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Showing posts from April, 2002

Bob Washut and Jazz Band One

George Clinton and P-Funk wasn't the only concert I attended last weekend. Friday night I went to see Jazz Band One, widely regarded as one of the top college jazz bands in the country. I've been going to their concerts since I came to school here, and this might have been my final one. I didn't realize it until I got there, but what was billed as a "normal" Jazz Band One concert was turned into an event called "Celebrate Washut", named for the bands director, Bob Washut. Washut came here in 1980 and by 1982 Jazz Band One had been named the top college jazz band in the nation. He is recognized as a top educator, clinician, composer, arranger...everything you would want in a person in your music program. But after 22 years he's decided to step down as director of Jazz Band One. He'll continue at the university, working with students, writing and arranging music, and directing Jazz Band Two, but now the torch has been passed to a new direct…

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic

Put a glide in your stride, a dip in your hip, and come and join me on the mothership...

I went to the George Clinton and P-Funk concert last night and was very impressed. George might be getting a little old, but he still puts on a great show and gives you your money's worth. The concert started about a half-hour after the posted time, but we ended up getting funked for over 3 hours, and I got the feeling that they went longer than they were supposed to (the lights went on and the microphones got shut off, but they performed for at least 15 minutes after that, just having a good time and shouting lyrics at the crowd). I know a thing or two about P-Funk and what their shows were like in their heyday, and I was glad to see they're still doing some of the same things - guys wearing crazy costumes (or almost no costumes at all), songs that don't seem to ever really stop (I think music stopped about 5-6 times during 3+ hours), and people coming on and off stage at almost any…

Robert Fisk

Yes, another speaker! Robert Fisk is Britain's most decorated foreign correspondent, having reported from the Middle East for 25 years. His speech was titled "911 - Ask who did it but for heaven's sake don't ask why." Fisk lives in Beirut and has interviewed Osama bin Laden 3 times. At first, Fisk's speech struck me as anti-American, but I quickly saw his point - the journalism that we're used to hearing is far from unbiased. The events of the Middle East are often heavily skewed in Israel's favor and many people are led to believe that injustices are only committed by one side, which simply isn't true. For an example of Fisk's view of the world, check out this interview of Fisk conducted shortly after September 11th. The title of his speech was very appropriate, and it made me realize that the world is an easier place if you don't ask yourself why people commit such horrible acts. But they have their reasons, and we should all ope…

Sir Ernest Shackleton

No, the university isn't bringing in Sir Ernest Shackleton to give any speeches (see previous two entries). Shackleton is best known for what I consider to be the greatest survival epic of all time. On December 5th, 1914, Shackleton and his crew of 28 men left South Georgia Island and headed for Antarctica. They would not set foot in civilization for another 497 days. Forced to sit out an Antarctic winter while stuck in the sea ice, Shackleton and his men eventually abandoned ship and pushed their lifeboats across the ice and into the water and headed for the nearest land. From Elephant Island, Shackleton and 5 of his best men took one of the boats and headed across nearly 800 miles of stormy ocean for South Georgia Island. The trip took 17 days and was followed by a grueling 36-hour march across the island to the whaling station. From there it was another three months before a ship could be secured and the weather was suitable to return to Elephant Island for the remainder…

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

My university brought in yet another fine speaker last night - General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. This one was a much bigger occasion than Greg Gumble on Thursday night, complete with valet parking, non-free tickets, and about 50 or so protesters. Protesters at this university are somewhat amusing - when it comes to campus activism, we aren't exactly Berkley, Iowa City, or Madison. The focus of the protest were the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died since the Gulf War, assumably because of the sanctions the rest of the world places on that county. I believe our sanctions are the result of a distrust of Saddam Hussein, a man we essentially chose to leave in power. If you're going to protest Schwarzkopf, I really don't think this is the right topic. I read his autobiography twice and I know how he felt about not "finishing" our military action in the Gulf War. The decision to leave Saddam in power was clearly made higher up. Oh well, I suppose some p…

Greg Gumble

Tonight I went to listen to Greg Gumble, the CBS sportscaster, give a speech about "The Spirit of Competition". He was pretty good - he balanced funny and serious stories and showed some video clips, but where he really shined was in the question and answer period. Here was my big chance to ask a question first posed by Bill Simmons, ESPN's Sports Guy in his article "Diary of a March madman:

"4 p.m. New topic: Why doesn't Clark Kellogg ever look at the camera? We can't figure it out. It's like he just saw the Blair Witch. Clark, Camera Two. Camera Two!"

Since Clark Kellogg is Greg Gumble's broadcast partner, this was my big chance to get to the bottom of this. I sent the results of my inquiry to the Sports Guy:

"In your "Diary of a March madman" you asked (at 4 pm) why Clark Kellogg never looks at the camera. Greg Gumble spoke tonight at my university, and during the Q&A time I decided to risk embarrassment by asking h…

Think before you shoot

Here's an interesting story from the Denver Post. Apparently a couple of young males thought it would be fun to go out into the street and shoot their paintball guns at people passing by. Unfortunately, one of the people they shot at was a kid (probably 15 or 16 years old) who was carrying a real handgun. He fired back, hit one of the paintballers in the head, and now their little prank has put somebody into intensive care. Just sad. You can easily find enough blame to spread it around to everybody. I'm left to wonder where the kid with the handgun developed that kind of aim...maybe he just got lucky...or unlucky...

A great day? Almost...

There are so many good things about today that could be so much better. First, it snowed this morning, but I know it will melt away within a few days. Second, it was Opening Day for the Cubs, but they lost in the bottom of the 9th. Third, the NCAA basketball tournament championship game is tonight, but Kansas didn't make it so I'm left to grab a seat on the Indiana bandwagon. I think the ramifications of April Fool's Day extends a little farther than we all might think...