Friday, June 12, 2009

Redirect to here...

The new site is finally up!!!

Please, check it out, and update your readers and blogrolls! I hope you like the new diggs and will follow me to my new home. See ya there!

redirect to:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New website pending...

As alluded to in a previous post... I am reconstructing the Bottomless Cup web presence, hence the lack of blogging recently. I had hoped to have the update complete by now, but as we all know these things always take longer than intended! My revised goal is to be up and running with the new site by the end of this weekend (fingers & toes crossed, breath held!).

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out all the great sites listed under the blogrolls to the right or search the archives of this blog.

I also want to take a moment to express my sadness in the loss of actor David Carradine, who as of this posting was discovered in a Bangkok hotel, the possible victim of suicide. The world will miss such an incredible and iconic actor.

Have a great weekend internet world, and check back early next week for the all new and improved website!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tech Help Needed!

Any WordPress gurus out there? Or just general know-it-alls when it comes to interneting?

I need some guidance... I'm considering streamlining my internet presence and taking this blog up a notch. The idea I'm tossing around is a single website for the blog and my personal info. This would mean taking down the Dynamod website (which I was never fond of anyway) and closing this blog in lieu of a new one. After switching the Races in Places site from Blogger to a blog, I've come to love WordPress's interface much better than Blogger. However, I'm not keen on the majority of their free themes which has lead me to explore the option, but opened up a huge canful of questions.

I've searched forums and FAQs but cannot seem to find the info I need. So I thought I would pose the question to you, dear reader.

What I'd like to know is this:
  • If using, is the blog posting interface the same as
  • Can I use a theme like this one on
  • If I want to use any theme not listed as an "available theme" by, does this mean I need a account instead?
  • If the above answer is "yes," how much new info do I need to learn to operate a blog? (I already spend too much of my composing time doing auxillary interneting, I don't really want to increase this!)
  • I noticed that some of the hosters through, such as Blue Host offer email inboxes. How exactly does this work?
  • How do I set up my current sites (Dynamod & Blogger) to redirect to the new site?
And finally, can someone just tell me what my best option is for how to do the following:
  • Have a blog with multiple pages so that one page is the blog itself, the others are pages containing info about me as a composer (bio, etc) and the big band.
  • I want to host audio, video, pictures, polls & external (non-WP) widgets
  • I want general customization as far as font, color schemes, banner image, and basic layout (positioning of widgets, etc) are concerned
  • I don't have the budget to pay some to do this and this new venture shouldn't cost more than what I am currently paying for my Dynamod, which is $15/mon.
Anyone out there know the answers and feel like having a discussion with me??? If not... can anyone direct me to a thorough resource, be it book, website, forum, or person?

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dollhouse Makes Second Season!


Fox just announced the Joss Whedon's Dollhouse has been renewed for a 2nd season!!!!!

I'd like to think it was with the help of this online campaign, but whatever the reason, consider me a happy gal!

Now to go write some music like a good composer...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

5 TV shows that would make me a better nerd

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of seeing the new Star Trek movie.

WOW! I have not seen such a great movie in all aspects in a really long time! I was thoroughly entertained, fell in love with all the characters, and LOVED the space battles! I already want to go see it for a second time! Plus the music by Michael Giacchino, a J.J. Abrams regular, was fantastic! I walked out of the theater wanting not only to see this movie again, but to go back and watch the original series! In fact, my BF and I made a pact to watch at least one season from each of the Star Trek series, if for no other reason to boost my nerd cred.

As I contemplated this challenge, I felt a small twinge of guilt because Star Trek is not the only TV series that as a self proclaimed "nerd" or "geek" I should know more about. Sure, I have a ton of nerdy TV shows under my belt including Buffy, Dollhouse, Firefly, Heroes, Lois & Clark, Wonder Woman, Alias, X-Files, Veronica Mars, to name a few. But my collection has some glaring holes.

So I came up with the following list. 5 TV series that I should watch to become a better nerd:

5. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

This is a show I almost started watching when it first premiered last year simply because I am a Summer Glau fan. But the truth is I hadn't seen any of the Terminator movies, had no idea what the premise was, and frankly couldn't remember despite the plethora of subway and bus ads when the show came on! But this past winter I watched T2 and was instantly hooked! How could I have missed a franchise based on robots from the future attempting to destroy all humanity? That's right up my Isaac Asimov-reading alley! I have since caught 1 SCC ep, thanks to Fox programing it right before Dollhouse, was shocked to see Brian Austin Green doing a great job, and am really bummed the fall renewal looks so bleak. I have mad plans to watch T1 and T3 this weekend to prepare for Terminator Salvation out in few weeks, and then I want to jump right into the TV show!

4. Lost

Ok, I admit, I have a bit of grudge against this show. I boycotted it from the beginning because I am one of those Alias fans that blames Lost for the demise of Alias! And to be honest, since then, I've abhorred J.J. Abrams and all his work. In fact, until seeing Star Trek, I hadn't forgiven Abrams for ruining what I deemed one of the best shows on television! (apparently I am still a little bitter!) Needless to say, when Lost started the fall after Alias's third season, which was the beginning of Alias's decline, I was too mad at J.J. to try out his new show which I considered the distraction that kept him from fixing Alias. After some persuasion, I gave the show a try, but instantly recognized the same frustrating tactics Abrams used in Alias to create intrigue but never providing the needed release and quit the show, prophesying that like Alias, it would start to suck in its 3rd season, and be done by its 5th. Well, Lost should celebrated it's 5th season finale and is on board for a 6th season so I guess I was wrong! Now that Abrams is almost back on my good side, perhaps I will give Lost a second try.

3. Dr. Who

IMDB plot summary states "The adventures of an eccentric renegade time traveling alien and his companions." How could I NOT be watching this show? With the original show from 1963 lasting TWENTY-SIX seasons (!!!) and the current relaunch slated to enter its 5th season in 2010, that's a lot of catching up to do! But Dr. Who is such a part of sci-fi and British culture that I am remiss for having never seen a single episode! That soon will change!

2. Battlestar Gallactica

This is the show I probably feel the most nerd-guilt for not watching! I absolutely love space travel (I would totally go into space right now if I had the opportunity!) and I eat up Asimov and Orson Scott Card novels that take place in the far future, so it really makes no sense that I not be into a show that is based on that very concept. Now that the current run is over, I feel the need to quickly catch up before a movie or relaunch happens. I think I'll start with the 2004 relaunch first, then work my way back to the 1978 original series. Thoughts?

1. Star Trek

Again, I reiterate: Futuristic Space Travel??? How could I NOT have watched these shows! Really, I think I need to turn in my nerd badge. But thank goodness for Blockbuster online- my deus ex machina! It will also take some time to make my way through all four of these Star Trek series, but if the show lives up to the hype, which I'm sure it will, it should be a pleasurable experience!

Honorable Mention: Angel

I say Honorable Mention because I am currently making my way through the box set I bought for my BF's birthday, who is a huge Angel fan. We just finished the first season and I can't believe I shied away from this show for so long, especially being the die-hard Joss Whedon fan that I am. So far I love how it gives us just enough Buffy references without being completely reliant on the Buffyverse for its survival. Definitely a show worth seeing, and I'm glad I am finally catching up on it!

So... now that I have my summer watching listpreapared and ready to be executed, hopefully I will return back in the fall a geekier, more well-rounded nerd. Any thoughts, comments, or revisions to my Summer Nerd Fest? Post 'em in the comments!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Secret is out tonight!

It's a near impossible feat. To run a big band in NYC is a masochistic endeavor of the highest order. Darcy James Argue himself has said, "if it was remotely possible for me to do something other with my life than lead an 18-piece bigband, I’d do that. In a heartbeat." Yet Darcy, the composer and bandleader of his group Secret Society, has done just that, and quite successfully for the past four years. While many may consider a successful non-institute supported big band a near impossible conquest (just ask my dad!), to create a non-live performance CD of said group is unanimously considered a frustrating practice in futility.

Unless, of course, you are Darcy James Argue and have figured out how to perform alchemy with coffee beans.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if that was Darcy's secret to success. He does emit an air of old-world mystery, like a cohort of Sherlock Holmes or a member of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, of which Darcy openly admits drawing influence and inspiration from.

If Darcy's superhero's cape hides an alter-ego of Musician Alchemist, his daytime face is one of a coffee drinking Brooklynite ready to discuss politics, indie bands, comic books, or the state of music today. He does as much on his blog, or web pamphlet as he calls it, by the same name of his band, Secret Society. There you can find yourself intellectually challenged while being kept up to date on the happenings of his music, the real treat of all this hype. It is also there that Darcy performs his alchemy, turning his coffee-inspired words into financial donations to support the performance and recording of his music. Without his online fund raising campaign, there is no way Darcy would have been able to record this album. You can read more about that incredible effort here.

Tonight marks the release of Secret Society's debut album, Infernal Machines. Darcy's been giving away his music for free on his blog for years in the form of live recordings, and while hearing music live is usually the most powerful way to experience music, especially when there is improvisation occurring, to hear a large ensemble properly recorded has its own magic. With the ability to bring forward the smaller nuances of the music that are not always heard in venues with lacking acoustics, a shy but charming side of the music can be heard. This is definitely the case with Infernal Machines.

While I don't mean for this to be an album review (I feel way too biased in my enjoyment of the music to offer an objective critique) I will share my opinion in that my enjoyment of the CD is two-fold. Two-fold in that I can experience the music two ways- the way I listen to jazz music, and the way I listen to pop/rock (for lack of a better term). I definitely experience various musical genres differently. I listen for different things. When listening to jazz (to speak broadly) I usually listen for the tones of the instruments, the blending, the balance, the melodies and supporting counterpoints, the harmonies, the solos, and most important to me, the overall groove, be it swing, latin, straight eighths, or a ballad. With pop I focus on the overall aesthetic. How it makes me feel is of more importance than digesting what is often (though not always) a more simplistic structure. With Infernal Machines, especially the first three tracks, I can listen a jazz nerd, or casually and enjoy it either way. I think there's something incredible when music can appeal to both the student of the music and still be accessible to the casual listener; I know that is what I strive for in my music. And I think it's something that Darcy accomplishes incredibly well with his music.

Speaking of album reviews, there is a TON of press out there right now surrounding today's CD release (available through it's label New Amsterdam Records on May 12). To link to a few...

"Sounds Heard: Darcy Jame's Argue's Secret Society Presents Infernal Machines" by Trevor Hunter, New Music Box
"The Making of Darcy Jame's Argue's 'Infernal Machines'" by Eric Benson, All About Jazz
"A Speakeasy of the Mind" by Goerge Grella, The Big City
"Darcy James Argue's Metal Machine Music" by Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
"Infernal Machines" by Troy Collins, All About Jazz
"Jazz Standards that Aren't" by Seth Colter Walls, Newsweek

As always, check out more on his blog, Secret Society.

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society releases its debut CD Infernal Machines TONIGHT at Galapagos Art Space, 10 PM, $10.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Myspace Comments

It really is crazy how many festivals we celebrate in America that are not actually American. There's Chinese New Year, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, San Gennaro, and Oktoberfest to name a few. It makes sense, of course, seeing as our country is made up of immigrants who brought their culture with them whether they passed through Ellis Island or jumped the border! It also makes sense that as the distance from each original immigrant to today's generation continues to grow (not of course, taking into consideration today's immigrants), the culture and traditions brought over start to be slowly forgotten or at best confused.

This is most likely what happened with today's Cinco de Mayo. Often thought to be all-Spanish or Hispanic holiday, others consider it to be the Mexican Independence Day. While the Mexican part is true, the Mexican Independence Day is actually celebrated on September 16. And while the 5th of May is important to Mexican history, the huge festivites that surround the day are primarily American. And as it turns out, we as American's may have almost as much to celebrate as the Mexicans! Viva! Cinco de Mayo explains further:

The 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day, but it should be! And Cinco de Mayo is not an American holiday, but it should be. Mexico declared its independence from mother Spain on midnight, the 15th of September, 1810. And it took 11 years before the first Spanish soldiers were told and forced to leave Mexico.

So, why Cinco de Mayo? And why should Americans savor this day as well? Because 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and traitor Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862.

The French had landed in Mexico (along with Spanish and English troops) five months earlier on the pretext of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of democratic President (and Indian) Benito Juarez. The English and Spanish quickly made deals and left. The French, however, had different ideas.

Under Emperor Napoleon III, who detested the United States, the French came to stay. They brought a Hapsburg prince with them to rule the new Mexican empire. His name was Maximilian; his wife, Carolota. Napoleon's French Army had not been defeated in 50 years, and it invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion. The French were not afraid of anyone, especially since the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War.

The French Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City to the west, as the French assumed that the Mexicans would give up should their capital fall to the enemy -- as European countries traditionally did.

Under the command of Texas-born General Zaragosa, (and the cavalry under the command of Colonel Porfirio Diaz, later to be Mexico's president and dictator), the Mexicans awaited. Brightly dressed French Dragoons led the enemy columns. The Mexican Army was less stylish.

General Zaragosa ordered Colonel Diaz to take his cavalry, the best in the world, out to the French flanks. In response, the French did a most stupid thing; they sent their cavalry off to chase Diaz and his men, who proceeded to butcher them. The remaining French infantrymen charged the Mexican defenders through sloppy mud from a thunderstorm and through hundreds of head of stampeding cattle stirred up by Indians armed only with machetes.

When the battle was over, many French were killed or wounded and their cavalry was being chased by Diaz' superb horsemen miles away. The Mexicans had won a great victory that kept Napoleon III from supplying the confederate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build the greatest army the world had ever seen. This grand army smashed the Confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War.

Union forces were then rushed to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan, who made sure that the Mexicans got all the weapons and ammunition they needed to expel the French. American soldiers were discharged with their uniforms and rifles if they promised to join the Mexican Army to fight the French. The American Legion of Honor marched in the Victory Parade in Mexico, City.

It might be a historical stretch to credit the survival of the United States to those brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. But who knows?

In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls, trying to join up and fight another war for America.

Would things be the same for us here in America if the Mexicans had not fended off the French? Guess we'll never know!

More history here:

Olvera Street
Mexico Online

While the history of this holiday is definitely important, I honestly see nothing wrong with the hype that surrounds the day. While we Americans have done our best to make it tacky and commercial, at least some places still use it as a day to celebreate Mexican culture with dancing, drumming and menudo. Check out a list of celebrations across the US and Mexico. While I would love to attend one of these festivals, I will settle for some chips, guacamole, and margaritas after work tonight!

Viva el Cinco de Mayo!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

For Hire!

Grand Opening!

(er, sorta)

This weekend marks the launch of Bottomless Cup Music, home to all your music creation, preparation, and education wants and needs!

Please take a moment to visit the website at, check it out, and pass the word along! Thanks!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Watch out Intraweb...

... Kyle Saulnier is blogging!

Who is Kyle you ask? To start with, an amazing composer of large ensemble cacophony who thrives on confusing you by having two bari saxes featured on one tune and an oboe on the next. In addition to leading the Awakening Orchestra, he also co-leads the self-described "elastic.hybrid.chamber.pop" ensemble Alice. Both bands, and his blog can be checked out at his new site Awaken The Music.

I met Kyle the day I auditioned for the Manhattan School of Music and when I found out he was currently living in Fredericksburg, VA, the same town I am from, I honestly thought it was some weird joke and went into my audition slightly dazed and confused. I later learned this was not an abnormal reaction to Kyle. Talking to him is like watching an Elseworld's adaptation of Gilmore Girls if written by Frank Miller- the dialog is quick, witty, uber-dark and peppered with obscure cultural references that I rarely understand leaving you feeling slightly dizzy and for some reason craving strong, dark coffee. Which is why I can't wait to read his blog!

Check him out at


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

42nd Street Pan Flutist

Apparently someone didn't get the memo!

(as seen this past weekend by me in the 42nd Street subway)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Boston Marathon!

Good luck to all runners participating in today's Boston Marathon!

As most of you probably know, the running of the Boston Marathon is pretty much the highest honor most non-professional runners can have. With qualifying times starting at 3 hours 10 minutes for men, 3 hours 40 minutes for women, the trend of back-of-the-pack runners (like myself) are ineligible to compete in Boston. Hardcore runners have to prove their eligibility by completing another marathon within the qualifying time for their age group, within the past year and a half. Because of these high standards, running this race becomes a goal for those fast enough not to have their goal be to just finish (like myself!).

I have mad respect for these runners. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is something I will never be capable of. And that's fine with me- I actually really enjoy having an interest in which I have no desire or pressure to excel at (beyond minor time and race location goals). It also adds a huge awe factor to all those who do have the desire to excel at marathon running, at least as far as finishing times go.

I may not be able to qualify for Boston, but I could still run it. Every year thousands of unregistered runners jump into the course as "bandits." These are the slower runners who could not qualify but want to run this fabled race. explains:

Though they are cheered on as much as registered runners, sneered at by purists and nearly ignored nowadays by race officials, Boston’s “bandits”—or unregistered runners—are as much a part of Boston Marathon history as John Kelley or the Kenyans.


There may be more bandits this year than usual, according to Dave McGillivray, the Boston Marathon race director. In late January, race directors cut off registration when they reached 25,000—several weeks earlier than in most years.

“People are saying all those qualifiers who didn't get in will increase the number of bandits,” McGillivray said. “My sense is that although they're disappointed they didn't get in, they have their own standards and they don't want to run this race that way.”

McGillivray “bandited” Boston himself in his teens and is less adamant about pulling bandits from the starting line on race morning in Hopkinton.

“The BAA’s position is that we certainly don't encourage unofficial runners from running,” McGillivray said, “but we recognize that it's part of the tradition that a certain number of them will show up.”

“Right or wrong,” McGillivray said, “we factor them in, too. When we order port-a-johns and water, we actually say there’s 29,000 in the race, not 26,000”—the number of registered runners. “It's a conundrum for sure. On the one hand you feel like you’re accommodating them, but it’s safety too.”

Read the whole thing for more info on how the bandit movement got started.

Bandits are also know to dress up in crazy costumes, a trend that has spread to most major marathons these days. I actually have a friend who ran Boston many years ago with his tuba! Crazy! It would take a lot for me to consider running Boston as a bandit. The training process is so long and arduous, that I honestly don't know if I could run one with out the promise of a finisher's medal!

For more info on today's race, coverage, and links, visit the Races in Places website.

Good luck runners!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Morning Cup: Cannonball's Battle Hymn

Speaking of David Carradine... (*sort of) I give you everyone's favorite Cannonball Adderley video. Okay, so maybe it's not everyone's favorite, but it's certainly a goodie!

And now I can't decide if I want to put on Mercy, Mercy, Mercy or Kill Bill... Perhaps just another cup of coffee would be best.

*yesterday I posted a video of Zamfir playing the soundtrack to Kill Bill, who of course, is played by David Carradine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In case you were wondering...

Ouch! Sorry pan flautists!

I got this in an email awhile back via ks and thought it was pretty funny. Though really, I think it would have been funnier, and more apt speaking as a composer who is hated by many alto sax players, if the flow chart referred to alto flute instead of pan flute!

While most would be wise to follow this chart's advise, here is one person who can safely rebel:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Morning Cup: Spontaneous Train Station Dancing?

Not quite... but still pretty cool!


VTM, a television station in Belgium, recently used a flash mob dance stunt to announce their newest reality television program “Op zoek naar Maria”. The promotion, similar to T-Mobile’s ad set in Liverpool St Station In London, is promoting the program’s search for an an actress to play the leading role in the The Sound of Music.

On Monday morning, March 23, commuters were introduced to the recording of Julie Andrews singing the song, “Do Re Mi”, as recorded for the 1965 musical, Sound of Music. 200 dancers strategically placed in the crowd began to dance as a remix of the track came through the speakers.

Would this stunt have worked at NYC's Grand Central Station? Or would disgruntled commuters pushed their way through the cheerful dancers? Either way, if this idea gets repeated here, I hope I'm present to witness it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sweet Home Carolina

photo by Richard Barlow, used with permission

North Carolina was my home for a total of 8 years.

The first three were late middle, early high school, and I lived in Swansboro, NC (pictured above).

The other five were during college at UNCG in Greensboro. While I
did a attend a UNC school, it was not the famed UNC-Chapel Hill who won the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship last night. But that didn't stop me for cheering them on or explaining to the BF that their jersey color is "Carolina Blue" not "powder blue."

While living in NC was fine, I don't have any grand desires to relocate there. I do, however, get yearly yearnings to visit, drive through the back roads, and sample some tasty NC BBQ, my favorite! And that yearning got a little deeper when I came across an old NC high school friend who now does incredible photography. I couldn't believe it, but his pictures made me actually
miss North Carolina! My favorite out of the bunch is above, but these are just as good:

Go check out more of his amazing work at

Friday, April 3, 2009

Races In Places Reboot!

Races In Places has moved!

Find them at with a new format and new updates including a recent review of the Ukrop's 10k by Richmond jazzer Dean Christesen.

Races in Places is a community of runners, fast and slow, who have a passion for exploring the world, one race at a time!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Father, who Art Blakey

Garrett Lang (bs),Chelsea Baratz (t. sx), Tatum Greenblatt (trp),
Valery Ponomarev (trp), Jason Marshall (b. sx), Stafford Hunter (tbn)

The night started a bit rocky. The room at Sweet Rhythm felt ominous with only a few tables occupied and half the band missing when the downbeat fell at 8:10 this past Monday night. Then everyone but Tatum missed the horn entrance to the opening tune, "Bitter Dose". I was not surprised, the chorus of written bass line out front is deceptive- beat 3 feels like 1 so unless you're counting, you're gonna miss your entrance. My stomach dropped as I felt sympathetic anxiety for being in front of a band that is completely falling apart and resisting the urge to cut everyone off and start again. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Joseph's horn snap to his mouth as he jumped into the horn line from the side line and got everyone back in place. Phew - that was close. And it only got better from there.

As the tables filled, the energy of the players rose and I began to realize I was witnessing something magical. For the second time this month, at coincidentally the same venue, I was truly enjoying the music I was hearing and did not suffer my usual listener's ADD, and did not want the set to end. (The first time this month I had the same feeling, the first in a while, was also at Sweet Rhythm when I heard Jason Marshall's Tribute to the Ray Charles's Hornline, an absolutely soul lifting experience, back on March 13.) The songs were all extended, allowing everyone who wanted to solo (a practice I'm typically not fond of but really worked here), and while the expertise of each player was varied, the simultaneous energy of the band coupled with a chill but respectful attitude toward the night kept my interest throughout the set.

Much of the entertaining aspect of the night I credit to Valery Ponomarev (from whom I stole this blog's title). A former Messenger back in the 1970s, Valery provides a direct link to Art Blakey and his music. Besides still having great trumpet chops, Valery has an incredible stage presence and is simply a lot of fun to watch on stage. He runs his own Art Blakey Tribute Big Band that plays regularly at the Garage and Iridium and carries the same high energy that Valery brought to the night. Check him out talking about playing with Blakey in this unedited video:

The rest of the band was made up of current New School students and alumni. I was really impressed with the trio of students that made up the rhythm section and successfully carried the bulk of the load that night. Pianist Glenn Zaleski played some great solos that managed to keep the current modern aesthetic without disrespecting the artistry of Blakey's hard bop language. With bassist Garrett Lang and drummer Dustin Kaufman the trio really maintained the battery for the night and when guest drummers Carmen Intorre and E.J. Strickland stepped up, Zaleski and Lang were able to keep up and meet the noticeable energy that the pros brought to the ensemble.

In addition to Ponomarev, who was featured on "A Night in Tunisia," the horn line was made of New School student Chelsea Baratz who enriched the ensemble with a nice, strong tenor sound, Jason Marshall on baritone sax and Stafford Hunter on trombone filled out the bottom end of the group and treated the audience to some killin' solos, and doubling Ponomarev on the trumpet part was Tatum Greenblatt, who brought some tasty high notes and 8vas to the music. Organizer Joseph Perez jumped in at times with his tenor to lead backgrounds and took a few solos himself including a ballad feature on "I Waited for You." Keeping with the spirit of the music, the group welcomed many musicians to sit in with them including New School Alum and pianist Ben Healy, the great trumpet player Fabio Morgera, and the aforementioned Carmen Intorre on "Blues March."

The highlight of the first set was with out a doubt the closing tune which featured brothers E.J. and Marcus Strickland on Blakey's "The Core." This tune absolutely burned! E.J. brought so much energy and volume to the group, it almost felt like the place was just going to explode! It was really a shame the two couldn't stick around for the second set because they definitely brought something to the ensemble that took the whole evening to a new level.

The second set was a bit more chill, starting with "Moanin'" and continuing through tunes including "Nica's Dream" and "Thermo" before closing the night as Blakey so often did with "The Theme." Unfortunately the audience was a bit thinner for the second set and the energy of the players definitely dropped a notch or two. But overall, the evening provided an incredible two hours of music.

Art Blakey passed back in 1990 and so I never had the opportunity to hear the Jazz Messengers live. But I really feel that the spirit of the music was fully embodied in last Monday's show. It was shame that Charles Tolliver, who the evening was dedicated to, could not be there. I think he would have been proud of his former students who proved themselves to modern messengers of the legacy of Art Blakey.

April Fool's Day

I'm a pretty gullible person, so I generally dread April Fools Day. I even fell for this video, via Last Kiss Comics, on April 1!

Why all the embarrassment on a day that should be beautiful, warm and full of early spring?

Blame it on the calendar. Museum of Hoaxes explains:

The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century.

The theory goes like this: In 1564 France reformed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. Those who failed to keep up with the change, who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.

The calendar-change hypothesis seems, on the surface, like a logical explanation for the origin of April Fools. However, the hypothesis becomes less plausible if we examine the history of calendar reform in more detail.

The article goes on to counter the above theory and is actually pretty interesting if you, like me, love history. I see all the holes in calendar theories, but it is pretty coincidental that April 1 was the previous start of the year. This explanation makes perfect sense to me! Then again, I am admittedly gullible...

For a great list of April Fool's Pranks (as well as further origin speculation), see Wikipedia here.

My favorite?

Left Handed Whoppers: In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side.[7] Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the "old", right-handed burger.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Road Crew Rocks!

(click picture to enlarge it so you can actually read it-
for some reason I couldn't get blogger to make it bigger)

Don't you love it when worlds collide creating perfect harmony?!
Ok, maybe I'm little jacked on coffee this morning but really, this web comic is awesome!

Based in Ireland, Tommie Kelly posts a new comic every day chronicling the adventures and mishaps of a rock band from the perspective of a sound guy. A veteran sound guy himself, Kelly's experiences ring true in the comic and any one else who has ever been in a band can appreciate his humor.

Explore his website, and catch up on the back issues. Also check out this interview here or follow him on Twitter at @RoadCrew.

Monday, March 23, 2009

RIP: Cera the Cat

RIP: Cera the Cat 1992-2009

I wasn't going to blog about this. But then I read this and felt I had permission to use a blog to pay tribute to my feline companion of 17 years.

This weekend I lost my childhood cat, Cera, who in cat years, lived to the ripe old age of 85.

Named after the tri"cera"tops from the 1988 animated film The Land Before Time, Cera and her sister Nicky were born on Ash Wednesday, March 4, 1992. This was 8th grade for me, and the first year of three living just outside of Jacksonville, NC, otherwise known as the arm pit of the south. My family and I had left the friendly lemonade stands and cul-de-sac/block party neighborhoods of VA for the roach-infested, judgmental and insiders-only trailer parks of NC. It was an extremely hard adjustment for me and my three siblings made only harder when all four of us got the chicken pox right after moving in that summer followed by the death of our beloved dog Beau that winter. My parents compensated by getting us a new dog, a beautiful red haired gold retriever named Tucker, and by granting my childhood desire of getting a cat. That cat was named Tiger Lily (we really loved those cartoon movies!). Tiggy, as we called her, was an indoor/outdoor cat and quickly became pregnant with a small litter of four. We must have been four sad kids because my mom (dad was away on a 6 mo. float) let us keep two of the four kittens.

Tucker, Nicky, and Cera became the superhero trinity of our family and eased the hardships of moving 3 more times before the family finally resettled back in VA, by which time I was in college. These three pets became a leading example of what it meant to get along and stick together, something we kids didn't need reminding of as our sibs were usually the only other people we knew at each new school. Tucker was a puppy when Nicky and Cera were kittens, so the three bonded the way only babies seem capable of. Nicky would groom Tucker's face, Cera would rub against his legs, and he would be gentle with the two cats who never grew very big and always slept together in a big ball of fur. They were an integral party of our family. Tucker would sleep on the foot of our beds, and Cera and Nicky would come running whenever my sister played her guitar to sit in the guitar case and listen. They cuddled with us, they sat in our laps, they loved us when we often alone and misunderstood.

When I moved home after college to teach locally and save money for grad school, Cera readopted me. By this point the Fenton menagerie had grown to include a second dog and third cat, both rescued from the deserts of CA. Cera was a bit overwhelmed by all the animals in the house. Always a bit of an attention seeking diva cat, she hung out in my room where I could shower her with rubs and she could snuggle into my sheets. When I left for NY, I left behind Cera with Nicky, taking only Annie, the third cat of the Fenton clan who was, according to my dad, "my" cat as I was the one who brought her home from the Yucca Valley Wal-Mart after a little boy convinced me she would die in the desert if I didn't. When I went home for Christmas that first winter in NY, I found Cera sequestered in my old bedroom, afraid to come out. By now, poor little Tucker had passed away and there was a new, wild golden retriever appropriately named "Rowdy" who unwittingly terrorized Cera. My heart broke and when I returned to NY that New Years day, Cera was with me.

Cera LOVED New York. It was just me, the most laid back west coast kitty Annie, and Cera, the princess cat in a tiny 2 room studio with no dogs in site. Cera quickly established dominance, which was easy as Annie didn't really care as long as she got fed. Cera entertained herself by sleeping on my pillow, hiding behind the litter box and jumping on Annie when she came out, and sitting on my lap while I tried desperately to compose for hours on end. I have endless pictures of her sitting in front of my computer as if trying to figure out the best way to orchestrate whatever happened to be open in Sibelius at the time. She just as often jumped on the keyboard to offer up her suggestion of where the melodic line should move to. She was always with me, keeping me company, keeping my sanity.

I must admit to not knowing Cera's birthday until tonight's google search of "Ash Wednesday 1992." I could never remember her age because she always seemed like a kitten. People were shocked when I would slowly do the math (8th grade was which year again?) and reveal her true age. She did not seem old. At least not until this past week. A friend visited and commented on how much weight she had lost. I hadn't noticed, you never do when it's incremental. Within days of my friend's visit, Cera's behavior changed pretty drastically. I realized I never saw Cera eat, though I couldn't keep the water bowl filled long enough to satiate her thirst. She wasn't being quite as needy and seemed to be losing weight by the hour. By Friday I realized I couldn't rationalize her weight loss or behavior change any longer, and took her to the vet.

To make the last painful part of this story short, she was diagnosed with irreversible kidney tissue damage. She was retaining waste and suffered from lack of appetite. She was literally wasting away. I was assured by the very nice vet that she was not suffering, that this was the natural way cats conclude their lives, and it was really a very "graceful" way to die. So I began to prepare myself for the what we all know is the inevitable. Saturday night she could barely walk. She tried to cuddle with us on the couch, but was too uncomfortable and opted for her favorite kennel instead. It broke my heart. I couldn't see her like this when only a week ago she was running around the apartment, jumping in my lap and trying to lick my plate. Early Sunday morning, when she again refused food, and missed a jump to the couch, I came to the painful decision that every pet owner dreads. By Sunday afternoon, I was drowning my tears in a Height's margarita, knowing I had entered a new chapter of life that was defined by the absence of Cera.

It's now Monday night, and Annie has spent the day going from room to room crying. I think she finally feels the loneliness that Cera rescued me from. I'm now in a very loving relationship, and am no longer lonely. Perhaps Cera knew that her job was done, that she no longer needed to be my protector. I can't help it, but it makes me smile to think of Cera hanging out with Tucker somewhere, looking for a new set of kids to keep company and love and protect. And it feels good, for the first time in days, to smile.

Cera & Nicky; Cera on my computer

Cera the great mouse hunter; Cera chasing Annie this past January

One week from tonight...

A Tribute to Art Blakey

presented by the New School
directed by Joseph Perez

Monday, March 30, 2009

at Sweet Rhythm

sets at 8:00 & 10:00

with the music of Art Blakey played by

Valery Ponomarev, Marcus Strickland, Keyon Harrold, E. J. Strickland,
Jason Marshall, Tatum Greenblatt, Stafford Hunter,

and many more...

Cover is $10 with a $10 minimum/students get in free with a $5 minimum

for more information, read this

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday Motivators: Jill "Nerdy Bird" Pantozzi

Meet Jill. aka The Nerdy Bird. She runs a fantastic blog called Has Boobs Reads Comics that entertains us with bits on comics, movies, gaming and all things geek in addition to contributing to Comic Book Resources and the Girls Entertainment Network. She's also a advocate for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and is raising money for this month's MDA Stride & Ride. Check out her cause here then help her out with a donation here or here.

DT: How long have you been collecting?

About three years now. I've always been a superhero fan but didn't actually start reading comics until then.

DT: What do you collect currently?

Most of DC's titles actually, though I've had to cut back recently to save money. Fables, House of Mystery, Mouse Guard, Locke & Key, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Wormwood. There's more, they're just not coming to me at the moment.

DT: Personal fav?

That's a really tough question. I guess I'd have to say Fables or Buffy because they've both been consistently good since they began in my opinion. Though anything with Batman in it is a constant contender.

DT: Fav author? Artist?

Damn, another tough one! I really can't pick just one. Geoff Johns, Gail Simone and Warren Ellis for authors. Adam Hughes, David Petersen, James Jean, and Ivan Reis for artists.

DT: Do you shop at the same place every week?

I used to, until my last comic shop closed. I have since found another regular place.

DT: Why/Why not?

I think it's important to have loyalty to your local shop. Plus, it's nice to have the Wednesday routine you know? I've found a great store with wonderful owners and employees so why would I go anywhere else? The quickest way for a store to lose customers is to have an attitude. I'd rather go out of my way to a store with nice people in it than to one around the corner with jerks. If I'm on vacation or in another store for whatever reason I'll usually pick up a trade to, you know, "support the team."

DT: Do you prefer monthlies or trades?

Monthlies, hands down. Besides the fact that I write about comics and need to keep up to date with what's happening, I don't think I could stand NOT knowing what's going on from week to week. At least in my superhero comics. I like the whole package that comes with continuity stories. I guess you can compare it to television shows now. There's no way I'd be able to wait for the DVD of Lost Season 5 to see what happened with the Oceanic 6 just like I can't wait to see who's going to survive Blackest Night.

DT: Fav superhero movie?

I'm probably going to get a lot of flak for this one but, it's Supergirl. Yeah, 1984, Helen Slater, Peter O'Toole. I was two years old when it came out but it was the first superhero I was exposed to and it branded me for life. It was frightening for me as a child too. The invisible monster, the witch and the Phantom Zone! Holy crap, I was so scared of accidentally finding myself there! I don't know how old I was when I actually saw it but I dressed as her for Halloween in Kindergarten and haven't looked back since. It was so great to see Helen Slater cast on Smallville.

DT: Why do you read?

It's a form of entertainment like anything else. Sure, I've been a superhero kind of kid forever and will always be but it's exciting to sink your teeth into this whole other world and escape for fifteen minutes at a time. I love to read and while I could read books like Harry Potter etc. over and over again, it's also great to have something new waiting for me to explore every week. It's fantastic seeing what creators' varying imaginations come up with.

DT: Why should I (or anyone) start reading again?

It's a great time to be a geek! For better or for worse, comic book movies have made it cool to like them. I remember in high school I didn't share my likes with many people because I thought I'd get made fun of. Now, forget about it! Comic conventions are all the rage and celebrities are praised for their comic "cred."

Besides that, they're just so much fun! And there's really something out there for everyone. I know a lot of people are intimidated by superhero comics because there is so much history there but it's really not that difficult to jump right in. If you already have a fondness for a certain character, Wikipedia can be a great resource for catching up on their past in just a few minutes. Or find a mini-series or trade that's not in continuity to help you get your feet wet.

If you aren't into superheroes there is so much out there. There's books based on tv or movies, books for little kids to enjoy and creator owned stories about people with no powers at all that are just, if not more, entertaining than the traditional heroes.

DT: And finally, who would win? Batman vs. Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman vs. Superman? Superman vs. Batman?

Batman for the first, but that would be a close one and I really wanted to say Wonder Woman. Have we ever actually seen a Batman vs. Wonder Woman fight? Batman is prepared for anything though so I'm sure he'd have shackles from Mount Olympus tucked away in his utility belt. For the record, I'm still waiting to see them get together. Second, definitely Wonder Woman. The third, Batman, no contest.

Jill as supergirl and a little older with Dan Didio.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Morning Cup: Happy St. Patrick's Day

View More Free Videos Online at

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Enjoy your day with a Guinness, Irish coffee, or Shamrock Shake!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't kill the Messenger

Last month marked the 50th year anniversary of Thelonious Monk's classic performance at Town Hall. To celebrate the event, Town Hall presented two nights of music paying homage to the original concert in two very different evenings.

Jason Moran presented a mixed-media concert that included never-before-heard recordings and images of Monk's rehearsals and arranging sessions. The night before, Charles Tolliver gave a note-for-note recreation of the original tentet performance. While there was some criticism regarding Tolliver's decision to attempt an exact replica of the original performance, no one can doubt that Tolliver has a deep respect and understanding for the importance of informing today's listeners of yesterday's repertoire. As modern jazz continues to evolve past 2 & 4 and flat 3s & 7s, the very term "jazz" is becoming broader and to some, more diluted. As a composer of such "fringe" or "little j" jazz, I am very much aware of the importance of remembering and respecting the roots and traditions of "big J" Jazz. This is also why I value concerts such as the Monk Town Hall Anniversary Concert and musicians like Tolliver who excel at, for lack of a better phrase, keeping the tradition alive.

So when I was asked to help prepare the music for an upcoming Art Blakey Tribute concert which was paying homage to not only Blakey and his music, but to Charles Tolliver and his commitment to continuing Blakey's legacy through an ensemble class at the New School (which was temporarily cancelled this semester due to financial cuts but causing a huge outcry from students and alumni) I was thrilled. In addition to being able to see and work with the written transcriptions and arrangements of Blakey's tunes, I was happy to get to be a part of something that emphasizes the importance of figures and repertoires like Blakey, that really inform musicians and listeners of the meaty traditions and practices of jazz, "big J." I must admit, at times here in NYC I crave hearing jazz that above all else just swings and feels good, rather than spouts intellectualism and advanced harmonic and rhythmic sophistication.

DO NOT MISINTERPRET! I am not a jazz snob or purist that feels it has to swing or employ blues notes in order to be considered jazz (which is no doubt an argument in semantics for another day). Many of my favorite bands I would term "little j" or "fringe" jazz. But I do think it becomes easy for modern musicians, in their quest to be different and to evolve, to either forget, or consider unimportant the music that came before. (Just as it is often unfair for those who feel a jazz performance must include swing and a blues to discredit the music that has strayed from the original definition simply because it does not swing, etc.).

Anyway, tangent over. The bottom line is that I am very proud and excited to be a part of this tribute to Art Blakey. In attempt to help promote the tribute, I have invited the organizer, Joseph Perez, to explain what makes this event more than a simple tribute concert and why teachers such as Charles Tolliver are so important to the education of jazz music today:

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak about this project. Being a former student of Mr. Charles Tolliver, I took a great interest in the news of the Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Ensemble class not being offered this semester at the New School. Having taken that class for seven semesters, I can speak with some authority on how classes such as this one and teachers like Mr. Tolliver can have a profound effect on a student. New York City, being the "jazz capital" that it is, holds a distinct geographical advantage in the realm of higher music education in so much that students can come from around the world to study with people that have a direct link to the foundations of the art form. There is no greater example of this kind of unique and special person as Charles Tolliver. While a relatively obscure figure to the masses, Charles Tolliver has a both impressive musical resume and has contributed to both the artistic and business aspects of jazz. He was one of the first jazz musicians to start his own record label (Strata-East) in order to release his own music free of corporate interference. He has been an influential composer both for small and large ensemble in addition to being a singular voice on the trumpet. But to many, including myself, perhaps his most lasting accomplishment will be his work in the field of jazz education and his undying and unapologetic commitment to preserving the great traditions and values of the music. Charles Tolliver, and musicians like him, bring the music to life in a way that records and transcriptions can not.

When I became aware of this semester's cancellation of Mr. Tolliver's Blakey Ensemble and witnessed the ensuing online reaction, I decided to become involved. The Blakey class had a profound effect on me, and many others and Mr. Tolliver was the reason for that. I wanted to do something to highlight and celebrate the importance of Charles Tolliver, the music of Art Blakey, and the value of their legacy to younger generations. Presenting a concert of the very repertoire that Mr. Tolliver taught in his class (in some instances, using the same charts he uses to teach and has graciously loaned to us) seemed like the perfect way to pay tribute. On Monday, March 30 we will present a night of the music of Art Blakey with support from all the aforementioned parties, including the New School, Mr. Tolliver himself, and fellow students of Mr. Tolliver who have volunteered their time and talents to perform on the concert. It is my hope that this event will not only highlight the value of Charles Tolliver and artists like him but demonstrate the necessity of continuing to teach the core traditions of jazz music, especially the music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

A Tribute To Art Blakey will be presented on Monday, March 30 with sets at 8:00 & 10:00 PM at Sweet Rhythm. Cover is $10 with a $10 minimum/ students get in free with a $5 minimum. Musical guests scheduled to appear include Valery Ponomarev, Marcus Strickland, Keyon Harrold, E. J. Strickland, Jason Marshall, Tatum Greenblatt, Stafford Hunter, and many more.