Armen Chakmakjian


In Random on November 16, 2014 at 5:29 am

Ok, so I’m not a great guitarist, and my voice cracks with certain renditions of the favorite songs of the 70s, but I figured I’d try to compile the list of songs I know how to play on guitar and sing (aka I know all the chords and lyrics). I got to 100. I got to 98 and then had to admit I knew one by Bread (everything I own) and then I was stuck for a few minutes. 99…with BREAD.

I was devastated. 99!

Then it came to me. Probably one of the earliest songs I learned: Spinning Wheel by Blood Sweat and Tears. I played it just to make sure I actually remembered it.  Then I knew I was done. Of course, I’m not claiming technical perfection with these songs. But these were the ones that if there was a bonfire, and somebody said “Play a song by X” I’d start working my way through. Even with a few of these, I’d have to practice a couple of chord progressions and humming to remember.

There are a lot of songs by the same these artists, that if I had the words in front of me, and a general idea of the chord progression I’d stumble my way through.  It helps when others know the songs; I can usually figure out how to keep up if they are willing to sing :-)

Of course there are a couple of Ozzie Ozbourne riffs like Crazy Train that I have a hard time admitting I know, even though I proved to myself I could still play, and I can futz my way through Granada (but It sounds like: Granada Canola Granola La da da, da da dee da da  )  :-)

I was going through my iTunes library while doing this, and had a fun night entertaining myself with my 6 string next to me and picking out a few of these to listen to while I tried to remember the others.  (and yes I’m pretty much stuck in the 70s)

Here they are (in alphabetical order by band):

.38 Special Hold On Loosely
.38 Special Teacher Teacher
.38 Special Caught Up In You
.38 Special If I had been the one
Allman Brothers Ramblin Man
America Sister Golden Hair
America Lonely People
America Tin Man
America  A Horse with No Name
Beatles I feel Fine
Beatles Help
Beatles Let It Be
Beatles Eleanor Rigby
Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Beatles The Night Before
Beatles You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
Beatles Hard Days Night
Beatles A Day In the Life
Billy Joel Piano Man
Blood Sweat and Tears Spinning Wheel
Bob Dylan Blowin’ in the wind
Bob Welch Sentimental Lady
Boston More than a feeling
Boston Peace of Mind
Boston Long Time
Bread Everything I Own
Carly Simon Your So Vain
Cars Just what I needed
Chicago Feeling Stronger Every Day
Chicago 25 or 6 to 4
Creedence Clearwater Revival Bad Moon Risin’
Creedence Clearwater Revival Lookin out my back door
Creedence Clearwater Revival Who’ll Stop the Rain
CSN Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
CSN Teach Your Children
Doobie Brothers China Grove
Doobie Brothers Long Train Running
Doobie Brothers Takin’ it to the Streets
Doobie Brothers It Keeps You Runnin’
Doobie Brothers Black Water
Doobie Brothers Take me in your arms (Rock Me)
Doobie Brothers Minute By Minute
Doobie Brothers What a Fool Believes
Doobie Brothers Listen to the Music
Doobie Brothers South City Midnight Lady
Doobie Brothers Steamer Lane Breakdown
Doobie Brothers Clear as the driven Snow
Eagles Peaceful Easy Feeling
Eagles Take It Easy
Eagles Hotel California
Eagles Already Gone
Eagles Life’s Been Good
Eagles Seven Bridges Road
England Dan and John Ford Coley Nights Are Forever
Eric Clapton Lay Down Sally
Fleetwood Mac Go Your Own Way
Fleetwood Mac Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow
Gordon Lightfoot Sundown
Gordon Lightfoot Carefree Highway
Green Day Good Riddance
Heart Magic Man
Heart Crazy on You
Heart Barracuda
Hollies Bus Stop
James Taylor Fire and Rain
Jefferson Airplane White Rabbit
Jefferson Starship Jane
Jim Croce Bad Bad Leroy Brown
Jim Croce Time in a Bottle
Jim Croce I Got A Name
Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville
John Denver Rocky Mountain High
John Denver Eagle and the Hawk
John Denver Annie’s Song
Kansas Carry On My Wayward Son
Kansas Dust in the Wind
Kiss Beth
Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven
Lynryrd Skynyrd Free Bird
Lynryrd Skynyrd Simple Man
Lynryrd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama
Lynryrd Skynyrd Comin’ Home
Lynryrd Skynyrd Gimme Three Steps
Lynryrd Skynyrd What’s Your Name?
Monkees Last Train to Clarksville
Monkees What am I doing hangin’ round
Moody Blues Nights in White Satin
Neil Young Heart of Gold
Orleans Still the One
Orleans Dance With Me
Peter Gabriel Solsbury Hill
Pure Prairie League Falling in and out of Love/Amie
R.E.M. Driver 8
Seals and Croft Summer Breeze
Simon and Garfunkel The Boxer
Steely Dan Rikki Don’t Lose that Number
Stevie Nicks Leather and Lace
Styx Come Sail Away
The Who Pinball Wizard

Very smooth…

In bourbon, Random, wine and whiskey on September 21, 2014 at 2:16 am

So I was at BJ’s tonight and there was a special on Jameson Irish Whiskey. If you bought the bottle of Black Barrel Jameson you got a free glass that was also black. I mulled it over for a second, walked around the wines and liquors, and back to the front and picked up the bottle again.

As I was standing there pondering this once again, the clerk at the counter calls to me and says, “If you’d like to try some we have a bottle here.” I was a little shocked, and said, “Sure!” He pulled a bottle out of a small fridge behind the counter and poured a tiny amount into a plastic cup. He explained to me that they do have small amounts of beers, wines and other spirits for tastings they offer from time to time, and pointed to a contraption that had 6 beer taps. I was suitably impressed, and then took a swig.

Wow, it was good. It starts off with the taste of a really smooth peatless single malt scotch and finishes like a bourbon. Honestly, it is better than most of the bourbon I’ve tried, and better than the Tullamore Dew that’s in the back of the picture that I’ve included here. I was sold. I proceeded to purchase a bottle and got my free glass. Nothing like a good buy and a gift!


Anyway, I consider these updates a public service 😄.


On turning 50…

In Random, Uncategorized on August 25, 2014 at 1:13 am

So five weeks ago, I turned 50. Every year since the dawn of the modern social media age, I’ve written a blog post on my birthday.  (When I say modern I mean basically 2007… I avoided that weird era of myspace and Friendster just prior to that, although I was a very early LinkedIn user).  Overall though, the day passed normally as any other day. I went to work, drove home. This year my birthday, while treated with the many, many well wishes, passed in the way that I would have always hoped, with my nearest and dearest together. My wife, sons and I went to a Brazilian Churrascaria and had more meat than I have ever eaten in my life in one sitting.   I had a glass of Caipirinha, which is the Brazilian equivalent of a mojito. Quite an event.  All in all I had not much to say about it as things were churning all around me.

Just prior and subsequent to July 28th 2014, I seemed to be surrounded by friends and family having various health events, some of them bordering on the existential. Then 2 weeks ago it caught up with me, when I got stung by a bee and had my own scare, an event which I recounted in my previous post.

This has been quite a year for me, and not just for some personal accomplishments or changes. I’m watching my boys turn into men and seeing my elders dealing with the difficult side of aging. I had a couple of significant things happen, a job change, a new slightly fancy car, a bucket list trip to Italy. I’ve even kept my two-tone goatee for all of this year, the longest period of facial hair this century (I had a stache for a significant portion of the last quarter of the 20th century). I’ve been asked, “What is with that gray goat, under the dark stache?” My cheeky response, accompanied by hand gesture pointing to the dark then the light, is “It just means my mind is still young, but my body is getting old.” :-)

So with all the change and reminders of our collective mortality that coincided with my passing through the 50, I did ponder a few time in the last couple of weeks about whether there was any philosophical conclusion I could offer anyone.  It took a while, since I have written so much here over the years and I didn’t want to just repeat myself.  Upon contemplating the ups and down of life, I fell back on a mantra that keeps my feet on the ground or resettles me if I feel slighted or hurt by someone. My wife has heard me say this many times, especially if a person has gotten what appears to be their comeuppance, and if I catch myself bordering on Schadenfreude.  This mantra is the verbal equivalent of the nazar bonjuk (the blue eye that people from the middle east sometimes have around…to ward off the evil eye):

I don’t want what they have,
I don’t want what they don’t have,
I don’t want their good luck,
I don’t want their bad luck.
I don’t want anything.
God bless them and I wish them good health.

There’s a lot of handwaving and gesticulating that goes along with that, as if to clear the air around me.

Anyway folks, peace.


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