Warning! Rant in Progress

A most excellent rant from author LaMonte M. Fowler on Facebook this morning.

RantI feel the need to drop a little truth on y’all. So buckle up…I’m about to be politically incorrect.

We don’t need to take America back. No one stole it. It’s right here…you’re sitting in it. Chillax.

Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall and we’re not going to deport millions of people and break up families. If you think either one is a good idea, you’re not smart and probably not a person I want to hang out with.

We don’t live in a democracy. Technically we are a Federal Republic. But in reality we are ruled by an oligarchy. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. Reading will do you good. You probably need to do more of it.

FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC have an agenda and are not “fair and balanced” or in any way unbiased. I’ll reiterate…read more. Read newspapers (even online ones). Read lots of opinions and sources and then (stay with me here), THINK! Form your own opinion based on as many facts as your can brain can tolerate.

Speaking of facts…there actually is a difference between facts, opinions, and propaganda. You should learn the difference. (Another opportunity to show off your mad reading skills.)
Science is real. We know things because of science. Don’t be afraid of it. You have an iPhone and Facebook because of science. It’s your friend.

Global warming or “climate change” as the cool kids call it IS REAL. Anyone who tells you it’s not real is not a smart person and probably should not be dressing themselves or caring for children.

Racism exists. And you are probably a little racist and should work on that. Seriously.
American Christians are not under attack. We are not being persecuted. We wield so much power in this country that politicians pretend to be Christian just so we will vote for them. No one is trying to take your bible away from you. The gay people are not destroying our families—we don’t need any help from them, thank you. We do a fine job of that by ourselves. So stop saying we are persecuted. You sound stupid.

Poor people need help. If you’re not helping them but complaining about how the government helps them with your money you are not a nice person.

Be nice to the people who teach your children. Don’t send them nasty emails or yell at them. Their job is 10,000 times harder than your stupid job. You are not a professional educator so just shut your mouth and be thankful someone is willing to teach your offspring.

You don’t know what Common Core is. You think you do, but you don’t unless you’re a teacher. So stop complaining about math problem memes on Facebook. You can’t do the math anyway.

ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States. We do not need to rebuild our military. Our military is the strongest, scariest, most badass killing machine the world has ever seen. So stop being afraid and stop letting politicians and pundits scare you.

Guns do in fact kill people. That’s what they are designed to do. If you feel you need a gun to protect yourself in America, you are probably living in the wrong neighborhood and should move before you go out and buy a gun. There are like a billion places to live where you won’t need a gun, or even need to lock your front door.

If you do own a gun, then make sure you know how to use it really, really, really well. Seriously…get some training because you still don’t know how to record stuff with your DVR. Go to the gun range and shoot the thing a lot. Learn how to clean it properly and be able to disassemble it and reassemble it with your eyes closed. It’s a freaking gun and it deserves that level of care, proficiency and respect. And for God’s sake, keep it locked up and away from your kids.

If you are even a little bit crazy, sad, or pissed off…you shouldn’t have a gun. And the Founding Fathers would totally agree with me.

Stop being suspicious of American Muslims. I guarantee the guy sitting next to you in the cubicle at work is probably more of a threat to you than any Muslim. He has to listen to your uninformed ranting day after day and has probably already imagined very colorful and creative ways to end you.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and all the rest are ENTERTAINERS! Stop getting your opinions from them. (Here’s where that reading thing can really be an advantage.)

Stop sharing Facebook memes that tell me to share or else Jesus won’t bless me with a laundry basket full of cash. That’s not how prayer works. And I don’t want money delivered (even from God) in a laundry basket. Nobody ever washes those things out and they just keep putting nasty dirty clothes in them. Yuck!

We are the United States of America and we can afford to house every homeless veteran, feed every child, and take in every refugee and still have money left over for Starbucks and a bucket of KFC.

Unless you can trace your family line back to someone who made deerskin pants look stylish and could field dress a buffalo, you are a descendent of an immigrant. Please stop saying that immigrants are ruining our country. Such comments are like a giant verbal burrito stuffed with historical ignorance, latent racism, and xenophobia all wrapped in a fascist tortilla.

That’s all for now. I feel better.

Posted in advice, Community, Politics, Tips and Tricks | Tagged | 2 Comments

MJJO: First Gig of the New Year

Music is a gut thing. You’re working in a medium which is more in touch with
the primal than the modern. A gig is a ritual. There’s a congregation.
~ Siobhan Fahey

Ah yes, the first gig after a long break. I try to take November and December off as it is family time for my band. When we convene again, there is often personnel changes. So it was as we went into our first gig for 2016. Two subs sitting in, a new lead alto who was basically sight reading 80% of our charts, and a very loud venue. This can be very stressful.

But I didn’t let it get to me. My fav photographer was in house and taking some incredible pictures. This one came quite by accident as he went back stage to hid his gear and bags. It is my favorite picture of the set.


Look at all those dancers, I think West Side Swing Dance was in attendance too.

Posted in Big Band, Dancing, MJJO, My World | 1 Comment

Doctors, Medicine, and Health … oh no!

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. ~ Johnny Carson

I am constantly surprised to find otherwise smart people in my life who don’t have good doctors. I have two quick stories to tell to illustrate the point that you should work hard to find the best doctor you can afford.

doctorStory 1: My mom felt poorly and went to her carefully researched doctor just to find that the doctor was on sabbatical. The “replacement” doctor checked mom out and determined that she had cancer. He scheduled some follow up appointment and mom went about informing her family and friends. The test provided nothing conclusive but mom’s regular doctor returned, looked at the test results and said mom had pneumonia. After a good dose of antibiotics mom was fine and is with us 10+ years later.

Story 2: A coworker and highly respected writer, manager, and friend experienced some kind of sinusitis for all the years I knew him. He missed work, was miserable, and constantly sniffling and clearing his throat. Kleenex was on him at all times. So he finally decided that he was going to have to quit, he couldn’t concentrate on work any more. I asked him if he had the best doctor he could find and he asked, “How the Hell would you know?” I told him story 1 (above) and a year later he came back as a contractor. He was cured, totally. He had a new lease on life and went back to school just because he wanted to. Turned out he had some polyps is his nose and a better doctor correctly diagnosed and corrected the problem.

nurseMy wife (the neo-natal nurse) is a bit of a genius. She goes through life questioning everything. When I got blepharitis it caused stinging eyes, tearing, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the pain. It would happen two or three times a week. This started in my mid-fifties. My eye doctor told me what it was and recommended that I take a Qtip and scrub under my eyelashes twice a day for the rest of my life. WTH!

Suzy did some research and found out that a common remedy for this is to take a flaxseed supplement once a day. Bam! I was fixed and maybe still have an attack or two a year instead of weekly. When I told the doctor about this cure, he said, “Oh yeah, I heard about that before.” Sigh … what a pathetic excuse for a doctor.

Do yourself a favor and research your doctor using online rating services, word of mouth, and advice from professionals. Maybe, just maybe, it could save your life.

Posted in Health and wellness, Medical, My World, Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Big Band Book System ~ Take 4.5

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. ~ Paul Hawken

Books2Today I was spending another two hours putting the solo tenor book together for the new candidates for that position and discovered that I was unable to put in a full inch-thick stack of new charts that had not been filed. With 230 charts for any given year from our library (of over 5,000 charts), this has been an ongoing challenge. I have spent hours cleaning up the books for people in the sax section who just don’t take the time to keep their books up to date. Imagine a 4 hour session of pulling old charts out, adding new charts, and cleaning up the last concert-order charts.

That’s just crazy. I can’t use my favorite music stand because our book is too big, too heavy. So I am trying a new system. I updated the music master list and labeled each song as A or B.


The A book is our concert book for the year, has about 100 charts, and has maybe 95% of what we will play in any concert. The B book is that year’s library book. I am using the existing huge binder as the library book and the smaller binder as the concert binder.

imageAlso, all my charts have been placed in the binder so that they can be read without removing the music from the books. This means I DON’T have to pull charts from the book, shuffle through that stack and book if our director calls an audible during the concert, and then put the music back in the book after the concert. I have now reduced hours of filing time from my practice regiment.

Turning to the chart is my biggest challenge but after two or three concerts, I can do it almost as fast as others turn to the next chart from a stack of charts.

This solution makes it easier for me to hand my book to a sub. I can’t count how many times I’ve been handed our binder for a sub and there are three stacks to sort through if you are playing the chair:

  • The numbered stack
  • The new stack
  • The last concert stack

This *always* creates a stressful situation for the sub, the section, and the director.

Trumpets2I have never been in a band with as much music to draw from as this band. Most bands have file folders that you pull the music from and the place back in the binder. This takes more time than I’m willing to do for any of my bands. And if the director of these other bands call and audible (a chart not on the play list), it takes the band 3 to 5 minutes to pull their chart. That’s a lot of down time for a band.

It will be interesting to me to see if this system works for us. Now to setup my book with this new method. And then another hour to add the new charts to the master music list. The life of a band manager is not for the faint of heart.

Posted in Band, Band Management, Big Band, Books, Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra, MJJO, Tips and Tricks | Leave a comment

From a Soldier’s Perspective …


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12 Rules of Practice: Wynton Marsalis

Sound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Horn

Wynton Marsalis knows how to practice. As a younger man, he was equally at home in front of a symphony orchestra playing the Haydn concerto, or laying down some serious jazz with Art Blakey. Check out Wynton’s discography for more evidence of his skill and artistry. That’s what tens of thousands of hours of practice sounds like. Check out his 12 Rules of Practice after the video.

Subscribe to live concert video/audio feeds from Jazz at Lincoln Center, where you’ll hear the world’s best jazz musicians doing their thing in real time (meet the artists). On the LiveStream site you can check out other feeds, too. Knowing it’s happening live is pretty cool. Here’s a concert from Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra highlighting the music of jazz titans Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charles Mingus. Great stuff!

Here are 12 practice suggestions from Master…

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What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege

“I am white. So I have not experienced racial privilege from the “under” side firsthand. But my children (and a lot of other people I love) are not white. And so I care about privilege and what it means for racial justice in our country.”

A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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