365 Challenge: Day 187 – Riff

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Riff: (a) short repeated phrase in popular music and jazz, typically used as an introduction or refrain in a song, (b) random discussion or “going off” about something in Jay’s blog (might be a commandeered definition again)


In Thursday’s post, I mentioned the next word would be ‘riff,’ but for some reason, I had a slightly different definition in my head. I knew it was related to music, but I also thought it meant to just randomly talk about something in a negative way / complaining. When I went to my trusty online dictionary, I had a moment of “wow, you’re not very bright anymore, are you Jay?” It seems I might have re-purposed this word in the past for my own usage. Rather than make up something today, I will accept my foolish mind’s mistake and try to build a halfway decent post around the word ‘riff.’ And maybe someone can understand the logic that lurks deep within my recesses.  {Aside: Did I use the word ‘recesses’ properly or have I made another Jay-ism? As I write this, I used the word ‘rents in a sentence to a friend I adore. She didn’t know what I meant. I suddenly realized… Does no one else call their parents the ” ‘rents ” sometimes? … My friend claimed it might be a Jay-ism. Perhaps that’s the real issue here… is there such a word as ‘Jay-ism’ ?}

I have no musical talent whatsoever, so the word ‘riff’ is going to be a difficult one for me to get around. But I have a cute story. A few weeks ago, I mentioned in a post about visiting some friends and their new apartment on the West Side, where they had a music room in their building with a karaoke machine. About ten of us hung out for close to two hours, trying to pretend we had talent. A few people did. A few did not. I was in the ‘did not’ group. I sang two karaoke songs and I’m fairly certain the mirror cracked on the wall. I could not, would not, should not (pick your qualifier) ever riff or jam or try to be musical. But I wish I could be! When I waited in Penn Station today before hopping the train out to Long Island to visit my ‘rents, there were a few riffers (is that a word or am I making up sh*t again?) hanging out near the subway. One guy played the cello, and he was quite talented in my opinion. If I could play any music, it would be the piano, violin or cello. The reverberation in any of those instruments has a way of manipulating my core by blending together everything which I hold sentimental and emotional.

So the cute story part… as I’m listening to him play the cello and sing, I’m standing a few feet away where I don’t think anyone notices me. Somehow, my legs started moving a little and I must have said a few words aloud. The singer called me out and waved at me to come join him. OMG, I turned red and ran down the stairs to wait where the train would eventually pull in. Sometimes I don’t know how I actually keep myself functional in NYC. But I do envy those who can just riff on a whim’s notice, whether it’s rap or reggae, slow or fast, it’s a talent to understand music and words to the point you can combine them in a way that truly entertains people. I can do that with my writing (sometimes… I hear a few of you laughing out there… it’s okay, I have my moments)… find the words to mesmerize someone. I’ve made myself cry a few times with some passages. I’ve even developed a crush on a character I’d created. {Aside: Is that weird?} I also riff in my head a lot, but it probably sounds like a cat in heat. I’m definitely not ever going to do that in real-life in front of anyone ever again.

Then we come to my own made up definition, which is basically what I sometimes do in these 365 Daily Challenge posts. Exactly what I’ve just done today, you are all thinking… I just type away at my computer, with what I thought was an alternative definition of the word ‘riff,’ by spewing anything and everything that comes from mind without stopping. Some days, it’s actually amusing and educational. Other days, I’m sure folks wonder what I was either smoking or drinking that day. Though, if I’m being honest, I’ve never actually smoked anything, neither a cigarette or pot. I grew up around smokers and it just never appealed to me, so I avoided that whole thing. No comment on anything else, as this post is about riffing, so keep your mind from straying, please.

I rather like the Pitch Perfect movies, too, as they riff a bunch in them. But then there’s another image that comes to mind when I think of the word riff… or at least the word ‘riff-raff.’ I remember my grandparents making comments during TV shows from either the 1970s or the 1980s, where they always showed some kids in the hood or hanging out on a street corner, called ’em riff-raff. I think they said it about Sister Act 2, when they were working on the cars and singing aloud outside the church. It’s kinda funny how all these words evolve into different meanings and have peculiar interpretations, depending on where you are from or where you have lived.

What’s your thoughts on the word riff? Are you capable of it? What instruments can you play? Do you think my made-up riff words and posts are just going downhill? With the quality in today’s post, I’m sure you’re laughing about me right now.  And I’m with you in spirit. And as I’m about to start working on the final day of editing the novel, Father Figure, before I send it to beta readers this weekend, all I can think is:

Please don’t tell me this is what the writing in my novels sounds like!


About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.


29 thoughts on “365 Challenge: Day 187 – Riff

    Roda said:
    September 15, 2017 at 7:11 AM

    I am looking forward to collecting Jay-isms! Riffers!😂

    Liked by 1 person

    roseelaineblog said:
    September 15, 2017 at 7:29 AM

    You should have joined in with them, you would have been brilliant 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    Kiersten said:
    September 15, 2017 at 7:37 AM

    Hey, it’s your blog, you can make up definitions if you want to 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    declutteringmylifeweb said:
    September 15, 2017 at 8:29 AM

    As English is not my first language i am likely to buy more definitions than i should 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Robin @The Robin's Nest said:
    September 15, 2017 at 8:49 AM

    First, I would have loved seeing you dashing down the steps all red – I would have busted out laughing – sorry but that was funny….Second the word Riffilific is awesome. So glad you shared your riffing day with us. Have a great weekend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    wakinguponthewrongsideof50 said:
    September 15, 2017 at 9:09 AM

    Love this post! Buskers is I think the going term for the musicians that pop up around town. Feel free to use it! I’m easy that way……no other comments please about the easiness that is me…….and of course there should be jay-isms…….one day these lovely words will be posted on my word a day calendar and I will be able to say….oh, I remember the day Jay coined that phrase because the normal English
    Language wasn’t working for him…. also,
    Loving the image of you running away from the music…..this was the perfect Friday post!!! Weekend!! And no coffee for me…..can you imagine me caffeinated?

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 15, 2017 at 1:47 PM

      Buskers. Love it! And I think you have a plausible explanation for why I can change the language. It wasn’t working for me!

      no coffee? Oh my… lol… lots of tea tho, I’m sure. Happy Friday!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    Patrick Dykie said:
    September 15, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    Loved the post. You can take a single word, and make it enjoyable. Rents for parents must be a jay-ism, though I do remember riff – raff ( I’m a little older than you). I’ll only riff in the shower or a deserted Island. Good luck with your edit, and the beta readers.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 15, 2017 at 1:46 PM

      Thank you. No one else seems to know the word ‘rents so it must be me!!! A shower riff works. I buy into those!


    scr4pl80 said:
    September 15, 2017 at 11:53 AM

    Isn’t it poetic license to make up/change the meaning of words? Sometimes the riffs we hear at the concerts we go to are the best part of the show! I know about riff-raff (I, too, am older than you by a bunch) and had not heard “rents” as parents, although thinking about it, it does seem like we are just renting our children since they grow up and move on (most of the time) so I could see how that would work (also “rants” since we (parents) are always ranting and raving about something that new generation is doing – like making up words). Have a great Friday, Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 15, 2017 at 1:46 PM

      Exactly! Hopefully I don’t have to pay for the license! Loved your input 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a good weekend too.

      Generations… ha!

      Liked by 1 person

    Nel said:
    September 15, 2017 at 1:17 PM

    Lol I think maybe you got riff confused with rift maybe? Also when I hear Penn Station I think of the sub sandwich shop. I LOVE the cello! You should look up Kevin Olusua on YouTube. He plays the cello and beatboxes at the same time (he’s also the black member of Pentatonix which made a cameo in one of the Pitch Perfect movies!). I digress. I played the flute, tenor sax and baritone in middle-high school. I still have 2 out of the 3 instruments.
    Make up as many words as you want! That’s half the fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    janieleeds said:
    September 15, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    I really like your posts because I find myself smiling. Cute story in the subway by the way. I would have run away too. I didn’t know the term riff before today. Thanks for teaching me something new. I can’t really sing either but I do like to sing when nobody’s listening to me, especially belting out a good tune in the car while driving!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 15, 2017 at 4:30 PM

      You are welcome! I totally agree. We should always sing out as long as no one’s listening! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

        janieleeds said:
        September 15, 2017 at 4:34 PM

        Yes indeed! When I’m really feeling adventurous I open the sunroof and let the sun shine in and sing like nobody’s listening – and pray nobody is! Ha ha!

        Liked by 1 person

    BrizzleLass said:
    September 15, 2017 at 4:41 PM

    OK so you know I love a good riff, you know my history with playing instruments and that I can kinda sing as well so that’s me done!
    Oh and I call my parents “the rents” as well! Thought I was the only one so that’s weird! 🤔
    And you should totally have joined in with cello guy and singer yesterday! So cool!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 15, 2017 at 5:28 PM

      ha, i’d have looked like more of a fool. Yes rents! I found someone else. 🙂


    Mischenko said:
    September 16, 2017 at 7:16 AM

    I would totally be running away with you! Can’t sing very well and doing it in front of a group is terrifying! But, I can play some instruments. The idea of watching someone play cello is mesmerizing. I did play cello for a while, but never mastered it. Strings are hard in my opinion. It’s amazing to me though, like Yo-Yo Ma. Just beautiful and never boring.

    Such a funny post! Thanks for sharing your stories. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 16, 2017 at 8:29 AM

      Music is such an instrumental (no pun intended) part of our lives… I’m beta reading a book for a friend who has a cello player in it, and the passages are amazing. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    Atwood Cutting said:
    September 16, 2017 at 4:34 PM

    “Does no one else call their parents the ” ‘rents ” sometimes?” I had never considered such a thing. My parents let me come and go many times, until I finally launched for good, and went from Hawaii to Alaska “to see a winter.” But I digress.
    Yes, I can riff. Quite well, in fact. I suspect it’s what I was born to do. Sing. But then I slipped away into the woods, studied art and cello in Fairbanks, worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, pioneered, and ended up writing a book about life on the mountain. Moved to Colorado five years ago and have been doing some amateur “riffing” with a group in Manitou Springs, until recently. Now I just harmonize with the radio in the echo chamber of an indoor pool. Some day I’ll go into detail for you on the art of “riffing.” You might say it’s an “in the moment” kind of immersion.

    I do like your blog. Is that what this is? A blog? If so, it’s my first exposure and participation. If not, what is this we’re doing? Is this a chat? A group? A university extension services philosophical hub?
    But on to business. My book, also, is undergoing a thorough re-publication, and I am just today looking into this web-like world again, after a two-week sanity break.
    Now I am trying, once again, to wade into the pool of social media. This entire publishing and marketing process has been entirely counter-intuitive, and very angst-inducing for me. Your 365 day challenge site gives me the feeling that I’ve come across a kindred soul in the understanding of absurdities. But you’re more organized than most.
    Again, I say, “Take leave to enjoy the leaves.”

    Liked by 1 person

    Atwood Cutting said:
    September 16, 2017 at 4:46 PM

    Again, it is really difficult for me to read your post with the jumping pictures. I can only accomplish the task by holding my hand over the video clips. It’s probably my A.D.D., or some failing on my part, but I suggest again that some of us need to struggle to get past the obstacle and back into the ideas you are expounding upon. (Boy, I really wanted to avoid ending with a preposition, or whatever, but I finally decided that any other delivery would be too cumbersome, and thus affected.)
    May I suggest still frames?
    Your humble friend, Atwood

    Liked by 1 person

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