Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Who Exactly Are We Protecting?

Maybe I'm naive, and maybe I just grew up in the wrong part of the country to be able to understand this, but who exactly are the city officials in Boston thinking they'll offend by calling Christmas "Christmas"?

Boston’s Official Holiday Tree Lighting Coming December 1st
"The heart of the city will be illuminated with seasonal cheer as Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department host Boston’s 64th Official Holiday Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 1, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Boston Common."
Is there actually an ethnic of religious group out there that's offended by the word "Christmas"? I mean, besides Al Quaeda, etc. And why now, after all this time? Was there direct pressure put on the mayor by a powerful atheist campaign donor? Does Tom Cruise have a house on Martha's Vineyard?

And what, exactly, is "cheerful" about the season? I mean, without the actual holiday of Christmas (or the days of Hannukah, I suppose) the only definition of "season" is winter. I've never recalled winter being particularly cheery, and certainly nothing to celebrate by raising a dead tree in the city square.
The holiday decorations throughout Boston Common and The Public Garden will light up in sequence when Mayor Menino throws the switch with Santa Claus. The celebration on Boston Common will include entertainment featuring performers from Nova Scotia and New England with WCVB TV-5 providing live coverage of the festivities.
Ah, I see. There's always Santa Claus as a reason to be cheerful. But then the legend of Santa Claus came about from St. Nicholas, and all that religious imagery - not to mention the gift-giving being centered around the traditional date of Christ's birth.
Scheduled entertainers include Jordan Knight, Jon Secada, The Holy Tabernacle Church Choir, The Magic of Lyn, ParkARTS talent search winner Casey Pollard, vocalist Merle Perkins, The Boston Children’s Choir, an appearance by Santa Claus, and additional surprise guests.
Wait, wait, wait....The Holy Tabernacle Church Choir?? What's the point of inviting a choir who (oh please, don't let the city "gently suggest" they sing "Silver Bells") would presumably sing a couple of religious Christmas carols. After all, that's kind of what choirs do. So if you're not going to have a "Christmas tree" - so as not to offend all those imaginary offendablistas out there - why invite a church choir?
Immediately following the Common tree lighting, Mayor Menino will join Back Bay residents at Arlington Street for the lighting of Commonwealth Avenue Mall at 8:15 p.m.
Well, at least after the 64th Annual Lighting of the Holiday Tree, everyone can attend the really important ceremony, the traditional Lighting of the Mall.

Define your enemies, or your fears will create many, many of them for you.

UPDATE: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino says it wasn't on his orders....

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Car Update

Turns out insurance is going to cover the deer damage to my car. Good thing, too, since the estimate is running upwards of $2500.


Shoe Update

I found it.

Note the passage of time.

I'm surprised my foot wasn't in it...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Diary of a Music Director - Part VII: "It's a Hard Knock Life"

We're three performances into the show and things are going smoothly. The band's hitting a groove and most numbers have become fairly routine. When you first start running a show there are a thousand little details the musical director has to pay attention to, such as cues, tempos, fades in/fades out and such. When the show has begun to run though, those things become common knowledge to everyone in the group and I don't have to be as precise - everyone knows what's coming and reacts appropriately. That's what makes the first couple runthroughs and opening nights rough, until you get used to the flow of the show it requires a lot more concentration and you can't really enjoy yourself a lot. Now I find myself being able to watch some things on the stage I haven't been able to see before, and also to really enjoy myself on some of the bigger numbers so it's worth it.

Interestingly I seem to have become both a friend and a menace to local wildlife. Tonight's show (Saturday) saw poor doggy Sandy get loose during the final bows and run off stage. After the curtain closed and we began our exit music I saw the mutt run out of the curtains, jump onto the floor of the audience and begin running amok - much to the delight of the children in the front row. I hopped up from my spot in the band, ran over and cornered the confused canine, scooping him up and handing him off to Annie who with a few others had run through the curtain looking for him. Disaster averted.

Not such for one of the woodland creatures hereabouts - driving home last night from the show, I was broadsided in a particularly dark part of the Pellissippi Parkway (the route home) by what appeared to be at least a 4-5 point buck. The deer appeared out of knowhere in front of my car and to the left - he had apparently been trying to cross the highway left to right - and didn't quite beat my car. He plowed into my left front fender, scrambled and rolled down the side of my car and smacked into the drivers side passenger door before vanishing. I saw a car behind me swerve to avoid him as well, and that's the last I saw of him. If he actually survived the impact I'm certain he couldn't have lasted the night. I don't know how much damage was done to my car - my brand new (to me) 2005 Ford Focus, that I bought back in June, incidentally - and I'm afraid to find out....

It's a Hard Knock Life for us. For sure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This Just In...

  • Protesters are once again gathering near President Bush's ranch in Texas. The Inn's crack band of gully dwarf photographers are on the scene and have returned this exclusive photo of the gathering:

    Protesters gatherTurkeys.

  • In related news President Bush is set to make his annual decision on which turkey to pardon for Thanksgiving this year. There is no truth the rumor that this year's turkey is named Phil Fulmer.

    That's the news - good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.
  • Diary of a Music Director - Part VI: "Tomorrow"

    AnnieWell, you probably saw that post title coming.....

    "Annie" opens tomorrow at the Oak Ridge Playhouse and runs this weekend through next weekend. I'd like to invite any local Knoxville bloggers to come see the show and enjoy a couple hours of fat-free, low-cal musical theatre during and after the big Thanksgiving holidays...

    Our final dress rehearsal is tonight, and the band continues to gel. Actually, my friend Michael the Bass Player is chronicling events as well so you can visit his site to get a play-by-play of how last night's Dress went.

    As he mentions, this is the first time I've really played lead piano in a show before - I hadn't considered it that way, but it's actually true. When I lead a band I typically play supplemental keyboard, which is using an electronic keyboard to simulate parts that aren't present - trumpets, strings, that sort of thing - and which are needed to create that full orchestral sound. In this summer's "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" the other keyboard player and I switched around a bit, one playing lead sometimes and one playing other, while we also alternated on supplemental.

    But I continue to find my own performance skills leave a lot to be desired - I'm not that technically proficient, and I tend to try to play about my skill levels at times. For one thing my hands get sweaty a lot, and trying to play intricate melody lines on piano can generate a lot of wrong notes - especially in parts I'm not quite as familiar with. The folks backing me up are a lot more experienced in actual performance than I am, so I hope I'm not holding us back :) That may just be my paranoia talking, but it exists and I have to deal with it.

    Otherwise we sound fine, the cast sounds fine and a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

    Come see. Tomorrow - it's only a day away.

    Betcher bottom dollar...

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Rude Comment....or Not?

    ...when someone whose opinions you respect, writing you enjoy and personality you value suddenly jumps all over you?

    A popular blogger (who I won't name) is a fantastic writer and blogs about his/her experiences as a single person in a big city. They wrote a post recently about one of the "Top 100" lists that are produced every once in a while (VH1 does them all the time - "Top 100 TV Moments", "Top 100 Female Supporting Characters from the 1956-57 TV Season in Comedies"...that sort of thing) and I made an (what I thought was) innocent comment on who I thought was left of the list, and others I would have rearranged.

    He/She proceeded to call me out for DARING to give my opinion on the list, how that author's opinions were their own, and if I thought I could do it better I should make my own list - after all, the author had put a TON of work in on that list. I attempted to explain that I was just commenting on what my list would be - after all, when lists come out that's what everyone does. I wasn't disparaging the author's opinions in the least, just throwing out my ideas for discussion and comparison. The blogger proceeded to comment that for me to speculate what I would have done differently was OBNOXIOUS. Just OBNOXIOUS. And if I had simply stated "this is what I would have done if it were MY list" he/she wouldn't have jumped down my throat.

    Meanwhile, the regular commentors proceeded to have a go around me and offer their two centers - to which the blogger merrily responded back and forth.

    This isn't the first time this has happened - I made a (what I thought was) rather innocent comment about a post he/she made some months back, and was ripped for being rude.

    Now, you and I have seen rude commenters on blog before - I don't think what I said was anythign approaching some things I've seen.

    Part of the problem is this blogger tends to go overboard in the hero-worship category, either of popular celebrities or his/her friends in the online world. To this person, everything they do is golden and nothing could ever be wrong about them.

    But what hurts is the fact that this blogger's site is one of my favorites, one I visit every day and never fail to get a laugh or think a little bit. I even would like to think I would be friends with this blogger if we met in person - we have several things in common. And with his/her rebuttals to (what I thought) were innocent comments, it feels like a friend's backstabbed me. In a weird, virtual way. Some sites you feel safe - not a lot of really controversial topics, just easy conversation about life and people. You don't expect that kind of flaming sometimes, and especially not from the blogger - whom you feel you kind of know.

    Anyway, rant over. I can't decide whether to even visit their site anymore, but it's always so good I hate to just stop. What do you think?

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Diary of a Music Director - Part V: "You Won't Be An Orphan For Long"

    Yesterday was a marathon rehearsal for "Annie", at least for your humble host. Well, it was a marathon in and of itself...

    Right after church was over, I had to head out and be in Oak Ridge at 1:00 for our first band read through. I didn't have time to grab lunch since it's a half-hour drive from Bearden to the Oak Ridge Playhouse, so the race was on.

    Our band consists of:

    Michael - Bass
    Greg - Guitar
    Kerry - Drums
    Beckie - Keyboard, trumpet
    Patty - Flute, clarinet, sax

    And myself on piano. The read-through was a great success, better than any I've participated in so far. I attribute that to the professionalism and experience of all involved. A number of times I've used student or amateur performers in shows, and what they had in enthusiasm they sometimes lacked in overall skill - which occasionally caused some headaches. But not this time - each of our band members has done a number of shows before, and are experienced musicians. It's really important when putting together an "orchestra" to get people who don't just know how to play a horn or beat a rhythm, musicianship is key because of the constantly fluxuating requirements of the musical stage. A cut here, a key transposition there, can be really confusing to those not accustomed to playing a show. But there's no problem this time. I plan to keep all these folks on my speed dial for future shows :)

    But overall it's nice not to be the orphan piano player out there - now I've got family coming in :)

    Oh, and Kara, our Annie, is much better now - strep seems to be mostly gone, though her throat still sounds a bit scratchy... She's a trooper, and one of the most visually engaging young actresses I've seen in a while. She has a sweet smile and infectious enthusiasm for the part, as well as good stage presence.

    Typically on Sunday before opening (which is on Thanksgiving, by the way) we run what's called a "Dry Tech" - which is basically zombie-walking through the show mainly to nail down scenery changes, lights, props, etc. However, this show is different - yesterday was a quick review of scene changes in the second act, then a complete Act 1 run-through. Something normally reserved for the next couple of days. So that means we're really ahead of the game, compared to normal musicals. And that makes life a little easier for everyone - cast, crew, and assorted directors :)

    Tonight's a Dress Rehearsal and we put the band to work for the first time with the cast. I have a tradition of inviting interested cast members who want to come to the band read-through and sing along, and several took advantage of it. I think it's helpful for principals (Annie, Daddy Warbucks, etc.) to hear the real music in a more relaxed setting for the first time, rather than cold up on the stage on First Dress Rehearsal night. It's my responsibility to make sure the actors are comfortable with their singing parts, and sometimes adding a full band when they're used to just a piano rehearsal accompianist can be jarring. I don't anticipate any problems in that regard tonight, but it pays to be ready.

    Costumes will be added tonight for the first time, as will more extensive lighting, props and scenery. The house will be dark, and we'll be in a mostly performance mode from here on out.

    So far, things look like they're on track. Knock on proscenium arch... ;)

    UPDATE: By the way, take a look at articles about the show from the Knoxville News Sentinel and the OakRidger (both sites require registration).

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Let Us Pray

    Make your own sign.

    Hat tip - Big Orange Michael

    Friday's Feast

    Friday's Feast

    Feast Seventy - Friday, November 18, 2005

    Appetizer - When do you feel impatient?

    I feel impatient when people aren't communicating with each other - when they talk around, or through one another and important work or goals don't get accomplished.

    Salad - How many times in your life have you had a broken heart?

    Really only once, when a girl I knew in college (before I met my wife-to-be) made a decision to stay with her fiancee and not come with me. Luckily, Laura and I never really split up for any particular reason when we were dating.

    Soup - Name a book you would like to see made into a movie.

    The "Chronicles" and "Twins" trilogies from the Dragonlance series of books - really, in my opinion, better with more action and emotion that Lord of the Rings was. What a spectacular movie series it would be.... With today's technology and the rise of fan films, soon some movies will be made by people in their backyard with their own digital camcorders and PC's. So I may see it yet...

    Main Course - If you could thank one teacher for what they taught you, who would it be and what would you thank them for?

    I would thank Mr. Secrist, my 11th grade American History teacher, for really showing me how much fun history can be. It was a "unit" class, where we learned about different aspects of American History and Civics beyond just names and dates. What's great was I had him again my senior year for American Government, and we did some of the same kinds of things...

    Dessert - What is your favorite kind of pie?

    Cherry Pie

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Protesting! UGH! (Good God, Ya'll) What Is It Good For?

    Absolutely nothing. Say it again?

    Heckling was disservice to Baker and Cheney (Knoxville News Sentinel - Registration Required)
    "In Knoxville on Tuesday, [VP Dick] Cheney was the featured speaker for ceremonies involved in the groundbreaking for the new Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee. Predictably, his visit sparked protests against the war in Iraq...


    The protests were the healthy part of what ensures the viability of our democracy. It is free speech, which we advocate without the designated and roped-off zones.

    However, the heckling of the vice president during his speech praising the service of Baker was disrespectful to both men. It is difficult to see how such behavior helps the cause of those participating in it, much less shakes the resolve of its intended target. "
    While this may be an unpopular opinion, I fail to see the point of protesting in this manner, in this day and age.

    Scores of people carrying signs, printed with slogans. Chanting, yelling...yes, protesting. Sometimes people actively protest politicians like the President or the VP. Sometimes they protest against companies or organizations they feel are unfair or dishonest. Sometimes they protest ideas or actions like war or nuclear power.

    I'm all for healthy debate and civil discourse, but all the protests I see lately are no longer healthy nor civil. Heckling is unacceptable to me, no matter the cause and no matter the justification. Signs with rude, obscene and otherwise distasteful slogans have no use or place in a society that supposedly prides itself on intelligence. And, as mentioned above, I have yet to see how the protests themselves have changed the minds of any but the most pliable mentalities.

    Here's more:

    Cheney critics assail vice president in arena and on campus streets
    Chad Neace shook his head in amazement Tuesday as more than 100 protesters launched into chants deeming Vice President Dick Cheney a racist, sexist, traitorous war criminal.

    "This is a leader of our country and they're bashing him," the 21-year University of Tennessee student said. "It's like their parents never taught them respect."


    The protest outside the Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena began with James Wilkins, a 46-year-old Knoxville man who took the day off from work. At 9:30 a.m. he grabbed a street corner, holding a white poster board sign that asked, "Who would Jesus torture?"


    At 11 a.m. the real army of protesters was gathering at McClung Plaza to put Cheney on trial. Using a bullhorn, a student yelled out charges against a faux Cheney while about 75 others confirmed the vice president's guilt. Another crowd of about 75 students gathered to watch and cheer.

    The faux Cheney was a female student wearing a 30-inch-tall, papier-mache, oversized head. The same head had been used in a protest against former UT President John Shumaker but had been transformed Tuesday into Cheney with the addition of some toilet paper for hair.


    Thomas Walker, with the Progressive Student Alliance, said the activist group on campus had organized two protests for Cheney. In addition to the one outside the arena, several PSA members tried to disrupt Cheney's speech by shouting anti-war slogans.

    "We felt if he was going to hide from the public, we were going to chase him down," said the 20-year-old sociology major.

    Brian May, 19, a UT chemistry student, was one of the dozen protesters escorted from the arena after yelling anti-war slogans. He shrugged off the idea that his act was more rude than enlightening.


    "Their behavior was despicable, to treat a sitting U.S. vice president like that," Thompson said. "To express their views is great, but I don't think this is the proper venue."
    I heard on a local radio station yesterday a name-calling session between UT Professor Mark Harmon who reportedly was an organizer or leader of the protest (I'm not certain for sure what his involvement was, so forgive me if I'm in error) and a caller who, while trying to protect his son in the crowd, was yelled at and spit on by protesters, who then accused him to a policemen of hitting them. It denigrated into a "You're lying!" "No, you're lying!" "No, you're lying!" sissyfight, which accomplished nothing.

    For the most part, they seem to be self-defeating and random. Oftentimes, such as many of the anti-war protests of the last couple of years, they were sponsored by 3rd party anti-government and pro-communist groups - which have nothing to do with the actual subjects of the protest. Willing dissenters with intelligent opinions are led to believe they're doing a good and noble thing - when in reality, it's hurting their cause more than helping it by pretending to try and channel 1966... And turning off people who might be willing to listen to your opinion. And certainly not swaying the opinions of who or what they might be trying to protest.

    Is there any recorded instance of a politician, company, or organization actually changing its mind or opinion or policy as a result of signed protests in the last, say, 20 years? Not that their opinions might actually change as a natural result of time, but where they truly admitted they were influenced by a group of picketers?

    I'm not saying people shouldn't be allowed to protest, or that the "Free Speech Zones" should be moved back farther or abolished. Not at all - in fact, I think people should be allowed to protest from wherever they are, as long as they're polite, civil and not interfering verbally with what's going on. That's a wonderful freedom.

    In the 50's and 60's people protested against American involvement in Vietnam and even more successfully they protested in favor of Civil Rights. They protested in honor of Rosa Parks, of Martin Luther King, Jr. and in favor of desegregating schools and society. And with great success and effect.

    But I just think it's pointless now, and only serves as a vent for anger and pettiness, as well as a rallying tool for dissenters of a more insidious nature.

    I'd ask the protesters and hecklers who were at the ceremony on Tuesday to find more productive ways to protest - write letters, do research, run or participate in elections, speak, blog, talk to your friends, whatever. Just be smart, be civil and be real.

    If you are a protester, or have actively participated in a protest recently or in the past (held signs, marched, yelled, heckled, whatever) - what did you feel you wanted to accomplish? Do you feel you succeeded? Do you think your message was succesfully sent, and people left with a positive image of your group and their message?

    UPDATE: (11/18/05) Big Orange Michael has more.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Diary of a Music Director - Part IV: "Little Girls"

    You Know It's Going to Be a Bad Rehearsal of "Annie" When:

    You find out your 13-yr-old lead actress has strep throat, a week before Opening Night....

    So Many Thoughts...So Little Time....

    It's amazing sometimes how many things and ideas and feelings are buzzing around in my head at one time, and how I can never get one of them to coalesce into a reasonable blog post....

    Things I'm thinking about:

    1) Fathers and sons - I'm reading "Big Russ and Me" by Tim Russert, and he's got a lot of thought-provoking anecdotes and stories about what a father is supposed to teach his son. I know everyone and their brother tells me what a good job I'm doing as a dad to BrainyBoy, but when I read books like these I realize how much more there is to be done...

    2) War and justifications for war. And friends against friends. And all that jazz. It's on my mind constantly these days.

    3) "Annie", and preparing for the final push to tech week. And where do I go from there.

    4) Spending time with my wife. And kids. And friends and neighbors.

    5) Job futures

    6) Creative writing

    7) Basic friendliness

    Here's a quiz:

    You sit down at your table at the restaurant and order sweet tea. Your waitress brings you unsweet tea by mistake, then realizes she brought the wrong thing. Do you:

    a) Gush and thank her profusely for bothering to bring anything to your miserable self in the first place?
    b) Tell her not to worry about it, you'll sweeten it yourself at the table and she can refill it with sweet later
    c) Don't say anything and just drink it
    d) Ask her to take it back and bring you sweet tea
    e) (Think to self: Doofus, get the order right...) and then ask her to take it back and bring you sweet tea
    f) Get upset and request she bring you what you ordered.
    g) Swear profusely, crack the glass over her head and demand a new waitress

    Of Course You Realize, This Means War...

    This is the week my fantasy football team plays my wife's fantasy football team in our Rocky Top League...

    This whole season I've been helping her pick and choose her starters and gave her advice on who to drop and who to pick up as a Free Agent.

    Not This Week.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005


    96 Bishops of the United Methodist Church have signed their names to a letter stating, in part:
    "As elected and consecrated bishops of the church, we repent of our complicity in what we believe to be the unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. In the face of the United States Administration's rush toward military action based on misleading information, too many of us were silent. We confess our preoccupation with institutional enhancement and limited agendas while American men and women are sent to Iraq to kill and be killed, while thousands of Iraqi people needlessly suffer and die, while poverty increases and preventable diseases go untreated. Although we value the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the military, we confess our betrayal of the scriptural and prophetic authority to warn the nations that true security lies not in weapons of war, but in enabling the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized to flourish as beloved daughters and sons of God. We confess our failure to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to be a people who welcome and love all those for whom Christ died."
    I think their hearts are in the right place, but their heads are buried in the sand.

    Rev. Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping posted on this. He has a son in the Marines in Iraq, and I believe I know where his sympathies lie.

    Anti-war activists and clergy alike have failed in their attempt to un-define the word "just". They say the war is "unjust", but fail to explain exactly why. They also fail to see much beyond the sand around their eyes.

    Similar to the times prior to and during World War II when the church protested our and England's involvement - even while millions of Jews where being slaughtered, the Catholic Church was silent. Pacifism was a strong cause even after Pearl Harbor. Even as far back as the sinking of the Lusitania in World War I, clergy urged restraint because we hadn't been "attacked."

    For the record, Bishop James A. Swanson, Jr. of the Holston Conference, the Conference of which my church is a member, is not one of the 96 Bishops who signed the letter.

    UPDATE: (11/16/05) Rev. Sensing continues on a roll as he lays out all the facts on pre-war intelligence, justification for liberating Iraq, and WMD's as he defends the truth against those who want to Cook the War.

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Word of the Day - "Evilticulate"

    E·vil·ti·cu·late (ee-vuhl-TIC'-yoo-layt)

    v. intr.

    Twiddle one's fingers like Mr. Burns on "The Simpsons.";

    "As he watched the laser move ever closer to 007, Goldfinger began to evilticulate with fiendish delight."


    Today is the day to catch our breaths.



    Ok, back to work.

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    Flip, Pick and Riff

    Tish has challenged me on a meme... I'm really digging this one, because it involves creativity.

    1. FLIP open a dictionary and point to a word.
    2. Type the word into Google images.
    3. PICK an image that strikes you.
    4. Write a 10 line RIFF off the image.
    5. Use the word or the meaning of the word at least once within the first 5 lines of your riff.
    6. Tag 3 other bloggers on your list.

    I didn't have a dictionary handy so I picked up the book I'm currently reading, flipped through the pages, and pointed to the word "the." Now, some words are just too hard, so I went to the nearest word, which was, "Farewell."

    It was wrong. It was just wrong. She'd been working on the same section for two weeks now, and there was simply something wrong with how the ending of the piece was coming together. In only one evening, Joe would be gone - back to Ireland where he was continuing his education at Terrel University in County Cork. She had met Joe for the first time earlier in the summer on the beach outside her parents' summer home near Providence. The summer had been glorious, and they had discovered a mutual love for Celtic song and dance. She loved composing and arranging, he sang and played his peculiar guitar. They'd gotten along famously, but their relationship was still a mystery to her.

    They'd used music to dance around a closer connection, and he had never even kissed her. But he still occupied her waking thoughts, and some not so waking. Ideas and ambitions had stirred in her that she'd never considered - music school, performance, thought and life and art. The summer had passed more quickly than any she'd remembered, yet was full of notes and rythms. And she desperately wanted to give him something to remember him by. So here she say, alone on the cooling early autumn Rhode Island shore, with a spiral staff music notebook on her lap and a pencil in hand. Trying to compose that one last gamboling melody that echoed the memories of their common heritage, that he could take with him and keep of her.

    A shadow fell across the page, and she glanced up into the late afternoon sun to see him standing there. Instinctively she covered the page with her arm, "Joseph... I thought you were finishing up with your packing."

    "I was," he said, crouching down in the sand beside her. His eyes glanced surreptitiously at her work. "But I saw you sitting down here all alone, so I had to see what's what." The lilt in his voice was partially obscured by the rising wind from sea, as a Nor'easter had began forming off the coast.

    She could not lift her eyes to meet his. Silently she moved her arm, presenting the page of notes and rests to him. He studied the sheet for a moment, then smiled, "What's it called?"

    "I haven't quite decided yet, but I'm leaning towards, 'Irish Gamb-' She stopped and flushed. "Oh, what the hell. I was going to call it, 'An Irish Summer.' But I...I can't make it end. I can't tie up the melody in a nice, tidy bow like...well, like we did all the other songs."

    He didn't say anything for a moment. Leaning in, he murmured, "Chris, I have to go. God knows I want to stay...more than anythin' I've ever wanted. But there are things I have to take care of. And you have your life to continue. You have a great talent - I'm just a dabbler but have the gift. Don't leave yourself here with me after I'm gone."

    She thought for a moment, wrote several words at the top of the page and handed him the unfinished manuscript. "You're right. I'm trying to write something that can't be written. A goodbye in a style of music that has no end. So, keep it - and since I didn't finish it, maybe a little of myself will still be here. And someday, maybe we can finish it together." She sniffed, rubbed her eye for a moment, then looked at him expectantly.

    He turned the sheet over, and saw what she'd written. "FAREWELL TO JOE."

    "Fare thee well, Christine."

    And that was the last time she saw him.

    Ok, I went over 10 lines. I couldn't stop :) I also waited until the very end to use my word, since it was so important to the story. Your mileage may vary...

    I tag Will, Danielle and Teresa.

    Friday's Feast

    Friday's Feast

    Feast Sixty-Nine - Friday, November 11, 2005

    Appetizer - If someone made a statue of you, in which pose would you like to be?

    On one knee, because it would symbolize, a) proposing to my wife, b) crouching down to look in the eyes of one of my kids, and c) kneeling before the Father

    Salad - What perfume/cologne does your best friend wear?

    Huh? I'm supposed to know that? I supposed Michael's favorite cologne is probably Eau de Gallifrey. Or possible Buffet de Buffy.

    Soup - Name something satisfying about your work.

    I've mentioned to people before that it is very satisfying to have a small part in helping people improve their health and make smart healthcare decisions. (If you're new, I design websites for a health system in Knoxville)

    Main Course - What was the last excuse you made, and why did you need to make it?

    I messed up and forgot to include something on the home page of a website that was time sensitive. It was requested a couple of months ago, and I misplaced the paper I had written it down on and forgot. So I made an excuse that I didn't know anything about it, when I realized later I had simply forgotten.

    Dessert - Complete this sentence: I wonder why _________________.

    I wonder why some people who bring children into the world choose their own interests over the kids? And when you make your own interests the great priority, you miss noticing your kid is drinking. Or taking drugs. Or getting in trouble at school. Or hiding a gun. Or crashing a car...

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Strike yer Colors, ya Bloomin' Cockaroaches!!

    Mainly for Rex and Phillip:

    Dead Men Tell New Tales
    "As the boats sail out into the "Battle Scene", and one of the ride's iconic moments, the riders will discover that the original 1967 pirate ship known as the "Wicked Wench" has been remade into the Black Pearl seen in the movies. The familiar animatronic pirate captain will be replaced by a new animatronic version of Captain Barbossa from the movies, and Captain Barbossa's parrot will also make his big debut before he returns repeatedly later on to help the new plotline along from scene to scene.

    Captain Barbossa will have dialogue that will accuse the townspeople of hiding Jack Sparrow from him, and WDI hopes to quickly establish that the pirates will begin their rampage through the town all in an effort to root out Jack Sparrow. New effects are also planned in this area that will simulate cannonballs passing overhead through the use of sharp blasts of air aimed at the boats.


    But as the boats pass by the Jail Scene, Jack Sparrow appears a third and final time on the opposite side of the flume. Here he'll be seen escaping with a bag of treasure as he hums the "Yo Ho" theme song and laughs at his hapless fellow pirates stuck in the jail across the waterway. Barbossa's parrot appears on the ramp back up to the main level, and the voice of Davy Jones also will be added to that area as he laments that we won't be so lucky to escape next time."
    What do you guys, and other Disney park afficianados, think about this major change to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride?

    By the way, did you know Jimmy Buffet was offered a part in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, but turned it down due to prior commitments?

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    A Challenge

    So we're getting red light cameras.

    A number of local bloggers have registered their opinions on the subject, with most believing they will cause more accidents than they prevent. And that the only motivating factor behind their installation is money.

    I'm relatively agnostic about the whole thing, and while it seems like a good idea in theory a lot of the evidence suggests otherwise. So I'll wait and render an opinion later. Only what I really need to render said opinion is...more data.

    I would like to challenge one of our enterprising local bloggers that are such opponents to the idea devote a special section of their site to tracking:

    1) Where each intersection is that contains a traffic camera, and

    2) What the rate of accidents is at each intersection

    Then as time goes on, I'd like to see an objective comparison to previous years using factual data. Then maybe we can get some non-biased data to see whether they cause more accidents or not.

    I would imagine there should be a month or two lag after they're installed, until Knoxville motorists get used to the concept.

    Any volunteers?

    Or if anyone can point me to an easily accessible data point, I might do it myself but I know a number of folks feel much more strongly about the issue than I do.

    Campbell County School Shooting

    As most of you know, a 15-yr-old kid shot three assistant principals at Campbell County High School yesterday, killing one and sending the other two to the hospital. (link)

    On WBIR-TV 10's eleven PM news last night the purposely showed the young man sitting in the back of the police car. His bespectacled face glanced up at the camera, then looked away slowly shaking his head - as if to say, "These people, they just don't understand.... they just don't get it..."

    Later, they showed him being led away in custody, his yellow shirt spattered with the principals' blood.

    Robin Wilhoit, the evening anchor, said, "We have decided to show his face due to the severity of the crime."

    My wife and I looked at each other in amazement that Channel 10 would be so brazen about showing the kid on camera, defiant in the back of the police cruiser, and later walking off in custody in a blood-soaked shirt. And to basically thumb their nose at established protocol they decided they needed to pre-emptively defend their actions.

    I'm not in broadcast media so I don't know what the exact established rules or practices are regarding, a) showing underage offenders' faces on camera, and b) when and why these rules can be set aside.

    I'm not so concerned about the kid himself, but what must his family have thought - seeing him on TV in such an obviously exploitive fashion? Was that necessary?

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Blogging - It Isn't Just For Politics

    Knoxville News Sentinel writer and blogger Michael Silence has a print piece on local blogging in the paper today. (Registration Required)

    While he mentions a couple of new local initiatives aimed at providing free access to create new blogs, he features a number of subjects that East Tennesseans are blogging about. Senate races, traffic roundabouts, red-light cameras, sales tax, guns, etc.

    While those are all well and good subjects and things I feel it's important to keep up with, it gives me the impression that politics and other civic-related subjects are the main thrust of what blogging is about, and blogs that focus on someone's personal lives and experiences are of lesser importance. That really the only legitimate blogs are those that focus outward on society, while the ones that tend toward typing about their daily lives, jobs, kids, etc are the "fringe" sites. The second tier. The junior varsity.

    I don't think this should be a correct assumption, for the majority of the sites I visit and enjoy talk mainly about their own personal experiences with the world around them. Becky is discussing the difficulties of her impending move from Hawaii to Seattle. Will discusses living and working with people of different faith. Danielle talks about the culture shock of moving to Australia. Logtar discusses being a Columbian native in the US. Tommy views life from about 2 or 3 degrees off plumb. Interstellar Lass is training for a marathon. Philip is a youth minister and sings in a Christian heavy metal band. Doug and Cathy are a husband-and-wife blogging team raising an Asperger's Syndrome teen, and April is working her way out of a bad neighborhood in San Antonio. Sheila is a fount of wisdom relating her story of living as an actress in New York. Zoot just a new baby. James Lileks talks about his little girl. And Michael is, well, Big Orange all the way.

    I guess I'd like to see those of us who don't feel the need to tackle all the Issues of the Day, and prefer to focus on the things that make us what we are: relationships, jobs, church, family, dreams, hobbies... by opening up their lives and giving us a glimpse into their success and failures, we learn more about ourselves than we can ever learn by analyzing Senate Races and income tax reform. I just don't want to be seen as the second-class citizens of the blogosphere.

    UPDATE: Thank you, Michael Silence. Maybe second-class citizens is too harsh. I do feel that the litmus test for blogging legitimacy is weighed too heavily toward politics, but hopefully that will eventually balance out.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005


    Sometime late Friday night/early Saturday morning somebody got into our garage, into our van, and stole my wife's camera and camera case. The case also contained Tink and BrainyBoy's own little personal cameras. Laura's camera was full of undeveloped Halloween pictures. They also stole two empty laptop cases out of the back, before apparently getting spooked. There were other items in the car and in the garage they could've taken but didn't, for which we are fortunate.

    We called the Sheriff's Dept and they sent out an officer who was quite nice and helpful. They even called out a crime scene tech who dusted the van for prints. It's doubtful we'll ever find the person or the camera(s) but there's always hope.

    Here's a tip - record serial numbers for all your valuables. We haven't been able to find the serial number for the camera in our files, which makes recovery much more difficult.

    Nobody can guess whether it was someone from the neighborhood, or just someone wandering or driving through looking for easy targets.


    On a bright note, I found a drummer for "Annie" so that's a load off my mind. I worked that out Saturday night, but it was no compensation.

    In church today I prayed for the robber, asking God to help him or her look into their heart and realize their guilt. I don't pretend to imagine they'll turn up on our doorstep tomorrow, camera in hand, begging our forgiveness. But if their hearts are turned in the slightest way back toward the light, it's ok with me.

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Visitor #50,000

    Well, #50,000 was in the middle of a pack of Image Googlers looking for stuff at my site so no real winner in the totally-bogus, no-prizes-awarded sweepstake. But thank you, nonetheless, for your continued support and patronage of my site. It is appreciated.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Friday's Feast

    Friday's Feast

    Feast Sixty-Eight - Friday, November 04, 2005

    Appetizer - What was the last game you purchased?

    Probably Cranium, which is a wacky several-games-combined kind of amalgamation. You have to answer trivia questions, spell things, unscramble words, act out impressions in pantomime, hum songs, mold items out of clay, etc. etc. etc.

    I also have Cranium Cosmo that sits on my desk...

    Soup - Name something in which you don't believe.

    Here are some things I don't believe in:

    Vampires, the Designated Hitter, political parties as noble institutions, curses or spells, a zone pass defense, and the No-Win Scenario.

    Salad - If you could choose a television personality to be your boss, who would you pick?

    Does this mean TV Personality as in, like, Donald Trump or Regis Philbin? Or TV Character? I'll say Character, which means I'd pick Robert Petrie to be my boss. Watch any episode of the Dick Van Dyke show, and see how much fun they have writing The Alan Brady Show - plus you can make fun of Mel Coolie and not get fired ;) Although you'd have to work with Rose Marie.....urgh.

    Main Course - What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?

    You're a decent musician, but you're not a great musician. So stop pretending you are and do what you can with what you have.

    Dessert - Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.

    Nice comfy couch, big TV. DVD player, plus cable. Plenty of movies to watch, plus a new episode of Star Trek on later. Bowl of hot buttered popcorn nearby, and a big glass of sweet tea. Pleasant late spring afternoon, sunny outside with the windows open - light breeze coming through and smells of newly cut grass coming through....

    (looks outside at mid-fall brownness)


    Well, I Think I've Got Plans This Evening...

    Diary of a Music Director - Part III: "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here"

    Mid-way through rehearsals for "Annie". This combined with the theatre conference last week have put me into serious stage mode. This kind of work is what I would love to do with my life, if, you know, I actually had enough talent to make a living at it. I've been a zombie at work because yet another day of updating work hours for the pathology lab on the website, or changing "Breast Cancer Screenings" to "Alzheimers Screenings" on the home page just lacks that certain creative energy flow...

    The show continues to roll along, as we're approaching the end of blocking. So far the music on this show is, overall, the easiest of anything I've done as far as complexity goes. "Annie" is no Sondheim, and although the songs are catchy they're not very complex.

    Still hanging around my neck is the search for a drummer. What is it with drummers in this town? I've had the rest of the ensemble set for weeks now: bass, guitar, supplemental keyboard and myself on piano. I've had two guys that I contacted decline due to prior commitments, and have had trouble getting in touch with other candidates. I may end up using my boss's son, a middle-schooler who - while talented - is inexperienced and may require some heavy coaching. But I would imagine if there was any show an inexperienced drummer could succeed, this is the one.

    The biggest drawback of amateur/semi-pro theatre is the time I spend away from my family. This past week, through opening weekend, my typical day means seeing the kids for about an hour in the morning (plus the drive to school). That's about it, since I go to rehearsal before Laura brings them home and they're in bed when I'm finished. I'm trying to pencil in something Saturday afternoon with them, but no promises...

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Open Comments Post

    Okay, Congress is back in session again. Sorry about that nastiness yesterday - unfortunately, Glurp and his gully dwarf buddies got into a particularly nasty barrel of Otik's spiced ale and decided they were going to take over the blog. I was...ahem...tied up for the duration while he and the boys (girls, too? hard to tell) swung from the rafters, held rat races on the dining room floor and ate all the Cheetos.

    So, anyway, Glurp's back in the basement where he belongs and all's right with the world.


    So, I've never tried this before so feel free to use to comments to talk about whatever you like. Free flowing, just let it ride. Start a conversation, put forth a random thought (goodness knows there's enough of that around here) or say whatever's on your mind.


    50,000 Coming Soon

    I'm fast approaching my 50,000th visitor to the Inn - if (as near as I can figure it) #50,000 is one of my semi-regular readers I'll mention them by name and do a quick profile of them on the site. If #50,000 is a Google or some other unknown, I'll find the closest one. Visit early and visit often!

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Fumbling the Ball

    I'm talking to you.

    Yes, you. You, the one reading my blog right now. Are you at work? Do you have a job? I'm assuming you do, since most people who visit my site are not students. On the off chance you are a student, then disregard what I'm going to say. Better yet, read it and prepare yourself cause I could be talking about you in a few years, too.

    So now that those kids are safely sitting in the back with their chips and beer, I'm now talking to you. You poor working schlub, who has to drag themselves out of bed each day and either go to the office, go to the computer, go take care of the kids, whatever job you have. Yes, you.

    I think you're doing a really lousy job.

    Yes, I do. I've watched you these last couple years - you probably didn't realize it but I have. I've watched you closely. And I don't like what I see. No, I do not. And it's time for me to do something about it.

    The way your company is performing...I don't like it. I think it could be much better than it is. In fact, I expect your company to outperform every other company in the region and in the whole country, year in and year out. Consistently, no excuses. Failure is not an option, and complete success is the same as failure. Clear? Good.

    Why do I care? What connection do I have with your company that makes a difference to me how well you do? Um, well, nothing really. To be honest if your company has a down year it really doesn't affect me in the slightest. My world will go on just as it always does, I won't lose any money and my quality of life won't be diminished a bit. In fact, if your entire industry went away tomorrow it probably wouldn't make a big dent in my daily plans. I would notice the absence, but other things would fill the gap. No big deal.

    But I still think you're doing a lousy job, and you should be fired.

    Well, no, I don't know exactly how to do your job. I mean, I know I don't have the skills to do it. In fact, I've never even worked in your industry before. Sure, I've watched the company for years and enjoyed their products but do I know beans about how you do what you do? No, not really. Do I understand your pressures, your schedules, the idiosynchrasies of the people that work under you (and over you), or anything else about what it takes to do your job and do it well? No. But I know what I like, and I don't like what's going on. No, not one bit.

    I think you're the one to blame for it all. Sure, everyone gets bad breaks every once in a while. Yes, you've had some productive years as well. But hey, that's yesterday and today is today and you should be out of here because succeeding today is what counts.

    What, you have a family to support? Not my problem. Kids in school? Yeah, join the club. Should've thought about that before screwing up so badly. Why should I care? It's not my job we're talking about. I've never met you, never met your family so you might as well not have one as far as I'm concerned. Because when a person is fired you can't worry about the family's well-being. Gotta protect the company, cause that's what matters.

    You screwed up. At least, I guess you screwed up. It had nothing to do with mistakes other people made this year, right? You were responsible for their actions, right?

    Ok, just to make sure I'm clear now. You stink, and should be fired. I like your company, and enjoy your company's products but that's my only connection to you. I don't know how to do your job, or how it should be done. I know there are lots of people around you working toward the same goal but somehow since you're the one with the high profile, it's all your fault. And me, with no call whatsoever in your future, think you should be fired.

    And in fact, I feel so strongly about it I'm going to tell all my friends what I think. And they're going to agree with me and tell all their friends. Maybe one of us unconnected third parties will even write a letter to the newspaper and say you should be hung out to dry. Maybe we'll even call a radio station. If I can get enough people who don't know you and don't know your job to raise enough stink maybe we can really get you fired! That'll turn that company around and solve all the problems. And it will happen right away, if not soon--

    What's that?

    You resigned??