30 August 2005

What If the "Hokey-Pokey" Really Is What It's All About?

Just a thought...

28 August 2005

Blog Schedule, Vortex[as]

Sorry for the long (Tom) delay, friendly readers. I arrived back from Texas and am preparing for yet another move back to school tomorrow! My goal is to blog at least three times a week during the academic year, as time will be a bit more tight.

About this entry's title, I'm really mostly just kidding. Texas is not a vortex, although I was sort-of shocked at the culture down there - not in a bad way, just in a different way. I've taken some Implicit Association Tests, one of which quizzed me on my thoughts concerning Northerners and Southerners. Apparently, I had a strong automatic preference for the former over the latter, but I think that might have changed. My trip to Texas allowed me to experience firsthand the culture that I subconsciously had an aversion toward, and, I discovered that southerners are pretty darn cool! First of all, cowboys really do exist. Secondly, Texas has state pride bigger than the size of the indigenous insects down there (um, which are huge - I saw more then my fair share of critters the size of phalanges in colors that you'd only see on rainbow tie-dyed shirts). At first, I was a bit taken back at all this state pride, but upon further reflection, I thought it was kind of cool. It's really like they're their own little country. They have as much patriotic pride as Italians do (see picture at above left). And the people down there really are so friendly. They'll all stop what they're doing to talk with you or offer a helping hand.

With that said, here are some of the things I found amusing while visiting the Lone Star State:

Catfish everywhere (A restaurant called the Catfish Corral; Little stops with signs that read Ice cream, Burgers, Catfish; another restaurant called Catfish Palace)
Silverado Road
A billboard that read Sunday funny Sunday for the Dallas Post's Cartoon Section
Lots of thunderhead clouds
A whole lot of American cars
Slab Happy BBQ Restaurant
Beefmaster's Ranch
Lone stars on EVERYTHING (on highway supports, on the front of the supermarket, on the front of tire stores, on signposts, on cars, on houses, embedded in doors/glass, on the American National Bank)
Texas shaped EVERYTHING (stepping stones, decals, kitchen sink drains, cutting boards, pins, belt buckles)
Cotton Gin Restaurant and Club
Real cowboys (as previously mentioned) with boots, hats, accents, and all!
A gun store called Gun Barrel City
An advertisement for Best Bail Bonds 24 hour Jail Release
Wagon Wheels Antique Mall

A Benefit including a rodeo and concert
A 300 lb. man with garage sale furniture - all in the back of a pick-up truck
A meat farm with a sign that read "Watch your curves! Eat more beef!"
American and Texas flags everywhere (in stores, outside of stores, outside of churches, on t-shirts, outside of houses, schools, etc.)
Firework Stands (open only one week before New Year's Day and the fourth of July, the first one I saw was outside of Dallas, and it consisted of two sheds put together and painted with two huge Texas flags on it)
Texas Meat Market
Fartless Chili Mix

Many fenced ranches (with monograms, names, horseshoes, lone stars over the driveways)
Shriveled catfish heads hanging on fence posts (a vivid portrayal of a man's catch of the summer, sort-of like how some people in Maine hang dead deer in their front lawn, as eye-witnessed by my sister)
A myriad of Dairy Queens (of course, some with the Diary Queen logo inside an outline of the state of Texas)

15 August 2005

All My Exes Live in Texas

Actually, none of my exes live in Texas, however I am leaving for the big country in the south of the US tomorrow, earl-i in the mornin'. With that said, I have high hopes of blogging every day whilst there, but I cannot be certain what my access to the internet (or technology in general) will be like during my stay...I hope to not run into any complexes while in the nexus of Texas.

Until the next entry, may your belt buckles be shiny and your spurs sharp. Saddle up your horses and when life stings you like a scorpion, cheer up, bucko. The sun will rise on your ranch once again, and you'll be happily steering your wagon into the great wide open before you know it.

14 August 2005

Bath Police

My awesome friend Rachel from band camp took this picture of a police car in Bath, Maine - a small town with a lot of character. Rachel was all witty and posted this picture with the following caption: "BATH POLICE, OPEN UP - you've been in there TOO LONG, you'll turn into a raisin." Funny funny punny.

13 August 2005

Iranians + Uranium = Use Your Cranium...

Iranian does sound an awful lot like uranium.

12 August 2005


Peter Jennings' life and work has touched many hearts and minds, including this blogger's. Ever since I was young, I've watched him anchor ABC's World News Tonight. I remember my daily afternoon ritual as a grade-schooler - arriving home from school, practicing piano, completing whatever "homework" I had, playing, eating dinner, watching Peter Jennings at 6.30 p.m., doing more homework, and then going to bed. I did not understand everything he said, but I remember the comfort of seeing him on every night.

Upon hearing of Jennings' death on Sunday, I was deeply saddened and chose to reflect some before I wrote an entry in his memory. So, albeit belated, here's my humble tribute to his life and legacy.

I respect and admire Jennings first and foremost as a journalist who did not shy from reporting on tough issues. It was he who exposed the fact that American government knew about the concentration camps in Bosnia, but the US instructed officials to lie about such camps because our nation had no political interest in Eastern Europe. Apparently, the US didn't have the time or money to prevent something we and the UN vowed would never happen again - a genocide. Not just a genocide anywhere (not that this should matter at all, but note that we are currently allowing one to occur in Sudan), but in Europe, where just fifty years earlier, one had just taken place. The peacekeeping operation in Bosnia was one of the UN's biggest failures (although the oil-for-food program rivals a close second). It was Peter Jennings who conducted a crucial interview after which US and UN action regarding Bosnia changed dramatically.

It was also Jennings who courageously covered the Cambodia story in the 1980s when the US was supplying money and arms (although the US vehemently denied the latter) to the non-communist resistance, which in turn, supported and be-friended the Khmer Rouge, the communist group that attempted to resurface after killing approximately 1.7 million of their fellow citizens. Jennings led a show-stopping interview with a US official in which the interviewee made an EGREGIOUS Freudian slip by saying that the US was indeed giving lethal arms to the non-communists (which in turn were going to the Khmer Rouge). The official foolishly denied any relations between the resistance and the communists, and Jennings juxtaposed that false statement with a video of Cambodian members of both sides shaking hands and conversing with each other. After this interview, Congress passed a law that forbade any more money or aid to be sent to Cambodia.

Jennings was Canadian, and as much as he exposed the US's hypocrisy regarding foreign policy, he also fell in love with the nation that welcomed him into a job as a journalist and news anchor. He admired the beauty and the freedom of a country whose morals, ideals, and laws revolve around a document easy enough to read in under thirty minutes and small enough to fit in one's pocket. In 2003, Jennings secretly became a US citizen. He was so moved that he himself began carrying around a copy of the Constitution in his own back pocket.

Jennings was brave enough to tackle America's tobacco issue head-on. He himself was a smoker, but quit when he had children. Unfortunately, the ghosts of his past followed him, as he was diagnosed with lung cancer this spring and passed away too quickly under its dark shadow. Jennings' persistent reporting on the realities of smoking and the overt marketing toward underage users resulted in significant changes in tobacco regulations.

He was a humble man, a man known to walk into rooms and instead of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, would approach and strike up conversations with the most unassuming, least famous people. He launched a charter school in Newark, NJ and not only invested in the school monetarily, but took the time to talk to the students and invest in their lives as well. At a high school graduation for older Americans who returned to school, he volunteered to hand out diplomas, and he memorized each student's name and background to personalize a congratulatory word of encouragement for each graduate. A combination of his unpretentiousness and sense of humor, Jennings stored his fourteen emmys and countless other awards in his bathroom.

He was known to go into homeless shelters late at night and hand out food. He befriended everyone. In once instance, he assuaged a volatile Arabic citizen angered at him - the man viewed Jennings as an American journalist invading his country's turf. In response, Jennings approached the man, listened to him and asked for his thoughts on the future of the Middle East. By the end of their encounter, the man was happy he spoke to Jennings.

One of his greatest talents was taking the most personal stories of regular, common people, and using them to highlight greater issues ranging from poor political policy to domestic abuse. He often did this by interviewing and speaking with children or visiting villages and communities outside of the metropolis in which a major story took place. I purchased his book, In Search of America in 2003 and am amazed by its beauty and poignancy. This read is a road-trip through the back streets of the US that testifies to Jennings' ability to feel the pulse of a diverse nation through capturing vivid snapshots and stories of its common citizens.

He saw no place for the obnoxious obsession with celebrity cases (i.e. - O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson) in World News Tonight. Not that he didn't view murder or child molestation as insignificant, but when stories like this take precedence over say, a potential nuclear war between India and Pakistan, he rightly saw the faults.

I remember Jennings during the falls of Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. More recently, it was seeing and hearing him on 9/11 that provided stabilizing force on a day of mass confusion and destabilization.

I'm ever-grateful for his amazing influence on the world of journalism, and more importantly, for using his platform to better the world.

Thank you, Peter Jennings for your incredible impact on our global community. May your legacy live on.

11 August 2005

Kidz Deez Daze

Walking back from a piano lesson on Tuesday, 26 July, I passed by some kids ranging in age from 5-16 participating in a summer program on the same campus as my band camp.

I saw the little ones first and remembered how much I enjoy seeing kids whose parents dress them for camp as if they were taking on the Amazon. Some bore sunscreen streaks across their arms and legs and fashioned over-sized plastic sunglasses with fluorescent rims. More than a few were wearing those baseball hats with the long tails on them that: A - unashamedly resemble mullets, B - could also pass for middle-eastern head pieces, and C - quite possibly prevent the children's ears and neck regions from getting sunburned. I was hoping that some over-zealous mother had protected her child with elbow and knee pads, but unfortunately, no such luck.

As I approached the teenagers, I was utterly shocked at what my innocent eyes beheld: two of the rascals were kissing under a tree, and another couple were laying in the grass together and holding each other with intention - all out for the public to see in broad daylight! I was ready to call the teeni-boppers' parents right there and then. I wanted to run over to the little ones, face them in the opposite direction of the crude behavior, shield their innocent eyes from the fornicating teens, and frantically start reciting wholesome lines from children's books to them.

But I didn't. Instead, I observed and decided to blog about it.

10 August 2005


So, in the spirit of last Friday's Voice of the Whizzle posting, I thought I'd share a fun little story. The same day we performed Voice of the Whale, a woman from the Maine Humane Society came to band camp. With her were two cats in a large, beautiful crate. Excited beyond belief to behold animals that evoked memories of homes and lives outside of band camp, our trio quickly approached her and asked what the furry felines' names were. "Eric", she replied, pointing to a tabby cat, and "Fizzle", gesturing to a long-haired cat resembling the one in the picture above (although "Fizzle" is a bit bigger and has more grey spots).

"Um, did you say Fizzle?" I asked.

"Yeah, Fizzle", she said.

"Cool," I smiled. But I was really thinking "cizzle".

09 August 2005


Last week at band camp, Sarah and I had to drop off a key we borrowed from another RA. We ventured into her building and climbed the steps to her floor. As we rounded the corner to her apartment, I looked to the right. I could not believe what I saw: it was apartment 3D.

Let's be honest, I was a bit tipsy, as we were just coming back from an RA dinner where they treated us to a round of beers. Perhaps, I enjoyed my blueberry wheat ale a bit too much because when I saw apartment 3D, I lost all control. I instinctively threw my hands up over my head and began to wildly convulse as if I were viewing an IMAX 3D show (or dancing in a bad [or good - depending on how you look at it] 80s video), all while simultaneously repeating "WHOAAAH" in rapid succession. Sarah spun around at the sounds of my strange behavior and started laughing rather loudly, which, of course, only encouraged me more. Suddenly, the door of 3D opened. A shy-looking girl stepped out in front of me, but it took me awhile to realize she was there. When I finally did, I stopped dead in my tracks.

"Heeeyyy", I grinned like the Cheshire Cat. "Sorry, I just thought it was cool because your apartment number is 3D...Get it?" I cocked my head.

She was kind and I'm sure was really trying to understand. Smiling with shifty eyes, she turned back into her apartment. So, what did I do? I started up again, of course, flailing my arms and jerking my body around. Sure enough, someone walked up the steps and saw me at my worst. It turns out that she was a friend visiting whoever was living in 3D.

I thought it was time to stop, so laughing in hysterics, Sarah and I dropped off the key and exited the building (not before doing another dance in front of 3D, though).

06 August 2005

High Eight Us

I'm moving and therefore might not be blogging for a few days...Enjoy the break while it lasts, and I'll Sophia-later. :)

05 August 2005

Voice of the Whizzle

Please note - if you don't have enough time to read this whole post, just make sure you scroll down to the asterisk.* Believe me, it's worth it (I think).

Sarah, Carrie, and I performed George Crumb's Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) last night at band camp. It's scored for electric flute (Sarah), electric cello (Carrie), and electric piano (me) - electric meaning amplified. It was a fun experience as I have never played a piece that requires extended techniques (namely playing harmonics, sliding a chisel on the strings, strumming the strings while depressing keys silently, using a glass rod to produce some groovy archaic sounds, and pizzicato-ing the strings). The work is based off of the Crumb's recordings of humpback whales in the 1960s, and he set his findings to music in 1971. It's pretty amazing how much the piece evokes whales and marine life. The composer recommends a dark stage set-up with deep blue lightning, and the players are required to wear half masks (sort-of like Zorro). The black masks are meant to dehumanize the performers to denote the impersonal forces of nature. Carrie wanted to take it a step further and dress up like a narwhal with a large horn. Sarah and I both thought it was a brilliant idea, but unfortunately it never panned out. I used black face paint for my mask so I could have more peripheral vision to work inside the piano and to see Sarah and Carrie. Because I had to reach into the piano throughout the piece, I couldn't use the piano stand, and layed my score inside the instrument. With the extremely dim lighting, it was very difficult to actually see the music!

We made the decision to play the piece while on a Pirate Cruise at the end of June. A bunch of us RAs sailed this booze cruise in a nearby town's bay area. We actually missed the boat (literally), but we spotted the drunkards in the distance, and I was furtively spying on them with my pirate scope (which was really a paper towel roll with a skull drawn on in blue permanent marker). Admist all the utterance of maledictations and "Arrrr Matey"s, Carrie drew upon her pirate smarts, called the boat on her cell phone, and they swung back around to pick us up! The cruise was beautiful - we saw seals and bald eagles, and local townies waving from their docks. We were in a particularly aquatic mood, cross-dressed as pirates with facial hair and all, so playing Voice of the Whale together felt like the only natural progression.

We actually didn't get started on the piece until just two weeks ago though. What happens at band camp is that we get assigned chamber music when we get here, so we have just two days before our first coaching (which is always horrendous because no one knows the music yet). Even though we requested the Voice of the Whale, it didn't mean we were going to get to be coached by it, so I didn't start it until we received confirmation, just prior to our first coaching.

Our coach for this piece was Emma Tahmiziàn (see picture below; my friend Micah is all funny and likes to sing: "Emma Emma Emma Emma Emma Tahmiziàn" - like the Culture Club's "Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon"). Ms. Tahmiziàn is an incredible pianist and musician, but sometimes, sort of scary. During our coachings, she would suddenly begin flailing her arms and wail, "NOOOOOOOO" if she didn't like something. I was especially scared for my life when she couldn't meet with me to go over all the extended techniques before our first coaching. I was trying to figure them all out in just two days compounded with the load of other music I was concurrently learning...Yeah, that wasn't so fun. However, hard as she was on us, she also commended us when she deemed appropriate. I liked this because it made her compliments really meaningful. Her suggestions were also extremely helpful.

So, after just under two weeks with the score, we performed the piece last night, and it went pretty darn well! After the concert, I was looking for Ms. Tahmiziàn, and when I saw her walking toward me with her black and orange moo-moo flowing behind her, I suddenly grew sore afraid and instinctively hid behind the stairwell. When she saw me, she put her hand on her heart and said our performance was "so beautiful" and that she was "deeply moved". I then crept out from behind the stairs and acted all calm and cool.

*Okay, now for the fun part - so, as previously mentioned, the Voice of the Whale calls for me to slide a chisel on the strings to make whale sounds. So, my plan was to talk to Richard from stage crew and write him a note that said I needed a "chizzle" and that's no jizzle. Unfortunately, I didn't get to because he gave me the chisel before I got to him. Fizzle. The other funny part is that band camp hosted a whale watch trip. Due to limited space, not everyone got to go, so I was going to make signs that said, "So, you thought you missed the whale watch?...Um, well, you didn't - come see the Voice of the Whale."

04 August 2005

Thursday Has Been Cancelled Due To Lack of Interest. Please Proceed Directly To Friday.

This was one of my favorite away messages left by my friend Samus.

03 August 2005

In the Red

This posting has two connotations.

The first I will explore relates to traffic lights. Here in Maine, I've run as many red lights as I do greens, because the yellow lights are so darn short. I always think I can make it, but then as I'm turning or accelerating through the intersection, I make all sorts of unGodly noises with my tires and the all the locals stare at me with disapproving frowns and shake their heads. I shrug my shoulders as if to say, "Hey, I'm just an out-of-towner." But, it's really starting to get embarrassing.

I think the only logical solution is for the yellows to be just as long as the reds and greens. Then, just as the yellows were about to turn red, they could blink fantastically. Yeah, that would work. Perhaps not as many people would run reds. Or maybe I should just always stop when I come to traffic lights - whether they're green, yellow, or red. That way I'll be sure that I won't run any.

The second meaning of my title revolves around the fact that I really don't have any money right now...

02 August 2005

A Witty Saying Proves Nothing. | Voltaire

Yeah, so Voltaire pretty much denounced my whole blog since I attempt to integrate wit, cleverness, and humor into my entries.

01 August 2005

Ich Bin Ein Ber[mix]er

The other day, I was playing Rufus Wainright's Instant Pleasure from a website, and then as it was dying out totally started up The Roots' Don't Say Nothin' on Windows Media Player. They faded into each other so beautifully that for a minute, I thought I was a DJ. Or Mademoiselle Mix-A-Lot.

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