Sunday, March 30, 2008

Out like a lamb?

It seems like last week that I was uncontrollably giddy about being back in Athens (not to mention the reason for the return). Yesterday, I received my renewal notice from my landlord, indicating that the date for my 90-day notice not to renew is approaching. I can run the math a number of ways, depending on whether I want to feel like I have a lot of time left here or not. The bottom line is that this year is racing by, just like the rest of life.

The mania that accompanies Athens: The Beginning of the End (Sorta) Part II is only part of the frenzy around here. Meghan has taken two big tests over the last three weeks. Her comps are in three weeks.

I have work piled this high, and I'm loving it (mostly).

I leave for Chicago once again this Thursday. Ooh... and check this one out. I fly from Atlanta to Chicago on Thursday and work for four days. Then I fly from Midway to Nashville. The next day I pick up a group there, and the next I ride the bus nine hours with them back to Chicago. Four days later, I fly from O'hare to Atlanta. I'm pleased to have the work. But I hate being gone for that long. You know why.

Monday, March 24, 2008

They're not saying "Newww Gmail!!!" They're saying, "Boooooo Gmail!"

UPDATE: Based on what I'm hearing, not everyone experienced an email outage of over one hour today like I did. Others had it, and some for longer than I did. I would have felt better in the middle of it if this would have been easier to find.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Dear Russ,

If your local weatherperson can have the name below, then you should be able to name your baby Jack Daniel, Zenu, or Matt Effin' Lauer if you want.




PS - I think her name sounds like an alien airline check-in agent. I will consider alternatives.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just For You

Here's an unoriginal, but likely entertaining, exercise that can be blamed indirectly on Meghan. Below I am posting the list of ten recommendations under the heading "Just For You" on my iTunes account. My list is definitely less indicative of my own musical taste than those of others will be, since I purchase music that I need for one of my day jobs through iTunes. I'm doing it anyway.

I'll show you mine, if you'll show me yours...

1. Suite of Old American Dances, Mvt. V (R.R. Bennett) - Col. Lowell Graham and the U.S. Air Force Band
2. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
3. Who Can It Be Now - Men at Work
4. Sailing - Christopher Cross
5. Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations
6. Rock 'n' Roll All Night - KISS
7. Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles
8. These Dreams - Heart
9. 867-5309 / Jenny - Tommy Tutone
10. Happy Together - The Turtles

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I'm back from NYC safe, but sick as a dawg (and not the kind of dawg that just won the SEC Tournament Championship. I don't feel like writing much, except that there is one particular part of hoops success I don't miss, particularly when it is completely unexpected.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Put 'em in your mouth

Friday evening marked the return of Russell and Ellen to Athens. It had been too long.

That night, we made homemade corndogs, the recipe for which came from fellow alum Alton Brown. After eating the homemade variety, I will never put the rotten prefab shit in my mouth ever again. If you would like the recipe, you can look in his book. Just be warned. Your calorie counter may behave erratically if you attempt to calculate the impact of this particular nutritional choice.

Yesterday, we obviously went to something intended to simulate a basketball game. Afterwards, we made our inaugural trip to Trappeze. It was a touch crowded, but not too bad by Athens standards. Everyone seemed to enjoy their drink choice. And, of course, we got to drink at Athens prices. As I began typing this, my very significant other said, "We should go back there." We will.

Today, we headed out to a Georgia baseball game, which we somehow managed to lose by blowing a late lead aaaaaagain. We finished the weekend off 0-2 at Georgia athletic events. Not good.

Tonight, Meghan and I rented "The Number 23." The title is significant, because it is what was on the DVD clock when we decided that it was too stupid to continue. "Martian Child," on the other hand, had some nice moments and a cute story.

This weeks is the university spring break, so I will have a break from some of my obligations there. Meghan and I will try to spend some time together (possibly including the new World of Coke), while I try to make up for some lost time due to the indecision in a client. I also head to NYC on Friday evening for a few days of travel company work.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

It is time

I was at Stegeman this afternoon, and it wasn't pretty.

Ellen, Russell, Warren S., his two-year old nephew Holden, Meghan, and I have been planning our trip to the Stegosaurus for over a month. When we walked in today, thirty minutes before the tip, you could sense it: an apathy that you could cut with a pilates ball. Though the limited crowd offered a very appreciative reception for Bliss, Gaines, and the memory of Br0phy, the rest of the day was phoned in by almost all involved. I was truly embarrassed for myself and my school. But I couldn't blame anyone.

Make no mistake. I am very appreciative of the coach for showing up at a time when we really didn't have much to offer. And I hope the significant buyout we will pay him will help remind him of that.

But it's hard to imagine things getting any better any time soon. That lack of hope is reflected in a team and a more-than-half empty house that both probably should have stayed in bed this morning. When we play the video montages to half-interested fans and play the songs that set the tempo for the golf claps of the faithful, we don't do our school or our brand any favors.

Wednesdays and Saturdays in Stegeman have become self-parody, and no one seems to care. To me, that is as sure a sign as any that it is time for a change.

Friday, March 07, 2008

How I Stopped Snoring

I have endured many years of complaints and chiding about my snoring. Perhaps more importantly, anyone near me when I sleep has suffered even more seriously. The BreatheRight strips don't seem to work, since I snore in my throat. The spray just doesn't get it done.

My doctor expressed some concern last month at my elevated blood pressure. Because I have few risk factors for hypertension, I began checking into possible causes of the problem. Eventually, I found that sleep apnea had been known to raise blood pressure. I was also experiencing headaches in the morning, and found myself needing to nap in the middle of the day. These too can be symptoms of apnea.

At about the same time, a third party - who was as concerned about anyone who might sleep around me as she was for my well being - brought this to my attention. I was intrigued by the the physical effect it is supposed to have. But I am not in a position to drop 129.00 USD plus tax on a non-returnable item that is "supposed" to work.

The more I read the comments of those who had success with the pillow, the more I wondered if it would be possible to engineer a homemade solution that would provide the same benefit. I gauged the success or failure of the solution based on presence or absence of a headache within a short amount of time after waking, whether or not I became sleepy before dinner, and whether or not I had any other evidence of snoring (interpret that as you wish).

After about a week of trying, I found something that works. If I can support the back of my head with my pillow, with my arm laying much as it is in the picture of the product, I can let my mouth hang. The headaches and the drowsiness (along with the snoring) have disappeared since adopting this way of sleeping. The one night I forgot to sleep this way, I sure enough suffered both once again.

Tomorrow, I will start on cancer. Hopefully I can be working on world hunger by mid-April.

Letting Go of Dwight

This one is serious, and may be a bit too Stuart Smalley-esque for the squeamish. Proceed with caution.

The other day, I mentioned that I was forced to change my plans to observe the recording session on campus because Dwight was present. That is only part of the story.

Last Sunday, as I drove from my home to the Performing Arts Center, I was really beginning to look forward to the occasion of seeing Bruce and hearing the group record again as they used to. I had been anticipating this since mid-December, so I had plenty of time to get excited.

As I walked in the stage door, I could hear several voices bouncing down the backstage hallway. Seemingly random numbers and not-so-random comments about the performance on stage were interrupted by the occasional laugh. I had missed that sound.

I turned right from the hallway into the dressing room area. When I began my immediate left into the green room, I realized that I was in mixed company. Christine, exactly how you remember her, was nearest the green room door watching the goings on in the center of the room. Dwight was further inside wearing his typical green and blue rugby shirt, which has gone from snug to loose to somewhat snug over the last decade or so.

Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at making a turn at the slightest sign of their presence. Though I have lately been a bit out of practice, my reflexes did not fail me. I pulled out of the turn without thinking about it, and continued my purposeful walk down the dressing room hallway. I made my first available turn right, in an attempt to get into the restroom through the shower room door. I encountered several pieces of furniture that had been removed from the green room to make way for the recording equipment. The obstacles were no match for my desire to get the hell out of that situation, as I climbed over a chair, a coffee table, and a custodian’s cart without any hesitation or thought of going around.

I forced the shower room door open, locked the door from the restroom into the shower area, and slumped on a bench. My heart was beating well into my throat, my breath way too fast and way too deep. I sat and attempted to calm myself while trying to construct a way out that would most likely avoid any encounter with Dwight.

After thinking for quite some time, I decided to go back into the hallway and hide behind a corner to wait to hear them leaving before entering the green room. A couple of disappointed peeks into the room and several minutes of silence from the enemies convinced me that this wasn’t going to happen any time soon. I considered calling Meghan, Bruce, or one of the people I believed to be in the green room. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make that call without being detected. Furthermore, I didn’t know what I would have asked them to do should I have gotten anyone on the phone.

The longer I stayed hidden back there, the greater became the possibility of my being seen hiding. That would be the only outcome worse than running into them on my way out the door. Some twenty-five minutes or so after arriving, I made my way back into the shower room, through the restroom, and quickly into the main backstage hallway. I was out the door in ten seconds.

I waited outside in my car to see if I could catch them leaving the building, but the futility of the entire afternoon quickly sank in. I called Meghan and headed home. Defeated.

I was depressed for the rest of the day. I dusted off all of the old explanations of how Dwight had wronged many, myself included. I preached a sermon or too on the tragedies that resulted from his indiscretions. I sulked about not being able to hear the band and visit with Bruce, as I had been planning for nearly two-and-a-half months. My day was shot.

Since then, I have begun to realize how pathetic the events of that entire Sunday afternoon were. I have become sickened at the thought of my going to such great lengths to avoid anyone who is supposedly unarmed. I have become disgusted that my heart and lungs involuntarily reacted as though there was some sort of danger.

Because of the weakness I exhibit as it relates to him, there are some things that I have to remind myself about my experience with Dwight. This person was my professional mentor in whom I had placed the exceptional trust of an eager student – a trust that is surrendered with the promise of learning without reservation, but at the risk of being manipulated sharply and used carelessly. I had a friendship with Dwight and his wife that was a close to a familial relationship as any I had ever had, with the exception of my actual family. Both of those very sensitive relationships, and the nearly blind loyalty that came with them, were viciously betrayed. When someone gets that close to you and then hurts you badly, it is natural to respond to encounters with them as though you are being attacked. You are.

But it has been over five years since Dwight was removed from the band area. Five years! Since that time, I have been in no hierarchy that included him. I have not been asked to speak to him, to sit in a room with him (unless the entire faculty was there), to cooperate with him or to act under his authority. Yet still he is a topic of conversation, a source of anxiety, and a destroyer of an otherwise perfect Sunday afternoon.

So I have been asking myself, “Why is that?” Why are his words, his presence, or his influence any concern of mine?

I guess I have realized that Dwight continues to influence me because I haven’t let go of 2002. I haven’t gotten over what he did to the band, what he did to others, or what did to me. I haven’t stripped him of his duties as they relate to me, or truly realized that what appeared to be a vibrant teacher-student relationship was actually a waste of my time. I have been continuing to harbor this resentment toward him for ruining something that seemed so great, when I needed to have realized that there was nothing there to ruin. I have failed to realize that any memories I have of a good friend, a committed professor, or an invested mentor are completely fraudulent.

I understand that I am probably the last one of those involved to do this, but I have decided that it is past time to put it to bed. There simply isn’t any reason to avoid him anymore. There’s no reason to worry, no reason to change my plans because of him. There is no need to get anxious when I happen upon him.

I’m not sure if this is forgiveness or not. I think forgiveness is what you do out of love or kindness – what you do when you need to start over, or what you do when someone has damaged something of yours and you need to find a way to move on with life. I don’t think that’s what this is.

I think this is the realization that he simply isn’t anything anymore. He doesn’t wield influence, doesn’t control the money. He isn’t a father figure, a friend, an important professor, or a worthy mentor.

In fact, he probably never was.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Garth Brooks Juice Diet

Up until a few hours ago, the "legitimate" news sources on the internet would have had you believe that Patrick Swayze would be dead before Tax Day. Major news outlets (most of whom have apparently realized and attempted to remove the egg on their collective face by removing the original story) reported today with a line very similar to the following:

Actor Patrick Swayze has pancreatic cancer and is not expected to survive through the spring, according to a report today from The National Enquirer. - (Chicago Sun-Times), March 5, 2008

Wait. Did you just cite the National Enquirer in a legitimate news story? On terminal cancer? Of a public figure?

Reminds me of a scene from So I Married an Axe Murderer:

Charlie: Hey Mom, I find it interesting that you refer to the Weekly World News as The Paper. The paper contains facts.
Mom:This paper contains facts. And this paper has the eighth highest circulation in the whole wide world. Right? Plenty of facts. "Pregnant man gives birth." That's a fact. (Source: IMDB)

This makes David Hasinski's much-debated suggestion that input from "citizen journalists" should be regulated seem a little premature (among other things). Standards, Professor? How about standards for legitimate news gatherers first. Perhaps we can save just one desperate soul from attempting to lose weight on the Garth Brooks Juice Diet.

Yazz Band

Some fifteen-and-one-half years after beginning to play in the group, I have recently found myself in front of the University Jazz Band.

This all began last November, just before I took my trip to Nashville with Steve. It was a particularly slow time in terms of work (as the fall usually is). Steve asked if I would have some time to write a couple of "head charts" for the band. Head charts are basically arrangements that contain a main melody (the "head"), an open section for solos, and a return of the head. My formal education in jazz arranging has been virtually non-existent, so I tend to jump at a chance to write in a style that I really enjoy but in which I have little experience. I accepted, and quickly finished my first chart a couple of days later.

That couple of head charts expanded on one January afternoon, when Steve called seemingly just to chat. As the conversation continued, he eventually revealed that he anticipated needing one or two more charts. He also revealed that the reason for this need was that there was a possibility that the Jazz Band may have been going to China for a week in conjunction with the governor's opening an economic development office in Beijing. In order to fill the required amount of time, they would need a lot of easy vocalist-compatible music quickly.

The band has accepted the invitation. They have four rehearsals left before they depart. The arrangements have long since been written. I now find myself at the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, rehearsing the band in preparation for their trip in a month. I also find myself giving "voice" lessons to the wonderful vocalist who will be performing with the group. And, of course, I am still on call to write for the band again should the need arise. I have, once again, become the utility infielder for a portion of the School of Music.

The more things change...

Monday, March 03, 2008


For many years beginning in 1997, I was privileged to work annually with a recording engineer at the university named Bruce. This is Bruce, with his default non-farting expression. After Dwight was shipped off to the Siberia that is the second floor in late 2002, Bruce's services at UGA were discontinued in the interest of a clean break with the past, fiscal caution, and perhaps compliance with the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990.

In case you aren't aware, Bruce farts a lot.

In every occasion I had to work with Bruce, I learned more than I ever learned in a classroom. It wasn't always necessarily Bruce that taught me those things, but the circumstances of our association were always quite informative. Bruce's personality was one I always enjoyed - generally very positive, but brutal when negative. He appreciated the people as much as the music and the experience as much as the money.

After Bruce stopped coming to Athens, I began making it a point to see him in Chicago every December. The conversations were always too brief, but very valuable to me.

This past December, Bruce told me that he would be returning to Athens this winter for the first time in six years. He invited me to come to the sessions, for the purposes of visiting and observing a different way of recording than that to which I was accustomed. The first session was yesterday, but my visit was aborted by an encounter with Dwight and Christine. More about that later.

Today's visits were much more pleasant. I was reminded of some of my favorite memories of being a part of the production process. More importantly, I was reminded of great memories of working around people of whom I still think fondly, more frequently than they probably know. You know who you are.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A blog about blogging

It is an internet cliché to apologize for not blogging, so I won't. But I hereby acknowledge my virtual truancy of late. It really is a shame, because there is a lot going on.

To remedy this, I am imposing a quota on myself. I will write something of meaning in my blog every day for the next week. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

- Today's brush with Dwight, and my somehow still growing disgust for him.
- Today's brush with an old friend and boss, who I have missed since "Bloody Friday."
- My recent visits to the doctor, or "It isn't that funny when you put on a rubber glove, and then say, 'Just Kidding.'"
- Pants: Yay or Nay?
- God.
- Golf with my Dad.

So, if I have been disappointing you with my lack of output lately, you can rest assured that I will provide you with some substantive material with which to be disappointed every day for the next seven.