Sunday, July 31, 2005

Kids Say--and Play--the Darnedest Things

Today was my sister's birthday, so we got to have a long phone conversation for the first time in a while; my busy teaching schedule and her more-than-full-time job as a mother of two kids under the age of five limit us to quickly-dashed-off emails a lot of the time.

Since kids that young grow up so fast, I always get to hear about the new things that one or the other of my nephews can do. What I heard today really surprised me: they're both into the Beatles! Even though I've been a musician of some sort since sixth grade, my childhood music-listening never got much past "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (which, granted, has an interesting history). My four-year-old nephew, Noah, has a CD that his daddy burned him with a bunch of Beatles songs, and he's made some interesting observations:
  • "John and Paul write the best songs."

  • "George doesn't write good songs like John and Paul." (My sister corrected him so that I think he now knows that George simply didn't write as many good songs as John and Paul.)

  • "Ringo doesn't sing very good...but he does sing "Octopus's Garden" and that's a very good song."
My 2-year-old nephew Caleb is getting into the act, too: he can sing part of "Hey Jude." It's mostly the "na, na-na na-na-na naaaaah" part, but still, it was funny (I got treated to a rendition over the phone). Just wait till I play them the Maynard version in a few years...

I really need to go down and visit them; it's been way too long. But for now, the Dread Sked needs to be created. I've put it off till now, but the public schools start in two weeks (*shudder*). I think I'm going to either need to come up with human cloning or the addition of an extra day to the week to make this work, but we'll see.

John also writes more expensive songs than George: A handwritten lyric sheet with John Lennon's lyrics to "All You Need is Love" has sold for a million dollars at an auction in London.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Michael Brecker Needs Our Help

I'm pretty much going to post this email in its entirety as I received it yesterday; this blog doesn't have a ton of readers, but getting this information to as many people as possible can't hurt:
This is from Michael's wife. She asked for this to be passed along:

Dear Family and Friends,

My husband, Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS
(myelodysplastic syndrome), and its critical that he undergoes a stem
cell transplant. The initial search for a donor (including Michael's
siblings and children) has not yet resulted in a suitable match.
Michael's doctors have told us that we need to immediately explore
ALL possible options. This involves getting as many people of a similar
genetic background to be tested.

There are some important points to understand concerning this

1. The screening involves a blood test only. It can be done very
quickly either at a marrow donation center or at a LOCAL LAB. The cost
is anywhere from $40 to $75 and your insurance may cover it. (In NYC,
you can call Frazier, at the NY Blood Bank, at 212-570-3441, and make
an appointment for HLA typing. It costs $40.00.) Check with your
local blood bank, or go to to find the donor
center nearest you.

2. Your blood typing information can be posted on the international
registry, if you choose, where it would also be available to others in
DONATE, it just means that you may be ASKED to do so. You can take your
name off the registry at any time.

3. Should you be selected as a potential donor for Michael, please
understand that there have been tremendous advances in bone marrow
transplants and the term itself can be misleading. Bone marrow
donation is no more invasive than giving blood. Stem cells are simply
harvested from your blood and then transplanted to Michael.

4. A match for Michael would be most likely to come from those of Eastern
European Jewish descent. If you or anyone you know are in this category
please make a special effort to immediately get tested. Ultimately, you
would be doing something not just for Michael, but for so many more who
are in a similar situation as my husband.

5. You are now part of our internet-based drive for donor testing. If
everyone who receives this can motivate a bunch of their friends to get
tested, and those friends then forward this email to get their friends
to get tested, we will have rapidly expanded the pool of potential
donors. I urge all of you to get tested AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Any local blood center/Red Cross center can assist in organizing a
drive for Michael, although it would be desirable if you can get a
large group, e.g. a synagogue, to sponsor it. Should you have any
questions about this, please don't hesitate to get in touch with
Michael's management office at 212.302.9200 or

Thank you so much for your love and support.

We are so grateful.

Susan xo
I sure hope this effort results in a match for him.

Friday, July 29, 2005

This Piano Teacher's Stringboard Was Way Too Tightly Wound

From Dave Barry's Blog comes the story of a piano teacher who became enraged at her student for playing a different piece than she had chosen for him in a competition; she subsequently went on stage during the performance and slammed the piano lid on his hand. The student, of course, is suing.

As a longtime music teacher, I've known a few colleagues who were that tightly wound, but this lady may take the cake. And it does seem like that would only happen among classical musicians; we jazzers are normally way too laid-back to do something like that (OK, maybe Buddy Rich notwithstanding).

Also check out the comments on Dave's post, where several readers (myself included) offer up our favorite musician jokes.

Smells like Team spirit: It's now official; the next Team Demon/Dingus gig is a week from tonight. More details on the sidebar and at the TD/D blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

On a Slow News Day... post weird stories, like these:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I fell out of my top bunk this morning, and I think some of my brains leaked out."--yet another funny student, in a lesson today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Right Man Moniker for the Job

A recent post over at Althouse yesterday quotes a New York University law professor named Sylvia Law. That's right--she's Professor Law, the Law Professor. That's not the first time I've run across someone whose name really matches his or her profession, and it seems to be common in the professorate. I've also run across a piano professor named Dr. Keyes and an education professor named Dr. Schoolmaster. I know there are plenty of other people running around out there with job-appropriate names, and I bet you do too. Feel free to post them in the comments.

So did his chair have a little sticker with a picture of a car on it? An 80-year-old German man was arrested for driving his wheelchair on the Autobahn.

Jedidiah's rebellious years: An Amish teen in Ohio was charged with stealing house numbers and flower pots (as well as with an MIP). The authorities got wind of his mischief when neighbors complained of someone blasting loud music from his buggy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kids Still Say the Darnedest Things

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a kid who was really funny in lessons. The same kid came back from camp this week and was still funny. Here are the ones I wrote down:

KID: My allergies are really bothering me.
ME: What are you allergic to?
KID: I'm not sure. I think I'm allergic to all the boogers in my head.
(I'm not sure that's possible, but it'd be scary if it were.--Ed.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

KID (after a counting mistake): That was a rest? I thought somebody sneezed or something.
(Hmm...reread the post linked above; sneezing seems to be a common thread here. Must be the allergies...--Ed.)

Again, perhaps you had to be there, but it sure made me laugh. If all my students were that funny, the day would go by faster, but I wonder how much work would get done...

Brecker update: In case you missed it, read the comment in yesterday's post about the health status of Michael Brecker. I definitely plan on sending a card, since, besides being one of my musical heroes, he was so cool when I got to meet him back in March. Get well, Michael!

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Good Idea...

I had never thought of this before, but someone emailed it to me this past week:
Following the disaster in London . .

East Anglican Ambulance Service have launched a national "In Case of
Emergency (ICE)" campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston.

The idea is that you store the word " I C E " in your mobile phone address
book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be
contacted "In Case of Emergency".

In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to
quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them.

It's so simple that everyone can do it.

Please will you also email this to everybody in your address book, it won't
take too many 'forwards' before everybody will know about this. It really
could save your life, or put a loved one's mind at rest.

For more than one contact name ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc.
Incidentally, I ran this through and it checks out as being legit; the Snopes post also addresses a companion rumor that the ICE thing somehow invokes a cell phone virus (it doesn't).

But this was a scam: An Italian couple stole 50,000 euros from a woman in the Sicilian city of Palermo after convincing her they were vampires who would impregnate her with the son of the Anti-Christ if she did not pay them.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

...And We're Back

Camp is over, and I had my recovery day yesterday, so regular blogging will now resume. I'll post my thoughts on this year's camp over in my "letter to campers" on my other website within a day or so and update this post with a link over there when it's done.

In the meantime, regular reader Gary P. wrote something in the comments to the last post that I thought I'd reproduce here in its entirety for the purpose of starting discussion:
Are the current crop of "living legend" jazz musicians considered so legendary because of their association with the truly innovative players of the 50's and 60's? And once these guys are gone, who are going to be the "living legends" in 2040?

Not to sound dismissive at all toward guys like Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Maynard Ferguson, and the guys in that class... but would we still care about them as much if it weren't because of their association with guys like Basie, Ellington, Coltrane, Dizzy, Kenton, Brownie, etc? And once they're gone, who's going to take their place? Is the public face of jazz in 30 years going to be whomever the last surviving brother of Wynton is just because of his bloodlines?
Here's my take on the above: I think Maynard stands up on his own as an innovator, as well as a tireless crusader in the quest to keep jazz alive among young people (note how often his performance venue is a high school, and how often he hires musicians straight out of college). Having had the pleasure of playing with Clark Terry in a combo setting when he was here in '98, I think he also stands up just fine without his even more famous peers because of the players he's influenced (not to mention the whole "Mumbles" scatting style that he developed), and Golson has made his own mark as a composer ("Along Came Betty," "Whisper Not," etc.).

So how about the "next generation?" There are actually a few generations below the above-mentioned artists now, but Michael Brecker definitely strikes me as one who'll stand the test of time..Joshua Redman, Kenny Garrett (yes, OK, I'm biased toward sax players). I think there are some guys (and gals, too; Maria Schneider is quite an innovative writer) out there who will still be in the CD players/iPods/chips implanted in people's brains in the future. Readers....comments?

More blogs 'n' bop: I"m a week late to the party, but ovber at Althouse, there was a discussion about jazz, or, more specifically, if you're ever in a situation where people assume you like jazz. (And indeed, how couldn't you?--Ed.)

Lucky seven: The end of camp also meant that I got to watch the last two stages of the Tour de France. Congrats again to Lance Armstrong for winning seven in a row and setting a record that will probably never be matched. You've done Texas--and America--very proud.

In case you missed it: Some interesting stories from while I was away...
(all of the above courtesy Dave Barry's Blog)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

An Early Thrasching

This post is basically a concert alert for the locals who are planning on attending tonight's camp concert but didn't hear last night's announcement: Because tonight is Thrascher night, everything is starting a little early; if you want to be soundly thrasched, be in your seats by 7:45.

Camp is going very well, and I'll have more thoughts later.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to my brother-in-law Justin, the CEO of a very cool company.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Notes from Camp: Day 3

There's not a lot of time to post this week, but I'll chime in whenever the muse hits me. Two thoughts from today:
  • Sure, most jazz fans know about the big-name artists--the Breckers, the Redmans, the Marsalises, and so on--but there are so many unsung heroes out there making incredible music while flying under the radar screens of too many people. So I invite you to check out the music of saxophonist Bobby Militello, our guest artist at camp tonight. He's made a lot of his living as a sideman (Maynard and Brubeck can't be wrong), but he carries a show and engages the crowd very well as a featured attraction. He has dazzling technique, a treasure trove of ideas, and a sweet, sweet alto sound (as well as a wealth of chops on the flute and that cool sing-and-play technique to go with them). It's a true honor to share the stage with him.

    He also gave a pre-lunchtime clinic for the campers today where he talked about the importance of getting in "the zone" while playing and offered advice on how to get there. He also encouraged everyone at camp, whether they'll be going into music or not, to strive for that one great performance that transcends oneself; it'll stick with you for the rest of your life, he promised.

    He'll be back tomorrow night as well, splitting a twin bill with trumpeter Jeff Jarvis; I can't wait.

  • It hits me on occasion just how lucky we are to have this type of situation in which to work and play every year. This great, personal, highly expressive form of truly American music that we call jazz is good for the soul; it really does great things for people. Sure, it's frustrating at times--what worthwhile endeavor isn't?--but the feeling of achieving that transcendent performance that Militello described above, or the look on the face of an aspiring young jazzer when they "get" a new concept are just so rewarding. This week takes a lot out of me, but it's pretty much the highlight of every summer.
But now I sleep. More tomorrow, if there's time.

Maybe I'm glad that I still don't have Kevmobile 1.1 after all: The Acura Integra was the most-stolen vehicle last year, according to a recent report.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to Colin from combo (and camp).

Monday, July 18, 2005

It's Been a Good But Long Day at Camp... I only have one thing to say:

Bing. Bing. Boing. Bing. Bing. Boing.

(Familiar with the tune? Buy an mp3 of it for only a buck.)

Oh, and happy birthday Ben (*coughUPDATEYOURBLOGcough*).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Just Plane Quoteworthy

I'm back from Indiana, and camp will be in full swing tomorrow morning. Since I only had three hours of sleep last night, this will be a short post, but I did have to pass along a couple of unusual quotes from the plane trip and in the car on the way from the airport to camp:

"We would like to welcome you to Dallas, where the local time is five to eleven....five to twleve. Umm, sorry, correction, that is five to eleven after all."--flight attendant, as we landed at DFW this morning.

"At this time, usage of cellular telephones may now be used."--the same flight attendant, a few minutes later. (And I thought I was sleepy...)

"In McKinney, southbound 75 is shut down in both directions."--radio traffic reporter, as I was leaving the airport. (And no, it wasn't Eric; besides, I'm not sure I could make fun of him on here even if he did say that.)

...but no, I don't think he had a fur-covered steering wheel too: The puddle-jumper plane that I took from Evansville to Memphis had fuzzy dice hanging above the windshield.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Indiana Wants Me...

...and Lord, I can go back there, but only for a couple of days. It's fraternity conference time again, which means that, like on several previous occasions, I'm getting on a plane for Indiana at 6:35 tomorrow morning. I'm not sure if this will be one of my famous all-nighters or not, but if I do sleep, it'll be maybe three hours at best. After a Friday and Saturday of meetings, I'm hopping another plane at the exact same time on Sunday morning so that I can get back in time for Jazz Camp that afternoon. It'll be a great week, but spare time will be at a premium.

Blogging will be on hiatus for the next two days; we're not meeting at the headquarters, but rather at a local university, and there will be no computer access where I'm staying. I'll pop back in on Sunday with a quick report, and highlights from camp will come in throughout the week.

(UPDATE: My hat's off to Blogger for their new "recover post" function; I lost this one in a browser crash right before I was done, and I was able to bring it back right away upon relaunch.)

Title Trivia II: Once again, bonus points to any reader who can name the one-hit wonder who recorded the song that inspired the title of today's post (no fair Googling!). And I can't believe nobody chimed in with the answer to the origin of yesterday's title yet.

Would you like coins with that? A bank robber in Chicago sent a holdup note through the vacuum tube at the drive-up window, and a teller actually gave him cash.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dude, I'm Talking to You Wireless!

Blogger Ryan Harne noted recently that the combination of the words "dial" and "up" in the same phrase (at least when referring to the Internet) is becoming an endangered species. A story in today's DMN seems to predict that the words "land" and "line" may someday be just as rare of a combination when discussing the telephone.

According to the story, not only has the number of cellular customers outpaced that of land-liners nationwide, but a lot of people are giving up their land lines altogether:
It's been a steady increase since Southwestern Bell and other providers began offering the first cellular service in Texas nearly 21 years ago. As recently as Dec. 31, 1999, the number of Texas local phone lines still far exceeded wireless, 13.2 million to 5.8 million.

But wireless surpassed wired in the second half of 2004, both in Texas and the U.S. In Texas, wireless users reached 13.1 million, while land lines dropped to 12.1 million. Nationally, wireless jumped ahead to 181.1 million users, compared with 177.9 million land lines.
The driving force behind this is the younger customers now entering the workforce; they've grown up with wireless, and they hav
e learned to live with the occasional static and dropped calls that happen on cell phones. But customers of all ages have learned to appreciate the price and convenience of wireless:
Sandy de Vries, 45, a hand physical therapist at a Dallas hospital, hasn't had a traditional telephone line for about six years. One day, she realized she was paying about $75 to $80 a month for a home phone, the same as she was paying for cellular service. She gave up the land line.

"It's made to me more available to people," she said. "They can get me anywhere. It's also nice that I don't have sales people calling me at night when I get home."
To that last part, I say "hear, hear!" I haven't done it yet, but I could totally see giving up my land line at some point. As it is, I've pretty much ceded it to people I don't want to talk to, such as telemarketers. I don't have caller ID on it (because I can't get it for free), so I monitor any incoming call that I happen to hear before I pick up. My only real purpose for having it is to have a place for prospective students to leave their info, so it won't interrupt my lessons as much as it would if they called my cell.

Several of the people in the DMN story noted that they gave up their land lines by attrition-- they moved and just didn't get one hooked up in their new place. Seeing as how I'm only (almost) four years into my ownership of Casa de Kev, I'm not anticipating moving anytime soon, but I wonder if I'll be cell-only a decade from now for other reasons.

So what would it take for you to give up your land line? What are the pros and cons of doing so? Please chime in using the comments.

Oh, and bonus points go to anyone who knows the movie from which the title of today's post is paraphrased.

From the "duhh" department: In Italy, studies have shown that men don't mind seeing naked women on the beach. (via Dave Barry's Blog)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I'll Punch In the Rest of This Later

This was already going to be a light blogging week later on, when I'm out of town with no computer access on Friday and Saturday. Now, it's turned into a light beginning of the week also, since I've been up at the college for the past two nights while the big band works on a recording session. I only actually played on one tune, but I was around to serve as an extra pair of ears and give occasional cues and things.

Being in the studio is fascinating stuff; for the accomplished musician, it allows one to clean up a few mistakes and thus polish up an already-decent recording. For those of lesser ability (i.e. some of the spawn of the Machine, it would be possible to use technology to replace talent altogether.

I'll discuss some of this stuff...later, like some of the finishing touches on the recording that we didn't get to tonight. In the meantime, I need to prepare for this out-of-town conference and rest up for another Marathon Wednesday tomorrow.

An army of one two: According to author Michael Fumento, obesity in Americans may be threatening our national defense capability:
With Iraq already straining enlistment efforts, nearly 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women of recruiting age are too fat to even be considered. "This is quickly becoming a national security issue for us," an Army nutrition expert recently told the AP.
Read the whole thing. (via The Volokh Conspiracy)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Today's Date is 7/11... have you gotten your free Slurpee yet?

(Sure, at 4 ounces, the Slurpee in question comes in a cup that's only slightly bigger than a shot-glass...but still, it's free. My friend and I felt only slightly guilty about not buying anything, but we were sure they had that happen all day long.)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Reminiscing on Rusty

I turned the radio on this afternoon just in time to hear the Rusty Greer Day ceremony that was held before the Rangers game. He's one of only a few Ranger players to have a day named in their honor (Nolan Ryan and Jim Sundberg were among the others), and I can't think of anyone more deserving.

Going to Ranger games in the '90s meant the opportunity to see the hardworking young outfielder who was known for clutch hits in the late innings and game-saving diving catches in the field (often at the expense of his body, which no doubt contributed to a career that was all too short). The catch that will always be burned in Ranger fans' memories is the one that saved Kenny Rogers' perfect game in 1994, but he did that kind of thing so often that it was almost expected.

Besides the usual highlight-film montage (which was replaced on the radio broadcast by play-by-play clips, many featuring the late, great Mark Holtz), the club gave Rusty a new pickup truck. Riding in the back of the truck were a couple of surprises: his former teammates Will Clark and Mickey Tettleton, who were also known as blue-collar players who gave their all for the game. Clark spoke for a minute, reminding us what a privilege it was to see Rusty do his thing; I doubt that many who heard those words needed much convincing.

Rusty spent his entire career, minors to majors, with the Rangers organization, which doesn't happen much anymore. There were plenty of other old-school attributes about him; the most common phrases used to describe him were "he gave 110%," "he left everything on the field at the end of the game," and "he played the game the way it's supposed to be played." I'm glad I got to see him play as often as I did, and I'm sure that his legacy will live on in the organization for years to come.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "AVOID A LITTER! FIX YOUR CRITTER!"--on a license plate frame that I saw on a truck parked, appropriately enough, in front of the pet store.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Hukd ahn Fonix Wurkd fur Thim To

This is a light blogging day; I'm enjoying my last true weekend before an out-of-town fraternity conference and Jazz Camp occur back-to-back at the end of next week. But I did want to note something amusing that Coop and I saw this afternoon. You may recall that, about a year and a half ago, a local restaurant with mangled messages on its marquee provided tons of blog-fodder for a while, and today, during the Starbucks portion of a Trifecta*, we looked up and saw this on a chalkboard sign:


It also said something about a FRAPPUCHINO on the same sign. D'oh.

We did feel somewhat bad when a few of the employees heard us laughing and saw us observing the sign, which one of them quickly fixed. The girl who made the sign said she had been in a hurry when doing so, and, while she was aware of the HUNGY part, she had missed the others. Even if we had a laugh at their expense, at least they fixed it in time for others to avoid doing the same.

*For the benefit of new readers, a Trifecta involves my three favorite indulgences: Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and Chipotle. They have to be within walking distance of each other, and, needless to say, it only happens on special occasions, lest we all end up weighing 900 pounds.

Oh say, you can A couple of pictures have been added to the May 22 post about the Rangers game where our alumni group sang the National Anthem. Granted, part of it was the blazing 98-degree sunlight, but my first impression when I saw the picture was: Man, we is some pasty white dudes (heh). But I'm really glad we got the pictures, which were sent by the Rangers organization itself.

Friday, July 08, 2005

All Fire(wheel)ed Up

Over the Fourth weekend, I finally ran across the site I'd been hoping to find for quite some time: the official Firewheel Town Center webpage that has site maps, aerial renderings, animations and so on. Now that it's a day shy of three months until the grand opening, I'm even more excited about what this is going to do to my part of town.

(For those not from around here, our city's long-awaited mall will not be one of those traditional boxy enclosed things, but rather an open-air "main street" layout with second-floor offices above street-level retail, featuring old-school architecture, a clock tower and a big open park area where concerts can be held. Some people, of course, have griped about the project's open design--having to be outside in the Texas heat, and so on--but a center of this kind will also regain the types of tenants--such as movie theatres, big-box electronics stores, and so on--that the malls long ago conceded to the open-air "power centers." It appears that Firewheel will combine the best elements of both concepts.)

It's funny that I'm getting all excited about this--I'm not a mall kind of guy by any stretch of the imagination--but this is going to transform Garland. One of our council members caught some grief a few weeks ago when he said that it was time to "turn the tables" on our neighboring suburbs:
"We're going to take money from the cities around us, where they've been doing it to us for 25 years – Plano, Richardson, Mesquite, Wylie," said [council member Michael] Holden, whose district includes the Firewheel Town Center site. "You can keep your people, but give us your money." (source)
While it may not have been the most graceful way to express that sentiment, he's basically correct. I'll certainly be spending a lot more money locally for things that I would have had to go to Plano to do. (Oh, and it will most certainly drive up the property value of Casa de Kev. That may mean some extra taxes in the near future, but it bodes well for a selling time way down the road.)

So if you're from out here in this area, check out the site to see what's going on behind the construction gates and find out where everything is going to be. (The aerial shot of the entire area is especially cool.) And even if you're not from around here, check it out anyway to see how the future of retail is going to look.

Jumpin' for java joy...and close to home: While doing the Googling that took me to the new Firewheel site, I also came upon a page for Firewheel Market, which is being built adjacent to the north side of the town center (between Dillard's and Highway 78, if you're a local). Thus was confirmed one of the things I'd been hoping for: a new Starbucks will be included in the mix. I knew there would be one inside the Barnes and Noble in the town center, but this will have the added bonus of a patio and maybe longer hours. Satisfying my evening Frap/Tazo jones will soon require a much shorter drive.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Mac Diddy? I'm Lovin' It!

McDonald's wants to upgrade its workers' uniforms to make them more in tune with the MTV generation:
To spearhead the uniform project, the world's largest restaurant chain has hired Steve Stoute of New York-based brand imaging firm Translation, Whitman said. Stoute, a former record executive, is responsible for hooking up rapper Jay-Z with Reebok International Ltd. and has worked with McDonald's previously on its partnerships with performers Justin Timberlake and Destiny's Child.

According to Stoute, talks are underway with some of the world's best-known clothing labels, including Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Sean John label, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., Giorgio Armani, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons' Phat Farm label, American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Rocawear, and Tommy Hilfiger.
P. Diddy and McDonald's? Mac Diddy? That one made me laugh a little (Mickey D's has never seemed like a bastion of hipness to me), but this made me laugh even more:
"McDonald's is acknowledging fashion is part of pop culture," Stoute said, adding that the uniforms "may have some elements that you see on MTV" and may be able to be worn as street clothes during non-work hours.
Yeah, that's gonna happen. Hip as the clothes might be, wouldn't they still smell like burgers and fries when you got off work? I'm not sure that would go over so well at your friends' next party...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kids Say the Darnedest Things, Vol. XIV

This was a long teaching day--a Marathon Wednesday in fact--so this post will be short. Actually, it's pretty much an expanded Quote of the Day, except it's a pair of them, and they came from the same kid. They may even be from the "you had to be there" department, but I thought they were really funny. This particular eighth-grader was not known for being hilarious in the past, but today he was in rare form:

KID (after having a lot of rhythmic trouble on a piece of music): I think I should start tapping my foot again.
ME: Yes, you really should; it's important.
KID: I thought it was just sort of a sacrificing a pig.
(That one stopped me in my tracks; did he really say "sacrificing a pig?" Why yes he did...)
ME: Well, some people would refer to sacrificing a pig as "barbecue."

And one more:
ME: OK, let's play this all the way through one more time, and don't stop, no matter what.
KID: But what if I sneeze, or have a baby or something?

Maybe you had to be there, and maybe I was just "punchy" from a long day of teaching, but that one had me rolling. (Incidentally, this was the same kid who was quoted in the cat food post about a year and a half ago.)

As always, I invite participation; feel free to leave any funny kid quotes in the comments.

Pucker up: Today is International Kissing Day. Being girlfriend-less at the moment, I didn't get to participate, but I hope you did. And hey, there's always next year... (hat tip: InstaPundit)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tennis and All That Jazz

I'm not a tennis fan (more of a racquetball player, to be precise), but I got a kick out of a column by Kevin B. Blackistone in yesterday's Dallas Morning News because it opened with a jazz metaphor:
At least Count Basie had an option to get to the top of the music game when he was coming up. When he saw how well another prodigy, Sonny Greer, played the drums, Basie left the kit behind and started tickling the keyboard. Greer became Duke Ellington's legendary drummer and Basie became a pianist and one of the great bandleaders.

But what can Andy Roddick do finding himself like Basie staring now at a similar stonewall in the form of Roger Federer? Have a sex change operation? Call Tonya Hardings' old hit men?

The bottom line about the outcome of the 2005 men's final at the All England Club on Sunday, in which Federer needed but three sets and an hour and 41 minutes to dispatch Roddick, was that this is a lousy time to be a twentysomething up-and-coming men's tennis star. It doesn't matter if you're Roddick or anybody else. You're probably just getting a good workout, because you'll probably never reach the heights of Federer. (source)
I've known for quite some time that Blackistone was a jazz fan; I even saw him at a jazz club one time. He's used jazz imagery in his stories before, but this one happened to jump out at me, so I thought I'd pass it along.

Rockets' red glare? I went with some friends to the Las Colinas fireworks display last night and had a good time. Anyone have some good firework stories from this year? Post 'em in the comments, if you please.

A picture sings a thousand words: I've updated the post about singing the National Anthem at the Rangers game with a couple of pictures from the game.

I think I understand where the term "moon children" comes from: A Russian astrologer is suing NASA for crashing a space probe into that comet on Monday, saying it "messed up her horoscope."

Monday, July 04, 2005

Holiday Greetings and So Fourth

Happy Fourth of July to all! As we sleep in, get together with friends and family, and just totally enjoy the day, don't forget to pause for a moment and think about the sacrifices that have been made to keep this great nation independent and free. I'm not penning any eloquent essay over here today, but I'll point you to good ones by Ed Cone and Glenn Reynolds (aka InstaPundit).

As always, I'm wearing my Old Navy Flag T-shirt today (that tradition goes back to '99, when I stood atop Rochers-de-Naye in Switzerland wearing one). Picking this year's model wasn't easy, because almost every color had a unique design (I went with red).

If you happen to miss the fireworks today (or they're rained out; I actually got sprinkled on going to get my paper this morning), try these; they're pretty cool for only being a little Java applet (hat tip: Dave Barry's Blog).

An explosive story: James Lileks has a funny column about a mythical Revolutionary War-era fireworks pioneer.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Teachers Getting Dressed Down for Not Dressing Up

Since it's a holiday weekend, I wasn't planning a long post, but a story I read this morning caught my attention. I've talked before about my opposition to strict school dress codes, and that was for students. Now, districts are starting to do the same thing for teachers:
In some districts, teachers can get dressed down for wearing skimpy tops, short skirts, flip flops, jeans, T-shirts, spandex or baseball caps.
Some of that stuff should certainly not be worn by teachers, but jeans? Even on "casual Friday?"
District 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo., for example, prohibits sexually provocative items. That includes clothing that exposes "cleavage, private parts, the midriff or undergarments," district rules say.
OK, that one certainly makes sense.
In Georgia's Miller County, skirts must reach the knee. Elsewhere in the state, hair curlers are disallowed in Harris County and male teachers in Talbot County must wear ties two or three times a week.
Ties? Youch. Is it me, or is that just so 1960's? Do they have to wear a fedora hat too?
"There's an impression that teachers are dressing more and more - well, the good term for it would be 'relaxed,'" said Bill Scharffe, director of bylaws and policy services for the Michigan Association of School Boards. "Another term for it would be 'sloppy.'"
Wait a minute...aren't they in danger of becoming the fashion police here? And, even more importantly, won't this take away time from actually educating students?
Teachers may view policies that get too specific as restrictive and demeaning. And what to do about broad policies that are enforced inconsistently? What works for a physics teacher may not fit a kindergarten teacher who sits with students on the floor.
...or art teachers that are around messy paint and clay all day, and so on. One-size-fits-all approaches don't work any better in this situation than they do in most of the rest of education.
School administrators say inappropriate dress is most often an issue with younger teachers, whose trendy clothing and casual style can make it hard to distinguish them from their students.

Mark Berntson, who teaches high school band in West Fargo, N.D., wears a tie each day. It's a tradition he began years ago to stand out from his students. He does not wear blue jeans to class often, saving them for occasions such as the first day of baseball season.

"I don't think I'm taken as seriously if I'm dressed down and I don't think I take my job as seriously if I'm dressed down," he said. "When I dress more professionally, I think I teach better, I think I'm received better, and I think I show more respect for my profession."
Hmm, I think that's pretty subjective. Personally, I teach better when I'm more comfortable, but part of that has to do with being in stuffy little practice rooms all day. Or maybe there's just a little too much college professor in me. Since I do both jobs in one day, one philosophy has to predominate.

(I also have practical reasons for liking blue jeans over khakis: Since I go between schools several times a day, and often park far from the entrance to the school, I sometimes have to deal with rainy weather. When I wear khakis, I become a mud magnet; it just flocks to me. On jeans days, it never seems to become an issue, even if the weather is equally bad. At my "standardized dress" middle school [thankfully, there's only one of those], I feel obligated to wear khakis, so I'm not dressed more casually than the students, but many times I ended up a muddy mess.)

OK, here's one more that I doubt would get an argument from anyone:
Teachers set the example, said Scharffe, the Michigan official and former director of school personnel. That is why he once sent home a teacher whose belt buckle featured a marijuana leaf.
Yeah, that's a little too "cool" for any educational situation (even art school).

My personal take on this whole thing is that the whole "clothes make the man (or woman)" thing is a little overblown; it may work well in the business world, but creative types will balk at it more often than not. As I said in the previous post, there are some control issues in this as well.

So what do you think? Musings readers include teachers, students and parents, so it could be quite a lively debate. Please chime in below...

Blowing out the candles (celebrity edition): Happy Birthday to Dave Barry! He may have missed being an "All-American Boy" by one day, but he's still one of our finest humor columnists, "hiatus" or not.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Tour de Force

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog for a while is aware that I'm a huge Tour de France fan. I'm also a happy Tour fan this summer, because the problem I've ranted about for the past two summers is no longer an issue: Comcast has added OLN to its channel lineup on expanded basic (it had previously only been available on digital cable or satellite).

I woke up in time to see the opening-stage time trial conclude just a few minutes ago, and Lance Armstrong made a definitive statement in the Tour's first stanza. In a time trial, the riders start at one-minute intervals, ending up in reverse order of last year's standings; this means that Armstrong was the final rider out of the gate, with his main rival Jan Ullrich preceding him by a minute. So it was a great moment when, with about five kilometers left in the stage, Armstrong caught Ullrich and then blew by him in fine fashion. Lance would end up in second place by only two seconds (which were likely lost when he came unclipped from his right pedal just after leaving the starting ramp), but an American, David Zabriskie, would claim the opening yellow, and Armstrong's teammate and main lieutenant, George Hincapie, would be in fourth place. Ullrich ended in twelfth overall, and none of Armstrong's main rivals would finish within a minute of him. The quest for an unheard-of seven straight Tour titles has started off quite well for Lance, and I'm happy that, metaphorically speaking, the powers that be in cable TV have allowed me to be along for the ride once again.

I shoulda guessed this: From Thursday's Bleat (which I just now got around to reading), we learn that Lileks is a Metheny fan. I always knew the man had good taste...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Look! Up in the Sky!, it's not a bird, or a plane, or Superman, but it is something rarely seen around these parts lately: dark clouds. I even heard some thunder a minute ago! We're not supposed to be in the Sahara out here, but it hasn't rained in this area since early June; I personally haven't seen it since the Saturday Night Block party in Burlington, which was on June I opened the door a moment ago, and it even smelled like rain, so maybe the long drought (literally, in this case) is finally over for a second.

UPDATE: D'oh! After being "teased" by the storms for a while (they evidently hit Dallas proper), it's sunny again. Coming home from my workout, I find no evidence of it having rained here at all. At least the clouds we had kept the temperatures down, so I doubt yesterday's high of 100 (first time all year) was matched today. I hear there's another possiblity of storms for tomorrow; come drench my yard, will ya? I may not be all Hank Hill about my lawn, but I don't want it to be totally brown either.

NEXT DAY UPDATE: We finally got the wet stuff here overnight...and despite the theory being floated in the comments (which is more than often true), I didn't wash a single car. Of course, it's always possible that one of my neighbors did it and decided to share the wealth with the whole street.