Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back in the groove

Thursday was an important day for me. I played "house bass" at the regular jazz jam session at Proper Eats in St. Johns. This was an important gig for me, because it was my first time back onstage since my operation last November.

It was a good gig, and I did not embarrass myself too badly. My favorite pianist Ted Clifford was the host, Jack McCreary was there all night playing alto in his wonderful style, and there were a couple of young drummers and a guitarist who sat in. Christian Botto couldn't be there, unfortunately. No other bassists showed up, so I played the whole three hours, pretty much non-stop. But I did OK. I didn't raise any blisters like I thought I would. I dropped form on one song (forgot the last "A" section in an AABA tune), but recovered well enough to go on without making a trainwreck out of it. As always with Ted and Jack, there were some really great moments where it was all flowing and we hit some really unexpected cool stuff together.

I was pretty tired the next day, but I managed to arrange to show up at my day job a couple of hours late which really saved me. Now that I know I can still do it, I do plan to do more gigs in the future if I'm asked -- particularly with this group of exceptional musicians.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cutting the cord

No, I'm not talking about getting a wireless bass rig (although that's a good idea).

June sent me an article recently entitled The Plug-in Drug, which very sternly indicts TV as a negative influence in our lives. Until recently, I probably would have said, "Yeah, it's terrible, all right," and then plopped down to watch a couple more hours. But our own recent experience with TV was very enlightening.

Shortly before Christmas last year, our TV died. It made a screaming sound and the screen went black. June and I decided that rather than just throwing it away and getting a new TV, we would have it repaired. Yes, it is still possible to get a busted TV repaired. We located a local shop and left it there, with an agreement that if the repair estimate were more than $200, we would replace rather than repair.

The estimate was right around $200, but due to the holidays and a scarce part required for the repair, it would take a couple of weeks to get the TV back. We were disappointed that we would miss the Grinch, Charlie Brown, and It's a Wonderful Life, but we accepted it. Then the shop botched the repair, so it was another couple of weeks without TV.

But something interesting happened. Just before the TV died, I had set up an inexpensive -- but good quality -- sound system for June's laptop. She could sit in her recliner, plug in the sound system, and we could listen to internet radio, CDs, or downloaded MP3 files. So while the TV was absent from our living room, we listened to music, talked, read books, and soon we found that we did not miss the TV much at all. June missed watching her weekend cooking shows, and I missed a few comedy things like The Daily Show. But with each passing day, we grew more accepting of the new rhythms and ambiance of our household.

We did finally get the TV back. I hooked all the cables up and tested it, then we closed the doors on its cabinet. Most days we do not watch it at all. June still watches her weekend cooking shows (I encourage this because I'm the primary beneficiary of it!). I like to watch a movie once in a while. But the spell has been broken. We've kicked. Internet music was our methadone, I guess. We now approach the TV with some mindfulness. TV news - both national and local - is not only deceitful, but relentlessly stupid. We don't miss it at all. We get a broader idea of current events by reading multiple sources online. Even the weather reports online are at least as accurate and certainly more timely than what we got on the local news.

Of course, we also try to approach our internet use with similar mindfulness. No single source of information can give you everything.

So, our withdrawal from TV addiction was accidental, and unintended. I wish I could say that we made a conscious decision to do it, but we did not. Like junkies who washed up on a deserted beach after a shipwreck, we had no choice to but to purge the toxin from our systems. But we are much happier and, I think, healthier now.

Friday, February 08, 2008


What will you do with your spreebate? I'm talking about the "economic stimulus" checks that will be set out later in the year. The administration hopes we'll all go on a big shopping spree and keep the economy from tanking. Let's see, I could get some new Thomastik-Infeld bass strings, maybe upgrade my Sibelius notation program, get some blue suede shoes...

But mostly, I just like saying spreebate.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Paul Bass's albums are now online

I created a web page for the solo keyboard albums of Paul Bass this week. He was such a fine keyboardist and improvisor -- I want to help his music to live on to whatever extent I can.

Paul's web page is

You'll also find links to other downloads on that page.

I still have lots and lots of music to upload, I just have to get around to actually doing it!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Welcome, 2008!

Well, 2007 is finally over, and I hope my medical woes are, too. I am finally starting to regain some strength and stamina. Anyone who knows me could hardly believe the description of me as frail, but that has been as good a word as any for the past month or so.

My New Year's Resolution is to never, ever have my gall bladder removed again. I'm pretty sure I can stick to it.

I finally got fed up with the poor performance and non-existent customer service at Yahoo/Geocities, so I switched my website over to a new host, 1&1. The new homepage is:

I also got the domain which goes to the same place.

I may eventually move all my e-mail there, but for now, everything else is the same.

One fun thing about the new host is that I get a lot more space and monthly transfer allowance. I plan to post a lot of music -- both new and old -- on the website. Stay tuned!