling prophecies in my life about failure in making friendships that often holds me back from being social with people in person, and I really hope I can curb that.

    It’s interesting how the mind makes connections like you shared in your blog. My mind makes all kinds of weird connections like that every day, and I actively pursue them, as I got brain damage in 2006 from a crisis treatment that was supposed to stem my suicidal inclinations. I’ve done research on brain damage and how when we make connections between things in our minds, we are making new synaptical connections between parts of our brains, and so when I started my blog this past August, a goal of mine was to pursue making connections between things and blogging them every day, as a self-decided kind of therapy to help me heal. And believe it or not, because I have thrown myself so heavily into it, I feel like I no longer have the brain damage. My cognitive problems I had before, aren’t problems anymore. After the brain damage, it was very hard to read anything for extended periods of time, but now, as long as depression isn’t interfering (it has been recently), I can read for hours on end. I haven’t read anything about studies done like this with people who have brain damage, I’ve just heard what making connections between things does to the brain, and I decided to pursue it on my own. Pretty cool. Making connections between things like you did, pursuing them, figuring them out, actually makes you smarter, so yeah, congrats on having the patience to figure out the connections you’ve made 🙂

  6. Love Brubeck, and saw him a few years ago in Montreal. Variations on Brother can you Spare a Dime? from the album “Just me, Just You” (think I have that right) is my favourite.

  7. I get to hear Dave Brubeck on piano and see the young Ann Koplow smiling at the piano. Fantastic post, Ann, and congratulations for making the connection between braggy and Raggy. Of course Dave Brubeck was an American legend, and consider myself fortunate enough to not only review a handful of his performances, but also to interview him over the phone to write a preview story for one on his Syracuse shows. As I recall, even though he was into his 70s, his mind was quick, making leaps that I can equate to the jump for braggy to Raggy. My favorite Brubeck tune: “Blue Turk a la Rondo.” Now, Ann, I await a future post in which you relate something in your life triggered by our new word, shamey.

    • Mark! I always wait for your comments with anticipation, even though you sometimes give me assignments (which I’m never sure I’m gonna want to complete). Thanks so much for this fantastic comment, for your memories of Brubeck, and for your compliments to me.

      • Another interesting revelation for me, Ann. What I consider to be a suggestion, you take as an assignment! I may have to work on my tone. (Going more for Paul Desmond and Stan Getz in the Brubeck Quartet, possibly?)

      • It’s difficult to read tones in writing, Mark. And, it’s probably me, not you — I tend to take on too many things as assignments. Thanks for the musical allusions, too.

  8. Ann, very amusing and at the same time, illuminating, post. Mind. If we could honestly figure out the language of the Mind, how much more improved would our lives be? Or perhaps things are the way they are for a reason, for if we really understood Mind, how many of us would run screaming?

    Your topic hinges on something I have been looking at. It’s subject matter is intense, and I do hesitate to write it. Why do I say your article touches upon that which has been on my Mind? It has everything to do with the past, and our beginnings.

    Thanks, Ann, for another wonderful journey over at your blog. And thanks for coming by mine!!!

    (((HUGS))) Amy

    • HUGS back at you, Amy. Thanks for sharing the workings of your mind, here. I am honored by that, and by your kind compliments. Regarding what you want to and choose to say about your past, personal experience … I believe you will figure that out.

  9. Adam Hughes

    I adore the late David Brubeck 🙂 My favourite piece by him is ‘Take Five’ Though I didn’t find it awfully easy to play on the piano. After all,I believe it was in 5 flats! or was that sharps? I can’t remember,but I think I will give it another go. And I will get my Brubeck records out of the Cupboard tomorrow and have another listen. 🙂

    • I adored him, too, Adam. The main reason it’s called “Take Five” is because it was in 5/4 time which did make it difficult to play. I can’t remember whether it was five sharps or flats … it’s been a while since I’ve looked at the score! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  10. Fun post. I often have random songs or music playing in my head, but I don’t usually know why. Sometimes I have even more than one playing at the same time. I’m glad you figured out the braggy/raggy connection. Wheww. Sigh of relief there!
    I love Dave Brubeck’s music, too.

  11. Brubeck was incredible…saw him live in Seattle a number of years ago. He looked so old and brittle while walking on the stage with his band, but once his hands touched the keyboard…he was a 10 year old kid again. Beautiful. Probably a bit like the photo with you and Richard ~ you both look happy and the smiles in the audience so true.

    What a great time it can be when notes of the past come into our present, and brings back so many nice memories. Cheers!

    • I appreciate this uplifting comment, including that great memory of seeing Brubeck. I continue to be so grateful that you visit and comment here. Thank you.

  12. If “braggy ” is for success then I think “unworthy ” can represent failures .

    • Hey, mk! Thanks for visiting and commenting. It’s always great to see you here.

      My only concern about using the word “unworthy” for failures would be that — personally — I would essentially be making myself feel worse. I’m afraid that would feel like a label of “I’m unworthy,” just because something didn’t work out. Personally, I “fail” all the time, and when I use the word “unworthy”? I’m being cruel to myself.

      I would be very interested to hear what you think of this, because different people use words very differently.

      I am grateful for the worthwhile connection we have here. Thanks again.

      • Yes , I think you are right . If we have the opportunity to express failure with one word .It should have a positive impact .
        I used unworthy to express the default or first feeling after failure . After every failure I feel a little down and disappointed for some time. It’s sort of a default or natural response for me . But i get it , you are talking about defining failure in positive light and negating the negative impacts . Surely ,I will think about it in this way and will look for a new word 🙂 .

  13. Pingback: [VIDEO] Late Night Jazz: Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Blue Rondo à la Turk” Live | pundit from another planet

  14. Beth Bulpett Campbell

    A little late to the party, but I’m glad I found this particular post. “Love Rides the Rails” was a wonderful time in my life. I spent many an hour in the Paradise Cafe with our friends. (I think I helped build it; my title was Stage Manager, remember?) **** It was a mandolin, Ricky was a very talented musician who played many instruments. That play – that Drama Club – that theater were my safe places. Places in high school where I was free to be myself without fear of the beautiful people mocking me. I’m glad I got to know you then, and now.

    • What a pleasure to see your comment here today, Beth, for so many reasons. I’m glad that we knew each other then, and now, also. Thanks for being you.

  15. Pingback: Day 601: Out of time | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  16. Pingback: Day 612: Not the only one | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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