If you dig Frank Lloyd Wright....

You should check out thesetwo web sites:



Rudolf Michael Schindler was born in 1887, in Vienna, Austria. He studied both art and architecture and was associated with Otto Wagner and Adolph Loos. In 1914, at the age of 26, Schindler left Austria for Chicago with a 3-year contract to work in a commercial architectural firm. At the expiration of the term, he accepted an offer from Frank Lloyd Wright to join his studio. Wright became Schindler's most important influence, and in 1920, he came to Los Angeles to supervise the construction of Wright's Hollyhock House.

Highest and Best Use....

Want To Know What Time It Is???



Utah's Legislative Session Turns The Corner For Home

Well, we are about a week away from the end of the end of the 2006 Legislative session here, and all the lawmakers can go back to their regular habits of being discrimiatory, bigoted, holier-than-thou at their regular jobs.

One of the hot-button debates that has been in the news recently is a proposal to deny in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants. There have been protests, angry editorials, people trying to shame other people, all sorts of junk. Then the guy who sponsored the Bill stood up in the debate session in the House, and said, "This country is the Land of Opportunity for EVERYONE, but only of they come here legally and play by the rules."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

I get the feeling that more people aren't concerend about this issue (the issue of illegal immigration generally), because they have no idea how it affects them. They have no idea what kind of expenses are borne by us all on behalf of people who demand mother-tongue education for their kids in public schools, who don't carry health insurance and so call 911 when they are sick and need medicine, or who drive without a drivers' license or insurance because they can't prove their elligibility. We all pay for the expenses generated by this kind of thing.

My $0.02.

Gretzky's Future With Hockey-Canada In Doubt

I read in a couple of places this morning how distraught The Great One is over having been summarily dismissed from the olympic hockey tournament. You know, all you can say is, "you win some and you don't."

They lost, the US team lost, it's just what it is. The world of hockey has more parity among countries than ever before, and, for better or worse, it offers a better tournament in teh long run. Team Russia has a BUNCH of players that play in teh NHL. That hasn't always been the case. I remember when the first two russian players started playing in the NHL. It was a very big deal. Same with the first few Finnish players, Jari Kuri, and Esa Tikkanen. I think there were probably a couple before them. It was a big deal, but it isn't any more.

So, boo-hoo, North American hockey is no longer the defacto dominant hockey power it once was.


Cut and Paste Plagiarism

I heard a funny story on the radio at lunch today: a high school English teacher took her work home for the weekend, and she noticed, through some research, that one of her students had done a little "cut and paste" plagiarism on a paper that was submitted to her for grading.

She went to class on Monday, and told the class that she had found a paper that was full of purloined passages. She told everyone to spend the next ten minutes writing three paragraphs about what they did over the weekend, except that the person who had plagiarised was to write her an apology for doing what he/she did, and promise not to do it again.

To her surprise, she got a sheaf of responses regarding what her students had done over the weekend, along with FOUR apologies for plagiarism. She met with the four students individually, helped them understand what they had done, and didn't embarrass them publicly, but got them back on track in school.

That made me laugh out loud.

Bikers Support Families at Soldiers' Funerals

Earlier in my little blog here, I mentioned that there is a group of fools who think they should feel good about verbally flogging the families of soldiers killed in action because they think dying soldiers are God's punishment for a country that harbors gay people. While my thoughts on this group of MORONS is pretty clear, I'm not here to beat that dead horse again. Except for one thing: while I was on my way to the Maynard Ferguson concert a couple of weeks ago, I heard a report on NPR that talked about another group, bikers, who ride to these funerals for the express purpose of drowning out these protestors with their bikes. Then a buddy of mine reminded me about this story and sent me a link on it this morning. Following are a couple of excerpts from that article. The link to the article is here : http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/21/93622.shtml?s=ic


Wearing vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls
around the country from one soldier's funeral to another, cheering respectfully
to overshadow jeers from church protesters.

They call themselves the Patriot Guard
Riders, and they are more than 5,000 strong, forming to counter anti-gay
protests held by the Rev. Fred Phelps at military funerals.

Phelps believes American deaths in
Iraq are divine punishment for a country that he says harbors homosexuals. His
protesters carry signs thanking God for so-called IEDs - explosives that are a
major killer of soldiers in Iraq.


It's interesting to me how many people around here believe that they have the ear of God on so many issues here. In reality, it is a crutch used by idiots who think they somehow have the ability to speak for God on issues they care about. Weak-minded folks, they are.


"The most important thing we can do
is let families know that the nation cares," said Don Woodrick, the group's
Kentucky captain. "When a total stranger gets on a motorcycle in the middle of
winter and drives 300 miles to hold a flag, that makes a powerful


Read the whole article - you may agree with my "Morons Of The Month Award."

Actually, there is an interesting conversation to be had here regarding Free Speech, a topic that has been in the news lately. It seems the concept is alive and well, and its operation here in this case seems to work. If a protestor feels the need to make a statement about the fitness of this country's policies regarding equal rights for al citizens, another group can certainly make a statement regading its positions as well. Too bad the venue is such a difficult and raw situation for the families impacted the most. Bummer.




Big tattoo convention here in town over the weekend… brought some fun and interesting memories back to me. (But let me say here that if I was thinking about a tattoo, I would NOT be going to get one in an atmosphere like this…) As we were booking our honeymoon trip to Tahiti, we became aware of a fellow who had gotten a lot of attention for his tribal tattoos there at the resort we were planning to stay. Previously, we had mentioned that it would be fun to get a tattoo, and I had mentioned to Val several times before that I have always wanted a tattoo, and it would be fun to have something that is meaningful to the both of us.

We read lots of reviews and comments about this guy who had moved to the Tahiti islands from France to practice his art. Tattoo was actually first practiced in French Polynesia, and we felt like it would be a nice souvenir and addition to our whole experience there. We didn’t want to get just ANYTHING, so we set about looking for designs and wanted to find something that meant something to the both of us.

I had looked at many designs over the years, and knew that what I would eventually get would need to have symbolic meaning of many things in my life. I had also seen images of the Aztec sun calendar, and liked the roundness of the image, and the rich imagery, so I set about customizing that type of image for myself. At the same time, I was looking for something a little more dainty and feminine for Val, but we also wanted that to be something that had an equal array of meaning. What we ended up with for me was a sun image, with a yin/yang image in the center, with 8 “rays” emanating from its center, to represent each of the 8 kids we have between us. There is also a circular ring surrounding the image with its own meaning to us.

For Val, we had found a few images of butterflies, which fit the feminine direction, but felt that what we had seen was very much along the lines of fantasy/fairy-type designs, and it didn’t really match with her personality, so I also began to make drawings on that as well. What we came up with for her was a design that definitely falls within the tribal design realm, but has a butterfly shape for sure. On the inside of the design there are 8 tribal scroll patterns, again to represent each of our 8 kids. The two antennae represent each of us, and there is a long tail that ends in a small heart.

We got both of these on our lower backs, on the last full day that we were there – you can’t go in the water after you get a tattoo, as it is essentially an open wound, and the chance for infection is significant. Val’s is monochromatic, black, and so took a relatively short time. Mine took 3 hours.

This is a photo of the “studio” where we got our tattoos done – it was a great experience – but it was painful. When you get a tattoo on an area where bones are close to the surface, it feels like you are being branded rather than tattooed. It was a great experience though, and I wouldn’t trade it at all. The tattoo artist has a web site that is here:

Over time, we have been very happy with the tattoos and have found them a nice addition to the bond that we share together. If we have any regrets, it would probably be that they are not easy to see, on our backs like that.

Which brings me to the set of second tattoos we got about 18 months ago:

Since we don’t really see our original ones very easily or often, we both thought it would be nice to get something that is a little more visible, but yet not obtrusive at all. We do live in a pretty conservative state. But nonetheless, we did want to get something that is a little more easy for us, and maybe others, to see from time to time. Additionally, in the time that had passed since our first ones, we (or at least *I*) have felt from time to time, that on one hand I should have let the tattoo artist, Lovisa, just go to town and do what he does best – create. I have looked at his other work, and now think that I would be very happy with some of his stylized work, notwithstanding the deeper meanings of the ones that we do have. I have looked at LOTS of tattoos, and lots of artists, and frankly, this guy is head and shoulders above what I see out there.

Anyway, we started to look around at some other designs that might mean something to us, and that might be something we could translate into an attractive tattoo. Val decided to get a small version of the one I drew for my back, on her lower leg, and I still had not decided what to get. I had toyed around with some text, and stuff like that, but had decided that if I was going to do that, I would want it in some sort of circle, with an image of some sort on the inside. No images I was coming up with made any sense to me, and I just kept looking.

One of the text things I was working with at the time was the saying, AMOR VINCIT OMNIA. Translated from the Latin, it means “Love Conquers All”. Sometimes it is expressed as Omni Vincit Amor, or, “all is conquered by love.” This whole idea appeals to me, and I started doing some reading about the phrase and where it had come from. My research led me to a Roman poet named Virgil, who first wrote the phrase in 38 BC in a poem called Eclogues X. His complete phrase was omnia vincit amor et nos cedamus amori, or “love conquers all; let us too, yield to love.

Well, that’s all great and everything, but how do you translate that to something that would work well for a tattoo? I was also hoping to find some sort of symbology that would take me there, as opposed to just having the words tattooed on my arm. In my research of the phrase I also came up with some information from a Geoffrey Chaucer poem, Canterbury Tales, wherein he talks about a woman who wears something on her sleeve:
A string of beads and gauded all with green; And therefrom hung a brooch of golden sheen

Whereon there was first written a crowned "A,"And under, Amor vincit omnia.

This interested me and as I did some other research I managed to find a symbol that has come to represent that sentiment.

This image was actually produced in the 1600s by the literate nobility in Europe who enjoyed wordplay, puns, anagrams, and “picture-puzzles”. They were composed and sent to friends as riddles to be solved by the recipient, and the “answer” to the riddle was then sent back to the sender to see if it was a correct interpretation of the riddle. It later became a symbol of love and devotion, and a brooch from this period (image in the middle) is actually in the Guildhall Museum in London today. The “Crowned-A” symbol has been adopted into coats-of-arms by nobility etc, since then, most recently by Albert II, current King of the Belgians, born in 1934.

So this was the answer to my own personal riddle of what I could get as a tattoo that would represent this sentiment of love and devotion, while not have to spell it out for the world to read. It has personal meaning to me now, as much as it did when I first discovered it, and I treasure it to this day.

As far as the actual symbology goes, one can see the following in the image:

The Latin Letter “A”
The crown, for “conquer”
The Heart in the middle

This image has also been rendered as a large heart encased in a growing tree, to imply the steady and continuous growth and survivability of love over all the elements, etc. As in, love overcomes all elements and hardship.

I traced the image on the left, and got it all done as varying shades of black, with the exception of a blood-red heart in the middle. It now resides on my left shoulder.

Not that I really NEED it, but I often think about it, and it reminds me, especially on my hardest days, what my purpose is, and where my life is focused. We have daily pursuits, and we seem to have to work hard to survive, and as we do that, we can become too near-sighted. It helps to take pause and reflect on the true meanings of life, and that love is one of those things we leave in our wake that actually lasts beyond our passing. Indeed, it survives life itself.


My Class Action Suits


I read the other day that some dork launched a class action suit against Apple Computer because the iPod might cause hearing damage if it’s played too loudly. Then another dude launched a suit against Apple claiming that his NANO has too many scratches.

Umm, gimme a break. In light of this news, I have decided to launch class action lawsuits against the following companies/individuals for these reasons:

---> That One Guy v. All Handgun Manufacturers, because, as we all know, they’re dangerous and they even KILL people.

---> That One Guy v. All Manufacturers of those damn SOUPCAN mufflers, Cummins Diesel, Ford Powerstroke Diesel, My TV, Movie Companies who make any explosion a part of their films, Fans in Sports Stadiums (stadiae?), and My Children, because they are all also too loud for my comfort.

---> That One Guy v. Nintendo, Microsoft X-Box Division, Sony Playstation Division, because they just make people stupid.

---> That One Guy v. All Cell Phone manufacturers, because when people use them while driving, they are stupid too.

---> That One Guy v. All Automobile Manufacturers, for the same reason as above.

---> That One Guy v. All Ski Manufacturers, because they are dangerous and people obviously can’t think for themselves, and we shouldn’t expect them too.

---> That One Guy v. anybody that makes coffee, because it can be served hot, and that might hurt.

---> That One Guy v. 7-11, because slurpees can be too cold, causing brain damage.

---> That One Guy v. any Malaysian company that makes shoe laces, because they can be tied too tight and make my feet hurt, or they could come undone and cause me to trip and fall. This one will be lucrative.

There are many more – maybe I’ll start a separate page of my proposed lawsuits. If you’d like to join the class on any one of these actions, just leave a comment to this post.

Gretzky's Good News

ESPN is reporting that neither The Great One nor his wife will be likely to face charges with respect to the gambling ring in which Rick Tocchet will undoubtedly be indicted. Tocchet is an assistant coach under Gretzky for the Phoenix Coyotes.

"He is not a person of interest," Fujikawa (Gretzky's lawyer) said Thursday. "We have received no indication he is somebody who will be called before a grand jury. We have received assurances that he is at most a fact witness."

Jones' (Janet Jones - Gretzky's wife) lawyer, Evan A. Jenness, said she expected Jones to be subpoenaed to testify in the case. She said no documents had been served as of Thursday.
"I've been told she's just a witness," Jenness said Thursday. "I'm quite confident that's the case."

So, that's good news for the both of them. I probably wouldn't have posted much about this at this point here, but the story I read yesterday had the picture of the two of them from the day they were married, just coming out of the Church in Edmonton. It brought back a bunch of fun memories for me.

I was telling Val last night that this wedding was about as big a deal there as when Diana married Prince Charles a few years ealier. They were the Royal couple for everyone in Edmonton.


David "Fat-Head" Newman - Feb 14, 2006

We went to a concert last night up at the University of Utah... I heard about it and thought it would be a good one to see. The University's jazz ensembles were playing as part of a week long mini jazz festival here, in conjunction with Black History Month. (the guy with the microphone called it "Black Awareness Month" - nice one, dude)

Anyway, the concert got off to a slow start, but got going after the Faculty Jazz Trio took the stage. I didn't get the names of all the players, but it was cookin... It was readily obvious that these three guys are the department heads in their own individual instruments. Every one, piano, drums, and bass have mastered their instruments, and made each selection interesting, as opposed to simply keeping time. The bass player was playing open fourths and fifths, strumming, using harmonics, and walked all over the place with the ease that comes from years of intimate familiarization with the instrument.

The drummer was equally adept. With a snare, two toms, a small jazz kicker, three cymbals and a hi-hat, he made every bar unique and interesting. He played with lighter sticks, and with brushes. He was complimentary, calling and answering at all the right times. He marked the 4 and 8 bar turnarounds with clock-like accuracy. A very sensitive player.

The piano player was able to drop the perfect fills into each spot with surety and clarity, he had visual contact with both the bass player and the drummer, which made the entire combo solid as a rock.

The trio was joined after a tune or two by David "Fat-Head" Newman. He's an older dude now, wore a nice beret and was very personable in his comments about each tune to the audience. He played VERY well, although not the ton of notes one might associate with a bebop player. He played the flute - almost better than the saxophone. He played very well, with solos that were so melodic they seemed to simply be a part of the song's melody anyway. Which is the whole point of improvised jazz music. Little did I know, he was really just warming up for his set with the Jazz Ensemble I which was to follow the intermission.

The Jazz Ensemble I took the stage and the announcer made some comments regarding the Jazz Festival etc, and also announced that the University of Utah is beginning a Masters in Jazz Studies Program starting next year. Pretty cool, really. Then he introduced the new director of the Jazz Ensemble, Greg Floor, who was a former grad student who had been away for 5 years on the east coast, finishing his Masters in Jazz Studies, as well as a Masters in Divinity Studies at the same time. He had previously played lead alto in the Jazz Ensemble as well as other ensembles while he was away.

Incidentally, he plays clubs, etc, around here when he is in town, but I had never taken the opportunity to go hear him. I probably will the next time I am able.

This ensemble ROCKED the house. The rhythm section was so tight, the rest of the band couldn't HELP but follow them. The bass player, Alex Rowe, and the drummer, Bobby James, have spent some hours playing off each other, and they had a good musical conversation going. Not to be out done, Courtney Smith, on piano, was involved in this ongoing conversation, and had plenty to say for himself in his own right, laying down musical solos and calling out to both the drums and bass often.

They then introduced Mr. Newman again, and as he was coming out they announced that it was his birthday in a few days and everyone sang Happy Birthday to him. Then it was on to the real music. Every song after the first two featured Newman and he delivered his goods in a solid and professional set. His solos were delightfully melodic, and the timbre from both the saxophones and the flute were wonderfully rich and smooth. A nice aged scotch came to mind. He played with energy and it was a great set from one of the "old school" jazz men. These guys seem to be national treasures. He mentioned at one point that people who support jazz concerts and artists are supporting the one truly American contribution to the world music catalog. And he's right.

A lovely evening and a nice touch to the Valentine's Day schedule. Not to mention easy on the wallet. :)


The Wayne Gretzky Story



A few days ago I asked a friend of mine who still lives in Edmonton about this whole Gretzky thing. I wondered if he had heard about it at all. Well, duh, was basically the reply. It has been the front page story every day since the whole thing broke open. We visited back a forth a bit, and I wondered what the impact would be to the hockey team. He wondered if he would bow out and let the team go over and do their thing without the distraction, since he’s not actually the coach, just the general manager. They are, after all, defending the gold medal. Well, it seems he has shown up with the team in Turin, ready to go, with the little wife in tow, although reports say that he looks tired and drawn from the whole ordeal.

Seems like there’s a movie script there somewhere, just waiting to be written.

More later.


Grammy Moments: Best and Worst

Best: Mariah Carey's performance - she rocked, and I don't even really LIKE her.

Worst: Sly Stone Tribute - Menage a too many. Sly looked horrified, and Steven Tyler looked like Cher. And the music sucked for the whole 10 minutes.

Was glad to see that Kanye West was limited to one appearance at the microphone - his speech was so not even close to funny, it was painful. And Jay-Z looked like he had no idea what to do when McCartney showed up to sing the last part of "Yesterday."

So there it is, in a nutshell. I liked the Awards better when they were in a smaller theater, and there were more awards given during the prime-time show. But that's just me.

Tocchet: "It's not a hockey-related issue, it's a football thing."

Big news in the sports world, or at least in the hockey world. It hasn’t really been on the news much around here, we’re not much of a hockey town. But it’s all over the internet sports site for the last couple of days… Wayne Gretzky, his wife, and Rick Tocchet have been implicated to varying degrees in a gambling ring. The Great One himself hasn’t really been implicated, or at least those are his statements, but his wife, Janet Jones, has been implicated as having placed bets totaling more than 6 figures for herself in the past six or seven weeks.

Wayne himself says he was not involved, and didn’t know what was going on until Tocchet called him on Monday night of this week. That was the story on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, anonymous sources revealed that through wire taps, there had been some confirmation that Wayne himself knew what was going on, but there was no evidence that he had actually placed any bets himself. The group, including a Police officer from New Jersey, took bets from NHL payers, and placed bets for them on football games, and some college basketball. No evidence of betting on hockey though. Janet even won money ($5000!!) on the COIN TOSS of the SuperBowl.


As I said, no papers or local TV are reporting this news here, at least not yet. Indictments are expected. Tough timing, really. You have the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team, who also happens to be the big man at Hockey Canada, the group that manages Canada’s Olympic hockey team. He is the coach of that team as well, and is (apparently) heading to Italy to defend his gold medal won in Salt Lake four years ago. Tocchet is the assistant coach of the roadrunners, but has been given an indefinite leave of absence, pending the rest of the story. Tochet was the stand-in head coach while Gretzky was attending to his dying mother a few months ago. Now the Coyotes are high and dry, depending on a third string coach to get by in probably 5-7 games while The Great One is away.

So, my main question is, “Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, OVER!!?” I mean, really!! I was in the street on the Saturday morning when Wayne and Janet were married, along with every other lunch-box toting, steel-toe boot wearin', hockey fight lovin' citizen of that hockey town. He is the Royal Son of Edmonton. He has been since he was 16 and walked off the plane to play hockey there, and he has been ever since, even after he left to play for the LA Kings. Janet is the adopted Royal Daughter in Edmonton, by virtue of the fact that Wayne Can Do No Wrong. And by virtue of the very simple fact that she was (and still is…) HOT HOT HOT!!... All of a sudden, Mr. Gretzky was the man who had everything. He OWNED the NHL, and he was married to a hottie besides!

Since that time, I have moved away from there, and so has he. However, I have passively followed his career path, both inside hockey and out. They always appeared to have the Idyllic Life, everything one could possibly hope for, dream for, want. He was still active in hockey, and eventually ended up with an ownership part in the Phoenix Coyotes, and ultimately ending up behind the bench as their coach. Imagine a rookie somehow getting lucky enough to play for that team, and be tutored at his feet?! How cool would it be to strap on the blades for practice knowing that The Great One will be skating with you, might even pass you the puck…

Both Wayne and his wife garnered respect both inside and out of hockey. Obviously, they have more money than any of the rest of us “common folk” could ever hope to have. I mean, really, if you’re betting on the COIN TOSS of the superbowl, you have throw pillows stuffed with cash, not feathers.

It’s unfortunate that this happens to people. Do they totally lose perspective on what is at stake when they decide to these kinds of risks – and I’m not talking about placing a bet on the toss of a coin either – I’m talking about getting involved with a gambling scheme that links one to Philadelphia mobsters, and who knows what else. (Tochet spent much of his NHL playing days in Philly.) And frankly it is something that one could almost predict from a former player that logged more than 3000 penalty minutes, but you wouldn’t expect it from the wife of the most famous and well-loved hockey personality on earth. Did she realize she was risking JAIL time? Not to mention losing her kids, husband, life as she knows it? What did you do, Janet???!! I find it hard to imagine what was going through her mind? I mean REALLY!! How could you risk throwing that away. It SEEMED that for 20 years, they had the world by the tail, and really Wayne has had the world by the tail since before he started shaving.

An unfortunate setback – time will tell how really bad things are going to get.


Free Speech Comes With Responsibility

A few days ago I posted the original cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed (sorry if I spelled that wrong - there are different spellings of His name all over the place and I don't know which one is more correct) here with some thoughts on the news of the day. Since that time, and out of respect for other people's thoughts, I will be removing the offending cartoon picture from the post over this weekend. Two observations here:

1. Free speech is a right afforded to us all. It comes with the understanding that the right is practiced with a modicum of responsibility. In the beginning of this larger-than-life controversy, several European papers printed the cartoon as a show of solidarity for the right of the cartoonist to draw the cartoon, and the original newspaper for publishing it. However, as free-thinking "westerners" we also have the right to expect respect from those with whom we come in contact.

Logic then dictates a certain amount of personal censorship to one's "free speech", because we do in fact consider ourselves to be respectful of others' beliefs and rights. A personified image of Mohammed is forbidden in the Muslin religion, and is seen to be highly offensive, as is obvious from the world news of late. Therefore, in reality, one DOES have the right to speak freely, or in this case, draw freely, but one must also temper that right with the possible ramifications of that free speech.

2. It is obvious that not EVERYONE in the world believes all people have the right to free speech.

While I think one must weigh the consequences of one's free speech, I cannot even come close to condoning the violent reaction of those whom this picture offends. Calling for the violent overthrow of official buildings and residences in other countries, or calling for the death of the individual who has offended, is hardly the way to go about seeking a solution to this situation.

If you expect the rest of the world to value your beliefs and give you the respect you think you are entitled to, you must also give that respect in return to others. While there are different religions in this world, and different countries, languages, cultures, etc., we all must live in some sort of cursory harmony with each other in order to not blow the whole damn planet up in the end.

The problem with that last paragraph comes into play in this instance because the offended culture SEEMS to value human life much less than other cultures on earth. This is obvious from the amount of suicide bombings, car bombings, etc, that happen each and every day in areas where there is a predominance of the Muslim faith. Followers believe that if they die in some act perceived to be taken with courage and redemption for some wrong done, they will immediately be admitted to some paradise and have 20 virgins as a harem forever. The bottom line SEEMS to be this: if we don't like something, the best way to handle it is to blow something up, and take as many innocent individuals with you as possible. Perhaps the number of dead bystanders has something to do with the numbers of little virgins you are guaranteed on the other side of life.

Since the world has become much more of a "one-world, one community", there have been problems like this that impact us all. Not everyone thinks like us, not everyone holds the same values as us. Are we right? Do we have the right to think we make the rules? Are they right? Who knows. And that question isn't really ever going to be answered satisfactorily anyway, so why bother with it? The real questions to be asking are these? How can this new world community live in peace? How can we all at least show a little common respect to ALL? How can EVERYONE simply learn to accept that there are differences in those beliefs, and learn the get past them to a level playing field of commonly accepted practices for a minimum level of respect for all people? Somehow, somewhere, there HAS to be some common denominator that came be met, some point of common life principles, to allow this mutual respect to begin to grow. It's obvious we don't know where that is right now.

So, did the cartoonist have a RIGHT to draw and have published those cartoons? Yes he did.

SHOULD he have published them? Probably not, if he had the knowledge of the level of their offensiveness.

Should those that did publish them apologize for doing so? Perhaps, but not because of the threat of violence, but because of the need to show a little respect for other cultures and beliefs.

Wow, another "soapbox" post... well, there it is then.


Coretta Scott King Memorial Service

I listened to excerpts of this service this afternoon. I was impressed by much of the comments, in particular a couple of things said by Maya Angelou. She said Ms. King was born a CornFlower and turned into a Steel Magnolia... she also noted that as the two of them often chatted (Ms. Angelou's birthday is the same day that MLK's assasination took place), they often had conversations revolving around the idea that equality for all is not an either/or scenario, but rather a everyone/all the time scenario.

How true.

Earlier I wrote that I wondered who would step into the vast void left by her passing. It occurs to me through several of the comments from that service that each and every person who cares about people, family, children, humanity, has a responsibility to improve the world FOR OTHERS each and every day. If there were more people doing this everywhere, this would be a whole lot better place FOR EVERYONE.

There - /dismount soap box/

Maynard Ferguson Concert, Feb 6, 2006

This evening consisted of a concert given by Maynard Ferguson, and the Bingham High School Jazz Ensemble. The first part of the evening was the high school band, and I must say, that was the surprising part of the evening. I knew what to expect from Ferguson, but I had no idea what has been going on down at the High School level. My kids go to another high school here in the city, and I've been to many of those concerts. I had pretty much accepted that program to be the measuring stick for the state of high school music around here. However, I had not been to any concerts at other schools.

Over the last years, I have heard these band concerts, and both Val and I have noted to each other every time that what we had just heard held no candle to our previous school experiences when we were students. Both Val and I had had previous good experiences in band programs, and we both remember them proudly with fondness.

The Bingham High School Jazz ensemble was the kind of program that we had both grown up in, and we thought that with the cuts in music curriculum, were lost forever. But not so. Not to take anything away from the music programs at our childrens' schools, the Bingham program definitely has the passion that is missing in 99% of the programs out there right now. Those kids are so incredibly lucky to have what they have. The jazz band was staffed with a full complement of traditional jazz band sections, without the oddities necessitated by being short on trombone players or Saxophone players - there were no Bass Clarinets, or similar weirdness at all. They even had a Baritone sax player, who held his own and sounded great.

The director got them going with a tempo, and then got out of the way and let them play. They had a great rhythm section, anchored by two able bass players, alternating on tunes - following the kick drum very nicely, a good piano player who understands the role of the piano in a jazz combo, and a VERY solid drummer who knew his role as well. So often you get a drummer that comes from the "Twisted Sister" school of jazz drumming in high schools, but this kid was wonderfully sensitive to the nuances of what was going on around him. He followed, led, called, answered, and played very well. Delightfully refreshing indeed. This teacher gets the passion of the music, more than the notes.

Their selections were age appropriate and not too difficult for them, but were executed very well, with solos being played in all sections of the band through the performance. Soli sections were tight and well balanced. These young players are getting a GREAT education, whether they realize it or not!

Then it was on to the Main Event.

As I said, I knew what to expect from the Maynard Ferguson portion of the show. This was my third time seeing him. As I sat during the intermission before he came on, I did a quick calculation, and noted that the first time I saw him was 28 years ago, in Edmonton Alberta. To my young ears, that concert was nothing short of heroic. I saw him again about 8 or 9 years ago in New York City. By that time, his band had gotten smaller, likely due to economic factors. His career had come down from the commercial success that was paralleled by his signature "Rocky" cover. He had made it onto the Billboard Top 100 with that tune, and had become equated not only with the song, but with the film's character as well - overcoming the odds of being a jazz trumpeter and making it with a pop tune onto the pop charts. Many critics at the time felt that his was the better version of the song (Gonna Fly Now), over the composer's own version, although the composer's version had made it to #1 on that same chart. There were other commercial/pop numbers that shored up the career at that time as well. (Think Star Wars Theme here.) He took some heat for seeking out the overly commercial outlets for his music, but also always had the "jazz card" close at hand as well.

So, what I expected was that same heroic type of trumpet playing with that astonishing 8 octave range, but a bit more subdued, due to his 78 years on this earth. And indeed, that is what he delivered. More than anything right now he is a band leader (and he has been a band leader since the Stan Kenton Big Band disbanded in the late 50's - no pun intended). Ferguson still has most of those notes, though not with the mind-warping, face-melting ferocity had once had them. He transitions to a flugelhorn when he wants to have a more mellow, fat sound. He played solos and parts in most of the arrangements, but really, his band is a great showcase of GREAT players, particularly trumpet players, as one might imagine. DUH!. His lead trumpet player has that same sort of prodigious propensity for the stratosphere, and, closing one's eyes, one might be transported to younger years and another concert. One of the trumpet players was a nephew of his, and also played very well. Rounding out the horn section was a trombone (the band leader) and two reeds.

The Piano player was a master of the instrument, as were all of the rhythm section players. Each got rousing applause for solos, especially the bass player who played a solo that consisted of BOTH a walking bass line, AND a lovely melody, plucked simultaneously with both hands rather than the usual one hand. It was reminiscent of the late Ray Brown, or perhaps John Clayton, although both those players were "upright" players, and this dude was playing Fender Jazz Special.

All in all, it was an impressive show for such an old guy. He seemed to take on a different persona once the music started. He waddled slowly on stage, but when it was time to play, he was all present and accounted for.

I heard a few people talking to each other as they were walking out of the theater. They mentioned that "it's obvious he just doesn't have *it* anymore." These were people who thought perhaps they were going to see some high-brow sophisticated jazz concert, where their intellectual capacity would somehow be challenged. But they obviously showed up with the wrong expectations. Excuse me, but if that was your expectation with this show, you were actually SUPPOSED to be at the Chick Corea concert. If you were looking for a slick retrospective of a 5 decade career played by a guy who still has considerable chops for his age, complete with a medley of hits that are "responsible for my (his) FABULOUS wealth," then you were in the right place, and yuo walked away having had a fun time.

Gordon R. Brock - Information from previous post

If you read my post from yesterday, you'll note that I mentioned my junior high school band teacher, Mr. Brock. After I posted my blog entry, I decided to Google him to see where he was, if anywhere at all... (Interesting, Google as a verb - where is this world headed???!)

I came up with this: http://www.c-alanpublications.com/brock-gordon.html

It took me 10 minutes to determine if this guy here was in fact MY Mr. Brock. Then I looked at his eyes closely, and knew that it was My Mr. Brock. I was amazed to read that he is the head of the Music Department at the University of North Florida. I read all about his career, from the humble days in the frozen tundra of a Sherwood Park, Alberta junior High school, to where he is today. I was so happy for him that I decided to call him, and was honored to hear that he actually remembered me. What a wonderful path his career has taken. Couldn't have happened to a better guy.

I am so proud of him, and so wonderfully proud to have been one of his students. If I had known then what I know now about this guy, you can bet I would have taken EVERY single opportunity to sit at his feet and let him teach me. He was, and I assume still is, an excellent player, and a GREAT teacher, and I should have been much more open to what he was trying to give me. He tried to give more than fundamentals, more than technique, more than notes. He was teaching PASSION to junior high dorks like me. I didn't really get it then, but I'm glad he left a seed behind for me to discover when I could grasp it and let it grow. It's a wonderfully fullfilling part of my life, it brings me satisfaction not available anywhere else, and it shapes me every day.

It was so good to talk to him, and it was a great feeling to be able to thank him from my heart. This man moved me and stirred something deep down in my soul. If there ever happens to be another student of his out there, either past or present, leave a comment here with your thoughts. I'll pass them along to him for sure. Better yet, call him and tell him yourself.

That having been said, I thanked him for my love of Jazz music. It is something that has been a constant in my life since those early years, and has provided immense satisfaction for me through the years. I go to MANY concerts in a year, most of them Jazz-related, and both Val and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of experiencing the passion that comes from Jazz music, both from a player's perspective, as well as from the perspective of an audience member.

Which leads me to my mini, amateur review of the Maynard Ferguson concert last night....


Maynard Ferguson, etc.

A couple of weeks ago I heard that Maynard Ferguson was coming here to do a concert. I was interested immiediately. The concert is tonight and I will be sure to post my thoughts here tomorrow on that.

This will be the third time I have seen him. I first saw him when I was in Junior High School. It was in the late 70's. I saw him just after the heyday of the "Rocky Theme" and Star Wars". he was on top of the world, he had a BLOWIN' band, and it was a rockin deal. It was a great concert... probably my first real jazz concert put on by a GREAT band. At the time, my dad was the music curriculum supervisor for the public school district, and I was a true tagalong. I began to see lots of concerts, and go lots of places to see and hear music. I was playing alto sax in the junior high jazz band at the time, and had a great teacher who was WAY into jazz... he showed up to early morning band practice telling stories from the "gig" the previous night. Cracks me up now... but then there were others on the school staff that I'm sure looked at him sideways. He ended up marrying the Math teacher, who was also the girls' volleyball coach. She was the school hottie, with long dark hair that we were all secretly in love with.

Mr. Brock, if you're still out there, you are the man!!

Anyway, that first time I saw Maynard he rocked the place... I had never heard anybody play like him. Most of his bandmembers who were in principle positions all played solos, and all rocked. I was hooked. I have loved jazz since that time, and it has a lot to do with Mr. Brock. He was a saxophone player and I always felt a link to him - I wanted to please him badly... but sometimes not enough to practice.... but that's another story for another day.

I have one kid who plays violin, is in 8th grade, and is the best player in the school, even better than those older than her. I have another who plays trumpet, just starting out, but also seems to gain some satisfaction from it, and is having fun with it for sure. I am taking him to the concert tonight. I have another one, the youngest of the bunch, who plays piano. He, I believe, may have something special. His timing, rhythm, and ability to absorb and understand theory are a bit amazing to me. He seems to understand music, as opposed to understanding notes arranged on a page. He is WAY into Mozart, so much so that he wanted Mozart things for Christmas this year... which we obliged him on. Certainly he has a long way to go, but he certainly has the potential to go a long way with it, and gain a TON of satisfaction out of it. Also, another subject for another day.

The Second time I saw Ferguson was in NYC about 8 years ago. He had aged significantly, didn't play as much with the combo he was with, but when he did play, I could close my eyes and go back to that little theater from which he practically ripped the roof those many years ago.

It will be interesting to see how this concert compares to those... I will certainly write a little review here tomorrow on it.

On my way!!

Coretta Scott King, etc.

I've been thinking what I might write about the legacy of this brave American Hero. She wore her grief with a dignity to which we all should aspire. I got to wondering what she had spent her last decades on, and wondered if there were other causes she felt strongly enough to take up.

Upon some research, it seems she stayed within the "equality for all" realm. She made several statements of support for the Gay-rights movement, in particular the Gay Marriage ammendments that went throughout or last national election cycle. (She opposed those ammendments.) She called it a parallel cause to the one her husband was so passionate about, and the one that ultimatley took his life so tragically.

One therefore asks the question, "who will now step into the path that was so gracefully followed by Ms. King?"

It seems in recent years that the "cause" of equality, at least in terms of race equality, has been championed by people like Jesse Jackson, who is a BUFFOON, and other similar people (Sharpton?) who like to hear the sound of their own voice, but really don't make any real impact at the end of the day, except to ruffle feathers on all sides of any argument every time they open their mouths. The people who are poised to stand in that position seem to need lessons on how real political and social change is managed.

One should hope that however that void is filled, it would be filled by a person who has the diplomacy the causes of equality deserve.

Time will tell.


My Ear Hair

So, I created this little blog space about a month ago, with the intention of having a place and a reason to do some writing, something I really like to do. Many people have told me that I should write things down. Not because I have a hard time remembering things (which I do), but because I write well, and like to do it.

However, it has had an interesting effect. It is interesting to note that writing one's thoughts down can have a crystallizing effect on those thoughts. It brings them into clearer focus. I have posted lots of political thoughts here, personal belief statements, causes I support, or don't support, etc, without really realizing that the whole of those thoughts, along with the other 80% that AREN'T written here, make up a lot of who I am, and how I move through the world every day. Interesting.

Over time, I'm sure more of that absent 80% will show up here in one form or another...

But, on to more entertaining thoughts:

So, I have this hair, this one little hair, stiff, thick, and solitary, perched atop the highest point of my left ear. He stands perhaps as a guard, a sentinel, a soldier, watching over the flock of hairs on my head. His assignment is to watch over them and make sure none go missing. He's a brave little fellow, ever present, silent. He just grows there, not having been asked twice - or even once for that matter, but taking on his assignment with stoic courage. Every once in a while, about every five or six weeks, I can feel him waving to me as I walk to the car or step outside for a minute. He does it just to let me know he is there, watching over his charge, as if I should feel comforted and safe by the knowledge of his presence.

Every six weeks he is unceremoniously slaughtered in defense of his post. The lady at the hair place where I go to have my hair cut slices him off at the ankles. She does it quickly and quietly, as if I'm embarrassed to have him there in my defense. Nonetheless, he is duely replaced by another brave volunteer in short order, fresh and ready for his assignment. When the old fellow waves at me every five or six weeks, I think he is telling me he is getting tired, unable to finish the assigned task. He is ready to be replaced by a fresh soldier who is able to do a better job. By the time five weeks rolls around, he realizes he has failed in his assignment and is reporting to the General for his ultimate punishment. He does this because he knows he has failed in the assignment, he notices that some of the flock from the top of my head have gone missing and have not returned. He has failed.

Little does he know, those missing hairs have taken up residence on my back. My back is the "hair retirement village" for all those hairs that were once on my noggin. It has a warmer climate, after all, and mostly shade. But, how can my little soldier friend know that?

Perhaps I have too much time on my hands.

Holy Crap - Wonder how that Danish cartoon dude feels now...

Man, what a big hairy deal this has turned into.... I am htinking that if he could, he'd call every newspaper in europe that is still running the cartoon and ask them to PLEASE stopp running it... Danish embassies have been invaded, occupied, vandalized etc... and that's not counting the OTHER countries' embassies either... wow, that sucks.

All in the name of free speech. Italian newspapers are running headlines stating that the other EU countries have given in to Muslim pressure... "how sad", they write.


Danish Cartoon Creates Stir

So, I haven’t posted anything here for a couple of days – it’s been a flurry of activity here at the office, and I haven’t even had time to think about it.

So here goes: I was driving to work this morning and heard a story about a newspaper in Denmark that published a cartoon depicting Islamic religious symbols, in particular, Mohammed with a “missile” turban along with something else, I can’t remember exactly. The Islamic world got their collective shorts in a twist, and called for the newspaper to sanction its cartoonist, editorial board, and anyone else that might have seen the cartoon before it was published. Several Muslim leaders in the Iraqi Shiite community gathered a few homemade Danish flags, and took pictures of themselves stomping on the flags and waving their fists.

I wonder if Denmark has any convenient “twin towers”. Or maybe the folks at Tivoli Gardens should be on the lookout for a few months. Oddly, radical Islamic factions are free to try to rule the world through violence and intimidation, but when they get lampooned, well, something needs to be done about THAT…

In an interesting show of solidarity, French, German, Swiss, Italian, Spanish, and other Scandinavian newspapers ran the cartoon in support of the Danish cartoonist. However, after violent protests in Gaza and other places, a French editor has been fired for running the cartoon. There are more than 1 million Muslims in France, and they have vowed to begin litigation against the French paper. It was the French Foreign Ministry that got involved and called for the dismissal of the editor in an attempt to keep the peace and appease the Muslim community there.

The pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat stated, “If the Danish cartoon had been about a Jewish rabbi, it would never have been published.” I’m not aware of any Jewish Rabbi’s running planes into buildings or taking over countries at the point of a gun, or under threat of utter destruction.

But then again – using glasses of a different color, one could make the same arguments about the “occupation” of the US Military forces in some of these Muslim countries.

More hard issues.