Saturday, September 30, 2006

Old One-Thousandth

According to Blogger, this is the one-thousandth post to The Musings of Kev. That's not bad for only having blogged since April of '03 and not necessarily posting every day. Lately, it's been a challenge to finish a post at the same time I start it, but with the demise of two of my favorite game sites this morning (they live on only as search engines), I should have time to do my posts in the morning now.

At any rate, thank you to those of you who visit regularly. I'm just one guy spouting out opinions and what-not, but I hope I've created a blog that's worthy of your time.

Only a slight overreaction: What would you do if your neighbor's kids broke your wife's eyeglasses? I'd imagine that trying to bomb their house wouldn't be high up on the list.

Spritz on a plane? A rather bizarre confrontation took place between two airline passengers on a flight to Miami this week--one man sprayed the guy next to him with perfume (he had earlier poured a glass of water on his own head). It adds to the exotic factor to know that the sprayer is an older Japanese man and the sprayee is a jockey.

Friday, September 29, 2006

"Starving for One's Art" to the Extreme

I'll admit that I don't have all the details on this story--nobody does, except the people involved--but if teacher Sydney McGee is correctly stating the reason for her dismissal, it's very troublnig:
An elementary school art teacher who has been publicly at odds with the Frisco school district over a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art is no longer in front of a classroom.

The school district placed Sydney McGee on leave with pay Friday afternoon. After a special school board meeting Monday night about Ms. McGee, Superintendent Rick Reedy said he would recommend that her contract not be renewed when it expires at the end of the school year.

[...] Ms. McGee, a 28-year veteran teacher, contends she was retaliated against after a parent complained that a student saw a nude statue during a field trip to the museum in April.
District officials have repeatedly pointed to other performance issues and said the trip didn't spark the reprimands.
So there's the trick, I guess--until we know what those "other performance issues" are, it's hard to know for sure what to make of this story. I missed her appearance on Ernie and Jay the other day, but I did hear a call from another teacher at her school that sounded almost creepy, with that teacher saying that it would be "exciting" when the truth came out; she seemed almost giddy that McGee was being let go. All I can say is, if one upset parent (who presumably signed a permission slip for the field trip, and should have known of the potential to see a nude figure at an art museum) can dictate the procedure for an entire district, then Frisco, we have a problem.

At any rate, read the whole story if you haven't already done so, and I'll try to update this post when the rest of the story is reveaed. (Hopefully, our correspondent in the Frisco bureau of The Musings, Gary P., can shed some more light on this subject for us.)

UPDATE: This story has now made it into the New York Times, and Althouse has blogged aboout it as well. (Some of her commenters don't have too many kind things to say about Texas and Texans.)

He just thought he had a leg up on the cops: A guy carrying crystal meth decided to hide it in his prosthetic leg, but police found it anyway.

My favorite headline of the week so far: Three-year-old buys pink convertible on Internet. That'll teach Mom to leave her computer signed into eBay when the young'un can hit the "buy now" button so easily...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Gig Is Up...

...on the sidebar. My next performance will be a week from tomorrow night, once again at the Bistro. Hope you can make it.

This wasn't in the employee manual, but it worked this time: A masked man tried to rob Yogi's convenience store in Manchester, New Hampshire, but the clerk, instead of cooperating, took a baseball bat and whacked the would-be robber upside the head; the jlited thief then went outside, dropped his knife, and was eventually taken into custody.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This Traffic Jams!

With the attention that my Maynard review got yesterday, I figured that perhaps my traffic might go up dramatically, and sure enough, here's what SiteMeter had to say about it:

I'm not sure how long this graphic will hold up, though I did save it as a web archive so that I can fix it later. If the table doesn't come up, here's the lowdown: It appears that I got 250 hits yesterday! That may not exactly be an "Instalanche" (if you don't know what I'm talking about, sites that get linked by Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, sometimes get so many hits that it causes their server to crash), but it's still pretty cool.

Thanks again to all the visitors who showed up from Maynard's site, and please come back again soon.

I'll bet it drove her bat-tea: A woman in Iowa was horrified to discover that a drowned bat was in her tea mug...especially when you consider that she'd been drinking from said mug all day.

Headline of the day: Opossum Clash Ends with Arrest, Dog Shot. It sounds like something that would happen out in the country, but--and this makes the story even odder--it actually took place in a suburban area of San Diego.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More from the Maynard Show

I found out today that my review of last week's Maynard tribute concert has been linked on the official Maynard online forum. Welcome to any new readers who may have come this way because of that link!

Also, there are some pictures from the concert posted in this thread on that same board, so feel free to check them out. Someone has also supposedly put a copy of the program on another thread over there, but I can't find it yet.

...and I still can't wait for the DVD.

UPDATE: Wow, I've spent a lot of time reading the forum tonight. I had to leave you with a quote that I found from Maynard's daughter Lisa, because she brings up something that I think all of us who play music need to remember:
Joy was my father's secret. As Denis Di Blasio said in an email to me, Maynrad worked hard for his happiness. That is a lesson I am choosing to keep and practice. One of the things he taught me was happiness is a choice. Life is a journey of perception.
He was very protective of his happiness surounding his trumpet playing, he was very careful to do what he had to do to keep his playing a joyous thing and not allow anything or anyone to make it a chore or resposibility...that was a key to his success and happiness which he shared with me. I think this is vital info for the survival of an artist of any kind. Beware the creeping negativity!
Well said, Lisa. Thanks for sharing your dad with us for so many years.

Another legend leaves the building: I also read tonight about the passing of Byron Nelson, an international icon whom Dallas was proud to call her own. I'm way too young to have seen him play, and I've never gotten to attend his namesake golf tournament, but nearly every article ever written about him talked about what a classy guy he was; he'll definitely be missed. Seeing how we've been talking about Maynard, wouldn't it be fun to imagine a little snapshot of heaven right now, with Maynard teaching Byron the trumpet and Byron reciprocating with a golf lesson?

"We're looking for a house with three bedrooms, two baths...and six cable outlets": A recent survey shows that the average American home has more TV sets than people. At the moment, Casa de Kev would barely fall into that category--two of them, one of me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The iTunes Shuffle, Part 2

Very early last year, I did a post about the Internet phenomenon known as the iTunes shuffle, where you set your iTunes to shuffle mode and list the first ten songs it plays back to you. I hadn't done this in a while, because the hard-drive crash I experienced on Labor Day of '05 took my library down to nearly nothing, but now, the MacBook is here and my ITunes is chock full o' tunes again, so it seemed like the right time. Let's see what it decides to play:

Gary Smulyan: Jabhero
James Morrison: Autumn Leaves (how unusual that the first two artists "chosen" were ones that I saw in Port Townsend this summer!)
Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Slience
David Sanchez: Los Cronopios
Jim Hall and Pat Metheny: All the Things You Are
Miles Davis: Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take)
Us3: Cantaloop
Texas All-State Jazz Improv CD: Nutville (D'oh. I figured some sort of teaching aid would come up, such as this or an Aebersold.)
Oasis-All Around the World (Ha--I'd forgotten that I'd loaded that when those new AT&T commercials came out. Still, I'm a sucker for anything that sounds like the Beatles.)
Kurt Elling-Prayer for Mr. Davis

Last time, I had seen four of the ten "shuffled" artists in concert; this time it's six (Smulyan, Morrison, Sanchez, Metheny, Davis and Elling). I also thought it was interesting that a song by one artist (Elling) is dedicated to another one (Davis).

Feel free to try this yourself and post the results in the comments below. I'm sure I'll do this again the next time I run out of material get the inspiration to do so.

MySpace gone bad, part 1: A clever college professor in Virginia gave his students an assignment to find a way to make his (the professor's) pug famous. While many students did things like post flyers with the dog's picture around campus, one class member got in some trouble when he (jokingly) threatened to kill the dog on a MySpace posting.

MySpace gone bad, part 2: Meanwhile, in San Antonio, a high school assistant principal is suing several students for setting up a fake MySpace page in her name.

An idea for the off-season at Lone Star Park? In a Cambodian village, an annual festival ends with a "Formula 1-style" race...of water buffalo.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Planes, Trains and Only One Automobile

I wanted to give the rundown of the St. Louis trip in a separate post from the concert review, since I link the reviews on the sidebar and they've sometimes even been linked by others. So here we go:
  • I was really happy to be able to fly Southwest Airlines nonstop to Missouri; this wouldn't have been able to happen two years ago. We got a pretty cheap deal on the flight, and it was much quicker to get in and out of Love Field than it would have been at DFW; as a result, I missed no teaching on Thursday, even though I landed at 8:45 and started teaching at ten.

  • It was very cool to go up in the Arch again. I had been once as a kid (when we lived there) and once about twelve years ago as an adult, and the view is always amazing. I have a couple of pictures that I took with my phone, and they'll be added to this post once I solve the issue of getting them from there to here.

    UPDATE: PIctures added. Here is a pretty standard view of downtown St. Louis, looking westward...

    ...and here's a unique view of the shadow of the Arch on the Mississippi River facing the Illinois side.

    Something that was different about the Arch since my last visit was the security at the entrance, which rivals that at the airport (except that you can keep your shoes on). This makes total sense to me, and it didn't cause much of a delay at all.

  • If you're dining in downtown St. Louis, I highly recommend the Old Spaghetti Factory in Laclede's Landing. It's fairly similar to the Spaghetti Warehouse here (right down to the train car in the dining room), but I've had great food there for both my visits.

  • This was my first experience with Gel-Free Flying, and overall, everything was ok. For a trip as short as this, it seemed senseless to pack a checked bag, so we just did without a few amenities until we got back; I packed an electric razor so that I wouldn't look completely scruffy in the morning. Sure, a finer hotel would have had things like deodorant and what-not, and there's always the option of seeking out a convenience store to get small containers of stuff like that. In the grand scheme of things, it just wasn't that bad, and I'd have a checked bag on longer trips as it was.

  • It was also a car-free trip, save for the use of mine to get to the airport and back. The St. Louis MetroLink is very convenient, and, most sensibly, starts at the airport and goes all the way over to Illinois. It helped that the hotel had a shuttle (which took some time to wait for, but again, it wasn't a very expensive hotel) and that the UMSL performance hall was mere steps away from a train station, but it was nice to save a little bit of money on a rental car; a day pass for the train cost a mere $4.50.
This will likely be the farthest I'll go to see a jazz concert this year, but as I said in the previous post, it was totally worth it.

Those who can, did: A notorious burglar in Australia was dubbed the "Catch Me If You Can" thief. After a search spanning three states and several months...they caught her.

Another cool name for a rock band: Give it up for the Robotic Frisbees of Death.

And in the headlines: Panda bites man? Not so unusual, especially in China, where the story took place. But it's newsworthy when the man bites the panda back. (Yes, beer was involved, and it was not consumed by the panda, either.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One Final Trip to Birdland

There was always a certain energy in the lobby of anyplace that hosted a Maynard Ferguson concert (which, in my experience, was often a local high school; I've noted before that Maynard knew his target audience, and he tended to capture them at an early age and keep them throughout adulthood). That same energy was in evidence last night at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, where the Maynard tribute concert was held. In fact, you could probably call this crowd a representative cross-section of every Maynard audience in the country, and there's little doubt that, like ourselves, people had converged upon UMSL from all points of the compass.

The usual table of gear was out front (How could I not think there would be gear? I was kicking myself later for not having enough cash for both the newest CD--M.F. Horn VI--and the obligatory custom T-shirt; I opted for the shirt and got to listen to my friend's CD on the flight home), along with a gallery of Maynard portraits, copies of which themselves were for sale. But the biggest attraction would be the music itself, along with the personaliities involved, and the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to someone who had given so much to all of us through his music and his legacy as a bandleader and launcher of young talent.

I don't even know where to start in terms of a rundown of this concert; I was half-tempted to just post the list of tunes from the program and who soloed on what tune, but nothing (not even the forthcoming DVD of the performance) can really do this evening justice, so I'll just list some of the highlights:
  • Wayne Bergeron, totally on fire all evening long. I see now why his nickname is "Waynard." His rendition of "MacArthur Park" was unbelievable.

  • Yet another kller lead player, Roger Ingram, tearing it up on a really cool arrangement of "Watermelon Man."

  • The realization that Maynard was indeed an international phenomenon, as personified by two special guests: Japanese trumpeter Eric Miyashiro and the Italian Andrea Tofanelli, both of whom were outstanding.

  • Two high-profile former sidemen, Steve Wiest and Denis DiBlasio (both of whom have also been guest artists at our jazz camp), exchanging friendly fire on "Superbone Meets the Bad Man."

  • A very clever solo piano tribute to Maynard, performed by Christian Jacob (who, it turns out, is also married to one of Maynard's daughters). I never would have imagined a successful melding of "Maria" and "Give It One," for example, but he pulled it off quite nicely.

  • Patrick Hession, Maynard's first lieutenant of recent years, hitting insanely high notes on several tunes. It really did go out of hearing range at times; somewhere on campus, a dog heard those notes and got a little bit hipper because of it. (And yes, I'd dig Hession's playing even if he hadn't linked to me a few years ago.)

  • The great Diane Schuur hitting Maynardesque high notes of her own on renditions of "Just Friends" and "Besame Mucho."

  • Getting to see so many UNT alums up there: Wiest, Keith Oshiro, Glenn Kostur, Chip McNeill, Ray Brinker, Mike Dubaniewicz, and of course the more recent members, Brian Mulholland and musical director Stockton Helbing, who did a fine job helping to put this night together.

  • The whole Ferguson family in attendance and getting recognized during the evening.

  • Ever imagine a version of "Chameleon" with 17 trumpets? I don't have to imagine that anymore....and, unlike what would be the case at most such gatherings, everybody nailed the high stuff.

  • A grand finale of "Gonna Fly Now" featuring the entire alumni contingency--around 40 people--on stage, followed (of course) by the play-on and play-off theme, "Blue Birdland."
Another great moment took place at the beginning of the second set (this concert was a marathon, going from 7:30 until nearly 11 p.m.), when a collection of video archives were shown. The clips went all the way back to a Stan Kenton appearance on the Ed Sullivan show back when Maynard was first with the band. (Seeing this footage made me realize why Maynard always went with an energetic young band during his days as a leader: When he started with Kenton, he was only a kid himself.) The video tour went all through the decades (driving the point home that, at least in terms of hair and clothing, the 70's really weren't very kind to anyone), with one of the funniest moments being when Maynard played with the entire Purdue marching band backing him up (he noted that "my accountant is going to freak out when he sees the size of the new band"). There were also some video clips interspersed throughout the night from people who couldn't make it in person, incluiding Arturo Sandoval and Paul Shaffer.

Even though the concert was billed as a celebration, it was evident that the guys on stage were getting pretty emotional when the final bar of "Blue Birdland" had been played; as Wiest would tell me after the concert, "it was graduation night for a lot of the guys up there." For those of us who had been sufficiently touched by the man's music, we could only imagine what the night was like for those who had been in the band over the years. But no matter what one's previous contact with Maynard, I doubt that anyone who was there last night, no matter how much they spent or how far they traveled to get there, would disagree that this was totally worth it.

And watching all those musicians on stage, I realized just how much Maynard will live on through the lives and music of his former sidemen; he sent so many of them out into the world that there's no way this legacy will ever die. I don't know who the next person will be who can pick up the mantle--the person who will combine chops and charisma in the way that Maynard did, all filtered through the heart of a true teacher--but maybe that person was in attendance last night.

I can't wait for the DVD...

Reviews of Maynard Concerts on The Musings of Kev:
Still Going Strong (2/26/06)
One More M.F.-ing Jazz Concert (2/17/04)

UPDATE: I missed this in my original tribute post, but check out this beautiful post from Steve Wiest on the Maynard message board. And here's a great article on Maynard from the Washington Post from a few weeks ago.

FURTHER UPDATE: This review has been linked in the official Maynard forum. Thanks to webmaster and board administrator Matt Keller for doing that! (And be sure and read the whole thread; among other things, someone takes the local St. Louis paper to task for not even reviewing the concert at all. I guess that's what we bloggers are for...)

ONE MORE UPDATE: And now it's been linked on the front page of Maynard's website. Thanks again for the links, Matt, and welcome to all those who are visiting from there.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gonna Fly Now

I'm off to St. Louis to see the Maynard Ferguson tribute concert. With the lineup they've put together for this performance (go here if you want to salivate a bit), it just seemed that this was something not to be missed. I don't think I'll be able to make it to my old neighborhood while we're out there, but a trip to the Arch may be in store.

I'll of course have a complete review when I get back, and I'll also finish the ones from the Branford Marsalis and Dave Holland Big Band concerts from this past weekend. It's a great week for live music, that's for sure.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Haven't Had Much Time to Blog This Week...

...but I did have to say one thing:


(If you had to click the link to know what I was talking about, yer a scurvy dog.)

An eye-popping record: Seriously--that's what this guy is trying to break. If nothing else, it'd make a great Halloween mask.

Sign this one up for the Packers (or meat packers, at least): A 150-pound pig that wandered onto a Green Bay highway eluded authorities for several hours, even after being Tasered by the police.

Word of the day: The etymology of "meh." (Note the Kurdish and Slovenian definitions, as well as the French translation. And a special bonus: now it's a T-shirt.)

He was living his art...or really bored: A German art student decided to become one with history for a moment when he dressed up like the famed Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors and hid among them for a short time before being discovered--and sent home--by police.

Czech this out: I'll probably move this item to the end of the Dave Holland review when it's done, but I had to post it now. As always, we took a quick kolache break at the famed Czech Stop in West, Texas on our way back, and we were quite amused by the sign posted on the door: "AS OF DECEMBER 1, 2006, WE WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT CHECKS." We had a big laugh out of the irony of the Czech Stop not accepting checks... (I'll post the picture as soon as I can get it off the phone.)

UPDATE: Here it is...

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Great Weekend for Jazz

I'm really psyched about the concerts going on this weekend:

TONIGHT--Branford Marsalis at Jazz by the Boulevard in Ft. Worth.

TOMORROW: The Dave Holland Big Band (opening act--Eddie Palmieri) at Jazz'SAlive in downtown San Antonio. (Those who choose to stay in Ft. Worth can see the celebrity spokesman for the MegaLoMart, Chuck Mangione.)

SUNDAY: The Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Jazz by the Boulevard (or if you can skip work on Monday, stay in San Antonio and see the Yellowjackets, with opening act Dianne Reeves, at Jazz"SAlive).

I'll be seeing Branford, Dave and possibly Preservation Hall. Oh, and the best news: It's all free. Go see some live jazz this weekend!

UPDATE: Just like at the Elling show last week, we got a picture on Friday night; this phone-cam is coming in quite handy.

Me and Branford

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hats Off to GMJ

Two years ago, I was at Ameriquest Field in Arlington when Mark Teixeira hit for the cycle, only the second time in Rangers' history for that to happen. (For those non-baseball readers, hitting for the cycle means that a player gets all four possible hits--a single, double, triple and home run--in a single game.) So even though last night's game was in Detroit, I had the good fortune to tune into the game on the radio right before Gary Matthews, Jr. achieved his own cycle; his was also a "clean" one, meaning that the single, double, triple and homer occured in that exact order.

Matthews has really come into his own this year, making some jaw-dropping catches in center field (including a flying leap up the wall to rob an opponent of a homer in a game I saw in person over the summer). He's become a key player on the team, and I hope that Tom Hicks will take care of him when free-agency comes at the end of the season.

Better scoot on over and get this fixed: Segway has recalled its entire line of scooters because of a software glitch that could cause them to suddenly change direction while being ridden.

Maybe he should have just given his rival a Segway to ride around: The backup punter at the University of Northern Colorado tried to earn the starting job the old-fashioned way--by putting on a mask and stabbing his rival in the leg. (Some are saying it's reminiscent of the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, minus the hired hitman. But maybe he snapped from smelling the money a little too much.)

Video of the week: It's the Crazy Xbox 360 lady.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to J-Guar, who, if everything works out, should be appearing on my next gig.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Morning Blog

I'm trying something new this semester: Doing my blogging after breakfast instead of way late at night. The idea is to start going to bed earlier and then waking up on time (i.e. not hitting five or six snooze alarms) and getting a lot of my computer stuff done earlier in the day. So the posts you see will probably have an earlier time stamp on them, and hopefully this will result in a more-rested Kev as well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

British Air Regulations Strike a Sour Note with Musicians

Considering yesterday's anniversary, it seemed fitting that a fraternity brother sent me a link to a story on how the threat of airline terrorism has affected us--specifically musicians in England:
A group of top classical musicians has warned of the threat to artistic life from a hand baggage ban introduced after British police foiled an alleged bomb plot against transatlantic airliners.

The issue even struck a false note at the world-renowned Last Night of the Proms on Saturday night, with one conductor joking that next year audiences may have to put up with "Concerto for Laptop and Orchestra".

"I think it's greatly to be regretted," said Mark Elder, a guest conductor for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, in a speech at the Royal Albert Hall. "The time has come really to put an end to this unfairness."

Many performers refuse to let their instruments, often centuries old and extremely valuable, out of their sight when they travel on planes in case they are damaged in the hold.

But now they are falling foul of strict rules introduced in August amid fears that apparently innocuous materials could be used to build and detonate bombs on flights to and from the United States.
Read the whole thing. Having seen what airline baggage handlers do with bags on occasion (the most memorable incident being when we were sitting on a plane at JFK on the way back from Montreux and watched them pretty much playing catch with things--including the frilly little bags belonging to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, who were also on our flight), I would never let my horn go in the cargo hold. It's bad enough for string bass players--who have to buy their instruments an extra seat to keep it from being checked--but now it looks like it's affecting a lot more players as well; I wonder if my compact alto case is even small enough to pass muster under their system. (Granted, even if you do get to carry your instrument on the plane, there's still no guarantee that it won't get messed up by security personnel as it is.)

I hope that everyone involved can come up with a good solution to this problem, and I sure hope it doesn't start happening in the States anytime soon.

And you think you had a bad day... A bicyclist, waiting by the side of the road for an ambulance after being hit by a car, was promptly hit by another car.

Student excuse of the day: "A raccoon kept me from doing my homework."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You?

Where were you five years ago when you found out the news?

(Yes, I realize that many, many blogs are probably asking the same question, and that I did this same thing two years ago. But there have been many new readers since then, and besides--if we don't talk about it, we risk forgetting, and this is a day that need not be forgotten anytime soon.)

I'll reprint my own story from the earlier post:
I was on a break from teaching, like every Tuesday, and actually spent the time of the attacks in blissful ignorance at the Rockwall Starbucks. I had CD's on in my car instead of the radio, so I totally missed the news on both the way over and the way back. I did hear someone listening to a radio on the patio and they were talking about "the second plane," but it didn't register with me at all. (It amazed me later that nobody walked inside and told us about it.)

When I got back to the school, the flute teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked me if all my students were being pulled out of school (evidently hers were). I said, "No, why?" and she told me what had happened. I spent the rest of the day like everyone else, in shocked, depressed amazement, catching the news when I could. There I was, not even two weeks into being a homeowner, and the world suddenly felt so different. It added to the pall cast over everything when I found out that the sister of a girl I graduated from high school with was on Flight 93, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

The whole thing felt so surreal; how could anyone hate us that much? The concept of the suicide hijacking was unprecedented as well (before that, hijackers just usually wanted to go to Cuba, and that's why airline personnel were taught to cooperate with them rather than try to subdue them).

I know there are still terrorist plots being hatched, and people capable of carrying them out...but I hope nothing like this ever happens on U.S. soil again. Or anywhere, for that matter.
Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

And in the News...

OK, my remaining two posts from this past week are done. In the meantime, here's some of the stuff I 've collected during the week but didn't have time to post until now...

These snacks gave them the munchies again: Three people on the campus of Cal-Berkeley were arrested after they were caught giving away cookies laced with pot; fifteen students got sick enough to require medical attention.

Why did the rabbit get painted on the road? Motorists in Vermont were confused by recent numerous sitings of the outlines of rabbits spray-painted onto local roads in northwestern Vermont. (The local newspaper now includes an interactive page where people can post their rabbit-sitings.)

He really got their goat: A Swiss motorist caught speeding in Canada blamed his lead foot on the absence of goats on local roads; evidently, this kept the man from speeding back home. (Maybe someone should have spray-painted some goats on there to slow him down.)

One more animal story: A Finnish opera singer, who was riding a bicycle onstage during a rehearsal (yes, it was part of the plot), sustained a concussion after his bike fell over when a squirrel became entangled in the spokes of the bike.

At least he's consistent: A man on trial for threatening a judge now faces new charges after he, well, threatened that judge.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I got my picture taken with Kurt Elling tonight; as soon as I figure out how to get pictures off my phone, it will go right below this paragraph (anybody know how to do that with a RAZR?).

UPDATE: Here we are...

I'm still completely unable to finish a post this week, but once I get there, I'll talk about the concert at which the picture was taken.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Feast or Famine

I've started a post every day this week, but for the past several days, I haven't been able to finish them. Please continue to visit this site on a regular basis, and know that some days, there may not be a new post up, but on others, there might be two or three. Things should calm down in a little bit as the semester settles in.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Attention, Mr. Hicks... should think a little more before you speak to the media again.

I wasn't too happy to read this article in today's paper, where Rangers owner Tom Hicks blasted his team for lacking leadership and mental toughness. Yes, the season's gone south on the team during the past month or so, but questioning their toughness and leadership? Of people like Michael Young? Gary Matthews Jr.? Get real...

Sure, you own the team and can do what you want, but you've done a pretty good job thus far of staying out of baseball-related stuff and letting your baseball guys do their jobs. This little outburst shows that a resumption of such un-meddling would be in good order.

UPDATE: Other readers agree with me, and columnist Gerry Fraley concurs:
Whether Hicks intended it or not, he insulted his best players: Michael Young and Mark Teixeira. They play hard every day. "Vocal leaders'' are usually frauds. Players who tell you they are leaders are not leaders. The best leaders the Rangers had in their title seasons were quiet types such as Mark McLemore, Mickey Tettleton and Rusty Greer. Will Clark would tell everyone he was a leader, but that his conceit. Hicks wants to win, and he deserves credit for that. His statements on Tuesday only undermined his baseball people. He should leave the team to them.
Another columnist, Kevin Sherrington, has more; he's in the same camp as the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Kids Say Do the Darnedest Things

A pretty funny thing overheard (and overseen) at one of my schools today:

DIRECTOR (half-jokingly, to kid on crutches): Well, now you can spend some of the time that you were spending playing soccer on playing your instrument instead, and it'll be a lot less dangerous. You always hear about people getting hurt playing sports, but never about people getting hurt playing the saxophone.

(a few seconds pass; director goes back to the band office)


ME (looking out into hallway): What happened?

KID: He just ran into me with his crutches, and it knocked my mouthpiece into my lip.

ME (to director a few minutes later, recounting story): So I guess you actually can get hurt playing the saxophone....

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lack-of-Labor Day

This holiday weekend was exactly how I wanted it to be....slow. There's a lot of stuff going on during the rest of this month, so the opportunity to be a slug was welcomed.

Another thing that was welcomed? Rain. It pretty much did that all day today, but, considering the drought conditions of late, I was happy to trade the minor inconveniences of getting around for a healthier lawn. (But it is weird how it can go all this time without raining much, yet always strike on holidays; you may recall that our Fourth of July was wet as well.)

A lot of people get Labor Day and Memorial Day mixed up with each other, so I guess it's fitting that my Labor Day post includes a couple of memorials:

Dewey Redman. The tenor player best-known in recent years as "Joshua's dad" passed away on Saturday. Though overshadowed in recent years by his well-known son, the elder Redman carved his own place in jazz history through his work with Ornette Coleman, whom he met in high school marching band in Ft. Worth (imagine those rehearsals!). I became acquainted with his work through Pat Metheny's 80-81 album, and more recently, I got hold of a recording of Dewey and Joshua playing together, though that obviously won't be a combination I'll get to see in person now.

Steve Irwin. I'll admit that I've never seen a full episode of "Crocodile Hunter," but the death of Steve Irwin in a freak accident over the weekend was really shocking; I did quite a bit of follow-up reading on the story, a lot of that coming from the Sydney newspaper. When someone lives life on the edge as he did, there's always the chance that something like this could happen, but I'm sure that most people expected such a demise to come at the jaws of one of his famous crocs rather than the tail of a stingray. I've heard that many Australians were embarrassed by him, but to me, he seemed to embody the fun-loving free-spiritiedness that most people associate with the Land Down Under.

A new face on the horizon: I'll end this post by looking to the future. I saw an article in yesterday's paper about a classical composer who's already composed five symphonies had some of his works recorded by the tender age of 14. His name is Jay Greenberg, and one paragraph of a recent interview really struck me:
AP: Your Fifth Symphony seems operatic. The beginning has this mysterious motif, almost like John Williams' "Jaws." What were you trying to express?

Jay: I don't know if I was thinking of anything in particular. ... I was kind of bored, actually, to be honest. I was in the middle of a history class and we were basically supposed to be taking notes on something I already knew, so I was just sitting there staring at a map when suddenly I remembered that I had some music paper in my backpack. So I pulled it out and started writing the first page of Symphony Number 5 - in piano reduction.
You see, that's exactly how I wrote my very first composition in eighth grade--the one that won the Reflections Contest all the way through the state level. I was bored in history class, and, instead of finishing my report on the battles of Lexington and Concord, I set them to music instead. Sure, I've composed at a glacial pace since then, but at least I knew which broad field I'd be going into by the time I hit high school. It sounds like I've got a kindred spirit--on steroids, as it were--out there in Jay. I wish him all the best.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

All Caught Up

I've finally finished the two posts that had been started last week but were floating around in "draft" limbo: One is about the two events that have happened on August 29 in recent years (Katrina, of course, plus my fifth anniversary as a homeowner), and the other has to do with an oddball mix of music and technology: A robot that plays Giant Steps. I just wanted to point these out so that they didn't get lost in the archives. Hope everybody's having a great Labor Day weekend so far.

A super-sized life? A guy in California lived to the age of 112, despite the fact that his diet mostly consisted of sausage and waffles.

And now back to the daily news nudes: Last year, during the Vermont trip, I recounted how a van full of our jazz band members happened upon the Burlington leg of the World Naked Bike Race while waiting at a stoplight. Evidently, this practice takes place quite a lot in Vermont, bike or no bike.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

How Mean Are the Green?

College football is back, and my alma mater, UNT, goes up against the defending national champion Texas Longhorns in just a few minutes. I'm happy that it's being televised nationally, so I can watch it from the comfort of Casa de Kev instead of having to gorge myself with food in order to get a seat by a big-screen somewhere (like I had to do two years ago [scroll down] when the game was only on pay-per-view).

The Mean Green are something like 41-point underdogs, so I'm not expecting miracles; I'd just like to see them do well on the national stage. I would have actually gone to the game, but I'm giving my sister a few more weeks of rest before going down to see the new nephew, and I also found out that tickets were fifty bucks a pop, which ended up being money better spent on the Maynard tribute. If I had my wirelsss router already, I'd take the MacBook out into the living room and liveblog the game, but instead, I guess I'll just pop back on with an update at game's end.

LATER: Well, the Green weren't all that mean today, but at least they scored some points (the lone touchdown was the first against Texas since 1992). We didn't necessarily get too good of a look at how this year's team will do; that will have to wait until next week's SMU game, which I won't be able to attend because of a jazz concert. Still, I hope that the tough non-conference schedule will prepare the Mean Green to make another run through the Sun Belt Conference, like they have done for four of the past five years.

Remembering "Baby": I forgot to mention this yesterday, but students at UNT are mourning the loss of the famous albino squirrel, which was said to bring good luck to students who saw him on the way to exams (he even had his own website). This story also got wider attention when it was mentioned in a post at Althouse.

Lovely Rita, meter maid....and dang, she's fast: I've mentioned before how cool it is that one of the security officers at Firewheel gets to ride around on a Segway; now the campus parking cops at the University of Montana have adopted the practice.

Gratuity begets gratitude: An Applebee's bartender in Kansas received a $10,000 tip for a $26 tab from one of her regulars.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I Guess I Really Am That Crazy

Tickets to the Maynard tribute concert in St. Louis are now officially on the way. Yeah, it's not in my backyard, but a lineup like this sounds like pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime event:





(from the frontpage of Maynard's website)
And needless to say, I'm really glad that the Wright Amendment was, well, amended to include Missouri, as I'm anticipating finding a reasonably cheap flight up there.

Coming just four days after the Dave Holland Big Band in San Antonio, this new month of September is really shaping up as a good time for concerts.

Security breeds insecurity, in this case: A Canadian airline pilot accidentally locked himself out of the cockpit after a trip to the restroom, which eventually forced the crew to remove the door from its hinges; there was a co-pilot at the helm, so the flight was never in any danger, but you can imagine the bad PR. (Oh, and I really like the name of the airline: Jazz.)

A polite pilfering: Someone is stealing flowers from the yards of homes in a historic Des Moines neighborhood....but hey, at least they're leaving thank-you notes to their victims.