Friday, August 05, 2005

Shredicine is the Best Laughter

Hi, everybody!

Remember that episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" where Richard Lewis is trying to get Larry to help him be included in the next edition of "Bartlett's Quotations" ? Lewis insists that he is the original coiner of the phrase "the blank from hell" but nobody believes him. Well, I thought that episode was funny becase a) nobody can really claim credit for most of the really familiar quotations we use all the time, and b) that particular phrase ("from hell") is really played out and stupid.

Or so I thought. Because I have recently discovered the awesome heavy metal guitar instruction website, "Chops From Hell" ( This, in my opinion, is the best thing on the internet right now.

First off, you've got the fantastic fire-and-brimstone graphix. Then, the fact that one of the contributors of columns about playing very speedy Van Halen-style guitar is a 55-year old lutenist-of-the-cloth, one "Father Stanislaus" who also goes by the name of "shreddingpriest." Finally, the plethora of short videos of hirsute bedroom rockers demonstrating their most fabulous hot licks. To me, this is better than any minimalist music composition I have ever heard.

I should confess that I grew up loving the shred. I worshipped at the altar of Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert and David T. Chastain. I didn't like the lyrics, the screaming, or the spandex. But the widdly-widdly-widdly? Fantastique.

Recall that the seminal "philosopher of the baroque" Leibnitz used to love taking court ladies into the garden to observe the wild multiplicity and individuality of each leaf and butterfly. So too with the self-proclaimed "neo-classical" shredders of the 1980s (who imagined a classical music canon consisting only of J.S. Bach and Nicolo Paganini, a move which should be embraced by all because: 1) it would drastically reduce the stress caused by too many plaster "great-composer-bust" figurines on pianos, and 2) it would remove all of the crappy Russian composers from orchestra repetoires), and their intricate tapestries of howling digital aerobix.
The pleasures of apprehending the difference between the widdly-widdly-widdly and the widdly-widdly-wangily also causes corset-bursting waves of aesthetic bliss. I feel faint, Viscount Von Shreddingham!.


mzn said...

This post takes me back. I remembered Yngwyeybe Malmstein but now I'm awash in memories of those low-tech how-to VHS cassettes and the ads for them in the back of Guitar Player. Are those still in your collection? Those were possibly produced in someone's bedroom, if I remember correctly.

Do the kids today still debate who's fastest? Do they still play Layla and Jessica? Does anyone today grow up loving Rush? This nostalgia stuff is fun.

One more thing: your backward ways are charming, but goddamit, learn to link!

nhennies said...

I don't understand. Are you saying you DON'T like Shostakovich?


the sad billionaire said...

MZN: Omigod I did not realize I was not linking. Doesn't the computer do everything automatically? I will learn!
I still have some of the instruction vids, all of which have sub-cable access production values. Have I also been known to buy ones that I never owned as a teen off of Ebay in the last 12 months? I am not going to answer that question.
BTW, Yngwie J became a public laughingstock a few years back when an audiotape surfaced of him swearing incomprehensibly and violently at a fellow passenger on a commercial airline flight. He also weighed in on Ashlee Simpson's lip-synching in a recent guitar magazine. (He was against it).
NHENNIES: Not a big Shostakovich fan. Ever since I read Adorno's book on why Schoenberg rules and Shosty bites, even though I hadn't really listened to either of them at the time. I say, if Adorno says it sucks, it probably sucks. Except for jazz. I do like that swingin' stuff.

Michalle said...

It's funny, because in some ways, the contrary-to-stereotypeness of the "surfing rabbi" or the "shredding priest" in itself is a stereotype, and yet, it never gets old. The tenth erotic poetry writing Buddhist monk is still as cool as the first pot-smoking rabbi.

Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, ok, but what about Rimsky-Korsakov? Mussorgsky? I can still play the opening to "March of the Nobles" on the air flute. And whistle it too! That's one catchy tune.

Michalle said...

Oops - make that Procession of the Nobles. Catchy, but perhaps not memorable, exactly.

the sad billionaire said...

Oops I forgot to address MZN's question of whether kids still learn the old classic rock riffs. I think they do. Except for Nirvana and Metallica, there have been very few entries into the classic power chord canon since 1976. I don't know why I never hear the really good, odd-time riffs in guitar stores-- like YYZ, Black Dog, The Ocean. those ones rock!
Did you read David Hadju's ridiculous rant about the White Stripes in a recent New Republic? He had some completely boneheaded comment about the complexities of the Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love" riff, which demonstrated complete and utter musical ignorance.
michalle-- I can't say I ever got into Mussogorsky or Rimsky-Korsakov.

the sad billionaire said...

Oops. michalle, I forgot to say that I do like that "Winds of Change" song by the Scorpions. Not Russian, but somehow it is. Does that count for anything?
BTW-- Nick-- that would be a great choice for your audition song for "American Idol." MZN-- did you know that NHENNIES is auditioning for "AI"? You and Elana are like "AI" scientists. Any ideas for NHENNIES?

Michalle said...

Winds of Change is anti-Communist (I think), which relates to Communism, which relates to Russia, definitely. It has that spirit. Plus, doesn't it have whistling or humming at the beginning? Both those things make anything ten times more awesome.

mzn said...

Re Russians: you fluffsters must love those adorable lesbian pop singers, tatu or tuta or tutu or whoever they are. As for composers, I give thumbs up to Scriabin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev and thumbs down to Shostakovich. My opinions of Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov are unformed. Our father must be eager to weigh in here. Dad? Russian composers?

I did read that article in the New Republic and I had the same thoughts as you precisely.

Nhennies on Idol: the producers are clearly after footage of morons trying to get on tv by being terrible singers and bufoons. If this is your ambition, it shouldn't be hard to act like an outrageous clown but you face some stiff competition. If you really want to get on the show, my sense is you have to choose a song that shows off your skill but that isn't overdone by Idols contestants and my wife adds that you have to avoid being gimmicky. Perhaps you already knew all that.