Wednesday, March 31, 2004

In Dogged Purr-suit of the Foil Torpedo

How far would you travel for a Chipotle burrito? For Halfling and me last night, the answer was almost all the way down to SMU, to a new location that was built on the site of the old Miami Subs Grill (a onetime favorite haunt of mine). We wanted to celebrate his good news from Monday night, and a burrito seemed like the way to go (imagine that!).

So why did we brave the High Five and pass three other Chipotle's to go to this one?

1) It was cheap. A $5 donation at the door got you a burrito and a drink.

2) It was for a good cause. The donation in question went to the SPCA; how could you not want to help cute little puppies and kittens?

3) It was just a few blocks away from CD Source, mentioned previously on this site as the home of the best collection of used jazz CD's in the Metroplex.

So off we went. The burrito tasted a little better since it was a celebration burrito, of course. We did set a record that I hope won't soon be broken: Most time spent in line for a burrito (30 minutes). The line was literally out the door when we got there, so the long wait was no surprise.

The CD Source trip yielded a cheap but plentiful haul: Four CD's for about 26 bucks. This time, it was a mixture of new stuff and replacement CD's (i.e. the stuff that I used to own but someone jacked from me a long time ago):

John Coltrane--Impressions Live 1962 (not the original, which, shockingly, I've never owned, but still cool...even if the title track comes out a half-step too low *shudder*)
John Coltrane--Giant Steps (replacement--duhh)
David Sanchez--Street Scenes (replacement)
Wayne Shorter--Footprints Live (new--I saw these guys on my first Vermont trip and was just waiting for the price to come down)

I hadn't realized how much I missed the Sanchez CD until I listened to it again. The title track is especially awesome; I learned it on tenor a few summers ago and will bust it out again, maybe as soon as tonight if I get home from giving the improv midterm early enough.

UPDATES IN THE BLOGOSPHERE: Dingus has left the building. Not really; he just deleted his blog, though it still shows up as of the moment. He says he's started an "invisiblog" (my term) where he writes stuff to vent for his own sake but won't give the URL to anyone so his ramblings won't hack anyone off. If a tree falls in the forest...Also, J-Guar has his own eponymous site now.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The unsung heroes of our music are the local teachers who help us discover ourselves through their toil."--Phil Woods, in a letter to Marvin Stamm. Thanks to Jazzy G for the quote; read the rest of the letter on her post today for the context. I sure hope DB reconsiders this...

Monday, March 29, 2004


I was all set to post an entry about how much Mondays suck and how horrible I felt all day, but I just found out a little bit ago from Halfling that he got accepted into both the UNT College of Music and the Jazz Studies program. All our work for the jazz videotape and the live classical audition paid off bigtime. (Those are links to Halfling's own posts; to read mine, go here and here for jazz and legit respectively.)

So suddenly it doesn't matter how worn out I was the rest of the time...this goes down as a great day, and I'll sleep like a baby now (I won't be the only one doing so, needless to say).

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Soundly Thrasched

This was Jazz Festival weekend at the college, and I think a good time was had by all. The guests this year were the guys from Thrascher, and they started things off on Friday night with their usual brand of zaniness (and one minor casualty that I'll mention below). On Saturday, they did individual features plus some group stuff, including a bit of "thrasching" in the middle of "The Chicken," which was renamed "Mechanically Separated Chicken Parts" for the night. Great fun.

I won't attempt to recount the entire thing here, but I'll just throw in some random thoughts about the weekend...

--Usually on this weekend I'm backing up the guest artist on Friday night and judging on Saturday, but having a self-contained group of four guest artists who doubled as judges rendered both of those things unnecessary this year. I had a pretty easy weekend, running the box office on Friday night and announcing bands on Saturday. There were times during the clinics when I was itchin' to play and to help with the clinic at the same time. Thankfully, the Saturday night concert gave me a small outlet in the playing area.

--Biggest horn section seen all day: 20 (8 sax/clarinets, 6 trombones, 6 trumpets).

--Biggest woodwind section: 9 (6 saxes, 3 clarinets).

--The Frodo hairstyle was really popular this year. At least one person had it in around half the bands, I think.

--Concerts where blood was drawn: 1 (Friday night). During the Thrascher tune "Abduction," there's a section where the guys make random noise dropping stuff and what-not. Ed took to tossing his mouthpiece cap up against the side wall of the stage, and one time it bounced back and hit him in the head, drawing blood. Though the forthcoming Thrascher CD (out this summer) is already titled ("Axes of Evil"), they now have the name for the one after that: "Blood Shed" (Ed's nickname being "Shed" because of his voracious practice habits).

--There was a sopranino sax on display out in the lobby, but I never was able to get away long enough to play it (d'oh).

--During my solo on "Misty," I once again threw in the "Four" quote, in reference to both Halfling's UNT audition (he was there and laughed uproariously upon hearing it) and the fact that two bands in my theatre played "Four" that morning.

--Oh, and I can now announce the cool stuff about Jazz Camp: The opening night concert will feature Kevin Mahogany. He was our guest artist in '97, and it was really awesome to perform with him. I bet we'll also do a lot of Mantooth charts with him, since he was all over Frank's CD's. (I had previously announced that Byron Stripling will be appearing on the Thursday night concert.)

It was a good weekend, and a long weekend, and I'm not done yet; I'm off to Denton for a Sinfonia ceremony.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He wasn't a halfling, he was more like a three-fourths-ling."--Ed, commenting on one of the taller guys with a Frodo 'do (and one of the only times you'll see the word "halfling" not capitalized on this blog).

Thursday, March 25, 2004

My cellphone is possessed by the devil...

Somehow today, when I got my phone out of my pocket, the display was both upside down and backwards, and it wouldn't change. When it vibrated, it wouldn't let me answer, either...weird.

It's also had some recent incidents where the display would suddenly just fade to grey and disappear. I just hope it makes it till fall, when the current two years on my contract are up and I qualify for another freebie. I just wish I had a digital camera so I could've taken a picture of it, as the only witnesses were Matt the drummer from Combo Too and the standing broad jump lady in the faculty office.

(UPDATE: It did in fact go back to normal when I turned it off and back easy exorcism, if you ask me.)

OOPS: I also wish I had a digital camera yesterday, so I could've gotten a picture of the sign at one of my middle schools that was advertising a week in April as PUBIC SCHOOL WEEK.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's always better when you don't know who you are."--Woody, discussing people with Alzheimer's, but also applying it to the painkillers you get after having your wisdom teeth out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I'm a Fish!

No, I'm not repeating my freshman year of anything *shudder*. It seems that some of Jazzy G's friends have taken to naming her pet fish for her (against her will, mind you), and one of them has been given the moniker of Kev.

The Kev fish

He's an orange cory, in case you're wondering; there's also a Kris fish as well. I've never had a pet named after me before; it's kinda flattering, I guess. (The naming of pets after one's college jazz professors is not unprecedented; when I was at UNT, a couple of my sax-player buds had a dog named "Riggs." Good dog! Heh heh.)

Oh, and stay tuned for a big announcement about the opening-night concert for Jazz Camp.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Vax Attax

I played the gig with Mike Vax tonight, and it was a good time--really loose, informal, small but enthusiastic crowd. It was jazz in its purest form, because we didn't rehearse a lick. The rhythm section--Kris and Kent and Drake from camp--was smokin' as always. We did a bunch of standards like "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" and "Blue Bossa" and the like, and he brought up a couple of local trumpeters to join him on one of his TRPTS arrangements (think the trumpet equivalent of Supersax) and then an impromptu "Blues Walk."

Vax hasn't lost a step after nearly fifty years in the business. He's kind of the polar opposite of Maynard in that he has plenty of high chops but is primarily a soloist. I learned a lot from being up there with him; the biggest thing was to remember the beauty and effectiveness of a really good melody, instead of just relying on those (admittedly cool) bop licks all the time. Oh, and one of the local trumpeters, a guy named Freddie Jones who plays all around the area, played a pocket trumpet and a flugelhorn, in harmony (4ths, to be exact), at the same time. Super freaky weird cool.

So yeah--a fun night. I didn't feel outclassed up there, actually liked portions of most of my solos, and was really "on" (especially for a Monday) concentration-wise, which I needed to be to catch all the little nuances (like matching him style- and inflection-wise on the heads) and curveballs (like when he threw me the bridge on "God Bless the Child"--a tune I don't know too well--and I had actually anticipated it and was prepared). It's too bad more people weren't there, but those who were had a good time. Seeing as how he was our guest artist at the festival a few years back, maybe this can become a recurring thing every few years.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Burrito Framed

This was not a bad weekend overall--too short as always, but a welcome relief before everything heats up to full strength after the two breaks. Still haven't been able to get an estimate on the car; I missed the place closing by two minutes yesterday. It'll come in time. Had a big planning session for the Sinfonia workshop today, so the to-do list is getting whittled little by little (say that in your best Barbara Walters or Elmer Fudd).

Last night was more bowling with TD/D (as always, preceded by Starbucks and followed by Whataburger). I found my "favorite" ball again (the 14-pounder with the divot) and didn't do badly, though I was disappointed that a game with no open frames till the fifth didn't get back on track soon enough to break 200.

We did have a first last night: a burrito frame. We've already taken a cue from league bowlers and established "Coke frames" (actually Dr Pepper for most of us), where the one person who fails to mark when everyone else does in any given frame owes the rest a Coke. We don't actually collect said Coke while bowling; rather, we add up the cumulative Coke frames and eventually get "paid" in two-liter bottles (saves money that way). Demon Matt has fallen victim to the most of these so far; at over 22 frames since TD/D bowling started, we figure he owes me and a few others at least four two-liters of DP already.

The burrito frame is a more daunting task: If you get a turkey (three strikes in a row) in the tenth frame, the rest of the bowlers chip in on a Chipotle burrito for you. We thought this wouldn't happen for a long time...until Coop did it last night. I still beat him by two pins (167 to 165) in the game, but he gets the delectable foil torpedo. Dingus also vows in his latest post never to bowl under his real name again.

Tomorrow night I have that gig with Mike Vax. It may well be jazz at its most spontaneous: as of this moment, we have no idea what tunes we're playing, if/when the rehearsal takes place, and which sax I should bring (I'm opting for the tenor since my best fake book is in Bb). And you know what? I bet it'll turn out just fine.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Another Random Collection of Stuff

Last night, big band practiced in the dark--not because they don't keep the power on during spring break, but so we could get used to playing illuminated only by stand lights, which is how it will be tonight at the Monopoly gig at the StarCenter. I think it definitely weirded a few people out.

I made the trip from Lakeview to Webb today without getting hit by anyone. Woo! (Dang, I still have to get an estimate on that...)

The two evenings off this week were nice. I still haven't made a big enough dent in the rest of the to-do list, but at least I have a bit more energy.

There's a new Subway over by Naaman; it's been open one whole day. I had lunch there today, and thankfully, they already know how to make a sandwich. I felt bad when I kept seeing people in their 40's and 50's coming in for job applications. No wonder teenagers have trouble finding work... At least I have a job--one that I really love--and people have finally started to pay me this week (yay).

QUOTE OF THE DAY, HONORABLE MENTION: (an exchange during lessons with a middle-schooler who kept playing F#'s in a piece with two flats in the key signature)
EIGHTH-GRADER: I don't know why I put the F#'s in there...I like F#'s.
ME: Well...I like maple syrup myself, but I don't put it in my chili.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "But I enjoy the taste of caffeine way too much."--Fizban, in response to my suggestion that following "Kev's Caffeine Rule" (none after 7 p.m.) might help him go to sleep sooner. (Coming in at 7:17 a.m., this may be the earliest spawning of a QOTD on record.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Erin Go Blog

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. Being at least a quarter Irish (and having the name to go with it), I make sure to wear green during the day and possibly indulge in some sort of green beverage, though it's been a while since I've done the corned-beef-and-cabbage thing (too much cooking for me). Maybe I'll find a deli tonight and have a Reuben sandwich so I can at least get the corned beef part in.

The most aggressive celebrator of the day award would go to this girl at one of my middle schools, who hits people instead of pinching them (this according to one of my students who doesn't own a stitch of green clothing; I told him it could have been worse--at least she doesn't kiss instead, though some might enjoy that). The best costume-in-a-pinch (to avoid a pinch) also came from a middle schooler, who Scotch-taped a green leaf onto his shirt. Niiiice.

At any rate, I welcome everyone else from all other backgrounds who get to join me in being Irish today. Erin Go Bragh!

The missing o' the green: I started to get at least mildly perturbed yesterday when the people who forgot to pay me for lessons before spring break were also forgetting afterwards. I decided to make a point (that continually forgetting to pay me messes me over) with one of them, so I sat down and did the math.

It's startling: As of yesterday morning, there were 25 people who had yet to pay me for March. If they each owed me for three lessons (which is a conservative estimate, since some owe me for four), that came out to almost $1100.00! No wonder it never feels like I have as much money as I should (though, granted, most of us probably feel that way anyway). I hope the guilt trip works on them for next least better than the cat food story has so far.

Monday, March 15, 2004


This morning, the first day back to school, hit me like a ton o' bricks. It appeared that everyone around me had also fallen victim to said bricks.

I couldn't help yawning all morning long, and it hit me again at my evening lessons at the store. It's gonna take more than one day to get used to sleeping from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (assuming I can actually hit the 11:00 part, though that should be no problem tonight) instead of 4 a.m.-11 a.m. Demon Matt said that this must be what being drunk would be like, and indeed, this morning felt like a hangover (not that I've known that feeling for a long, long time, nor do I plan to anytime soon). I guess it could be said that, after a week of fun, going back to the regular routine can indeed feel like a hangover. Tonight, I'll sleep more, and it can only get better, especially with the short day tomorrow.

Is it summer yet?

All Trane, all the time: Jazzy G sent me a link to a radio station at Columbia University that's playing nothing but John Coltrane music from now through the 25th. Check out this link:

Sonic update: Die-hard readers may have noticed that there wasn't anything about the Sonic sign at the beginning of this month. That's because there really wasn't anything to update; they simply moved their slightly-defective TUESDAY NIGHT HALF-PRICE BURGERS IS BACK message to the other side of the sign. The message on the other side, TRY A NEW SMOKY BURGER, would have been hard to mess up.

But just when you thought there was nothing to report this month, another Sonic here in Garland came through. Though the sign at this one is usually error-free, this month it reads:


Maybe the Sign Dude changed stores? We'll see what April has to offer.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Best Spring Break Ever!

OK, technically I'm not completely done in the spring break department, but I always said that this first half-break was the "real' one, and it was amazing. Sure, I had to teach my college classes, but that probably provided just the proper amount of diversion to keep me from getting bored, which had been the downfall of previous spring breaks. This one, though, will go down as the best one ever.

I got to hang with my friends every day, hear live music, participate in live music a little bit, bowl my brains out, eat Chipotle four times, and sleep till 10 or 11 nearly every day. Sure, that to-do list I talked about yesterday didn't get dented until today, but I really, really needed this time off...and I still have a few free nights this week because of the college being on break.

If a year ago February in San Antonio was "Lee-MEA" because I got to hang with Fizban so much, then this week was "Demon Half-break," and it was a most excellent time (Halfling and I had already bestowed the "best spring break ever" title on this week by the end of Shelley's jam on Monday night). In fact, it was a truly great week for all of Team Demon/Dingus, and it served as a prelude for what should be an amazing summer...provided we all make good money (me included).

But now it's over, and 6:00 will beckon way too early tomorrow. I'll probably have the equivalent of "senioritis" until the end of the semester, but at least I get paid for being at school. So as this vacation goes in the books, we can all just sit back and say wow, what a week it was.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Lazy, Lazy, Lazy

Things on my to-do list at the beginning of today:

--Calculate my teaching mileages for 2003 for taxes (yecch)
--Transfer a bunch of stuff into the new file cabinets in my room
--Get an estimate on the car from my recent fender-bender
--Pick up a prescription that had been ready since Wednesday
--Work on harmonizing a few passages for the combos
--Work on some stuff for the upcoming Sinfonia workshop

Things on this list that I've actually accomplished today:

--Nothing. Not jack squat.

It's OK, though, because I really needed a lazy day like this. Even though this has been the best spring break I've ever had in terms of the amount of cool stuff I've gotten to do (the subject of tomorrow's post), I haven't had a day yet to do absolutely nothing, and I've enjoyed it to the hilt. Saving this all for tomorrow will make me more tired at the end of that day, which should make having to go to bed at 11:00 all the easier.

I'm headed to dinner in a second, followed by a jam session with the 15th Street Jazz guys a little later. The fun continues...

(UPDATE: By the end of break, I did at least get #1 and #2 on the above list completed; thank goodness for a little more time off this week.)

Boy Meets Horn

Now it can be told...

The "good evil plot" that I was involved in all week came to fruition last night. The result: Halfling is now the proud owner of a Selmer Paris alto. I'm sure he'll talk about it on his own site, but here's the story from my end:

It started a few months ago when Russ, an old college roommate of mine, was looking to unload his Mark VII alto. While many horns in that line produce too dark a tone for good jazz playing, this one had a big sound and thus the capacity to play both styles well. Once I tested it out, I knew that Halfling was the prime candidate for it, since he's headed to UNT and didn't have the requisite Selmer yet. He played it and loved it, but his parents weren't ready to buy at the moment.

Then, in February, I got an email from Russ, basically saying he didn't care about the money as long as it went to a "good home." I checked on this to be sure he didn't actually mean a free horn (what an awesome graduation present that would have been!), and it turned out that, since he was out of work at the moment, it couldn't be a freebie, but he would unload it for the low, low price of $1000. Now it was just a matter of figuring out where the money would come from.

The rest of that month was spent preparing for the two auditions for UNT, which have been chronicled in these pages. The Mark VII sat on the sidelines, though Halfling would play it sometimes when he was here. When it came time for his jazz concert a week ago, I let him take it for an extended "test-drive"...and that was the smartest thing we could have done. His parents noticed the huge difference in sound quality, and on Monday I got an email from his mom asking a few final questions but basically greenlighting the deal...oh, and could I broker it in secret, so they could surprise him?

Thus commenced the plot, and let me tell you, my poker face was at full strength all week (hanging every day as we did made it a challenge sometimes). In the meantime, I got hold of Russ, who agreed to type up a receipt in advance of getting the check. I then "accidentally" ran into him at Lab Band Night on Wednesday, moving over to another corner of the Syndicate "to talk" and have the receipt slipped to me...the guys were none the wiser, just thinking that I'd run into an old friend (true, but only part of the story).

From there, Halfling's dad came to my mailbox yesterday morning, put the check in and took the receipt out. All I knew after that was that they would tell him "sometime over the weekend." When his dad called on the way back from our racquetball game yesterday afternoon, inviting him and Angie to dinner with them that night, I knew the deal would go down then, and sure enough...he got the coolest "dessert" ever. It took a while to sink in, of course, and he was totally amazed that I knew about it for four days already. I was out bowling with TD/D that night, but when I got home I had a very happy IM window waiting for me.

Conspiracy can be fun when it turns out like this...

(NEXT DAY UPDATE: We put the finishing touches on everything on Sunday afternoon, meeting up with Russ in Lewisville and getting him the check, thus allowing Halfling to meet the instigator of this sweet deal...and hear some really interesting cruise ship stories.)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

TD/D invades UNT

Last night was a major Team Demon/Dingus trip up to Denton to hear the Two and Three O'Clock Lab Bands at the Syndicate. Since it's spring break, we probably would have gone no matter which bands were playing, but it was a happy accident of scheduling that these two were the ones that were on tap for the night.

We had quite a crowd: Halfling sat in on improv, and Miles also came along when we were done with class; Fizban, Dingus and Demon Matt met us afterwards, Dingus squeezing himself into the back seat of Kevmobile 1.2 (a casualty of the "shotgun wars" with Halfling) and the other two following us in Fizban's truck.

We got there with about half an hour left in the Three O'Clock's set; I camped out in this band for many years in my college career, and Jay Saunders is doing a fine job with them. They had a lot of tunes that featured an alumni vibes player (I think he's an alum; I remember him from the mid '90's) which had originally been written for the noted vibist Terry Gibbs.

While they changed bands, we got to go through a massive "de-fictionalization" (the real world and the online world collide in friendly fashion) as the guys were introduced to J-Guar, who I think was really amazed to meet so many of the "stars" of this blog at the same time. We're all gonna hang out at some point when UNT gets back from their break.

The Two O'Clock took the stage in a bit; the level of soloing definitely rose a bit between the two bands (the lead tenor definitely had it goin' on, and the bassist, whom I knew in his North Garland days a while back, sounded great). I think for the first time I was really able to listen to these high-level bands from an educator's standpoint, especially the soloing (perhaps since I'd just come off a night of teaching improv).

I used to be in awe of the elite players at UNT, but I've come to realize, once I cast aside the usual "I suck"-ness with which I sometimes regard my own playing, that I'm in the league with a lot of them now (they just need to start granting doctorates in jazz so I can go back and make the One O'Clock someday). They played a lot of the cool lab band standards like "F.M." and "Three and One" (the bari/flugel/bass feature that I always like playing at camp), and Jim Riggs is wildly entertaining on the mic, just like he is in person.

Afterwards, we got to go to the Tomato, which thankfully is open until 1 on weeknights. Fizban said (halfway in jest?) that this was his main reason for the trip. The pizza was good as always, and it capped off the night in fine fashion. The trip back was uneventful (i.e. no cops *grin*), and one could only wish that traffic on Central were like its 1:45 a.m. self more often. Another awesome day...

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

A Quick Wednesday Nooner

Get your mind out of the gutter; this isn't what you think it is. I had the chance to play on the Wednesday noon recital hour at the college today, backing up Susan, one of our alumni vocalists (who's now at UNT), along with Kris, our new drumset prof Gene, and a jazz piano grad student from UNT. It was in THE ARTS Gallery on campus, a cool-looking, interesting-sounding cube of a room with hardwood floors.

We only had one rehearsal--last night--but everything came off pretty well. Though there had been some notation issues with the charts last night, the arrangements were very cool and featured some interesting stuff with my tenor being either in unison or harmony with the female voice. Since it's required attendance for the students in lessons, we had an enthusiastic, partisan crowd. I wasn't overly happy with my solo on "Afro Blue" (both because I still need to work to get my improv on Bb instruments to match the level of what I can do in Eb, and because I decided at the last minute not to take a second chorus since the form is weird), but the rest of it was better. At least I think I learned some things from it, which is what it's all about, after all. The best moment of the day came during "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" when Kris threw the bass line from "The Chicken" into his solo.

At any rate, it's always good to play with musicians of the caliber of the ones we had today, in front of the "home crowd." There are still a few issues I have with my own playing (nothing like Dingus posted about recently, but some things I will definitely be working on this summer), but the people really liked it, and that's important too, especially when the music is on a really high level like this was.

Speaking of high levels, I'm back to Denton tonight to see the Two and Three O'Clock play the Syndicate (the subject of my next post, no doubt).

BLOW OUT THE CANDLES: Happy Birthday to Jervis, past national president of Sinfonia, current historian of the DFWAAA, and one of the fraternity's true national treasures. There may be one more candle on that cake, but you're still NOT OLD (sorry, inside DFWAAA joke there).

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "And the winner of our beauty pageant is....Miss Dakota!"--Me, to Kris, after the tune where the rhythm section had to repeat a section because they missed the coda the first time (Miss Dakota? Get it? Man, the TD/D guys are gonna foil me for that one..)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Boppin' at 'Buca

For years, I'd dreamed of having a band in the rotation at Sambuca in Deep Ellum. I had submitted a tape of my mid '90's combo to their booking guy to no avail (but looking back, that group really wasn't ready). I'd been going there off and on for around nine years, and last night, about three weeks before they relocate and alter their format, I did in fact get to hit the stage...and Halfling was up there with me.

I mentioned a while back, in my Say It Ain't So! post, that Sambuca has been the recent home of a jam session led by my old college buddy Shelley Carrol, a wonderful tenor player who's played in both the One O'Clock and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. I also noted that the Deep Ellum outlet is about to move to a "friendlier" location in Uptown (yay) but change its music format away from all-jazz (boo). This move was supposed to happen sometime this month. The plan had always been to go to Shelley's jam on Monday night of spring break (last night), provided it was still going on.

The evidence during the day didn't look good: there was no Deep Ellum online music calendar for March (yet there was one for Addison, so it wasn't a matter of the site not being updated), and repeated phone calls to the Ellum number yielded nothing more than a constant busy signal. We figured they'd already closed the location, so other plans were made. But on the way home from teaching at the store, I called the number again just to be sure. Surprisingly, a guy answered; they were in fact open, but their move had been delayed a week, which is why the online calendar hadn't been published. Plans were changed, and Halfling and I were on our way.

Deep Ellum on a Monday night is always pretty dead, and this night was even more so than usual (no scary goths, and only one homeless guy...and he was on the way home, closer to actual downtown than to Ellum). Parking was so plentiful that we even got one of the free spaces right alongside the restaurant. Shelley was his usual awesome self, the food was great and plentiful (even if my favorite dish--the "tri-colored tortellini"--was no longer on the menu), and the chocolate cheesecake ruled as always. It was a loose night, with lots of guests; they even had this one tune where almost everyone was on some sort of secondary instrument: Shelley played clarinet, the drummer played piano and the pianist sang and scatted (interesting in itself, since I think his first language is Japanese).

Finally it was our turn. You get to pick your tune at this session, so Halfling and I picked "Recorda-Me" since it's a Combo PM staple. The stage was barely big enough for two horn players; I was hoping that Shelley would join us at the end and school us both, but he let us be the stars for that tune.

I also decided that we needed some sort of a memento, some proof that we were there. A tenor student of Shelley's was there with his dad, and the dad was eagerly snapping pictures whenever his son played. During the piano solo, I went over and asked the dad if he could take a picture of me and Halfling up there and email it to me. He did, so here we are:

(I had to learn a bit of new code to keep this picture from coming out Dingus-sized on this site for some reason...but hey, it's the first picture ever on this blog. There'll be more now.)

We were the last "official" tune of the evening, though they did have a little version of "Mood Indigo" which started out as a duet between Shelley (on clarinet) and the pianist, though eventually the drummer played some bass and Shelley played some drums. Wild...

So all in all, it was a great night: I got to spend a moment on the stage where I'd watched others so many times, and Halfling got his first taste of a real-world jam. By the summertime, we're hoping to hit the every-third-Friday jam at the South Dallas Cultural Center, where we both may well get schooled (since Shelley and Marchel Ivery have been known to show up)...but it'll be awesome.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Don't let 'em kill your spirit up there. I mean, they will, but then you'll get back on your feet and keep moving ahead, ya know?"--Shelley, to Halfling, regarding UNT.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Shameless Plug Update

OK, now I can talk about this: the concert I mentioned a few days ago will be with Mike Vax, former Stan Kenton trumpeter and leader of his own big band and the group "TRPTS." (basically a Supersax of trumpets). It'll be Monday the 22nd of this month at 7:00 at the Plano Centre. Tickets are ten bucks a head (five for students with ID), and the reason I'm involved is because they're using a faculty combo from the college. Click here for more details.

Commence Relaxation

(ADVISORY: An almost, but not quite, Dingus-sized post ahead)

The first of my two partial spring breaks started Friday, and now it finally feels like I'm on vacation. I'll catch things up here since my Friday morning car mishap:

Friday night was the time to put the finishing touches on Halfling's UNT audition (granted, we also tinkered ever-so-slightly with his jazz tune from the night before, and worked a bit on what we had guessed might be on the "mad aural skillz" exam that would happen an hour after the audition). Finally, it was time for the big run-through: all five movements of Tableux back-to-back. It went well, and we were both spent when it was done. It was time for a diversion now.

After a quick bite at Whataburger, we headed out to (where else?) Bowl-A-Rama, where we were joined by Demon Matt, Fizban, Matt's girlfriend Kristen and their friend Alicia. We did two games, and they came out pretty normal. Halfling found his groove near the end and came in second, beating Fizban by one pin.

The group dispersed a bit after eleven, leaving Fizban, Demon Matt and myself to continue on. The evening had been fairly free of scary/annoying people (though one Amazon-ish woman on the next lane was more than a bit unnerving to Fizban), but then a family of eight took over the next lane, and again there were etiquette issues (mother taking five minutes to teach daughter to bowl, on my turn of course; one guy who just barged up there to bowl even if you were getting ready to go). I dealt with it this time by popping a clave pattern on one of the ball holes. Demon Matt dubbed this the clave of peace, because it calmed me down enough to keep from going off on someone about their selfishness on the lanes. By the end of the fourth game, I lost my spare completely and lost the game to Fizban by three pins.

This morning dawned way too early, as I left a little after 8:15 for Denton and Halfling's audition (he and his dad had to be there at 7:30...eww). When I got there, they were chillin' in the Union, having been through the first round of meetings. The food court wasn't open yet (it would turn out not to be open on Saturday at all), so we hoofed it across campus a bit to find a place I used to go to once upon a time called the Kharma Cafe. I wasn't sure if it was still in business...even when we walked up to it (the windows are tinted quite dark). I tried the door and it worked, so we chilled there for a while. Finally, it was time for a lovely walk across campus (thank goodness for nice weather) so Halfling could get his horn and warm up a bit. After a quick pep-talk, I went to hang with my Sinfonia brothers, who were serving as guides for the day.

So Halfling actually ended up going about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled, and they only made him play three of the five movements. By the time I got there to listen outside the door, he was on the sight-reading portion, which evidently was somewhat weird (it ended on a Bbb). But he was happy, and relieved, and now all that's left is the three-week wait. After more chill time in the Union, all that was left was the "aural skillz" test, for which it turns out we had waaay overprepared. All they did was play a musical example and play it again, and you had to tell whether or not the second time was different, and if so, how (melodically, rhythmically or harmonically). To cap the morning off, Halfling's dad treated us to Chipotle on our way out of Denton...always a good way to end something like that.

After a chillular afternoon, I went to hear the Lakeview jazz concert, which featured a return engagement from Adam Rapa, the amazing trumpet soloist from "Blast!" He made a comment about how much the program had improved in a year, but what I noticed was how much he had improved in a year. He was already amazing last time, but his improv has matured a lot, so that he's not just exploiting his amazing high chops anymore, but also coming up with some really nice lines. He got to duel with Micah on "Fox Hunt," which was a lot of fun. Micah held his own, too (he had been concerned about that beforehand, since Adam is 23 and has done all this amazing stuff, and Micah is 20...but a lot of us think that in three years, Micah could be just like Adam).

But Adam was right--the band did sound a lot better than last time. (UPDATE: Dingus, being in the band, has a much harsher assessment in his own post). The block setup gave it more depth, and, though there were plenty of mistakes, it was an improvement. The biggest problems to me were the rhythm section issues--way too many mistakes from the drums, and the piano was virtually nonexistent. They need (and are getting--next year) a new sound system too; it was especially a problem on Halfling's "SNL" solo on The Chicken. He did a fine job but was cranked way too loud; he probably could have played everything a dynamic level lower, but there had been no soundcheck and there was no monitor, so he had no way of hearing himself. Still, I'm glad he got to do it, even if he had no chance to relax afterwards, as Angie's prom was beckoning. Talk about long days...

The concert ended on a fun note, as Adam, Fizban and Dingus did an acapella reprise of The Chicken (Chicken Bones, you could say). It nearly wore Fizban out playing six choruses of bass line on bass bone, but it was cool. Afterwards, we (Fizban, Dingus, Dingus's GF Cassi and some others) hung with Micah at Chili's for a while and Whataburgered in the parking lot (yes, we could see Whataburger across the street) until 12:45. And now for some sleep...

Friday, March 05, 2004

Fender Bumper Bender

So there I am, minding my own business, driving between schools this morning. The light at Northeast Parkway and Mars turns yellow before I get there, so I look in my rear-view mirror to see if anyone's behind me. Nope, the closest person is waaay back there. Opting for safe over sorry, I make my stop. A few seconds pass...


Holy crap, somebody just rear-ended me.

I look in the mirror again to see a big SUV looming behind me. Lord only knows how fast it was going to not have been able to stop. I'm not hurt, just totally startled, and more than a little concerned for my horn in the trunk.

I get out; the lady from the SUV is frazzled and apologetic, calling me "sir" at every turn and making sure I'm OK. In the meantime, I'm hoping that maybe it's just a bumper-to-bumper thing where nothing gets messed up. D'oh--no luck. My back right bumper is a bit crunched in; I guess it was no match for the much-bigger vehicle. I try the trunk, which, thankfully, opens...the horn is fine (whew). We exchange information, deciding not to get the cops involved since we're blocking traffic and nobody was hurt (was this a bad idea? Seemed like they'd take forever to get there and probably had lots more important things to deal with). I learn that I can get an estimate first before filing any sort of claim, so hopefully I can make a little headway on that before Halfling's night-before-the-audition session this afternoon. If not, at least spring break is starting and I'll have time then.

The funny thing is, I might have gone for it on yellow if a few things hadn't been going through my head: One, that Garland has cameras at certain intersections that are designed to "catch" red-light runners (probably not at this particular one, but the thought was there); and two, the fact that a cop had tailed me for about a mile through Rowlett for no apparent reason just a few minutes before, so I was a bit on the self-conscious side. Oh well, I guess the real blame lies with the person herself, who "didn't see me stop," but still, something's not right when following the law turns out to be less safe than not doing so.

And the truly ironic thing might be deduced from the time-stamp of this post: Yes, I'm "Kev, Live from School" today, which means that I have a student absent right now who didn't call me in advance (UPDATE: This happened again the next period too...ugh). If I knew they weren't going to be here, I might have left my first school later, stopped by the bank, etc.; I bet I could make them feel like absolute crap if they knew that, by not contacting me, they at least indirectly caused me to be involved in a wreck. (I'm usually too nice to actually do something like that, but this person has missed so much that I might do so just to make a point.)

But all in all, I guess I should count my blessings. In a few hours, it's off to find out how much something like this is going to cost...somebody else.

Oh yeah, and to almost add insult injury to injury, when the lady and I had exchanged information and I walked back over to my car, I was almost sideswiped (yes, as a pedestrian *shudder*) by a lady in a minivan who wasn't paying attention either. Time to get your heads in the game, Soccer Moms.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Missing the Monsoon

I feel fairly fortunate that I missed all the nasty weather that rolled through our area today. I heard the stories, though: Half of Rowlett underwater (OK, maybe an exaggeration); tornado warnings in Denton (J-Guar said he took refuge in near a practice room); somebody eating it on the turn where Northeast Parkway becomes the George Bush and going over the median barrier; an hourlong backup at the High Five; an airborne 18-wheeler (!) just south of Dallas. Meanwhile, since it was a B-day, I beat the rain to the college and sat placidly at the computer while everyone else felt the full forces. Usually, I'd be the one walking into combo all soaked for whatever reason, but today, the laws of Murphy went elsewhere.

Reunion time: We actually had most of Team Demon/Dingus at burrito night today, for the first time in months. Woody wasn't there (though her parents were across the restaurant for a bit), but Zack made his first appearance with us since Thanksgiving, I think. The table was full to bursting. One funny thing that I'm sure we'll hear about later: Evidently, Coop knows some moron who wants to challenge Zack to a DDR match, saying "he can't be that good." Boy, is that guy gonna pay (probably literally).

Demon Halfling, Op. 1: Halfling wrote a tune last night and Combo PM read it tonight; it was the first time in eons that someone brought an original into one of my combos (besides me, heh). It's still in its embryonic stages (basically a head at this point), but I think it'll turn out pretty cool.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Ever notice that the worst weather spawns the best sunsets?'--Me, to Dingus, marveling at a particularly stunning display on the way from burrito night to combo.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Long Wednesday

Today was another of my famous "long Wednesdays." I only mention it because it won't happen again for a while, what with my split spring breaks starting next week. To give you an example of what I go through every "hump day," I'll lay out my schedule for you (not using real school names, in case someone reads this and wants to stalk me, heh heh):

7:30-9:45 (A days)/8:00-10:15 (B days): First high school
10:00-10:25 (A days) Lunch (yes it's early, but it's then or never)
10:30-12:45 Middle school
12:50-1:10 (B days) Lunch (better than on A days)
1:15-2:15 (B days)/12:55-2:20 (A days) Second high school
2:40-3:40 Third high school
4:15-5:15 Teach two people at Casa de Kev
5:50-6:00 Dinner (if I'm lucky)
6:00-8:50 Teach college improv

Then I come home and collapse...or at least talk to my friends on AIM and maybe do a blog entry. Anyone wanna trade schedules with me?

Welcome to the team: Coop succumbed to peer pressure and is now a blogger. We're working to get him set up on TD/D as well.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Forthcoming Shameless Plug

The details are close to being hammered out, but I will tell you that I'm scheduled to play a gig backing up a former member of the Stan Kenton Orchestra in a few weeks. It's looking like it'll be Monday the 22nd in Plano...more info to follow.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You are a dingus among felines."--Me, to Tasha, after she lost her rubber ball underneath the stereo approximately 3.7 seconds after I tossed it to her (and no, I don't talk to the cat all that often).

Monday, March 01, 2004

Divertimento com o Babelfish (Fun with the Babelfish)

The other day, Halfling and I were bored while pondering where to eat dinner, and we decided to translate our blogs into Portuguese using the AltaVista Babelfish (if you're unfamiliar with the site, it's where you can go to translate blocks of text--or entire web pages, for that matter--into various foreign languages). It was pretty funny. The title of mine, for example, comes out as "Os musings do Kev: Pensamentos aleatórios e Rants de um Saxophonist diário."

Today, in an even bigger fit of whimsy, I decided to take a chunk of the translated text (in this case, the Sassy paragraph from yesterday's post), put it into the Babelfish again and re-translate it to English. The results were pretty funny (props to J-Guar for the idea)...

ORIGINAL POSTING: I have to give a shout-out to Sassy, one of the most awesome dogs ever. She was born on Feb. 29 of '84 (thus making her a "leap dog") and gave my family many good years. At first when we got her, my folks called her a "moodle" (part maltese, part poodle), but later on they found out she was probably a bichon frise, which sounds fancier (and more than a little bit like cussing in French). When she died, Dad got sympathy cards. For real.

PORTUGUESE TRANSLATION: Eu tenho que dar shout-out-para fora a sassy, um dos cães os mais awesome sempre. Foi carregada fevereiro em 29 de '84 (que faz assim lhe do "um cão pulo") e deu a minha família muitos anos bons. No início quando nós a começamos, meus povos chamaram-na um "moodle" (parte maltese, poodle da parte), mas mais tarde neles encontraram-na para fora eram provavelmente um frise do bichon, que soasse mais extravagante (e mais do que um bocado pequeno como cussing em francês). Quando morreu, o dad começou cartões do sympathy. Para real.

RE-TRANSLATION: I more have that to give shout-out-for it are sassy, one of the dogs awesome always. It was loaded February in 29 of ' 84 (that dog makes thus it of the "one pull") and gave to my family many good years. In the beginning when we start it, my peoples had called it one "moodle" (part maltese, poodle of the part), but in them they had later found it for it are were probably one emphasizes of bichon, that he sounded fancier (and more of the one than a small bit as cussing in Frenchman). When it died, dad started cards of sympathy. For Real.

Now I remember why I only visit that site every now and then: it causes hours of meaningless fun (whereas I, of course, only have time for minutes of said fun). Try it on your own site if you want, and post the results here in the comments (remembering Haloscan's 100-character limit, of course).

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You can't go that fast--it's a Monday!"--Demon Matt, after I randomly opened up the Omnibook and made him sight-read something this morning. Evidently the tempo I counted off was a bit on the sprightly side...