Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Can't wait

Ordinarily, I'd wait for a news story on an indictment for tax-evasion to post this, but I don't have the patience right now, since I just thought of these lines yesterday:

Unreported income -
well-reported outcome.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Perhaps Coco is precocious in the wrong way.
He saw a preview of Over the Hedge, in which the Steve-Carrell-voiced squirrel burps the alphabet (though he may have had a burp double). Coco therefore proceeded to do the same, since he learned from his Opa how to swallow air and make himself burp. But Coco doesn't know his alphabet yet, so he burped something like "A, B, D, G, C, O, P, F, ..."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Madge Monday

Madge can't wait for cable to come, which is tomorrow. She even made a set of rules for good TV usage and behavior. Homework first, agree on what to watch or at least take turns choosing, etc. She came up with the rules herself.
This weekend I told one of my classes about getting TV. For some reason I thought they'd find it cute. They're sixteen and seventeen. They found it no such thing. They were shocked and outraged. "What!? What do you mean, you have no TV!?!"
And then the following questions really blew me away.
How do you get the news?
Don't you follow sports?
How do you watch movies?
And, my favorite: What do you do when you don't know what to do?
Little did I know how deprived Madge really is, having to figure out something to do when there's nothing to do.
Her solution, by the way, is to say, "I'm bored."
Expecting me (or some electronic surrogate) to unbore her.

Sloppy punctuation

I know I wan't consistent with NUMBERam and simply a.m. But I'm lazy and I think it's obvious that "am" after a number is not a form of the verb "to be" while on its own that's not so clear. So I fudged.
I'm currently reading a book on punctuation. Grammar book publishers seem to have a law that insists on punny titles: "A Dash of Style," "You Have a Point," "Lapsing Into a Comma," etc. Therefore I found it rather strange that the book has a section entitled,
"What your use of the colon says about you."

How I use my colon is between me and my proctologist, I think.


Last week, the GE guy came for an estimate. The window they gave me: 8am to 5pm. He came at 4pm. Hey, at least they could specify a day. I hear some people are not so lucky. As he put it, "Do you want an a.m. appointment, or p.m.?" and, after a pause, "Let me just say that with an a.m. appointment you're more likely to see me on that day, since we overbook."
What's next, a security check?
Jeez. He called me about ten minutes ago, asking if the part came. Since I said yes, he's going to show up. I'm guessing he's looking for parking now on streetcleaning day with alternate double parking.

I'll try to make his job easy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Teaser for a future post

I have neither the time nor the energy to unpack the whole playdate now.
Let me just say that when someone asks me about our summer and I talk about going to the pool and then reciprocate innocently by asking about her summer I do not expect, "We separated because my in-laws came to stay here."
In retrospect, I feel blindsided. At the time, I was just fighting to keep a neutral expression.

Coco Waxes Poetic

One of the things it pains me to admit about oil and gas on the roads is that they become mesmerizingly beautiful when swirling in water.
As we were crossing a street today, Coco said,
"Look. A rainbow is taking a bath."

Pictures to go with yesterday's post

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Title

You're welcome to this title. All you have to do is write the book.

From Goldwater to Blackwater: Sounding the Depths of the Republican Party.

(I know there's Watergate and Whitewater in between, but I think this suffices. Or, one could play an analogy game - Goldwater is to Watergate as Whitewater is to Blackwater - or some such.)

Science/Art in the Mini-School Hall

One of these days I'll remember to bring my camera, but for now just trust my description.
Across from Coco's classroom is a science lab, and on its wall hang several third-grade pictures of a scientific nature: circuits, volcanos, the usual, all drawn in thin lines with plenty of labeling. But one is different. It's in marker, colorful.
The more I think about it, the more awesome it is.
The picture itself is half green (grass) and half blue (sky). The blue part has a huge sun in it, bright yellow, towards the left.
I think the picture is meant to be "read" from the middle out, but that's just my interpretation. For the sake of this post, I'll continue from top left to bottom right. So, top left had the sun. The ottom left (entirely on the grass) has a red apple WITH A BITE OUT OF IT - I told you it's awesome. In the middle is a black and gray gorilla, bridging grass and sky. On the far right, also entirely on the grass, is yellow fire (from black sticks).
Here's the kicker. It has only two words: one, the artist's name (Peter), and the other, CHANCE (all caps).
At first I thought it was just a weird picture but then I realized that this kid is triangulating creation stories (Biblical-Edenic, Darwinist, Greek-Promethean) and is questioning them by adding the word CHANCE (or is he stacking the deck for Darwinism?) and, don't forget, his own name (which appears to be stacking the deck towards the creationist base).
I've tried to share my interpretation with other parents waiting for their kids, but none have caught his Promethean spark. I'm working on them, Peter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I think I've written about this before, but it happened again and it strikes me that it is a parable for parenting in general.

Family Hotdog(s)

Only the meat for one.
The other wants only the bun.
But – here the vendor gets flustered –
One wants ketchup, the other one mustard.

Coco Tuesday

I'm going to have to keep my eye on Coco and the ladies. Today was the second time he told me that he kissed some girl in his class or that some girl kissed him. He's four, girls. Your people need to talk to my people before we can let anything happen.

On a different note, we noticed again how little he likes change. We moved some furniture around this weekend to more fully accommodate the arrival of cable TV. While we were shuffling stuff around, he just played with a toy on the couch, oblivious to the world.
Poor guy.

Fodder for Discussion

From a quick skim, it seems as if JK Rowling gave a talk and the people from her biggest fan website published what she said. I'm saying seems because this is the web, after all, and fiction and faction get mixed up a lot. That said, there's some steamy things to think about here.
(This post is meant in particular for Julie, Auntie Boo, and Teacher Ana, but anyone is welcome, of course.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Madge Monday

Every once in a while, parenting works the way you want it to.
Madge had substitutes today, which meant less homework, which meant that, two minutes into our wait for Coco's dance class, she declared, "I'm bored."
So, instead of telling her that her boredom is not my responsibility, but rather her own, I decided to be more fun than that and said, "Do you want to play Battleship?"
She knew what I was talking about because that odd internet stuffed-animal phenomenon Webkinz has a battleship game.
But she had never played the old-school, pencil and paper version. I do think she enjoyed it, as did one of the moms in the waiting room (moms are a rarity there, it's mostly nannies and a surprising number of dads) who, it turns out, is Czech and reminds me a lot of our friend, Punkin. This Czech lady also played it a lot as a kid and had forgotten about it until this afternoon.
For me, many a school tedium was alleviated by this game, and it's hard to describe how glad I am that Madge and I clicked on this - it's been a while since we've clicked on anything. The game worked so well as a pass-time that we had to fold up our papers and continue at home.
Madge won. For some reason she hadn't launched four boats, only three, but that really doesn't have any bearing on the outcome. All boats sunk is all boats sunk, no matter how many. If anything, she could complain that she had four boats to sink - though, as experience taught me, it is rather disheartening to only hear the virtual splashes of failed missiles.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Asking for it

One of the shops-to-be in our neighborhood proclaims the arrival of a ready-to-heat-and-eat prepared foods place of foods with an expiration date rather than a half-life. The store's name, "Get Fresh."
I can't wait. Not because of the food, but because of the open invitation to harass the help.

Mystery Reader

That's me.
Today, in Coco's class. He doesn't know about it. (I didn't even tell Madge for fear she might pull her "I know something you don't know" first-born thing.)
Yesterday one of the helpers in his class asked me for hints to tell the kids so they might guess who I am. "You know, like if you're a policeman, we can say, 'He's the dad of two and he's a policeman. Who here knows what a policeman does?'"
To which the kids would say, "Writes parking tickets and eats donuts."
No. In my case, it would be, "He's the dad of two and isn't a policeman. Who else has a dad who isn't a policeman?"
Come to think of it, that would be a good way to introduce myself, especially if I added the word "exactly" because it's so evokative. As in, "Well, I'm not a policeman, exactly." See where that's leading your mind? Definitely not towards limericist for a public radio show. If it does, you're twisted.
So now I'm trying to decide what to read. I think Bark, George! has to be on the program. Short. Good sounds. Big pictures. And maybe a George and Martha book, or Pete's a Pizza, asking Coco to be my audience volunteer - but we only have a that in a small board book format, so it might be hard to see.
And I can't help but open with some sort of joke, so I think I'll ask how much time I have and thn, after the answer, open up Anna Karenina and read the line about the happy and unhappy families.
Or maybe something by the Marquis de Sade?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ah, Manners

As you may have noticed, I am still working on using my “nice words” instead of the first words that come to mind. Coco is a little behind me in that development. Not much, but that’s because I haven’t advanced as I ought.
So here’s an open letter to the lady at Barnes and Noble.

Dear Rotunda,

Contrary to your remark, my son was not being “mean” when he called you fat. He was being what we in the profession of describing things call “honest.” I might even give you “rude,” but “mean,” no. He doesn’t know you. He has no reason to be mean.
I’m guessing you mean “mean” in the sense of “malicious” as derived from the word referring to baseness of class and character and not in the sense of “that was a mean game of tennis you played.”
Neither of these meanings applies. He had no hurtful intent and he definitely did not use a very original way of noting your appearance. He used the best descriptor available to him. If you hadn’t attempted to hide your physique in the mythically slimming all black, he might have pointed out a flashy color or cute shoes or a lovely handbag. But, from what I saw, he actually chose something fairly benign.
Please keep in mind that my son plays no part in the dialogue between your outer husky bitch and your inner skinny one. When he said, “She’s fat,” he did not append the phrase “and therefore can’t be loved.” That’s all you.
I, on the other hand, would like to add that if you didn’t have the propensity to sink your misery along with your teeth into the nearest available baked good, maybe you wouldn’t have been taking the elevator away from people with strollers or carts or wheelchairs and might have seen the malfunctioning escalator as an opportunity to shed 4.62 calories.

In a way, my son did you a favor: he elevated your heart rate.

Coco’s Dad

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Procrastinating on the Limericks

Listing some rhymes for a topic that might or might not make it on air I came up with this nugget:

Summary of Select Shakespearean Sonnets

I rehearse my verse
to reverse my hearse.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Coco Tuesday

Coco got his first "tying shoes" yesterday. He is now the proud owner of red low-top Chuck Taylors. Kids' size 9, mind you. Coolness.

Not Quite Done with Madge Monday

The whole TV thing. Julie's been waiting for this day to come. My dad, the kids' Opa has been telling me they'll feel left out and have nothing to talk about.
I still find it odd that she's branded now. I understand this is the case, but I find it odd. Madge told Julie that when her friends ask her why she didn't see the shows they talk about, she says it's because we don't have cable, at which her friends gasp - in proxy pain, I assume.
Julie says her own coworkers did/do the same thing when she can't relate to American Idol moments, for example. Weird.
Poor Madge will have to wear a scarlet C for "cable-less." Until we rectify the situation, that is.

Since it was only one of several first-time parent idealist stances, maybe I should make her eat meat, drink soda and beer, and start smoking now, too. Or do I wait for her to make the first move?

Wait. No. That'll be Coco.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Madge Monday

Well, it has finally happened.
After eight years of not having TV as the rest of the world knows it, Madge feels left out.
Apparently kids talk about what they watched on TV over the weekend when they get to school on Monday; and apparently I'm an anomaly for not having done so when I was a kid. Sure, the occasional soccer game was discussed, but episodes of shows? Maybe an especially obnoxious ad was made fun of, but episodes of shows?
I know, I know. TV was different "back then," especially in three-channel Germany (and a couple East German ones and AFN).
I still maintain that she can keep up with conversations by renting DVDs of shows and guessing at what happens since nothing new ever does. Somehow she doesn't want to hear that. Imagine.
But, hey, if we get cable TV, at least we'll have something to take away when she balks.

On a more uplifting note: we went to IKEA on Saturday. We got some down comforters (with Chinese lead paint in them, I fear), so we're ready for the winter, sort of. We also got a coffee table - maybe that was the beginning of the TV-watching doom.
Madge assembled the darn thing herself. I tightened some of those magic IKEA hex-things myself at first and took the liberty of twisting in two of the tougher wood screws, but the did the rest of the hex-things and all the other assembly, with me as her spotter and Coco as her jealous screaming sibling who wanted to do Bob the Builder stuff, too.
Her hands have already healed; mine are still red and bruised.

Friday, October 12, 2007

it's 10/12 again

You know what that means.
What, you haven't been taking notes? And my parents and in-laws didn't send you a card?
Well, let me tell you then. Anniversary. Wedding. 11 years ago. Chicago City Hall. Basement (more of a pedestrian underpass, really).

One of the books I started this summer and set aside because others came along is Lord Byron's Don Juan. In it there's this funny line:

All tragedies are finish'd by a death,
All comedies are ended by a marriage.

Funny and mellifluous, but, in our case, wrong. As far as I can tell, our comedy continues. Yay, us.
I love you, Julie.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More YouTube

From something for those who don't speak German to something for those who don't speak French. This one, though, has subtitles. In honor of the season that has finally decided to look at the calendar (air conditioner on in October, whose idea was that?).
Prevert's "Feuilles Mortes" with subtitles. Lucky you.

Karl Valentin und Liesl Karlstadt

Fat lot of good it does to those of you who don't understand German.
But I was amazed to find some of their sketches on YouTube, so I'm sharing.
It's still funny. (They're two parents who are about to go to the theater and want to leave their grown son, whose name they have a hard time remembering since they only call him Bubi, a note about the food he can warm up or eat cold.) It actually gets funnier the more you think about it.
Trust me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Uptight-Man might be here to stay

I was perusing the New Yorker that arrived today and found a "Talk of the Town" piece about Jenna Bush and her new book. Cute. It ends nicely with a quote from a guy called "Kaiser" who cautions against too many drinks of a certain kind, "Metaphors come out like crazy." (If only he'd said "simile's.")
In the previous two paragraphs two guys were talking at a bar. One was named Steven, and the other "Kyser."

But hey, at least this discrepancy in vowel sound spelling made the article memorable to me.

Uptight-Man surfaces

I know I'm overly sensitive, but picture books aim - in part - to teach kids what words mean.
So why not use the best words available?
For instance, in Babies in the Bayou, by Jim Arnosky, which Madge picked up at the library for Coco (aw, how sweet), there's a picture of a mama duck guiding her babies away from the sleeping alligators. The text reads, "She shepherds them away from danger - "
Like I said, I'm overly sensitive, but why "shepherds"? They're not sheep. It's not the kind of book that would get cute and use "duckherds" but that would at least connect kids with the possibilities of language. What about "guides," or "leads," or simply "herds?"
Oh, well.

Coco Tuesday

Still catching up from the day off, sorry.

Yesterday we went to the big library, whose architecture is a blend Vegas faux Egyptian and East Bloc governmental. Weird.
They sell food and drink in the lobby. Usually we only get something to drink but yesterday the snack bar was open so we picked up some popcorn, too. I think they allow food throughout the library because of this, though I don't understand why. Coco promptly carried his popcorn throughout the library as we went in search of comics for Madge (on the third floor).
Whenever we came by security officers - who are now in full force trying to keep the teenagers from brawling - I recommended to Coco to be inconspicuous about the popcorn consumption. No, I didn't use those words, I used 4-yr-old words. "Coco, try not to let them see the popcorn." So he took the tub and put it behind his back, walking around like Groucho Marx. Inconspicuous, no; funny, yes. I asked him who taught him to do that (because I hadn't), and he said, "Miss M[y pre-K teacher]."
I'm sure she'd be proud.

The saga continues, mostly for the benefit of my first-born in-law. (Hi, Karen!)
When we got off the elevator we went by the down escalator. Of course Madge had to go over and try to go up it, even though I told her not to and said it's time to leave. (nag, nag) Once she did it, Coco had to do it, too. But not only did he not listen to me about not doing it in the first place, he also refused to give up his popcorn. Instead, he wound up feeding it to the escalator teeth. Accidentally, of course, but still.
So I yelled at both of them about it. See, Karen, Madge is also to blame for the spilled popcorn because she couldn't let it be when I said no. Also, the whole reason we went to the library in the first place was her darned literacy.
Can't win, can you?

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Wire

I should sue those people from the Shit Parade podcast. They made me think, "Hey, they all seem to love The Wire, why not rent a DVD and give it a shot?"
Now I'm losing sleep about this show. I'm like a junkie waiting for the video place to open up so I can get my fix.
I'm just glad it's on DVD, not because we don't have actual cable TV but because, in the first episode, one of the characters takes a leak about 5 minutes before the episode ends, which means I've been holding whatever I'd been drinking for about 15 minutes already. Luckily, I had the opportunity to pause the thing. Otherwise we might have had to shop for a new sofa cushion.

Madge Monday

It's unfair to do a Madge Monday today because it was a holiday after a weekend after a week during which she was tired and a little under the weather. In other words, I'm making excuses for how cranky she was.
Omigod. I almost forgot.
She tends to wake us up way too early on weekends and asks to play on the computer. She's no dummy, she knows we just want her to let us sleep some more.
This morning she says I said, after her third or fourth time asking, "Go ahead, bitch."

All I'm saying is, "No way."

The bigger question is, even if I had said it, which I didn't, how would she even know what that is. I'm guessing, from the fact that she repeated it (or, rather, twisted around some misheard morning grunt of mine) without sounding upset about it, makes me think she's not too clear on the whole thing and only knows it's bad.
Still, I would NEVER.
(Okay, NEVER is a big word, but not when she's eight. I'm not saying there might not come a time when... But I hope I'll have the wherewithal not to say it aloud.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

more awkwardness

Since I’m already on the topic of awkward moments.
The other day I was in a coffee shop. In front of me was a woman – other people, too, probably, but my field of vision is strangely selective – who looked great. Women tend to, especially in the mornings, when the various tricks they’ve learned from magazines are freshly applied. Clean; good smell; funky hair; interesting clothes, well tailored. But then she turned around and I saw that the raw materials she had to work with hadn’t really given her a head start.
Part of me wanted to compliment her on her ability to make the most of what she had. Because, really, that’s the only compliment that can really mean anything. The things she could take charge of, she did. (Well, maybe the foundation wasn’t blended perfectly at the neck, but still.)
The point is, I’m quite sure that it wouldn’t have worked. People would much rather hear that their parents produced a lucky mix of genes.
Anyway, I didn’t have the guts to try and find out.
Having to pick up Coco two and a half hours after dropping him off doesn’t give me enough time to talk myself out of that kind of a mess.

hi, uh, not hi hi, but hi

Coco found my voice recorder, so I'm using it again.
Without it, I wouldn't have recalled a little exchange I had yesterday.
On my way to school, I passed by a double-parked car with a pregnant woman on the passenger side. It was double parked in front of the house of a pregnant woman. The hair color was the same. The car looked different, but hey, whatever. I, therefore, do the lean-down and happy wave only to see a stranger's face awkwardly wave back at me.
Moments like that are always so deliciously awkward because you want to retract the friendly gesture. You want a gesture that says, "Yes, I'm friendly and you're pregnant and that's always a happy thing even if you're uncomfortable because the concept of creating a new life is a happy thing in theory, but I'm sorry I was giving you a familiarly friendly wave when it should have been non-committedly friendly, neutrally friendly, but there we are, we've both smiled and waved so we may as well be friends in a joint-humanity kind of way." But I didn't even have a kid with me at the time and as a sort-of-regular guy that kind of behaviour is just creepy.
With my luck, she wasn't even pregnant.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Insanity - not the good kind

I now know two women who, as pedestrians, have been hit by a school bus (in the last six months), unfortunately. It's not unfortunate that I know them, but rather that they have this distinction.
I don't know if this is a reflection on school bus drivers or on the way Park Slope women cross the street. Perhaps it's a toss-up.

Either way, I'd prefer it hadn't happened.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I know everyone thinks his or her kid is a genius.
And why not?
Remember, Coco is 4 1/2. In pre-K, they're practicing circles right now.
He drew this last week and we had to fight with him not to tear it up because "it doesn't look right."
Seriously. We weren't even allowed to look as he was making it. So there was no help provided by us.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Culture Clash

On one of the first days of Coco’s new school, when the parents were asked to stay, the class sang song. I’d heard it before, I think on a bit of the dreaded Barney program. It goes a little something like this (no need to dim the lights):

The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends;
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.

Now, I happened to recognize the melody. It’s a song I got to sing as a kid in Germany, too. But the words I remember go something like:

Ach, du lieber Augustin, Augustin, Augustin,
Ach, du lieber Augustin, alles ist hin.
Stock ist hin, Hut ist hin, [mumble indecipherably], alles ist hin,
Ach, du lieber Augustin, alles ist hin.
Ach, du lieber Augustin, Augustin, Augustin,

Ach, du lieber Augustin, alles ist hin.
Geld ist weg, Weib ist weg, [more mumbling]
Ach, du lieber Augustin, alles ist hin.

The most simple paraphrase is, “Oh, dear Augustin, everything is shot to shit.”
And I think it encapsulates nicely the difference between the two cultures. In the old country, a happy tune will be overlaid with some rich irony which is totally wasted on the audience; whereas here a happy tune gets smothered by sappy lyrics which totally waste the audience.

The full text, if you care, sans mumbling. Apparently Augustin was a guy who drank too much during the plague in Vienna, passed out, and was piled on a cart with corpses on their way to be disposed of, but awoke in time to gather his wits and some material for a song.
Ach, du lieber Augustin, Augustin, Augustin,

Ach, du lieber Augustin, Alles ist hin!
Geld ist hin, Mädl ist hin, Alles ist hin, Augustin!

Ach, du lieber Augustin, Alles ist hin!
Rock ist weg, Stock ist weg, Augustin liegt im Dreck.

Ach, du lieber Augustin, Alles ist hin!
Und selbst das reiche Wien, Hin ist's wie Augustin;

Weint mit mir im gleichen Sinn, Alles ist hin!
Jeder Tag war ein Fest, Jetzt haben wir die Pest!

Nur ein großes Leichenfest, Das ist der Rest.
Augustin, Augustin, Leg' nur ins Grab dich hin!

Ach, du lieber Augustin, Alles ist hin!

Coco Tuesday

Lest you think he's all fun and games, he's become so stubborn that now he will hold his ears and say, "I don't like your words, Daddy."
To which I show him my upright palm and say, "Talk to the hand."

Ah, we have some great times while we wait for Madge to get out of school.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Madge Monday

In my haste to be witty, I almost forgot about Madge Monday.
She, dear reader(s), is awesome. I, on the other hand, am a weenie.
And I relearned something else today. When agreeing to get a toy at the toy store, the only adequate way to do it is to simply hand over the credit card and say, "See you outside." Otherwise, the disappointment in having to get the smaller toy while the larger, more shiny, so much cooler one is standing on the shelf RIGHT NEXT TO IT is so overwhelming that the offer to buy anything at all is rendered meaningless.

But, lest you think her an ingrate, she was happy and thankful. And if memory serves, I was waaaaaay worse in my greed.


Found Art

Remember the knight costume I wouldn't buy Coco so far in advance of Halloween? Well, now that it's in our house, I've discovered some ancient runes on it which, in their unskilled use of the English language, amount to a sad, short ballad. All it needs is a better title.
Currently it reads,

How about breaking up the lines a little to make it more evocative,

The simulated protective device
was not
safety device and offered
no protection

As for titles, how about:
Told You So
Wait, is "Positive" Good or Bad? or, the Pregnancy/STD6 Test

or, back to original kid's toy theme:

One Eye is Better Than None, or, Hindsight is 20

More on Milt

There was a time when I was playing saxophone on the streets of Berkeley, sort of on a dare to myself, not really for the money. (I sometimes played with an older trumpet player. One night he told me that we couldn't stop until we had enough for his phone bill. I wanted to give him my share, but he wouldn't let me. It wound up being a late night.) One night, this guy came by who looked sort of familiar but I didn't know from where. Then I recognized Billy Higgins and remembered that Milt Jackson was in town and realized that he was the earlier guy. I put down my saxophone and chased after him to shake his hand and thank him for inspiring me. Which was a bonehead move. Not because something happened to my saxophone, it was safe, but because, since he had heard my playing, I wasn't sure he wanted to claim responsibility for my so-called inspiration. Oh, well. At least he had put some money in the case.
And he had hands that were softer and more supple than my grandmother's.

Vibraharp, part 2

As promised, here's Milt Jackson. Unfortunately, the sound quality doesn't do justice to his playing, but there you go.
For the record, he is the swingingest m-f- ever. One of the main reasons I got into playing jazz in the first place is that I saw a concert of the Modern Jazz Quartet at the Berlin Philharmonic with my friend Warner P. And the concert bowled me over. They were promoting their Ellington album at the time.
For what it's worth, I was worried, going in, that the "Modern" in the MJQ would refer to something like the Art Ensemble of Chicago. I was really only fulfilling a concert requirement for a music class. But, man, what a pleasant surprise.
Connie Kay on drums was this giant (6ft something) playing on a mininal drum set; Percy Heath was stoic and steady; John Lewis minimalist and square; and Milt Jackson was just swinging like mad.
Never before this concert had I realized how much "play" is involved in playing music. The contrast of styles between John Lewis and Milt Jackson just made songs soar. Awesome stuff.
And yet, none of their albums really captured that spirit for me. Which just made me buy more, of course. I'd recommend "No Sun in Venice" and "Pyramid," but they're all tantalizingly near-great.

(Bear with Sanborn's yacking; the song is worth it.)