Saturday, July 30, 2005

Wrap up

Last night in Clinton, SC. On to play with the Funkles in Seneca tomorrow night, then through Athens for a few minutes with a great friend (possibly two or three? boys?), then to Dacula to see the newest nephew for a few minutes. Then it's back to Nashville.

And this time, I'm physically alone. And that's cool.

I am just amazed by what this band is doing with what we put together. I love things that are singularly special, and this seems to be one of them. I have said this out loud a couple of times, but this show is what I have been trying to write since I was 17. I hope they keep it up... if they do, it will be a really special fall.

Record: Some of you won't understand this, and don't worry about it if you don't. But I wrote a note or two in this show that I knew would haunt me in a good way. No one knows like Sarah S. does about the way that music in certain commercials causes my brain to stop and me to tune out everything else and listen. Those moments are in this show, on purpose, and they are doing that to me tonight. I love that. I hope someone else out there gets those moments.

I am really happy to be free to do this. And I'm really happy to have the opportunity to write those moments in stuff that might reach more people. I know I am doing a piss poor job of explaining this, but I am digging the freedom... the experience, in spite of the poverty.

When I was 14, I thought I would one day be rich. I had no idea.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day 3

We got through the ballad today, playing and moving. The UGA staff is doing one hell of a job getting the music in shape. Progress is slower mid-week as should be expected, but we may have 3/4 of the show on (playing and moving) before we leave. Gunner, the lick is getting there… lots of laughing and knee-slapping from the more senior staff every time it hits.

We have now reached the point where they don’t know enough music to continue teaching new drill. In an act of certain futility, we will probably teach two pages of the drum break tomorrow. We’ll break and the band will learn new music in normal drill time, then we’ll see if we can’t get the break on. I love being ahead of the curve, even if it is behind my own curve.

I just stuck my head out the window for a minute and heard a train leaving town. The whistle and groan-chug of the engine made its way toward parts unknown and I got to hear a new sound… the last half of the train makes a really interesting sound of its own, like a gradually accelerating rope on a pully, ever increasing in pitch. I liked that.

In two unrelated vague thoughts: I think I’m going to quit looking for answers and start letting them find me. And, I will from now on spray a pleasant fragrance in all of my snail mail. Hopefully, no one who receives mail from me has bad allergies to commercial masculine scents.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Update through full Day 2

I can't sleep.

I keep thinking about how well things are going here. There are definitely issues, as there always are. But there seem to be fewer issues than normal.

We didn't waste time learning drill without the horns... we were playing from the time we learned the first two pages. The music sounds pretty damn good for where we are... in fact, better than I have heard this band, maybe ever. I have heard them every year since 1990.

The drill is fine. I'm no Geo. Z, but it works. It makes the ensemble sound good. The hits are hitting. It is cleaning without a blatant attempt to do so. The opener is on, and without any question as to whether or not they know it.

You know me better than to think that I would ever suggest that an ensemble's success has anything to do with my involvement. I have always believed that the best thing an instructor or conductor can do is to stay out of the way. But it is going very very well. It is nice to be a part of improvement. I was never able to get away from Georgia enough to tell if we got any better while I was there.

I don't know how long this improvement will last. I have to give the band back in four days. But I have been impatient long enough to know that I should enjoy the moments of success as they happen rather than expect something greater. And I am.

But if this keeps going like it is, it could be very special for this band, this school, this community, and the staff and directors who deal with it every day. I am tickled at that potential.

On the other hand, I might have done something right. I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I hope they are too.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

And in other news...

My brother and his wife welcomed their third boy shortly before 1:30 PM today. Benjamin Davis ("Ben D") was 9 lbs. 9 oz, and 21' long. Boy and mom are fine, besides a little broken collarbone on the way out, which is nothing. He's breathing fine, and so am I.
Ooooooppphhhh. The burning sensation means, "It's working!"

"I'm needing you burning, searing, raging"

Not to quote one of my own songs, but dayumm it is hot here. It's ridiulously unhealthy. The field temperature (not the air temperature but the surface temperature of a thermometer on the field in the sunlight) peaked at 118 degrees at about 11:20 this morning. Unfortunately, we have no choice, so we are watering the students about every 25 minutes. It is slowing us down a bit, but they are playing right through it.

Funny, last year we had three days of overcast conditions with temps in the low 80's and a nice 15 mph breeze. When the temperature broke 85, we had more people faint or quit in one afternoon than we have all of this camp so far. Much to be said for conditioning, but there is much more to be said for air conditioning.

Restocked on Gold Bond today, and all is well.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Um, Untitled Blog Entry

I had a blast with good friends Trina, Cub, the Lamberts, and the Martaaaans this weekend. I am currently in a dormitory room in Clinton, SC with the 'kwood. Not the whole thing, hell, none of it actually. But I will be "with it" this morning at 7:30 for breakfast, and on to teach the Gershwin show over which my fingers and medulla oblongata (not "ooblongata"... that's something else entirely) have slaved for several months.

In case you are interested, you can go to and watch the live feed from band camp. No link and poor spelling because I don't want the band pulling my blog. Type it.

A ton of thanks for all of the well-wishes you have sent. I really appreciate it, and it does make things much easier. I'm getting excited. More to come.

Side note: Incidentally, that just made me think about the old still shot they used to show as the old Tonight Show was going to commercial. I recall that it was the great technicolor curtain and something else along with the words, "More to come..." Anyone remember more details?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Mantle of the Dawg

Here is the pic as promised. Honest to goodness, this is actually pretty accurate. There is a "Lllllaaaaaaaa" light right over the mantle that makes this look like the holy grail of sport in real life. Enjoy.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Our house, in the middle of our street.

Hi, all.

I know I haven’t told you much, and unfortunately I don’t have much more to tell you… or, better said, I don’t have time to do so. That will change.

I’m in the place. Everything that ln didn’t throw out is in the place. Russ is asleep on the couch (note the singular “couch”), Jamiroquai is playing very softly on iTunes. The unpacking and hanging (no Volunteers were harmed) is basically done, with the exception of the Strang Originals to be hung in the bedroom and the “Kind of Blue” print that will be housed there as well (Pat Metheny is now playing).

The den is basically an homage to the Dawgs and my (wow) thirteen years in Athens. It’s really kinda cool… neat phone camera pic from Russ to come from the mantle and my signed footballs and basketball. Minor early issues with the washer/dryer connections, sticky doors, and non-functional land-line jacks have been solved. The abundance of crap that used to reside in a back closet has been reduced to a Cliff’s Notes version of the original abundance, now stored carefully in boxes in the bedroom closet.

In more real terms, I consciously know that I am here and am not currently suffering from any withdrawal. I can tell that the back of my head is saying “but that’s not where your bed is” and “you haven’t been to the office today.” Fortunately or not, I head back to Georgia tomorrow (Tuesday) to do some wrap-up work at the mother church and enjoy some time with dear friends, along with old apartment cleaning. This may help ease the transition, but it is ultimately delaying the inevitable. A part of me is ready to move on to the inevitable and get on with the business of fulfilling this dream, or fantasy, or destiny, or stupid prank… whatever the hell it is. Limbo’s getting old, and I’m looking forward to productivity.

And that is fine and good. I'm sorta into anything right now... limbo, homelessness, unemployment, hypoglycemia, humanism, protestantism, loneliness, socializing, spackling, charity, movie rental, conservatism, mud-bogging, surfboarding, education, dry goods, and pest control are all in my near future.

For now, I have some loose ends to tie up, great friends to thank, and work and sleep to do.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Not a lot of time for detail right now...

But we made it to Nashville fine. It was actually rather painless compared to the way most moves go. More about that later. Trina is here today and leaves tonight. Russ comes in tonight and we head back to Athens mid-week.

Friends are amazing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Caller by number

In case you were wondering, here are my phone numbers, after my search on

If you had wanted to reach me on my old office phone, all you would have to have done was dial 70-OK-I-CARE-0.

If you would like to reach me on my cell phone, the number is 770-BUZZ-US-5.

If you would like to reach me on my Nashvillain home phone, the number will be 615-VERMIN-7.

Odd, isn’t it? Happy dialing, America!

Monday, July 11, 2005

The impending madness

Here’s my sched for the next two weeks. This is as much for my benefit as it is for the alleviation of your boredom. As goofy as this may seem, I swear on all that is fit for primetime that I will print this and use it as a datebook.

Mon-Wed: Write drill… write lots of drill, and maybe two arrangements. Pack the stuff that Ln didn’t throw away. Finish typing my exit notes (I’m on page 14, and I just got into August [starting in July]). Put the scattered crap in my former office at the Hugh into boxes, and get ‘em “thu hayull” off of university property. Have dinner or drinks with some friends. Be Athenian.

Thurs: Drive to the ‘twood. Sign lease. Pick up keys. Pay rent for 17 days of the month, of which I will spend exactly four in the apartment. Play with garbage disposal. Giggle. Stop when I become alarmed that my left index finger got too close for comfort to the dyna-mega-stealth-titanium blade. Remove fuse from circuit which powers said disposal. Drive to Comcast offices to get cable connected (don’t ask… it’s not my fault). Return to Athens. Continue being Athenian.

Fri: Realize that I have failed to pack something, probably an entire room or class of possessions. Pack said items. Get the truck. Make approximately four trips to the Potter’s House. Here, I will dispose of unplayed board games (damn, “Truth or Dare Jenga” sounded like such a good idea at the time), misguided gifts from ex-girlfriend, items I unwisely accepted from individuals who were moving, and items that I was “sure I would have a use for” yet somehow never did. Begin packing truck.

Sat: Finish packing truck. Leave essentials for Russ (who will be utilizing the floor/air mattress as he gigs). Drive to Cumming (huh). Drop off things that my parents said I could have “as long as they never return to this house.” Continue the convoy to Nashville with Trina, Gunner, Chief, Diva, and the as-yet-un-nicknamed younger son of the Gunner. Unload truck. Bitch about something because it is not in Athens. Say bye to all but Trina. Have a drink and play NCAA 2006 with Trina (if I can get it). Sleep (hopefully).

Sunday: Wake up later than planned (I am planning on Noon EDT). Say hi to Russ. Say bye to Trina as she takes Explorer to Athens. Try to talk Russ into helping me organize my filing cabinet. Write drill. Go to the Bluebird and see Writer’s Night. Come home, have a drink. Play some type of game.

Monday: Wake up (hopefully). Organize house. Do something fun. Wait for the cable guy (?).

Tues: (see Monday)

Wed: Get up at the butt crack of dawn to get Russ to Mar’etta for his retail gig. Meet Trina with the Explorer. Return to Athens. Clean the old place. Write drill. Be Athenian.

Thurs: Clean. Write. Athenian. See the new guy and help him decipher the garbled mess I have left him.

Fri: Shave. Clean. Write. Athenian. Leave the key and say bye-for-now to my dear friend and neighbor. Head to the mountains for two days of inadvisable behavior.

Sat: Inadvisable behavior continues.

Sun: Aftermath of inadvisable behavior makes itself known. Drive to Clinton, SC for a camp. Revel in doing the band thing again.

Mon-Fri: Band thing.

Sat: Band thing wrap-up. Join the Funkles in Seneca, SC for a guest spot.

Sun: Return to Nashville.

Mon: Be Nashvillian.

By the way, neighbor Sarah hooked me up with a free washing machine to replace the one I looked at wrong. The old one had two knobs. This one has five, and I can already tell the difference in the cleanliness of my clothes. Grazi!

I’m scared, but not really of the things that you would think I would be scared of. I’m gonna be fine, and I’m starting to look forward to parts of this. Parts of it are going to suck. And that’s fine too.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Cart before horse

I blogged moments ago, and then realized that I had not acknowledged the terrible things that took place in London today. But I have no idea what to say.

... little help, please.

So, after the recent passing in the family, my brother contacted me, asking if I would be willing to “help out” while he and his wife were in North Carolina at the… eh, you shouldn’t say festivities, but everyone seemed to think that it was a pseudo-happy time for a generally very happy man.

Side note: Some people say that they hope people won’t mourn them at their funeral, or that their friends will treat their funeral as a “celebration of life.” I halfway think some of these people are about as sharp as Tom Cruise on an overdose of Paxil. Some of them may be right. Not to elicit comments, but I’m curious about your thoughts on the matter.

Personally, I am hoping for a funeral which will take the place of my wedding festivities. Specifically, I think my survivors should name “Best People” (as in “Best Man”) and “Worst People,” as in… um… well… nothing comes to mind. The best people would be people that liked me. The worst people would be those… you know. I also envision a rehearsal, and thusly a rehearsal dinner. I think this would be a great time for the best people and worst people to have awkward moments (ie – Best Person eulogy statement in rehearsal: “Brett truly was a great man.” Worst People in unison: “Pfffffft!” That was for you, Dwight.). Then the best people and worst people would be forced to eat dinner together. Then they would go drink together, and find out that they “really aren’t all that different.” Then all those old friends and enemies of me would hook up, and wake the next morning in a local hotel, realizing that they were all frankly ambivalent about me all along. Then they’ll all say, “Brett? Sure, he was ok.” No one will be worse for the wear, and everyone will have a new “buddy.”

Due to the final installment of my grant drury doody, I told the fam that I would be unable to be around in the morning on Wednesday. My brother said that they “had it all taken care of.”

Just as I had gotten comfortable, thinking I wouldn’t be needed, I got a call from my dad. He said he needed me to “help out with the boys,” referring to my brother’s boys, who are 2 and 4.25. Being - not “the,” but - “a” good son. I graciously agreed.

What I found when I arrived at the prescribed place and time, was that I, in fact, was not needed to watch the boys (for the record, this doesn’t bother me… baptism by fire in the techniques of dealing with infant poop and company was not something I was “itching” to experience). I was needed to be the subservient worker to a seventeen-year-old gentleman that my family has hired to assist in their golf cart business.

So, Wednesday, I headed to the shop. I “worked” all day, and learned how to modify golf carts from “course models” to “I don’t feel like walking 30 yards and I have a kick-ass Barbie golf cart to prove it and rub your poverty in your face” models.

In a “thank you sir, may I have another” moment, I agreed to return today. This time I took the Gunner with me. Here are a few stats:

Number of socket wrenches dropped on a part of my body: 3
Number of socket wrenches dropped on a part of my body by me: 1
Number of times I began to utter the phrase “What the f&*k?” and realized I was with my parents, Protestantly changing the phrase to “What the Fu….nkle Ester?”: 5
Frequency of the shop radio station the entire time I was working: 106.7
Number of times I recognized an old country song on said frequency and wondered aloud what ever happened to the artist behind it: approximately 30
Number of times any sort of bodily reaction – a “hmm?”, a “dunno”, an eyebrow raise, a shrugged shoulder, or an involuntary fart – was executed in response to my question: -0
Size of typical socket as uttered by rather backwoods seventeen-year-old worker: Fourtain Millamaturs
Number of “Yoo-haa’s” consumed by my oldest nephew while at the shop over the course of two days: 1.5 – that is 3, all half-consumed.
Number of cigarettes not smoked over the entire period of time there: ∞
Number of vehicles, to be used for moving, now in my possession as a result of said interaction (and Gunner’s help): 2
Portion of my average monthly UGA paycheck earned in 12 hours at the shop: 1/8

I exaggerate… a little bit, but not much. We actually had quite a good time, and I now have a second fall-back if the writing thing doesn’t work out.



Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Song Lyrics.... "Fotch" (sp?)

I sometimes have a tough time identifying song lyrics. I used to think that the line “I never really cared until I met you” from the Heart song “Alone” was something like “I never read a carrot to Amatchoo.” I also thought Rocket Man went “Rocket Man, burning down the skis I’m carried on.”

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A dead soldier

My sister-in-law’s grandfather passed away today.

I feel a bit of grief for my sister-in-law, her family, and my nephews. I was not terribly close to him, so comments of condolence to me are not necessary. But two thoughts come to mind.

1. The man

Francis was a profoundly great human being. I believe we all have pasts that we extinguish with our nobler motives and actions. I am certain that he did things of which he was not proud, but I never saw them. He was cheerful in his old age… non-judgmental, kind, loving, and very happy to have retained his life to an age that enabled him to get to know his great-grandchildren.

He used to ask me about my job (when I had one). We would talk about marching band, and he would recite his memories of being 16 and in the local Boy Scout Drum and Bugle Corps. He probably told me the following story 10 times:

It was the late 30’s. Francis was playing the cornet in the drum and bugle corps. After careful rehearsal and training, the corps was marching in a local parade. Francis, whose mind did tend to wander from time to time, marched on the outside right of the parade block as instructed: Nose-to-spine; maintain interval with the person to your left; the interval must not expand at a corner; you, in fact, must take a curved path.

As the corps approached a corner, Francis was distracted from his music and maneuvering by a young lady. As he attempted to focus, he couldn’t manage to take his eyes off of the woman who stood along the parade route admiring his precision and decorum. As the corps rounded the corner, Francis’s attention would not snap back, and he soon realized that he was playing his part, marking time, right by the young lady…. as the rest of the corps had continued several dozen yards down the street. In a bit of panic, Francis said “Good day” to the woman, and proceeded tardily back to his position in the block.

He was a minister. In the summers, he lived in North Carolina. He assisted at a Methodist church while there. In the winters, he lived in Lakeland, Florida and worked at a Presbyterian church.

He was open, honest, and understood that one person’s conception of what God is might be different than another’s. He did what he believed was right, and was cheerful in doing so. God bless you, Francis. You will be remembered, at least as long as I have anything to say about it.

II. What he did

Francis, as many we are losing these days are, was a veteran of World War II. He didn’t speak about it much, but he was. I don’t know where he was, I don’t know what he did. I know that he served. I can’t tell you much more.

What I do know is that America is losing a generation of heroes. As we do with most superlative descriptors, our society is assigning the word "hero" to a lot of people. I assign nothing less than that term to those who fought on behalf of what was then an inferior America to insure our current freedom, about which we are often unforgivably flippant.

I am very, very proud to have been associated (and related to) ladies and gentlemen who decided that the fight to secure security was worth the potential loss of life. I am proud that my grandfather (Big Daddy) swam, then walked, then shot his way onto Normandy. I am proud of the captured tattered nazi flag that he stole off of that building in France, which to this day sits dormant in my closet, never to be feared again. I am very proud that these human beings believed in something bigger than themselves, and that they were willing to risk their own well being or lives for it.

On the other hand, I am worried about us right now. I am not sure that enough people like Francis (or Big Daddy) are around. I am concerned that the next “crisis” will soon give way to Tom Cruise’s infantile rants about what he “knows,” or our obsession with something even more profoundly unimportant. I’m afraid that we can’t focus our energy and attention on something relevant long enough to correct it. I’m afraid that our generation is bullshit. And I don’t have the first clue as to what I should do about it.

I do know that I owe a tremendous gratitude to the ladies and gentlemen who are calling it quits, after enjoying a fraction of the benefit of the liberty they preserved 60 years ago.

So, here’s to you Francis and Big Daddy (God, rest your souls). I know we don’t act like it, but we really are more appreciative than I can tell you of what you did for us.

I like that poetry... that old soldier dying peacefully after passing out at the dinner table on July 4, following a stroke he never even felt. I hope that's how I get it too, though I have done nothing to deserve it. But, boys, I hope we don’t have to prove that we love what we have the way that you did.

Cheers and Godspeed, gentlemen.

... oh, and thank you!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Err supply

My brother was in his annual training required to maintain his pilot’s license this week. His instructor, a pilot who had formerly been an air traffic controller in Jacksonville, told him a story from his days in Florida. He swears on his life that it is true, and I will now recount it for you as accurately as possible with no apologies for the language or the pilotspeak (which I don’t really understand either).

Bob claims to have been working on a slow day when he received a frantic call from a neophyte aviator.

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’er, Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, student pilot, lost and running low on fuel. Please direct to the nearest runway.

Bob (slow and deliberate, as though he were smoking a Cuban and sipping on a glass of Courvoisier): Cessna 2-5-4 this is Jacksonville Center, you say you’rrrrrre lost?

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’er, Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, student pilot, lost and low on fuel. Please direct to the nearest runway.

Bob (slowly still): Roger, Cessna 2-5-4. Do you see, ah, um, any major roads or interstates around you?

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’er, Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, student pilot. One sec’n.

(ten seconds pass)

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’er, Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, student pilot. I do see what appears to be an interstate below me.

Bob (even more slowly): Roger 2-5-4. 2-5-4, does that interstate run east to west orrrrrr north to south?

(a few seconds tick as the young paduan gets his bearings)

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’er, Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, lost, low on fuel. It appears to run north to south.

Bob: Roger, 2-5-4. I want yoouuu to do something for me.

Pilot: Jac’svle Center, student pilot low on fuel. Go ahead.

Bob: 2-5-4, I want you to get directly over that road and follow it until you see something that resembles a town or city.

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, lost, low on fuel… Roger.

(about one minute passes, as the pilots eyes swayed hither and yon in an attempt to locate a municipality of some type).

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, lost, low on fuel. I have located a town.

Bob: Roger that, 2-5-4. Do you see a water tower anywhere in that town?

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, lost, low on fuel. I see a water tower.

Bob: 2-5-4, I want you to fly down near that water tower and see if there are any woooords written on it.

Pilot: Roger that Jac’svl cen’r. One minute.

(A minute passes, as Bob probably pours another drink.)

Pilot: Jac’svl cen’r. Cessna 2-5-4, student pilot, lost, low on fuel. There is writing on that water tower.

Bob: 2-5-4, would you please read me the wooooords on that water tower?

(a nervous 15 seconds pass)

Pilot: Jac’svl, the words on the water tower read “F&$k You, Class of 1974.”

Bob (Big breath in, big breath out): Ahhhh, I know that one well. You’re in Gainesville, Florida. Turn Right heading 2-7-0. You’ll be at the airport in about five minutes. Have a nice afternoon.

Say, say, say

To say that I am unemployed would be, well, somewhat accurate. For those who don’t know, however, I’m not exactly hoping the new apartment complex happens to have a lovely grove of money trees. I'm not even sure there's any such thing. Leslie?

What I am doing is writing what might technically be called a beaucoupdle of arrangements and drill designs for high school and college bands. The money is pretty good, and it allows for a lot of time to do the things I need to do once I get upwind. However, the workload is very concentrated in one time of the year…

Namely, right now. So, I have little to say that is blogworthy. I could tell you that I am worried about that second page of the ballad. You would probably tell me that a ballad that takes two pages is one page too long. I could tell you that I am worried about a particular part going too high. You would probably tell me that this is a good thing for a man my age.

So, I will simply tell you that I am busier than normal, and not in all of the ways either of us wishes I were.

By the way, I am currently planning a series of entries that I will post after I move aimed at alleviating the perception that I am too cool for school when I write in music-speak. For instance, if I ever say “I got a cut,” I would hope you wouldn’t think I became involved in a nasty gang quarrel. If I tell you I’m hoping for “a deal with a draw,” you shouldn’t think that I have given in and started playing poker with Galarza and Russell.

I also can’t stand it, however, when people speak any type of industry language for the purpose of sounding, um, up in it? Sophistimacated? Like a professionalist? And as you know, my worst fear is offending anyone, so that will be on the way soon.

In the mean time, shutup.