Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shhhhhh! and Brrrrrrrr!

I've been having trouble with my internet connection for the past few days (meaning the neighbor from whom I was stealing it moved out). So I took a one block walk down to the local library and to my delight found wireless access and meatlocker-style air conditioning. Local income taxes hard at work keeping the poor stiff-nippled and online. And I didn't even need to sign up for a library card! I also found a fair share of screaming babies, whining toddlers and various other rambunctious kids roaming unchecked. Apparently public libraries double as free daycare centers in the summer. But I brought headphones and so am in my own world oblivious to all the mayhem (right now that world is Bach's Goldberg Variations being played by SD).

My latest obsession: the Crackpot Comedy Tour. They're starting their second tour and have video updates and blog entries. I think they're shorts-soilingly funny. Well this taxpayer funded AC is beginning to make my teeth chatter and lunch is calling. A delicate wheatchex/miniwheats mix in water, a plum and maybe some baked beans. Buon pranzo!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Exfoliant or luffa... or both?!

I'm a freelance musician... and that means two things: poverty and a lot of time on the road, in hotels or at other people's houses. Hotels are great but I like staying at other people's houses because no matter who they are they always have better shit than me. Their bathroom is like a spa, man! I've got two things in my shower: shampoo and soap. And the cheapest kind of each, too. The shampoo is always that generic head 'n shoulders. That blue crap. Maybe if I'm feeling rich when I'm at the WalMart I get the shampoo plus conditioner in one.

But when I stay at other people's houses it's like a spa, man. There's separate shampoo and conditioner in there! And body wash and special soap for your face and exfoliants and luffas! And sometimes there's a whole shelf of shampoos. Then they have fancier shower heads than me, too. Mine's always caked with that mineral build-up and the water comes out of one hole like a syringe. Their's is a police riot hose with a half dozen massage settings to try out! I go to take a shower and suddenly I've got all these decisions to make!

I never know the etiquette about using someone else's toiletries. I mean, I've always got my little bag with my own soap and shampoo, that cheap ass blue shit. But that's really more for emergencies, like if you end up having to shower backstage or something. I don't know the etiquette. Should I not be using the soap in other people's showers? I've got a brother who can't stand other people using his soap. As if a disease could be passed from one bather to another on a bar of soap. It's antibacterial! Says so right on the label! What? Is your soap made from that brown petri dish culture medium crap from eighth grade biology class? Are you lathering up with a six week old block of blue cheese in there? Please! Soap is clean, by definition. I think his phobia probably has more to do with stray hairs, actually, but that's just a matter of courtesy. Clean those hairs off when your done people.

But I never know the etiquette. Never know the protocol. Sometimes I'll be staying at someone's place and they'll have that squeegee in the shower. Am I supposed to use this thing when I'm done? Wipe off all the condensation from the shower door, the walls? You can really get into it. You gotta work around that wash cloth rack and the faucet knobs. It takes forever! Adds like five minutes to the whole routine. That combined with sampling all the massage settings and deciding on a shampoo/conditioner combination in conjunction with the normal bathing schedule and you're pushing twenty minutes of hygiene. And you can't spend longer than twenty minutes in someone else's bathroom. They might think you're masturbating.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We-Make-Holesinteeth! We-Make-Holesinteeth!

<prebrush rinsing>
My oral hygiene routine is becoming increasingly expansive. It now involves four fluids (a prebrush rinse, a paste, a post floss rinse, and water) and two tools (a brush and floss) at least twice a day. The obvious next step is a waterpic or electric toothbrush or both! I think this is a compensation for the nearly decade and a half since my last visit to a dentist. "No pain, no worry" was always my mantra. That streak will come to an end next week sometime and should be blog-worthy.

<gone to spit>

I've always been told I have strong teeth. Only a couple cavities and I'm no stranger to sugar. Two-pound bags of Twizzlers are no match for me. A sister of mine on the other hand had a cavity in just about every tooth before highschool I think. And she always had zealously religious brushing habits. A flossing fundamentalist. Like the Taliban of tooth care! So ya never know. I'm tentatively curious about what they'll find going on in there. Plaque buildup? Tartar? Periodontal disease?

<gone to spit>

<flossing (can't type. checking email and weather)>

<post floss rinsing>
Really, what's the worst case scenario?

The hygienist calls to the rest of the office, "Hey guys! Get in here! You gotta see this!"


"I'm sorry. There's nothing more we can do. We're going to have to refer you to a vet."


"You're gonna need some of these pulled. What do I mean by a 'some'? Well... Do you enjoy soup and pudding?"

<gone to spit>

<gone to bed>

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Does its web not also imprison the spider, Grasshopper?

Here's a great website for you budding entomologists and arachnologists. I could spend hours there. I took lots of photographs of bugs when I lived in the country. Now I can start classifying them and posting a Bug of the Month.

August's bug is the impressive Golden Orb Weaver (Argiope aurantia). I caught this one feasting on a large, and unlucky, grasshopper. The hoppers were so numerous last summer the field grass at times seemed animate, which may explain this spider's plump size (it was a little larger than my fist!). Actually I nearly walked face first into its web as I scrambled back up a hill through the brush. The females are about four times the size of the males so I hope this was a female! More pictures of her here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

It is not logical.

Okay. Cereal three times today? I think I'm ready to unpack the pots and pans. Now what box were they in?... Ah, what's the rush? I like cereal. And is there some sort of banana embargo I don't know about? The banana island at the grocery store was completely barren this afternoon! Plenty of plums, loads of limes, acres of apples, gobs of grapefruit, millions of mangoes, billions of berries, piles of papayas, mountains of melons, an overflow of oranges, cases of kiwi... alright that's enough. But not one banana? And me wan go home. Maybe I just caught them on the cusp of a delivery cycle.

On another note I am enjoying having wireless internet at my house. No more delis or coffee shops just to check blogs or google something. And I can now easily discover interesting factoids on the spur of the moment. Such as: Did you know Quadre is 50% UW alumni at the moment? Two downsides I've noticed so far however:
(1) Netflix + horny/single + 24 internet access + privacy of own home = Bikini Squad showing up in mailbox three days later. I'm not proud. A review may be forth coming.
(2) Endless hours of The Daily Show and Colbert to catch up on! Good thing I'm (mostly) still on summer vacation.

Good luck with Dean CdeC! Stay hunkered down somewhere inland. I've never gone through a hurricane but I know someone who went through Frances and Charley in 1994. That was a bad season! Frances sat right over her city and spun for 24 hours barely drifting a few miles. She was safe but said the wind noise was so terrifyingly loud and constant that it became quite exhausting to endure. I hope you have a safe place to go and lots of cereal!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Go Cyclone-twisted-cardinal-thingies!!!

I'm sitting in my office with my feet up on my desk in my new house in my new city. Boxes are scattered about every room waiting to be emptied. I moved weeks ago but once I got the place livable details like books, pictures, curtains and clothes stayed packed away. I don't anticipate that changing too soon. I can walk from the bathroom to the kitchen relatively unimpeded. What else does a guy need?

Fall is in the air! Sure it's still 85 degrees and 90 percent humidity but music for the first sets of the season are beginning to arrive in the mail and calls for sub work are coming in. It's nice to finally wind down this barren summer and get regular gigs on the calendar (and regular checks rolling in!).

Next week I start a new job which is exciting. I'm looking forward to teaching these students but it's the horn seminar that has really got me thinking. I've never done anything like that before. If I'm doing it right, I should learn a lot preparing for this weekly lecture/discussion/chamber music/masterclass hour. I might troll for ideas sometime so beware.

I am conflicted about one thing: Most of my students are MusEd or non-majors but there is one freshman music performance major in the studio. I've yet to hear the student play but the fact remains, serious performance majors should be studying with professional musicians who have “made it”. I've cobbled together a nice freelance/adjunct existence but until I win some sort of full-time gig I'm not qualified to teach anyone else how to do the same. I've decided to devise a set of rules:

So you want to be a performance major?
(1) You must regularly seek out lessons with working, full-time, professional horn players. I know more than a few. I'll give you their numbers.
(2) You must attend summer festivals and learn where you rank among your peers.
(3) You must seriously consider a second major. Hey if athletes gotta learn something actually useful in order to play, why shouldn't you?
(4) You must seriously consider transferring to a reputable horn performance institution during your undergrad or, at the very least, attending one as a Master's student. (This rule may get me in trouble with my new boss so it will probably exist as “unwritten” but certainly not unstated.)

And just one rule for me, the teacher: Blow no smoke. Sure. Give the kid encouragement. Time to grow. Time to see how he or she develops as a player. See what kind of worker they are. See how bad they want it. But ultimately confront them with your opinion of their chances of success early enough in their academic career that they can change course.

Any other rules you all can think of?

Actually I think this sort of thing is often much less dramatic than it is played up to be. There are lot's of people, not just musicians, who graduate into competitive job markets without the requisite skills or talent to seriously contend for their dream job. And you know what? By and large they survive and find a place to call home and do just fine. There are lots of ways to make a living as a musician that don't require winning an audition against Curtis graduates. I just don't want to lead someone down a primrose path. I won't do that.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my Bonnie Rait playlist is almost up and I need to find the box with the tortilla chips in it so I can enjoy some of my brother's new wife's family's homemade salsa. (Follow that?)

Oh and by the way, I'll be posting every night for the next month as an experiment. I hope it doesn't start getting all stream-of-consciousness and shit by the end of the week!