1. I was born a month prematurely and spent the first three weeks of my life in an incubator, like a common chicken (though the chickens that were hatched on my birthday have no doubt suffered a fate far worse than mine…).
2. My family moved twelve times before I was in kindergarten. This included two stints in Chicagoland and three different times in the greater St. Louis area, plus both coasts.
3. Because of this, I learned to read when I was three years old (sure made kindergarten a breeze!)
4. I have lived in Texas since the third grade, but I have never used the phrase "fixin’ to" unless I was making a joke.
5. However, the word "y’all" is a fixture of my vocabulary and is pretty much the only second-person plural term I use.
6. If my grandmother’s facts were correct, I am a direct descendant of William Henry Harrison, the first President of the United States to die in office. (He did so because he gave a two-hour inauguration speech, in the rain, with no hat; this might explain my occasional long-windedness, but at least I have enough sense to come in from the rain.)
7. I have been a homeowner since August of 2001, and I love it! Beats the heck out of renting…
8. My house has a driveway that’s pitched at a 45-degree angle, but the truly brave souls will park there anyway.
9. I never wear shoes in my house, ever. Most of my friends have adopted this practice here as well, so the big pile of shoes inside the door makes it look like an Asian house, even though I’m not the least bit Asian.
10. I own a psychotic cat named Tasha who licks all the fur off her stomach. (She wasn’t originally my cat; she was my sister’s before I got her, and a stray before that.) Incidentally, Tasha is short for "Countach," the name of a classic car made by Lamborghini in the '70's and '80's. (UPDATE: R.I.P. Tasha, 6/23/06; tribute here)
11. Even though cats almost never come when called, Tasha will come when I whistle Clifford Brown’s "Joy Spring" (but only in the original key of F).
12. Before the cat, I had a Netherland Dwarf Albino rabbit named Mr. P.C. (yes, after the John Coltrane tune). He lived for over 7 years (a long time for a rabbit) and would lick your face like a puppy.
13. I was an extra in the movie Necessary Roughness, which filmed at UNT when I was in school there. I got supermodel Kathy Ireland’s autograph during the filming. (Yay!)
14. I have been in a mosh pit (at a Primus concert, in case you’re wondering).
15. I have been in a tornado--not physically sucked up into the vortex like in The Wizard of Oz, but one did drop shingles from the roof of the building I had just left through the window of a car in which I was riding.
16. I was almost in a riot once (at a rock concert that was cancelled by rain, despite the tickets saying "rain or shine"), but we bailed when the first person threw a bottle at a police officer. The riot ensued a bit later without us.
17. MUSIC STUFF: I have played a bass saxophone before, and have been recorded doing so. Great fun!
18. I teach at
19. Before I started teaching a lot of college courses, I once taught 80 private saxophone students a week (and yes, I remembered all their names).
20. Now, however, I teach a mere 74 of them (Fall ’03 numbers).
21. I have performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and I want to go back…soon.
22. BRUSH WITH GREATNESS I: I got to shake hands with George W. Bush, back when he owned the Texas Rangers and I was a college radio reporter.
23. BRUSH WITH GREATNESS II: Jazz great Clark Terry rode in my car when he was here for the college jazz festival. (UPDATE: Another jazz great of the same generation, Jimmy Heath, would do the same when he was here for the 2006 jazz camp.)
24. BRUSH WITH GREATNESS III: I rode an elevator with Wynton Marsalis during the Wichita Jazz Festival. Unfortunately, there were a whole bunch of real-estate-convention ladies in there with us, so I didn’t get to "talk shop" with him (out of respect for his privacy, because I don’t think they recognized him).
25. ACTUAL ENCOUNTERS WITH GREATNESS I-VIII : I have been lucky enough to share the stage, as a soloist in a combo setting, with the above-mentioned Clark Terry, as well as Randy Brecker, Peter Erskine, Kevin Mahogany, Frank Mantooth, Mike Vax, Bobby Shew, Kim Park, Tim Ishii, Denis DiBlasio, Gregg Bissonette and Mike Drake. You’ve probably heard of the first six, and if you’re really into jazz, you should familiarize yourself with the other six also.
26. I started composing music when I was in seventh grade, and actually got to conduct my eighth-grade band in one of my own compositions. That composition, incidentally, won the state level of the Reflections Contest.
27. We got to march to another one of my compositions in the Astrodome for the high school football playoffs my senior year.
28. I have perfect pitch, the ability to tell you what note is being played without looking. I don’t have the extreme degree, where you can tell how many cents sharp or flat a note is, but what I have is really cool 90% of the time.
29. My brother-in-law is the CEO of Despair, Inc., the company that (among other things) makes spoofs of those sickeningly-sweet motivational posters that show up in offices and schools.
30. I worked in a supposedly "haunted" building at UNT, but I never, ever saw the ghost (story here).
31. I almost won the Texas Lottery one time, missing what would have been a $5 million jackpot for me by one number. It was cool to win the second prize anyway, as it was over $600 and I was in the process of moving to Garland.
32. I once got to serve as the P.A. announcer for a UNT football game. (I was usually the "spotter," the guy who looks through binoculars to see who tackled whom and so on—a funny job for a nearsighted guy with glasses.)
33. I have not yet had any former students "make it big" as saxophone performers (though some have become very fine educators), but Shaun Groves, an up-and-coming Christian recording artist on piano, guitar and vocals, was once my saxophone student at Tyler Junior College. (Read my review of his second CD here.)
34. HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS: My favorite type of music is jazz (duhh), but I also like classical, rock, techno, punk, some non-Satanic heavy metal, and many different forms of Christian music.
35. My favorite foods are Mexican, Italian, Cajun, and a good ol’ American burger and fries.
36. My favorite fast-food restaurants are Chipotle (duhh, if you’ve read this site for more than a few seconds). Chick-Fil-A, Subway, Schlotzsky’s, Whataburger and Wendy’s. (UPDATE: I have to add Panda Express to the list; it wasn't in my neighborhood when I first wrote this section, but now, I'm lovin' the panda.) (FURTHER UPDATE: Have to add Potbelly too.)
37. My favorite sit-down restaurants are Chili’s, Cheddar's, Bennigan’s (yes, I know these are basically all the same restaurant in different packaging), Outback Steakhouse and this place called Copeland’s of New Orleans (yes, they
38. My favorite coffeehouse is Starbucks, but I also support local places, especially when they have live jazz.
39. I actually have a favorite brand of bottled water (it’s Dasani, and yes, I can tell a difference).
40. I once won second prize at a joke-telling competition in college. Of course, the joke is too gross to print in this blog (haha).
41. My left ear is slightly lower than my right ear (makes wearing glasses, which I’ve done since third grade, a challenge). My left foot is also a half size bigger than my right foot; I wonder if the extra gravity generated by the bigger foot is what pulled the ear down…
42. During the wintertime, the skin on my hands get so dry that I inevitably snap part of the skin off the tip of my right middle finger (due to snapping my fingers to keep time during so many lessons). During the past few years, the skin has broken at the point of contact on my palm as well.
43. TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME: I am a bigtime baseball fan, attending at least 15 Texas Rangers games every season.
44. During my college radio days, I used to do live sportscasts from Rangers games and get interview tape afterwards. In this process, I got to shake hands with Nolan Ryan.
45. I was also at the game where Nolan got his 5,000th strikeout, and I have the ticket stub and commemorative certificate to prove it.
46. I attended the All-Star Game in 1995 when it came to Texas. It was around 103 degrees outside and we were sitting in deep left field (i.e. in the sunniest part of the park), but I loved every minute of it.
47. I was at the very last game Tom Landry coached for the Cowboys, though nobody knew at the time that he would be fired after the season.
48. The day after attending the 2003 New Orleans Bowl will probably be the only day in my entire life that the length of the movie I watched (Return of the King) was equal to the amount of sleep I had the night before—3 1/2 hours.
49. In high school, I ate an entire 20-inch pizza with all the toppings (it was from Noble Roman's and called a "Maximus Masterpizza") in less than an hour without getting sick. (Much more recently, I managed to eat two Chipotle burritos in one sitting, but that already has its own blog entry, so it doesn’t count as a Fun Fact.)
50. It took three months of sporadic work to finish this entry (this "first final update" came on 1/9/04). As I said, I may replace some of the lesser facts in this collection with stuff that’s even more fun…watch the main page for update notices.