Sunday, August 29, 2004

There's No Place Like Home

I almost overlooked this in the busy-ness of this week, but today is my third anniversary as a homeowner. After years of renting, it has been really cool to have a place to truly call my own.

Casa de Kev (photo by Mom)

It hasn't been without its problems, of course, but I have to say that, all in all, homeownership is really cool. Mom and Dad come up every few months and do more stuff to spruce the place up, and even when I'm stuck mowing the lawn, it's not all that bad because I realize that it's my own place that I'm making look nice instead of somebody else's (I don't miss the rental house at all in that respect, not one bit).

And now that I've been there a while, it's gotten an identity of its own as a place full of music and friends. The hangs, the jams...I've never felt more at home in any other place I lived since the house I grew up in (the one which, ironically, looks a lot like the one Halfling grew up in).

Here's to many more years of great times in this place...

The Gig in Review

Just got back from the gig a little bit ago; I've posted my thoughts about it on the TD/D site. I was really happy with how many people showed up too: students/parents, fraternity brothers, people from the college. Mass emailing evidently can be effective if it's used tastefully and with restraint (and doesn't contain the word "Viagra" anywhere).

Normally I'm so hyped up after a gig that I really, really want to go out somewhere, but this time I was tired enough when I got home that I didn't actually mind. I hope we can all go somewhere next time...and seeing as how this one turned out so well, I'm certain that "next time" will be soon.

UPDATE: Dingus weighs in on the night as well.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

We Live in Trying (-Out) Times

A few telling quotes from this time of year:

"I play better in front of 500 people than I do in front of five judges."--Dingus, on multiple occasions.

"I feel more comfortable performing in front of hundreds than in front of twos"--J-Guar, this morning before his lab band audition.

I think I'm seeing a pattern here...

Auditions are in the air. I've already posted about the 5+ hours of them that I listened to on Tuesday, and most of the Kev World has been on the other end of that process this week. Halfling tried out for lab band yesterday; he didn't think it went too great, but the first one is always the hardest one, and now he knows the process firsthand. J-Guar went this morning, and was quite pleased with how he did. My buddy Bryan from 15th Street Jazz is done with his cruise ship gig and auditions Sunday (the same day that Halfling does his legit audition; that would have been all kinds of wrong if they'd made him do it back-to-back with his lab tryout like they'd originally suggested). All that's left after that is to wait till Tuesday when the results are posted.

I went up to Denton yesterday to hang with Halfling after his audition; I didn't quite get there in time to actually hear it, but caught the unwinding part. He and G and I watched about five Family Guy episodes, and it was probably the best decompression we could have done. It was so great to just do absolutely nothing for a bit.

Afterwards, I was supposed to meet up with my sister and her family, but they were late driving in from Austin and didn't arrive till near Caleb's (my younger nephew) bedtime. I'm gonna meet up with them for lunch in a bit.

So I'm just happy that Zoo Week is practically over and things can settle in. I'll be a bit busier than this week, at least during the day, but things won't be so up in the air as they were this week.

Yay, I win again: I opened my email this morning to find that I'd won another fishbowl drawing from Chipotle. Of all the winnings over the years, I'd never actually won from 15th Street before, which is weird since it's the one I visit most often. It's free dinner for four, but the fourth person has to be a newbie (this could have been a severe challenge, but Ben has never set foot inside a Chipotle before). Now I just have to figure out when we can go. It's really funny that my business cards have probably gotten me more free food than either students or gigs, but hey....whatever works.

The gig at Ke Davi is tonight....I'll report back on it on here and/or on the TD/D site.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Zoo Week

Four days between, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. Instead, it must be the week before college classes start, a.k.a. Zoo Week--the week where everything happens at once, and every ounce of spare time is taken up with something; even if it's cool stuff, the days end up being even longer than they normally would. It's always struck me as odd how the week before college ends up being busier than college itself.

So, let me catch up: Monday was...Monday, start at 7:30 a.m., end up at the store at 8 p.m. (with a dinner break that may or may not get filled with students; the 20 bucks a lesson is really tempting, but so is the chance to eat at a normal hour).

Tuesday was a "short" (5 hours) teaching day, followed by five hours (!) of listening to auditions at the college. The hallway was never empty of people waiting to go next, so we just kept running 'em in. We did burrito night after that, and I worked with Halfling on the stuff for his two auditions later in the week (he's trying out for "regular" band as well as lab band).

Last night was leisure time, as I went to the Rangers game with Halfling and J-Guar, who's back from Minnesota and thus was cheering for the "wrong" team (his hometown Twins). The Twins won the game, though the last fly ball hit by a Ranger would have been a game-winning grand slam if it had gone just a bit higher and a few feet farther. At least it was interesting for most of the game.

Today was another short day, the last Thursday before combos resume next week. I'll still have a combo rehearsal tonight, but it's for Saturday's Ke Davi gig, so it'll be great fun.

There we go; I'm all caught up now. Perhaps by the weekend I'll be interesting and topical again, but I wanted to at least chime in today while I had the time.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to C-Rod, my former protege and now an avid practitioner of "acid jazz." Can he really be 26? Man, I've known him since he was 11...

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Day One Revisited

I went up to Denton today to help Halfling get settled in his dorm room after he got back from Eagle Camp. Angie rode with me so she wouldn't have to make the trip herself, and ultimately we would meet up with Dingus and Cassi and G at the Tomato (it was the second time there today for me and Halfling and Angie, as that was also our lunch choice soon after his return). It ended up being a lot like our normal gatherings at home, just transplanted a bit north.

At one point, Halfling asked me if today was anything like my first-year move-in day had been. I thought about it for a second and said, "well, it's the same building...and I was also a music major on the saxophone, but otherwise, not at all." Here's just some of the stuff that was different:

--Bruce Hall wasn't air-conditioned when I lived there (*shudder*). El Cuarto de Halfling stayed at a constant 71 degrees.

--When I got there, I had probably less than an hour to dump my stuff off before I had to go to a marching band rehearsal, for a show we would perform at a game four days later. The closest Halfling will come to marching is when TD/D plays " The Blues March."

--My dad dropped me off and pretty much left me on my own there (mostly because of the quick rehearsal and so he would only have to miss one day of work). I didn't have the luxury of a girlfriend or best friend to help me out like Halfling does.

--I sure didn't practice anything on my own the first day. Halfling and I read through stuff (mostly this really fun book called "Bop Duets") today for an hour and a half.

And I bet he doesn't get sick on anything the first week either. Advantage, Halfling (not that I'd have it any other way).

It's really cool that my best friend is attending my alma mater and living in my old dorm. We've known for quite some time that this day would come, but now that it has, it finally feels real. If we can get him in a lab band the first semester, that'll be all kinds of sweet, but there's TD/D in any case, and he'll learn a lot up there no matter what.

And speaking of TD/D...check out the group blog (or the "Upcoming GIgs" portion of my sidebar, for that matter) for a big announcement.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Chalk One Up for the Good Guys

It's been a busy week, but I can't neglect to mention that there was a major event this week concerning one of my pet issues. The Electronic Freedom Foundation reports on a landmark legal victory for peer-to-peer file sharing, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that distributors of the peer-to-peer software Grokster and Morpheus cannot be held liable for the infringing activities of their users. The decision is based in part on the fact that P2P networks have significant non-infringing uses, and that they can help artists earn money.

Read the full opinion here. UCLA law prof (and noted blogger) Eugene Volokh weighs in on the subject, generally supporting the Court's ruling while allowing that P2P technology can be used for good and for ill. And I found a great article from a few years back by writer Ken Layne, who rants against the Machine much more thoroughly than I did. (via Instapundit, who also points out some political implications of this.)

QUOTE OF THE DAY (1): "What happens when an industry mistreats its customers and its suppliers? When 8,999 of 9,000 audits show shoddy accounting practices? When a core business is bungled and the marketplace shrugs and moves on? When scandals and greed lead to massive layoffs and massive disgust?  I'm not talking about Enron. I'm talking about the record industry."--from the Ken Layne article.

QUOTE OF THE DAY (2):"This is a victory for innovators of all stripes. The court's ruling makes it clear that innovators need not beg permission from record labels and Hollywood before they deploy exciting new technologies."--Fred von Lohmann, Senior Intellectual Property Attorney of the EFF.

Friday, August 20, 2004


I've posted before about how there's usually a day at beginning of the school semester that just hits me like a ton o' bricks. For this new semester, today was that day.

WIth the on-again, off-again periods of teaching busy-ness colliding headlong with the summerlike evenings I mentioned yesterday, having the first full teaching day (7:30-5:30) fall on a Friday just really messed with my equilibrium. Thankfully, most of the students were just as out of it as I was.

But at least today felt like a real day of work, for better or worse. Next week, when everyone pays me, it's gonna be really cool.

Whoa, it happened again: You may recall that, back in June, I had a weird-but-cool incident where I drove past Halfling's neighborhood, thought about how funny it would be if I saw him at the intersection, and there he was, first car at the stoplight. Today, it happened again, but this time, it was really a surprise, because I thought he'd left for UNT about an hour earlier. Just like last time, I called his cell and then slowed down enough to where he could catch up to me, and we had an amusing little cell-phone-with-live-video conversation at the next stoplight. He's all moved in now and off to an introductory camp for the weekend, but Sunday's another hang-and-jam for us.

Not exactly the Olympics: A pair of teenagers in Michigan claim they have set a new world record for uninterrupted TV watching. Oh, and Dingus would love this: they did so at an IHOP.

(via Dave Barry's Blog)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Hangin' On to Summer

This first week of school has still been pretty...summery.

Even though yesterday was a much fuller teaching day than Tuesday, last night went back to bigtime summer mode, jamming till all hours since I didn't have to wake up until 8 this morning (I'll explain later why I have two off periods on Thursday mornings). About the time I get used to waking up at 6 a.m. again, it'll be the weekend. Everything will settle in eventually, but for now, I like easing my way back--entering the pool through the steps of the shallow end, rather than chucking myself off the high dive.

Tuesday, as predicted, I spent a half-day with Halfling on his birthday, doing lunch, listening to tunes and then going to the Rangers game with him, his family and Angie. The Rangers won big, 16-4, and we got to see Mark Teixeira hit for the cycle that night, the first time someone had done so in a Ranger uniform since Oddibe McDowell in '85 in the old stadium. A great time was had by all.

Yesterday, I taught until 5:30 and then we had a belated burrito night (where we got to see Gold Dingus for the first time since May) and another TD/D horn rehearsal. I can't wait to add a rhythm section to the mix really soon. (Dingus has posted a list of tunes we're currently rehearsing on the TD/D site.)

Tonight is a short gig in the "intimate apparel" department "showroom" of a ritzy major department store, and then I'm off to Halfling's for a little friends-and-family gathering on the eve of his departure for UNT. Thankfully, next week is a bit summery too, as college classes don't start until the 30th.

The ecstasy of de feet: As you probably know, from either reading Fun Facts or actually visiting Casa de Kev, I basically never wear shoes in the house, and that means there's always a big adjustment for me when school starts (my feet were sore by my third lesson yesterday). Now there's an article out which validates my pseudo-Asian habit, saying that, according to many podiatrists, we do in fact spend too much time in shoes, and it weakens many of our foot and leg structures. So the barefoot-ness is not just a comfort's good for you.

Playing this week in the Kevmobile: Bob Mintzer Big Band: Live at MCG with special guest Kurt Elling. It's the first-ever live recording of Mintzer's New York studio band, and the pairing of him with Elling delivers on the promise. The magnum-opus rendition of Herbie Hancock's "Eye of the Hurricane" is worth the price of the disc all by itself; Elling takes things to a new level and then comes back for an amazing chorus-trading session with the leader. Go. Buy it. Now.
(...but I found it locally at Borders)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A Half-Day for the Halfling

Happy Birthday to Matt, a.k.a. best friend in the world, my "brother from a different mother." What great times we've had this past year (too many to name, but our mondo hang on Friday night/Saturday was an awesome way to cap off the summer), and what great times we can look forward to in the future.

I could say a lot more, but we've said it ourselves a hundred times (and I don't want this blog to redline on the Sap-O-Meter). So I'll just say this: Thank you, Bro, for being you; it means more than you'll ever know, and the world is a better place because you're in it. I look forward to celebrating this day with you when my half-day of teaching is done (yes, it's only a half-day so I can hang with Halfling).

(And yes, I did stay up till just past midnight to do the birthday wishes and type this post. Just because.)

Monday, August 16, 2004

Rants and Raves from the First Day of School

Two rants:

This getting up early thing is gonna hit me like a ton of bricks again. I barely dragged my carcass out of bed at 7 8:00 this morning, so 6:00 will be a mess tomorrow.

The security at middle schools is getting ridiculous; I was admonished for not "flashing my badge" in an obvious enough manner at a school where previously, even though you have to get buzzed into the front door, I was able to walk by looking like I knew what I was doing and not get questioned. They need to install those things where you swipe your ID badge (it has a barcode for such a purpose) and walk in...sooner rather than later.

Two raves:

I was able to "traverse the district" and post schedules at six different schools in a little over two hours. I was thus free of the shackles of professional attire before noon, and got to hang with Halfling for part of the day before I went to teach at the store.

Despite the fact that I've said I wasn't quite ready for the semester to start, once I actually got in the schools it felt OK. I'm prepped now. I'm ready to go in the morning, and I'm looking forward to the semester. It was great to be able to have another little half-day of summer, though...

No cape, glasses on: I was doing some shopping today during a break from teaching. Super Target didn't have what I wanted, so I went by a Regular Target, which hasn't happened all that often recently. The one at 75 and Parker had just been remodeled, though, so I was interested in seeing the difference.

And the verdict is? It's not all that different, really. It's pretty close to a Super Target, actually, just a tad smaller. They still just have the one entrance at the front, but they added a little grocery department (about 1/3 of the size of the one at ST) and a Starbucks up front. I had to really hunt for the CD/DVD department (it's cleverly hidden in the back), but otherwise...I'd still rather visit a Regular Target than the Evil Empire any day of the week.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Ode to a Summer, Vol. 2

Another summer is just about in the books for me. (If you're new to the site and wondering why I'm doing a summer wrapup so soon...well, I work in academia and thus operate on an academic calendar, so with public schools starting tomorrow, my summer ends tonight, no matter what the calendar on the wall says.) Last year at this time, I noted that the summer of '03 was the best one on record. I'm happy to report that this summer totally blew last summer out of the water.

How so, you ask? It would take a while to count the ways, but it was better in nearly every category. For one thing, I have a best friend again, and that's made all the difference in the world. The rest of my friends are a top-notch group too; there was almost never a lack of stuff to do. I taught more students this year than in any other summer, so money was much less tight than it's been in previous years. I wasn't rolling in it by any means (though the situation improves drastically this week), but I didn't have the cloud of stress hanging over me all the time like before.

I didn't get to take any really exotic trips like Vermont or anything, but the Schlitterbahn weekend was near-perfect and came at just the right time. (Besides, there'll be a few weekend roadtrips to out-of-town concerts during the year.) I got to see pretty much every cool new movie that came out, usually within a week of opening night, and go to Six Flags again for the first time in several years. I've made it to several Rangers games, with more to come. The weather was generally great (only one 100-degree day so far, and it was the day I was in Indiana). I got to recharge my batteries quite a bit for the long school year ahead, and there were a few times when I was just plain lazy. I also rarely wore shoes (yay), and when I did, it was usually just my trusty leather flip-flops. In other words, all the good stuff of summer pretty much happened in droves this year.

It's also been a great summer for music. Besides recommitting myself to daily practice, I also had some cool gigs, enjoyed the smoothest-running Jazz Camp ever and have a new jazz combo in the works. My challenge--and I know I'm up to it--is to keep my personal playing from seeming like work even when things get mondo-busy (my "musical workout buddy" Halfling will find this same challenge as he hits UNT at the end of the week). But I've seen the results of hard work in my faculty colleagues at camp, and I know I can get to where they are if I keep my nose to the proverbial grindstone.

So my favorite time of year comes to a close in mere minutes now. Thanks to all those who helped make it great, and to the One in whom all things are possible. This one will be burned in my memory forever. Here's to a new set of challenges that start in the morning...

Friday, August 13, 2004

Bebop for Bovines

I played a most unusual gig yesterday with Kris and Miles and Adam. It was a chamber-of-commerce affair at the headquarters of a local symphony orchestra; the building itself is actually a converted farmhouse that is now surrounded by houses, apartments, a business park, and, well, a farm. Even before the people arrived, we had an attentive audience of...cows. (The view off the back porch--cows in the foreground and the monolithic EDS headquarters in the background--was a really weird juxtaposition; I wish I'd had a camera so I could add the picture to this post.)

I have to say that cows are fascinating animals. They make funny noises, it's amusing to watch them walk around, and they sometimes interact with each other in bizarre ways. When we got there, they were watching us intently as we were setting up our equipment. As weird as this sounds, I felt like they were staring into my soul. (For a second, I almost felt guilty about the last steak I ate, but...nahh.)

We were playing off the moment during our setup time, Miles busting out all kinds of country songs while I offered a chorus of "I'm an Old Cowhand." When the people arrived, the cows tended to still hang out by the fence for a bit, especially when food was offered. As we played, it almost seemed as if the cows were a more attentive audience than the people (who of course were there to schmooze--that's right, schmooze--and tour the house and have peanuts and punch). When we stopped playing for a second so the organizers could talk and give out door prizes, the herd moved elsewhere.

The gig did start of in an unusual way, as Kris suddenly became flush and nauseous right before downbeat time and had to go inside and cool off for a bit. Fortunately, we had the best possible setup for that situation--a guitarist who also played bass--and were able to start on time without him. The lack of a chordal background meant a slight lack of depth, and it meant that I took really long solos, but everything turned out fine and the people (and cows) loved it. The symphony's conductor used to be the music minster at my church a few years back, so we got to say hi for a second.

Oh, and there was a Weird Cow Moment during the last tune, as one of them tried to wriggle under the barbed-wire fence to get at some food and managed to get stuck there for a second. All the people nearby (even the well-dressed ones) sprung into action, helping scoot the not-too-cooperative cow get back on the right side of things.

We were trying to think of possible bovine-themed jazz tunes (besides the obvious ones like "Cow Cow Boogie"). If we weren't in wallpaper mode, we might have played "Bessie's Blues," but we did play "Blue Moo Bossa" as our second tune. If you can think of any other tunes whose titles could easily be converted into bovinality, leave them in the comments.

The team is practicing: Last night was the first official horn rehearsal for the Team Demon/Dingus combo. I posted about it on the group site, so I won't duplicate my efforts here, but I will say that we're looking forward to a preliminary gig really soon.

Blowing out how many candles?? I read it on the "people" page of yesterday's paper and couldn't believe it: Pat Metheny turned 50! He's been recording for nearly thirty years, so I guess that adds up, but he just looks so young and his music definitely has this eternally-youthful quality about it. Pat hails from the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Missouri, and a lot of his tunes reflect that typical Midwestern sensibility. If I had to describe it, it would be something like "driving through the cornfield on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with the windows down, when all is right with the world." I love the sound he gets on his guitar, and my spirit is buoyed by the sense of optimism reflected in so much of his music. So happy (belated) birthday, Pat; may you continue to provide musical joy for years to come.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Summer's Cool

For the second time this summer, we actually got a cold front in Texas. It felt great, even though I didn't get to go outside much today. You can say all you want about global warming, but this summer has been really cool (meaning the weather and not just all the fun stuff that I've been able to do). The single hundred-degree day happened when I was in Indiana the whole day, so I've missed the dreaded century mark altogether thus far. It dropped to the 80's by mid-afternoon today, and it looks to be nice for the outdoor gig I have tomorrow afternoon. (I've noticed by reading Lileks' site and talking to J-Guar that it's dang near autumn-like in Minnesota, going down to 55 last night. Brrr.)

The new bed arrived this morning, nearly an hour ahead of schedule. It's really, really tall, but I guess that's how they're making most of them these days. I took it for a test-nap a little bit ago, since Marathon Wednesday ended three hours early due to people having marching band (as I said on my AIM away message for a while, I knew that marching band would be good for something someday).

Other than that, not much going on. I've been trying to schedule a "Kev and Friends" gig for this weekend, but no luck so far. Before long, the TD/D combo will be up and running, and of course I'll shamelessly plug it on the sidebar of this site as well as the gig page of my regular site. I do have a gig with some folks from the college tomorrow afternoon, but that's only for an hour and a half. I successfully put off any substantive progress on the Dread Sked today, but I'll probably do more of that tomorrow.

Wow, looking back, I see that this was a really fluffy post. I'm glad I don't pressure myself to post every day, or the Tripe-O-Meter would be redlining sometimes. Maybe tomorrow I'll have something more to say, and the only fluff here will be on the new mattress. Wow, I should sleep great tonight...

This is too funny: OK, something of substance, albeit a really small substance: the PC EZ-Bake Oven. If one of my nephews goes through a junior-chef phase, that could be the coolest birthday present...

(via The Daily Prawn)

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Dread Sked

Yesterday was a ridiculously productive day. Between the time that I got out of church at 12:30 and went to Starbucks at 10:45, I: *draws deep breath* got my oil changed, mailed off my paperwork to the school district, did two loads of laundry, finished the revisions to a Sinfonia document I've been working on, got today's teaching at the store settled for everyone who's in school already, did some work on my financial summaries and started the dreaded schedule for the fall. *exhales*

Ahh yes, the dreaded schedule, or Dread Sked for short. It's like putting together this huge and complex jigsaw puzzle where sometimes the pieces don't fit quite right. I told some people last week that doing this is my second-most loathsome activity of the year--second only to preparing my income tax (and Dad does some of that for me anyway). The players: ten schools, approximately 75 students, way too many band directors to count. The ground rules: People who took lessons over the summer get first dibs, then people who took last year but not over the summer, then newbies get whatever's left. The problems: Schools change their schedules from last year, or even their bell schedules by ten minutes or so (I schedule myself pretty tightly, and even five minutes can make a difference on whether I can make a certain school on time); the school that insists on grouping all the woodwinds, brass, etc. together by classes regardless or band...but for marching season only, and then it changes after two six-weeks; the fact that the number of people who took over the summer may not coincide with my actual planned availability at their particular schools; band directors who can't understand why I don't have room for every saxophone on their roster, yet make no effort to bolster my ranks in the thin summer months. Oh yeah, and the severe lack of hours in the day, or at least the portion where it's practical to teach.

So I've started this thing, but it's too early to tell if it will be good or bad yet. I have one more middle school that still needs to give me its schedule, but I can already tell there will be some places where student demand exceeds supply of available slots. I'm at least hoping to have a respectable amount of time for lunch every day; that got downright unhealthy for me at times last year. It's ironic that I love my job but sometimes hate my schedule, but it would all be different if there weren't so many things out of my control.

Normally, I'd warn everyone that I might be cranky this week, but the whole side-project of helping Halfling with lab band audition stuff has proven to be a wonderful distraction. I have to get the Dread Sked completed before next week, but it's not in the forefront of my mind 24/7. I have a few more days to toy with it, but I'm pretty happy with how much I've already done.

What's wrong with this picture? Last night at Starbucks, I took a peek through the window into Barnes and Noble, where I noticed an interesting display on the endcap of the magazine section. Right next to the magazine Bible Review was one called B**ch, of all things. I wonder if someone was trying to make a twisted statement or if they were just using alphabetical order...

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Catchin' Up

Had a nice visit with the parents this weekend (and yes, I know it's still the weekend, but their visits run from Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning, the better to beat the traffic of non-retired folks who have to do traditional weekends). What follows is a collection of random thoughts and events from the visit:

Mom and Dad brought me an article about how my old high school will be closed for a year because it was discovered that the brick facade was pulling away from the inner walls. They'll end up re-bricking the entire building, among other things. The students will have to attend classes at the site of their former rival high school (the two schools having been consolidated while my sister was there), which has been used recently as a charter school.

The birthday present mystery has been solved; I'll be getting a new bed (or at least the mattress and box spring portions) on Monday. After trying out quite a few, I managed to snag about a two-minute power nap on the demo model of the one I ended up choosing. It may not be the most exciting present, but Mom and Dad said that they replaced theirs a few months ago and have never slept better. Since I sometimes don't get enough sleep during the school year, it would certainly be good for what I do get to be quality sleep. I'm hoping that the next big present is the massive entertainment center that will replace all the various cabinets in my living room (and, as stated earlier, provide a good excuse to get a new--i.e. bigger--TV. That'll sure be at the top of my Christmas list...

One of the highlights of the visit was yesterday when Mom and Dad got to meet Halfling. One of our regularly-scheduled sightreading/jam sessions took place while they were there, which gave me something to do while they had a handyman over to do some fixing and installing. Halfling and I got to make the lunch run for everyone while Mom and Dad were with the handyman (nobody had to twist our arms very hard for that one). I think they really enjoyed meeting each other, and it was cool for me to have some of the most important people in my life finally cross paths (I'm not even sure my parents ever met my previous best friend). I think Halfling also got a kick out of watching me be "parented" (i.e. getting little lectures on the messy office), which he'd obviously never gotten to see before.

I cleaned up in the food department, as I now have five meals' worth of leftovers in my fridge: Mom's and mine from both nights, and Dad's from Thursday as well. That night, we went to Maggiano's Little Italy, which is known for its huge portions, and sure enough, we all left with substantially full to-go boxes. Last night at Cheddar's yielded a bit more. Oh, and we listened to the entire Jazz Camp faculty CD during all our dinner/shopping sojourns; they'll get their own copy before long.

At any rate, it was a good visit. I may get to see them again next month for my nephew Caleb's first birthday if I can get away to Austin that weekend. If not, there may be a roadtrip to a Kurt Elling concert in Houston in late October.

Oh, and I went to Bowl-a-Rama last night for the first time since June, I think, with an old friend who's headed back to Aggieland in a few days. I didn't do too badly, rolling a respectable 144 and 136.

A blunder from down under? As you may know, one of the sites I read regularly is the Daily Prawn from Australia; I've posted comments there on occasion, and James has returned the favor here. It's always fascinating to compare our two cultures. But now comes news of a proposed new law in New South Wales that would prohibit anyone under 21 from operating a motor vehicle between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (No, that's not a typo...under 21.) And we thought the curfew in Texas (the same restrictions from midnight to 6 for anyone under 17) was hardcore. (In case you're curious, the age of adulthood for everything--drinking, smoking, voting--is 18 over there.) I just don't see how you can take rights like that away from legal adults; government-as-parent is almost never a good idea.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Cookie Monster

The other night, Halfling took a break from our AIM conversation for a bit so that he could run a spyware-sweeping program on his PC. I checked out the site myself and decided to use the program as well. While it didn't run on mine for nearly as long as it did on his, I decided to do an experiment and have it get rid of all the cookies I had in my browser. I had previously had it set to accept all cookies without asking, but as I went about my business yesterday, I changed the setting to where it asks me before accepting them from any site. Even though it took quite a while to get all the passwords reset for the different sites I visit regularly (and took forever to get Hotmail working correctly again), I think I have only the cookies I want on there now.

I had no idea before I switched to "ask before accepting" mode that there were as many potential cookies out there as there are. I wasn't surprised that the sites I visit would have their own cookies, but I was quite shocked to find out that banner ads on those sites--most of which I would never, ever click--wanted to leave their own cookies as well. (Those, of course, were summarily refused this time.)

So hopefully my computer will run even faster now; it does seem to be a bit peppier at this point. And now there won't be sites I don't even do business with tracking my every online move. It's not that I do anything embarrassing online, it's just that these sites weren't invited to the party to begin with, and now I have the means to close the proverbial door in their faces.

Mom and Dad get here for their visit in a few hours; blogging may be sparse until Saturday.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Kev's Midweek Smorgasbord

All the news you can read, for the low, low price of free...

Almost exactly a year ago, I posted about the Elephant Orchestra from Thailand. Word comes now that they've cut a second CD, which is more jazz-oriented (including bass and drums!) but also contains part of a Beethoven symphony.

I also reported last year that a student of mine had accidentally grown a maggot colony in his saxophone mouthpiece. Lately, maggots have been showing up in the noses of nursing home patients (eww). Now comes a report that they actually have medicinal uses.

And in another example of animal savagery, a teen in Hong Kong was bitten by a piranha in a fountain.

(all the above via Dave Barry's Blog)

In the director's chair: I got to conduct the college big band again last night, the one week every summer where Kris slips away for a quick mini-vacation. I took "requests" for which charts we would play, with Halfling and G heavily involved in that, and it was a great time, even if Dingus griped a bit about having to play Machito. I tried to up the level of the tunes a bit from the usual laid-back summer fare, and I got some positive feedback afterwards; I hope nobody's chops got blown in the process.

Today is the penultimate Marathon Wednesday of the summer, and then Mom and Dad visit tomorrow, which means...pre-visit housecleaning. *shudder* It'll be nice, though, because I'll get yet one more birthday dinner and will also find out what they got me (I have no clue). Halfling thinks they broke off a chunk of the Great Wall for me while they were in China, but I'm thinking they would've had trouble declaring that at Customs. I'm hoping for the big entertainment-center cabinet (a convenient excuse to buy a bigger TV, unless said cabinet comes with one *crosses fingers*), but we'll see.

UPDATE: My folks did in fact bring me stuff from China, including a cool black T-shirt with something written on it in Chinese (they swear hope it's not obscene; maybe I'll get Zack to try and translate it before I wear it in the Asian part of town). They also got me what turned out to be a rubber stamp with my name on it in both English and Chinese, with the top of it being this marble-y double dragon that looks somewhat like a decorative chesspiece. The package was really pretty heavy for something that small, so when I opened it, the whole time I was wondering...surely it's not part of the Wall? But nope, my Customs instinct is evidently on-target, and the Wall remains intact.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Ball Is In the Launcher, But I'm Not Quite Ready to Play

It really hit me today that, as we start August, there are only two full weeks left of my summer. *shudder*

I guess it could be worse; if I taught in Plano, I'd only have two days left, so I suppose I should count my blessings. But still, I'm just not ready for school to start, even as I see the proverbial ball about to start rolling again. Here are the things I'm not ready for yet:

    Waking up at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday.
    Going to ten different schools a week, instead of having everyone come to me.
    Having less than a full hour for lunch (sometimes as little as fifteen minutes).
    Wearing long pants in 90-degree weather.
    Wearing shoes indoors, period.
    Teaching twelve-hour days four times a week instead of just twice.
    Teaching people who are only taking lessons because their parents make them (these people almost never do summer).
    Dealing with crowded parking lots, school security issues, and the occasional (and I stress occasional here) band director's ego.
    Being wiped out at the end of every day.

Now, in all fairness, here are the things I am ready for:

    Teaching everyone in my studio every week, and getting paid for same.
    The pre-Region Jazz jam sessions at Casa de Kev.
    Watching my top students compete and succeed, developing a deep love for music in the process.

Hmm...the lists seem a bit unbalanced, with the biggest "plus" being financial. That makes sense, I guess. I really need the summers to "recharge" a bit, and it's worth the lower pay to not beat my brains into the ground for a few months.

Still, I'm really not ready for this summer to be over. It's been a summer like no other, but it's just flown by (I think the month of June lasted all of about 20 seconds). At any rate, I'm going to enjoy the rest of this summer like no other, hanging with my friends every day if I can and just wringing every moment out of these next few weeks. Thankfully, there are two more weeks after that before college starts, and while a lot of those afternoons off will be devoted to helping Halfling get ready for lab band auditions at UNT, I couldn't think of a better way to spend my time.

So even though I'll eventually "make my peace" with my fall schedule, I really hope I get to be a full-time college professor in the next few years. I get spoiled every summer at Jazz Camp when I get to stay in one place all day for a week; I could definitely get used to that on a long-term basis. Perhaps the new practice routine will pay off in that respect before too long; if an audition comes up anytime soon, I'm already more prepared than I would have been in any recent year.

I think I'll get more sleep than usual tonight. Today was a long teaching day, but fun commences again tomorrow.

Venus vs. Mars, the sequel: The other day, I posted an amusing item that I got from James's site that featured "the rules" from a guy's standpoint. Today, James has another one in a similar vein. It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as the original one, but it should still elicit a smile.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Playing This Weekend in the Kevmobile...

I finally made up my mind a few weeks ago about what to get with my Amazon gift certificate that I got from my sister for my birthday. The day before I gave her the same thing for her own birthday, my package arrived, and I've been rocking jazzing out to them in the car all weekend. This is what I got:

John Coltrane-Crescent. One of the Thrascher guys produced this voluminous Trane discography in master class at camp, and I realized that, while almost nobody will ever own his entire output, my collection was still sorely lacking. This one got high marks from the guys, so I decided I needed to own it. As I told Halfling on Friday night when we were listening to it in the car, it sure has a lot of notes for an allegedly ballad-laden album. The coolest thing about Trane, though, is his sound, and this is a great example thereof. The presence of McCoy and Elvin doesn't hurt things, either.

Dizzy Gillespie-Sonny Side Up. Named after the two Sonnys on the session (Rollins and Stitt), this is a classic that I should have owned years ago. We analyzed the tenor duel on "The Eternal Triangle" in Riggs' jazz style class in grad school, and now I can enjoy the entire tune. There's also one of many versions of "On the Sunny Side of the Street" which features vocals, this time by Diz; Halfling and I joked that if TD/D does this tune (which we plan to do), any vocalization would have to go to Dingus (i.e. Dingus Singus...though he seemed to veto that idea).

Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt-Boss Tenors. More Stitt in different but still-esteemed company. It's ironic that the opening track of an album with this title features Stitt on alto, but whatever, it's great stuff and just goes to shore up the Stitt/Bird comparison. He's one of those players whose overall concept doesn't change much no matter which horn he's on. Most of the tunes are blues, and great examples thereof. As an educator, I tend to shy away from the blues scale because of its overuse by high-schoolers, but this recording is a great example of the tasteful use of bluesy figures. (UPDATE: I just read the liner notes and was amused to find out that they released the album "backwards" on the CD; in other words, the "Side 2" tunes come before the "Side 1" ones for no apparent the tune with alto was not in fact the original opening track.)

Charles Mingus-Mingus Ah Um. I got to hear the Mingus Big Band live a few years ago at SMU (for free, too, which inspired jealousy among many friends), but, embarrassingly, I hadn't really listened to too much of the original stuff. Dingus has been a champion of this music for a long time (yes, Dingus loves Mingus; there's a CD title in there, I think), and now I see why--this is amazing stuff. Some of it is quirky, some of it is pretty loose, but it still sounds fresh some 45 years after it was recorded. Halfling and Dingus and I are all trying to formulate the concept for TD/D, and this sound will certainly be an influence.

Oh, and when those CD's ran out this afternoon, I popped in my favorite Kenny Garrett CD, Songbook. In my opinion, it's the best recording of "the only Kenny with the last initial of G who should be allowed to play saxophone;" someday I'm gonna transcribe the whole thing.

Weird fashion fad of the week: Hats of Meat. Notice the "pork pie" offering; it goes nicely with the Mingus CD mentioned above, which includes the original recording of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat."

(via Dave Barry's Blog; as Dave himself might point out, "Hats of Meat" would also be an excellent name for a rock band)