Sunday, November 25, 2007


As sort of predicted here, Tom Glavine has signed with "his" Atlanta Braves, a team I've, quite frankly, grown to despise over the years.

Like most of my former relationships, I would sort of like to forget the five years or so he was here never really happened.

And Tom, please don't throw a no-hitter after all those years of not doing so with the Mets.

(You know it's going to happen.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Make The World A Better Place

How, you ask? By using to check that wild email you got before sending it on to me. I've been getting a lot of these in my e-mail both privately and at my school from well-meaning folks. Please be aware that I will not think any less of you as a person if you don't check that "this really works" e-mail against the Snopes site to see if it's legit or not... everything from free meals to kids needing greeting cards to viruses to state troopers setting new speed traps... it's mostly been old, false news. We'll be throwing a link to Snopes over to the left, it's such a valuable resource. Thank you in advance.

Dear ABC,

I find your little television network harder and harder to deal with as the years go by. Back in the day, you had many of my favorite shows on. "Happy Days." "Laverne & Shirley." "Mr. T. and Tina." "Mork & Mindy." "Home Improvement."

Now, what do you give us? More crap per capita than any other network, and shows that have roughly the same effect as steroids (you know that commercial with the deflating balls? Exactly).

And now, you have screwed viewers royally (thankfully because I don't get caught up in this) with your latest "Bachelor" finale in which the guy wound up picking no one.

Wake up, ABC. Love can't be manufactured. Don't do ANY MORE "Bachelor" series. We've all had enough.

(And I hope to God that Lacey Pemberton isn't in charge of the casting any more. Get her back in her little Card Sharks dealer uniform, for goodness sake!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Paige Davis Rides Again

Great news from TLC, home of the floundering "Trading Spaces" franchise: Paige Davis is set to return as host, and many of the classic designers from the early production run like Doug Wilson and Hilda Santo-Tomas are coming back to the show too. Since we did a bunch of "TS" coverage from 2003 to 2005 around here, we can't let this great news pass without notice.

The show is also getting a new production company. Banyan Productions, who have produced the show since the first season with Paige Davis (the very first season with Alex McLeod being produced by Ross Productions), has been ousted in favor of A. Smith & Co. Productions, which is the producer of chef Gordon Ramsay's TV projects.

TLC rather short-sightedly canned Davis in January of 2005 in favor of a "hostless" format to try to set it apart from all the other home makeover shows then coming out. Besides Wilson and Santo-Tomas, Laurie Smith and Frank Bielec - two other "TS" originals - are slated to return too.

Will I be watching when Paige Davis comes back in January? You bet!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Warren Batchelder 1917-2007

I don't keep my ear to the animation grapevine as I once did, but I can't let the passing back in February of former Warner Bros. and DePatie-Freleng animator and director Warren Batchelder slip by. He died back on February 12 just a couple of months shy of his 90th birthday. He's a guy who's just got a lot of entries in my animation pages here at He was one of the undersung greats of the industry.

Born on April 18, 1917 in Los Angeles, Warren Batchelder had been hanging around Warner Bros. as an assistant, most notably with Virgil Ross, since at least the mid-1930's, but it wasn't until 1958 that he was promoted to full animator in the Robert McKimson unit. His greatest glories were ahead as he was one of the primary animators at Friz Freleng's studio for its entire history, getting hundreds of credits on Pink Panther, Inspector and Tijuana Toads cartoons and all their various TV shows.

Marvel Productions was his next stop where he was director on many of their series including "G.I. Joe" and "Jem". There was even a brief stop at Warner Bros. where he worked on episodes of "Tiny Toon Adventures" as a character layout artist. Batchelder stayed active in animation for about another decade after that, finally putting the pencils away in 2002.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NJEA Convention, Day Two

I hit the grand slam of professional development! I went to three more seminars today, maxing out my total hours of PD at the convention at 12.

First up was the husband and wife team of Rae and Debra Moses. Their topic was "Evaluating Appropriate Literature for your School Choirs", with particular emphasis on the male voice as it changes through adolescence. We sang some of Carl Fischer's newest choral arrangements, edited by Mr. Moses.

Next, after a very fast hot dog lunch, a little movement (make that a lot of movement) with John Jacobson. The energetic composer and choreographer put a room full of teachers through their paces with some of his latest songs from "John Jacobson's Music Express" magazine, published by Hal Leonard.

Finally, fiddling around with Mimi Butler, master violin teacher, with some very interesting thoughts on playing fiddle music. NOT violin music, but fiddle music. I was very interested to learn of the structure that underlies the basic form - the kickoff measures, the tune, the break (fancier version of the tune), the background (all other instruments either playing open chords or a bass line) and the tag (two bar ending played by the leader). Very interesting stuff to know!

It was one of the very few conventions where I could find six seminars that directly addressed all my classroom activities, from band, to choral, to strings. The hours are useful but each seminar gave me a few things to take back to my students. The weekend between the convention and the return to school is always one of anticipation for me as I cannot wait to get back and try out some of the new things I've learned on my classes.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hello From Atlantic City

Greetings. I am in my hotel room at one of the leading casinos (I think it's the one that has its own brand of vodka), attending the NJEA Convention. Some of these comments are going to be digested and included on my school website, but are included here for immediacy's sake.

First of all, the NJEA absolutely has to do something about seminar scheduling vis a vis nutrition acquisition. A few years ago, the NJEA elminated the sale of food in the convention hall. This is now overloading the few restaurants within walking distance of the convention center. It took me ten minutes to walk to Quizno's and another ten minutes to walk back when I realized I couldn't possibly be waited on in ten minutes. How I survived all day on a pack of Hershey's Kissables, I'll never know. We had some wonderful food in the Ocean County hospitality suite, which functioned as my dinner along with some colleagues, Bev and Gina.

I participated in three useful seminars today. First, Wilbur Wittemann, who I've never had the pleasure of playing for in spite of my fifteen years making music in Ocean County, talked about jazz pedagogy and why it's important for the jazz players of tomorrow to know about their past. He says that every jazz instrumentalist should know at least five artists on their instrument. (Those lists appear on Wittemann's website.) Wittemann told some great stories about his Lakewood Jazz Festival events, where he invites big name jazz stars (the first of whom was Dizzy Gillespie, the latest being drummer Dave Weckl) to play with the local students.

Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, appearing on behalf of Conn-Selmer, makers of many brands of band, orchestra and percussion instruments, gave a rousing lecture on how to motivate students to do their best. (Dr. Lautzenheiser is also one of the authors of Hal Leonard's "Essential Elements 2000" band method.)

My final seminar of the day was with Ed Sueta, the veteran band author and publisher, demonstrating his latest recorder book, "Be A Recorder Star". Sueta has designed a one-piece recorder make of unbreakable ABS plastic, motivational tools including books and stickers, and a carefully designed method book which makes learning the recorder a heck of a lot of fun. I know, because I learned along with about 150 other people in the lecture hall. We all got to keep our recorders, books and other paraphernalia, and some lucky audience members won alto recorders and tabletop music stands.

More convention fun tomorrow. It's pretty much bedtime now. Good night.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's Now November

A few notable things about this month: it's the month I see the least of my students in school, owing to two Thursday-Fridays off in the month and one week with shortened lessons. It's the month my father was born (November 10, 1921). It's also the penultimate month of my unexpected bachelorhood.

Right now I'm sitting in the dining room of Tracy's house waiting for her to wake up. Bad weather is forcing us to stay close to home today, really nasty winds and rain forecast. I'm listening to the XM, where their annual pop music rundown, "IT", is now in 1973 and the tune playing is "Dueling Banjos". I'm now getting the visions of Ned Beatty squealing like a pig. Regardless, here's the song in its proper context from the film "Deliverance".


Thankfully they've switched to the energetic Moody Blues tune, "I'm Just A Singer In A Rock And Roll Band". I saw the Moodies about five times. One of Nancy's favorites. They just recently played the Ritacco Center, now down to a trio with the retirement of Ray Thomas. It's still Justin Hayward, Graeme Edge and John Lodge.

Hopefully, a very quiet weekend looms.