Saturday, November 29, 2003

Yule Never Believe It...

I returned home from Austin today to find that Christmas started early this year.

Lying in the middle of my living room floor was a big white box, which upon further inspection was white because it was wrapped all in Chipotle napkins. Also, the famous dry erase board from Renegade Improv (mentioned most recently in the "who forgot to feed Tasha?" post), was sitting on its tripod below the TV...which told me who was involved.

Sure enough, added to the old Tasha message and the chord changes left over from improv, was a note reading "Merry Christmas Kev, from Matt and Zack (we gave it to you early so no one else would)." This left no doubt in my mind that inside of the box was a DVD player.

That's right--video-wise, I've entered the 90's now. ;-)

Needless to say, I was too blown away for words. The element of surprise was complete (evidently, however, they'd been plotting this for nearly a month now). They were both on AIM fairly soon after I got on, and all I could "say" at first was ":-D"--nothing else. I'll have to send a "pre-emptive" warning to family members, just in case they were going to get me one, since I've been talking a lot about it lately. But the fact that I can play DVD's at Casa de Kev opens up all kinds of other possibilities for stuff to give me now (hint, hint).

Now the one snag in all of this was that Zack and Demon Matt were here for two hours this afternoon (using yesterday's blog entry as a timetable for when I was going to get back) setting the thing up, and my vintage 1992 TV wasn't exactly being receptive to newer technology. Matt came back to try some more, and Fizban and Dingus came over with the idea of "breaking it in" with a movie night, but by the time we took our second (my third) trip to Super Target, after two different new remotes didn't make a difference, and we had to buy an RF modulator box to get it to work right...long story short, by the time it was all set up, no time was left for a movie; everyone had to go home so they wouldn't fall asleep in church in the morning (or in Dingus's case, "Atheist Church," a.k.a. IHOP). But still, it's all ready to go for the next time, and it's gonna be awesome.

And I'll expand on one of the things I said in my Ode to a Summer post: I have the greatest group of friends anyone could ever want. I noted the other day that I have a lot to be thankful for...and they're a huge part of that in a nutshell.

Friday, November 28, 2003

A Mini-Milestone

KEV, LIVE FROM AUSTIN: This is small potatoes compared to what I'm used to, but I just had to chime in and say that I'm back to driving in six figures today, as Kevmobile 1.2 hit the magic 100,000 mile mark. It happened while I was running random errands, but it really didn't matter, since I wasn't gonna stop and take pictures anyway. Will this one equal the feat of the original Kevmobile? Who knows; the temptation of an RSX may be too great in a year or so. At any rate, that pesky zero is once again gone from left-hand side of the odometer, and I'll certainly add to the figure when I head back to Dallas tomorrow (yes, I should be back in time for any Saturday night activities; just call me on the cell if something's up).

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Turkey Day Greetings

Happy Thanksgiving to all, wherever this day finds you. I'm off to Austin for a day or two to hang with my sister and her family; our parents are there already, so it's the closest thing to a "reunion" we can have without driving to Indiana (or having someone else drive here from there). And don't forget, while you're languishing in the post-feast tryptophan haze, to count your blessings an extra time or two today. I for one certainly have a lot to be thankful for, and I bet you do too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Heath Bars

So I saw the One O'Clock Lab Band with Jimmy Heath last night. I've been going to the annual fall concert, which always features an outstanding guest artist, for a long time, and this one was one of the best in recent memory.

I had seen Heath perform a few times before (once at those free concerts they have outside the Dallas Museum of Art every summer, and once at the UNC-Greeley Jazz Festival), and he's always been great, but this time he was particularly "on"--probably spurred by the energy of the (mostly) young members of the One O'Clock. The arrangements were fresh (I'm wondering if he did any or all of them himself), providing a great backdrop for his solos and a good showcase for the band.

He opened with "Winter Sleeves," which was, as he said afterwards, "based on Autumn Leaves, so I can collect the royal-ties" (this was one thing I hadn't noticed at any previous performances--the guy is really, really funny). Not very tall and rather thin, he cuts a slight figure on stage, and his first solo started out sparsely; but just as his small stature hides the energy within, the opening bars only provided a hint of what was to come; by the end, he was all over the horn. While he crossed paths with John Coltrane many times, he doesn't lean heavily towards the latter's trademark "sheets of sound." In fact, I was asked before the concert who Heath sounded like the most, and I couldn't answer the question; perhaps that's because he sounds the most like himself. His playing really does make you feel like you're hearing the history of jazz up there on stage.

He continued the evening with his well-known composition "Gemini," made famous by Cannonball Adderley (in introducing this tune, he smiled broadly and patted his pocket, hinting that the royalties from that recording were very kind to him) and a ballad inspired by Coleman Hawkins, "The Voice of the Saxophone." A personal highlight was "Gingerbread Boy," a tune made famous by Miles Davis. Not only is it a great tune, but this rendition featured Heath in "friendly fire" with the One O'Clock's two tenors, Clay Pritchard and Jonathan Beckett. (I noted afterwards that Jonathan is probably old enough to be Clay's father, and Heath is definitely old enough to be Jonathan's father, so it really was like "three generations of jazz" going at it up there.) They definitely brought out the best in each other.

The concert closed with a tune Heath wrote in dedication to Dizzy Gillespie, "Without You, No Me." The crowd of course screamed for an encore, and Heath and the band delivered, with an energetic rendering of a tune that Heath said "I didn't write, but I sure wish I did"--Kenny Dorham's "Una Mas." The capacity crowd would have probably liked the concert to go on even longer.

As I said earlier, in addition to being an outstanding performer, Heath was also warm and quite funny. Two of his compositions, "Gemini" and "Gingerbread Boy," were dedicated to his daughter and son respectively. Both of the "kids" are now in their 40's, and Heath noted that his son is now 6'2" and 220 pounds. After he moved back home ("they always come back," he said), he would come home from work ("he does have a job") and come see his dad at the computer. Sometimes he would call Jimmy "Mini-Man" and sometimes "Microchip." And Jimmy noted that "I have to take it....because he's 6'2", 220." Uproarious laughter ensued from the crowd. (This hasn't always happened at these concerts; some of the guest artists have been noticeably uncomfortable in front of the microphone, and one didn't say a single word for the whole concert. It was refreshing to see an engaging personality combined with a masterful performance.)

Needless to say, it was a really enjoyable evening. They've really outdone themselves this time; I'm glad this treasure of jazz got to visit my alma mater, and I hope he makes it back again sometime.

Ahh, Sweet Vacation!

It's finally here....five straight days off. I really, really needed this vacation. This semester's been kicking my butt in many ways. Don't get me wrong--I love what I'm doing; there's just been a little too much of it this semester. When every teaching day lasts about 13 or 14 hours; when my only social outlet some days is talking with friends on AIM; when I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of's time to recharge a little bit.

The break kicked off with a trip to UNT to see the One O'Clock (which I'll post about separately), then a visit to the legendary Tomato across from campus (I miss that place, but I got all the guys hooked on it, so there will likely be more trips back, concert or not). Today I slept till past 10 and taught one lesson, then succumbed to the tempting offer of Zack for "CHIPOTLUNCH." I've been there three out of the past four days, but what the heck...this is the week for gastronomic punishment, right?

OK, now that I'm off, I'm finally gonna take those quizzes that Mark, Dingus, Fizban and Demon Halfling have already taken...

Season = Spring
You're Most Like The Season Spring ...

Fresh faced, with a young outlook on life - you
smile at the world and expect it to smile back
at you. You're mostly a bubbly, fun - innocent
person. Described as cute possibly. However,
you're a little naive about things and tend to
be a little too trustworthy.
As the first season, It makes you the youngest -
and so most immature - but people are inclined
to look out for and protect you.

Well done... You're the most fun of the seasons :)

?? Which Season Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

I can see most of that, but trying to remember the last time anyone described me as "cute"... :-P

Eb major - you are warm and kind, always there for
your friends, who are in turn there for you.
You are content with your comfortable life and
what you are currently achieving; if you keep
in this state you will go far.

what key signature are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(OK, I matched Fizban and Dingus on that one...I was kinda hoping for F major, since that would be a weird coincidence--the first two jazz tunes I wrote and the only classical overture I ever completed were in that key.)


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

Guess I should go buy the sunglasses now....oh wait, wrong Morpheus. Heh heh.

Homer and donout
Homer Simpson. You represent the easiness in life.
You are the spice and fun in the group. You
don't care what happens as long as you're
having a good time. Enjoy being FUN.

What Simpsons Character Are You
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmm, Fizban and Dingus and Demon Halfling all got Homer too. I wonder if every answer comes up Homer or if we're all just peas from the same pod. (UPDATE: Must be the peas-in-a-pod thing because Jazzy G took it and she got Bart, despite a strong desire to be Bleeding Gums Murphy.)

OK, that's enough bandwidth on this for one day; I'll do more later.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Music and Your Brain

A great article in yesterday's paper talks about the way music affects the brain. Among other things, it discusses how musicians' brains are slightly different than those of nonmusicians, though not until after musical training has begun. Other studies have shown that the brains of musicians with perfect pitch are different from musicians who don't have it but have had similar training. This might prove that you can't buy it out of the back of a magazine...

Monday, November 24, 2003

Another Shameless Plug for Despair

Just had to throw this in: This morning in the paper, there was another article about Despair, Inc.--except it wasn't the usual locally-written interview with my brother-in-law that seems to happen every year once the new calendars come out. This one is from the Providence Journal, and it appeared on the editorial page, of all things (the annual one usually is found in the "Texas Living" section). It's written by columnist Philip Terzian, and you can read it here.

Remember the mantra: "Buy cool stuff for yourself, and feed Kev's nephews at the same time." *grins impishly*

Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Not-So-Marathon

We did it...we put on a jazz concert featuring all four groups and managed to make it not seem like it lasted forever (despite the tickets saying "A Jazz Marathon").

I was very happy with the concert overall; all the groups played well, there were a lot of people there (even the balcony was opened, and it was nearly half-full), and it went by pretty quickly, considering that I was onstage for three of the four groups. The only thing mildly aggravating was the soundcheck, where the mosty "adult" Combo PM seemed to have more "ADD moments" in their session than the all-student Combo Too did--forgetting the order of soloists, stopping at random, that kind of stuff. It was the same thing I'd gotten onto Combo Too about on Thursday, but this time it was the older folks who were a little out of it at first. Yet all those moments disappeared when the spotlights were on and the house was full.

One quick disclaimer here, in case anyone reading this is offended by my referring to mental lapses as "ADD moments": I have it too. I'm sure of it, even though there's never been a clinical diagnosis. They didn't know nearly so much about it when I was a kid, so I didn't have to be medicated all through high school, but I'm pretty sure that I have it, as do many musicians and other artistic types. (Incidentally, there is a great comic strip from a few weeks ago that talks about this. The strip is Pearls Before Swine, and the basic premise is that if they'd been able to diagnose ADD when some of the great musicians of all time were around, nobody would have been nearly so creative, and we would have been stuck with...well, I'll let you read it yourself to discover the punch line. Oh yeah, and someone wrote in to the paper last week blasting the comic for being 'insensitive' and suggesting that all kids with ADD should be heavily medicated (ack). Besides, it would have been worse if I'd blamed Combo PM's soundcheck troubles on "senior moments," seeing as how some of the members are, as I said last night, "over 35." Heh heh.)

But I any rate, the concert went great and nobody seemed to think that it felt very long either (like, for example, Fizban's parents, who said that the one last spring nearly did them in). Part of the credit for that could go to the limitations on numbers of tunes and soloists, but I think that the fact that everyone played so well made it go faster also. We've really raised the bar, and I'm especially happy for Combo Too, which may have been set up as the "learning combo" but did a performance that at least equaled the other groups...I guess they've learned, and then some. I told the audience that this was the best edition of that group I've ever had (and this is my seventh year to direct it). All in all, a great night.

And afterwards, we had the traditional hang at Chili's, which included the usual cast of misfits (Demon Matt, Demon Halfling and Gold Dingus showed up for the concert), where we ate a long-awaited dinner and taunted Fizban some more about being in the Friend Zone (especially when an evidently "hot" girl--I didn't see her, can't pass judgement--approached him after the concert and gave him her number). It got really bad when Gold Dingus's girlfriend was even giving him grief about the FZ. Since I'm not even in the FZ myself at the moment (d'oh), I won't say much else about that.

At any rate, a really busy part of the semester is over; there are a few more performances left to go, but this will make next week's break seem even more relaxing now.

(Oh yeah, and Red Dingus has his own post about last night, including the whole story of the little set of groupies who came to support him. We promptly dubbed them "The Dingettes.")

Friday, November 21, 2003

Take Two on Part Three

It took over two weeks, but I finally saw Matrix Revolutions again tonight. I have to say I liked it even more the second time around; several things got cleared up, and since I already knew what was going to happen, I could catch more little details. I even "made peace" with the ending (thanx Matt B. for quote)...I'm fine with it now.

It seems as though the best way to enjoy this movie is to have watched the previous two (especially the original) several times before going to the theatre. Unfortunately, I'm one of the underprivileged few who doesn't own a DVD player yet, so the last time I saw the original was when my sister and brother-in-law got it, right after it came out...which Christmas was that again? I've already decided that I will have a player by the time this one (or, even better, the inevitable boxed set) comes out.

PLAYING IN THE KEVMOBILE TODAY: Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, XXL. Yeah, I know I said I wasn't gonna buy any other CD's this month after my mass purchase a few weeks ago, but I heard this in Demon Halfling's car on the way to the Matrix the first time and my mouse finger just had to pull the Amazon trigger. Great new stuff, especially "A Game of Inches" (featuring multiple solo turns from Michael Brecker) and "Hunting Wabbits," which really could have been lifted from an old Warner Bros. cartoon (Goodwin's film-scoring chops are quite evident here; check out his website for more on the background of this amazing writer). And the remake of 1939's "Comes Love" (featuring Brian McKnight and Take 6) simply will not get out of my head. No sophomore slump here...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Shameless Plugs

Plug #1: The newest catalog from Despair, Inc. is here. If you're not on the mailing list (or their email equivalent, "The Wailing List"), go to the site and check out the new stuff. Both the new 2004 calendar (with 12 new designs) and the "classic" 2004 calendar (with the original 12 designs from their first year) are available, as are a lot of other cool things. It's a great way to have a lot of laughs and put food on the table/cool Christmas presents in the hands of some of my very closest relatives. :-D

Plug #2: For those who aren't already involved with it, the Fall Jazz Concert at the college is this Saturday at 8:00 in the John Anthony Theatre. The Jazz Lab Band and all three combos will perform (I'm involved with three of the four groups as either director or "player/coach"). If you'd like tickets, shoot me an email and I'll hook you up.

(UPDATE: There's now a Plug #3: It's been confirmed today that I'll be making guest appearances with two of my schools' jazz bands in December. Catch me at Rowlett on Friday the 12th and Lakeview on Monday the 15th. I'll have more info here and on the gig page of my website.)

Halo Theory

During the past week, Zack, Demon Matt and Demon Halfling have joined me in adding comments from Haloscan to their blogs, and it's added a new dimension to the back-and-forth that already goes on between all of us. (Mark added them as well, but then half of his blog disappeared the other day, so he's in rebuilding mode for a while.)

That means only a few people have yet to come to the party. with us on this? C'mon, all the cool people are doing it...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Mystery Solved...

If you read the comments to yesterday's post, you'll notice that a mystery was brewing; I knew that there was some occasion where somebody forgot to feed my cat Tasha when I was away. I had thought it was Fizban, but yesterday's birthday boy reminded me that the only unsuccessful feeding attempt on his resume was the time when his house key didn't work. I then figured it had to be Zack, who was the primary cat-feeder before Fizban came on board...but Zack denied it as well. After quite a bit of back-and-forth on the comments page, it finally hit me this afternoon: it was Zack! Here's my proof: Hiding behind my stereo in the living room is a dry-erase board that hasn't really been used since Renegade Improv in the spring of '02. Over top of a couple of chord progressions is written this message from Zack:

WELL, I ACTUALLY REMEMBERED TO FEED TASH! However, I absconded a few ounces of your sierra mist. :-D -Z

(Lacking any note paper or Post-It Notes, he left the entire dry erase board on my kitchen table for when I got back. Needless to say, I saw it.)

So if he "actually remembered" to feed her, that means he had forgotten at least once in the past. I knew I wasn't crazy. And Fizban, sorry I thought it was you. I guess I got swept up in Dingus's ball of stupid yesterday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Happy Birthday to Lee (a.k.a. Fizban, Demon Lee, Gimplee, Leebo the Hobbit, etc.)--amazing musician, fun guy (fungi??), wise beyond his years, great friend who's done more for me than he'll ever know....yet, lest you think this is redlining on the Sap-O-Meter, I could add that he can also be a complete dingus on occasion ("the dingus that even the other dingii make fun of"), occasionally forgetful (he didn't actually forget to feed the cat like I'd originally thought--see next post--but I did at miss at least one really cool movie because he forgot to call me when "summoning the troops"), and of course there's that whole Friend Zone thing. (You may notice, however, that, unlike the Matts and the Dingii, I haven't been skewering him about the FZ...that's because I own a condo out there myself *sigh* and he's renting it at the I understand more than most. He has high standards and sticks to them, yet I know his search for the elusive Her won't take as long as mine is taking.)

The gang already celebrated (with a burrito, of course) last Thursday after Combo PM, and the Famous Round Table at Chipotle is where the whole "walls of the friend zone will fall" thing started. Tonight, he'll race off after big band to celebrate with his family (fami-Lee?), where he'll likely receive a much lower quality of abuse.

So have a great day bro...your CD is on the way, once I remember to order it (d'oh).

Monday, November 17, 2003

The Pot Calling the Kettle a Dingus?

Today, Dingus has a post where he complains about a "ball of stupid" rolling downhill and gathering all his friends in its path....yet he himself managed to post essentially the same message not just once but twice. Guess you're caught up in the ball too, Dingus. *smirks*
(UPDATE: Dingus fixed this later--claimed his computer was "acting up"--so you can't see his duplicate rant anymore, but it was fun to mess with him when he was so busy messing with others...)

Oh, and good news for all concerned: I managed to snag tickets for the One O'Clock Lab Band concert next week at UNT; it usually sells out well in advance, and it's hard for me to get tickets when I'm not near a secure (i.e. non-cell) phone very often during the day. But I have 'em, so if you talked with me about going, you're in; if you didn't, better hurry and get yours this week, even though it's too late to have the honor of sitting with "Kev, party of six."

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Validation, parts 2A and 2B

It's been a good year so far to be a student of Kev, at least for those who are conscientious about their playing. First, four out of the five saxes in All-Region Jazz end up coming from my studio; and today I found out some of the results of yesterday's 9th Grade All-Region tryouts. I don't have the complete standings, but I do know that the first-chair alto and the first-chair tenor are mine...go me! (Not really, heh--go them! I just steer 'em in the right direction and hopefully get 'em fired up about playing.) Add that to this past Monday, when 50% of the middle-school All-City saxes were mine, despite the fact that I only had kids entered from three of the thirteen middle schools in the district, and it's been a really great week.

Anyway, I basically just wanted to brag on them and thank them for their hard work. I'm not really bragging on myself; that's not my style. After all, everyone I teach gets the same quality of information; some people just take it and run with it, while others maybe only attain a brisk trot...and some just let it go in one ear and out the other. So even as I deflect most of the credit to the take-it-and-run types, results like this still make me feel validated in what I do and the way I do it. The big test--high school All-Region--comes up in three weeks.

(UPDATE: The results keep trickling in; today I found out that the third-chair alto and the second-chair tenor--they only take two--came from the Kev World as well. Go me them some more!)

PLAYING IN THE KEVMOBILE TODAY: Marchel Ivery, Marchel Ivery Meets Joey DeFrancesco. Click over to last night's post to see why I replaced whatever was "on deck" in my car's CD player with this 1997 gem. It doesn't totally capture the energy of the live show, but it's close enough for me.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

B-3 Brilliance

I saw the most amazing concert tonight: Joey DeFrancesco at UTD. Joey, a master of the Hammond B-3 organ, was joined by local heroes Marchel Ivery (tenor sax), Clint Strong (guitar), and Andrew Griffith (drums).

Joey can truly be called a prodigy; he was gigging by the age of 10. His first solo CD, All of Me, was released on Columbia Records when he was 17, and shortly thereafter he toured with Miles Davis, appearing on Amandla and Live Around the World. Unlike some prodigies who start young, burn out and disappear, Joey has matured into a master of his instrument--this generation's answer to Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff.

His bandmates are some of the best that Dallas--or anywhere--has to offer: Ivery is one of the elder statesmen of local jazz; Strong is himself a former prodigy, playing professionally at the age of 13 and starring in both the jazz and country-western worlds (yes, they do intersect on occasion!)--his credits include Red Garland and Merle Haggard. Griffith is one of the busiest drummers in the Dallas area (I mean this in terms of work, not playing style) and a graduate of UNT. This same lineup appeared on Ivery's 1997 release Marchel Ivery Meets Joey DeFrancesco on the late, lamented Leaning House Jazz label; this is worth trolling the used-CD stores for, and hopefully someone will buy up their catalog soon.

The quartet burned from the opening number (a completely unplanned rendition of Walkin'). Ivery's trademark Texas Tenor sound, with swatches of Trane and a liberal helping of Bird, was a constant joy; the senior member of the group had energy to spare. Strong was all over the guitar with burning bebop licks, generously sprinkled in the blues and with more than a little of the country influence added to the mix (and I mean this in a good way--the twang worked!). His flurries of notes made me and the horn players around me fairly jealous that he didn't have to breathe while playing. Griffith was the epitome of taste: solid time and a wide variety of timbres. Even when he lost a stick during his extended solo, he wasn't fazed one bit, simply reaching into his bag and playing a cymbal mallet upside-down for the rest of the tune.

Joey himself was nothing short of stellar throughout the night. Whether it was tasty comping behind the others' solos, a surprisingly good vocal turn on That's All (evidently he's been singing on his CD's lately; I plan to fill in the gaps in my collection soon) or his own burning solos, he totally delivered the goods (and remember, he's playing his own bass lines throughout all of this!). During an extended blues run on Bag's Groove, he nearly approached Sonny Rollins' "record" (for any concert I've attended, anyway) of a 15-minute solo, and his romp on "Rhythm" changes (the closer Oleo) brought the evening to a frenzied end; though the capacity crowd screamed for an encore, they did play for nearly two hours without a break.

All in all, an awesome show. I wish it were at a bigger place so more people could have seen it (in hindsight, I would have brought both of my college combos for an incredible "field trip"), but hopefully he'll come back to the area again before long.

Big Easy x3

I went to the UNT football game this afternoon, and once again, it was a lot of fun. The team won big, 58-14 over Arkansas State, earning them a third straight conference championship and a return trip to the New Orleans Bowl next month. Once again, Fouts Field was a loud and rowdy place; there weren't quite as many people there as there had been on Homecoming, but it was still a lot more full than when I was in school.

There weren't as many Sinfonia brothers there today, as they had an activity that went way late last night, but those of us who were there got to serenade the Dance Team during the second half (that probably would have never happened when I was in school...the Dance Team even talking to musicians probably wouldn't have even happened back then). I had to leave before the game was over because I had a concert to go to in Dallas (see next post), so I missed the goal posts being torn down and other general mayhem. On the radio, the guy who was issuing the bowl bid messed up and called it the "North Texas Bowl"...but that's sort of appropriate, considering UNT's been a part of both previous games and the one to come.

And I think I've made a decision: I'm going to the bowl. I'll of course update on this site.

GORDON GOODWIN'S BIG PHAT MARCHING BAND? The Green Brigade marched to "Sing Sang Sung" for the halftime show today. The tune adapted to the football field better than I thought it would, but there was that pesky over-tonguing thing in the clarinets, and the tempo was sloooow compared to the original (as one of the drum majors told me, you can only march so fast...true). Still, they did a fine job; I wonder if that's on the menu for New Orleans also.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Is Sonic Reading My Blog?

Amazing....I drove past the error-prone Sonic sign today and it was somewhat fixed. It now reads:


Still no question mark, but we can almost tell they're not selling hungry food anymore.

So I wonder what caused them to fix it...1) Customer told them; 2) The big bosses came by, recoiled in horror at the grammatical fiasco and caned the sign-changer, Singapore-style; or 3) They're reading my blog! *shudder*

If you are reading it, Sonic, two suggestions: Get that question mark up there to complete the job, and how 'bout I get a "coney and tots" on the house for pointing out the error of your ways?

:ETADPU UPDATE: The backwards entry from the other day got a lot of response, and only a few people got headaches from reading it. *grins impishly* I have another trick up my sleeve for a novelty entry, but I'll save it for a few weeks.

DID HELL JUST FREEZE OVER? Naah, Zack just updated his blog for the first time in two-and-a-half months. Welcome back, Zack (poetry, heh).

"I've never heard that in the whole two years you've teached me."

"I wish I brang my glasses today."

--Actual quotes from middle-school students in lessons this week. They both attend the same school, which makes me think that the English teachers there are really "learning them to talk good." (Actually, I'm sure the teachers are doing a fine job, but I wonder what grades these kids are making in their classes...)

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Fun Facts About (Nearly) Everyone

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I've been flattered many times over today. Yesterday, I announced an update of my Fun Facts page, and now Fizban, Dingus and Matt the Demon Halfling have published take-offs of it. (Meanwhile, Matt B., being a renegade at heart, made it a point not to do fun facts today.) They're all slightly different: Matt's are all true, Dingus's are all made-up, and Fizban's are a little of each, plus some are about him and some are about the character who is the basis for his online personality. (Perhaps the best of the lot is when Dingus says he's boxed with pandas and head-butted a moose. I personally would pay to watch this, and maybe reward him with Chipotle burritos if he won said events.)

Oh, and thanks, Matt, for the Rangers portion of your post...don't know how that slipped my mind. That should get me up to 40 fun facts now.
(UPDATE: Yup, it's up to 40 with the baseball additions. Yay.)

Monday, November 10, 2003

Updates and So On

The Fun Facts page has been updated; I now have 35 facts...only 15 more to go.

I will write my ghost story that I've been teasing since Halloween as soon as I get a spare hour or so, and I'll finish my CD reviews from last weekend's windfall as soon as I actually finish listening to all the CD's. I've gotten distracted in my car-listening by all that "inspiring" music I talked about yesterday. (Don't forget to comment on it if you're a musician...)

STARBUCKS SILLINESS: Some Starbucks outlets now ask for your name when you place an order, which leads to exchanges like this:

STARBUCKS DUDE: "Can I get a name for that cup?"
ME: "Well, my name is Kevin, but you can call the cup whatever you want." ;-)

PLAYING IN THE KEVMOBILE TODAY: Michael Brecker, Wide Angles. The more I hear this, the more awesome it gets. I hope the "Quindectet" makes it to Dallas soon...

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Inspiration Theory

I had a gig yesterday, playing a wedding reception with Kris and Mark, two of my fellow profs. It was actually at someone's house--a house that is about to be sold, so all the furniture was gone--but it was a nice little setup, if a little loud (we were playing in what was basically an entryway alcove). It was a sweet gig in the sense that we got both paid and fed, and people were nice to us and we got several substantial breaks.

It's interesting to think that a performance like that has a couple different levels going on at the same time. The three of us were enjoying what each other was playing: a cool chord substitution here, a funny quote there...and stuff like Mark playing "Ornithology" below me while I did the melody of "How High the Moon" (the former is based on the latter). Meanwhile, most of the people there had no idea that all those things were going on (except maybe the guy from the TI Band whose wife was in the wedding and who got us the gig), but they did hear some pleasant, possibly familiar tunes that provided the soundtrack for a nice moment in their lives--a 38-second track from one CD of their boxed set, but perhaps a memorable moment.

I also tested a theory that I've been coming up with since last weekend. Last Sunday, I was particularly "on" at church; the sound guy even had me really "juiced"--so much so that I was shocked at being able to hear myself in the monitor so well. I asked him between services if I was turned up more than usual, and he said yeah, because he was really digging what I was doing and felt like I was in fact really "on" that day. He said sometimes I didn't seem as confident or something, so he didn't have me as high in the mix. I assured him that I was never really unconfident or lost or anything, I was just--depending on the song--trying to stay out of the way of the lyrics sometimes (I've stated before how I'm basically the chocolate sprinkles on the cake of worship).

But I got to thinking about why it was that I was so "on" that day. I didn't have any more sleep than usual--probably less. The only thing different was that I was listening to the new Joshua Redman CD in the car on the way in, and I think I felt inspired by his playing and it carried over into mine. I did the same thing yesterday on the way to the gig, putting in a Wes Montgomery CD that Andrew from Combo Too left in here after the burrito bash on Thursday (it was the same instrumentation as we had at the gig, plus drums). Sure enough, I felt rather "on" last night also. To cap it off, I had a CD with great tenor playing going on the way to church today and felt like I played better than usual again.

So can you really "prime" yourself for a performance by listening to someone playing your instrument very well, or to the type of music you're about to be playing? And, on the flipside, can listening to other, not-connected-to-the-gig music (i.e. rock on the way to a jazz gig) actually make you less inspired for your performance? Is the type of music irrelevant as long as it's a fine performer? Or is it all just up to chance? I invite my fellow musicians to chime in on this, using the comments section.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Not-So-Urban Cowboys?

Fizban told me an interesting thing he'd heard on the radio yesterday morning: Rowlett has tossed its hat into the ring to lure the new Cowboys stadium. Today it was in the paper too.

This will never actually happen, of course...despite the vast expanses of undeveloped land, easy access from the impending extension of the George Bush Turnpike, and a picturesque view of Lake Ray Hubbard. The big dogs in this hunt are Dallas and Irving, end of story. (Perhaps the most telling phrase in the article came from Cowboys officials who said they listened to the city's pitch "as a courtesy." Ouch.) But then, David did beat Goliath once upon a time, so who knows?

Yet it would be interesting if it actually happened. Imagine all those high-dollar players moving to Waterview, shopping in our local grocery stores, having dinner at Puerto Escondido Dos Charros, throwing strikes at the Rowlett Bowl-A-Rama. Oh, and populating our schools with their kids (dang, I could teach some of them the saxophone! I'd hafta make sure and do some "house call" lessons during the summer, heh heh).

So would having America's Team in the suburb next door increase my friends' and my personal attendance at games? Probably not that much. After all, most of us can't really afford to, as Dingus Fizban said, "have Jerry Jones rape our pocketbook on a regular basis." But still, it would be cool to have something like that nearby...

QUOTE OF THE (YESTER)DAY: "But don't they already have enough cowboys in Rowlett?"--the band director at Lakeview, when told of the Rowlett/Cowboys story.

Friday, November 07, 2003


I had a short break between students today since several were out sick (inject a little cold air into Texas and some people's immunity just goes haywire, I guess) and came home to the email I'd been waiting for all week: the All-State Jazz results.

So now it can be told--Lee's in. That gives him a great trifecta: Band two years ago, orchestra last year, jazz band this year. Jazz band was the one he really wanted to make, though, especially this year. All he lacks for a clean sweep is choir, and he probably could have done that this year too. What a talent.

He's the only one from the Kev World who made it; Matt B. came next-closest, missing it by eight people. (Collin from Jazz Camp, who could be considered at least a peripheral part of the Kev World, made it as well.) It's just too bad we'll never know why some people didn't make it and others did. The only thing lacking in this process is feedback; it'd be great to see how the individual judges voted or even get comments from everyone (I do this when I judge, to add to the educational aspect). But at any rate, now we know, and we can get on to other things; I had a whole lot of people--even some I barely know--accosting me this week: "Didja get an email? Didja?"

So nice job, Lee. Glad I could help a tiny bit. San Antonio will be fun this year (provided I get a non-smoking room, and you and Micah and I don't buy way too many CD's again, heh heh).

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Good Day/Long Day

Today was another one of those 13-hour teaching days, but I basically had a great time almost all day long, despite the length and having to eat lunch at 10 in the morning for the second day in a row (thank goodness for Subway, or I would've had to eat scrambled eggs for lunch).

This was the monthly "Bond with the Band Burrito Bash" where Combo Too goes to Chipotle after rehearsal. Stephen Stout, the originator of the 2BC in our crowd, repeated his feat tonight, though he missed in his attempt to recapture the time record from Micah. He got in a rut during the second burrito and slowed down to a Kev-esque 28 minutes, far short of Micah's record of 13 or his own previous time of 20.

When he was done, he said he felt totally bloated and thought he had a visibly distended stomach (we could sort of see it too). Miles (our bass player in the combo, but a fine guitarist in "real life") compared it to those nature shows when a tiger eats a wildebeest and you can see the tiger's midsection all distorted and everything from the extra animal inside. Stephen thought this was great and professed his desire to eat a wildebeest also--maybe two (the 2WBC??).

The combos are sounding good as we approach our concert in two weeks, so that always adds a bright spot to the day. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love teaching college. I don't know how much the staying-in-one-place aspect plays into this, but I can be having the worst day from my careening back and forth between high schools and middle schools, and then I'll get to the college and everything's all good. I feel blessed for the opportunity to do what I do there.

After Combo PM, I played some more racquetball with Ben. I still won all the games, but he's getting way better. I had to use my "right-side killer serve" a bunch to catch and pass him in the first game. I'm not sure about the combination of Chipotle and r-ball in the same evening (rumble, rumble, burp), but I made it out unscathed and feel a little less fat for it. If nothing else, I'm working off the extra food before it gets a chance to stick around.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Just imagine yourself weighing about 300 pounds, with a set of Viking horns on your head."--Me, to a high school student, to illustrate the kind of vibrato I wanted him to use at the climax of the slow All-Region etude.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

I Don't Care What the Critics Say... far as I'm concerned, The Matrix Revolutions rules. (Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section, of course.) I won't dare talk plot, ending, etc. for a few days in case you haven't seen it yet, but it had enough to keep me entertained. I will say it's high on the adrenaline meter; I've been home for about 45 minutes now and probably won't be able to sleep anytime soon.

The way I see it, I got to see the biggest movie of the season until The Return of the King comes out next month, I got to see it with most of my closest friends at the same time, and I had a Chipotle burrito beforehand. This evening, life was a little extra sweet.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Another Sort of Restau-Rant

A few months ago, I had a rant about people who waste restaurant patrons' and workers' time by ordering food for their entire office, one person at a time, rung up separately. Today, I train my ire upon a couple of restaurant workers themselves:

Just down the street from the grammatically-challenged Sonic sits a McDonald's that I visited on occasion. I only went there to play the Monopoly game that they've been doing, and to take a break from my usual Tuesday Burger King (with 15 minutes for lunch on that day, I can only eat in certain places and still get out on time). So I order a McChicken Combo (#10 on their menu) and supersize it for the extra game pieces (I don't eat all the extra fries, don't worry). Without supersizing, it comes to $3.39, I I'm shocked beyond belief when the cashier tells me it totals out to $5.79. That either means that supersizing is now $1.75, or tax went waaaay up while I was in third period. *shudder*

So I say to the lady, "that can't be right," and point to the price on the menu board. She looks at it, agrees with me, pushes a whole bunch of buttons and still can't fix it. Someone who looks like the manager comes over and pushes a few more buttons, and she can't fix it either. Finally, the kid with the mop in his hand comes over, shows the two cashiers the right buttons, and fixes it. That's right--the kid with the mop! Somebody needs a promotion, and two more somebodies need a de-motion, methinks. Turns out that what she did was charge me for a 10-piece McNuggets instead of a combo #10. Geez...

After that's all straightened out, my sandwich and drink come up, but guess what--they've run out of fries during this fiasco. I tell them I'll take the rest now, since I don't have a lot of time to eat. They then proceed to totally forget about me. Fries come and go, the cashier even takes an order out to someone in the parking lot, and I might as well be invisible. Finally, I go up there and ask for my fries in a to-go bag; I'm guessing I'll eat them in the car on my way back to school. I do this, and go to the car to leave.

As I'm pulling out of the McDonald's portion of the parking lot, a catering truck comes up from my blind side, forcing me to screech on the brakes. The fries fly everywhere, and I let loose with an expletive that I'll have to ask supreme forgiveness for tonight. Can this day get any worse?

Only one good thing came out of this: The fries didn't fall directly on the floor, but onto a copy of the Dallas Observer that I had sitting there. Since I've eaten off newspaper before, I deemed them to be clean and continued eating, though some of them had to be scooped back up into the box and consumed during a student's lesson (I apologized for being a cruddy role model).

At any rate, I really need to find a way next year to force myself to have more than fifteen minutes for lunch. I'm not sure how that's gonna work, since the HS and MS schedules don't line up so well, but I can't be having road rage (food rage?) in the middle of the day--especially a 14-hour teaching day like today. I need to work on this. Oh, and I won't be back to that Mickey D's anytime in the near future.

UPDATE: The next day at Subway, the computer tried to charge me $6.79 for a cold-cut trio meal and one cookie (this is over a dollar more than usual). At least the guy there was competent and friendly and figured out the computer's mistake immediately (it charged me for a "phantom" second drink). Seeing as how Subway is healthier than Mickey D's, that begs the question: Better food=better service? Maybe, although this was the same Subway where the girl behind the counter had a weird concept of mayonnaise a few months ago.

Stupid Sonic Signage, Part Deux

Seen today on the marquee of the same Sonic Drive-In that had a poorly-written message a few weeks ago:


So now they're selling food that's hungry itself? How does that work? And isn't that more than a little inhumane?

Assuming that the famous "coney island" hot dog doesn't possess the ability to be hungry, that leaves us with few other choices. The dictionary defines a coney as either a small, burrowing, harelike mammal or a black-spotted fish with reddish fins. I can't imagine either of those at Sonic, and as a former rabbit owner, I could no more eat rabbit than I could dog or cat (this despite the "Tasha burrito" joke, which I'll explain another time).

It's amazing what a well-placed question mark would have done to that message board...somebody enroll that sign dude in remedial English or something.

1.5 SECONDS OF FAME, continued: Another contribution of mine made it into Dave Barry's Blog over the weekend (and no, "Nerve in my Neck" is not a weird nickname or a medical conditon; everyone who's been sending stuff in for the past couple weeks has been using anagrams of their names).

PLAYING IN THE KEVMOBILE TODAY: The Tubes, Outside Inside. This CD is 20 years old now but still sounds pretty fresh, and you've gotta love a band with a lead singer named "Fee Waybill." You may have heard the hit "She's a Beauty" on the radio, but for my money, the best part of the CD is "Wild Women of Wongo" and "Tip of My Tongue" back-to-back, along with the remake of "The Monkey Time." The L.A. studio horns (Chuck Findley, Jerry Hey, etc.) really wail.

Monday, November 03, 2003

New (to me, at least) Music Reviews

I don't often buy five CD's at a time anymore; certain "boring adult responsibilities" like car and house payments have gotten in the way of that. If anything, I usually buy them in pairs now, just to get the free shipping on Amazon. But yesterday, I had a good reason for buying five CD's: they were really, really cheap.

It turns out that there are still some Wherehouse Music locations left in the Metroplex; I guess I wasn't paying attention, because I thought they had all closed a year ago. But now, all but a few of them are closing, so they're having this "40% off the entire store" sale. I passed the one in Lewisville on my way home from a concert in Denton, and I knew I had to check it out.

So I got five CD's for a little over fifty bucks (including tax), and now I have a lot of new music to listen to. Among other things, I was able to get the newest releases from my two favorite bands at the Austin City Limits Music Festival back in September (which I reviewed in a previous post). Since I do most of my listening in the car, I'll actually spread the new arrivals out over a few days weeks. I'll list what I bought now and come back and elaborate on them as I go through the week(s).

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, The Bridge: The surprise band of the ACL Festival. A soulful, funky band led by a fine tenor player; these guys, as I said in the concert review, have a great mixture going: Enough soul for the party crowd, combined with interesting solos to keep jazzheads like myself satisfied. There's also a great solo from his trumpeter (is it Hugh Ragin or special guest Roy Hargrove? not sure; didnt exactly sound like Hargrove though), who gets in touch with his inner Allen Vizzutti on the closer, "Elephants." Fun stuff...

Kenny Garrett, Standard of Language: The latest one from "the only sax player named Kenny with the last initial of G who should be allowed to live make recordings." He's also my favorite living alto player under the age of 50 (the senior circuit award goes to Phil Woods, in case you're curious). This guy just keeps getting better and better. One of these days, I'm gonna have to sit down and try to learn a whole bunch of his solos; I just love the way they flow. The only knock on this CD so far is that there's not one single "jump out of the speakers and grab you" tune like "Song #8" on Happy People or "Sing a Song of Song" on Songbook...but the writing gets stronger in the second half of the CD, so I may change my mind and edit this thought later. All in all, great stuff.

Soulive, Soulive: The newest CD from the band I went to Austin to see, and want to see again doing a set that's longer than 45 minutes. This new CD is a live recording (thus the eponymous title, rather than, say "Soulive Live") from various places across the country, and it showcases the band doing what they do best--jammin'. Even though there are three tracks that were also on their Blue Note debut, Doin' Something, they take them in all kinds of interesting directions, so that it's almost like hearing them for the first time. Obviously, the overdubs and studio tricks are out, but this is a band with a lot to say, heard in its natural habitat. A great addition to the collection.

DJ Spooky (That Subliminal Kid), Optometry: The jazz-leaning DJ teams up with some avant-garde jazzers (Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Joe McPhee) for an interesting mix.

Dave Ellis, Raven: OK, maybe this should only count as my 4 1/2th CD, since I've owned it before and then lent it out to someone who stole it lost it sold it to CD Warehouse to get Chipotle burrito money hasn't brought it back yet, and I can't remember who has it. Ellis is another soulful tenorist a la Denson, and the CD is a mixed bag of styles. We're doing one of the tunes on there in Combo Too at the college, so I really needed another copy, and at 40% off, it was only four bucks. Can't beat that.

So I may have blown my CD budget for the whole month, but whenever I get new stuff, you'll hear about it here first.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Entertaining Spam

OK, I hate spam as much as the next guy, but at least this one I got yesterday was fairly amusing. (And no, I don't usually read my spam; this one is one of the rare ones that makes it into my inbox, and something jumped out at me.) Anyway, it had some random HTML commands that I won't reproduce here for obvious reasons, and then this is what it said:

capture elope anorexia washboard restroom comparative earthmoving contraption ale cormorant barney feudatory springtime bennington erotica love walter congenial byline antipodes chickweed saigon

Then it had their little ad about a cable TV descrambler, artfully hidden between some more imaginary HTML commands, and after that it said:

automatic normative prosopopoeia gable suffragette sushi mincemeat saccade archaism gummy operatic ssw surgical avert sussex coincident implausible ascomycetes descant interrogatory parallelogram trough molybdenite compound xylene consult oregon stalk carryover aug

I'm not sure if these lines were produced by a random text generator or if someone was on drugs, but it was at least funnier than the usual "See Britney Spears Naked" or "Generic Viagra Online."

Your assignment, then, is to make a paragraph using one of these random word strings. Bonus points for anyone who can successfully rhyme "prosopopoeia" with something.

A Cool Breeze from the North

Went to the TI Jazz Band concert tonight, and as always, it was a fine show. They've had a knack for bringing in top-notch jazz artists lately (check out my post about their concert last spring with Kurt Elling), and tonight was no exception.

The name Carol Welsman may not be familiar to many outside her native Canada, but she's a major talent deserving of your attention. She was named "Jazz Singer of the Year" in Canada for 2002, and now she's moved to L.A. and is ready to conquer the States. Not only is she a fine singer, she's also an excellent pianist who can scat and play a solo line simultaneously (much like George Benson does with his guitar). The combo numbers with Carol at the piano were exceptional (kudos to Pete, Frank, Joe and Herbert of the TI Band for backing her up); among the highlights were a slowed-down, partially reharmonized rendition of "The Girl from Ipanema" and a hip-hop version of "I Got Rhythm." She also did a beautiful solo version of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and pointed out an interesting factoid: the tune was written while London was being bombed during World War II. The band played great; you would probably never know without reading the program that most of them have day jobs as engineers. All in all, it was another fine show, and I'm glad these guys are a part of our college jazz program.

Floor 1, Fizban 0

To top off Halloween night, I went to see the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Fizban, Matt D. and Matt's GF Angie. There were some times when we were laughing pretty hard, like we did during Freddy vs. Jason, but there was also some real gore. More than a few people got up and left the theatre, including Fizban after a particularly intense scene (two words: meat hook). He didn't come back for the whole movie, so we figured he was either still getting sick in the bathroom or he just bailed. Then we got out of the theatre and found him waiting outside, with a swollen lip and slightly bloodied face. Yup, he had an encounter with the floor of the entryway, and the floor won. The weird thing is, he doesn't remember hitting the floor face-first, just being down there for a while and looking up at the ceiling. He was OK by the time we left and was fine the day after, except for a slightly swollen lip. So does this mean I wouldn't recommend Chainsaw for the weak-of-stomach? Maybe...or at least wear some padding (haha).

Fizban did a post about this encounter, in the unusual form of an interview with the character upon whom his online persona is based.