Friday, September 19, 2008

Concerts this weekend

A fundraising cabaret-concert for the Obama campaign at the beautifully restored Atlas Theater, 1333 H Street, NE, will be held this Saturday, September 20. Bar opens at 7:00, concert is at 8:00. Noted local singer Steve Washington will perform with a 7 piece jazz band. Donations start at $35 and there are plenty of cool places to go on H street after the concert. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by visiting Hope to see you there!

Steve Lippia, THE Frank Sinatra tribute singer, will be performing Frank's biggest hits with his band this Sunday at 2pm at the Weinberg Center in Frederick.

The Friday Morning Music Club Orchestra, conducted by Pablo Saelzer, will perform at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, 6601 Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda on Sunday at 5pm. The program will include the Strauss Emperor Waltzes and Brahms Symphony #2. Donations are appreciated, admission is free.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Invasion of the Crickets

The place where I am living right now is literally crawling with crickets. If it were any other kind of bug I would be totally grossed out, but I guess that whole Jiminy Cricket thing makes me think they are nice. Sort of. Thanks to Walt Disney they've risen above mere bug status in my mind.

Nice or not, they're kind of annoyingly loud at this hour. There's one over in the corner right now that I just yelled at a few times. It crawled about six inches each time I yelled at it. So they're not deaf - they know they're being loud at all hours. Sometimes I attempt to clear a few of them out, but I know it's basically pretty hopeless this month. I must admit that sometimes I get mad - I've stepped on a few because I'm a bully and an evil cricket murderer. But most of them get to be free-range crickets. I think in China they eat crickets. Or maybe it's the Phillipines. Or Africa? Somewhere I know they eat crickets. These crickets of mine should be grateful.

I don't know where all the crickets go in October but all of a sudden they disappear. They stop chirping. Does the end of cricket season mean that they've died? Do they go back outside? They must, because if they came inside to die I'd see piles of dead crickets lying around everywhere. Maybe they just come in to say goodbye. I should be a little nicer to them if that is the case.

This evening when I came home there were five crickets lined up on the stoop outside the door, just waiting for someone to open the door. I had my bass with me and because of my limited mobility with the foot cast and the wheel on my bass, I was not able to knock any of them out of the way. All five of them hopped in as soon as I got the door open. That's five additional crickets in the house right now. These crickets are driving me crazy!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Official....

I still love teaching! This is good news because it is my "retirement" plan, the only one I've got so far.

I started teaching piano when I was 14 years old. I hid that fact from my piano teacher because I thought she would be horrified. I only charged twice as much as I made from babysitting because I didn't want to rip off any of my poor guinea pig students. I went on to get a B.Mus. in piano performance with the intent of becoming a professional piano teacher.

I put off getting a M.M. because I had become interested in going to law school. I took the LSAT and did pretty well on it so that was definitely a possibility. I also wanted to make sure that I liked teaching piano enough to spend the additional money on a masters degree because I knew it would undoubtedly be much more difficult to pay off student loans as a piano teacher than it would be as a lawyer. I also wanted to party like it was 1999, but that's another story. Fortunately that phase didn't last too long.

So I taught piano. And I loved it. I had 35-45 students most of the time. One year I had 55 but that was a little too much. I was involved with all of the local music organizations, and hosted 3 or 4 recitals per year for my students. I made sure that they got used to performing because it's supposed to be fun, right? Most of them seemed to enjoy it. They all did well in the various competitions they played in too, especially in the ensemble events.

Somewhere in there I took up the bass. It was my fun new hobby. I was teaching piano full time and playing bass here, there, and everywhere. I didn't practice much because I was too busy playing. Gradually I started getting gigs. After several years I got a call to do a road gig playing "Meet Me in St. Louis" for 3 months and that pretty much changed everything for me.

I spent a few years gradually easing out of teaching and I've pretty much just been a bass player for the past 10 years. Over all the money's not as good, but the experience has been well worth it. I love performing on the bass, especially in a group setting. Who knew? I wasn't particularly crazy about performing when I was a pianist. And I love the travel opportunities that have come my way. I'm missing that a lot right now, but if I go on the road my house will never get finished. On the very first day of school this year, I got a call about a 3 month gig with a piano player and singer at a hotel in Dubai. Way to rub it in, ye cursed forces of nature!

So I'm in school, and my teaching assistantship duties include teaching a beginning jazz theory and improvisation course and coaching a combo. And I have to say I love teaching just as much as I ever did. There's just something about it. So far it's my favorite part of being back in school.

I am especially overjoyed to realize that this is still true, after 10 years of not doing it, because we designed our house with a really nice set up for me to teach in. Once I become too old and decrepid to lug the bass and sound equipment around all over the place, I will go back to teaching piano, and maybe bass too. And I will probably do it until the day I die.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

weekend end

I'm in school now. That's keeping me pretty busy and has reduced the quantity of random occurences that I tend to blog about. I don't have any photos this time either.
So this weekend I had a couple of gigs and then we went to the Silver Spring Jazz Festival on Saturday night. I heard Marcus Johnson who I enjoyed very much in spite of the fact that smooth jazz is not really my thing. But music is music and he put on a great show. Then the Mingus Big Band performed. The playing was fantastic, but they weren't able to do a sound check and it showed. The videography was outstanding. The temperature was pleasant and the full moon was beautiful. All in all it was a very nice evening.
Today we saw the Coen Brothers "Burn After Reading" and we both loved it. It is hilarious and clever and I highly recommend it, although it might not be for everyone. There was a lot of very lewd language, but it was completely appropriate for the characters . Tonight it is humid but there's a nice breeze too. It kind of feels like the air in Hawaii.
And now I have to do a bunch of work for school. See ya next weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Burtonsville Fire Department Carnival

It's still summer! Since we are currently living in the extreme outer boondocks of Silver Spring, Doug thought it would be fun to attend the local fire department's annual summer carnival tonight. We had a blast! There weren't too many people there and it wasn't too large of an area for me to drag my foot around. We ate corn dogs. We rode the rides. We like rides.

My favorite was the kiddie bumper cars. I was so happy that all of the children I gleefully smashed into understood that it was all in fun. They smashed back. Sometimes the kids doing bumper cars get scared from all the mean driving, especially when it is done by big scary adults. But these kids squealed with laughter when the crazy lady came barreling towards them. Sometimes it's fun to pretend you're ten years old. Doug and I had a couple of nice head-on collisions as well.

For 18 bucks you can get a pass for unlimited rides for the entire day and it benefits the Burtonsville Fire Department. As both of us well know, fire departments are important and deserve our donations. And what this carnival lacks in sophistication, it more than makes up for in cuteness.

That's Brandi serving up those corn dogs. She says "hon".... a lot!

Funnel Cakes and Cotton Candy!

(and no, that's not me - she's a "carnie")
Also, I just ate the most amazingly delicious peach. It came from O'Keefe Orchards way out on New Hampshire Avenue in Cloverly. The O'Keefe family has been growing fruit there for 67 years.

So it's not all bad living this far out of town. You just have to find the fun!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Kind of in a lull right now....

I think I've been bored with blogging. I'm still reading all my favorites, but I'm kind of bored with myself and I don't really have much to say.

Last Friday was my three week anniversary of having a broken foot. So I only have 3-5 more weeks of wearing this damn cast. Then hopefully I'll be able to walk like a normal person again and do the things I need to do like work on the house and mow the grass. I know that there are plenty of people out there who are far worse off than I am, but that just makes me feel even worse about feeling so sorry for myself.

We cancelled our little three day trip to the beach because I can't walk on sand in this condition. We don't have a couch or any comfortable chairs, or even a TV in our rental house, so I decided to accompany Doug the following week on his trip to NY. That way I could rest my foot all day long, get a whole bunch of TV watching out of my system, and practice bass in the, believe it or not, more pleasant environment of the Microtel.

On the way up we got off at Exit 4 on the turnpike so that Doug would have a chance to experience Forno Pizzaria and Grille which I had stumbled upon with some friends a few weeks ago coming home from NYC. We were looking for something better than rest stop food and boy did we find it! Their pizza is amazing and the gelato is out of this world. The people behind the counter speak Italian to one another. It's as good as anything I've had in NYC or even Italy for that matter.

So my foot feels much better now. It was not getting the rest it needed before. Since I was already most of the way there, I drove up to Connecticut one day to visit my roommate from college who had been residing at Yale University Hospital for the past three weeks. Jennifer is my hero. She is amazing, and she is totally going to recover from her stem cell transplant and get back to teaching soon. But she has to work really hard to get her strength back and get her health restored. What in the world am I complaining about with my poor little foot? Anyway, she is going to get better because we have plans to go to our college reunion next spring and to the bass convention next summer. The opportunity to visit Jennifer again was the real reason I went on this trip. I'm so glad I was able to make it up there.

For the past few years Doug has gone up to an Labor Day weekend event known as the Honda S600 Gathering. The S600 was in production for a few years, from the mid-1960s through the early 70s. Jay Leno has one of these vintage cars in his collection and he has on occasion had Brian Baker, the founder of the Honda Gathering, come out to LA to work on his car. Doug also has two of these cars that he hopes to finish restoring one day. He has a bunch of the other early pre-Civic Hondas too. None of them run. He used to supplement his income working on these cars back when people actually drove them.

This is Doug and his new project
(as if he needs a new New York no less)

This video shows Brian Baker and a fan driving off in his meticulously restored Honda S600.