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  • October 31, 2008

    World Series Waterphone

    AEJ pointed this out to me a while back, but I hadn’t noticed it myself until this week. The World Series trophy…

    … appears to be a Waterphone.

    Now I’m crossing my fingers that somebody will perform “Turning” at the Phillies’ tickertape parade.

    3 Comments

    October 29, 2008

    I Promise I Won't Hurt You

    It’s always interesting to see what people are Googling to find my website.

    Somebody Googled “Who is John Mackey?” The answer, coincidentally, can be found another top Google search on the site today: “creepy bedrooms.” I don’t know what you’ve heard, ladies… but it’s true. ZING!

    0 Comments

    Go Bucks

    I’m back from a week of travel both local (Stephen F. Austin State University here in Texas) and far (Columbus, Ohio), and I have pictures to prove it. There were not many pictures from the SFASU trip, but I had a great time. David Campo conducted “Clocking,” and Brett Richardson conducted “Undertow.” There was even a performance of “Damn” with Christopher Ayer and the SFA Percussion Ensemble. It was a good time — and not just for the amazing white chocolate bread pudding.

    I’m originally from Columbus, and I still have friends and family there, so it’s always a real treat to get to go “home” for “work.” (My air quotes are intended to be less derisive than others.) I stayed at my mom’s house, and I got to meet her new cats.

    My first night in town, I picked up my favorite pizza in the world: Massey’s. Check out how the little pepperonis curl up into crispy grease bowls. Mmmmm.

    The reason for the visit was the performance of “Kingfishers Catch Fire” with the Ohio State University Wind Symphony, conducted by Russel Mikkelson.

    The concert also included Don Grantham’s piece, “Southern Harmony,” complete with clapping section. Also in this shot, a particularly huge contrabass clarinet, or as my friend Scott referred to it, “a stretch limo saxophone.”

    Lunch after rehearsal was this fantastic fried rice, or as some referred to it, “crack.” What is in this stuff to make it so tasty?!

    The concert was great, as they always are at OSU. After the performance, several of us went to the Rusty Bucket for drinks.

    After some warm-up cocktails, I headed to a party. The percussionists were hosting one, and they invited me, allowing me to be the party’s official Pervy Old Guy. The party was a lot of fun. This may have to go into my contract rider for future residencies: there has to be a party. Much fun was had.

    Wait — was I in Columbus or Mexico City? Oh, those crazy Buckeyes…

    The next day was the big game — Ohio State vs. Penn State. My friend (since elementary school!) Scott and I were guests of the marching band. We even got to take advantage of the band’s free food.

    The OSU Marching Band is a great band, helped in no small part by the incredible amount of support they clearly enjoy. I’ve never seen multi-million dollar facilities like this for a marching band. Here’s their video room…

    Here, the band gets notes after their rehearsal.

    There are huge video screens that show their rehearsal (as shot from high above) on a telestrator (so things can be drawn on the screen), all controlled from a computer that allows the video to be played forwards, backwards, or at any speed.

    Their facilities are part of The ‘Shoe, the football stadium on campus. Seeing facilities like these — with separate rehearsal rooms for each group in order to allow sectional rehearsals; a uniform check-out room with each uniform bar-coded; and a mini-museum of the history of the Ohio State Marching Band — I had to wonder, what on earth are the football players’ facilities like?!

    Next we went out into the stadium with the band.

    Before the game, the band played a skull session in the basketball arena. (Basically just a pep rally for about 14,000 people.) Scott and I followed right behind the band into the arena. On the way there, somebody pointed out the obvious: I’m headed for hell. (Oh, and Go Bucks.)

    We got better-than-front-row spots for the skull session: we were right on the floor of the arena. OSU coach Jim Tressel was about 10 feet from me.

    Back in the stadium, we hung out on the sidelines…

    … where we were just a few feet from some of the big-time Buckeyes.

    The attendance for the game was a record-setting 105,711 people. How, without making the stadium any larger, can there continue to be larger audiences? I’ll say one thing: from the sideline, the stadium was friggin’ loud.

    And here we go! (You know it’s game time when Baton Guy shows up.)

    And here’s Brutus Buckeye! How can we lose with Brutus cheering the team on?

    Being a night game between two top-ten teams, there was a lot of media.

    We watched the half-time show from the press box. You know that cool camera that hangs over the field and can pan around the players during plays? Here’s the guy who controls it.

    The OSU Marching Band’s show was good, and they ended with the famous Script Ohio. I insisted that as Resident Composer, I should have been allowed to dot the I, but they didn’t go for that. Even my persistent “Do You Know Who I Am?” queries did nothing to convince them.

    The game was fun, but even determination like you see in this shot couldn’t quite win it for the Bucks. (How great is this lens?!)

    It was nice to be back in Columbus. I wished the game had gone better, but it was still pretty awesome to be there as VIP guests of the band. I’ve gotten to be a guest at some other college games, but never at OSU — the team I grew up loving. Win or lose, I’ll be a Buckeye fan. In fact, I ended my visit with a Buckeye Sundae: peanut butter ice cream, topped with chocolate sprinkles (which they inexplicably called “jimmies”). Go Bucks.

    3 Comments

    October 27, 2008

    They Like Me!

    American critics seem to hate me. British critics seem to be a bit nicer. I’ll take this, from just a few days ago…

    From The Herald of the UK:

    Dynamite. Sheer dynamite from beginning to end. That was the BBC SSO’s amazing concert on Thursday night with American conductor Andrew Litton and Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear. From top to bottom it was a real, live, electrifying performance, absolutely free of artifice, unselfconscious in every respect, and delivered with a compelling mix of evident meticulous preparation and almost heady spontaneity.
    The opener, John Mackey’s breathtaking Redline Tango, was a giddy urban whirl of a piece, driven by exhilarating rhythms and high-speed flashing images such as the eye doesn’t quite catch through the window of a speeding subway.
    A stunning event.

    Star rating: *****

    1 Comment

    October 20, 2008

    But what will I drink in 1994?!

    I just read on the Associated Press that MillerCoors is no longer going to make Zima. You remember Zima — the lightly-carbonated alcopop beverage introduced in 1993. According to the Chief Marketing Officer of MillerCoors, “the decision was due to weakness in the malternative segment.”  Go figure.

    Goodbye, Zima.

    Oops — that’s Madeline Zima from The Nanny (although I thought it was Macaulay Culkin). Silly Google Image Search. Let’s try one more time.

    That’s better. Farewell, Zima. You will be missed. (Well, to the extent that I had no idea it was still in production.)

    6 Comments