Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Exploding Lights

Hargrove, man. Roy Hargrove.

He came exploding into the jazz world back in the nineties. He was one of the Young Lions of the nineties jazz renaissance. One of the brightest trumpet lights of the day. Genius. The story goes that he was discovered by Wynton Marsalis at Booker T. Washington School for the Performing Arts in Dallas, Texas.

His solos possessed fire. He wrote layered works and put together big bands and quintets. He played bop, mambo, r&b and soul. He was rolling. He won grammys and I got a video cassette recording of him playing with Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, and Christian McBride at the Grammy Ceremonies in 1993...and I just found a youtube clip of that performance...guess there's others out there who were recording that night!

Then I lost track of him. The 'aughts came and I got busy and Hargrove fell off my map. I still listened to his old stuff but I didn't even know if he was still around.

He's still around but he's had a rough road. A couple of years ago he got busted for possession. He's had to cancel shows for health  reasons. I follow the guy on Facebook and Instagram and he looks a shell of himself. I mean we all look older but it looks like he's had a tough go of it. His music still sounds good and I hope he's getting better. I hope he's getting things back on track. He hasn't released a recording since 2009. He's still touring and I hope he finds or has found his way back from the abyss.

I iTuned two of his albums this week. Earfood...a small group set and Emergence, featuring his big band. Both cuts demonstrate his talent. Emergence blows me away. The chords and the choruses are so thick with power and might.

I hope he can release more to the world. The world can use some bright creativity right now.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Songs of Mirth and Melancholy are what we need.

Listening to jazz almost every day. I think jazz will help me get through the darkness of the current regime. I hope that's the case.

I did discover an album this past week that's kinda jazz kinda not. Whatever it is, it's sublime. Just two guys. Branford Marsalis on tenor and soprano sax. Joey Calderazzo on piano. Sax and piano.   That's it. No rhythm section. Some of it is almost classical. It's mind-blowing.

Songs of Mirth and Melancholy is the album. 2011 on the Marsalis Music label.

You can hear the whole album here. I listened to it there. Then I went to iTunes and bought it. It will help ease your stress.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


From page 12 of the United Methodist Hymnal. Read today during communion at our church. 

Kansas Day

Happy Kansas Day!

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Photo: Aylan Kurdi. Three years old. Drowned while trying to escape from Syria to Europe with his family. 

"For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in."  - Matthew 23:35

"It's hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. If I say I am a Christian, but do these things, I am a hypocrite." - Pope Francis

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Apparently Trump's Make America Great Again merch is made in China. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Alternative Facts

"The Trump Administration would like to congratulate the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys for making this year's Superbowl. This will be the greatest Superbowl ever. Period."


Monday, January 23, 2017

America First?

"And on this platform, folks, those most perplexing people...the Lads with the Siamese Beard! Unrelated by blood, they are joined in a manner that mystifies the mightest minds in the land!"

- Dr. Seuss

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Do not go gentle into that good night

By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Be Present

Some politicians are boycotting today's inauguration. I completely understand why. However, I believe that hiding is the wrong course of action.

Many of those boycotting the inauguration are heroes of mine. They have faced evil head on in the past and prevailed. Many of them have suffered great personal and physical cost for standing up to evil. Many have endured much greater sacrifices than I ever have.

But I believe that if it is part of the democratic norm for the opposition party to attend an inauguration, then you must attend. You cannot cede the stage. You must be present.

If your opponent is going to cheat you, make them cheat you to your face.

I did not like the results of the election. I am concerned about Russian involvement with the election. But I have not heard evidence of actual tampering of the results. The unfortunate truth is that this election is legitimate based on the current rules of the game.

Yes, the Electoral College is antiquated and makes a mockery of the "one man, one vote" concept. Yes, the Electoral College disenfranchises millions based on its winner take all results. Yes, the Electoral College is a 200 year hold-over from the fear white, land-owning elites had of the masses voting and later a fear of freed slaves utilizing their right to vote. Yes, the Electoral College should be abolished or greatly altered.

However, the rules of the game were established and agreed upon. The future of the Electoral College should be debated. But it is my opinion that as abhorrent as this past election was, it is legitimate until proven otherwise. And the opposition party has a duty to be present. The opposition party must be a part of the democratic process so it can help guide policy.

Now, more than ever, is not a time to hide.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Good Bye, with Respect.

I voted for Barack Obama twice. I didn't always agree with him. But he held the office with respect and honor. There was not an Oval Office scandal during his time in office. He treated others with grace and dignity. He developed a cordial relationship with the Republican Speaker of the House. He created an imperfect healthcare system that yet allowed my father to have healthcare during his battle with cancer. My mother, now a widow, is not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to his cancer treatments because of Obamacare. And she and my disabled sister have affordable healthcare. That would be enough for me to be thankful for President Obama.

I feel that all that is about to change tomorrow. Dignity, respect and basic competence may be hard to find in the next four years. Conflicts of interest, scandal and rudeness, I fear, will be the new norm in the White House...although the new president apparently will live much of the time in a self-named tower in New York.

So I offer the Obama Family a heartfelt thanks and goodbye. You will be missed. Thank you for your service.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


This is a list of things I try to do every day. I don't always get around to doing them all. But when I do, I know it's been a very nice day.

Read the Bible
Kiss my Wife
Hug my Son
Drink Green Tea
Write in Moleskine
Read book/magazine
Five Minute Spanish Lesson on Duolingo
Practice trumpet/guitar

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Back on the Scene

Saw the movie La La Land a few weeks back. Although I usually don't go for musicals, I really liked it. One of the reasons I liked it is because it brought Jazz back into the mainstream consciousness, at least for a few months. It showed the problem of how there are few venues left where you can find and enjoy true classic jazz. 

So I was happy to read today that one of the legendary old jazz clubs in New York is re-opening for business later this year. Minton's in Harlem was was one of the great spots to hear some of the legends of be-bop and hard bop back in the day. Some say be-bop was invented there. Everybody played there. Monk, Diz, Bird, Charlie Christian, Duke, Louis, Ella, Billie, Benny, The Hawk, Prez, Ben Webster, Sarah Vaughan, Eck, Erroll, Krupa, Miles, Art (Tatum and Blakey) and tons more jammed there. The pic above shows Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge and Teddy Hill hanging out in front of Minton's in 1947. Now, seventy years later, the place will hop again. 

Anytime a jazz joint opens, that's reason to celebrate...but especially when a legendary place like Minton's comes back on the scene. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Room

Well, admittedly, I haven't gotten used to my new classroom. After sixteen years in one room I knew any change to a new room would not be easy. But, I'm reluctant to get too attached since I'm only in this particular room for one calendar year. The plan is to move upstairs next January.

The new rooms are a bit too sterile for me. White walls, white tile floor, white boards. I'm sure it will grow on me, but I sure do miss my carpet. Once I get into my permanent room I'll have to invest in an area rug.

To make matters worse they weren't done with this building. They were supposed to be. But they are still drilling, hammering and making lots of noise as they continue to work on this wing. We shouldn't have moved this early. We should have waited until summer. Would have been better for teachers and students. I was breathing in dust the first few days. Now, instead of being next to a construction zone, we are actually in the construction zone.

We knew construction would continue next to us as they demolished my old wing and built a anew. But to not even be done with the building we now inhabit...unacceptable. This isn't hindsight. Teachers were expressing these concerns months ago. But we kept hearing the same promise...

"It will be finished." "Oh yeah, it will be done on time."

Nope. Not even a little bit.

They are still not done or even close to being done with this building.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much. I don't have to float between rooms like some. My current room has been functional. My technology has worked for the most part. It will get better.


I still miss the old place.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The New Year

Well, It's January 11th. Guess I should get to blogging again. I took a bit of rest from the tech grind. Now back at it. 

The Holidays went very well. Enjoyed seeing family. Had a tire blowout right outside of St. Louis on our way to Indiana. Fortunately it blew right by an exit with a gas station and I was able to change to a temp donut in a safe area. It was 6 pm, the day after Christmas, yet we were able to find an open tire place and replace our tires. Only delayed our trip three hours. Not bad when we realize it could have been much much worse. 

We enjoyed our visits in Tulsa and Southern Indiana. Life has resumed its busy-ness with a new kitchen renovation, moving to a new classroom in a new high school building and my son's birthday last week. I'll revisit these fun times down the road. It seems now the Holidays are almost a distant memory at this point.