Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blizzardy HNT

If you're lucky, you can still hurry in to your nearest Dairy Queen and pick yourself up that decadent ice creamy delight known as the Thin Mint Blizzard. I have always been a fan of the Blizzard, and I've written many words about the nirvana known as the Thin Mint. When DQ announced their Blizzard of the Month for July, it was almost too much to hope for! But alas, all good things must come to an end, and Thursday will be the last opportunity to grab one of these. Until next summer (hopefully!).

I heard through the grapevine that another HNTer was going to be featuring the Thin Mint Blizzard this week, and I, always in need of inspiration, and not above plagiarism, figured I should follow suit. And why not? The temperatures around here have been in the mid-90s, there's a hot wind that's blowing through, and we haven't had a good rain around here since the night of the 4th. So I stopped by after work and bought myself one of these sinful concoctions. Probably my last one for the year. I got home, sat on the floor in front of the fan, and turned on the TV. I started making my way through this tasty goodness, but those long red spoons just don't allow for a good-sized bite. And by this time, it had melted some, so I did what any ice cream lover would do. Sure it was a little messy, and I found myself with a bit of an ice cream headache because I sort of overdid it, but it was worth it! I'm eagerly looking forward to next summer already, for the return of the Thin Mint Blizzard!

A definition: sweet and then bitter or bitter and then sweet, perhaps sweet with a bitter after taste; hence pleasant but painful.

Seen: a variety of knickers, many freckles, occasionally a nipple and once, briefly, her mouth and a lock of hair .. but never a whole picture.

A final wave goodbye, and a huge thank you for all the encouraging, the cheerful, and the downright lewd comments over the last 15 months.

The MG was Bittersweet, who wanted to make one final nipple salute. Bittersweet Me Blog has been closed permanently, for personal reasons. Those of you who read her stories will understand that the situation was complicated, and it has become necessary that those many and detailed histories become something read once, and now forgotten.

Although the blog is gone, the blogger remains .. and will continue to enjoy all your nekkid glory while considering new possibilities, a new life, and inevitably more smut and freckles.
A nice mix of this 'n that over at "...the Other HNT". Be sure to check out your fellow HNTers, and leave a comment! As usual--NSFW.
Lecram left me an email about an interview with a fellow HNTer in the Fresno Bee! Well, The Beehive, which is the bloggy part of the Bee. Joy, of Joy Unconfined talks about blogging, what she blogs about, and answers some questions. Including one wanting to know what the heck "HNT" was all about! Stop by and check her out if you're not familiar with her. Or, even if you are! And be sure to wish her a belated Happy Birthday, which was Tuesday!
I may or may not be around much through Sunday. I embark on a long-awaited road trip Friday morning. I seem to be leaving at the right time--gas prices have been falling around here (it's an abomination that I'm excited that I'll be paying less than $4/gal. on this trip...). I'll probably post Friday night, but it's going to be a bit harder to do the rest of the weekend. I believe that I've got a beer-drinking quota to fill, so we'll see! Lots of pictures, to be sure, and probably a surprise or two!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Childhood Memory Attack #3

It seems particularly fitting that today's TMI and my Attack #3 are related. It has to do with words. Growing up, I heard only two real "swear words" around the house. "Shit" and "goddamn" were about it. Nothing sexual, and certainly nothing anatomical. And the "f" word? Dad and I went to see "Deliverance" at the theater when I was maybe 16, and the first ten minutes had no less than 100 "fucks" in it (I might be exaggerating), but all I could do was think about how I was going to tell him what that word meant. Seriously--it was NEVER uttered in the house.

I vividly remember the first and only time I've ever sworn in front of a parent. I was a freshman in high school, and I must have had a bad day or something. I was in the front seat, and my sisters were in the back. But they'd left a bunch of shoes on the passenger side floor. I don't recall if we were arguing or what, but in the heat of whatever, I just blurted out "get these goddamned shoes out of here". My mother stops the car in the middle of the street. Granted, it wasn't a busy street, but still... She rips me a new one right then and there. It must've stuck. I can't ever remember swearing in front of my parents since. And really, even today, I find it difficult to use any of the "seven words" in front of them. I blush and get embarrassed if I stop by my parent's and they happen to be watching a movie. Even worse if it goes to a sex scene. I don't want to see that with my parents. (I have on good authority that my parents have had sex precisely 4 times in their lives, coincidentally all just 9 months before the births of me and my sisters). My sisters, on the other hand, have potty mouths to more than make up for me!

What really brought this to mind today wasn't so much the TMI, but a window sticker I'd seen coming to work this morning. It was crude and tacky, having something to do with cumming. I'm all for free speech, and lord knows I do my share of using all the vulgarities and slang here, but there needs to be a limit, in my mind. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. All I could think of was how I would answer to my kid (if I had one) sitting in the front seat and wanting to know what the sticker meant. I don't think I should be forced to deal with that because some immature hack in front of me thinks it's cool to put on his window. And then that got me to thinking of the whole vocabulary thing.

I have often ranted here about many of the comments I see "out there" being crude, immature and inappropriate. That, and the overtly egotistical manner that many of them come off as. But I find that I'm in the minority. Most apparently aren't bothered by it. I guess I always will be. I can blame it all on my mom, and that stopped car in the middle of the street all those years ago!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Childhood Memory Attack #2.5

OK, this isn't so much an Attack, but since I seem to be revisiting my youth... I listen to internet radio while at work. I used to listen to a classical music station, but frankly, most of the music played on it was the classical music that make people turn their noses up at it. And I can only take so much of that. I mentioned in a post earlier this year that I'd found a classic rock station out of Seattle. That one lost its appeal after awhile. Some of the music was just too obscure for my tastes. Some of it was barely categorable (you know what I mean) as "rock". I even had some individuals (*cough*Biscuit*cough*) ridiculing some of the titles/groups as they showed up in chat windows. Plus, it's odd how some stations can find that the grunge music of the 90s fit the category of classic rock (well, it IS a Seattle station...). So I went searching for a new station last week, and I believe I've found it!

iTunes radio streams has a category called 70s/80s Hits, and one of the first streams listed is Absolute 70s (formerly Pop Goes the 70s!). I was a little hesitant, but desperate, so I clicked. Oh, my! Before going further, I have to mention that the first half of the 70s was my jr. hi/h.s. days, and the second half were my college years. So I was in my impressionable youth. Now I'm not saying that the music on this station is the best of the 70s. Actually, far from it in many cases. But man, it's pushing all the reminiscing buttons. And yes, that includes the old Carpenters and Barbra Streisand songs. Some of these songs aren't even good enough to include on Time-Life's music series (and they do EVERYTHING!). No, alot of these songs are what you could hear on one of the two AM stations in town. The other one played 70s country--EEK! These are the singers/groups that you'd never admit to listening to. Helen Reddy. Seals & Crofts (saw them live!). John Denver.

Surprisingly, there's very little disco music. Or anything that was categorized as hard rock at the time. But I've heard songs that I haven't heard in 30+ years! The full live version of Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make Believe"! I'm not sure I've EVER heard that on the radio! Assembled Multitude playing the overture to "Tommy"! The Love Unlimited Orchestra! This station is true to it's "70s" designation. Even to the point that they play TV themes (which were often "hits" in the day). My only minor complaints so far--an awful lot of ABBA, and unfamiliar ABBA at that. And the Captain and Tennille doing covers of songs they really shouldn't have done.

Beyond that, I'm hearing the songs of my youth, and I'm in heaven! Even if they aren't the best songs of the day. They're the ones that open a window in my mind, and out fly all these wonderful memories. Now if they'll just play the song that was playing the first time Julie L. and I went out....

Childhood Memory Attack #2

I don't quite recall how old I was, but because of where it happened, I must have been no older than nine. My best friend of the day, Joe H., had spent most of the day playing over at my house. It rained most of the day, but once it stopped, we ran outside to play. My oldest sister was outside too, and she screams. We both run around to the front of the house by the curb to see what was up. She had found a big honkin' caterpillar, similar to this guy. We all squatted down to take a closer look, but none of us wanted to pick it up. It was strangely beautiful, and I think it was probably the first one any of us had seen outside of the mason jars at school where we tried to get them to turn into butterflies (they usually died before that point).

S1 was squatted down at the butt end (or face end--who can tell?), and Joe was at the opposite end. I was looking at it from the side. I don't recall if someone said something, or if I heard voices, or if I saw it sprouting long tentacles or what, but without warning, I stood up, and I stepped on it. Hard. And who's waiting on both ends? S1 and Joe. Caterpillar guts shoot out of both ends. Yellowish-clear orange gunk. All three of us are in tears, but only one of us is laughing. S1 immediately runs inside screaming for Mom. Joe looks at me in disbelief, and runs the six blocks home before the guts dry on him. I'm left alone, laughing with the remains. A flat, green, deflated balloon of a creature. No butterflies coming out of this one, I'm afraid. I sort of kick it into the street. And then I hear the high-pitched scream of my mother. I don't believe I sat the same for a week...
Ever walk into a situation where you can eavesdrop on a brief conversation, and find out that you are the subject of conversation? Happened to me this weekend. While I'm secure in knowing that they didn't know I was there, and that what was being said about me certainly didn't hold any water, it still found itself in my head. I hate it when that happens...
I hadn't realized how much more detail you can get from Google Earth than with Google maps. That was made crystal clear to me this weekend. Time to install Google Earth on my laptop!
Lots of activity happening in the land of Os over the next couple of weeks. No details for now, but I'll be sure to bring you along for the ride!
Still looking for Dirty. Anyone know anything??

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Childhood Memory Attack #1

No--this isn't a therapeutic memory recall of any sort. My childhood was pretty darned good, as I remember. Except for the day my dad threw a baseball at me (no, we were playing catch) and I caught it square in the chest. Or the day I fell off the rope swing in the Simkins' back yard and I broke my arm. Or the day the front bicycle wheel came off of the fork and I landed on the crossbar--enjoying that special pain that only boys can truly understand. But as usual, I digress... I'm thinking that Childhood Memory Attacks can be a bit of a series here, if they start flooding my mind.

When I was growing up, there were plenty of opportunities for me to go to camp, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc. The one common factor that all of these opportunities offered was the chance to go door-to-door, unchaperoned, and try to get the unsuspecting resident to purchase whatever it was we were selling (Halloween was sort of the same way, in reverse). It didn't matter what part of town, or what time of day, or what day of the week. All money raised was to be applied towards the registration fees of whatever organization we were selling for.

I don't know if it's because he never had the opportunity himself, or if he was just ornery, but Dad was adamant that "no child of mine was going to beg for money from strangers..." Needless to say, that sort of made me an outcast, and raised embarrassing issues in front of my friends. This actually lasted through high school, where I learned to appreciate his attitude much better. While the rest of the band was selling magazine subscriptions, I was turning in a check for what was the "minimum" amount that we were each supposed to raise. My parents would rather just write the check, than to have me go door to door. Oh, sure, I missed out on the wonderful prizes, and the chance to see my name at the top of the sales chart, but frankly, by that time, I had girls to chase. And that was much more important, even to a band/choir/drama geek like me!

Even though I didn't get to sell anything in my youth, I'm a sucker for buying it now! But with conditions. I generally won't buy non-perishable items. Magazine subscriptions will never see a penny from me. That's just a junk mail machine. I generally won't buy anything where you have to pre-order. I want my product NOW! I generally won't buy anything from parents. The kid has to make the sales pitch to me. I'm much more apt to buy something from a kid when they least expect it.

I've been known to drive around the block to pull up to some middle school band students carrying a box of the World's Finest Chocolate. After they get past the creepy factor, see that I'm waiving a fiver, and I see that they've put their cell phones back in their pocket, then we're in business! I used to do the same with grade school kids who were selling these wonderful toffee-coated peanuts for YMCA summer camp. I can still hear the 'whoosh' of the foil as you opened the vacuum-packed can for the first time. Haven't seen those in a long time... And if I hear of a dope peddler in the alley selling Thin Mints, I'm clearing out a bank account. That's one thing that you don't have to be a kid to sell to me!

So what brought on this first Attack? Lemonade stands. One thing that Dad did allow us to do. Sit out in the hot sun, on a busy street corner, with a sticky warm pitcher of sugary goodness, selling it in 4 oz. increments for 10¢ each. Of course, we never made money, drank most of it ourselves, and got bored with it after 30 minutes. Things haven't changed much today. The "lemonade" is more likely to be Kool-Aid, and mixed in a very watery proportion. The 4 oz. cups are still around, but cost a quarter now. And kids still set up shop on busy street corners. Unfortunately, busy street corners are the last place that a successful lemonade/Kool-Aid stand works. Traffic won't stop. And around here, we don't have the pedestrian traffic. So I've become one of those that will stop when I see one. Whether I'm thirsty or not. That's not really why you're there. And I will fumble through my pockets for a quarter, and end up giving them a dollar bill (because I need the quarters for my laundry!). I've even been known to drop a twenty in the jar. Not often, but it's been done. The cup is too small, the pitcher too big, the drink too sweet (or not sweet enough), the counter is sticky from where they've been spilling it while pouring, and there's always somebody's baby brother nearby crying, and some kid with a stained shirt from where he spilled while pouring, and the kid with the sticky hand from when he stuck it in the pitcher to get the bugs that fell in. These are the kids I'll go out of my way for, because when you leave, there's always a smile on their faces. And how can that be bad for your day?

For those of you not used to this sappy side of me, don't worry. It's temporary. I just need to find my dope peddler. I hear he's working down by the Dairy Queen these days...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Buzzy HNT

Absolutely, I promise that this will be the end of concert talk! I didn't post any pictures of Buzz, mainly because I really didn't get any sort of a chance to take any of him. I got a few taken from the back row, as you can see here, but as I mentioned on Monday, his schedule was tightly controlled, and I had duties I had to attend to.

What I can tell you is that he is a rabid advocate of future space travel, space tourism, and lunar colonization. He firmly believes in the youth of the world and their place in space. He had a book signing at the local science museum, and even though the parents were the one's who were in awe, it was the kids and their questions that brought the biggest smiles to his face.

Because of the time constraints, and because he didn't want to be inundated by autograph seekers, he only signed the books at the book signing. With a couple of exceptions...

This week's Mystery Guest is part of that segment of HNTers that is really special...the HNT couples. When I asked about a blurb, I got this: "...she is my inspiration for writing [the blog]. Besides gushing about how amazing and sexy and wonderful she is and what a great mom and step mom and friend she is and bragging about her graduating from college last month and starting a new job in September and how I'm probably the luckiest [guy] in the whole wide world, I'm not sure what else to say."
I think that's probably as good as it needs to get! She'll be revealed tomorrow, but as always, you're free to stop by and say hi, if you know who she is! The MG this week is ♀ , the lovely wife of Sweat Shop Sissy! She's turning 40 tomorrow (Friday), so be sure to stop by and send in your congratulations!

Be sure to stop by "...the Other HNT" and see what sort of trouble your HNT friends are getting into! Comments are always appreciated, and as usual, it's NSFW.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Potpourri for $100, Alex

I love getting surprised by Christmas movies in the middle of the summer! Did you guys catch "Elf" on USA tonight? How can you go wrong with Ed Asner as Santa??
Is the rest of the country blessed with the commercial about the woman who has to re-use catheters?? I mean, commercials about erectile dysfunction, incontinence and the standard women's issues are one thing, but catheters??
I'll mention this again, in case you missed it the first time. Not sure if I like Keanu playing the role of Klaatu, but who knows?
Since I'm pimping new movies, this one's still 10 months away. But that voice. Even just the first word. Sends a chill up my spine every time! (yes, I'm a geek)
I was chatting with someone and sent them to the blog I started for pictures that I didn't post here. I honestly thought that I had a button to the place, but apparently not. I stopped by and noticed I hadn't posted anything since Thanksgiving '05. I might have to start it up again!
Only about a week left to get your Thin Mint Blizzard!
Where, oh where, did Dirty go??

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

After the Concert

In my last post, I rated the event as an 8.5 out of 10. Here's the breakdown:
  • WEATHER - 10 - Originally rated at 8, due to some bothersome wind, it's been re-rated up. The temperature never got above the mid-80s. It was even (dare I say it) chilly on Friday morning during the initial stage set-up. Starting on Sunday, the temps jumped to the mid-90s, and 99 today. Tomorrow is supposed to be hot and thunderstorms. Looking back, the weather was pretty darned good!
  • STAGE CREW- 10 - As mentioned earlier, they worked their tails off. I was 2 hours ahead of schedule on Friday. And after the concert, it only took just over an hour to clear the stage, and the whole thing was down within 3 hours.
  • PERFORMANCE - 7 - This was not a perfect performance, by any means. There was a full-blown train wreck in the third movement of The Planets (Mercury). Sure, it was the most difficult movement. Sure, it's easy for the brass (most of whom don't play that movement) to criticize. But when one is unsure where they are in the music, they should be looking at the conductor to help them figure it out. Instead, people panicked. It wasn't pretty. It shouldn't have happened. Made everyone a little skittish about the rest of the first half of the concert.
  • FIREWORKS - 8 - To be fair, the fireworks were a 10, but their execution hurt. In particular, the finale ended about 30 seconds early. Not the fault of the pyrotechnician, but poor performance by our staff people in charge of cues.
  • CROWD - 8 - After the number of years I've been doing this, I've quit trying to estimate the size. If someone says there were 15,000 people there, I wouldn't argue. Our new executive director has some clout with numerous government agencies who routinely photograph you and me from their satellites. He's already put in a request for data, if it's available. Then we might get a truer number. The reason for a lower rating--people are slobs. Garbage, chicken bones, and bottle tops littered the lawn. Despite numerous warnings over the years about no dogs, six people were told to leave because they brought them. And for all the "not MY dog!" arguments, there was still plenty of dog poop to make things unpleasant.
  • SOUND - 9 - For an outdoor venue like this, we have to be miked. And for the most part, that was fine. But there were some points where the mics were a little hot.
  • BUZZ - 9 - It depends who you talk to about this one. There were many that just weren't impressed (which blows me away...). I didn't get to really talk to the man. I was introduced, and shook hands. Of course, I was in awe. He had a strict schedule, I had work to do, it just wasn't in the cards to have any sort of conversation. As for his narration--he lost the point based on his presentation. He sounded like a career military man reading a script that someone else had written. Which, by coincidence, is exactly what he was doing. This isn't a normal function for him, but he did well. But not a 10.
  • CONCESSIONS - 10 - Honestly, I don't really know what there was available, or if it was any good, but Dad came backstage at intermission and gave me a large cup of beer. It was tasty, it was cold, and it couldn't have come at a better time. So that rates a 10 for the entire category!
  • PERSONAL INJURY - 8 - This would have been a 10 if I'd done this Sunday night. But I drew blood Monday morning. Not a scrape, but more of a puncture in my arm. Not sure when or how it happened, but I looked down, and I'm bleeding. Add the pain in every joint below my hips, and the best I could do was an 8. Still better than snapping my leg off like last year!
  • OVERALL EXPERIENCE - 8.5 - I still stand by this number, even if it doesn't work out that way. I was really disappointed in the train wreck, and irked about the fireworks finale. But if that's the worst things that happened, then I'd call it a rousing success!
Below are some pictures (click 'em to big 'em!). The ones from the stage area are mine. The ones from the crowd vantage point are some that I was made aware of in Picasa. All in all, a great show!

Note the blankets already out at 9:00 AM! - Just the center portion of the huge crowd...

Beginning of the concert. Note the kids playing. - We had no idea that we had this sunset! Beautiful!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pure and Utter Exhaustion...

Well, it's over and done with. I'd give it an 8.5 out of 10. I've spent most of Sunday asleep and offline. And remarkably sore. I've got muscles and joints all voicing their displeasure with me. I'll do a real post with pictures and details soon. I still have equipment to return on Monday. Hopefully, I'll be totally done with things by late afternoon. In the meantime, here's a photo (one of many) that ran in today's paper. I'm in the back row...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Star Wars, Throne Room and Credits

Today is D-Day! Happy to report that everything is going as smoothly (or better) than any year previous! Weather's cooperating (though I did get some sort of burn--haven't looked in the mirror yet), my set-up crew put me 2 hours ahead of schedule, I'm injury free so far, and I get to meet Buzz Aldrin today!!!! I'll try to get some pictures from the festivities, and post them when I can!
I won't have much of a chance to say anything to them until they show up to the concert, but Mom & Dad will be celebrating their 52nd Anniversary today! Woohoo!
Our finale of the concert will be the opening section of the Star Wars Theme. Found a great clip! We're actually playing two parts of the famous score. In this video, we play up to the point where Obi-Wan gets "killed" here:

Then we jump ahead to the Throne Room scene from the end of Episode IV. And the music that no one sits through for the closing credits. It's during this part that we have a really good fireworks show to end the show.

Looking forward to catching up with everyone on Sunday!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flying Theme from "E.T."

Rehearsal went relatively smoothly last night. Surprise of the evening is that the janitor who actually was helpful on Monday night, told me that he could either stick around for the tear-down after rehearsal for 45 minutes and get paid overtime, or we could just leave it because they were going to be cleaning the auditorium the next day anyway, and he could get out of there. Momma didn't raise no dummy! So I got home before midnight, which was an unexpected treat!
Tomorrow's post will be on auto-pilot, unless something spectacular happens and I need to cut in. The middle piece of the second half is the Flying Theme from "E.T." A nice (and needed) respite for the brass. This particular part of the soundtrack was never available as an individual piece until just a few years ago, when our conductor was contracted by John Williams' people to write it. He must have liked it, because he's conducting it in the video here with the Boston Pops. But our orchestra played the world premiere! Well, the premiere of just this section. But, still....

Now that I'm neck deep in rehearsals and set up, I'm not going to be around until Sunday. Everybody behave and play nicely! And go to Dana's site and wish her a Happy Birthday!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Superman HNT

Since I said I'd title my posts by the music we're playing this weekend, please don't make me try to live up to that in my HNT!

Though, there's times with the symphony where I feel like I am Superman. No, I'm not faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I'm more like faster than my equipment truck, more powerful than the little kid that sometimes helps, and can almost leap the gap between a loading dock and that same equipment truck. I actually like working by myself loading the truck. Before a concert, I do it on my own terms and own time (as long as I think about it ahead of time). It gives me a chance to visually inspect the equipment and make repairs, if necessary. And keep a running inventory of what we've got. After a concert, though, it's a bugger. After a full weekend of rehearsals and a performance, I'd much rather go have a cold beer than load equipment. But if I have help, it's not too bad. And this weekend, I'm going to have all sorts of help (yay!!!).

Because of the music we're playing, we have a larger-than-normal orchestra, which has stretched our equipment. I'm having to repair some of our defective music stands. All you former band geeks out there are familiar with what I'm talking about. Tipping the stand upside down, grabbing the greasy bolt, and twisting the legs to tighten it all. Can you sense my excitement?? Figured this would be about as half-nekkid as I was going to be this week...

Morning Blues Again
-Chicago III

So when you wake up this morning
And those blues are hangin round, yeah
Just listen baby
And I'll tell you what to do
I just may join you, neath your bed
And turn on your electric friend
Woah, and send those thoughts to me
cause you know where Ill be
And then you can join me
In my hour in the shower
Join me in my hour in the shower

Not to hard to figure this one out, especially if you were at her site. This week's MG is ISmile2Much! Stop by and see the rest of her shower pics!

"...the Other HNT" is still attracting lots of hits, and the comments are starting to build up, finally! Be sure to stop by and check out your fellow HNTers! NSFW, as always.
Surprising (to me anyway) is that many of you missed the link awhile back to our guest narrator for this concert. We will have Dr. Buzz Aldrin, retired astronaut, and the 2nd person to set foot on the moon, narrating during The Planets. While a good chunk of you were not yet born when he walked on the lunar surface, those of us who DO remember the event will also remember that the entire astronaut corps were international heroes. With Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins as the most heroic of them all. Even today, Dr. Aldrin is still heavily involved with space. He's a strong advocate of space tourism, and owns a design patent for a permanent lunar settlement. He was a scuba diver long before he became an astronaut, and was a member of the second team of divers to reach the "Titanic", making him the only person to fly as far away from the Earth as he has, and to dive 2.5 miles below its surface!

Space flight has unfortunately become rather boring or passé for alot of the public these days. Personally, I find that a shame. Today's generations don't recognize the bravery of facing complete unknowns in that first lunar landing. Lifting off from the surface was certainly not guaranteed! Dr. Aldrin has done his share to keep space travel on people's minds. And across the younger generations, as well. The inspiration for Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story"? Buzz Aldrin. The moonman statuette given at MTV's movie awards? Buzz Aldrin. Personally, this might be the greatest man I'll ever have the chance to meet (other than Dad...).

The second half of the concert will start with the theme to "Superman", written by John Williams (in fact, ALL of the music of the second half is written by Williams). The true Superman for HNT this week is not me (!), but Dr. Buzz Aldrin. Astronaut, visionary, explorer, hero, legend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Klaatu barada nikto!

Ooh! Gotta go see this! Can't be as good as the original (are they ever?). At least Gort looks good!

Neptune, the Mystic

You knew there'd have to be an injury update... One minor scrape on "the" leg, minimal blood. Twisted ankle this afternoon. Hurts like a sonofabitch, but won't slow me down (EDIT--Oh, my. That sucker stiffened up really good overnight). Waiting for the sunburned bald head on Friday.
Finally treated myself to the Thin Mint Blizzard tonight. Ah, the things that people come up with to enjoy their Thin Mints! As I've heard from others, it is a wonderful taste treat!
Seen the new "Old Spice" commercial with Doogie Howser, MD? Go ahead--raise your hand if you don't know who Doogie Howser is/was. Don't be shy. Did you know he's openly gay? Missed that press release, I guess.

The last movement of The Planets is "Neptune, the Mystic". It truly is mystic sounding, using fairly obscure instruments such as celeste, bass flute and contrabassoon. Also an off-stage women's chorus. Holst actually wrote the first "fade-out" in music. His directions at the end of the piece are for the women to continue singing as they exit the building. We'll do it by turning down their mikes... Hope you've enjoyed The Planets. HNT will start the second half of the concert with some familiar music!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Uranus, the Magician

I had to have known that things were going a bit too smoothly...

We rehearse in the auditorium of one of the high schools. Have done so for years. It's not ideal, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's workable. But there's always hurdles to jump through (huh?). They've just gotten higher and higher recently. To the point now that no less than 8 different people have to be CCed on any email regarding what dates we need to get into the school, what equipment we'd like to borrow, and specific times to get in. On the plus side, the assistant superintendent of schools in town is the current president of the symphony board. He's been able to steamroll some things for us, but not even he could have fixed this.

I should have anticipated problems on Saturday, when the lights in the auditorium wouldn't turn on. A janitor (who generally unlocks the doors and lets us in) ended up having to use bolt cutters on a dimmer box so that we could have light. Not something that I asked him to do, but his course of action. After rehearsal, I turn off the lights, lock the doors, and plan on coming back on Monday.

Fast forward to Monday. I was supposed to meet a janitor at 6PM. About 5 minutes later, one of our percussionists lets me in. She had been talking with the band director, who happened to be putting in some work. At 6:15, still no janitor, so I ask the band director to open the auditorium. Only because it was apparent that no janitor was in the building (I had checked the whole school). Now that I was in, I had to turn on the lights. No lights. Checked breakers, fuses, switches--nada. Staff people are called, they call school personnel, etc.... Short story--electricians were working on the lighting system in the auditorium. They shut off all power when they left. The janitor who is called by the asst. supt. had no idea that we were showing up tonight (in other words, if there was no band director working, we wouldn't have gotten in). The only available room we could move to in a pinch was the gymnastics/wrestling room. Good sized, high ceiling. Teen-aged sweaty testosterone lingering in the air. The jocks are in the school at 6:30 every morning to work out. And not a single vent to the outside. We moved the whole set-up over/up to the new room. It was hot, smelly, loud, and we only got two hours of a planned three hour rehearsal to play.

Needless to say, there will be many, many phone calls made in the morning. Fortunately, I won't have to make them. I often think it would work so much better if I just went downtown and offered some punk kid $25 for a master key to the school. Lord knows there's plenty of them out there...
The next movement in The Planets is "Uranus, the Magician". Go ahead. Get the schoolyard snickers out of the way now. This movement is big for the brass, but even Holst knew that he'd asked too much of us by this point, so everything is easy to play, and in a nice range. There is a bit of a similarity to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (think Mickey Mouse as the wizard in Fantasia). A bit more ploddy, but alot of fun to play--lots of bombastic stuff. We do bombastic well! Enjoy the Ken Russell vision--:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

Sunday wasn't much of a day that I accomplished anything, and yet I did. If that makes any sense at all. I spent a little time practicing on some concert music. I forgot a little discovery from yesterday. It's finally happened--my old age has caught up with me. Moose, Kamey and Rachel have all laughed at my expense by offering to hold a menu far enough away so I can read it. And I've worn glasses while working on the computer both at home and at work. But now I can no longer play/read music without wearing reading glasses. I didn't have them at Saturday's rehearsal, and found that I definitely need them. For the most part I was OK, but there were plenty of wrong notes on my part because I couldn't read the exact notes or maybe the accidentals. In any case, my ego and psyche took a hit on Saturday. At least I have all my hair!
That's not quite true either...I shaved it all off again on Thursday.
Funny that the next movement of The Planets is "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age"... This movement sort of plods along. Much like I do these days. There's a nice little trombone section solo in this. We have to play with taste, delicacy and in tune. Three things the trombone isn't immediately know for. However, Holst was a trombonist as well, so he must have known a secret or two. This movement doesn't really change in character much, though there are some very nice moments in it. It ends by dying away softly. Just like in real life...

On a different note--I just found these YouTube videos that were made by British filmmaker Ken Russell. He did an entire film on the piece. He's also well-known for his other documentaries on other British composers. I'll use these for the final 3 movements. If you're so inclined, you should check out the video for "Mars".

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

Well, we had our first rehearsal yesterday morning. As first rehearsals go, it wasn't too terribly bad. This is such a difficult concert for everyone that the main concern will be endurance. There will be bloody lips by the time this is all over!
I got an unexpected phone call right after rehearsal. Rachel let me know that she was in town for the weekend! (Though I just saw that she left a response to my comment on her site telling me too. Oops!) I bought Kokanee and mint chocolate ice cream and she had chips and salsa from the dollar store and we watched "Alien" and "Aliens" and I played with her dog and we just had a nice evening. And I drank way too many Kokanees. She heads back home this afternoon.
The next movement in The Planets is possibly the best movement, if not the most recognizable one. "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" has three distinct moods. Lots of great brass writing. The music of the second mood could be the basis for the music from the orgy-like scene from "Conan, the Barbarian" before Ah-nold destroys the temple. Very similar music. The third one is vintage Holst--writing a theme that sounds like it's an old English hymn. In fact, the music was original, but he adapted it to a poem by Cecil Spring-Rice, and the result was "I Vow to Thee, My Country", now a famous and well-loved English hymn. It was performed at the funeral of Princess Diana.

The video clip is not my favorite one, but I've been having issues with YouTube and Google over the past couple of days, so this is the best one I could get to load...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mercury, the Winged Messenger

What a wonderful day it was today! Temps never got above the mid-70s, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the wind wasn't too bad. Forecast for next weekend is for temps in the mid-80s. If that's the case, it'll be 20 degrees cooler than the past 3 years, and that's going to make this concert quite bearable!
I went back into the archives, and found this from almost exactly two years ago to the day (you have to read it to understand what's going on here)! I bring that up, because, yes, it's happened again... This time, not by my own hand though. I happened to look over the balcony yesterday, and found a freshly-dead, not-quite-ready-to-fly chick on the concrete. Looks like it bolted out like the one from two years ago, but must have hit the concrete too hard. All the neighborhood birds have come by to pay their respects. All morning, all afternoon, again before the sun came up. I anticipate a full weekend of mourning.
I have made mention in the past that the second scariest movie of all time was "The Shining" (not that drivel that was a made-for-TV movie--I'm talkin' about the one with Jack!). The creepiest part of that movie was not all the blood, or Jack being a dull boy, or even the "REDRUM! REDRUM!" parts (that was for you Turnbaby!). No, it was the creepy twin sisters. Tie that into the current "no dead zone" campaign for Verizon Wireless, and you get this (genius, I tell ya!):

The next movement of The Planets is "Mercury, the Winged Messenger". I always think of the FTD logo with this. Listening to the music, you can hear Mercury flitting around more like Tinkerbell (who'da thunk I could mention that name in two consecutive posts?). This movement is very difficult rhythmically. Again, Holst didn't write parts for the trombones or tubas. Either because he was saving them for the next movement, or he knew that flitting and difficult rhythms don't mix well with the low brass. Or because we're inherently sexist...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Venus, the Bringer of Peace

I'm going to title the next week's worth of posts by the title of the music I'm posting for the day.
Apparently I pissed on a certain blogger's Wheaties yesterday because I'm sexist. I didn't even know I was at the breakfast table. He's taken his toys and won't be playing with us anymore. Hope you all aren't pissed at me... I promised someone yesterday that I wouldn't write about it, and the time/energy I've spent here already is far more than the subject warrants.
I almost scored a new car yesterday! Some punk kid (with Tinkerbell decals on his brake lights, I kid you not!) swerved left into my lane. He had NO clue I was even there. Had I been thinking, I would have let him hit me, but he probably didn't have insurance. Instead I laid on the horn, braked, and almost swerved into the oncoming semi. I'm sure he would have had insurance, but I would have been dead, so I couldn't fully enjoy it. Instead, I almost got rear-ended, the kid flips me off, continued to swerve between lanes, and basically broke a half-dozen traffic laws. The best part--I ended up directly behind him at the next red light. I got uncomfortably close and made sure he saw me in his rear view mirror. He avoided looking at me until he realized I was turning right. At which time he flipped me off one more time for good measure. Damn, I love the youth of today!
I mentioned earlier in the week that summer had indeed arrived. Another telltale sign? Bellies. Female bellies. Bare female bellies. Big, bare female bellies. In one of my earliest posts ever, I questioned why teenage girls had to bare their bellies, particularly when they're on the heavy-set side? Where their jeans rode low, and their shirts rode high, and their ghostly white bellies stuck out in between. Well, I think I found the answer. It's their mothers. Women who are old enough to know better. I have seen far too many middle-aged middles this summer than I ever cared to. This isn't a rant pitting skinny against obese. Lord knows, I've got more belly than many of you combined. This is a rant in favor of good taste. Wear some clothes that fit! Don't try to dress like Britney when you're in your mid-30s (well, ever, actually...). Take a little pride in your appearance! Big girls (and guys) don't have to look like the cliché white trash trailer park residents!
I was a little surprised in the comments that many of you actually knew Holst's music, or at least The Planets. I suspect that many of you recognized parts of yesterday's offering. The next movement is "Venus, the Bringer of Peace". A nice counterpart to the warlike sounds of the first movement. Hope you like it! (No trombones in this movement--we must be too warlike. Trouble makers. Rabble rousers. Sexist.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thirsty HNT

As quickly as July has arrived, I realized that I'm going to be a busy bee over the next few weeks! In the immediate future, of course, will be the symphony concert. Rehearsals start up on Saturday, and everything seems to be falling nicely into place. Coming up after that will be a long-anticipated road trip, followed shortly thereafter by a blogger visit! I'll write more about those later. And then another HUGE honkin' road trip in September which is still in the development stage.

One thing I end up doing in the summer is neglecting the cleaning of the apartment, and all the other weekly chores that should be done. In particular, I have a terrible habit of letting my plants start to wither and droop before I water them. So here I am, tending to my plants. It's probably a good thing I don't have kids. Or pets!
This week's Mystery Guest is another one of those silly British girls. I'll have to admit that I have only recently found out anything about her, even though she's been blogging for about a year. She's been involved with HNT since August, but wasn't aware of "us" until just this April. She'd been allowing the initials to stand for other things. But still half-nekkid! From what I can tell through the stalking and prying I've done, I think this is the first time she's given us a picture of her face (well, even just the small part shown here...). She writes alot about sex, love, life and her own experiences with all that. Bakery goods seem to come into play, too! She'll be revealed late Thursday afternoon, but feel free to stop by and say hi if you know who it is! Sorry for the delay here. Internet/cable was cut off to the entire apt. complex... If you didn't figure it out, the MG is Cake from Having My Cake...And Eating It Too! She's celebrating her 1st blogiversary this week too, so stop by and say hi!

We continue to have some great quality over at "...the Other HNT". Be sure to stop by and see your friends and leave some comments! As always--NSFW!
In an effort to edjumacate you about the music we're playing next weekend, I'm going to post a YouTube video of everything we're going to play. I'll start out with two, because I'm a day late to start, and the first one is really short, anyway. I'll do them in order of performance, too. So to start, the opening fanfare from Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra!". Followed by the first movement ("Mars, the Bringer of War") from Gustav Holst's The Planets. Enjoy!

Monday, July 07, 2008

This 'n That

Summer is officially here. It was bright and sunny today, but we've got a huge haze all around us. Presumably from forest fires. We usually don't get smoke from California, but the haze is fairly thin, so it's not from anything nearby. Maybe it was from another part of Montana...
I'm not a baseball fan by any stretch of the imagination. The only attractions are peanuts and large glasses of beer. But I like the concept of the seventh-inning stretch, and the singing of baseball's anthem, "Take Me Out To the Ballgame". No one has done justice to its singing since Chicago Cubs' announcer Harry Caray died. However, ESPN is running a contest for the best version from nine bands/musicians as a tribute to its 100th anniversary. The list has been whittled down to three, based on fans' voting. You can see videos of each version here, and can vote for the version you like best of the top three (I'm partial to Gretchen Wilson--she's looking pretty good these days!).
Posts are going to be spotty from me over the next two weeks. I'm in my two-week pre-concert mode for symphony. Actually, after doing it for 10 years now, it's pretty much self-propelling. I just have to anticipate where/when someone is going to drop the ball. That's the trick... I plan to have more posts in the coming two weeks about the concert.
Had a good, but brief time with Kamey before she left for Alaska. I had to run out to the lake to bring her back into town for the fireworks. The afternoon of the Fourth found us with severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warning into the night. We NEVER get tornado warnings! Things cleared up in time for the fireworks though. Even had lightning backlighting many of the shots from a storm that was coming in. Less than half an hour after the end of the show, all hell broke loose. Constant lightning, lots of rain, windshield wipers not working correctly. All in all, a fun evening! She drove back in from the lake, and I met her at the airport at 5AM the next day. And then she flew out to Alaska. I'll see her again in December. Hope she'll bring me some salmon!

Here she is, taking pictures of the neighborhood fireworks, and as she's stripped down for the TSA guy. I'm not sure if her "smile" is for having to strip down, or directed at me for taking a picture of her at 5:30 in the morning. I think it's the latter...
Hmmm.... I suppose I should put up a new post, shouldn't I?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Stars and Stripes HNT

I may not get terribly patriotic during most of the year, but I love the Fourth of July! Aside from the drinking and eating and partying and fireworks, I LOVE the patriotic music (except the slower ones, and the Star Spangled Banner sung by vocalists who add their own "flair" to an already exceedingly excruciatingly bad song. Actually, I hate all patriotic songs that are sung by soloists. A stadium of drunks singing "God Bless America" is OK. But in general, patriotic music should be strictly instrumental if it's going to get the blood stirring. But I digress...). Of course, I get a little stirring in my loins for the music of John Philip Sousa, and his best-known and best-loved march, "The Stars And Stripes Forever" (referred to as SSF for the rest of this post).

SSF is recognized by the U.S. government as the official march of the United States (U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 304). It even has original lyrics by Sousa:
The Stars and Stripes Forever!

Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears 'mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom's shield and hope.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with might endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.
In spite of it's popularity as a march written for band, there are a slew of variations. (Let me interject here that I get highly depressed watching YouTube videos of musicians that have more talent in their pinkie than I'll have amassed in my entire life.) This is Chet Atkins, one of the finest guitarists of all time. Be sure to listen for the piccolo solo!:

This is an excerpt of the second half of the song by an all-female trombone quartet called Bones Apart. There is nothing sexier than girls who play low brass. Especially as well as these ladies do it! (you KNOW I get a boner (hehe) every time I hear this...)

There's got to be a way he's going to bring this around to HNT, right? Well, I got to thinking of one of my high school sweethearts. Her name is Suzie. We were pretty much inseparable during my last two years of high school. We did everything together. She was in the band, so we were at all the games together, as well as concerts. And a couple of those infamous band bus trips! (never went to band camp with her though...) I'll say it now--she was a little on the large side, definitely curvy, but it didn't matter to me. In fact when we were together, she was pretty well wrapped around me. And I was damned proud!

When summers came around, it wasn't easy to get to see each other much, though we'd get together for the municipal band and play concerts in the bandshell. So we didn't have the chance to drift apart or anything. Our favorite concert was always the patriotic concert around the Fourth. And because of what must be a national law, we always ended that concert with "Stars And Stripes Forever" (a portion of the original manuscript is shown below). So the march and the memories have always been something I look back upon with fondness. And it was with that same bit of fondness that I met up with Suzie recently. She's still big and curvy, and is showing her age a bit. But some nekkidness ensued! Damn, I love the Fourth of July!

Takin' it off for HNT,
Helps me see a different me.

When I'm feelin' down and frumpy,
Focusin' on my lumpy bumpy,

Gettin' nekkid makes me smile,
So I think I'll hang awhile!

Can you guess my identity?
Here am I, this is me.

This week's MG is our favorite chameleon-like hippie-chick, boo(duh)! I swear to God, she doesn't look the same in any two pics! Stop by and say hi if you haven't already!
Well, after 27 months, it's happened. "...the Other HNT" got one of these:

Content Warning

"Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog's content is objectionable...."
Frankly, I'm a little surprised it's taken this long. I guess you can't please all of the people all of the time... Interestingly, we have more participants than we've ever had for one week! Be sure to stop by and check everyone out! And let them know you stopped by! As the Warning implies--NSFW!
I was more than a little surprised at the results of the poll about how to pronounce Osbasso! Mostly by the relatively equal voting among the top three options. Sixty people responded to the poll. Twenty-three people (almost 40%), thought it was pronounced like oz bosso. Nope. No 'Z' sound.

The first two syllables sound the same: Osbasso rhymes with bossboss-o. Everybody? Repeat after me:
os... os
bosso... bosso
Osbasso... Osbasso
Osbasso... Osbasso
Class dismissed. Except for the three of you who chose "smith". You'll need to stay after class...
For those who plan to celebrate all weekend, party hard, but be safe. And don't be stupid! And above all, as I mention every year, DON'T DO THIS!!!

And if you think only guys do that sort of thing...


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I Can Now Die A Happy Man...

(Click it to big it)

Happy Canada Day!!

Happy Canada Day to my friends north of the border! I'll hoist a Molson (actually, probably a Kokanee) in your honor today! Sorry that you don't get the three-day weekend this year, but I'm sure we'll party for you guys too! Be safe, don't be stupid, and have a great time! (A couple of well placed maple leafs would be appropriate for HNT!)
Something totally unrelated to Canada...I was in movie heaven last night. We all know what a sucker I am for Biblical epics, particularly if they star Charlton Heston. Well, Ben-Hur was on last night. I passed up watching WWE Raw AND House to watch this! And why? For probably the finest 10 minutes in movie history. The chariot race.

If you haven't seen the movie, there's no real way to describe it. Ten chariots, each with a team of four horses, running ten laps around the Circus. Beyond the excitement of that, you have to realize that Heston actually drove his own chariot in the race!! No sissy stuntman for him! And this was all done in the days before that Gladiator-type of CGI. No, this was THOUSANDS of extras in the stands. This was real people running out onto the track to retrieve injured drivers as the horses came around the corner at full speed. This was a real person who got trampled under the horses and run over by another chariot. I've often thought that Gladiator and Conan the Barbarian were the greatest testosterone-inducing movies of all time, but the 10 minutes of chariot racing puts them to shame! Charlton--you da man!! Ooh! Look at what I found!

Don't forget to check the post below this! I had no idea there was such diversity in my name! Be sure to take the poll at the top of the sidebar, too! I'll tell you the correct answer on Wednesday.