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Friday, April 29, 2011

Study Break #1

I'm a registered and ready to go for the fall semester. And it doesn't look pretty. Seriously...there is a good chance my soul may just give up on trying to keep me alive next year. Aside from the 16 credit hours I'm registered in, I will also be in three ensembles, be a Community Advisor for the Lodges, work as librarian and setup-man for all of the ensembles, AND I'm even going to attempt to continue to work at the KFC Yum! Center. I may drop that last one, depending on how much money I am able to pry away from an already struggling US Government. But from what I hear, if Rand Paul has his way this may be the last student loan I ever see.

You know what is really bogus? Classes that you are 'required' to take but don't get any credit towards your G.P.A. I mean - I guess its a blessing in disguise at a school like IUS that charges by the credit hour and not by a flat-rate tuition fee once you hit full-time, but if I'm needing to sacrifice well over 16 hours of my time that I could be doing other things, I feel like I should at least get HALF a credit. Oh well, worse things have happened.

18 years later after initially reading this strip and it still makes me laugh just as much as I did the first time.

And if you hate Corporate America just as much as I do, you'll enjoy this little gem as well.

So did anyone else know there was a Royal wedding today? I heard snipits about how they were meant to be together while flipping channels. Something about how he used to be a frog till she kissed him, and then he rescued her from the fire-breathing dragon and hung the monster by making a noose out of her long golden hair.

Seriously, though...why the hell do we care so much about this? This might not be the complete reason, but its still pretty funny.

Terrible thing that happened in Alabama and in other states down south. Tornadoes ripping through, and I hear nearly 300 people were killed? If you'd like to donate $10 to the Southern Relief effort text 'REDCROSS' to 90999 to the Red Cross. Maybe they should try to post this following the performance of one of the leading contestants of American Idol. If they were able to waive off the numerous angry calls from parents, it would be really successful in taking care of Japan, Alabama, and any other disaster relief for the next 20 years.

Well that's it for today. Now I go back to finals and kicking people out my lodge. What a wonderful life I live.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blame it On the Red Bull

Disclaimer: Be advised that I tend to use a lot of words out of context. If you are aware of this, simply replace the culprit with the word 'titmouse' and you'll be trying so hard not to laugh that I guarantee you will forget all about the error in question.

It's finals week. And what would finals week be without our dear friend 'Red Bull'? Speaking is very possible I am gaining a helpless addiction to this anti-sleep aid. See for yourself....

Um....yeah. I think I should mention that Mr. Sandman is currently winning the battle, however the War has just begun. Special thanks to Erin J. Carlisle for taking this gem....

So the cubs are crap. I mean...that's kind of to be expected, but seriously....we (we being anyone and everyone who has put any sort of dollar amount into merchandising in support of said program) were tied for first just a week ago and now it appears we have dropped to two and a half games behind the hated St. Louis Cardinals. To make matters worse....its not even the Cardinals fans we have to hear it from....rather its the reds fans. Seriously? You'd think a team with as many championships as the Reds would have a pretty good fan base, but I'm still trying to find that miracle-grow covered garden that produced the massive fan base that appeared last season - because they sure as hell didn't exist for the previous twenty years. Whereas Cubs fans can sell tickets at Wrigley amidst a 50-win season.

According to Robert Zemekis and Bob Gale the Cubs will finally win the world series in 2015.....against Miami. Unfortunately for them, they made this prediction in 1989....two years before Miami actually did acquire a team and chose to deviate from the state's apparent obsession with the family Alligatoridae and went with a fish instead. Its a little ironic that it was the Marlins that took out the cubs in the 2006 National League Championship Series. Thanks a lot Steve Bartman. Clearly you are the ONLY fan who would have gone after a foul ball in that situation.....

So perhaps Zemekis could be write about us finally being able to break the infamous 'Goat' curse (This also amuses me because I always assumed the only use for goats was to be abused by drunken members of college fraternities. Apparently they can also destroy professional sports franchises - who knew?) I foresee a bigger challenge.....proving the Mayans wrong. It is kind of funny that Sarah Palin could be running for President, the Cubs could be playing for a title, and I could be graduating from college right around the December 21, 2012 doomsday prediction. Signs of the Apocalypse perhaps?

Speaking of nearly impossible scenarios that could potentially mean the dreadful destruction of our planet, this was just too funny to ignore......

Props to ESPN for thinking outside the box here. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay outside the box.

Victor Philpott, a former co-worker and long-time friend of mine, will be turning thirty-one years old on Saturday and it is expected to bring a celebration of epic proportions at the home of one Travis Desmond. Unfortunately, this news also reminded me that the big 3-0 for me is just around the corner. 30 years doesn't seem that old on the surface, but when you have distance memories of listening to repeated math problems on VINYLS......well, yes....I'm gettin up there.

If I had known that every math I ever needed to do could be done on a calculator, that is now on an item I carry with me at all times, I wouldn't have wasted my time listening to "2 plus 2 is four!" a hundred times over and over again.

The Red Bull is now waving the white flag....and I believe that's my cue. I'm hoping my dreams are in french tonight, because I need a miracle for my 'Conversational' portion of my French Final which is tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Euphonium, Art, and the Great Louisville Flood of 2011

So I'm currently in the market for a new euphonium. I think I've found the one I want, which is kind of funny because its not the one I was targeting but is better in so many ways. I had heard that miles ahead did financing, and after going to their website I discovered that they had a Yamaha 641 for just $3400. Retail value was probably around $4500 or $5000 when they actually made the 641. There was a reason it didn't last very long before the 642 came out, which had a fuller sound, better piping, and a larger bell. I owned the 642, and it was a great horn. On the other hand, I am not a performance major so I wasn't looking to buying a horn that would cost me 5 or 6 grand. In fact, my limit was intended to be $3000 so off of the recommendation of a friend who used to play this model, I managed to talk them down to $2995. Here's the funny thing, though....apparently the associates at Miles Ahead stumbled across a Besson Sovereign 967 Silver model that they had laying on a shelf. It was in fantastic condition, and the price they were offering was $2900. This is a $6000 horn brand new....

This isn't the one that MA is selling, but its the same model.....

Well, the downside is that I discovered that I couldn't find $2900 in change under the couch cushions. So it comes to sitting here furiously typing while I'm waiting for a loan officer to contact me about a loan I applied for. To quote Homer Simpson...."The waiting game sucks. Let's watch TV"

I've spent many years trying to get good posts and conversations started at the forums at, but its been very challenging. However, advertise a blog...get flamed by someone who thinks they are pointless.....and voila! (Some goo

Oh, and in case you were wondering if Music is my only lov
e.....this should remind you that I once prided myself as an artist particularly in the field of studio drawing.

I still think Jack Nicholson is scarier than Heath Ledger was.......

So I guess this is an appropriate place to subtly announce that my symphonic piece for Concert Band is complete. And its subtle because hardly anyone actually reads this thing....or so my comments would suggest. I get quite a few hits, but how do I know those people aren't utterly bored by the first two sentences as they close their browser during the first paragraph.

Anyway, the piece is titled "Fantasy on an American Folk Hymn" and is set to be premiered by the IUS Concert Band in the fall. The date will be announced soon. And if you are interested to know what Folk Hymn I chose for the setting of this piece, you should definitely watch the video I've linked below.

So apparently Noah has been hard at work the past several nights building his ark and gathering animals, cause it has been raining non-stop for the past week and a half. But I guess God gave up on trying to flood the world and just settled for every major city located on a body of water (e.g. Louisville), because the rain has in fact stopped for the time being. Were you unable to get down there and see what all the fuss is about? Not to's a glimpse....

This street is of course conveniently named 'River Road' They really thought outside the box on that one.....

I also think I've discovered the REAL reason gas prices are so high in America.....

Gas Station Damaged

Thank you, Hurricane Ike and the Ohio River Valley Windstorm of 2008......

Well that about does it for todays blog. Be sure to tune in tomorrow or any day hereafter for more from the mind of me.....but for now, I'll leave with a pondering question I asked yesterday that maybe some of you can solve.

After not having any cable tv for five months, was it ungrateful of me to complain that the new cable boxes installed in my room do not carry ESPN or ESPN2?

Friday, April 22, 2011


So I think I'm going to stop letting certain people hear my compositions before they are published. This is a common misconception a lot of people have about me. I sincerely enjoy helpful and useful comments about anything that I do in life, though I don't always accept it well. I have a strong defense mode that often times causes me to do or say irrational things without thinking. But what people don't see is that I go home and constructively think about what was said to me by the opposition (you thought I was going to say 'go home and cry on my pillow, didnt you?'). I've been much better about taking criticism as of late, but more importantly better about giving criticism as well. Let's face it. I'm 29 years old and have been writing music for twelve years now. I'm a bit past the point of "Look what I did, ma!" "Sounds great, honey!" Absolutely not helpful at all.....especially if the piece is actually total crap. And I've written some real duds before.

Musicianship, in any form, requires a willingness to achieve perfection. Even an improv jazzist must keep this in mind when he is playing non-notated music to fit within a key and style of music (Thanks to Paul Felice for inspiring a lot of this). Anything less, and you are just kidding yourself. Am I saying it isn't ok to make mistakes? Hell no. But the purpose should be to use the mistakes and learn from them so that they don't happen repeatedly. Isn't that a daily life lesson, even outside of music?

Eight years ago, my short tone poem 'Cataclysm' which was scored for brass choir saw a performance by many talented University of Louisville music students and was conducted by my good friend Mark Kersting, who is a very talented musician by the way. It was the first performance of a personal composition I had ever experienced, and I enjoyed every moment of it. That being said, the performance was actually short of a disaster. Aside from missed notes galore, one player came in a measure early and half of the ensemble were following her cue notes. I don't think I need to tell you what happened next. Following the performance, I went straight to Mark and told him 'Not to worry, I actually liked the new version better and would consider having a call and response section that was created.' Now, let me be was clearly a 20th century piece and if you hadn't known what was written it would not have been obvious that something wasn't write because of the nature of the piece. However. it was NOT what I had written.

Ok, so let's be reasonable. Yes, it would have been unacceptable for me to thrash Mr. Kersting for a rough performance as he was doing me a favor and he has conducted and played some great music. And I will never be that kind of composer that is so conceited where if its not perfect it sucks. But I should have allowed myself to be concerned with the screw-up and I didn't. That's where I have changed over the years. The piece was clearly under rehearsed, and many of the musicians obviously had little to no appreciation to a fellow piece of music written by a colleague of theirs (is this an appropriate time to say "wait till I'm famous. That'll learn the bastards!"?). While Mr. Kersting put every amount of energy he had into conducting a great concert and I thank him for that, their attitudes in my opinion were nothing but unacceptable....especially as professional musicians. And in a way, it was kind of a slap in the face because had the piece been written by John Corigliano, Frank Ticheli, or even James Curnow you know it would have been a much better performance.

Anyway, it was 8 years ago so my anger towards it is non-existent. But it taught me a valuable lesson that if you want the best you have to expect the best and let people KNOW your expectations. Perhaps 8 years ago I didn't respect myself enough as a composer to have that kind of maturity in music, but now I've realized that it is MY music and should be performed how I want least until after I die and can't do anything about it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Academics, Kentucky, and the Impending Destruction of the Foundations of Music

I've decided that I'm really going to make an effort to update this on a daily basis, now. But would really help is if people actually read it, follow it, and even leave comments occasionally. Sounds good, right?

The semester is now coming to a close, and I might have a little more free time on my hands over the Summer to actually do things I want to do. I'm pretty excited as I'm fairly certain that I may have bagged a 4.0 for this semester. And I have worked hard for that 4.0. Let's talk about this for a bit, in regards to the recent accusations of one Robert Montgomery Knight to the University of Men's basketball team. Aside from the fact that these accusations are false, Knight may have been on to something. Don't pay attention to sports? Well, its pretty much the same song that's been going on for decades now.

Basketball Star goes to school on full scholarship.
Basketball Star never goes to classes.
Basketball Star is in bad academic standing.
Basketball Star doesnt care because he enters the draft his first year.

OK, so according to Mitch Barnhart, the Athletic Director at UK, these students passed with high GPAS and good academic standing (i.e. John Wall had a 3.5.). First of all, am I an idiot? Even when I worked 75% hard as I should have it was ridiculously hard for me to achieve a 3.0. I've put every amount of effort I have into this semester, and I may be getting a 4.0. I'm not saying that it isn't true that John Wall's GPA is high, but I have also attended school with LOTS of athletes. RARELY have they ever attended class on a 'passable' basis. And further more, the speech projects and assigns they tend to turn in are done in a fashion where you are pretty sure they spent very little time in their construction. So, ok.....they have a 3.5. But does it occur to people that perhaps they have the 3.5 because they get special favors from professors because of who they are and how much money they bring in for the University? THAT is the REAL crime. I'm sorry....but I will NEVER admit that a college basketball player works as hard at academics as I do, mainly because they don't have nearly the time that I have to focus towards my studies.

OK, done with my soapbox speech. I went to see the Indiana University Southeast Orchestra perform Mahler Symphony No. 1 last weekend. It was the first time I've ever seen a Mahler symphony performed lived, and that is pretty exciting. If you aren't familiar with Mahler....GET FAMILIAR with his music. As far as the performance goes, it was less-than perfect but still a successful performance. The problems were that it was somewhat thin, particular because of the variety of musicianship. You had anywhere from high school students (or first year college, maybe)to professional musicians performing together. I'm sure there were some tense moments in rehearsal....
....but I did really enjoy the concert as a whole. I mean, its long as its not a disaster, it sounds awesome. And fortunately, I was asked by the director Dr. Goldstein if I could play trombone for the Summer Pops concert, and most likely the fall semester. I haven't played trombone in well over six years.....thus meaning the next three weeks will be similar to basic training only in trying to re-learn a musical instrument for me.

The Louisville Orchestra, who many of the instrumentalists that played during the Mahler hail from, is under the threat of being reduced to the size of 45 musicians. To summarize what this means according to Dr. Joanna Goldstein, that's ok if you don't mind going to concerts where nothing but Mozart and Haydn is played...and pretty much anything prior to the 1830's. You can forget Shostakovich, Respighi, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Dvorak, and pretty much anything written in the 20th century. This is a pretty big outrage, but also a wake up call that we have officially entered a new era of cultural music. People prefer Lady Gaga over the works of composers that actually put countless hours of manuscript writing and organized hundreds of musicians to premier their new works. People think a 15 year old singing 4 minute pop songs with enhanced electronical sounds and overabundant light shows is more impressive than a 7 year old writing a 20 minute piano sonata using nothing but paper and an out of tune piano. But hey...what do I know? Don't get me wrong.....I'm not saying that pop singers should be abolished (although that would be a pleasant little christmas gift), but I think people should not allow the foundations of music and our society die without a good solid fight...and that's what is happening.

Alas, I intend to keep writing music and hopefully there will be orchestras and bands still around when I am dead so my music won't die away like many composers. Incidentally, I am nearing the completion of my first ever concert band work. It's an aggrivating process, but as I mentioned earlier....I am using a computer with perfect notation that plays the music back for me. Centuries ahead of what Beethoven had.....and he didnt even have ears!

If you are reading this, please do me a favor and do what you can to support professional orchestras. They are a dying breed, and if we have people out there creating human barricades from machines intending to chop down a single tree......perhaps it shouldn't be that difficult to prevent the impending destruction of the foundations of music.