Wednesday, May 27, 2009


There is so much I've wanted to blog about over the past few weeks ...

... my new hair style ...
... The Divo graduating college ...
... J-Dub's Memorial Day cookout ...
... my grades and my new online course ...
... my long-lost friendship with Dub G ...
... my one year blog anniversary ...

... but all this is unimportant since Pops was rushed to the hospital last night. They're not sure what's exactly wrong but he's in intensive care and sedated after emergency surgery on his heart. Right now it's a waiting game and we're a mess. Rugrat and I have taken the past two nights off from work and The Voice stayed with us all night until the immeadiate threat passed and came back tonight.

I'm so mentally and physically drained and knowing Pops faces a long road of recovery (if they can get him stabilized) has left me dazed and in a fog. Hopefully once I've had a full night's rest, I'll be able to think a bit more rationally ...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

That's What Happens!

Last Thursday, we had the UMB Spring 2009 Jazz Concert titled, "That's What Happens," and I have to say we pulled it off surprisingly well!

Our band consisted of 13 members. Two drum kits, two guitarists, a bass player, two keyboardists, saxophone, clarinet, accordion and five vocalists! Several of my bandmates were returning from last semester so I was extremely comfortable performing with them. Nevertheless, I adapted quickly to the playing styles of the new drummer as well as another keyboardist.

Throughout most of the semester, we focused on a song from Miles Davis called “All Blues” as well as “Afro Blue” from Mongo Santamaria. We were drilled repeatedly on notation accuracy as well as common rhythm patterns in jazz. Unfortunately, that left little time to prepare for our end of the semester concert and we crammed in several songs within the last two or three weeks. Furthermore, we lost several days due to Professor X being ill.

We played (in order):

Well You Needn't - Thelonius Monk
Dindi - A.C. Jobim (pronounced Gin-gee)
Angel Eyes - Dennis/Brent
All Blues - Miles Davis
Peace - Horace Silver (my solo piano piece)
Song For My Father - Horace Silver
Afro Blue - Mongo Santamaria
Rebel, Rebel - David Bowie (I'll explain in a moment)
Lullaby of Birdland - Shearing/Weiss

Some of these songs have been featured over the past few months in my playlist so if you have never heard them, definitely check them out!

I got a bit nervous right before we began but once out on stage and playing, I relaxed visibly and eventually was getting into the playing and feeling the vibes. However, I didn't escape the evening's performance unscathed. We opened "Well You Needn't" with the melody played on piano and decided to close the piece out the same way ... unfortunately, when it was my cue to come in, I faltered. Silence descended rapidly as the entire band and Professor X were waiting for me to come in! Needless to say, I choked down a grimace and while deeply embarassed, I kept a professional demeanor as best I could. I became so caught up in the music, I forgot my cue.

I held featured solos in Angel Eyes, Song For My Father, Afro Blue (which became an open solo, non-vocal piece) and Lullaby of Birdland, which I believe was my best solo to date! I dedicated that one to The Voice and the vocalist on that selection really snapped off! The perfect ending to the concert!

Now, it's quite obvious that "Rebel, Rebel" isn't a standard jazz number. This was Professor X's brilliant idea to get us to arrange a song and turn it into something jazz-like. With the exception of his few bits of input, the entire band contributed in some way to this song and wow, did it come out amazing! We had a salsa type rhythm going on it, the lyrics were sung in Italian, English and Spanish (one of the vocalists is an exchange student from Italy). I wish I had some footage or a recording of that piece because we really took it to a new level!

Overall, our concert was spectacular, albeit a tad short in length. Hopefully, in the fall, we can cram in several more selections or lengthen the songs. Additionally, I'm pushing to do “Moondance” from Van Morrison, a tune I've enjoyed since I was in elementary school as well as a possible Christmas selection since we will be close to the holidays.

Some positive aspects of the night were the accordion solos which really shined through and proved a non-jazz instrument can hold its own. Moreover, I was pleased to see that the singers were forced to stand, walk around and rely on their memories during their selections.

Unfortunately, some of these vocalists were struggling and I believe it was due to the advanced sound system we utilized only a few hours prior to the concert. Coupled with nerves, I think it was a recipe for disaster. Coincidentally, the double drum kits were another bad idea. Some of the feedback I received stated, "the drums were just too overpowering!"

Well, I'm taking Jazz band for two more semesters so hopefully the band and I will perform even better the next go around!

Lastly, a huge thank you to all who attended and I must say I really appreciated your support! Once again, I extend my sincerest apologies regarding the donation/door incident. Nevertheless, I hope you'll all come back next semester!

Thank you again!

**UPDATE** On Tuesday, we viewed the video footage of the concert as well as received CD’s of the music; I’ll try to set up a playlist or something over the weekend. We’re also receiving DVD’s so maybe I can get some video up (it’s not the best since the image was stationary - no camera operator)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wolverine ... What?

I managed to catch X-Men Origins: Wolverine last weekend and I'm not sure quite where I stand. I have an affinity for mutants. All kinds of mutants. I've been extremely supportive of the X-Men film series (I went to see the first film over 10 times in the theater!) However, I'm feeling cheated and let down.

In the latest installment of the mighty mutants, we discover the origins (duh!) of our wily badger wolverine. The opening scene establishes the twisted genetic relationship between Victor Creed (aka Sabertooth) and James Howlett (aka Logan aka Wolverine) and the movie is off and running. Set during the 1970's, we find James employed on Col. William Stryker's special ops team consisting of other mutant baddies. After witnessing the brutality of Sabertooth and continually intervening on his behalf, he quits the team and relocates to northern Canada living peacefully with a school teacher yet haunted by the many wars he has fought in over the centuries.

Of course evil comes a-knocking and Sabertooth tracks him down and knocks off his lady. So what to do when you're girlfriend has been killed by a half-man, half-lion beast? Join Stryker's team, have adamantium injected into your skeleton and run butt-naked through the field! By the way, I must give Hugh credit for showing a lot of skin and he looks damn good for his age! Well of course Stryker's people track him down, explosions ensue, and the body count rises. Soon he tracks his old teammates down, locates Gambit and then squares off with Sabertooth whom we discover is hiding a lot more than he lets on.

The final showdown is at Three Mile Island and attempts to attribute the nuclear meltdown back in the 70's to events in the movie. I'm not going to give anymore away for those who haven't seen it however, it's clear that Sabertooth and Stryker won't die since they're in Part 1 and 2 respectively.

Well, let's start out on a positive note before I b**** and moan! The special effects were great as usual. The makeup job on The Blob was outstanding and Liev Schriber's portrayal of Sabertooth was extremely chilling; far better than Tyler Mane's Sabertooth. The scene with Cyclops was amazing and I’ve gained a tiny amount of respect for him in my heart.

Let me repeat, a tiny amount!

However, the plot holes between this prequel and the first movie are gaping. Holes such as Sabertooth not seeming to recognize Wolverine in X-Men 1 yet they share a complex history in Origins. I also was incredibly annoyed with Ryan Reynolds character but then again, I'm usually annoyed with any movie he does. And last time I checked, Silverfox and Emma Frost weren’t sisters?!

Most importantly, I was really looking forward to finally seeing Gambit portrayed on screen however, the accent was lousy and he came off extremely "wussified" – and where were the black and red eyes? I was simply not feeling him in this movie.

Lastly, my biggest gripe by far was the missing Storm-child. She's my favorite X-Men character and while she appeared in the trailer, she was absent in the movie.


Anyway, go check out X-Men Origins: Wolverine if you’re in the mood for some good action, crazy mutants or just want to see Hugh in the nude! Overall, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and it’s a valiant effort to kick off the summer movie season!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quick Question

Does anyone out there know much about the graduate studies at Philadelphia's Temple University, specifically their masters in music education or performance programs?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Doctor Is In!

Hey everyone! We welcomed a new member to the family this past weekend! A small black kitten with grayish eyes who has absolutely stolen my heart! I've decided to nickname him The Doctor and he's exceedingly energetic, exploring the house, getting himself in small corners and slowly getting acclimated to The General (who is deathly afraid of him because he’s already been clawed at once or twice!)

No one in my immediate family has owned cats but we know of plenty of people who do (The Divo, Dub-G). So we are going to take this one day at a time. It's a real learning experience for us but I have a feeling we're going to be pretty good at it!

I'm extremely allergic to these four-legged “furballs” so I guess this means I'll be on Claritin for a long time …


Can anyone recommend anything stronger for pet allergies?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Can You Spare Change?

This weekend, I spent time helping The Voice and his roommates, J.J., move into their new apartment.

The weekend before, we spent the night on the town because we knew that work lay upon the horizon. We met up in Boston, walked through the bustling, vibrant North End to a waterfront Chinese restaurant called Billy Tse and then cut through Faneuil Hall and the Commons to the Theatre District to check out Charlie Murphy at the Wilbur Theatre. All in all, it was a perfect last weekend in his old place! Oh yeah, neither of us really found Charlie Murphy all that funny so just an F.Y.I. ... my personal fav? Chris Rock!

This past weekend, I struggled anxiously through class on Friday and then bolted to the new crib to see what I could help out with. J-Male's parents were visiting from out of town and helped with the move along with The Voice and his son (long story but it’s not his biological son!) By the time I arrived at the apartment, most everything was done.

The Voice and I made a final sweep of the old apartment and picked up the remaining items. I looked wistfully around the barren rooms and then after slowly closing the door, decided not to look back, only forward. However, The Voice wasn't feeling that wistful and decided to stick it to the landlady for being such a royal b**** - he unscrewed the front and back porch exterior light bulbs and we bounced!

Next up was the IKEA drama! The delivery people had a little trouble finding the location. They finally got the items there while The Voice and I returned to my house to pick up his super-sized mirror and bedside lamps. We got a call from Lady J who told us that the assembly guy (contracted through IKEA as well) was running late. The Voice called him up only to receive no answer and a dial tone and after multiple phone calls, arguments between Lady J, The Voice and the assembly guy's boss, they agreed to send a person out at eight o'clock at night! Needless to say, The Voice and Lady J were VERY pissed! Please take note that J-Male and I were staying neutral and relaxed throughout all this

They don’t call us “better halves” for nothing! LOL

Well, The Voice then decided to shop at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target while the furniture was being assembled. However, he cornered the poor, defenseless BB&B saleswoman and unleashed his tirade about IKEA's exceptionally crummy customer service and then left even more irate at the amount of money he had spent! We returned most of it the next day and settled with a less expensive bathroom set with extraneous accessories we acquired at Kohl's, Homegoods and Target. While the assembly man labored away, we all dug into the Chinese food and finished unpacking.

The Voice spent his first night at the crib alone since he was starting to annoy me (chock it up to being late and we were very tired). The following day, we shopped till we dropped and came back to set the bathroom up (I'll post a few pics when I stop by his place tomorrow). After all our hard work, we attended a revival service at my cousin's church which wasn’t too far from The Empire. Java-Mama, The Voice and I were deeply moved and truly uplifted following the pastor's message and the musical selections! Afterward, we checked out X-Men Origins: Wolverine and called it a night.

Our first night together was serene and relaxing and we lay in bed discussing possible furniture arrangements for his bedroom. We spoke softly and then realized his roommates were on the far side of the apartment in their master suite so were able to talk a bit more loudly. Such an revitalizing change from the old apartment (we always kept the TV and vocal volume down for fear of disturbing his roomies).

On Sunday, we shopped again till we dropped and when we returned home, I assembled the lamps, tower fan, bathroom shelves and hung pictures. My “supervising half” arranged and decorated and by that night, his room and the bathroom were honestly starting to feel like a home. I “chillaxed” in the kitchen with J.J. and we all sat around discussing ideas for the living/kitchen area.

I beginning to feel even more at home in his apartment and I'd be a liar if I said the idea of moving in hasn't crossed my mind a few times. J-Male and Lady J get along great with me. We've dined together, I've walked their dog, I take out the trash and do dishes. I'm even planning to cook a Sunday dinner in a few weeks! While The Voice thinks moving in together is too soon, I'm wondering just when the right time is. What if we're still not ready at a year’s time or what if we've been ready all along? We're vibin' on a level that's truly unprecedented. No major fights or quarrels and the few disagreements we do have seem to fizzle out after a short "time-out." I believe people will think I'm too desperate if I move in this early in the relationship however, those same people have been repeatedly asking us when it will happen. We've firmly established our relationship and most of our friends and family have accepted the other into the circle. Although I can think of many positive reasons, I can unearth as many negative concern and that leaves me in a mental standoff.

Nonetheless, it's a spectacular feeling leaving the old behind and focusing on the future! So much has changed in my life in just a few short months. From leaving The Fund, attending school full-time, working at The Empire, to entering into a relationship, The Voice cutting his locks and moving ... even our newest family member! While all this change feels overwhelming at times, simultaneously it feels perfectly natural and I’m aware that without it, my life would be incredibly dreary and lifeless.

So bring on the change and let me feel, breathe and live once again!

Today’s advice?

“Make a change in your life…!”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Movin' On Up ... To The Eastside!

I'm moving!!!!

Well, not exactly but close enough! The Voice and his roommates are moving Friday and I can't wait!

The day after I met The Voice, I was invited up to his apartment. I immeadiately was struck with how derelict it appeared from the exterior however, upon entry, I noticed that they had really personalized it and made it their own. The Voice has two roommates, male and female whom I've dubbed J.J. (who now own a lil' dog so I guess it's J.J., Jr.!) and the place was so small and cramped, I had to enter through their bedroom to get to the living room.

Yes, I know ... ghetto.

His bedroom was on the far side of the small kitchen and while he had decorated it with an accent wall, black leather curtains and tasteful Asian themed knick-knacks, it was still small. That first day when I sat on his bed while waiting for him to finish showering and dress, I recall feeling like a stranger, glancing around, staring at his personal effects on the dresser, eyeing his photos on the mirror and gazing in wonder at his Boston Marathon medal. Within weeks, I began to feel that his room was my second home. As the months passed, I cooked meals there, watched TV in the living room, showered in the bathroom (yes, including the singing off-key), changed fuses in his roomies bedroom, and eventually gained his trust and was left alone in his bedroom when he left for work.

I recall one night, back in early December, I arrived at his apartment at 2:30 AM following my shift. When I got out of the car, I discovered about six to seven large, rather fierce some looking raccoons blocking the path to the door. I did everything I could to scare them away but they aren’t easily intimidated. I eventually got in but his landlady didn’t do much to resolve the problem. Moreover, the neighborhood was filled with problems such as the quarrelsome crack-head neighbors below, the break-in to his roommates car and the fights between neighbors to find a decent parking space.

Despite all of these problems, this upcoming move has me feeling slightly nostalgic, regardless of the fact it's only been a few months. I am going to miss that little quaint apartment ...

Nevertheless, change is on the horizon and trust me, this new place will make me forget about the old rather quickly! The new apartment complex is top-notch, a true luxury apartment feel and located about 5 minutes closer to my house. It's a three bedroom, two bath with hardwood floors, walk-in closets, granite counters, state of the art stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, and glass walk-in shower in the master bathroom. On site amenities include a club house with movie theater, fitness room, sauna, pool, convenience store, park, tennis courts, conference rooms, covered parking and so much more! The complex is still under construction so I can't wait to see how this turns out!

And the best part for me? No giant raccoons to do battle with! No crazy neighbors and a guaranteed parking space when I visit!

Two years ago, when Dub G moved into a brand new luxury apartment complex (and moved out and back again!), I was green with envy. It featured a loft, new appliances, two bedrooms and two bathrooms and while their latest apartment didn’t feature the loft, nevertheless, it was still impressive.

Seems I'm going to get a lil' taste of luxury heaven! And boy is it sweet!

J-Male, The Voice and I stopped by the new place several weeks ago and I was blown away, even after seeing the model apartment. Walking around the building was like being in a four star hotel albeit with fewer people. They don't have many units filled yet so it's like a ghost town in our wing (that's cool by me!) The three bedroom unit (the only one in the complex) was originally meant to be a condo but they decided to rent it out so they’re the first takers.

This past weekend, we went to IKEA with his roommates and they all bought their bedroom sets. He also picked out some really nice bookcases, some cute nightstand lamps, and two tower fans. I also gave him my Rundu (Warning: link leads to adult content) calendars from last year and he’s planning to take the black and white nudes and frame them as art. Lastly, he picked out the most MASSIVE mirror he could find at IKEA and we had to cram that sucker into my small SUV. On a sidenote, the Ford Escape may be small but it sure came through this weekend! Eventually, he is going to get a plasma TV for his room and I’m hoping to get a desk or workspace set up so he’s not using his bed. I’m really enjoying selecting paint samples, arranging furniture and deciding on a theme

Nevertheless, the hard work isn’t over. Most of the major things have been boxed at his place and old furniture given away. Still, moving on Friday, having the new furniture delivered and assembled is going to be absolute chaos. On top of dealing with his bedroom, he also has to decide what to do with the main bathroom. J.J. have the master suite so this bathroom will be his and like they said in Gone With The Wind, “He don’ kno’ nutin’ bout birthin’ no bathrooms!” Hopefully when all is said and done, The Voice will let me post a pic of all our hardwork and you can let me know what you think of our interior design skills! Additionally, I’m pushing to go see Obsessed and X-Men Origins: Wolverine on Saturday night as a reward for our hard work

Oh yeah, I’m already hard at work trying to claim a nightstand, a space in the closet and MAYBE a drawer in the dresser so I’ll keep you guys posted! :: wink, wink ::