Friday, September 30, 2005

The Boys of Summer

The schedule says there are two days left in the regular season, but it really ended for me tonight with what will be my last trip to a Rangers game of the year. I had a bunch of ticket vouchers left over this year, so I invited all the big and little brothers in my home fraternity chapter for a night out, and a good time was had by all. It was a mixture of fans and novices; some among us were diehards, while others were attending their very first baseball game ever. Those who were visiting Ameriquest Field for the first time were impressed by the architecture of the place, and everyone loved the weather.

I hadn't been to a game in a little over a month, when J-Guar and I went on a 100-degree afternoon (as the thermometer below the Frappuccino sign in center field reminded us regularly). Tonight was a beautiful night, even if the baseball wasn't; the Rangers were shut out by the Angels until the final inning and ended up falling, 7-1. Two more games remain in the season, but my tickets are used up, so my next trip here will be in April.

The season started out with lots of promise, but things seemed to fall apart after the Kenny Rogers incident and the release of starter Ryan Drese; a club that's notorious for being thin on pitching can't usually afford to take a hit like that, and the '05 Rangers were no exception. But there were some high spots, like the team's flirting with the all-time home run record for a season, and Michael Young's likely batting title. I hope that the off-season doesn't mess with the primo infield of Young, Teixeira and Blalock, but if the oft-maligned general manager doesn't come back, it won't break my Hart (heh). Let's just hope that the couple of fine young pitching prospects in the minor league system pan out when they reach the "bigs," because we sure need 'em.

I've always loved baseball; I've done previous posts about how baseball reflects the best qualities of America and how baseball is like jazz. Sure, there's always the playoffs and the World Series (maybe the Astros, the team of my boyhood, will come through in the wild-card), but the real season ended for me tonight; that, along with the cool weather, heralds the true arrival of autumn.

Countdown to Firewheel: One week! And one of the final preparatory events will effect nearly everyone out here this weekend, as the eastbound George Bush is sent on a several-mile detour so that the pavement can shift to the new service roads before the grand opening of the town center. Eric should have fun talking about that one on the radio all weekend...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Breaking Barriers

I got the newest Wayne Shorter Quartet CD, Beyond the Sound Barrier, in the mail yesterday. After seeing that great concert a few weeks ago, I ordered it almost immediately upon my return. I'll review it in this space once I get to give it a good listen or two.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

...just wait a few more hours. Relief is on the way.

More later.

LATER (the next day): Today was beautiful. The drives in the morning (which included a trip to Arlington to snag some Rangers tickets for tomorrow night) and evening didn't even require air conditioning. I think it topped out at maybe 78 degrees, which was much better than yesterday's high of 104. Marching band members across the Metroplex are breathing a sigh of relief (though, at my first school, where they had a fire drill about 2.5 seconds after I arrived, some kids were griping about having to be out in the "cold"--there's just no pleasing some people, I guess). I know that it's not going down to the forties anytime soon (which is good by me), but it's nice to think that the most brutal part of a long summer is finally over.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More Proof That We Live in a Bizarro World

Japanese automakers have discovered that new-car smell might be toxic, and they're working to tone it down in future models.

OK, it's time to take the keys away from the baby: An 18-month-old in Warsaw, Poland started the car and accidentally ran over most of his entire family.

Monday, September 26, 2005

What Is This Thing Called...Sleep?

I'm about to find out for the next couple of days. You see, this semester has already been pretty much kicking my butt. But finally, there's a light at the end of the tunnel (and I'm pretty sure it's not attached to an oncoming train). Two late-starting mornings for the next couple of days and a four-day weekend from school at the end of this week should get me appropriately recharged. This should also mean that the big opinion posts I've had in my head for a few weeks (on the Wright Amendment and big bureaucracy in education, among others) should finally come out, so hang in there through one more day of fluff (today) and I'll start getting caught up.

We'll miss him by that much...and more: Actor Don Adams, who played Agent Maxwell Smart in the hilarious series Get Smart, passed away over the weekend.

Motivated by demotivation: The first four designs of the Demotivators 2006 Collection have just been announced. (Full disclosure: yeah, my brother-in-law runs the company...but man, this is some funny stuff. And if it happens to help put food on the table of my sweet sister and two darling nephews, all the better.)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I Have a Vision...

...problem. That's how the sentence should go--I have a vision problem. That's nothing new; it's been that way since third grade. Nearsightedness, astigmatism, yada yada. But it's been quite a few years since my last visit to the eye doctor, and I can tell that my prescription needs a slight change (the most recent time I got new glasses, it was pretty much a spur-of-the-moment thing, because the old ones simply fell apart and I couldn't actually afford both the appointment and the glasses at the same time).

I've had it in my head for quite some time that I'd look way better without glasses (if you see me in person, I'll happily doff them for you on request if you'd like to form your own opinion). Tonight, after seeing one more friend who'd gotten rid of his glasses, I decided that it's time for me to do something about it. (I can't explain it, but there's something exuded by the average formerly-bespectacled person that's rather striking--a new air of confidence, somehow. I want that air.)

So my straw-poll question of the day is: By which method do I ditch the glasses--contacts or Lasik? I just keep thinking that messing with contacts would be a big pain...but I can't afford Lasik right away, and you always hear of the times when it doesn't work (WHEN LASIK GOES BAD!, tonight on Fox). So I want to hear from contact-wearers (is it as bad as I'm imagining?) and Lasik-recipients (any problems?) and friends/relatives thereof. I don't know exactly when this will go down, but I really think it's time.

A happy hurricane horn story: From the Houston Chronicle comes the tale of a New Orleans musician and Katrina evacuee who, after having his brother's van--full of his equipment--stolen in Houston, was reunited with his antique sousaphone earlier this week.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Unburritably Good News for the Locals

We'd been hoping for this for a long time, but today, the good news was confirmed: Chipotle is coming to Firewheel! The location where I ate tonight had a sign soliciting applications for employment there, so burrito bliss will soon be located almost within walking distance of my house (and yes, considering the size and caloric content of said burritos, walking would not be such a bad idea). One of my friends called me a "retard" tonight for being so excited about the whole Firewheel thing, but mark my words, it's going to transform Garland (both literally and, hopefully, image-wise). The next edition of "Dallas-opoly" won't dare put us in the Baltic or Mediterranean spot like they did last time.

It's always One O'Clock somewhere: I saw the One O'Clock Lab Band tonight at UTD. I missed them in the Syndicate a few weeks ago, but it looks like this will be a good edition of the band. There are eight new members of the band ("we fired the other eight," joked director Neil Slater during the gig), although the trumpets and saxes have only one newcomer apiece. Among the outstanding newcomers were trombonist Sara Jacovino and pianist Josh Hanlon, both of whom moved up from the Two O'Clock (full disclosure: Josh is married to a friend of mine...but all bias aside, he was all over it tonight); new drummer Shawn Pickler (who hails from Pat Metheny's hometown) and lead trumpeter Jason Levi (who was second last year) were also most impressive. The band performed a generous mix of old UNT standards, some gems from the Kenton library, and probably around half of the upcoming "Lab 2005" CD, which should be really enjoyable.

Quite a few of my combo players from the college made it to the concert tonight, but I wish that all of them, as well as all of my high-school jazzers, could have shown up, because the One rarely makes it to this side of Lake Lewisville. (Note to self: Find out the date for this even sooner, and hawk it more.)

Not too much wasting away in Ritaville: Hurricane Rita has come and gone, and, while my heart is out to those who lost homes and businesses on the coast, I bet a lot of people were relieved that it had weakened considerably by the time it made landfall early this morning. The eastern path that generally spared Houston and Galveston also kept even a drop of rain from the Metroplex, so our drought continues.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Quite a Milestone

I've mentioned before how I took my previous car, the Kevmobile, all the way up to 338,000 miles before it was unceremoniously taken off the road almost three years ago when it failed a state inspection rather badly (the full story and pictures are here). I also mentioned at the time that my friend and colleague, Kris, had taken his '89 4Runner even farther than that. Well, today I got word that, at 398,000 miles, the 4Runner passed inspection once again, so it's obviously gone past that mythical, mystical 400,000 mile barrier to which I aspired. Way to go, Kris!

(In case you're wondering, Kevmobile 1.2, which I bought "pre-owned," stands at nearly 146,000 miles--a mere pittance.)

Countdown to Firewheel: The town center that will instantly turn my neighborhood into a retail hot-spot opens exactly two weeks from today. In preparation for that event, I noticed that the city renamed the street that approaches--and soon will circumnavigate--the center in its honor. So if you're out in this area and wondering what happened to Northeast Parkway...well, it's Firewheel Parkway now, pod'nuh.

He keeps very gouda time: Jazz drummer Han Bennink was photographed playing a drum set made of cheese. (Hat tip: Dave Barry's Blog)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: The kid who's been funny in lessons over the years was funny again today. He was wearing a Bob the Builder sticker on his shirt, which amused me; that's the kind of thing my four-year-old nephew reads and watches, so you don't expect to see an eighth-grader sporting Bob-wear...

ME: So, you're a fan of Bob the Builder, huh?
KID: Yes! He gives me inspiration and strength.

Like some of the previous funny kid moments, maybe you had to be there, but I laughed very hard.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's Starting Already

I couldn't believe what I saw on my way home: gas lines. At every station I passed. The radio was airing a Rangers game, so I hadn't heard any news for a few hours, but I was doubting that they had some big news item about knowing exactly where the hurricane would make landfall 24 hours from now or anything. So why were people all buying gas tonight? Hadn't they heard that the best way to create a gas shortage was for everyone to top off their tanks like this?

Obviously not. But I didn't succumb, not yet. I have a little over half a tank. Yeah, I've heard the stories that gas deliveries might be messed up for a few weeks, we might see $3 a gallon again, and so on. And I definitely need gas for my work. Still, I don't see the need to top off tonight, though I may venture out right before bed, just out of curiosity, because I haven't seen lines like this since 9/11. I would feel like a dork if prices shot up 50 cents by morning or something. But I can't imagine using real gas to sit in a line to get more gas.

So...quick straw poll: Did you succumb to temptation tonight, or drive confidently on? Or was this even an issue in your neck of the woods?

UPDATE: I did in fact do my little "curiosity drive" a little after 11:30 p.m., just to see if the lines were gone. They were, but two stations I checked had also run out of regular gas. Gah.

Operating on the theory that the prices might rise sharply, I went ahead and filled up, thus assuring that I won't have to pay an inflated price for at least the next four days. I bet this won't be as bad as people are thinking, at least in terms of gas, but I guess one can never be too careful. I just hope tonight's little frenzy didn't add to the problem too much.

Catch of the day: There have been reports of all kinds of unusual things caught by fishing boats near the area where Katrina went ashore, but the best one I heard about today was the boat that caught an ATM in its net. I'm looking for the link to that story now...

Oh, This Is Great...

Hurricane Rita is now being described as having the potential to be the worst storm to ever hit Texas. And even though I'm concerned about my folks' house and all that (since their suburb of Sugar Land has already begun voluntary evacuations, my biggest hope that Rita stays as far away from New Orleans as humanly possible.

This actually is great: Almost a year ago at this time, I posted about one of my old schoolmates, Jonny Beckett, who was battling lymphoma and had a benefit concert thrown in his honor, which I attended. Tonight, I saw him direct the Four O'Clock Lab Band. He's back in school and hopes to finish his master's degree in the spring. What a difference this year has made!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quote(s) of the Day(s)

This is that day during the school year where I just never stopped being tired all day, so I'm hitting the proverbial hay early. But I did have a couple of quoteworthy things from this week. First, yesterday:

(An exchange between me and a student during a lesson)
STUDENT (hearing squawks from the room next door): Man, I'm glad I don't play clarinet.
ME: Well, remember, the saxophone was invented to be an improvement upon the clarinet...but still, it has its good moments.
ME: ...and that just doesn't happen to be one of them.

The QOTD for today comes from my mom, in an email sent on the eve of her and my dad's trip to Spain and Portugal that starts tomorrow. They live near Houston, which might be under the gun from Hurricane Rita in a few days, but they won't be there to react to it:

"Don't know if we will have a house standing when we get back or not. Can't do anything about it at this point in time.
Dad says we will win the prize for evacuating the longest distance."

Heh, that's a good one...but seriously, I hope their house makes it through their trip unscathed.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of....OK, It Was Water

A Pirate Story by Kev:

I didn't get to do much to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day today, since it was such a long day of teaching. I did, however, hear the morning news team discussing it on the radio (I was listening to Brad BARRton on K-ARR-LD). It was a pretty miserable morning in the beginning, as I couldn't find the box fan that makes the un-airconditioned practice rooms at my first school bearable (I tried to buy one myself yesterday, but Super TARRget didn't have what I was looking for). Eventually, I found where it was hidden, so the rest of the morning wasn't nearly so hARRd.

Mondays are long teaching days, but none of the schools are too many miles apARRt from each other, so I didn't have to spend too much time in the cARR between my various locations. I did get a quick break at StARRbucks before teaching at the store, which was nice (I had a tall cARRamel Frappuccino, in case you were wondering). From there, it was a pretty chill evening, as I watched the Cowboys look great for most of their game tonight, only to blow it in the fourth quarter and lose by the thinnest of mARRgins. (I bet Coach PARRcells isn't too happy right now.) And now I sit here and type, but bedtime isn't fARR off at all.

Facing off: The weirdest headline I've read in a while: Doctors at a Cleveland clinic are preparing for the world's first face transplant.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Well Worth the Trip

Some would say that my three friends and I were crazy for driving to San Antonio and back in the same day just to see a 90-minute jazz concert. But when the concert in question was the Wayne Shorter Quartet, and this was their closest gig to Dallas for the foreseeable future, I say it was totally worth it.

The Quartet (consisting of Shorter on tenor and soprano saxes, Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums) has been around since the summer of 2001, when the sessions that became the Footprints Live CD were recorded. I was fortunate enough to catch them in the summer of '02 at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, and the group, which was amazing then, has become even more solid in the intervening time. Each member is a master of his instrument, but they combine to form something truly special.

If this were a traditional concert review, I'd recount the list of tunes the group played, but this was no traditional concert. In fact, I can't even tell you with any great certainty how many tunes they played, though the correct answer would probably be "three or four." The Quartet doesn't stick to the traditional head-solos-head format; even their re-creations of recognizable tunes (usually ones penned by Shorter, but sometimes adapted from classical themes) sometimes required a bit of searching to discern where the head was. We estimated the first tune to be about 45 minutes long, using the time between appearances of a head-like motif as a measurement. Unusual? Sure. But it didn't matter one iota.

What was truly amazing about this group was their ability to change styles and feels on a dime. There were plenty of things that seemed completely improvised, along with many other elements that were obivously planned, and everything was woven together in seamless fashion. Besides Shorter himself, the bulk of the solo space went to Perez, though everyone got a chance to provide little interludes between the leader's excursions. Perez often provided more of the rhythmic accompainment than Blade did, drawing from a wide variety of influences. Patitucci was rock-solid, going back and forth in between matching up with Perez's left hand and punctuating Blade's rhythmic accents. Blade himself provided everything from solid rhythmic underpinnings to jaw-dropping technical flourishes. The leader was a master of saying a lot with a little (a technique gleaned, no doubt, from his onetime mentor Miles Davis, along with letting the music do the talking, as not a word was spoken onstage all night), though he also had plenty of extended technical runs. He alternated between tenor and soprano with a very individual sound (in certain registers, it might have been difficult to discern which horn he was playing if one's eyes were closed). Shorter looks rather serious onstage more often than not, but he exhibited some playful moments as well--giving a bemused look to his soprano when the tuning was a bit off on the first tune, leaning into the microphone and whistling some background lines during a Perez solo, and even emitting a slight chuckle when the pianist launched into a brief quote of "I'll Remember April."

In the three years since I'd last seen them, the Quartet has really grown, and the experience was all the more engaging since we were extremely close to the stage. They've recently put out a new recording, Beyond the Sound Barrier, that is now at the top of my must-buy list. If you're in Texas and missed this one, try to catch them in Houston on October 14 at the Wortham Center, because this show was worth every minute and every mile of the trip.

On the road: The trip itself went off without a hitch; we got to borrow a larger vehicle from one of the guys' parents, so four of us weren't crammed into Kevmobile 1.2 for five hours each way. Save for a wreck on 35E in Red Oak on the way down, traffic wasn't an issue, so there was plenty of time for dinner on the way. We got into San Antonio with over an hour to spare before Shorter's downbeat, there were parking places in the first nearby garage we entered, and we snagged the last front-row space in the non-VIP section when we arrived. Sure, we had to endure the last thirty minutes of the generic fusion band that served as the opening act (I suppose they were trying to offer a little something for everyone), but our location was superb. The weather was great--perhaps a little warm at first, but it cooled down nicely by the end, with cool breezes blowing through from time to time. Because we got such good seats, we missed out on a walk through Travis Park and a chance to sample the food (the theme of which was Cajun/Creole, which I'm sure was enhanced by the arrival of Hurricane Katrina evacuees), but maybe there'll be a return trip to the Jazz'SAlive festival in our future.

Fueled by coffee, conversation and tunes, I ended up being energetic enough to do all the driving on the way back, and I don't think I've laughed so hard on a roadtrip in recent memory. Some may have thought we were crazy to do this when we had to come back the same night, but I think it turned out perfectly.

Get ready for tomARRRow: Don't forget that tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day; this year, they even have some special events that are raising money for hurricane relief.

UPDATE: J-Guar gets Quote of the Day honors tonight; I told him on AIM (using the typical all-lower-case-letters format) that "the shorter concert was most excellent" and his reply was "even better than the longer one?"

IN THE COMMENTS: Regular contributor Gary P. recounts his first brush with the G-weasel's mangling of a Louis Armstrong classic. I've still managed to avoid more than a snippet of it this whole time myself.

Friday, September 16, 2005

One of My Shorter Posts

This semester's edition of the Cool Concert Tour kicks off tomorrow, when, after a morning of judging Region Jazz, I'll hop in the car with some friends and drive to San Antonio to catch Wayne Shorter at a free outdoor festival just a few blocks from the Alamo. It should be a great time.

The only trick to all this is that one of said friends has to be back for something at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, so we'll pretty much be going down there, seeing the concert and heading straight back. It's not the most insane roadtrip I've ever taken (that honor would go to the weekend in college when four of us went to Evansville, Indiana and drove right back after stopping only a few hours), but it's definitely up there, seeing as how we'll roll in around 4:00 or so on Sunday morning.

In the meantime, this is an early night for me, because I'm about nine levels of tired right now and in need of resting up for the trip. No post tomorrow, but I'll have a review on Sunday once I wake up.

Time for a cool change: I'm glad that we haven't had that first September cold front yet--it's a little too early for jacket weather in my book--but wow, this morning and evening in North Texas were really, really nice. Even though gas is coming down (I paid $2.72 in Denton on Wednesday night), it was great to drive around with the A/C off for the first time in a while.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bigger Is Not Always Better

Last night, I heard a radio program on which host Charley Jones was posing the question, "What have you learned from Katrina?" I don't know that I've learned anything new, but it definitely reinforced something I already believed in most cases: Bureaucracy bad. Individuals good.

I've noted my disdain for bureaucracy in a previous post, and little that's happened with regard to Katrina has modified my position one iota. Some of the more ridiculous things were outlined this week in a column by Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post:
But while it is true that the government's relief effort looks set to dwarf anything it has tried before, consider what the actual experience of the disaster has already been -- not theoretically, not on paper, but in practice. Listen, for example, to volunteers who prepared 92 boats to help evacuate people from the rooftops of New Orleans. They were ultimately kept out by Federal Emergency Management Agency bureaucrats because, among other things, they didn't have life preservers. Or listen to the volunteers who organized 100 doctors to treat 400 sick people at a converted Baton Rouge warehouse -- until they, too, were told by the government to shut down, reopen and then shut down again. Or to the hundreds of firefighters who, according to the New York Times, responded to a nationwide call for help and were then "held by the federal agency in Atlanta for days of training on community relations and sexual harassment," while women were raped and lives were lost in New Orleans. Compare their frustration to the joy experienced by 8-year-olds across the country, washing cars for the Red Cross.
You see, it's things like this that show the pointlessness of a big, bloated bureaucratic agency like the ones so often found in government. When "the rules" become the be-all and end-all and actually get in the way of people trying to help other people, then something needs to change. Now.

Applebaum may not share my urgency, but she hopes the right lessons are learned from all this:
I'm not saying anything radical here: I'm not calling for the abolition of FEMA, and I certainly think there's a role for government in disaster and evacuation planning. But it is true that the worst failures of the past two weeks have been big government failures. The biggest successes, by contrast, have come out of this country's incredibly vibrant, amazingly diverse and fantastically generous civil society. Sooner or later, it will be impossible not to draw political lessons from that paradox.
I'm in complete agreement with those who are avoiding the whole "blame game" thing at this point in time, because the priority right now is still rescuing people and rebuilding cities. But if the lumbering elephant of government bureaucracy is going to respond in a, well, elephantine manner, it's great to know that there are lots of "little folks" here in America who are ready, willing and able to pitch in and take up the slack.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Joke of the Day, from the Birthday Boy

Happy birthday to my good buddy J-Guar, who's legal today.

He also provided me with the joke of the day in a conversation last night:
Q: What's the difference between Kenny G and a machine gun?
A: A machine gun only repeats itself 75 times.
--posted on a door in one of the UNT music buildings
Funny stuff. I don't have time to dig it up now, but I'll also link again to the hilarious Barnes & Noble interview with the G-weasel; it's worth posting one more time.

Anyway, I'll get to see the birthday boy tonight at Lab Band Night, where I'm scheduled to buy him his first legal libation. I wonder what he'll choose...

This will be a long day, just like the past two. So will tomorrow. I think I'm scheduled for a nap on...Friday? Sunday? I'll be lovin' it, that's for sure.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Progress, in Baby Steps

I was haunted a few weeks ago by a photo of flooded downtown New Orleans in the Dallas Morning News. In this morning's edition, that picture ran side-by-side with one from Sunday. It's looking a lot better, though there's much work to be done. (I'm hoping to get a link to the photos, because they're amazing.) UPDATE: I can't find a direct link, but go here and click on link #4 for the 9/11/05 photo set; the one I mentioned is the first one in the series on that page.

Speaking of pictures, a lot of space has been given to New Orleans, but we can't forget that quite a bit of coastal Mississippi took a direct hit. Here is a link to some pictures from the Gulfport and Biloxi areas; note some of the before-and-after comparisons.

Also, on a highly encouraging note, Glenn Reynolds links to some additional relief efforts for New Orleans musicians; not only are they getting things like food, water and shelter, but they're also getting replacement instruments and, perhaps most importantly, gigs.

Blowing out more candles: Happy birthday to my buddy Steve H. Gotta meet up soon...

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Super Connection

A really cool thing for Metroplex-area transit occurred this weekend with the opening of the "Super Connector" phase of the President George Bush Turnpike on Friday. Even though the no-longer-missing link between the two previously exisiting segments is only about five miles long, its opening means that commuters can now take a single highway from about half a mile from my house all the way to the south entrance of DFW Airport. I used it to come home from my alumni meeting yesterday afternoon, and it's quite nice. It's probably about 75% bridges, going over wetlands, narrowly avoiding several landfills (not to mention the Sandy Lake amusement park), and swerving out of the way of the habitat of a rare nesting bird of some sort.

It's not the most picturesque segment of the George Bush, but that's counterbalanced by the ability to laugh and point at the cars that are stuck on 35E or LBJ. My trips to places like Arlington will be much easier now, and, unlike some people around here, I don't mind the tolls, because I know full well that without them, not a single mile of this turnpike would be done yet. When the extension from my neighborhood down to I-30 in south Garland is done in about four years, the loop around Dallas County will be halfway done. Let's hear it for increased mobility!

Blowing out the candles (both of them): Happy birthday to my nephew Caleb in Austin, who turns two today. I wasn't able to make the party on Saturday, but I hope to get down there and see my sister and her family very soon.

The pot calling the belly full: I meant to rave about a new eating place that I bet a lot of people haven't heard of yet: Potbelly Sandwich Works. The sandwiches themselves are delicious (I've had the roast beef twice and the turkey once, and I'm very tempted to try the PB&J, just because), and it's a funky atmosphere inside: fancy wooden booths with lofts (for decoration only; you can't sit up there) and bookshelves and so on, and, yes, an old pot-bellied stove up front, just for show. They also have shakes and ice cream, as well as soups and chili, but I'll have to partake of those at another visit. A sandwich, chips and drink totals just a shade over six bucks with tax. They're building one of these in the Firewheel Market development next to the new town center (which opens on October 7), and I'll be happy to welcome them to the neighborhood. Oh, and here's a news flash: A little bird told me (in the form of a kid I teach, whose dad is involved with the construction of Firewheel Market), that he's pretty sure they're putting a Chipotle in there. Sweeeeet...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

We Pause to Remember

I have a lot of things to talk about (having gotten somewhat backed up during the recent downtime), but I'm putting them on hold for one more day in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, four years ago today. Last year on this day, I asked readers to tell me their stories of where they were and/or what they were doing when they found out about the attacks. If you're new to the Musings since then, feel free to add your own response either in today's comments or the ones from last year.

Oh, and on the subject...did anyone catch the documentary on Flight 93 that the Discovery Channel showed tonight? I was quite disappointed to realize I'd missed it; for one thing, Flight 93 is a compelling story of ordinary people turned into heroes by extraordinary circumstances, and besides that, one of the passengers on that flight was the sister of a high-school classmate of mine (and it was rather haunting to watch the 9:00 news tonight and hear her name alone be called out in footage of a ceremony at the site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania). Anyway, I was wondering if anyone got to see it and if there were plans to air it again.

May we never forget...and may nothing of this nature or scope ever happen on American soil again.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

LIke a Kid on Christ-Mac Morning

I spent way too much time on the computer last night, especially considering how tired as I was. But I couldn't help it; I started to catch up on one of my favorite sites, and the rest just sucked me in. Lileks led me to Dave Barry's Blog, which proceeded smoothly to Althouse and InstaPundit, the last three of which I hadn't read since Monday. The school year gets busy enough that I really need to regulate the time I spend on blog-reading (which definitely includes only the sparest helping of comment threads, since those can kill an hour in what seems like mere minutes). So while discipline is the order of the day for a while, last night was a frenzy, akin to a roomful of kids attacking a pile of presents underneath a Christmas tree, reducing it to a pile of paper and boxes in record time.

My four nights with no computer (save for the checking of essential emails while at the college) were definitely different. but, unlike in the Arby's commercial, different wasn't necessarily good. With TV and reading as my only diversions once I got home each night, I felt almost Amish in a way. It definitely showed me how the Internet takes the sting out of being single, because I hadn't been this bored at home since my roommate moved out a few years ago. (In this case, it could be said that the Internet serves multiple good purposes, since it lets me do work efficiently, research things quickly, lets me communicate with friends in true multitasker fashion, and it keeps the inherent boredom of singlehood at bay enough to keep me from doing something impulsiv--like, say, rushing into a bad marriage--that I might have regretted later.)

As for the computer itself, almost everything is built back up to previous levels; it took a few downloads to get my preferred version of Mozilla and return to the latest version of OS 9, since my system disk boots up the barest-bones edition of that system. I have at least rudimentary versions of most of my Word documents, but it'll take a bit of editing to get them updated. There are a few things I don't have that will be difficult to get back, like all the songs I had on iTunes (and no, I didn't buy anything from their music store yet; everything I had was either sent by friends or loaded from my own CD collection). I also will have trouble using Finale NotePad for a while, since the newest version only works on OS X (that being said, if anyone reading this has NotePad '04, please feel free to share the love). The biggest thing to rebuild will be my email address book, which contained around 300 names (not that I'm Mr. Popularity or anything, but when you add up friends, family, fraternity brothers, professional contacts, students and parents, it does get to be a pretty big number).

I haven't decided if I'll ask for a new computer for Christmas or just continue driving the Ancient and Venerable iMac into the ground for a while longer, but I hope this is the last time I experience a total loss of the hard drive. The two times it's happened are two too many for me.

Not exactly Southern hospitality: Several residents of a neighborhood in Ocala, Florida wanted to welcome some hurricane evacuees into their homes, but their efforts were quashed by their subdivision's deed restrictions. I'm certainly glad I don't live in a place with a homeowners' association, since they tend to range from heartless (like these folks) to totally Nazi-oid (like the one a few years ago who seized an elderly woman's house when she got behind in her association dues). This might be a blog topic for later, but feel free to comment now if you wish.

Friday, September 09, 2005

...And We're Back

OK, I'm back up online again, and it's great to be here. The only frustrating thing was that I found out I really didn't need to wait for the disks from my ISP at all. It wasn't necessarily that I was given bad answers the other day, but rather that I didn't exactly ask the right questions. Since my cable modem was intact, it would have sent the right information back to my reconfigured computer, and I ended up just having to tweak the browser a bit.

At any rate, I'll try to resume regular posting as soon as possible, though it will take me some time to re-download and install a bunch of programs I lost, rebuild my address book, tweak some things, etc.(for example, even though you can't see them, I can't stand the fonts that my browser is using at the moment). Nonetheless, I've seen and heard some blogworthy things over the past several days, so I'll muse away as time allows.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Please Pardon This Interruption...

Blogging will be light-to-nonexistent for the next several days as my computer recovers from a massive hard drive crash that happened around lunchtime yesterday. Ugh.

It was really weird how it happened: I was reading a really good essay and wanted to bookmark it, but when I went to the top menu to do so, everything just started freaking out--programs closing, things flashing off and on, etc. I turned the computer off, but it wouldn't reboot; I just kept getting the little folder icon with the Mac OS logo alternating back and forth with a question mark. I tried rebooting from the original system disk, but it wiped out everything else in the process.

So I've managed to reinstall the system and most of my programs, but the Internet will have to wait; the install disk I have is from AT&T, which has since been taken over by Comcast. This means the old one doesn't work, so I'm having to wait for a new one to arrive by snail mail; with any luck, I'll be up by late Thursday.

In the meantime, it was a rather boring holiday, not being able to talk to my friends online and all that (sitting around AIM-lessly, you could say). I spent way too much time scouring the house for all the necessary backup disks, and it was really weird to sit around with reading and watching TV as my only diversions; it was just so...1996.

At any rate, I'm at school now (it figured that this had to happen on one of the few days the college was closed) and just wanted to do this quick update so that people didn't think I'd been abducted by aliens or anything. More later, when I'm up and running again.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A New Place to Play

I played a gig with Gordon's band WhoNew last night at a very cool place, the Broadway Bistro in historic downtown Carrollton. Like many other suburbs, Carrollton has rediscovered its downtown roots recently, bringing new life into its original town square.

The Bistro is located inside the recently renovated Oldfield Building, which features an ornate central staircase and houses offices as well as the restaurant. There's a lot of brick and stone inside that serves as a natural amplifier for a musical group (a good thing for me last night, since I was playing un-mic'ed and nursing two cold sores inside my mouth). There are plenty of tables for customers, and if the delicious club sandwich that I enjoyed between sets was any indication, the food was great.

The gig went well, and, as I'd hoped in an earlier post, all the band's tips were donated to hurricane relief; they had an extra jar for that right next to ours, so we just emptied the contents of ours into theirs. Evidently the Metrocrest area is about to welcome some refugees as well, so they were taking up a special collection for that effort.

Evidently, things are getting ready to really grow in this area, with condos, a luxury hotel and a DART rail station all scheduled to be built in the near future. I'm glad I got to be introduced to this place, and I'm really glad that they're receptive to having TD/D play there. We'll keep our collective fingers crossed, and I'll post the date once everything is set.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


There are a couple of small but notable changes that I wanted to bring to everyone's attention: First of all, because I've started to get a lot of comment spam recently (you guys don't usually see it because I tend to catch it pretty quickly), I've enabled the new "word verfication" feature offered by Blogger. All it means is that you have to type in a word (usually a chain of random letters, to be precise) that's shown in a box at the bottom of the add-a-comment page; this word verifies that it's a real humanoid typing the comment and not some sort of spambot. It requires one more small step to post a comment, but I hope nobody thinks it's a royal pain or anything. (Feel free to try it out!)

Also, I've enabled Atom site-feed syndication, which will either be really cool to those of you with blog-aggregator programs or fly right over the head of those who don't. At any rate, it's there.

Gig tonight; I'll report back on the new venue and whether or not it'd be a good place for TD/D to play.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Call for Involvement

Blogging is relatively light right now, because most of my online time has been spent reading about the status of everything along the Gulf. As I said back on Sunday, when the hurricane was still out over water, I've had a soft spot in my heart for New Orleans for a long time, and it's always been one of my favorite vacation places. While it doesn't appear that anyone will be vacationing there anytime soon, I have no doubt that, over time, the Big Easy will rise again. To do this, they'll need lots of help, and that's where we come in.

I'm still very much encouraged at how many people have gotten involved in the relief effort, even in the smallest of ways. My church announced a donation drive for this weekend; my fraternity is encouraging every collegiate chapter and alumni association to hold a fundraiser for hurricane relief (and, being a music fraternity, I bet that more than a few of these efforts will be concerts of some sort). If you're in the Metroplex, radio station KRLD is hosting a donation drive from 10-2 tomorrow in downtown Dallas, downtown Ft. Worth and Frisco.

So I challenge all Musings readers to do something toward this effort; I know that several of you have already done so. Visit the relief listings at InstaPundit and make a donation. Donate blood if you can. Help out a local school district that's absorbing refugee kids. If you're able, offer employment to someone who's had to relocate. The list goes on...

If you're wondering, I've given to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Preservation Hall Hurricane Relief Fund. I'm also going to do one more thing: Tomorrow night, I'm subbing in my friend Gordon's band WhoNew at a place in downtown Carrollton. It's not a big-money gig, but I'm going to donate whatever I make to the relief effort and push for any "tip jar" that might be set out for us to go to this effort as well. It's not as close to home as some of the places I've played, but come on out anyway, just to hear a different sound.

Regular blogging will resume soon enough; during this week, it's just seemed like everyone has better things to read than my random thoughts.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "311 is a rock band, not a gas price!"--Me, to Dingus, as we drove through Arlington tonight and saw an especially steep price for regular unleaded. I got to visit Dingus for the first time in his new digs, and we pondered (over burritos, of course) where to find a place for TD/D to play that wouldn't close down in a few months.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Crescent City's Native Sons Give Back

A couple of prominent musicians with New Orleans ties have signed on to perform on a telethon tomorrow to help the victims of Katrina. Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. will join country star Tim McGraw on the "Concert for Hurricane Relief" at 7 p.m. central time tomorrow on NBC. Marsalis and Connick are two of the Big Easy's best-known living jazz musicians, and McGraw is a native of another part of Louisiana. Matt Lauer of the Today show will host, and donations will be taken for the American Red Cross hurricane relief effort (of course, you could always donate now online).

The re-birthplace of jazz? New Orleans has always been known as a great city for music, and it holds an important place in the history of jazz. In the wake of Katrina, one Dallas critic speculates that it may take a while for the scene to recover.

Oh, and if anyone has heard anything about the status of Preservation Hall, please report back in the comments. I've read that Pat O'Brien's next door sustained only slight damage, but Preservation Hall is a much smaller place that might have been more vulnerable.

UPDATE: I should have gone to Preservation Hall's site before posting this, but I'd had trouble reaching many New Orleans-based sites lately. Anyway, I have my answer: evidently they're OK; the site just says that they're (obviously) closed due to the hurricane. They've also set up a special relief fund for New Orleans musicians. I'm going to contribue to that and ask InstaPundit to add it to his list.

Lone Star hospitality: I'm very proud of the response of Texas and Texans during this crisis; the state has agreed to take in around 75,000 refugees from the stricken areas, including 25,000 right here in Dallas, as well as the former Superdome refugees who were taken to the Astrodome in Houston starting yesterday. SMU is hosting the Tulane football team for the foreseeable future, and many Texas colleges are accepting transfer students for the fall (one of whom has ended up in a couple of my classes, as a matter of fact).

The word Texas comes from the Native American word "Tejas," which means friends, and it's great to see these folks get a Texas-sized friendly welcome in their hour of need.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "They could tear the whole place to the ground and within a couple of weeks, you'd hear somebody walking around playing a trumpet. Thank God we have music. It's the one thing a hurricane can't blow away."--Jon Cleary, prominent New Orleans keyboardist, expressing some optimism that the music scene will rise again.

Bloggers Unite for a Good Cause

Over at InstaPundit, Glenn Reynolds has posted a list of relief links for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. He's also called for a "blogburst" to take place today, wherein every blogger who wishes to do so will post a set of links to his/her favorite charities that are assisiting in the relief effort. There are plenty of them out there, but here's my short list
  • The American Red Cross is obviously going to be on the front lines of this effort, providing food, water and shelter to those in need. You may donate using the link here and also through Amazon.

  • The Salvation Army will also be a major participant in the area. A $100 donation will feed a family of four for two days, provide two cases of drinking water and one household clean-up kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets, and cleaning supplies.

  • On a more local level, Carter Blood Care will be teaming up with blood banks in the affected areas to provide relief, and they will be hosting several blood drives in the Metroplex this weekend to bolster their supply.

  • And don't forget about the animals! The SPCA of Texas is sending a team to the area to assist in the rescue of pets left homeless by the disaster.

  • UPDATE: I have come across another charity which is of obvious interest to me as a jazz musician: the Preservation Hall Hurricane Relief Fund. One hundred percent of your donation goes to New Orleans musicians.
There are lots of other charities linked on the InstaPundit post above; another large list of bloggers and their favorite charities may be found over at The Truth Laid Bear.