Monday, December 24, 2012

Parents Say the Darnedest Things?

A few hours ago, my dad and I were undertaking the potentially futile mission of buying a gallon of milk at a little before 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and the usual places were all showing as closed...

DAD: Oh, look--that gas station has a convenience store. Maybe they have milk..
ME: They might, but you'll pay out the wazoo for it if they do.
DAD: That's OK, we'll check anyway. And I'm bringing my wazoo in with me when we go.
ME: To pay out of?
DAD: That's right.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Not That I Thought It Was Going to Happen in the First Place...

but I'm glad I made it through my dentist's appointment today without the Apocalypse taking place.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Little Light Driving

Now that I've finally had some time off, I've been able to enjoy one of my favorite holiday traditions: Going out to see some of the amazing light displays that are found all over the DFW area. That means it's also time for Kev's Annual Lights Post, where I run down a list of my favorites:
  • Deerfield in Plano: For my money (which pretty much involves only the gas to get there), this is the best all-around neighborhood in the area for lights. It has a wide variety of streets that are easy to traverse once you've done it a few times, most of the neighborhood participates (there were fewer "Scrooge" houses this year than before), and now it features the Zephries house on Old Pond Drive, which now has 104,000 lights synchronized to music. There's also the Gordon Lights on Quincy at the north end of the subdivision that has a very nicely-synchronized display, and this year, they've really outdone themselves. (Both the aforementioned houses also serve as drop-off points for various charities, so, if the spirit moves you, bring a new unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots or a non-perishable food item for the North Texas Food Bank to the Zephries display, or cash/gift cards for Operation Homefront to the Gordon display.) The carriage and limo rides make this area an even bigger attraction, and I've always thought it would be cool to park nearby and do a walking tour like many of the neighbors do. (When I went on Tuesday night, the weather wasn't really cooperating at first, but I got there after the rain had stopped and made it through the area pretty efficiently, missing only the Zephries house. Hats off to the other homeowners for keeping everything on well past ten.

  • Frisco Square: Over the past several years, Frisco has become one of the top attractions in the area, with even more lights to its amazing display from last year (among the highlights for me are the lights that go across the two main buildings, which totally surrounds the viewer with light). As before, everything is synchronized to music, which can be heard either from a low-powered FM radio broadcast or from speakers near the buildings.
    And if you make it to Frisco, be sure and drive a few miles east to see the Trykoski house, where the designer of the Frisco Square lights calls home. This year, they have 85,000 lights in their display, which is also synchronized to music. (And I probably don't need to point out that nearly all of the displays with synced music include the song that's become the unofficial theme of such things: "Wizards in Winter" from this CD by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I think the entire genre started with Carson Williams in Ohio, whose display became the subject of a beer commercial a few years ago.) Incidentally, the Trykoskis are collecting canned goods for Frisco Family Services.

  • SpringPark in Garland/Richardson: The classic neighborhood of mostly cul-de-sacs, each with a different theme. Among my favorites are the displays on Silver Maple and Buckethorn, as well as the continuous train motif along Lake Shore Drive, and Debra Court was again full of win this year with its "12 Days of Redneck Christmas" theme (though they should have gone in reverse order like the song does; you'd have to drive on the wrong side of the road to sync with the song. Quite a few of the streets were more sparsely lit this year, which has been a trend for a while now; I wonder if I was just there on a night when a lot of people were on vacation.(Speaking of SpringPark, I got a kick out of a sign in front of one house in the area: SOY TO THE WORLD. GO VEGAN!)

  • Interlochen in Arlington: I haven't been here in a few years (though I'll try this year, as it's been extended through Dec. 31), but this neighborhood is unique in that several streets back up to a large canal, so the backyards as well as the fronts are decorated. This area is not too far from Six Flags, and, like the amusement park, there are signs along Randol Mill Road listing estimated times until you get to the lights. I need to make this one again soon.

  • There are also two houses in Rowlett worth seeing: One on Dogwood Trail that's all done up in neon (evidently, the homeowner also owns a neon sign company) and the Belcher house on Faulkner Drive; there's also a perennial favorite in Carrollton on Timberline at High Sierra that always goes all out, even decorating the garage as a Santa's Workshop.

  • New to the list this year are a couple of houses in Woodbridge North in Sachse (off Ranch Rd. between SH 78 and Dewitt/McCreary). One house was particularly decked out--the whole house and yard covered in lights, various flashing things...the only thing lacking was the music; I bet this display would have been really cool synced to "Wizards in Winter."
    The house next door, much more modestly decorated, included a big red illuminated arrow pointing to the decked-out house, with one simple word: DITTO."
As always, if I've missed anything, please let me know in the comment section. I'm a big fan of Christmas lights, so I'd always be interested in seeing something new.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Kids Say the Darnedest Things, Sometimes Completely at Random

The subject of the All-State Jazz Band came up this morning, and a student pointed out that she might go down to San Antonio to hear them in February...

ME: Oh, that's cool. Their concert is right before the Community College All-State Jazz Band.
KID: They have a Community College All-State Jazz Band too?
ME: They sure do; one of my students made it this year.
KID: That's so cute!
ME: Cute??
KID: I mean cool. That's so cool.

(I was finally able to discern that she had been saying everything was "cute" all weekend, so it wasn't as if she was dissing our two-year schools or anything like that...)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About My Holiday Travel Plans

This one, a beginner who started at my house over the summer, was wondering what happened over the break...

KID: So over Christmas, do we have lessons at your house again, or do we just not have lessons?
ME: Probably no lessons, because I'll be traveling on your lesson day during both of those weeks.
KID: You'll be traveling to China!
ME: Ha--why China? So I can buy toys from right where they're made?
KID: You're gonna teach the Chinese kids to play saxophone, so they can entertain themselves.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One, Two...

In all likelihood, only my jazz musician friends will get this one...

So if today, 12/12/12, is National Soundcheck Day (think about it), will 12/12/34 be National Jamey Aebersold Day?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Weekend Practice Habits

Now that contest solos are being selected, we're going over them for the first time...which doesn't mean it's supposed to be *their* first time.

ME: So you got to look at this over the weekend?
KID: I did.
ME: Ok, then let's see where you are with it at the moment.
KID: (gets look of horror on face) By myself?
ME: Oh, I see--so when you said you looked at it, you meant you literally just looked at it; you didn't actually practice it.
KID: Yes.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Unusual Instrrumentations

Yesterday, I was helping a student find a saxophone trio, which falls under the Texas UIL classification of a "miscellaneous woodwind ensemble." Some of the groupings are a bit unusual (example: flute, oboe, bassoon, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax, horn), and the kid was amazed that such ensembles even exist...

KID: That's just so weird! It's like eating a banana with ketchup.