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.

Morning Cup: An Evolution of Art

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo

This is truly amazing and quite inspiring! It's a bit long (in internet time), but perfect for a morning coffee break.

via @rainnwilson via SoulPancake

SoulPancake, by the way, is a pretty interesting blog that asks explores creativity and spirituality. Read the comments to this video on SoulPancake's site (click the via link above)- many interesting interpretations of the video.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

DON'T save the date

It is with sadness that I report that the Bottomless Cup Jazz Orchestra's April 22 show has been postponed due to a scheduling conflict. We are hoping for a reschedule in either July or August. In the meantime, coffee will continued to be consumed and music will continue to be composed. Thanks to all who planned to attend and I promise I will let you know as soon as a new date is scheduled.

As you were.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Morning Cup: Learn 5/4

Recognizing 5/4 Timing in Music -- powered by

Over your morning cup of coffee, I invite you to learn to recognize 5/4 timing in music... or not.

Don't know if this guy is for real or not (let's hope not) but you can check out his additional learn to play jazz piano videos here including how to play the "piano part" of "experimental jazz." Actually, I'll save you the trouble of a click; McBride advises you to just play like a child would and that's experimental jazz in a nutshell. (well... maybe he's not too far from the truth after all!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Morning Cup: Mother of all Funk Chords

Pure Awesomeness!

Courtesy of Kuitman, a super-smart dude who collected
YouTube clips and sequenced them together to form not only a brand new video, but a brand new song! Genuis!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tiny Titans: Wonder Woman

Via Amazon Princess.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Morning Cup: Plavalaguna Motivation

A little sci-fi Lucia di Lammermoor to inspire a day of kick ass composition?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

This is not the type of writing I'm supposed to be doing right now (where's that cup of coffee?). Damn you, tangents! But I was so cautiously optimistic after recent episodes of the only two shows I watch regularly that I can't begin to write a note of music until I've taken a second (and hopefully it will truly only be a second) to opine about this past week's Dollhouse and Heroes viewings.



In it's third episode, I can say I'm still only watching this show out of my innate Cancer loyalty to Joss Whedon. After hearing Joss speak about "strong, female characters" at an Equality Now benefit and then meeting him after the speech were he graciously signed a first issue of "Astonishing X-Men," I can say I will be loyal to Joss for life and will give any creation of his as many chances as needed. And while I must admit to disappointment regarding the first two episodes of his latest show, last week's third episode, "Stage Fright," gave me to pause to hope.

Here's what I liked:

1. A more interesting plot line. Having Echo as a protector of a pop singer without being conscious of her bodyguard role was more engaging than the previous psycho date and kidnapping stories.

2. The emergence of male doll. We've seen men wandering aimlessly around the dollhouse in various wide angle shots, but now we have a main character as one as revealed in a nice little twist. This should quell the criticism that the dollhouse concept is misogynist. Now both women and men are being pimped out. Equality now!

3. Finally seeing Eliza kick a little ass! Prior to the first episode, I had misunderstood the show's concept. For some reason I had expected the doll's mind wiping and reprogramming as part of a government operation with the intent of using the dolls for spying, assassinations, etc. a la Alias. So I was disappointed with the distinct lack of action of the Buffy/Sydney Bristow vein. But this episode gave me that little bit of kick ass that I wanted from the show.

4. Echo's thinking outside of her programed mind. If I buy the idea that minds and personalities can be programmed, then it make more sense to me that if a doll was going to break the programming it would be through unintentional use of the personality given to her, as was Echo's unorthodox solution to the problem given to her. This sits better with me than the occasional memory resurfacing as a hallucination as in "The Target."

Overall, I still do not rate this show very high... yet. I could expand upon the things I dislike in the show but I will refrain as I am trying to be optimistic (and really need to get back to composing). I will say that I am taking this past episode as a sign of good things to come. If this episode had been the pilot, I think the show would have more support. While each episode is basically a one off, I understand that a larger arc will emerge showing Echo becoming aware of the mind wiping situation. This could get very interesting and I hope Fox and it's viewers will give Whedon enough time to see his genius ripen in this show.


Again with the loyalty. I started watching Heroes after giving into peer pressure half-way through the first season, caught up quickly thanks to NBC keeping all episodes online, and while I originally abhorred the idea of a "superhero TV show sans capes," I was converted and have been a faithful fan since. I rode out the overly dramatic 2nd season and allowed the writer's strike to be the excuse for a less than stellar season. This past third season I've felt there was improvement, but it was not until last night's episode "Exposed" that I felt we finally had a show of the caliber of the first season.

Here's what I liked:

1. Multiple plot lines. I know many criticize that there are too many subplot lines happening and that may be, but I really hate not seeing at least a little snip bit of each character in each episode. Last night we saw all story lines except Hiro and Ando, which satisfied my need to know what was going on (I'll just assume Hiro and Ando spent the day in plane flying back from India!). While we didn't see Suresh, Daphne, or Tracy, we at least know where they are so there's nothing to wonder about.

2. Mommy/Daughterness. I've liked Sandra Bennet so much more since they stopped wiping her memory and was glad to see her in a proactive role. Plus its nice to see non-heroes in on the action. I'm hoping this new bond will allow Claire to mature and thus be a little less annoying.

3. The annoying characters were less annoying. Not only was Claire less whiny, but the Petrelli brothers kept their self-righteous savior complexes in cheque. I also liked Peter going in for the hug but stealing back Nathan's flying ability before taking off.

4. Peter and Matt's tag team mind reading. Yes, it was incredibly cheesy to see first one then the other turn their head to the side and give intense looks but I have to think the creators knew this and decided to embrace the inevitable Velveeta effect and just role with it. It made me laugh and so I liked it.

5. Rebel's continuing interaction. PLEASE let Rebel be Micah! PLEASE let Rebel be Micah! PLEASE let Rebel be Micah!

I know there are more things (I shoulda taken notes!) but I walked away from the episode thinking Hallelujah! The Heroes I know and love it back! Lets hope they don't f*ck it up again!

And on that note, I shall spellcheck, post, and return to Sibelius, happy with the hope that if these creative ventures can improve, then maybe so can mine! ;)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Coffee Break

coffee? by ~GreenJester on deviantART

It's time for a coffee break. Or rather, a let's-drink-lots-of-coffee-so-that-we-can-write-the-bulk-of-the-new-music-previously-promised-for-up-coming-gig break. So as to say, less blogging, more composing. Same goes for Facebook & Twitter (or so I innocently intend!).

Oh self, why do you procrastinate so?

Don't forget to save the date- April 22- for the next installment of the
Bottomless Cup Jazz Orchestra!