Saturday, January 31, 2004

In Memoriam: Frank Mantooth (1947-2004)

I came home today to the shocking news that Frank Mantooth passed away this yesterday morning of a heart attack at his home in Garden City, Kansas. Frank was an eleven-time Grammy-nominated pianist, composer and arranger, as well as the guest artist for our college jazz festival last year and the newest member of the Texas All-Star Jazz Camp faculty. Frank was also a graduate of the University of North Texas and a fraternity brother of mine, being an alumnus of the Gamma Theta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

I had only gotten to know Frank in the past year, but it was definitely a pleasure getting to work with him. When he comped behind a soloist in our faculty combo at the jazz festival, it was like hearing one of his arrangements in real time. And even though he was by far the best-known member of our camp faculty, he was also humble and unassuming--definitely "one of the guys."

I can't think of anything else to write at the moment; I'm still too stunned. The man himself will be sorely missed; at least he lives on through his hundreds of compositions and arrangements.

UPDATE: A series of articles from the Garden City paper are now available on Frank's website.

Friday, January 30, 2004


I got to see my sister and brother-in-law tonight, along with my two adorable nephews, Noah and Caleb. They were all in Dallas for the weekend, and I try to meet up with them whenever that happens, since I don't make it to Austin nearly so much as I'd like. Noah will be three in a week and a half, and Caleb is nearly five months old. He's always been a rather smiley baby ever since I've seen him (no matter what my uncle says about babies not being able to smile--he attributes it all to "gas"), and now he's added laughing to the mix. It's pretty cool.

Noah is awesome as always: very interactive, holds highly entertaining conversations (sometimes with others, sometimes with himself). He's a ball of energy, so they always love when visitors come by and help wear him out. I'll post more about him on his birthday in a few weeks, including the weird story of how I got the news of his birth.

Oh, and the title of this post is the new nickname I came up with for the ever-present baby monitor...seemed like it fit.

Blowing out multiple sets of candles: Happy No Longer a Teenager Day to Jazzy G (and get totally well soon, will ya?); Happy Only One More Year of That Left to future pilot Zach V. Hope the rigors of aeronautics don't keep the trumpet away from your face too much...except while actually flying (heh).

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Say It Ain't So!

It's been eons since there was a true "jazz club" in Dallas. All the old ones of legend (the 6051 Club, the Recovery Room, etc.) are long gone. Even Ft. Worth's Caravan of Dreams strayed from its jazz roots and eventually fell by the wayside. Recently, the most reliable venues for live jazz in the area have been high-end restaurants like Terilli's and the two Sambuca locations (Deep Ellum and Addison). Lately, a few coffeehouses like Ke Davi and certain select Starbucks have joined the fray, but they cater to smaller crowds and up-and-coming bands like 15th Street Jazz and my own college groups; you'd never see a Michael Brecker there, needless to say.

Sambuca has always been my favorite of the "big fish," for a variety of reasons: My old college buddy Shelley Carrol plays there a lot; they have this cool exotic Mediterranean cuisine, and as long as you buy food, you don't have to be over 21 to get in there (unlike the places I ranted about in my Too Young to Jam? post last summer). It's a little expensive for a music student's (or teacher's) salary on a regular basis, but I try to make it out there several times a year at least.

Of the two locations, the Deep Ellum one usually has the more straight-ahead jazz, while the Addison one leans more towards the commercial (though they've evened it out in recent years). The Deep Ellum crowd is usually a little bit more into the music, too, though both locations have their share of cellphone talkers, etc. The only trick was taking student groups down there, since most parents have an extreme Deep Ellum-phobia, whether it's warranted or not. At times we've had to tell them it was the "downtown location"...not a lie, just not the entire truth. Hey, it works.

But then came rumors that the Deep Ellum location was going Uptown...literally, to McKinney Ave. in a much less "interesting" part of town. I missed the article in last week's paper that confirmed this rumor. Then I saw the column in last week's Dallas Observer that was pretty much the ultimate in great news/awful news: Sambuca is indeed moving to McKinney Ave. (yay), but they're also changing their music format (boo). As restaurant critic Mark Stuertz writes:

Sambuca's owners plan to change the live music mix from an in-your-face jazz format to an eclectic pop-blues-new age hum. "We're like a side order of live music now," [co-owner Holly Forsythe] says.

I couldn't dig the Morning News article out of the online archives without paying for it, but I caught the part where it said that the new music will not be primarily live jazz, so there still is some hope. At any rate, I hope the format at Addison stays as it is, and I hope Shelley's jam session isn't without a home again. Watch this space for further developments, and you'd better believe I'll give the old location one last visit before the March move.

PERSONAL UPDATE: I have "made my peace" with my schedule for this portion of the week; whichever way it goes, I'm good with it.

The name fits the job? According to yesterday's paper, the nonprofit research center Child Trends has a Director of Fertility named "Dr. Jennifer Manlove." I wonder how much ribbing she gets around the office...

Monday, January 26, 2004

Wait, We Didn't Mean It That Way...

The funny thing about creating Web domain names is that sometimes, when you have to combine an entire company name into one word, it makes another word that may mean something completely different. (Actually, this probably predates the Web. I remember in high school when we sold magazines and there was this skiing magazine called "Snotrack." While it was pronounced SNOW-track, we all giggled sophomorically--yes, we were sophomores--upon seeing the name, because it looked like it should be pronounced SNOT-rack.)

At any rate, I saw the greatest one today on the side of a truck. The company--a landscape firm, I think--is called Landpro Creations, and their website, "", could also be read as "Land Procreations" (sounds like a new twist on the old Beatles song: "Why don't we do it in the...dirt?"). Heh heh. I wonder how long it'll take them to discover their unintentional comedy?

Seen anything else like that? Feel free to chime in...

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Region: A View from the Audience

Last night, as I mentioned before, was the Region Bands concert. While several of the participants have blogged about it, I thought I'd throw my two cents' worth in from the back of the auditorium. I won't do a tune-by-tune review or anything but just share some random thoughts.

I saw three bands: the 5A Concert Band, Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. The concert didn't really seem too long even though I was there for nearly two-and-a-half hours. (As I said on Fizban's comments, I wasn't a "marathon vet" this year; racquetball ran too late for me to hear the Freshman Band, and I didn't have anyone in the 4A band...but I agree that anyone who attends the entire four-hour concert deserves a medal or something.) It was cool to have students in every band I saw, because they always ask for the directors and private teachers of the people on stage to stand up at the beginning, so I got to stand up each time (during the Wind Symphony portion of that, Trevor's dad shot me a "you da man!" from a few rows up).

Well, the conductors were correct: This is an awesome region. The Concert Band conductor wasn't just blowing smoke when he said that a lot of the players in his band would have made the top band in many other regions. While that band played a few more traditional-sounding band pieces, everything came off reasonably well (with the possible exception of the Gershwin tribute, but then it's hard to teach flutes and clarinets to swing in one weekend, so they sort of get a pass in my book). I also got to hear the first of two Edwin Franko Goldman marches; I was aware of the famous Goldman Band and had played several of his arrangements, but I'm not sure I'd ever heard any of his originals before. This one, the "Cheerio March," required everyone--including the audience--to sing at one point (the only word was "la"), and then the band whistled the same melody a bit later. (And yes, a day later, that overly-catchy melody is still in my head. *shudder*)

Next was the Symphonic Band. From the opening fanfare, you could tell that this band was a notch up from the last one (Dingus said he hated the fanfare, but it made the right impression out front). They also played an unscheduled composition by Warner Hutchison, a retired colleague of the conductor's from New Mexico State. I recognized Hutchison's name from my days of running the alumni program for the Sinfonia chapter, but I had never heard any of his works before; this one was quite impressive. They also did another Goldman march; this one featured a chime solo (they let him go out front, though he was perched precariously close to the edge of the stage). Their closer was a very cool new composition called "Ride," written by Samuel Hazo, a protege of the contemporary wind composer Jack Stamp. Evidently, Hazo and Stamp were heading to dinner; Hazo was supposed to follow, but Stamp drove so fast that he lost him, and the piece described the ensuing mayhem. Fun stuff... (I suppose that if Fizban or Frobird ever became composers, they could write a sequel from the night they had to follow Halfling to Matrix Revolutions. But hey, I was with him; we survived the trip, and Halfling don't drive like that no' mo'.)

The Wind Ensemble closed out the program. I was most interested in this one because it was led by Jerry Junkin, who does double-duty teaching at UT-Austin and serving as Musical Director of the Dallas Wind Symphony. I got to record two CD's with the DWS ("Fennell Favorites" and "Pomp and Pipes"--the latter on bass sax!) and was all set to become their full-time bass saxophonist, but when Maestro Junkin arrived, the decision was made to scrap all the auxiliary woodwinds (contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon, and bass sax). I don't know if it was a financial decision or an artistic one (or both?), but it did spawn a great phrase that was used to describe it: "Junkin junked the junk instruments." It's probably good that it didn't work out, because DWS concerts are on Tuesdays, which would've conflicted with a bunch of stuff at the college over the years.

At any rate, I was looking forward to watching the guy I never got to work with, and he didn't fail to please. I always enjoy watching band conductors who take an 'orchestral' approach to conducting; i.e. not always employing a strict beat pattern but rather using only the gestures that were absolutely necessary to the music. Sure, he had the best players (his 4/5 all-stater trombone section was especially powerful), but he got a lot out of them.

They only did three selections: Bernstein's "Slava!" (which featured Trevor on a soprano solo since the first-chair guy didn't have one), a Grainger setting of "I'm Seventeen Come Sunday" (Fizban remarks at the oddness of this title considering Grainger's purported pedophilia, but it's actually an old folk song most commonly heard for band in Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Folk Song Suite." Grainger, of course, messed with the melody and time considerably) and selections from Tielman Susato's "The Danserye." The latter was eight movements (of an even longer work), but it came off quite well. Since it was written before Bach wrote "the rules" for harmony that we still use as the basis for our theory today, the chords occasionally took some cool harmonic left-turns that wouldn't be used again until jazz, for the most part.

I thought about something while I was enjoying the Susato work: My music history professor made me despise Renaissance music; Junkin and his young cohorts made me really enjoy it. And why hadn't I heard of Susato before bands started playing him? It just reminded me how wrong the vocalist-heavy approach to musicology can be and how cheated we instrumentalists are by that process.

But all in all, an enjoyable concert from out front. The traditional Whataburger hang followed....and that was that.

ME: Man, I'm way overdue for an oil change; I have to go to Jiffy Lube tomorrow.
GOLD DINGUS: Hey, I'll change your oil if you give me improv lessons.
ME: Hmm...somehow I can't see that being too consistent. It'd be like, "OK, learn these changes and I'll see you again in 3000 miles."
GOLD DINGUS: *ponders that for a second* ...D'oh.

DIALOGUE OF THE DAY: (during the Wind Ensemble rehearsal, as related to me by Fizban)
JUNKIN: Trombones, your part has four f's here. What does that mean?
FIZBAN: Destroy the world!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Kev vs. the Halfling in a Court Battle

No, I'm not suing Halfling. Rather, today was the day that I introduced him to racquetball, and it was great. We only got to play for about thirty minutes, but he's hooked and we're gonna try to play every week like Ben and I do (I think Ben would play every day if our schedules allowed it).

We only got in one full game (and another one that we almost finished), and yeah, I won big, but he's catching on, and that'll just make the games all the more fun. Sure, I'm really competitive, but I want my friends to do well too, and I want the games to be in they last for an hour apiece and end up 21-19 or something like that.

I think that racquetball is the ideal sport for musicians. Why? Because it works out a whole lot of different parts of you, and you don't have to do it every day to reap the benefits. It's also cool because the four walls make the ball take all kinds of weird and unpredictable bounces that keep things interesting, and it's just so dang fun. I didn't play for a long time, but now that I've gotten back into it, I realized how much I missed it. Over Christmas, I could just about feel my muscles atrophying, and when I played Ben earlier in the week, I had a little trouble regaining my stride. Then all of a sudden everything just kicked in again and it was great. I realized that, with the long hours of my job and all the sitting involved, I need some sort of activity like this. Sitting in Starbucks that night after we were done, I was somewhat exhausted, but in a way, I had never felt more alive. I'll be doing this much more often... (Fizban, I'm sorry we missed this while you were at our college, but I know where the TCU courts are and will happily drive out there to get you into this too...if we don't start sooner than that.)

Band Geek Mafia: I'm off to the Region Band concert tonight; I'll post any interesting musical thoughts about it tomorrow.

Blow out the candles: Happy Birthday Miles! No, not Miles Davis but my gig buddy from combo...though this Miles did play trumpet for a while too.

Friday, January 23, 2004

As Heard Over Dinner...

Had a great visit with the parents today, and it seemed to spawn more quotes than usual. Here are the ones I remember:

ME (showing Mom and Dad the site of the eventual Firewheel Town Center): This is supposed to open in the fall of '05, so we'll have a lot more places to eat out here when you visit.
MOM: I wonder if we'll still have any teeth by then...
ME: Well, if not, I'm sure they'll have a Souper Salad or something.
MOM: Oh, good, soup...something we can gum.

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

SERVER AT OUTBACK: If you need anything, my name is Lauren.
ME (to Mom and Dad, after Lauren leaves): I wonder what her name would be if we didn't need anything.

I've always made fun of that particular phrase when servers use it. One time I actually asked a server what her name would be if we didn't need anything, and she came up with one! It was a weird name, like Gretel or Gidget or something, but I gave her props for thinking on her feet like that.

TODAY ON THE TEAM BLOG: Kev's Guide to Gig Etiquette

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Supersax Jr.

Tonight was the first rehearsal of Combo PM for the semester. Though the "old guard" rhythm section remained intact from the fall, there are a few new faces in the horns, including Halfling, Collin from Jazz Camp and a new All-State Jazz trumpeter. Fizban had to 'retire' for the semester, but Dingus remains.

I had a thought at the end of the semester, when a bunch of saxes like Halfling and Demon Matt expressed an interest in joining the combo: How about playing a bunch of Supersax charts?? I own several of the published arrangements and had never really had a chance to use them, so this seemed like the perfect time. Even though Demon Matt couldn't make it through the concurrent registration process, we'll still be able to fashion a full saxophone section with the people we have (I'll probably be among them, which is just fine with me; you don't have to twist my arm too much to get me to be a "player-coach" in this situation).

After passing out the huge charts full of sixteenth- and thirty-second notes (or, as they call them in England, "semiquavers" and "demisemiquavers"), I put on the CD recordings of the originals. The saxes knew they were in for some major work, and Dingus occasionally cringed at what Frank Rosolino played on "A Night in Tunisia."

So we sight-read three charts at what we used to call "therapy tempo" back in college, and you know'll take some work, but I think we can do this! Call me crazy, but it's totally doable. Of course, we'll keep some other tunes up so we can do Ke Davi gigs in the meantime, but I'm really looking forward to getting this thing going. Supersax Jr. (thanks to Halfling for the name) is officially launched.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Advertising 101

It was the first day of classes at the college today, and all was well. There was a slight chill in the air, a cacophony of voices filled the hallways, and the fields were filled with cars of all shapes and sizes (the fields? yes, the fields; people had to park on the grass when the overflow parking lots...overflowed). Combo went well, big band went well, and I whomped Ben in racquetball, despite being down 13-6 at one point in the first game.

But the best story of the day came from the public schools. I was teaching a middle-schooler who was getting a rather stuffy sound, and I glanced over at his ligature, which was up way too far. As I adjusted it for him, I noticed that it was an oddball-looking thing that I had never seen before, so I asked him what kind it was. He said he had no idea, that he'd gotten it in Chicago (their band had played at the Midwest Clinic right before Christmas). It wasn't a brand either of us had heard of, but he said that the guy selling them promised them it was "the best ligature you can get...for only $10."

It's a good thing I wasn't with them up there, because I saw right through that little scam. Was the best ligature really being sold for $10? It all depends on where (or if) you place the comma in a sentence like that! I posed this question to the student: was the guy saying...

It's the best ligature you can get, for only $10. (The best ligature you can get costs only $10.)
OR, was he saying...
It's the best ligature you can get for only $10 (Of all the $10 ligatures, this is the best.)

The student saw what I meant; that may well have been his first lesson in tricky advertising--not saying anything untruthful, just manipulating the language so much as to totally confuse the buyer. The kid felt like he'd been had; his next statement was "I wanna go back to Chicago and punch him." Might as well learn while you're young, I guess...

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I should have practiced my standing broad jump." --Me, as I found myself trapped in the corner of the faculty office that I share with, oh, 100 other professors or so. Blocking my way were a person sitting at a computer and a somewhat husky lady checking her mailbox. I then realized, to my utter embarrassment, that the husky lady thought I meant "jumping over a broad," as in her. I backpedaled, cupping my hand over my mouth (to stifle a raucous laugh) as I explained that I didn't mean that at all. The whole office was almost doubled over; her response was "you're just looking to get pummeled, aren't you?" She was kidding...I think.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Smells Like Team Spirit?

Last night, while playing air hockey, Demon Matt, Dingus and I conceived of the idea of a team blog: something less personal than our individual sites, more like a chance for us to be us all on one page. And thus, Team Demon/Dingus was born. Who knows where it will go, topic-wise, but if you're a regular reader of our sites, check the new one out too.

Loud Jazz Cafe (Weekend of Concerts, Part II)

Today was the gig at the Hard Rock Cafe with the RHS Jazz Band. It was definitely an experience. It's always interesting to play jazz in rock clubs because there's usually something out-of-place in there. Today it was the big SUPREME COURT OF ROCK 'N' ROLL sign on the ceiling; once before, I played at a club in Denton where there was a sign by the stage which read, "CAUTION: MOSH AT YOUR OWN RISK." The stage was way too small for a big band, which made for a tight squeeze, and the acoustics were really, really loud.

The one thing that surprised me was that the place was totally packed. I should have known that all the families and friends would make it out on a Sunday afternoon, and sure enough, there were practically people hanging from the rafters. I think that energized the band, because they sounded great. Micah was out there and his feature was excellent as always (he quoted "New York, New York" during his solo break, though I'm not sure too many people besides Fizban and myself recognized it and thus got the joke).

My feature went fine; the conditions were kinda weird, as I was crammed into a space just barely big enough to stand in. My music stand was almost below me at this funny angle, and if I'd backed up half a foot, I would've run into the assistant director who was conducting (from the side of the band) right behind me. It was also a bit hard to hear the rhythm section, which was on the opposite side of the stage. But everyone seemed to like it, and it was probably a bit more imaginative than the one on the video, so we'll call it a good day.

Afterwards, Fizban, Demon Matt and I made a stop by CD Source, the recorded music mecca for jazzers on a budget. It's a huge used CD store with the best jazz selection in the Metroplex, which also makes it a very dangerous place to the wallet. I try to only go there every few months or so, but I always come out with some great stuff. Today's haul:

Kurt Elling-Live in Chicago
Paquito D'Rivera and the United Nation Orchestra-Live at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
Charlie Parker and "The Orchestra"-Washington Concerts (this is the one where he plays an entire concert on a plastic alto!)

Bowled over: I finally got to go to the Rowlett Bowl-a-Rama tonight, with Demon Matt and Dingus. It's really a nice place, even if the wait was a bit long (about half an hour longer than promised; they should take a cue from the restaurant business and be pessimistic rather than optimistic with their predictions). But it's new and clean and smoke-free (yay) and only ten minutes from home. According to Halfling, the lines are really long sometimes, but we got in on this holiday eve and were only fifth on the list, despite the eventual wait. In the meantime, Demon Matt and I demolished Dingus at air hockey, and I took two of three from Matt as well.

So should I be embarrassed that Dingus beat me in one game of bowling? I was a little off during the second game, and he had a strong finish to win by four pins. Ehh, all in fun. And a pseudo-holiday awaits tomorrow (not slamming the holiday; just saying I don't actually get much time off). Kev out.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Weekend of Concerts, Part I

It seems as though almost every Saturday since the beginning of December has featured some sort of musical performance or another. At least this time, I got to be in the audience...twice.

Today had two things going on: Region Jazz and middle school All-City. Thankfully, they're not at the same time, because there was some crossover between the two audiences, like siblings of the middle-schoolers who were also classmates of the jazzers. The All-City concert was at four in the afternoon, because their rehearsal times are shorter than they would be in high school. The Region Jazz concert was at 7:30, so there was a little buffer in between.

The All-City concert was good; they really did get a lot out of seventh- and eighth-graders for two partial days of work. Some people thought the clinicians talked a bit too much, but I'm sure it was a combination of resting the players' chops and actually wanting to compliment the students. One can never be sure if the band on stage is really "the best all-city group" the clinician has worked with, but the two today did seem sincere and genuinely impressed with what happens in our district. I had lots of "dogs in this hunt" (you like the Texanism?) because half of the saxes were from my studio, and since this was my first January in four years not to have a weekend job, I actually got to come and support them. Oh yeah, and the top band did a really cool thing where they sent four different groups around the auditorium and did different African tribal beats, each pretending to be a different "village."

This year's Region Jazz band was one of the better groups in a while, and I would say that even if four out of the five saxes weren't from my studio...but they were, so I say it even louder *grin*. The clinician was Tim Ishii, an old college buddy/sectionmate from Jazz Camp/one-fourth of Thrascher. He picked a good program of music that gave each section a chance to be featured, and he even took a few solo turns himself (always a great thing). Unlike a few years ago when the entire concert program was medium swing, he gave them a little bit of everything: Basie, Mintzer, a Latin tune, a ballad, and so on. The ballad was Phil Woods' "Randi," which featured the sax section. They did a nice job--a few glitches here and there, but not bad at all for two days' rehearsal. Freed of the shackles of some of their lesser (i.e. non-Kevoid...not bragging, just the truth) section-mates from their schools, the guys (and girl--Betsy sounded great, nice and aggressive) got to play in a true section for once. Demon Matt had a nice solo on that one, sailing over the top of the section at times and getting his own space as well. He also got to really assert himself as a lead player, even if he got worked to death in the process. Fizban had a few choruses of blues on one tune, maybe the first bass trombone solo in the history of this band (yet a much higher register than he usually plays; I guess he was "getting in touch with his inner lead player" tonight), and Halfling got to shine on the Latin tune. We jammed on it a bit yesterday, and he was able to transcend my bad piano playing and come up with some stuff he could use tonight. All in all, it was awesome having so many people from the Kevosphere up there (yes, this year I even ordered the CD!). Everyone's chops were dead in the water afterwards (the eight tunes probably set some sort of record), but it was worthwhile. The triumph of everyone making the band in September finally came to fruition tonight.

Oh yeah, and there were two burrito runs today! Can't ask for much more than that...tomorrow's the Hard Rock Cafe gig, which will make up part two of this post.

WINDOW STICKER OF THE DAY: (as seen on a truck in North Dallas)
Wonder if the cop would believe that? And would Halfling have tried that excuse in his pre-ticket days?

This Is Somewhat Amusing...

Dingus sent me this, and it provided at least 3.7 seconds of amusement. I guess I can take on an Iraqi leader name or a while, since it's nine more months until Talk Like a Pirate Day (and maybe next year they'll come up with a different pirate name generator so I'll get a better name than "Frankenberry").

My Iraqi Leadership Name is Khalifa Amin al-Najim Abd al-Karim Zuhayr.
What's yours?
Powered by Rum and Monkey.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Bye-Bye Monkey

Today was a great day, because a figurative 800-pound gorilla has now been removed from my back. Those who know what I'm talking about are already rejoicing with me; those who don't may find out soon enough. The question, for those who know, is this: Should this subject become a blog rant? Should I open up that little window of my soul if it might help others? It was always something I kept pretty close to the vest while it was happening, but now that it's over, it seems like a good cautionary tale that no longer needs to be hidden. What do you guys think?

Not Exactly Owned...

Jazzy G had this quiz on her blog today that sounded interesting: "Does Your Weblog Own You?" Turns out that mine owns me less than I thought it would:

25 %

My weblog owns 25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

Thinking in those terms (and considering the size of the check I had to send the IRS for my quarterly today), that means that the federal government owns more of me than my blog does. Any chance for a swap there?

Hey hey, burrito lady: Jazzy G also posted a few days ago that her mom brought her "Chipotle x2" at home. Whoa...does that mean that we now have a female 2BC'er? Not quite; the constitution of the League of Lunatics specifically states that to be official, a 2BC attempt must be witnessed by at least one League member. (And no, we don't really have a consitution, but if we did, you know it would be written on Chipotle napkins.) So even though this one doesn't count, we can call it a very fine training run...sort of like those wind-aided world records in track and field that don't count but are still cool. And the League remains a "good ol' boys' club" for the time being, just like Augusta National. (I wonder which one of us gets to be called "Hootie"...)

A radical change of seasons: The other day in Eckerd's, I noticed that they had dismantled the aisle where they'd had the Christmas stuff, and they were replacing it with....sun care items? Wait a minute; we still have a few other seasons in Texas besides Christmas and summer, don't we?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


My buddy Zack has been really amused by the whole "Sonic sign saga" (see last Friday's post for the latest entry, and links to the previous ones), and he even made a haiku out of some of the mishaps:


(Sure, the middle sentence is bad grammatically, but so is the sign. I think that was his point...)

He also said that, if he were the hooligan type, he'd climb up on the sign and put that haiku on one side, and his own on the other:


I guess Zack's been to a DDR tournament or two in Arkansas if he's thinking like that.

Got any other Sonic haiku? Put 'em in the comments. (Keep it clean, or I'll edit you into oblivion, heh.)


It was a long afternoon of auditions at the college today, but it went fairly quickly. (And no, I'm not posting results on here...even faithful blog readers will have to wait till Thursday just like everyone else, heh.) The one twist was that Kris and I did our usual deliberations at Chipotle instead of in his office suite. It was actually his first time to go...ever. Granted, he does the no-carb thing, so most of the really good stuff (rice, beans, tortillas, corn salsa) is off-limits, but at least he was able to partially experience the object of our fascination on all those summer post-big band Tuesdays and fall post-combo Thursdays.

This just means that we're a week away from the start of college classes and the end of what's left of my break. I'll make sure and enjoy tomorrow night and Thursday afternoon while those times still belong to me.

I'm a sentimental d00d: I've been tapped to reprise my guest shot on "In a Sentimental Mood" with the RHS Jazz Band this Sunday at 3:00 at the Hard Rock Cafe. I hope Micah can come out and do his guest thing too. Not sure if it costs or not; I'll update here when I find out. (A QuickTime movie of my previous performance of this tune made it onto the Web!)
UPDATE: Evidently it is free, and Micah will indeed be there.

Sunday, January 11, 2004


I did have one weird thing happen over the weekend. I came back from Saturday afternoon's combo rehearsal to find my front door partway open! I guess what happened was that, when Halfling and I left for lunch, I managed the double-boneheaded move of: 1) forgetting to pull the door tightly and 2) forgetting to lock the deadbolt. There was a gusty south wind during part of the afternoon, so I guess the door blew open after I left.

Needless to say, I walked in there with more than a little trepidation. Thankfully, none of my stuff was gone, and nobody jumped out of the shadows to attack me (though if they did, I could have defended myself with James's old sword if I'd made it to the spare room). I guess my front door is so far back that nobody saw it open from the street.

The really weird part is that Tasha was there when I got back, just sitting by the front door awaiting my return. Normally, she bolts out the front door if it's open for more than a second, but now I know that she will evidently come back also. She was definitely out for a little bit, because she managed to eat a little bit of the ornamental grass out front (and subsequently puked it back up on my bedroom carpet--eww). But I never would have guessed that she had any sort of homing instinct. I guess she knew where the food was coming from...

At any rate, I feel like I dodged a bullet this time, and you can bet that I'll be almost OCD-like in my checking of the door every time I leave for quite a while.

Jazz and Coffee, All Weekend Long

I've said before that the coffeehouse culture is the best thing that's happened to live jazz in this area, since it allows the up-and-coming bands like 15th Street Jazz and my own school combos to have a place to play until they can crack the rotation of the nicer restaurants (which is pretty much the same five or six bands all over town, but that's a rant for another time).

This weekend was pretty much all about jazz and coffee. Friday night, I went to see 15th Street at a brand-new place called Java Express in Plano. It's not as big as Ke Davi, and definitely has some parking issues (I for one had to park in a field!), but it's a nice little place, and they liked 15th Street so much that they will probably get more gigs there. However, this one was the last one featuring all four original members until at least the summer, as Steve the bassist went back to New York yesterday morning, and Chris went back to Baylor today (can you say "more gigs for Kev?" Yeah, probably...).

That gig was notable also in that I did something really stupid when I left the house: I walked out without my neckstrap. Since I always sit in near the end of 15th Street's last set; since there's not always a lot of space up there; and since Chris has both an alto and a tenor, we have a system: I bring my tenor mouthpiece and neckstrap and play his tenor while he plays alto. This worked great until Friday, when I realized my mistake about halfway through their set. I still played, but we actually traded off using his neckstrap (by putting guitar solos between us on each tune). It was kinda painful to lean up against the window balancing the tenor when it wasn't my turn with the strap, but I got over it.

Last night was my monthly gig at Ke Davi. Since school's not in session, we just added drums to the Kev/Miles/Andrew triumvirate from New Year's and did it that way. It wasn't quite as crowded as it had been during school, but everyone in the band at least had people show up, and Halfling and Chris came up to sit in on The Chicken at the end. Who knows what kind of group will be presented in February, but in the meantime, the "Kev and Friends" concept will probably do some more stuff, because it sounded pretty decent and we had a good time. I definitely want to pack the place next time, though.

Today was gigless, thankfully, but I got together with Miles a bit to work on the big-band tryout stuff, and then we went to Starbucks, so I guess that makes it three-for-three in the jazz-and-coffee world.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Updates, Get Yer Updates Here!

One of those random kind of days...

Havin' some fun: Fun Facts is done. For now. Whenever anything happens in life that's more fun than what's already in there, I'll edit out a lesser fact and replace it with the more-fun one.

Shameless plug department: I have a gig at Ke Davi tomorrow night from 8:30-11:30. It's with a "subset" of Combo Too--the guys I gigged with on New Year's, plus drums (and whoever else shows up to sit in). We're billing it as "Kevin McNerney and Friends," so I guess, technically, anyone whom I consider a friend could show up and play, though that's not likely. I hope a lot of them do show up to listen, though.

Sonic sign update: Every Friday, I drive by the Sonic Drive-In that has had spelling/grammar/punctuation issues with its message board on at least three separate occasions. They change their sign about once a month, so I was looking forward to more blog-fodder for January.

However, they actually got it right this time...for the most part. The one side is advertising a BROWN BAG SPECIAL, and it would take a complete idiot to mess that one up. The other side does invite us to WAKE UP TO A BURITTO, but that's a fairly common mistake (one of my friends accidentally typed it that way on AIM the other day)--not at all on the level of a HUNGRY CONEY or SUPERSONIC ANDRINGS.

I suppose that means that the Sign Dude gets a passing grade for this month. One out of four ain't bad good, but at least it's entertaining.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

...And We're Back

Despite the extra two days, Christmas break was way too short (yes, I can call it Christmas break because this is not a "Kev, Live from School" post). Fizban, Halfling and Dingus all lamented the same thing on their own sites today, but at least they had a fluff period during the day to do so, while I had to wait until I'd already been teaching nine hours for my update.

As expected, six a.m. hit me like a ton o' bricks, especially since it was in the 20's again outside. I'm like Halfling in that respect: early and cold don't mix. I probably hit a good eight snooze alarms (that's four each on two clocks, set about four minutes apart and at opposite corners of the room) just because I'd retreat to the warmth of the covers after each one.

But otherwise, I basically ran like a well-oiled machine once I got going. The only downside was that, despite my having emailed out all my bills on Monday, only two people paid me all day (out of 15). Not a great thing when you haven't really made any money for the past three weeks.

I do have to figure out a way to at least give myself a real lunch hour (or at least half-hour) every teaching day. This 10:00 lunch thing on A-day Wednesdays is for the birds...but at the moment, I have no alternative beyond eating in the car (bad) or eating in someone's lesson (worse). I have to really work on the structure of that before next fall. It's a weird situation to love what you do yet hate parts of your schedule, although I guess it's better than the other way around.

At any rate, I guess I'm back in the swing of things whether I'm ready or not, so my only choice is to grin and bear it, and maybe let loose with a new expletive that Fizban and Dingus seem to have coined (it sounds like the name of either a video game character or a really bad anime): SHAZBOT!!!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Kev Fixes the BCS

So I got done watching all the BCS games in college football this weekend, and this year, as has happened before, the whole thing turned out to be a giant bust. If the whole idea of the BCS was to crown an undisputed national champion, this year they failed miserably, as (just in case you've been in a cave for the past few days) the championship was divided between 12-1 USC and 13-1 LSU. There was a lot of griping when Oklahoma got in the top spot over USC, but others pointed out that Oklahoma's one pre-bowl loss came during a conference championship game, which USC's Pac-Ten conference doesn't have. Lots of people were unhappy with the outcome of the whole mess.

It's obvious that this may not be the best way to do things....but what would be better? Several ideas have been proposed:

Do a full-blown playoff, like basketball. This will never happen. Why? First, the college presidents oppose it. Even though it would probably be a huge cash cow, like the NCAA basketball tournament, it would get in the way of academics, make the season go way too long into the spring semester, and provide greater chance for injury to the players. Plus, if the college presidents don't like it, it won't happen; after too many bad things happened when coaches and athletic directors ran the system, the power resides in the hands of the presidents...where it belongs.

Also, the bowls oppose a playoff system for the obvious reasons that it would destroy the tradition and pageantry (and income) that the bowls have had, some for over a century now. I know that as a UNT fan, I really enjoyed my trip to the New Orleans Bowl; what's the chance of that happening if there were a playoff system. Plus, a school like UNT from a weaker conference would draw a top seed in a playoff format, and they would've gotten totally blown out, in all likelihood.

Also, in a bowl format, a lot more teams can go out winners. In a championship tournament, there's only one winner at the end.

Do a playoff format including the bowls. This would appease the bowl crowd and keep the playoffs confined within a tighter framework of time, but it would likely destroy the historic ties between bowls and conferences; it would mean a lot of extra travel for teams and their fans if they advanced.

Keep the BCS format, but designate one bowl as the championship game the week after the other bowls are played. This would have worked great this year; USC and LSU could play each other next Saturday and decide the title once and for all. But what about last year, when #1 and #2 actually did play in the designated title game? You couldn't just have one bowl that suddenly got cancelled if it wasn't needed...

So this is how I think it should be done (not my idea, but the one I agree with):

Have a playoff game outside of the bowl system that's only used as needed. That way, no bowl would be faced with being unused, but there would be a mechanism in place to have a playoff if the coaches' and writers' polls didn't agree on who was #1 and #2. You could call it the "As-Needed Bowl" if you wanted...or maybe Nike would sponsor it, since I noticed that they had an ad in this week's Sports Illustrated proposing exactly what I just suggested. Maybe they'd call it the "Just Do It Bowl."

At any rate, I bet something happens before next year.

Monday, January 05, 2004

More Than a Nursery Rhyme?

Last night, my buddy Stout came over and was chillin' for a while; he has that job with Brown and works really weird hours. We got on the subject of Christian rap music, so I played him my two favorites: DJ Maj, who compiles a whole bunch of artists' work together in a mixtape format; and KJ-52, who's been called the "Christian Eminem" (their style and phrasing is rather similar, but 52 has gotten so tired of the comparisons that he's now recorded a two-part appeal to the real Slim Shady to consider the effect he's having on young people).

Anyway, one of 52's songs featured a bunch of nursery rhymes, with the chorus coming straight outta "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Surely you all know the words:

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day, which was against the rules.

It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb in school.

And then it hit me, for the first time, listening to that rhyme in a Christian context: Mary=the Mother of Christ; the Lamb=Christ Himself, a.k.a. the Lamb of God.

It was especially interesting to consider, in those terms, the part about it being against the rules for the lamb to be at school. On the surface, it was a simple "no pets in school (except guide dogs)" rule, but dig below that, and it could be a thinly-veiled protest against the movement that limited school prayer. Was that possible?

So I had to know: When was this rhyme written? The school-prayer controversy reached its peak in the early 1960's; surely it was much older than that...

I did a little research on Google and found a site which traces the rhyme back to Sterling, Massachusetts in the 1830's. According to the locals, there was a real Mary and a real lamb, and the lamb really did follow her to school one day. (One of the locals who posted to the site also noted that "after the lamb died, she [Mary] knitted the wool into mittens and stockings." I think you see why that part didn't make the rhyme...)

Others have disputed this account, saying that it went all the way back to England "even before there was a Massachusetts." As legend has it, telling of Bible stories was forbidden at one time, so mothers made up nursery rhymes with the Bible stories hidden in them. At least one person posting to the site was thinking the same way I was last night:

Mary (the mother of Jesus) had a little Lamb (Jesus is the Lamb of God) whose fleece was white as snow (Jesus knew no sin, therefore being white as snow — according to the Bible) and everywhere that Mary went the Lamb was sure to go (Jesus is with us no matter where we go).

Yet even that person acknowledged that there could have been a real Mary and a real lamb that followed her to school one day.

So the jury's evidently still out on this one. What do you think--an innocent children's rhyme about an apparently true story, or a cleverly-hidden Bible story? (There is even a dispute over who truly authored the rhyme.) If nothing else, it's a really cool coincidence. Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.

(Just think, this discussion got started over a rap song! Heh heh.)

Saturday, January 03, 2004

A Laugh a Day Keeps the Men in White Coats Away

Today I completed a post-New Year's ritual in record time. I managed to find a Dave Barry 2004 Day-to-Day Calendar at the second store I visited. This usually ends up being an afternoon-long ordeal, since I always wait until a day or two after New Year's to get one. The upside of waiting is that it's half-price; the downside is that not everyone still has one in stock by then. I've had good luck at the Borders in Spanish Village in recent years, and sure enough, they had multiple copies today.

Dave Barry has been one of my favorite humor writers for a long time; I read his column every Sunday in the paper, own several of his books, and have in the past year become a regular reader of (and occasional contributor to) his blog. And for a long time, I've had one of his page-a-day calendars.

You can't say a lot in one little calendar page, but a small dose of Dave usually hits the spot. It may not always be laugh-out-loud funny (or nearly-in-tears funny like that "mondegreen" stuff from last night), but it's exactly what I need; it's the first thing I do after I turn on the light in the morning. Any day that starts with a laugh and ends with a prayer will probably be at least halfway decent.

Other than that, it was another lazy day. I did go with Fizban and Dingus to The Tomato in Denton (a pizza pilgrimage?). You may laugh about us going all the way to Denton for pizza, but a) it's that good, and b) we didn't want to wait until the next One O'Clock concert. I also stopped by Pender's to pick up an Aebersold so it wasn't strictly a one-dimensional trip.

Oh, and happy birthday to my cousin Matt in Indiana (not to be confused with Demon Matt or Halfling; they're later in the year).

Friday, January 02, 2004

Cleaning House

Even though this is one of the laziest times of the year, I feel like I've accomplished something today, if only by default: My house is considerably cleaner, and I've hardly lifted a finger to get it that way.

Yesterday, I finally sold the old P.A. system that I'd had for about nine years. I haven't used it in forever, since the type of place I play these days tends to be a coffeehouse rather than somewhere that needs a big honkin' P.A. (you should've seen the size of the speaker cabinets). One of the guitar teachers from the store was going to buy it about a year ago, but he changed his mind; I finally sold it to a Sinfonia brother who has a band now. Mo' money during Christmas break and getting that big mound o' stuff out of my house...gotta love it.

And then today, my old roomie James came by to take the last of his stuff out of the spare room. Someone asked me, "didn't he leave a year ago?" Well, yeah, he did...but I've just been really nice about letting him use it as a storage facility. Now, with just a few remaining pieces of flotsam (or would that be jetsam?), the room is set to be a true guest room again, or I could rent it out to someone else. While I do have some real cleaning to do during this break, it was nice to see such a huge dent made in it before I even got started.

Other than that, it's been lazy, lazy, lazy since I woke up for New Year's. I did work with Halfling on setting up the program for his UNT jazz audition (he got his stitches out this morning and is not so much of a chipmunk anymore). He's not playing yet; we just kinda mapped out what he was going to do and started gathering the lead sheets and Aebersolds for it. I wish I'd had some sort of direction when I auditioned back in the day.

CLEANING OUT THE INBOX: I also caught up on emails today. One of the sites I subscribe to is, the urban legends clearinghouse. They contributed a hilarious collection of people's misunderstandings of the lyrics of Christmas carols. Check it out. (I'll admit that, as a kid, I thought that one part of "Jingle Bells" said "a one horse, soap and sleigh." But my favorite of this collection would have to be "we want some friggin' pudding." Priceless.)

When you're done with that, the same site has the explanation of the physics behind Santa's journey with his reindeer. Be sure and read the rebuttal, which is just as funny.

WORD OF THE DAY: From the above link, we discover that the set of words resulting from mis-heard song lyrics is called a "mondegreen" (the story explains how it got that name). I say that "Mondegreens" sounds like either a posh restaurant or a really upscale drugstore...

Thursday, January 01, 2004

The Ball Drops...

Happy New Year, everyone. I have to say that 2003 was pretty awesome for me, so I'm looking forward to what '04 will bring (wow, feels/looks weird to type '04). Whether the road that this year will find me on is a new shiny freeway like the George Bush Turnpike or a muddy, pockmarked country road, I have comfort in the fact that God is really driving the bus and he's surrounded me with a great set of fellow passengers. I can also only hope that, this time next year, the world itself will be able to feel some of the peace I feel in my heart at this moment.

Tonight was good; the last few New Years were kinda boring, so this one made up for it. I played what ended up being an hourlong gig for a private party in Plano; we were the "opening act" for a rave, in a way. When we stopped, the lights went down and the techno started blasting from these mondo speakers they had set up in there. But don't worry, no drugs, no lightsticks, no least while we were there. Props to Miles and Andrew for rounding out the band in fine fashion (literally...yeah, we dressed up, heh heh). It was also nice to finish up well before midnight to avoid the drunken crazies on the road; I nearly had the freeway to myself at 11:00.

After that, I was joined by Fizban and Dingus to officially christen the new DVD player (Frobird joined us after a while). We watched the Blues Brothers and Spinal Tap; still way more to watch, and I haven't even picked out stuff with the card that Halfling gave me.

And yes, the time stamp of this post is correct; it's really, really late (early, almost). Yet I'll be up by 10 or so to watch the Rose Parade--just because (the main "just because" has to do with the fact that I attended it when I was four and have pretty much watched it every year since). So I guess it's my naptime now...hope your New Year's was fun and safe as well.