2005 June at John Mackey's Blog



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  • June 17, 2005

    Goin' to Work

    Jury duty was a huge waste of time. I spent two days there and was never even called into a courtroom to be questioned for jury consideration. Granted, the last thing I wanted was to be put on a jury, but it seemed like a waste of time for most of us. The positive thing is that it appears that the court system always has people waiting around in case a trial needs to happen. So, if I ever commit some crime (and get caught), I guess I can expect a relatively speedy trial. Or at least a speedy jury selection.

    I’ve spent the rest of the week revising the “Sasparilla” parts. Rick Clary is doing the piece in a few weeks with an honor band at Bands of America, plus the distributor needs copies ASAP, so I’ve been cleaning and reprinting everything. (I’ve decided to use a distributor for this piece to help get the word out. I’ll still sell copies directly as well.)

    Last week, I wrote a blog entry about a piece by a very promising young composer, Michael Markowski. The piece I heard, “joyRIDE,” is now posted on Mike’s website. I encourage you to check it out. I wish Mike would post a PDF of the score, too!

    Tomorrow, AEJ and I are heading up to John Corigliano’s place for dinner and a little R&R. The last time we went up there, he showed us the sketches for “Circus Maximus.” Well, that, and he put me to work, helping to measure his swimming hole:

    I wonder what he has in store for us this weekend…


    June 13, 2005

    Jury Duty, part 1: It Sucks

    So, yeah, so far, jury duty sucks.

    It’s not that I had to get up at 7:30am, when I normally sleep until 9:30.

    It’s not that I had to take the subway during rush hour, when I’d normally just spend my day working at home. (I realize I’m not getting any sympathy for those two items.)

    The biggest complaint is that sure, there’s WiFi for the jurors. But it costs $8 A DAY.

    WTF?! $8 a day for WiFi — in a state courthouse? Come on. Throw us a friggin’ bone. We’re stuck here for a minimum of two days, and let’s be honest — the ambiance ain’t pretty. (I’d take a picture, but they confiscated my camera phone when I arrived.) And it’s not like I’m particularly eager for conversation with my fellow jurors as we wait endlessly in a windowless room with fake wooden wall paneling. Really, the only way I can pass the time with any sanity is if I can go online and conduct some level of business with emails and such. So I’m forced to suck it up and pay the damn $8.

    It’s super fun to be in this frame of mind and have this awful attitude before they call me in to be questioned for a potential jury. It’ll take all of my self-restraint to not use the attorney’s questions as an opportunity to bitch about the lack of WiFi — or even, say, a window. Would that qualify me for release from the jury, or would I just be held in contempt?


    June 11, 2005

    The Jury is In: "24" is a hit!

    Keeping the blog interesting for the summer — when I don’t have a whole lot to report — is going to be tricky (as evidenced by that fantastically lame and desperate entry title). I do have jury duty on Monday, and maybe there will be an interesting story to report from that experience. I doubt it, though.

    When I had jury duty several years ago, I got one of the lawyers in trouble by asking for a clarification of a law, which he started to answer — until the judge told him that it was her job to give the interpretation of the laws, not his. Needless to say, I was not selected to serve on that jury.

    I’m hoping the same thing happens this time — that I get excused without having to serve on an actual trial.

    AEJ and I finished watching season 3 of “24” on DVD last night. Totally the most dreary and bleak season of “24” ever, but still unbelievably great stuff. Season 4 may have been my favorite, largely because it didn’t include Kim Bauer (worst. character. ever. — but beware of season 1 & 2 spoilers if you click that link), but season 3 was definitely more-than-worth watching. For those who haven’t yet seen this show, take my word for it: This box set was the best DVD purchase AEJ and I have ever made — perhaps the best $120 ever spent. Ever. I would recommend the “24 Starter Set,” which contains the first two episodes of the series, but you’d end up wanting the box set anyway…

    Since I don’t have much to offer today, I refer you to the blog of Wil Wheaton. No matter how you felt about him on Star Trek: The Next Generation, there’s no denying that he’s a great writer, and keeps a dependably entertaining (and often truly moving) blog. Give it a read. Plus, if enough people follow those links, maybe Wil will follow those referrals back here and start reading my blog! Wouldn’t that be cool (but quite unrewarding for Wil)?!

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    June 6, 2005


    The Dobson Symphonic Band (of Mesa, Arizona), conducted by Jon A. Gomez, performed “Redline Tango” at Carnegie Hall last night, and I went early for their sound check and to meet the group. Not only can they all play exceptionally well (the soprano sax player was a real stand-out), but they’re an extremely nice group. I was really happy that I got a chance to hang out with them backstage for a bit before the sound check.

    Here’s a shot of Jon Gomez, warming up the group:

    And here’s a shot of the group rehearsing on stage at Carnegie:

    I apologize for the quality of the photos, but those were taken with my phone, not my real camera.

    The concert was a lot of fun, and I was happy that AEJ was sitting next to me for the performance. I traveled a whole lot this past season, almost exclusively to performances of “Redline Tango,” and AEJ has only been with me in LA for the USC performance. It’s a lot more fun hearing the piece when I can be with her, too — and it was pretty awesome sitting next to her at Carnegie Hall while Dobson shook the hall with those last few bars of the piece. (It’s a nice bonus that she is, without fail, the hottest date in any given venue.)

    The program featured the premiere of a piece by a Dobson student, Michael Markowski. (It turns out that Michael studies with Karl Schindler, a fine composer whom I met when I visited ASU.) Michael’s piece, “joyRIDE,” is sort of a hybrid of Adams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” mixed with the Beethoven “Ode to Joy.” You’re probably thinking that seems like an odd idea, but wow, this piece was fantastic. Brilliantly scored, and exciting from start to finish. Michael is going to ASU this fall to major in composition. I promise that you’ll be hearing more from this guy in the next few years. When the piece ended, AEJ and I just looked at each other with a look of “that guy just graduated from high school?!?!” I asked Michael to send me a recording of the piece. I really want to hear it again — and maybe even steal some of it.

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    June 3, 2005

    Off to the printer!

    I finished revising the parts for the orchestra version of “Redline Tango” yesterday, and I emailed the files to the printing company. I should receive the printed parts early next week. I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning up the score. I think it all looks pretty good now. I printed a copy last night so I could do one last proof, and in the few minutes that I flipped through it, I did see a couple of small corrections that I need to make today. Nothing major, but since these scores are going to Marin Alsop and Andrew Litton — both major conductors — I want everything to look perfect.

    I’ve decided to attend the Minnesota Orchestra‘s performance of “Redline Tango” in July, regardless of whether the orchestra is able to help with the finances. It’s too important of a performance to miss. That, combined with a potential trip to San Antonio to hear the Blue Devils play Redline Tango in mid-July, plus the trip to Santa Cruz for the Cabrillo performance in early August, all add up to an unusually busy summer. AEJ and I have also scheduled a short getaway to Memphis in a few weeks. That’ll be fun. I’m a big fan of BBQ

    Now that the parts and score are done, I need to start thinking about the next piece — the commission for the SEC conference. Since “Sasparilla” was the big “fun” piece, I want to do something a little less-light on the next piece. I don’t know what that is yet, but I was inspired by two pieces I heard at the CBDNA conference in February — “Symphony for Brass and Percussion” by Gunther Schuller, and “LA’I (Love Song) for orchestra without strings” by Bright Sheng. The Sheng piece had what I can only describe as “trombone screams,” and the Schuller had some of the quietest brass playing I’ve ever heard. I think if I can mix those ideas, plus feature some cool percussion writing… It’s not much, but there may be something there. Stay tuned.