Monday, December 31, 2007

2008: Happy New Year!

As for 2007, so long: It was a very, very good year...

"The End."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Taking a Breath Between Christmas and the New Year

Hope Santa was good to everybody, because he sure was good to me.

The World's Greatest Peanut Brittle. Takes a tag team to make this: Two to share in the stirring, then one to pour and the other to spread. This is my Great Grandmother Freeland's recipe, so it's well over a hundred years old. I have finally gotten my mom to share it with me.

The World's Greatest Pumpkin Pie. This is actually the "EZ Version" as we didn't start out with the pumpkins - there just wasn't enough time - but it's the spices that really make it. I have not yet been "entrusted" with this particular Olde Family Recipe. Maybe next year.

Entertainment by Hucbald. I just set up my rig in the living room, which freaked out mom's Lhasas, but mom loves to hear me play. BTW: Mom now has the numero uno Lhasa Apso show dog in the US of A. She's been invited to the Westminster Show in NYC in February, and is tickled pink about it. This runs in the family: Her father was a national champion at raising and training five gait and fine harness horses back in the 30's. In fact, I grew up with horses and had my first pony when I was eight years old. I'd sure like to be in a situation where I could have a horse again. Horses are magical creatures that actually exist in reality. I think people who don't understand this have something wrong with them. A relationship with a horse changes a person forever, much to that person's benefit.

I know every guy has different ideas about feminine beauty - and thank God for that, or we'd all be after the same girl, and wouldn't that be a mess - and I find something beautiful about almost every woman I meet from eighteen to eighty, but I actually went slack-jawed when I saw this model the first time. If God had ever gotten off of his lazy butt and made a girl for me, I imagine she would have looked exactly like this.

There are some problems here, but not with the girl: The makeup is over-produced - especially the too-dark eyebrows, and there has been some photoshop lightening of the cheeks and forehead... I'd sure like to see what she looks like when she wakes up in the morning... er... well, you know what I mean. LOL!


BTW: I managed to leave my email overloaded, so for four days I got no mail. I'm always forgetting something.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas... "And Toto Too?"


Chris, one of my former Berklee profs, emailed this to me the other day. It's hilarious, and the perfect holiday gift for my dear readers. People with substance abuse problems probably ought not participate in men's choirs. At least they're upfront about it though: From "Straight, no Chaser":

I have gigs tonight and tomorrow night, and then Sunday I'll be going to San Antonio to spend Christmas with my mommy, so the next post will be a Happy New Year kind of deal. Be well, stay warm, and enjoy some time with your families.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rissi Palmer

There's nothing I like better than someone who breaks molds, defies stereotypes, does their own thing... and doesn't give a hot, flying flapjack what anyone else thinks about it. Ms. Palmer was offered some sweet deals from top producers who offered to make her a pop star, but she said, "No thanks, I want to do country music." So, she continued to hold down odd jobs until... she made it happen.

I had heard this song before, but I was gobsmacked when I finally saw a picture of her. I had to laugh at myself (Hey, if I don't someone else will). I'm not really a fan of music videos in general, but this is pretty cool in a wholesome, corny kind of way.

It doesn't hurt that she plays the guitar...

... and exudes mass quantities of hotness.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Concerto One for Guitar and Orchestra: Preview

I have uploaded a PDF and MP3 of the finale of Concerto One for guitar and orchestra to my .Mac Downloads Page for those interested. I wanted to mention this now because my manager, for one, is anxious to hear it. It is a Passacaglia in a contemporary style, and is based on an eight measure harmonic continuity that consists of only tonic, subdominant, and secondary subdominant harmonies.

I wrote the first version of this as a jazzy concerto grosso back in 1994 when I was a doctoral candidate at UNT. I have put all of the melodic lines into the guitar part, but they will be redistributed among the instruments of the orchestra as I flesh out the orchestration again. I actually wrote this as a sort of treatise in completely chromatic "harmelodic" line writing, but when I played it for some of my classmates, almost all of them asked how I came up with such cool bass lines. Poor dears, I guess they lived deprived childhoods devoid of musical masters such as Rose Royce and Parliament Funkadellic. *sigh*

One of the things that tics me off the most about "classical" composers who look down their noses at jazz music is the fact that the most advanced masters of jazz possess a melodic conception that is light-years beyond anything any classical composers ever had. The closest any of them came was Chopin, and he was absolutely unique.

By extemporizing these lines with a track ball and cursor - versus hammering them out on a keyboard or the guitar - I was able to transcend all idiomatic concerns and just think in terms of the melodic trajectories and the coloristic effects the note sequences would have. This is far superior to the hemmed-in classical approach which has such nonsense terms as "non-harmonic notes" (The more I think about that, the more ass-ignorant it becomes as a "musical" concept): Under the completely chromatic "harmelodic" approach, every note has a harmonic function, and so a corresponding coloristic effect.

I'll be doing a dedicated post on this piece, but I'm not sure if I'll get it done before I leave to see my mom for Christmas.


Interesting Critters in my Back Yard IV: ALL the Mule Deer

So, I get up after a night of partying with my best buds the morning after my birthday to see this:

That's a mule deer buck of about three years age - no fawn, as I usually see back there. I shot through the window, so you can see the ghostly reflection of my camera above the deer. He was just laying there, chewing his cud. It would have been amazing under any circumstances, but with a borderline-psychedelic tequila hangover, it was particularly impressive.

I tapped once on the window and got a profile:

Tapped again to get his full and undivided attention:

Don't think this didn't enter my mind!

He jumpped up and ran off when I tried to open the back door to get a better... uh... "shot."


Seems that the local deer herd has taken to yarding up in the security of my townhouse complex. The next morning really early I snuck out the back door "vewy, vewy quietly," and caught five or six of them:

The two standing are young bucks - probably only two years old - and those still on the ground in back are does and fawns. The larger buck was not around. Nobody in our complex can remember this happening in previous years. January will mark four years here for me, and I've never seen anything like it before.

I have several great venison recipes. ;^)

Sun-bleached blondness. She has a great tan but no tan lines. What does that mean? LOL.

Ha! Our maintenance man just walked by outside with four or five deer running ahead of him. It's vaguely creepy, like some sort of sci-fi invasion flick.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fifty (!): The Big Five-Oh $#!*

Well, it's official: I'm a Certified Old Fart.

My "blonde" Australian lady-friend reader baked brownies in my honor:

Too bad I wasn't able to fly down and eat them!

She sent along a pic of herself too:

At first I thought she was pulling my leg, then I realized: That's right - of course - it's winter up here, so it's summer Down Under... right?

My manager sent me a whole box of goodies, including cookies of many varieties that she baked herself.

Here I am eating one:

HT: Pogria for the photo.

And, of course, it's my birthday, so I'll post a redhead if I want to.

You just never know with redheads: Most have blue or green eyes, but hers are dark brown. Highly unusual.

I have a gig tonight, but after it's over me and a couple of guitarist buddies are going to get together and PARTY!!!

We got your bottle of Herradura 100% Blue Agave Anejo tequila, twelve Corona's, and a bag of limes (For the beer, not the tequila: With tequila this good, it would be a sin to use "training wheels").

In the foreground you can see the uber-cool gift my manager gave me: A genuine 1930's Navajo bolo tie with turquoise and what looks like a fossilized shark's tooth or claw. And, it has real bolos on it: Ballsy! LOL!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Boy Toys

Yes, the Cedar Parker Nylon Fly arrived yesterday...

That's the Nylon Fly in the center with my Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA on the viewer's left (Stage right), and my customized Godin Glissentar eleven-string with an Ed Reynolds fretted neck (The stock Glissentar is a fretless instrument) on the viewer's right (Stage left). You can see that the Nylon Fly is small, and that it has a twenty-four fret neck, but what you can't see is how impossibly light it is: Just four pounds! I nearly threw it through the ceiling the first time I took it out of the case.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of issues with the Parker, but fortunately they are relatively simple, but expensive, to rectify. First of all, the nut is made from a plastic synthetic that is OK for steel string guitars, but it deadens nylon strings because it is too soft. So, I'm going to have my buddy Mark cut me both a bone nut and a graphite nut for it - think a couple of Franklins worth of work - so I can see which one works better. The graphite is black, and the nut is the only white thing on the guitar, so I'm hoping that works out, because it will certainly look better with a black nut.

The other problem is that the bridge requires three shims to get the action to the height I want, and they are a very soft plastic material. Again, this deadens the sound - especially on the treble end of the spectrum - so Mark is going to make me some sheet metal shims: Hardwood would be ideal, but he's an electric guitar tech and not a woodworker. I'm sure it will be an improvement regardless.

Sheesh, all three of those guitars have cedar tops: A trio of redheads!

I'm going to have to post a lot of blonds "blondes" to make up for this.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Verdict is In: Zep Still Rocks!

OK, this makes me feel still a bit young as I enjoy the last week of my forties... but first, a story.


Though Led Zeppelin was one of my favorite bands of the Second British Invasion when I was in high school in the seventies - eclipsed only by The Who - I never got to see them live at the time. However, when they reunited for the big fortieth anniversary shindig for Atlantic Records in 1988, that was more than made up for.

At that time I was in a rock band called B-Rock, and we were rehearsing at Montana Studios in Manhattan. One evening, one of the employees asked as we were leaving for the night if we'd be in the next day, to which we replied in the affirmative. He kind of mumbled, "OK" and looked at the floor, but I didn't think it was any more than just a tad strange.

Anyway, when I got to the place the next afternoon, there were some odd looking folks milling about outside, but nobody stopped me when I walked in with my guitar in its gig bag on my shoulder. When I got off the elevator and walked into the lobby, there were a few other unfamiliar souls, and they were looking into the elevator with a strange anticipatory look, but I just walked into Studio B, where we were set up.

I dumped the guitar and decided to go get some lunch. Then, I waited for the elevator for what seemed like an eternity. When the door finally opened, Jimmy Page walked out! Talk about a WTF moment: I'm sure my eyes were as large as dinner plates. When I got back from acquiring my required falafel and Coke, the entrance was mobbed, and back up in the lobby it was a zoo. Robert Plant and Jason Bonham had arrived by that time, and I was in some sort of shock or other.

The rest of my band had arrived as well, and that's when I learned Zep was rehearsing for the show in Studio A next door. Needless to say, we didn't rehearse any ourselves that day, we just listened to Led Zeppelin rehearse! It was a pretty amazing experience, and far less than a hundred people on the planet were there for that. It's a memory I treasure, for sure.


Led Zeppelin then:

Led Zeppelin now:


Jimmy Page: Born 01/09/1944, age 63.

Robert Plant: Born 08/20/1948, age 59.

John Paul Jones: Born 01/03/1946, age 61.

John Bonham: Born 04/31/1948, would be 59 also today, had he not died in 1980.

See why this makes me feel a little better? LOL!


I found several articles about the show honoring Ahmet Ertegun (Who I also was in the same room with a couple of times, though I was far too awed and shy to introduce myself).

CNN says Led Zeppelin Can Still Rock

"The reunited rock 'n' roll legends were superb Monday in their first full concert in nearly three decades, mixing in classics like "Stairway to Heaven" and "Black Dog" with the thumping "Kashmir" and the hard-rocking "Dazed and Confused.""

The Sun, in their inimitable style, manages to say the same thing with greater panache: LEDgendary: Zep Can Still Rock

"LED ZEPPELIN returned to the stage last night with their first full set in 19 years — and younger members of the crowd had heard nothing like it.

Manufactured pop is ruling the charts and young music fans are an impatient sort.

Maybe that’s why the bars at the O2 Arena in Greenwich filled during some of the band’s winding rock epics.

But their classics proved music doesn’t rock like it used to."

You have to check out The Sun's slide show. The pix of Mick and Sir Paul made me feel especially young, virile, and vibrant. LOL!

The Hollywood Reporter said, Bottom Line: It's Been a Long Time, but the Band Shows it can Still Rock the House.

"For two hours and 10 minutes Monday night, legendary British rock band Led Zeppelin had the privileged fans accommodated by London's O2 Arena ecstatic listening to 16 of its greatest hits. It was something not seen for almost 20 years."

My personal favorite article is at The Set List: Led Zeppelin, London, 2007

"At Led Zeppelin's first reunion gig in 27 years, Robert Plant dedicated "Whole Lotta Love" to Ahmet Ertegun, noted that "Trampled Under Foot" was his Jimmy Page's attempt to sound like Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" and provided no clues as to whether Led Zep will take the stage again, like on a tour of the States."

It's not that the article is anything special, but the comments are fracking hysterical. The world's most famous groupie, Pamela Des Barres posted this gem:

"I had sex with all of them in their heyday, and Peter Grant was definitely the champion when it came to a roll in the hay!"

Pamela has a MySpace Page, so perhaps I should send her a Friend Request. She is an ordained Minister now. *mega-eye-roll*

After Pamela's comment, a hip-hop troll absconds with the thread, and more hilarity ensues as it descends into the depths of a "rap is crap" scrap. As Vader would say, "All too easy."


Robert Plant isn't looking too bad, but the goatee I'm not so sure about. Makes him look like Sammy Hagar after a night of too much Cabo Wabo.

Someone needs to tell Jimmy Page that the jazz box and sensible shoes make him look impossibly Old Fartish. Note Jones' boots: That's what I'm talking about. Very cool. John Paul looks fantastic for sixty-one, doesn't he?

That's more like it: I have never been, nor will I ever be quite that awesomely cool.

I hope they tour. I'd go far out of my way to catch one of their shows.


One of my lady-friend readers from Australia - who is a "blonde" - has protested my recent redhead fixation, so I thought I'd remind everyone that I am an equal-opportunity lecherous old fool.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Blond... or Redhead?

No contest.

While Norma Jean claimed that blonds have more fun, she wasn't a natural blond, was she? Nope. Even in the case of natural blonds, they outnumber redheads by a very wide statistical margin: Redheads are the rarest of the rare, which is why I find them so fascinating... ahem... OK, that's one of the reasons I find them so fascinating.

So, you can guess how I answered the, "Ginger, or Mary Ann?" question: That's right, Tina Louise all the way, baby.


Never let it be said that God doesn't have a sense of humor with those who are His. While surfing the internet for information about Parker Nylon Fly owners, I found a forum at - where else - Parker Guitars, where a few of said owners hang out. Wouldn't you know it: There was a guy selling one there. And, this is no ordinary Parker Nylon Fly either: It's a one-of-a-kind Parker Custom Shop Nylon Fly Cedar! The standard Nylon Fly is made of spruce and comes in a translucent butterscotch finish - it's definitely a natural blond. This cedar Nylon Fly is?... a natural redhead. It is absolutely, positively unique: The only one on the planet.

I should have it in my hot little hands by Wednesday of this week, three days before my fiftieth (!) birthday. Notice that it also doesn't have the abalone inlay on the bridge like the stock Nylon Fly: I never cared for the "mother of toilet seat" look, so it's as if the guy who originally ordered the guitar ordered it especially for me... and, I guess he did!

Seriously, there is simply nothing cooler than a beautiful redhead.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mid-Life Crisis Lust Object

Well, since I turn fifty (!) on the fifteenth of this month - the day before Beethoven's actual date of birth, by the way (He was born on the sixteenth and baptized on the seventeenth) - I've decided I need an official mid-life crisis lust object. Unfortunately for all of the usual cliches, I don't really care for red Corvettes, and all of the twenty-something coeds I know already have boyfriends (Yeah, that's the reason). So, I decided to be as mature and rational as a man in crisis can possibly be: I'll buy myself a stupid-expensive guitar.

Take a look at the Parker Nylon Fly:

With a list price of $4,399.00 and a best price of $3,299.97, I think this qualifies as a mad, mad, mad, mad purchase: Perfect for a desperado in decline.

Fortunately, one of the benefits of being a Certified Old Fart is that you have developed an extensive network of contacts that you can network with in your half century (!!) of life. Meet my ace-in-the-hole (a-hole, for short), Mark Pollock of Transpecos Guitars. Turns out Mark may be able to get me one for less than any publishable price, and in only a few weeks. Age and treachery will beat youth an enthusiasm every time.


Also fortunately, I don't know any young women who look like this, because if I did I'd probably be sorely tempted to make an utter, abject fool of myself (Yeah, yeah: "No big stretch." I know).