Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why, YES, my laptop is out of warranty!

I'm prepping all my stuff for my trip tomorrow. I've got the horn in its travelling case (FRAGILE stickers applied). I've got the last load of laundry going in the background, through my dryer's endless cycle. I toyed around with the idea of taking my laptop along, purely for the convenience of having it. However, events have suggested that, over and above having to deal with TSA searches, I shouldn't bring it along.


See, it stopped working. At least, it's stopped working for now. Since the start of this year, my laptop has decided that it wishes to be difficult. It has acquired a personality, one might say. Woe that this personality should be obstinate.


The laptop is now just over four years old (longer than the longest warranty Dell sells) and the video card is failing. There are occasional difficulties. I say occasional, because for the vast majority of the time, it works fine. But when it doesn't work, it tends to not for extended periods of time.


Thus, tonight's digital tantrum have driven me back to the old desktop I keep mainly so the dust in my place knows where to collect. It was purchased in 2000 (I think) so it predates even my cell phone by a good two years. Like the laptop that was purchased at the start of my doctoral study, this desktop was purchased at the start of my master's degree, and has remained largely unused for a large portion of the time that I've lived in Kansas City. It has its own personality, but so far that doesn't extend to blinking on and off a totally corrupted screen.


Unfortunately, it uses Windows ME as the operating system, which Microsoft stopped supporting in 2005. This means that the computer and most of its software components are incredibly vulnerable to all kinds of malicious code that modern fully-updated computers can shrug off.


The end result is that I don't try to accomplish any sort of "wandering" while I browse using this computer, for fear of it catching something that rapidly turns it into an unusable zombie. I stick to trusted sites. It's far too big to bring with me into the plane, so that solves the "how do I check a laptop" question nicely: I don't.


I've been browsing through the low-end laptop market for a while now, trying to get a feel for what I'd like to replace mine. Maybe this is Charles Babbage's way of telling me to hurry up and decide.


Laundry is finished!

Off to Charlotte

I have a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina tomorrow morning for the second in a continuing concert series put on by the Carolina district Salvation Army.

The series website is http://www.thebrassspectacular.com/

All in all, the previous concert (last fall) was a good musical experience. The concert was a bit lengthy, but not when placed in the context of Wagner's "Ring" cycle. The quality of musicianship was excellent and I expect a similar level of performance this time around, despite a large portion of the group being "new", if one can say that of something that's only occured once before.

I forsee more Caronlina barbeque and lots of sweet tea, which the regional commander's wife referred to as the "house wine of the South". Personally, I was raised on plain-old tea, so I can't stomach this varietal. Anything that's somehow sweeter than soda with less taste is obviously the devil's handiwork.

They're flying us to Charlotte, which means I get to be in a crowded and enclosed space during a stage-5 pandemic alert. Twice. Let's hear it for being a musician! Time to practice coughing into my elbow.

I'll be back in KC on Monday, just before I start rehearsals on Mendelssohn's "Elijah". Should be good fun, and I may or may not get to use my kippah clipper again.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fortress of Quietude

I live in a very quiet environment. I realized this today, which was my first whole day back in Kansas City after my trip. I made a call to friends of mine to try to get together, but our laughably-awful timing of schedules continues. Perhaps next week?

When I sent the number on my phone and brought it up to my ear, the first ring sent me scrambling for the VOLUME DOWN button. Where did I make my last call? In my car? Why would it be set up so loud?

This "world of silence" is related to something that happened a few weeks ago when I drove up to campus to be fitted for my doctoral robes. I got there a little before lunch time, parked my car, and walked into the bookstore. The clerk came over and asked if he could assist me. I tried to say, "Yes, I'm here for doctoral robes," but all that came out at first was "HGKF!"

After I cleared my throat, I was able to communicate without further problems. In retrospect, my difficulties were symptomatic of those being my first spoken words of the day! I couldn't even address when I might have spoken the day before.

Remember that I do live alone, so there's no one here for me to speak to when I wake up in the morning. That doesn't always stop me, especially if I manage to forget that the hot water is HOT. That mistake usually brings several choice words to the tip of my tongue and beyond.

After spending a few days with my family in St. Louis, I get into the habit of talking to people. Even if the only person around is my youngest brother, who's not particularly chatty, we still end up exchanging words here and there.

Currently, there's a very short list of sounds I can hear in my place. The smallest fan in my laptop is running, barely audible over the clicking of my typing fingers. Further away, I hear the ticking of my Russian submarine clock, which is rather subtle (as clocks go). Thanks to fate, the refrigerator is still for the moment; the cooling fan is often the loudest noise in my place. Beyond my walls, I hear the faint and indistinguishable sounds of generic night traffic on the surrounding roads. And sometime within the next hour or two, there'll be a train horn that sounds off in the distance. It never fails to remind me of growing up next to the train tracks.

A few weeks ago, a good friend came back through the KC area. She'd long since graduated and moved on to the next chapter (and city) in her life, but she had enough friends still in KC to come visit. She and I sat down for an extended lunch in a nice Mediterranean cafe in KC's "bohemian district". Over a delicious and leisurely meal filled with cous cous and baklava, we hashed out what it means to be alone.

She's living on her own for the first time in her life. No roommates, no significant other; just herself and the silence when she comes home at night. In the beginning, it was a welcome change for her. She's been in time-consuming relationships (her term) almost continuously, so the quiet was a welcome respite. But as the months tick by, she's decided that she's uncomfortable, in part because she has nothing to do but think about herself.

She asked my thoughts on living alone. I rolled into the standard package, which has been partially unpacked over a dozen blog entries before this one. The short version: I like living alone, but only because I know who I am and have (at long last) come to peace with who I want to be. Moving that chess piece into the position for acceptance/epiphany/self-confidence or whatever you like to call it makes the difference. For me, it does; others have different goals and markers.

She was somewhat mollified and took comfort in the fact that if I didn't figure it out until I started my doctorate, then she may actually be right on schedule. I tried to impress upon her the idea that I wasn't some sort of "live alone and like it" guru. Hopefully, she'll have a ton of her own experiences that lead her towards whatever level of stillness she prefers.

As nice as that lunch was, we made no headway trying to resolve the greatest issue that exists between she and I: she doesn't like to use her turn signals when driving. Argh, that makes me frustrated, which may well have been the point. Joke's on her, though: I'm planning to withold any further revalations about harmony and life until she starts using her blinkers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And it rained. Oh, how it rained.

I'm back in St. Louis after the marathon session of driving that led me to the Jacksonville, Florida and back. There's a surprisingly small amount of stories to tell, since of the two days the entire trip took, I spent 30 of the 48 hours in the car. It's more than 1800 miles round trip from St. Louis to Jacksonville; a distance which would have delivered me comfortably to Los Angeles or (more surreally) Port-au-prince, Haiti, had we taken the Sub-mo-car.

My dad and I left at about 6:00 AM CST on Sunday morning. Traffic was light. It started raining as we accellarated onto the interstate highway and wouldn't stop for more than seven hours. There was never any lightning, but the rain was occasionally so heavy as to encourage a reduction of speed and a wish for a "higher-than-highest" windshield wiper setting.

This trip was approximately the same distance as my drive from Kansas City to Colorado Springs seven years earlier, but consists of a much better balance of scenery-per-mile. The drive starts in the plains of southern Illinois, which are familiar to me after many years of driving to Chicago and Indiana. Then to the green grasslands of Kentucky, which were in fine form on our drive home. The gently rolling hills looked positively bucolic and the effect was only seldom spoiled by old-style painted billboards for stores selling "Guns-Bait-Camoflonge". No, I don't know what that last thing is, either.

From there, the road crosses the Appalachian Mountains and down by the bluffs of Chattanooga and the Tennessee River. There is an amazing amount of Civil War stuff in this area, but this wasn't a trip for sightseeing so on we went. A large portion of Georgia seems to have traded agriculture for a more prosaic crop: sex shops. As the interstate is the most direct route up and down the eastern seaboard, the road is positively teeming with adult stores of one variety or other, which my dad theorized may stay open to cater to the numerous truckers that ply the roadways. It is extremely incongruous to see billboards advertising Grandma's Down-home Pecan Pie right before (and I'm not making this up) "Strippers: What More Do We Say?"

Southern Georgia becomes agricultural again, with short and squat citrus groves playing neighbor to the upward-stretching grace of the pecan trees. The road in northern Florida goes through part of the Osceola National Forest, which had a distressingly high number of deer along the side of a road where people drive 80 mph. In the dark of the night, our eyes were peeled for any martyrs for the cause of leaf-eating. Our hotel had palm trees wrapped in white lights for that "Now youins be in Flahrida" feel.

Early rise on Monday morning to join the inward-bound rush hour traffic to Jacksonville. Fancy downtown is nice, with wide streets and graceful curbs that wrap around regularly spaced trees. The symphony center is nice, with a well-apointed lobby graced by an entrance twenty or thirty doors wide. Naturally, the only door unlocked at 7:40 AM is waaaay down at the end. My dad takes up a position on a couch waaaay at the OTHER end and I'm admitted to the Musician's Lounge.

My hopes for a quick whiskey and some light piano are dashed: this is just a room with a bunch of lockers and half-height storage islands for instrument unpacking. There's one other auditionee here already. We exchange manly salutations ("Hey." "Hiya.") Remember that everyone else in this room is a competitor, not a friend! We eat competitors for breakfast with a hollandaise sauce and our pinkies raised! Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh, right. I should talk a bit about bass trombonists, as a species. During the course of the morning while I was there, some thirty people came through that lounge. Allow me to offer the census outline of the population of tromboni basso.

The typical bass trombonist (for this morning, before 10AM) is likely to be:
  • --Male
  • --Above-average tall (most were above 5' 10")
  • --White (only one of the thirty was black)
  • --Wearing either glasses or facial hair (or both)
  • --Young (most seemed from mid-20s to mid-30s)
  • --Nervous (watch for compulsive zipping and unzipping of cases to retreive and replace unneccesary items)
Some individuals stood out from the pack:
  • --Any woman holding a bass trombone. Of the 30 candidates I saw, I estimate one in ten to be female. As women (for politeness sake) are assumed to not have facial hair, all were seen to have glasses as their contribution to the point mentioned above.
  • --Any women NOT holding instruments. Two girlfriends of candidates were seen in the lounge, picking invisible hairs off their dates' shoulders. They were regarded with envy by those auditionees without significant others and with wistfulness by the ones' whose girlfriends or wives could not attend (or who care not to be in a room of geeky trombonists).
  • --The guy with hair long enough to put into a ponytail. He had the most unconventional and "fresh" hairstyle in the room, with most of us opting for the "hair stays around my head" design. This lent him an air of distinction until the room was entered by...
  • --The other guy with hair long enough to ponytail. His head was carefully studied by First Ponytail when Second's back was turned. This may be the trombone equivalent of showing up to the Oscars wearing the same gown as someone else: a vital portion of your self and identity has been compromised and both parties are left on the defensive.
  • --The guy shuffling people around. The only one in the room who worked for the orchestra, his steps were constantly observed by every set of eyes. Whatever he said had importance, so whenever he started moving it was time to pay attention.

Next time, the actual audition process, including the distraction of playing with myself (in a non-self-gratification sense). To avoid leaving anyone in suspense over my fate: I did not advance to a later round, so no need to sit around wondering.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Weirdo!

I have a strange love for a type of humor that I don't even know the proper name for. It's what happens in the disconnect between the written word and the way the word *sounds*.

Somebody updated their Facebook status with the interrogative "Wondering where most people keep their ice?"

And I felt almost compelled to type in return "I usually keep them in my head."

I find that funny, even though it's a kind of nerdy-funny. Especially because (even though both thoughts were exclusively written) it only makes sense if you think about how the word "ice" sounds out loud. And even then, it's still not a perfect match for "eyes", depending on how people pronounce it.

So, it's not funny to everybody and may even be annoying and pedantic, but I sure enjoy it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Out of the Office - Spring '09 Edition

I'm on the road this week, heading to Jacksonville in Florida for an audition. The whole trip is rather compressed and busy, so updates will be back to the typical frequency level of "occasional" while I make tracks across the southeastern U.S.

There may yet be small updates as I move around, depending on whether or not hotels have free Wi-Fi! If not, I'll be back in "regular" update mode next week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coming to you in glorious mono sound!

As threatened promised, I have here an audio recording of the previous entry on Easter business and sundry. Since both entries will stay on the front page for a bit, feel free to scroll down to read along while you listen (original entry was April 14, 2009). Those who have no desire to revisit that tale can just skip this entry, as that's all that's contained herein.




I noticed a few things:

- there are mistakes. There sure are. Some very noticeable ones, too; long drawn pauses in the middle of sentences as I realize that I changed word order or even changed words. While I could have edited this extensively to remove all such problems, that's a time-intensive course. Plus, leaving it "as is" shows the tool marks of the process, which add character (I hope).

- I slur some stuff. When I don't rigorously try to speak clearly, I tend to slur consonants together, as my brain races ahead to the next words while dragging my tongue behind. I'd call it mumbling if I wanted to be hard on myself, except that it only lasts for three or four syllables at most. I guess that means it's largely carelessness, which is probably worse.

- it's a bit rough. I read through it once to myself to iron out a lot of the pacing issues, then I recorded the second take. To this recording I made no edits or changes, other than deleting the final mouse click to stop the recording (because it annoyed me) and to do a pass with the equalizer to take away some of the sibilant "Ssss" from consonants and bolster the weak body of my little headphone mic. Everything else is just as recorded. Bonus points if you can find the stifled burp; I noticed it "in the moment" but couldn't find it again in a reasonable time. Ha!

- do I have a distant history of living in Britain? In listening to the clip, I noticed a handful of places that sound as though I temporarily dip into British-English for the length of a vowel or two. One particular place, I seem to pronounce "at all" not like we Americans do "at...all", but more like a London accent "attol". I should say that there is a different phenomenon at work at the same time: being very careful about the syllables one pronounces tends to sound English to American ears, too. I find that when I speak very carefully, it tends to sound like we (Americans) think the Queen sounds.

- and speaking of accents... Just as I wish that I was able to listen to myself playing from the audience while I'm performing onstage, I wish I were somehow able to listen to myself and do a better job of picking out the sign-post features of my speech that would identify me, a la Henry Higgins. Perhaps one of my foreign visitors will have something to say on that front, though I'm not sure I want to hear what the visitor from Tajikistan, who searched for "sex playing doctor" and wound up here, has to say.

- "naturality". To my ear, it's very hard to sound "normal" reading what I write. Probably because I end up writing with a more formal style of English, filled with subordinate clauses and extended parenthetical comments. These would be annoying and overly complex in spoken English. The end result is that I do sound like I'm reading it, but I don't suppose that could ever REALLY have been avoided. Perhaps I was misguided to use as my template good actors like Michael Caine, who have talked about "hearing the lines for the first time" as a key. Or perhaps it's just that this "lecture" version uses different methods than if it were a play, a sentiment which sounds stupendously obvious as I type it down. Oh well. Practice makes defect.

Easterrific, but impious

Last night was my third Catholic service in the last three and a half months. This was the Easter Vigil, which was explained by the music minister to be Very Important. Not being Catholic myself, I had no idea what an Easter Vigil was about, but they needed brass players and I needed their money. Thus, accord!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Funny like a heart attack

Today started off like most days. Birds chirping. Cars honking. Fridge running.

Then it got all weird and political. One of my liberal friends posted a statement implying penance for Notre Dame for all this fuss about Obama and his upcoming commencement speech. Then somebody I know from the opposite end of the political spectrum responded, and things just went weird. Let's parse this out, with only the names altered:

Laura: Go ahead, Notre Dame. Say your million rosaries.

Calvin: "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation - at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers." - barack obama
-vs-
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."
-Francis Bellamy

So glad to see our 'great' leader is leading us forward! What a joke this man is.

Andrew Schwartz: I'd like to interject that Francis Bellamy (a Baptist minister) did not include "under God" in his original Pledge. That wasn't added until 20 years after he died, as a nod to a portion of Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address", where he [Lincoln] refers to a nation "under God".

Calvin: Well, with his acclaimed homage to Lincoln in his presidency, or lack there of, I guess this is a contradiction for mr. obama. The only good thing that could come to him, following Lincoln's 'path' would be a trip to the theater. Tickets, anyone?

Andrew: Calvin. I understand being aggrieved by a president you don't care for. But alluding to presidential assassination in such a flippant manner makes you seem irrational and callous, if not outright seditious and treasonous. Please think about what you're saying.

Laura: Yowza! Here comes my first de-friending.
-END-


Exciting stuff, eh? The total time elapsed from the first entry to the last is just under two hours. I'm not friends with Calvin, except in the Facebook sense of an acquaintance. That is, we've been at the same bars before, have a lot of the same friends, but don't REALLY go together. He and Laura have clashed heads in message form before. Last time, it was something tame like excommunication as a punishment for government officials and whether that marked undue influence. This has been building quietly behind the scenes.

I'm not on Calvin's side in just about any manner you can think of, but I always felt the smoldering fire of "fair play" working just below my scalp. I disliked seeing him dog-piled by my acres of liberal friends, especially because he had a peculiar knack for getting information wrong. As a result, I often seemed to be a referee in these matches, serving as a voice of clarification and correction. I have no idea how this officious interference was perceived by him, but my sense of balance was preserved. As outspoken as he is, he needed no help from me to put himself back in the mires.

I have often been accused by my friends for thinking too much about things that don't deserve or merit it. No doubt this is one of those things, too, as I stumbled over the thought throughout the day. An acquaintance who seemed to be saying that the best thing for all concerned was for Obama to meet his own personal John Wilkes Booth. I can hardly believe it even now, but I'm certain that's the most un-American and shocking thing I've heard in this young year.

Calvin is a person of strict principles. He'd be flattered by this description, but I mean it as no compliment, especially in light of the nuance he allows to obscure those principles. He made no equivocation about the November elections: he was voting for John McCain. To Calvin, there was only one issue that mattered, and McCain happened to be the one with the correct answer.

That yardstick was the LIFE issue. McCain opposed abortion. That was the ONLY thing that mattered. All the other matters were secondary (at best!). The wars, the economy, the taxes, the environment, the foreign perception, the Russian advancement, the health care crisis: NONE OF THAT mattered as much as being pro-life.

It always seemed strangely zealous, Calvin's hate of Obama. For one thing, it was a well-and-true hate, not merely a dislike of the opposition: Obama was a genuine bad man who did terrible things under the cover of his media status. Calvin passed along pithy comments about Obama's suspect citizenship. Calvin was deadly serious about the threat posed by "Musilm sleeper agent" Obama. After Bobby Jindal delivered his middling follow-up speech to Obama's joint Congress address, Calvin crowed that he was ready to vote for him in 2012.

This would naturally bring him into "spirited discussion" with Laura, who is also outspoken and so much the Democrat that she probably has little stuffed donkeys on her mantle. They probably formed the "friend" connection in Facebook because they didn't REALLY know each other, other than the occasional wave at the bar. Rather like what defined the relationship between Calvin and myself...

I don't know what Calvin really thinks, in his heart of hearts. I don't know if he honestly thinks we'd be better off with the president dead. What I think is that Calvin was trying to use the inflammatory rhetoric which characterizes the most strident voices on the conservative side. I think he's saying it partially for shock value, but also because he's trying to stay afloat in a turbulent sea. Laura has a natural affinity for debate and always comes to knife fights carrying guns. I'm pretty sure that Calvin's crass hyperbole is mostly him being swept up and trying to "score a point", after being knocked slightly askance by my interjection.

As promised, Laura "unfrocked" Calvin as a friend. He'll most likely be prevented from seeing her updates and he'll certainly be prevented from commenting on them. Their tenuous connection is broken. I've been debating whether to do the same.

The quick and non-Hamlet part of my mind says to just cut him loose. He never communicates with me directly, shows no interest in what I'm doing, and is unlikely to get together with me for beers should we happen to be in the same city. Most damningly, he's the type of person who invokes assassination into debate; whether he does this for dark humor or actual policy is, somewhat strangely, irrelevant. There are some lines that should not be crossed, if for no other reason than avoiding visits from the Secret Service once you collect enough "chits" in your pile. The loss of his connection would make no ripple.

But then the wishy-washy side of my personality kicks in. Is it doing him a service to separate myself from him, leaving him with one less moderate opinion to stumble across. I'm not on a crusade to convert anyone, make no mistake. But it rubs some part of me rough to leave a person to an increasingly-reflective hall of mirrors. Mostly because I fear that's what will become of society, as we head to the internet for our individualized news sources. We can already receive our news from "friendly" outlets without hearing much of a dissenting or populist voice. The constructive interference of these echo-chambers is extremely detrimental. It leads only to the fragmentation and perceived isolation of communities. And isolated communities (by definition) show less inclination towards the larger groups and the ideas that unite them.

I don't know that either I or Barack Obama or anyone is right and has the right answers. But I do know that it is the constant friction of two opposing ideas that makes America great. We as a nation will fail if we don't TRY to engage everyone.

But assigning the sitting president to the assassin's bullet in casual debate is just giving everyone else the imperative to ignore you as an ignorant and backward child of no imagination or worth.

I don't respect the Calvins.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

You win some, you lose some. Then you lose some more.

I just received word that one of my upcoming auditions was cancelled by the orchestra. In light of the current reduction in donations, the orchestra had suspended three pending auditions. In addition, the orchestra is attempting to renegotiate the union contract, possibly with the intent of going part-time.

So. It's hard not to be a little discouraged, though I'd be more upset if I'd already made non-refundable airline reservations or something along those lines.

I may not have many paying music gigs here in KC, but at least the FREE groups keep playing.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Always a bride, never a bridesmaid

[from left to right: Dave, Karen, and Andy - Fountain City's regular trombone section. Not pictured: Will, our reinforcement]

As some of you may know, I'm a performing member of the Fountain City Brass Band (FCBB), based in Kansas City. The ensemble was formed as a so-called "British" brass band, meaning that it follows the division of players most commonly used in the local band culture of the United Kingdom. Today, the bands typically perform in one of two styles: the entertainment concert and the competition concert.

Works classified under "entertainment" label are usually fun and appealing to a wide portion of the audience. Film medleys, folk tunes, brief mood sketches, and featured solos all contribute to a typical brass band concert. The brass band has a fair amount of original literature composed specifically for that instrumentation, but it shows no hesitation in also borrowing works from other styles, such as opera airas and orchestral symphonies.

The contest literature is a completely different animal. Always arranged specifically for brass band, the pieces are often called "test pieces", because they are designed to test each player individually and the group as a whole. The actual difficulty of the pieces varies widely, but all are designed to be challenging to an appropriately skilled group (sometimes at the expense of "listenability", it must be said).

Last weekend, the FCBB boarded a bus for Louisville, KY, the location of the 2009 North American Brass Band Association competition (known informally as NABBA). While there, we competed in the highest tier of competition (the Championship Section) and won. Much celebration ensued. This victory marks the third annual victory at NABBA for the FCBB. Combined with two victories in the annual fall contest called the U.S. Open, it gives the band five championship wins in our last five contest appearances.

Of these victories, I've participated in the three most recent, having been performing with the band for just over a year. I was fortunate enough to be called into service at the last minute when for last year's NABBA contest after the previous bass trombonist got blizzarded into his airport and couldn't escape.

The upshot of this is that every time I've gone to competition, we've won! Should I be fortunate enough to stay with the band into the fall, that WILL change. The band is bound for competitions in the UK and the much stiffer native competition there. At Brass in Concert, we'll be there to share the stage with Black Dyke Band and Cory Band, reckoned to be two of the finest bands in the world. Black Dyke has been in existence in one way or another since 1815, Cory since 1884, and the FCBB has existed for seven years. Everything is younger over here, you see.

This contest at NABBA was something. I personally got to be treated as the most minor of minor celebrities. After the first competition piece on Friday night, many people from the audience and bands mingled in the lobby. I received much praise, for not only our band, but also the four members of the trombone section, and even for my own performance. It was very flattering.

The second night, much the same happened, only more so! Other FCBB people were laughing and telling the story of how it took me forever to cross the lobby, due to all the people stopping me to praise our sound and my sound. I signed no autographs (as one friend joked) but I did receive praise from other distinguished members of the American band society; people whose reputation and names I know well.

It's amazing to be arguably at the top of the heap of an American section of musical style. Unlike Madonna or Bruce Springsteen, however, we don't get a whole lot of financial rewards from our success. In fact, it mostly just costs us money. I'd venture to say the vast majority of pop artists aren't listed as 501-3C charitable organizations. It costs the band thousands of dollars just to make appearances at these continental contests, to say nothing of what it will cost to transport 40 people plus instruments to the UK and back.

I still say we should get a sponsorship from H&R Bloch or Sprint or other big Kansas City business. Unfortunately, in the current lean economic times, nobody is that interested in floating lots of money. There are wonderful dreams of fantastic operating budgets and corporate sponsorships, but that's still mostly wishful thinking. There's no lack of trying to kick start an appreciation here, though.

It's a good group of lads and lasses, though. We have the tall and the short, the thick and the thin, the mirthful and the melancholy. And together, we make a beautiful music.

Though, there is this annoying bass trombone sound every now and then...
.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

No one was hurt in this joke setup

Over the years, Vladimir Lenin has had many people mad at him for the trouble caused by his ideas. No doubt some of them probably though to themselves, "Blow it out your ass, Vlad!"

Lenin finally did. Or someone blew it for him. A pre-dawn explosion in St. Petersburg, Russia (formerly known as Leningrad) sounded from the detonation of a bronze statue of Lenin.

News article HERE

And the photograph worth at least a few hundred words.







Make your own joke about Russian cuisine, I suppose.