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Thought for the Day - Feb 10

Peter T. 10 Feb 00 - 09:25 AM
MMario 10 Feb 00 - 09:38 AM
katlaughing 10 Feb 00 - 09:41 AM
Amos 10 Feb 00 - 09:51 AM
JedMarum 10 Feb 00 - 11:06 AM
Allan C. 10 Feb 00 - 11:12 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 10 Feb 00 - 11:14 AM
Troll 10 Feb 00 - 11:31 AM
sophocleese 10 Feb 00 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 10 Feb 00 - 02:28 PM
wysiwyg 10 Feb 00 - 07:12 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 10 Feb 00 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,Jack (who is called Jack) 10 Feb 00 - 07:45 PM
JenEllen 10 Feb 00 - 08:18 PM
katlaughing 10 Feb 00 - 09:34 PM
GUEST,Petr 10 Feb 00 - 10:23 PM
Metchosin 10 Feb 00 - 10:37 PM
Mary in Kentucky 10 Feb 00 - 10:47 PM
wysiwyg 10 Feb 00 - 11:26 PM
Mbo 10 Feb 00 - 11:34 PM
Escamillo 11 Feb 00 - 02:40 AM
GUEST,_gargoyle 11 Feb 00 - 03:26 AM
The Shambles 11 Feb 00 - 07:18 AM
Allan C. 11 Feb 00 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 11 Feb 00 - 08:30 AM
Mary in Kentucky 11 Feb 00 - 08:33 AM
Little Neophyte 11 Feb 00 - 08:36 AM
Peter T. 11 Feb 00 - 08:38 AM
Mary in Kentucky 11 Feb 00 - 08:39 AM
wysiwyg 11 Feb 00 - 08:40 AM
Little Neophyte 11 Feb 00 - 08:51 AM
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Subject: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 09:25 AM

MISS MANNERS AND I IN A HUT IN THE WILDERNESS:

The other evening I was invited to dinner at the house of a graduate student of mine and his wife. They are well off, and everything was quite elegant, a few of their friends, and so on. Everyone was chatting away, and behind them, at medium background sound level, was Beethoven's 9th Symphony! It is a quirk of mine that I am unable to do two difficult things at once: that is, talk to people at a party, and listen to Beethoven's 9th Symphony. When Beethoven is playing, I listen to Beethoven, because, well, just because. However, I realized that as the senior professorial type there, I couldn't just say, could you play something a little less distracting? which would undermine the host and hostess, who as far as I could tell just had it on because it was "classical". So I waited, and when it was about over (the Ode to Joy ringing away), I deftly (I think) asked the host if I could check out their music. He said certainly, and I found some truly background Boccherini bonbons. The evening progressed.

At the end of the evening, on the way home, I complained about this situation to the person I was with, and he said, what music? I subsequently heard through the grapevine that the hostess was somewhat humiliated by my action. Does anyone else have this same problem; and any other solution? If not, I think it is about time for me to find a hut and a CD player and give up dinner parties.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: MMario
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 09:38 AM

Why would the hostess be humiliated? You waited until her choice of music was over, you requested permission to select another piece, and I would assume there was no objection to your choice....

The fact that the other guest said "what music" goes to show that it was not a problem for him, however a host/ess should certainly be aware that selection of background music can be a serious problem for guests. I have been told that background music should barely be perceptible....as it should NOT intrude. If the music intrudes, it is no longer "background" and defeats the purpose of having it.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 09:41 AM

Peter, I find what music I play when someone is over VERY important. Usually it is a friend who needs to talk and be heard. I would never play Beethoven or Mozart for that. Whenever I know anyone is coming over, I am very careful about what I select. I use the music to not only create what I consider to be the right atmosphere, but also for what effect I believe it may have on the person coming over, i.e. soothing, uplifting, etc. For this purpose it is usually a variety of guitar cds or Native American flute tapes, harp, medieval or renaissance. Very rarely would it be anything with lyrics and almost never classical, depending on the person visiting.

I would have found the 9th very distracting and would have to join you in a hut of my own!

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Amos
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 09:51 AM

Some folks get humiliated awfully easily, fancying offense where none is given. Cf Caring What Others Think thread. I submit that the lady has more important things to worry about.

As to moving into a hut, Peter...I dunno, sounds like a pretty extreme solution to me. Maybe a little lightening up would serve you better. There are too many variables and too many arbitraries and opinions in any social interchange to try and pin all of them down neatly.

A


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: JedMarum
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 11:06 AM

Peter - very interesting discussion here. I find, like you, that I am an active listener. I cannot help take in whatever is playing, think about it, react to it. There is no such thing as background music for me. Your friend who asked "what music" may be an indication of a more typical listener ... I believe many can tune out the music and let it remain background.

For an active listener, a piece like Beethoven's 9th is quite inappropriate for a dinne party. I would argue it is inappropriate for most dinner parties. I certainly understand your distraction, and I suspect your wish to change the music was quite appropriate. If your host was truly (and unforunately) insulted, you could always apologize for your 'active listener' shortcoming!

By the way; the active listener syndrome is one of the major reasons I hated Disco ... in that era the stuff seemed to be played everywhere, and even though it was against my will, I found my subconscious carefully analyzing each recording!


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Allan C.
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 11:12 AM

I imagine I might have done the same thing, Peter if I had felt the same way about the music. And I agree with MMario that background music should be just that. It should be a pleasant little item which, if nothing else had your attention for a moment, you could listen to if you so chose.

But I have discovered that some people have a different idea of what is meant by background. I have had people ask me to perform a song (in their livingroom or somesuch place) while they had some other music playing. Even worse, I have had people make no effort to turn down their TV while attempting to converse with me at length. And once, I had someone who wanted me to sing and play guitar while the TV was blaring.

Amazing!

One last thought: If a guest in my house wanted to make a selection of music which might be more pleasing to him/her, I would happily allow it so long as any other guests were not made uncomfortable. I think it is a cardinal sin to ever make a guest feel uncomfortable and your hostess, Peter, was totally in error to make any fuss whatsoever. Just my humble opinion.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 11:14 AM

I am also a sufferer of T-M-I-A-D-D: Temporary Music- Induced Attention Deficit Disorder. My take on your hostess is that she is a nervous type who wanted to make an impression by playing something "classy" and didn't have a clue as to its impact. You handled the situation with tact and she'll live and learn!


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Troll
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 11:31 AM

It sounds to me like your hostes needs to do two things.First, learn a little about music and what constitutes good background music for what ocassion;and ,second ,get a life. She needs some important things to worry about. You acted correctly.

troll


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: sophocleese
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 12:25 PM

I'd say you behaved with tact and sensibilty towards your hostess. If she's humiliated by what you did then she would have been upset by anything you did. Its one of the irritations when I'm shopping sometimes when the background music is too loud and insistent I can't think enough to decide what I want/need to get so I usually end up leaving the store without getting anything.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 02:28 PM

It's the height of insincerity when someone says, "Wow, long time no see, it's good to see you again, how've you been, what's going on with you?" as they reach over and switch on the tv or change channels.

Neil


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 07:12 PM

Hmmmm. Well I'm looking at this from the viewpoint of personal responsibility. There are a whole set of responsibilities in this which seem pretty goofed together at this point. Perhaps I can de-goof. Or if not at least re-goof ina serious and partonizing way and hey! What more can you...

OK.

You cannot mind read your hostess so therefore cannot know in advance if a well-meant attempt to make something better will in fact make her upset. BUT I think a somewhat formal occasion calls for somewhat formal manners on the part of guests, howver well or poorly the hosts are pulling off their role. SO since she is the hostess, and should therefore be allowed to host in her own style, perhaps it may have been more personally responsible simply to tactfully and privately make your own discomfort with the music known to her..., "Oh I say I am frightfully distracted this evening and I do SO want to enjoy all the lovely people you've pulled together this evening, I just ove muci so much I am transorted whenever I hear it and would you mind terribly (could you please help me) perhaps truniunf it down a bit? Hate to be such a bother..."

HOWEVER once she chose to get bugged about what you did do, which was not a grave breach!!!, her personal respo=nibility should have been to communicate this only to you or simply overlook the breach.

The best manners, I am told, in a difficult situation, are those that are capable of either completely overlooking the most awful things (blood, vomit, farts, etc.) OR telling you privately that you hurt her feelings, OR addressing them openly, forthrightly, in a gay and devil may care manner:

"Oh, Peter T, you naughty naughty boy, mustn't tamper with the whosamajigger, now come meet Lady Engleston and be a good boy...."

Of course then there would have been the vomit to deal with and every hostess is trained to know what to do with that!! You just did the unexpected.

IMHO-- NOW that you know she was hurt, it isn't up to you to judge the worthiness of her feelings, but to address them privately and without self-justification, preferably in a line buried in a thank you note for the wonderful evening she probably meant you to have. This apology would be based not on what someone told you but upon your sense she mauy have been offendded by your unthinking action.

It only matters if you care how she feels or care what bad things will be said about you, or both.

With warm regrets and cold beer-- Ms. Manners


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 07:17 PM

Shame on you Peter, you should have closed your eyes and started singing along mate!....


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: GUEST,Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 07:45 PM

Hmmm...

Just my two cents, but you probably should have left it be. I think you have to have a certain amount of respect for the environment that a host chooses to create for a social situation. I understand and even sympathize how a person could struggle with the distraction. Still, in the end, like Lesley Gore, it was her party.

To be a guest is kind of like being a Diplomat. Diplomats have special priveleges (e.g diplomatic immunity) that place them above the ordinary citizen in a very narrow sense. They get called 'excellency', they expect a very high and rigid standard of protocol and etiquette. In spite of all this, in almost every other respect, their standing is far less than the lowliest citizen, they have no say.

As guests it behooves us to remember that we have only been invited into another's household, not added to it. We are visitors, not members, and if the hospitality is not to our full satisfaction, it only warrants contemplation on our part, not action.

From your post, I do recognize that you tried to act in such a way as to seem to be just picking out new music, but that's still a dicey chance. The bulk of our massive intelligence has evolved mostly for one task, figuring out how to interpret and interact with members of our own species. People will see through us a lot of the time, and if they are people who know us well, you can bet the'll do it almost all of the time.

That's just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: JenEllen
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 08:18 PM

I'm afraid I suffer from TMIADD as well, and have found most people quite willing to turn music down/off to accomodate conversation. Turning the music up to an annoying level is more than likely a pre-emptive strike against lapses in conversation precipitated by a dead boring get-together. Sounds like your hostess could use a hut of her own, a few pillows on the ground, and nothing but the songs of the birds in the trees to detract from pleasant company...


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 09:34 PM

As a hostess, I do try to watch how my guests are doing and if they seem confortable. I can usually tell by the conversation, wild eyed looks, etc. if the type of music or volume is bothering them and I will immediately excuse myself to either change it, turn it off altogether or turn it down.

I believe it is the host/esses duty to see that guests are accomodated and have a pleasant experience. But, I also think it takes practice. Peter, since you were the senior professorial there, I would suspect she was probably nervous and a bit intimidated, which may have had some bearing on how she reacted. Who knows how she and her husband, your student, may have felt. He might have been on tenterhooks about entertaining you and how it might reflect on his standing with you. I don't take you to be that type, but not knowing the student etc., I am just offering a possible speculation (is that redundant?:-)

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: GUEST,Petr
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 10:23 PM

I dont think you can please everyone all the time. It reminds me of an incident as a child in a friends house. Our whole family was visiting at the time. My friends mother made some special snack (like head cheese or something I couldnt stand at the time). Anyway, as it would be rude to refuse I ate it quickly to get past the gagging reflex. "Oh you must like that so much, have some more" said my friends mom **groan**. I think you can substitute food for music in this case. As a guest I dont think it should be a big deal to pick some music, although some hosts like to be in complete control. At the other extreme are guests that bring their own cd collection and insist on playing their own. It shouldnt be a big deal, for the hostess to have a request for a change of music anymore than it should be a big deal to grin and bear it as a guest. One thing, was the hostess humiliated by the request or maybe that word got around after you complained privately to your friend. Cheers Petr./


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Metchosin
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 10:37 PM

I concur with Jack who is called Jack, you committed a faux pas and as Praise has advised, an apology is due.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 10:47 PM

Sounds like she wanted to impress folks with something she knew was classical. Too bad she didn't realize that aside from many guests being active listeners--Beethovan just has too many louds and softs to be used for background music.

As far as saying something to her--I probably wouldn't have. The only time I mentioned background music to a hostess was when my daughter was playing totally inappropriate Christmas music. Her feelings were probably hurt, but everyone else was grateful.

If this lady's music was particularly irritating, I would have made some excuse (true) about my hearing and thus assumed blame/responsibility for changing it.

Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. (Dennis Miller line)

Mary


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 11:26 PM

And who knows, she may be the nouveau riche upstart who married some old nasty money and she may go around feeling more out of place than you and get humiliated regularly. It's too bad there was so much pressure on, really. Maybe you could invite the couple to an evening with what you think are the right ingredients to set them at ease and thus be a dear sweet prof and role model they'll cherish forever. Do smoke a pipe. Unless they are allergic and ask you to turn it down.

earlier to day at work we had a dsicussion that amounted to, "Which one was being the asshole?" Of course except anatomically they usually are not found singly. The consensus was that while either one was claiming the victim role, no one could progress much, but that once it was clear everyone was just being an asshole, that was fine. In other words, the dt=ynamic really isn't often perpetrator/victim, just two people dancing, asshole to asshole.

Oh well. We try and try again, and then people say, "You are so trying!" Live and learn. If they are that uptight they probably have lots of opportunities to examine this sort of issue on a regular basis. If they don't take a learning out of it with you, that's not your fault.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Mbo
Date: 10 Feb 00 - 11:34 PM

I tried Rossini once as background music! Needless to say, I was more interested in the "La Gazza Ladra Overture" that I was in the guests!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Escamillo
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 02:40 AM

As age advances, I become more and more biased to extreme positions. First, I don't attend any event when I don't know people well enough. I don't want to be trapped in the alternative of suffering or abruptly leaving. Second, when a known person, a friend, customer, colleagues, etc. commits such a mistake, I tell him just what discomforts me, with a touch of humor, for example "Turn that thing off, or I'll start to sing !". Otherwise I prefer to suffer in silence and leave as soon as I can. Because people in general don't understand half-way or diplomatic expressions contrary to what they think, when they don't expect them. A different thing is a discussion, where everybody is prepared to express and listen to different opinions.
But if you say "please, Madam, could you take your foot off mine ?" she will certainly feel insulted.
Un abrazo - Andrés (who in some years more will acquire the diplomacy of Salvador Dalí)


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: GUEST,_gargoyle
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 03:26 AM

Like the lovely Katlaughing, I, too, select the music according to the guest, occasion, and season.

Bethovan's 9th is something I would, and do use, for dinners.

Precisely, what selections DID you select from their collecton?

Your behavior was tatamount to taking a host's platter of milk poached veal off the table, going into the kitchen, and recooking it with oil, vinegar, leeks and garlic, and returning it to the table.

Suggestions:
1. Become more sensitive, you appear envious of their status.
2. Drink less at dinner
3. Decline dinner invitations
4. Check out the price of renting the dear LaughKat's woodshed.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 07:18 AM

On a coach touring Italy, the driver, noting that his bus was full of British folk, decided to play for them some music that they would like.



In the expectation of receiving a grateful 'tip' from his satisfied customers, we had to endure 3 hours of Sing-A-Long -A-Max . Which are tapes of endless medleys of good old sing-along songs, like 'Roll Out The Barrel' and 'The White Cliffs Of Dover' with an inane Karoke style backing, sung by Max Bygraves (a well-loved UK family entertainer).

You have been warned. If you are planning such a trip, be sure to take your own (Beethoven) tapes.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Allan C.
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:16 AM

I believe that an apology (by either Peter or the hosting couple - not that I think Peter has anything to apologize for) would give this whole thing a lot more weight than it deserves. Let it go.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:30 AM

Any of my guests who'd change my carefully selected choice of music would have their leg chopped off (but then I'm a surly old so and so and already have to suffer She Who Must Be Obeyed automatically turning the volume down whatever level I've set it at - and turning it up when her choice comes on!)
Maybe I should read Emily Post!
RtS ("Lookin' fer trouble? Look right in mah face"


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:33 AM

Hey Shambles--How to you get that underline under the e?

Mary (who has NEVER regretted running spellcheck)


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:36 AM

I am with Allan C.
To the tune of "Let Is Snow"

Let it go, let it go, let it go

BB


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:38 AM

Thank you for your advice -- I feel about as mixed as I did when I started, but was certainly conflicted! yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:39 AM

GOTIT!!


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:40 AM

Shall we consider it closed then mates?


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Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Feb 10
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 11 Feb 00 - 08:51 AM

Case closed
So Peter, what's the Thought for Friday?
My coffee is getting cold as I wait.

BB


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