Thursday, March 17, 2005

Return of the Thursday Three

Not that it ever went away, mind you. It’s just that I haven’t participated in sooooooo long, that I thought it merited a titular “Return of”. (Heh, heh…he said titular) Anyway, here goes nothing.

1. What instrument do you play?

I played trumpet from the 5th grade through high school. I used to pick it up a couple of times a year after that, but the last several years have been a long dry spell. Of course, playing the trumpet also qualifies you to play the baritone (same fingerings, different size mouthpiece, lower range).

I played a year’s worth of saxophone in the 8th grade and for the life of me, I can’t remember why.

I can play enough piano to know I can’t really play. There are only a handful of songs in my repertoire that I’ve managed to memorize over the years. These days I leave the piano playing to the EAC and the YAC.

I can play a few chords on the guitar. I’ve played long enough to develop some calluses a couple of times, but promptly get busy and lose whatever little bit I had.

I can play the recorder (not the tape recorder either, though I CAN play that too). We have a soprano and an alto recorder. The soprano is what your kids played in their grade-school music class. I prefer the alto because it’s not nearly as shrill and has a richer tone. My sister-in-law has a tenor that’s really cool, requiring keys/pads to cover the lower holes since no one’s hands are big enough to stretch that far. Let me tell you, I used to be able to belt out “Red light, green light” (Peter, Paul and Mary), “Heart of Gold” (Neil Young) and “Even Now” (Barry Manilow) so sweetly on that tenor recorder that you’d be brought to tears. (Begging for mercy, most likely)

2. Which one do you wish you could play if time and talent were not involved?

All of them (except for the drums), but I’d start with the piano.

3. Have you ever taken lessons for an instrument or voice and how did it go?

I’ve never taken lessons for an instrument, unless you count the few sessions my mother attempted with me when I was little. (Practice tip: Place a row of Cheerios on the piano and allow the child to eat one every time they play through a song. When they’re all gone, they’re done practicing.) As for voice, I’ve never PAID for any training, but I have been privileged to be in several church choirs with very talented directors. One of them was the choir director for the seminary, so rumor had it that he might know a thing or two. I certainly know a lot more about how to sing than I used to. Now, whether that translates into singing better, I have no idea…but anything is an improvement, if you know what I mean.

Which leads to my follow-up answer to question #2. If I had my ‘druthers, I’d give up all the instruments to be able to sing. Not sing like ‘able to carry a tune’ or sing like ‘doesn’t make me vomit’ or even sing like ‘you don’t hear THAT every day’, but SING. You know, make the girls weak in the knees and the guys weep in shame at their own inadequacies type of singing.

Take Vince Gill and cross him with Josh Groban, mix in a little Harry Chapin and Joe Feeney (from the Lawrence Welk show), add a dash of Manilow, a pinch of Sumner (JD brand) and a smidgeon of Torme (make sure you don’t get this confused with Goulet or you’ll have to scrap the batch and start over) and top off with a dollop of Matthew Ward (may substitute Greg X. Volz or Bryan Duncan if no Matthew Ward is available). Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!!!

Fortunately for the world (and probably more fortunately for me and my gi-normous ego), it ain’t gonna happen. But it makes for a nice daydream now and then.

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    Monday, March 14, 2005


    A couple of weeks back, I finally got to have dinner with the Big Dog.

    You may recall that when this boy’s-night-out was first scheduled, I had to cancel at the last minute in order to take Mrs. A to the Stubbs exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum. We rescheduled for the next week, but the Big Dog needed to back out of that one. Then I went to see my Dad. It was almost as if the timing wasn’t right or something. (And for the record, I don’t believe it was ‘or something’.)

    So, I finally meet up with the Big Dog and during dinner, he says to me, "What would it take to get you to come work for me?" I mention a number, thinking there was no way he could do it. "I’ll work on it," he says. A couple of days later he calls me. "I think we can meet your number. When can you come talk to us?" Which led to my super-secret errand. Which led to an offer letter. Which led to this morning.

    I know that I’ve been working all sorts of crazy hours for a long time, but believe it or not, I do like what I do. (They tell me I’m good at it) And I work with some of the best people (with only a few exceptions) that I’ve ever met. And yet, this morning I found myself waiting outside my boss’ boss’ door (my boss is still out on maternity leave) with a letter of resignation in my hand.

    My boss’ boss was very gracious in accepting my resignation and complementary of the work that I’ve performed for just under six years now. I’ve filed his reactions under "How to React With Class to Shocking News" for my future reference should the need arise. The rest of the day was a little weird as people heard the news. I got a lot of stunned looks and a lot of well wishes. (I told you I worked with good people) The most difficult thing of the day (after the initial resignation) was calling my boss at home and telling her. (I didn’t want her to hear it from someone else) All in all, she took it well, but it’s never a good thing to make your boss cry.

    I’ve got a lot of loose ends to tie up and a lot of duties to pass off to whoever draws the short straw. It’s true what they say, there’s never a good time to leave. There’ll always be a million things left unfinished.

    But I start my shiny, fully-warrantied, never-been-out-of-the-box, new job in TWO WEEKS!!!!!

    So, what kind of job is it, you ask?

    Well, let’s see…my background is heavy in retail, broken up by a short stint with a defense contractor, with the last six years in the insurance industry. So naturally, I’ll be working in the home office of a modest regional restaurant chain.

    Let’s EAT!!!

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    Rubicon? What rubicon?

    Oh, you mean THAT rubicon?

    Why yes, I am crossing it today.

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    Friday, March 04, 2005

    As the stomach churns

    My blogging time has been severely limited...and it's starting to really bother me.

    But I don't know if there's anything I can do about it. So...


    I had a super-secret errand of my own to run last night. It went well and I had a follow-up task or two to handle today and now it's just a wait-and-see game. As far as I can tell (and I have an insider) all the lights on the control panel are showing green.


    The choir director called me a couple weeks ago and asked if I'd consider singing the Easter music with them, since they were losing a couple of guys to the drama side of things. I figured that if he was desperate enough to ask me, the least I can do is help him out.

    He's a nice kid. And I mean that. He might be 25 or 26 and is still working on his music degree from the seminary. He takes his responsibilities seriously. Perhaps too seriously. Let me give you an example.

    One of the songs we're singing has the phrase, "Oh Lord, yet not my will but thine be done." There is a dramatic pause between the words "will" and "but". He didn't like our Southern intonations of the word "but" and so he coached us on the vowel sound he wanted. So we sang that for him. At which point he said, "Now let's sing that again, only this time we're going to hold the 'but'." And of course, heathens that we are, the whole choir broke out in laughter which lasted for several minutes. Not only was he embarrassed that something he'd said could be misinterpreted so, I think he was actually worried that his use, or really his NON-use of the word "butt", would have offended someone. Like a man in his position should not be using such "rough" language.

    Oh, please. Give me a break. I wonder what he would think about the comment I made a couple of weeks ago about a piece of tape that was on the couch. "Where did this come from? Oh, that's the tape that was wrapped around my wire nuts." (I had replaced the capacitor in one of the touch lamps earlier that day) For some reason, this made CERTAIN members of my household begin to laugh hysterically.

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