Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's getting better!

In reading back through the archives, I noticed a trend regarding my posts about the symphony. For seven years, I've often bitched and moaned about dealing with personnel, or the amount of time the production end was taking. But over the past year or so, I've noticed that I'm not doing it as much. The personnel will always be a thorn, but not my thorn anymore, so that's out of the mix. And the production stuff has been running incredibly smoothly as of late. That's not to say that I don't keep overly busy, or that there's not a lot of work that needs to be done. But I've either grown to accept the hassles, or the hassles aren't really there anymore. In either case, I'm not complaining!

The other thing I've noticed is that I haven't complained after a concert about how badly it went. Our concerts of late have been nothing short of spectacular. A strong adjective, but we've really been hitting on all cylinders over the past few years. This past Saturday's was no exception. Our cello soloist played what is arguably the most difficult concerto written for the instrument by Prokofiev, and he had the entire audience up on their feet in applause before he could stand and take his bows. He then took the podium after intermission to conduct the next piece, Tchaikovsky's Cappricio Italien, which ends like a bat out of hell. Again, a standing ovation. Our final piece of the evening was Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, which is one of the greatest pieces written in the 20th century. Another long standing ovation.

It's times like this when I really, really like what I do!
Fortunately, I was stuck inside most of the weekend, as Spring took a vacation. A skiff of snow, cool temps, and lots of wind made for a miserable weekend weatherwise. Hopefully we're getting to see the end of that!
I don't know exactly what happens on/around June 26th, but I had FIVE birthday notifications on FB yesterday! And another TWO friends that aren't on FB. Something's in the air in June!
The response has been interesting to my announcement last week that OHNT is ending shortly. I've gotten a couple of emails from lurkers I've never heard of, lamenting its end. Not one of these people has ever left a comment, yet are hoping I'll change my mind. On the other hand, I suppose it's nice to know that there's a "regular" audience over there! Regardless, there's only TWO more OHNTs left. Feel free to join in if you'd like!
Even though I'm a day late, here's your weekly dose of Pomplamoose! An interesting version of "My Favorite Things". Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Because I'm lazy, and I figure you guys need a laugh at my expense...a repost from Sept., 2007. Enjoy!

Well, I have to apologize... These aren't the dorky pictures I was planning on using. Believe me, there's plenty to be had! My plan was to find the right pictures, scan this afternoon, and sit back and bask in my dorkiness.
Instead, I spent it looking for scanning software, or something that I could do to scan... Not sure what's wrong, but I spent all my time doing that, rather than gathering the "good" dorkiness.

Above you can see me in the 5th grade, complete with the Nehru shirt (I had like 5 of them) and the handmade Indian beads, made in Japan. My fashion consultants? Davy, Mick, Mike and Peter. The Monkees, of course! And probably the height of dorkiness for these purposes--the all-boy choir in 8th grade. White turtlenecks, blue vests and black pants. Can you imagine how many of us got beat up?

Over here in the purple (paisley, at that!) is the 8th grade picture. Braces. The "smile" to try to hide them. Not sure what was going on with the hair, but it's the same hair that everyone had. And the nose had not yet been broken...

Finally, not so much dorky, but it's the look I had for my last three years of high school. Puberty must have hit, because it's only 18 months after the purple picture. Perfectly coiffed hair, braces were gone, a bit of a tan, and dammit, I was somewhat skinny!

As mentioned above, it's not as dorky as I had intended, but I don't doubt for a minute that you guys will make up for it for me! Looking forward to all that you've got!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Today would have been her 34th birthday...

Happy Birthday, Stealth.
I always thought it fitting that it fell on the first day of Spring...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Is It Spring Yet?

Spring is trying really hard around here, but alternating the 60-70° days with two to three days of winter weather advisories makes it tough. There's hope on the horizon though!
My Griz, who had a very good season this year in basketball, didn't fare as well at March Madness. In fact, they had the worst loss of all the Thursday games. The upside? I don't have to fake having any sort of interest in the rest of the tournament! I did, however, see my FB blow up that afternoon lamenting the fact that Syracuse was going to bust a lot of brackets based on what was happening to them. So I had to watch the end of that game. I don't know what the refs were smoking, or what game they were watching, but damn...
This is symphony week, and it hardly feels like it. This concert will probably be my favorite one of the season. All Russian composers--I do love me the Russians. But production-wise, it's a piece of cake. Or at least feels like it. Nowhere near the amount of work as the May concert has already taken, or the summer concert. Sort of my last relaxing concert for awhile, I guess.

We did have rehearsal all day Saturday, so no St. Patrick's Day celebrating for me. I'm a bit disappointed about that, but it's probably for the best. My wild ways have passed me by, I'm afraid. The good part--no hangover!
Speaking of the summer concert, things are flowing smoothly so far. For as behind as I was stepping into it, all the contacts have been made, and everyone's on the same page. So far. Here's to hoping that continues!
An announcement... After six full years, it's time for OHNT to end. I kept it going primarily to gently wean the truly exhibitionist among you who weren't ready for HNT to end. But, similar to the reasons HNT was retired, the participation was down, depending far too much on a small handful of participants. The first OHNT post went up on April 6, 2006, and the last one will go up on April 5, 2012. That leaves three more opportunities to join in, if you're interested! I'm sure I'll wax poetic later on, but I figured you should know now.
My Pomplamoose offering this week is a cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It". It's a little different, but still pretty good. Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

I knew that the next four months were going to be busy, but geez... We've got a concert in a week and a half, and I'm hardly breaking a sweat about it. It doesn't even raise a blip on the radar of coming attractions! The big concert coming up is in May. Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand". We're not going to have the full thousand, but we're going to be much larger than normal. Almost 350 singers and 100 musicians. And the associated pains. Fortunately, others are in charge of housing and feeding the singers coming in from other states. But I'm the one who gets to squeeze that many people in a really confined space. It's going to be wonderful, and should go off without a hitch, but man, what a lot of work! Thank God we've been working on this for awhile. I'll fill you in on the summer concert later...
One down side of this next concert...I've got rehearsal all day on Saturday. St. Patrick's Day Saturday. My traditional first green beer out of the tap at O'Toole's ain't gonna happen this year. Damn...or should that be o'damn?
The University of Montana made the NCAA Tourney again this year by virtue of winning both the conference and the conference tourney. Got them a #13 seed in the East. A first round upset is possible, but I don't know if they'll get past the second round. Still it's nice to see the Griz still playing, but Gucci's Cats are sitting at home!
Didn't fill you in on the checkup I had a couple of weeks ago. Doctor likes my numbers, for the most part. Blood pressure is still a tad higher than he'd like, but not "high". And the weight isn't good. On the other hand, my cholesterol (and all the other blood numbers) are just peachy! So I'm off the hook for another six months! Woohoo!
Lastly, it's Pomplamoose and one of their originals this week!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

What Doesn't Stay in Vegas? Sprawl.

I found this pretty interesting. It's a short video taken from the Landsat 5 satellite, which was launched March 1, 1984. This is its view of Las Vegas and its growth over the past 28 years. The red patches are actually green space--mostly golf courses. You should see this in full screen. Pretty amazing stuff.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Gotta Work On Posting More...
(third time's a charm?)

I've mentioned in the past that I listen to Rush Limbaugh on my way to work, simply for the laughs to start out the day (laughs...as in laughing at the absurdity). But after last week's tirade, and subsequent continued attacks, I think he might have bitten off more than he thought. Will he be forced off the air? I doubt it. There's too many fanatics out there who agree with him, or are spineless enough to buy into his way of thinking. Me? I don't need the laughs anymore. I've got a zillion CDs I can listen to that have been ignored for a long time. Thanks, Rush, for getting me back to the music!
Speaking of getting back to the music... I have been a big fan of Chicago since the first time I heard their music in the early 70s. As all good band geeks were. Chicago of the 70s was unparalleled. Chicago of the 80s sold out and almost disappeared, thanks to the techno-pop of the time. I remember one video of theirs where the horn players were all playing keyboards! WTF??? Fortunately they pulled their heads out and got back to being a horn band. So what's this part of the post about? I went back to listening to some of their later music that I had sort of ignored, and have found some new favorites! Horn lines that were far more intricate than I had remembered, and far more complex than their early stuff. Not much of it commercially successful, but then again, their best stuff never was!
The spring weather I've been yearning for showed up this weekend! It was in the 60s, the sun was out early, there were no clouds--wonderful weather for early March in MT! Of course, I look out this morning, and we got snow overnight and it's going to be chilly. But the weekend is supposed to be as nice as last weekend, and Daylight Savings Time goes into effect on Sunday! By golly, spring might just be right around the corner!
Speaking of weather--I haven't heard any horror stories from any friends who had to deal with the tornadoes of last week. A couple of somewhat near misses, but no tragedies. Whew.
March Madness is about to hit in full swing. Yet another major sporting event I'll blissfully ignore (unless my Griz happen to surprise a few people, but I'm not expecting it...).
Here's your weekly dose of Pomplamoose. Be sure to watch Granny dancing towards the end!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Road Markers

I am often amazed at how my life has evolved with regards to music. I was raised in a musically "challenged" household during my childhood. Dad was never into music that I remember. Even into my adulthood, I don't recall that he ever just listened. He did enjoy dancing with Mom though, and if there was a dance floor available at any function they attended, that's where you'd find them. As for Mom--she had kept some of her Glenn Miller records from her youth. I have a feeling that they were actually my grandmother's, as she wasn't even a teenager when he disappeared. These were records that she'd pull out when she decided she needed to teach me how to dance (and started my love for big bands and jazz). But overall, neither of my parents had any sort of musical influence on me. Not because they were purposely depriving me, but because they themselves were not raised in musical families. But some musical moments stick out.

I've written here (years ago) about laying in my bed when I was about 6 or 7 and listening to my brand new transistor radio before going to sleep. The radio was sort of a copper/brown color. The station was KBLL. And on Sunday nights from 7-9, I think, I would listen to trucker songs. Red Sovine. Dave Dudley. Phantom 309. Teddy Bear. Six Days on the Road. You get the idea. Then immediately following was "Classics in the Night". Sunday night classical music on AM radio! The theme song was the first line or two of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (a little nightmusic). I could rarely stay up long enough to listen to much, but that theme has forever stuck in my memory. An odd mix...twangy country and classical.

The mid-60s are sort of a memory blur. We had, by this time, moved up to South Benton, and I had a whole neighborhood of kids to play with. We were devoted fans of "Dark Shadows", and would take a time-out from playing Kick the Can to run inside to watch it (either at our house, or the next door neighbor's). And we would watch "The Monkees" religiously!

Try as I might, I can't really recall what I would have listened to my Monkees albums on. I remember when my parents bought a stereo system, but I can't imagine that I could have played them as often as I think I did. I don't recall if I had my own record player or not, but I must have had something. In any case, I played my albums, I perused every issue of Tiger Beat, and basically learned all I could about the Monkees. My mom must have liked them a little too, because they were much more clean cut and wholesome than the Beatles. I started learning the trumpet at this time as well, and I recall Mom buying me the sheet music for Pleasant Valley Sunday (she also bought me the sheet music to "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof, but that's another story...). I learned how to play it on my own and surprised my band teacher (Sister Eucharista) with it. She, in turn, gave me a lesson about transposing music--something that stuck with me ever since.

The Monkees were as close to rock as anything else that I heard during that time, even though it would be more correctly termed as "pop". With the aforementioned stereo, Mom started buying albums. The Lettermen. The Vogues. Stuff that would be best categorized as "easy listening". The Monkees were off to the edge of that category. The Beatles were definitely not something she'd listen to (at the time), though I seem to remember an album of Beatles' music performed by 101 Strings. This is the music that I was raised on. This explains my love of The Carpenters, and how Close To You was the greatest song ever recorded.

By the time I got to high school, music was an important part of my life, though I still didn't think of it as something I'd do forever. In fact, I was not in band during my freshman or sophomore years, and was much more into choir (4 years--All State Choir/1 year--All Northwest Choir, thankyouverymuch). I also played bass in my first rock band, which is where I first learned of groups like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Far different from the pop groups that I dared play at home before then.

College is where my eyes were really opened to real jazz music, as well as funk and soul. And where my decision to become a music teacher were formed. And where I realized that I'd never know all there was to know about music--it's a life-long learning process. And where I re-played my Monkees and Carpenters and other albums that I'd taken from home and listened to them from a musician's standpoint, and finding out that there's some damned good musicianship going on!

The death yesterday of Davy Jones actually hit me harder than I would have imagined, and probably more than I'd like to admit. I'm to the point in my life where celebrity's deaths start acting like road markers on life's highway. When Michael Jackson died, it marked my grad school days, watching in awe the first time I saw Thriller. And how the bar I was in went absolutely silent when it came on. When Whitney Houston died, it marked my last teaching days, and how her music was so easily accessible to high school choirs for a spring concert. But now, with Davy Jones' passing, something's different. A man who didn't fall into the dark pits that so many of his comtemporaries did. A man who, individually didn't change the world, but as part of a group, did his part to change music in the US. And despite the critical backlash of being a "fake" musical group, there's no question that their records were legit, and their appeal was great.

I listened to all my Monkees albums last night. Yeah, I dragged out the LPs--not the CDs. I remembered the good times with the rest of the neighbor kids. I remembered all the words--even to the songs that weren't big hits. It's sad that a member of one of my biggest childhood influences has passed on. I fear that this is just the beginning...