The Jazz Effect

February 29, 2008

It is a strange phenomenon. This semester I typically run very long days. Classes begin around 9:30, and 3 days out of the week end around 9:30 or 10. I very frequently find myself exhausted at the end of the day, and understandably so. However, I absolutely love it.

I am in school studying music. I love music. I LOVE music. I enjoy all of my music classes, and even my 1 academic class. I particularly enjoy the performing groups I am in. Some more than others. I am in a jazz combo that meets once a week from 8pm until 10. Immediately preceding that, I have symphony orchestra rehearsal from 4:45 to 7:45. Earlier in the day I have a jazz band rehearsal from 1-2:30. I also have 2 other classes that day. Bottom line is, it’s a long day. But it seems no matter how long or rough of a day I have had, I thoroughly enjoy jazz combo. I have energy all of a sudden and the 2 hours seems like nothing at all.

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An Odd Day at The Amusement Park – Part II

February 29, 2008

After riding the Lewis and Clark ride at least 7 or 8 times, we decided to move on to a larger, potentially more exciting ride.  The “Screamin’ Eagle” was more than a step up from Lewis and Clark.  Essentially a circle of people facing inward, you would sit in the seat, legs dangling freely in the air, and the circle swings back and forth, spinning like crazy.  Brock and I arrived just in time to join the next ride.  As we approached the ride, one of the ride workers said to the other, “Yeah, I’m not sure if they’ll fit.” 

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Anxious anticipation

February 28, 2008

American automotive enthusiasts and especially Chevy enthusiasts are living exciting and anxious times.  For five years we have been without the Camaro, without Chevy Muscle.  It has been trying times.  But in recent years we have seen glimmers of hope: MUSCLE IS BACK! 

            Almost since the Camaro’s discontinuation in 2002 there has been speculation, rumors and prayers for its return.  When the Camaro was discontinued it was vastly out performing everything in its class and price range.  It was a hard loss.  

            Then Chevy lifted our spirits when they announced their intention to revive the Camaro and revealed its concept which blew everyone away.  That all seems so long ago.  We have been anxiously waiting for years.  We have seen the car and our mouths are watering, our hearts are yearning and people have begun saving for the day it arrives at the dealers.  There is even a countdown to the beginning of production of the Camaros.  As the time draws nearer the more anxious I get. 

            This whole thing reminds me of the stories I have heard about the secrecy and pride in the unveiling of the original classic cars such as when Chevy unveiled its new design and engine (the small-block that changed the world) in 1955.  It set a date, closed the curtains of the showroom and kept the cars covered until that date.  The car was highly anticipated and it proved well worth it.

            This new Camaro is now also highly anticipated and it appears it will be well worth the wait.  In the midst of the anticipation every enthusiast is scrounging for any and all information, photographs and videos of the testing models of the car.  Magazines and web sites have spies searching and chasing its development.  Citizens are reporting sightings.  And now magazines are calling for the citizens to keep their eyes pealed in search of an opportunity to photograph the Camaro (if you have the opportunity be sure to take those photos).  Some of the latest photos came when someone one the street spotted a Camaro in camouflage being transported on the back of a diesel.  It was on its way north to Alaska for cold weather testing (from what I heard).

            Recently official photos have been released (without the camouflage) to provide a better look.  It is gorgeous in white. Check out this link

            Part of the speculation surrounding the Camaro is: why is it taking so long to go into production.  Part of the answer is that it is a completely new car (unlike the new Mustang or Challenger which are built upon previously existing designs).  Also, its performance is being vigorously tested and tuned.  Also, Chevy is working to keep the Camaro in the hands the everyday people and your average car guy.  An example of this is that they are working to get a five star safety rating in  order to keep insurance costs down.

            As the wait continues we must remember that when the first Camaro came out in 1967 it was three years after most of the other muscle cars hit the streets (the 4-4-2, the GTO and the Mustang), and still was able to astonish and compete.    


Starbucks – Slowly Going The Way of The Golden Arches

February 27, 2008
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 15 years, you are undoubtedly familiar with Starbucks Coffee. Started in Seattle in 1971, this chain quickly brought huge popularity to espresso drinks. Starbucks is the primary reason for the rise of espresso in the United States.starbucks_escher-757783.jpg

Almost everyone I know visits Starbucks on a semi-regular basis. If not for the coffee and tea, then for the community. Starbucks has established a certain feel in their shops that people seem to love. There are currently over 15,000 Starbucks Coffee locations in 42 different countries. You can’t go far without running into a one. Starbucks is quickly becoming the new McDonald’s.

There are several qualities that these two mega-businesses share. Though it has seen an apparent decline with the current generation, McDonald’s is the largest fast food chain in the world. McDonald’s is everywhere. Similarly, Starbucks seems to be everywhere. There are 3 within a few miles in the city I live in, and they are currently building another. There are all sorts of cases in big cities where there is a starbucks on every block, or even more. Starbucks is huge. Up until this past Christmas season, Starbucks has never done advertising of any sort. It hasn’t been necessary. Everyone knows about Starbucks.

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An Odd Day at The Amusement Park – Part I

February 27, 2008

Once a year my Dad’s company has a company picnic. One year I had the opportunity to go. It proved to be very different than I expected it to be. Along with my family, I brought my good friend Brock. We were ready for food and fun times at a mediocre amusement park. After filling up on hot dogs and rectangular cheeseburgers we made our way towards the rides. Due to the limited amount of rides at this particular amusement park, we decided to start small and then work our way up to the bigger, more exciting rides. We began our night of amusement at “Lewis and Clark Adventures”, a simple ride where the roller cart weaves through a room full of relatively simple attractions. We were able to get on the ride very quickly because there was no line (which should have been an indication as to the degree of fun we would have) and were greeted by a woman in her late 40s who had clearly been working too long a shift and was in desperate need of a break. “You don’t want to go on this ride.” she said with a blank stare on her face. This should have been the second indication that the ride was sub-par. But we insisted that we go on it, so we took our seats in the rusting car.

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Variety Shows of Early Television

February 25, 2008

Originally posted at

Something that I regret I could not witness was the popularity and prevalence of variety shows in early television. I like whole style of the of the variety show; bringing masses of celebrities and talents to the shows and the living rooms or the viewers. Even though they were celebrities when on the variety shows they became like everyone else. They performed but it was often much more lighthearted. They had fun and enjoyed working on these shows. They would gather in sets made up like living rooms often having several of the top talents coming together for an hour of fun and entertainment.

I also like how there was indeed variety in these shows. On the shows comedians, actors and musical performers were blended making an experience unique for that episode. There were so many of these shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Danny Thomas and many more. Dean Martin may have been the king of these with the Martin and Lewis Comedy Hour, the Dean Martin Variety shoe and his celebrity roasts. Another important element of variety television was the introduction to new and arriving talent (especially in the case of the Ed Sullivan Show).

Looking at today’s television we really have nothing equal to it. The closest would be the late night shows and sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live.

Have a look and see what I mean:

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show

Phil Harris on the Dean Martin Variety Show (you might recognize him as the voice of Baloo on The Jungle Book)

Bob Dylan on the Johnny Cash Show

Louis Armstrong on the Dean Martin Variety Show

Johnathan Winters on the Dean Martin Variety Show

February 21, 2008

The other day I got to witness the birth of a newly independent nation on the other side of the Earth when Kosovo announced its independence from Serbia and the parades and celebrations of its people filled the streets. The images of the joy and celebration were especially touching. To be able to see and share in the excitement of that population’s first taste of liberty after fighting for it so long for it allowed me to live in a small way what is so deeply important to our character as a people.

Watching the news on the television and seeing the large colorful photographs on the front pages of the newspapers for the next couple of days brought hope for the young democracy moving to the brighter future they have longer for and a reminiscence of our own history fighting for what is right and free. The images brought to mind old photographs of the celebrations within this nation after fighting for what was most precious to Americans in wars such as World War I and World War II.

The images of Kosovo’s celebrating were very bright and filled with red both on television and in the headlines. The red came from the flags being waved: the flag of their providence, their new nation and of the United States. It brought me warmth and peace to see our flags being waved by the hands of those excited and newly free people. At a time when the world seems to be against America it is nice to see our flag is still cherished by those who truly love freedom and

justice, by those who fully understand

the value of it having lived without it.

The headline that was my favorite was the one announcing America’s support for the new nation proving that America remains a friend to those who value freedom and is willing to defend those friends. The day we are no longer friends to those and are unwilling to defend them is the day we cease to be America. O’ we may still be The United States of America and we may still be called “Americans” but we would no longer truly be Americans.