Saturday, May 31, 2008


A couple of months after I bought my new car, I bought a rubber all weather cargo mat. This thing is the coolest. It fits right into the back of my car and transforms the back into a cargo hold. I could haul anything. I mainly just haul my good friend Jenny, no not Ferguson, Jenny my dog. She loves it back there. The space in the back has even been renamed "The Jenny hatch". She sits and looks out the windows as I drive all over town.

Today, Chandler, Jenny and I drove to Birmingham to spend a couple of days with friends and family. We cruised down 280 listening to good tunes and talking about random things. Suddenly, a rather pungent aroma filled the entire space inside my car. I looked at Chandler, "did you poot?"
"No," he replied.

The thought crossed our minds at the same time. We turned and looked back at Jenny. The same, goofy, innocent, cartoon-ish look stared back at us. The fetor continued to hang in the cabin of my car. I just knew the day had come. Jenny had pooped in my car. I wasn't mad, (remember all weather cargo mat) just overwhelmed with the hilarity of the situation. I found a place to pull over and do a code red poop check. All clear. False alarm. It was just a poot. A really smelly, lingering one. We breathed a sigh of relief and clean air and continued the trip, happily poop free.

Friday, May 30, 2008


I really enjoyed the movie Juno. Some say it makes light of teen pregnancy or even condones it. I disagree. They make a point to let Juno know how "stupid" she was. I thought it was great how she took her situation and made the best of it anyway. Ellen Page was outstanding in her role as Juno McGuff.

I don't understand why some people take issue with this film. Get over it. It's good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Don't Suck

I came across this website today:

So rather than spending three minutes reading my blog today, browse this one. It's an interesting idea- one that I fully agree with.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I've had Jenny now for about a year. She and I have lived in this house for about ten months. It's not the best situation for her though, due to the lack of a fenced in backyard. It's a huge backyard, but no fence. There is a very old, dilapidated shed in the way back of the back yard. In it are relics from days gone by: a door, an old trike, some furniture, an empty whiskey bottle, some kittensWHAT? Kittens? That's right. In the fall, a littler of kittens hatched in that shed. Sure, they are cute and cuddly and probably disease ridden, but they might as well be huge chunks of meat with a flashing neon sign that reads, "Jenny, come eat us!" Not to mention, I just don't like them.

I've never felt Jenny pull so hard on the leash as she did when we discovered these feral felines. Completely wild. Roughin' it. They have no home, save the temple of doom in my backyard. Animal control doesn't pick up cats, so I let them be. I decided I'd let nature take it's course. Idiot.

As time went by, I would see these kittens here and there. I saw one a few blocks down the street one day. They were surviving! How in the world!?

Flash forward another few months. I hadn't seen any kittens or cats in several weeks when one day Jenny and I are walking to the back yard. We spot in the very near distance a wild cat. Adult cat. It not only survived, but thrived. In the next few days, I saw another one in the backyard. There's nothing I could do. And, I thought, if they roughed it and made it this far in life, they can live out the rest of their days in the back yard. Idiot.

The final blow in this CATastrophe came this morning. I took Jenny out in the front yard and we walked around the side of the house. We both paused, jaws dropped. She didn't charge, I didn't charge (sometimes I chase the cats with her). We just stood in amazement and watched four tiny kittens play with each other as their parents looked on. Were we watching Discovery Channel? They were perfectly positioned, parents reclined, lazily keeping an eye on their offspring. Kittens chasing each other and climbing all over their mother. They are 100% wild.

I've checked my bible, and there is never any mention of God using a plague of cats, but this must be the next best thing. If anybody wants a kitten, I've got about four. If you can catch em' you can keep em!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Taking Requests

A friend and I have decided we want to try to work up a setlist and play in some bars around town. This is something I've always wanted to do, but haven't had the time/commitment/courage. It's better now that I've got a partner in crime (and it helps that he's a musical genius). We met tonight to begin the process of learning the songs we don't currently know and get them in shape to play in public. I learned, much to my dismay, that I've forgotten many of the songs I used to be able to play. When I lived with my parents, my guitar hung on my wall next to my bed. I didn't even have to move to access it. For the majority of the last four years, however, I haven't had the same luxury. I blame my six-stringed stagnancy on this fact.

Here's where you come in. Close your eyes, well not really because then you wouldn't be able to read what i'm writing. Just imagine, then, that you are in your favorite evening establishment for a few drinks and some good times with your friends. You get the urge to request a song from the musician(s) on stage. What do you request? (Say Free Bird, I dare you. See what happens, jerk.) Post a comment telling me the song or songs you would like to hear. This will give us a better idea of what melodious mixtures would best entice our audience. The more, the merrier.


Friday, May 23, 2008


Today is the last day of school. Do you feel it? The eager anticipation fills the air. Candy in the mouth of every kid. Parties celebrating the end of another year rage in every classroom.

It's a feeling I haven't felt in several years. In college, the year ends with exams scheduled sporadically so that students trickle out of town. Some stay for summer courses. There's no build up, no final gushing release of energy and pure joy as the last bell heralds that which every kid lives for: summer.

I now have a different perspective on this most hallowed day. Today marks the end of my first year as a teacher. I survived. Despite all the horror stories that were lovingly shared during my college years, this first year was really great. This is by no means due to anything I have done. I was completely naive coming into this year. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I could not have survived without the wonderful people that surround me daily. These people were always so willing to help me, even when I had already asked the same stupid question four times! I really do have a great family here at Drake.

However, I'm the only teacher in my field. I can have all of the friends in the world here at Drake, but none of them really know what it's like to teach music. Sadly, I had nobody here that I could turn to in that regard. Fortunately, I have a great friend back in Birmingham (he was actually my middle school choir teacher) that i was in near-constant contact with! Through encouraging and informative emails and phone calls, John helped me succeed as a music teacher this year. I also had the support of the other choral music educators in this system. It was quite an experience collaborating with them and combining the voices of our three schools.

The students got yearbooks today. I signed a few, and noticed that, in the mushy mess they write to each other, they often include something like: "Don't ever change!" Again, the human resistance to change rears it's ugly head. Imagine if we NEVER changed from the person we were in 7th grade. I shudder to think. Instead, we should be writing something like, "I can't wait to see how you change" . I am certainly grateful for the changes that have taken place in my life over the course of this first year.

(big, deep, reflective sigh of relief)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More than Once

Today I coached my father through his first iTunes download via telephone. The album he downloaded spurred the thoughts from which I now write. If you haven't gathered by now, I've become somewhat of a movie buff; whatever that really means. I'm bored, I've got extra time, and I subscribe to Netflix. Netflix is awesome by the way and I highly recommend it!

Basically, I just enjoy a well made piece of cinematic artwork. I love the respect my cousin Holly has for makers of movies. She always stays through the entire credit roll, to pay homage to those who worked so hard to bring her the two hours of entertainment she just enjoyed. I wish I could say that I do the same, but I don't. Sometimes I look for really funny names, but don't do much homage paying.

Earlier this year, the movie Once was released. It's the story of a young Irish busker (street musician), his meager quest for companionship, and desire to make and record his own music. All set to the backdrop of a dreary, yet comfy Irish town. The soundtrack is amazing. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform songs from their album The Swell Season, which was the basis for the film.

Watch the film. Listen to the music. At least give each track a thirty second iTunes preview.


P.S. Another very noteworthy male-female duet you should listen to is Sam and Ruby. Listen to the tracks on their Myspace page.

An interesting question comes to mind. Can two people be musical soul mates? I know and believe that music is capable of many powerful things. But, can a man and woman be joined by the music they make yet have no romantic connections? The Sam and Ruby show I saw two years ago at 12th and Porter in Nashville suggests otherwise. Ruby, caught up in the gravity of the moment, stopped singing in the middle of the song. The audience stood silent. It was quite moving. However, the dinner and conversation we shared with the two of them after a show in Auburn the next year suggested that they were strictly professional partners. Really listen to the music, see what you think.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Penny for your Thoughts

I just finished watching a full length feature film starring Mr. Brad Pitt. The film is called Troy and in it, Brad plays Achilles, the greatest warrior that ever lived. I think it's fair to say he was in all respects: a bad ass. This got me thinking about all of the other movies he has been in and how he is a bad ass in most of them. I thought I'd ask you, the loyal reader, in this time of political contest, to cast your vote for

You Decide 2008: Brad Pitt's Most Bad Ass Role.

To cast your vote, simply post a comment in which you have written the name of the character he plays and the name of the film. To jump start your thinker, here are a few examples:

Achilles in Troy
Rusty in the Ocean's series
Tyler Durden in Fight Club
John Smith in Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Tristan Ludlow in Legends of the Fall

Of course, you're welcome to write in your own vote. Let's not let this one go to the superdelegates people. Let your voice be heard.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Six things I loved that aren't really around anymore

1. Nickelodeon Gak
2. Muppet Weird Stuff
3. the show "You can't do that on television"
4. Original Nintendo
5. Surge Soda
6. G.I. Joes

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Grandest Summer Afloat

Scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Now, among homo sapiens, the "Cater nose" is one of the most well tuned, sensitive noses. Yeah, we smell. As previously discussed, I do not have the best memory. However, with my highly attuned olfactory system, sometimes memories from the dark, cob-web filled crevasses of my mind will flash to the forefront. A smell is the quickest way for me to remember something or someone. Every time I smell "lovespell" I immediately think of my ex-girlfriend Jessica. I probably always will.
I recently switched deodorants. Not so much the brand, but the flavor. It's Old Spice "Pure Sport". (I firmly believe this is a misnomer. If anyone has every played sports, or been around someone who just played sports, their scent is not one I wish to APPLY to my underarms.) Nevertheless, I switched to Pure Sport. I must have used this scent before, because the memories started coming during my first application. Chief among those memories was my summer spent in Nashville. That's right, my new deodorant brought back memories of my summer in Nashville. All hail the power of the Cater nose.
It was the summer of 2006. My roommate Evan and I decided to up and move to Nashville for the summer. We crammed into a basement apartment with his twin brother. We got two jobs. One- we worked on the street team for a weekly arts and entertainment publication called "the Nashville Scene". That was fun, but it's for another post. Our primary occupation that summer was banquet serving aboard the General Jackson Showboat: The Grandest Showboat Afloat!

It was unlike anything I've ever done. It was stressful, but really fun! The scent of Old Spice Pure Sport makes me think of walking down the steel ramp toward the 300 foot river boat. I'm about to begin a dinner shift. People are running around frantically setting their tables, getting the food on board. The Singers (the stars of that evening's show) are smoking outside the boat (wanted to punch them). My stomach churned with the anxiety of knowingly walking into something you have no idea how to do.
I always survived. I'd be exhausted, but I finished every shift. I even had some tip money in my pockets after some shifts! With this year ending, some people are heading in brand new directions. They are entering new environments, starting new jobs, getting married, moving, etc. It is my prayer that these people find solace in the fact that they WILL come out of this new thing with a better understanding of life than they had before. This is how we grow. Change is not a bad thing! Whether you're changing jobs or changing the scent of your deodorant, go for it. You'll be better off for it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lost- literally

I've been with them since day one. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, and the rest of the gang. I was there when the smoke monster made its first appearance. I was there when the polar bears made their debut. I was there when the "others" showed up. I cried with Michael when Walt was taken. I've seen every episode they've made. Why then, am I finding myself losing interest now? Is the very fabric of our world unraveling? According to the hit ABC show, it's not out of the picture!

Things have gotten so crazy on the Island, that I'm finding it hard to keep up. I feel like that kid that sits in the back of the classroom and slowly slips further and further into confused anger. They've been to every class, they've done all the homework, but they just can't keep up. I don't want to ruin things for anyone that may be a season or two behind, but I'll just say that things get REALLY crazy. I can't keep up with why this person is on this mission or why he doesn't trust her, etc. It's become so much more than: we're stuck on an island and we can't get off. So much more than: we're on an island with other people that we think might want to kill us. I understand that this might have been the plan all along, but wow. They are narrowing their audience with every mind-bending episode. Soon, the only people left watching will be mensa nerds and the Dyer family.

I feel like giving up. But, I will not. I'll stick this thing out until the end. Until they get off the Island, or all die, or all turn into purple sea monsters that live in the clouds. Hey, anything is possible.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Episode Two

The return from the ’95 Iron Bowl went down in my family’s history as the first ever “Keep Hope Alive”. There have since been multiple episodes by the same name, but few are as epic as the first two. What follows is the second in the series.

Keep Hope Alive: Episode Two

Setting: several years after Episode One, on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Mobile Bay.

Reid and I decided we wanted to take his little john boat across the bay to the other side. This was a small, two person boat with a dinky little outboard motor. Leaving right after lunch, we didn’t take much with us. We figured we’d only be gone a couple of hours and definitely be back for dinner. The boat and its crew of two putted across the bay, bearing straight for the land ahead. The ride was ten to fifteen minutes in length and as we neared the other side, we started looking for the best place to pull the boat up. Naturally, the closer we got to land, the shallower the water got. The tiny motor bogged down in the shallow mud and cut off. Reid went to the back of the boat in an attempt to restart the motor. He pulled the start cord and the propeller dug into the dirt, breaking the “sheer pin”. It’s a defense mechanism built into the engine. It disengages the motor from the propeller so that if the propeller gets stuck, the engine won’t grind itself until it burns up. On the downside, the propeller no longer turns. We were stranded.

We abandoned ship in the foot or two of muddy water and tied off to a nearby tree. We had no shoes on, no cell phone, no food, no sunscreen. We were two idiots stranded on the other side of Mobile Bay. Reid, a native of the land, decided we should try to walk down to Sailboat Bay, a neighborhood of condominiums that could barely be seen from our current location. And so, we walked.

Not fifteen minutes into our journey, we were confronted with our first of many adversaries: a water moccasin. To those who don’t watch Jeff Corwin on Animal Planet, a water moccasin is a poisonous snake. Our water moccasin was coiled up directly in our path like a large, poisonous pancake. Putting our heads together, we decided on the best way to slay this beast. We walked around it. This foreign and inhospitable land, however, was only getting started throwing obstacles at my cousin and I.

As the sun beat down on our unprotected skin, we continued to walk shoeless toward our destination. We came upon a span of muddy water that was probably only five feet from bank to bank, but we needed to cross it to continue; to survive. We stepped in and sank to our hips. Quick sand. Seriously. Ok, maybe its not the kind that slowly continues to pull at you until your grasping hand is the last thing swallowed, but it was close! We moved very slowly, dislodging one leg and stepping, then repeating the process. We clawed up onto the bank and caught our breath. “The Island” hadn’t claimed us yet.

Next, we entered a field of what we came to call “Bohemian knife grass”. Imagine very small bamboo, the size of pencils, cut off three inches from the ground. No shoes. No fun. We gingerly crossed the Bohemian knife grass and were amazed to see a small pink house standing alone! We rushed up to the house and knocked on the doors, the windows, the floor, the walls. Nothing. This house hasn’t been inhabited in years. Another of the Island’s cruel jokes. By now, somewhere between six and seven hours have passed. We continued to walk with cut up feet, sunburned bodies, and weary souls until we reached the end. The land stopped. What? This was supposed to connect to Sailboat Bay. Where did this International Waterway come from? We sat on the bank and weighed our options. This was a barge channel, what if the current was so strong that it swept us out to sea? What if we get tired and can’t make it all the way across? Just then, a speed boat with two occupants approached. We screamed, waived our arms, jumped up and down. The boat roared past us, our hopes died. We must swim. We walked as far as we could into the channel. Eventually, it got too deep and we started full out swimming. I’m no swimmer, I mean I CAN swim, I’m just not efficient. This was tough. Our final challenge, and we succeeded. Reid and I stumbled onto the bank near a house under construction. We zombied over to the man working on the house and asked if we could use his telephone.

“You boys just swim that channel?” he asked.

“yeah… (breathing heavily)… may we use your phone?” we said.

“There’s GATORS in that channel! You’re lucky you didn’t get eaten!” the good news fairy informed us.

We called Reid’s house and were picked up within thirty minutes. Of course, everyone was worried to death when we didn’t return for EIGHT HOURS. My parents took us to Burger King where we ate our weight in whopper. We were sunburned, our feet were cut up, our bodies exhausted, our minds completely devoid of all rational thought but one:

Keep Hope Alive.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Episode One

I’m on my way back from North Carolina where I spent the weekend attending various Graduation related events, mostly involving huge meals and lots of talking. The graduate is my cousin Reid- cum laude in Political Science from Duke University. Congratulations Reid! I would spend the next few paragraphs detailing the weekend, but I pretty much already have. We came, we ate, we talked, we watched graduation- in the rain. Instead, I have decided to begin a two part mini-series based on true events in my family. Because Reid was the focus of the weekend, I began reflecting on my life with him as a very close cousin and the stories flooded my mind. And so I begin with

Keep Hope Alive: Episode One

*Disclaimer: actual dates and times may be incorrect due to my self diagnosed amateur Alzheimer’s.

The year was 1995. Myself, my brother, my father, my uncle, and my cousin Reid were on our way back from the Iron Bowl in Auburn. All five of us crammed into my uncle’s black Pontiac Bonneville. The glow of gameday magic still radiated from our being. I was squeezed into the middle seat in the back. Actually, it probably wasn’t much of a squeeze, I was a wee little lad. Tuckered out from the day’s excitement, I dozed off as the Bonneville cruised through the night air.

When I awoke, I was cold and there was no music on. Weird. I was told that the alternator was dead and we were slowly losing battery power. This message might as well have been delivered in Klingon, because at that age I had no idea what it meant. Soon, we would have to cut the headlights! Cool! Stealth mode! Wrong. One by one we were cutting the things that relied on battery power. Finally, the Bonneville would go no further. Of course, I began to worry. We’re going to freeze to death, or worse! We had reached Harpersville, the land of my grandfather. What a perfectly ironic place to perish; the land from whence we came.

We rolled the car into the parking lot of a Jack’s restaurant. It’s late. There is nobody there. In fact, there is nobody anywhere. I’ve never felt so alone. Sure, I was with four other people, but I’ve never felt so alone! Bear in mind, no cell phones yet. Our options were to hoof it to a phone and try to call someone, to try and thumb a ride, or to spend the night in the vessel that had betrayed us and hope we don’t die.

Ahoy! People! We spotted them in a hardware store across the street. We were saved! Death’s cold hand would not grasp us this time! One brave man among us walked across the street to greet our saviors- only to find that they were mannequins. We had been “saved” by a bunch of posers!
A chill traveled up my spine as I reeled in our reaffirmed doom. In a last ditch effort to save his crew, our captain walked across another street (we were at an intersection, a very treacherous and deadly intersection) to find some glimmer of hope for communication.

What seemed like hours passed as we waited. Perhaps he had been lost in the black mist. Oh wait, nope, here he comes in the passenger seat of a green pickup truck! The driver offered to take us home, all the way home! My uncle sat up front, the rest of us sat on firewood in the back of the truck as we rode through the night toward safety, toward home. This kind man took us all the way to our doorstep, about a thirty minute trip. I’m not sure where he was headed, but his benevolence surely saved all of our lives. At the very least, his actions on that fateful night reminded us all to…

Keep Hope Alive.

Friday, May 9, 2008


My Spring Choir Concert was last night: success. I am SO extremely proud of my kids. They were very professional, and sounded great! I was completely impressed with the quality of their singing. Hopefully, I'll post some video of the concert when I get it loaded on my computer. For now, I'm in North Carolina for my cousin's graduation from Duke University. More on the Spring Concert forthcoming.

And no, I don't have to try out for American Idol. 33 people out of 54.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

There Will Be Music

Last night I watched There Will Be Blood. It was incredible. Daniel Day Lewis was amazing as oil man Daniel Plainview. I can fully see why he won best actor for his performance. However, what struck me the most was not the acting, but the music. The story takes place mostly during the turn of the century, early 1900s. Classical music during that time was in a very strange state. It was music that didn't really fit in anywhere. It wasn't pleasing to listen to and, I imagine, offered those who played it no aesthetic satisfaction. The Avant Garde movement in classical music was marked by strange techniques in composition, new and often unpalatable sounds, and an overarching sense of one-upmanship. Some composer would invent a strange technique, employ it in his compositions and gain brief fame. Other composers would scramble to outdo him by being louder, harsher, and just plain weirder! Composers of the Avant Garde were crazed by this notion. All concern for beauty and musicality were thrown out the window and replaced by obsession with these new ideas. For instance, a popular compositional technique during this time was the use of "tone clusters". The composer would notate that the players play any pitch of their choosing between a set pitch range. The result was a howling, eerie, volatile sound. It was music for music geeks (which is why the idea of it very much intrigues me), but it just wasn't pretty.

So what does all this have to do with the movie? First, I love that they chose to use classical music from the time period in which the story took place. This is a music without a home. Nobody listens to this music for enjoyment. It is studied in music history classrooms, cringed at, and then forgotten. However, it seemed very much at home as a backdrop to the oil crazed exploits of Daniel Plainview. Which leads me to the most striking reason I loved the music in this movie. It represented the main character perfectly. In a general sense, the whole idea of the Avant Garde composers clawing at each other to see who could be the best is a direct reflection of the outlandish and sometimes heinous behavior of Plainview. Each time, he would do something more shocking than the last time as long as it got him what he wanted; be it oil, or the pipeline to carry the oil. Under the microscope, the music itself is an auditory representation of the main character. The film music opens with a large tone cluster. Strings play indeterminate pitches slowly moving to a unison strain, only to reverse and widen back into the horrible howl from before. This happens multiple times in the film. The aural instability one experiences represents Daniel Plainview's own emotional odyssey. One minute, he's a smooth talking oil man convincing an entire town to drill for oil. He's in unison. The next, he's flying off the handle at a Standard oil man who barely makes a comment about his son. It was brilliance.

I don't like classical music from the early twentieth century. It isn't pleasant to hear. But this wasn't a pleasant story. It was a very real story, made only more real by the superb musical score chosen to accompany it. An unpleasant, but perfect fit.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Do you love it?

I'm at a point in my life where people ask a lot of questions. When one is nearing college commencement, the question he hears entirely too much is "What are your plans after graduation?" You then go through your memorized speech about your post college plans. I'm now about to finish my first year of teaching and there's a new question on the minds of small talkers with whom I engage in... small talkery.

The conversation always goes like this:
"Hey Dan! How are you? I haven't seen you in months!"
"I'm great! How are you? What are you doing now?"
"Just trying to finish school up!" OR "I'm a nurse at Children's Hospital." OR "Looking for a job" OR "Planning my wedding. What are you doing?"
"I teach middle school choir and music."
here it comes.....
"Do you love it?"

It never fails. They ALWAYS ask me that. Do you love it? It's not "How is that going" or "how great i'm happy for you", but Do you love it? At first, I didn't notice. Now, I've almost come to expect it.

So, I started thinking about it. Why are all these people asking me the exact same question when presented with my newfound occupation? I put myself in their shoes. I think it's because these people know me. They know how I tick. They know that yes, I do love it, and perhaps they're just double checking. I sat behind my piano today as my fourth period sang their hearts out. As I closed my eyes, I couldn't contain the huge, childlike smile on my face. Do you love it? Good, because I've always known you would.

Quote of the Day II

Me to the class: A serenade is music that is meant for evening entertainment.

Johnny: I thought serenade was that stuff you put on chicken!?

Me: that's marinade, not serenade.

but thanks for playing

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Character Profile

The Truman Show. Remember that movie? What an intriguing idea. Ever feel like you are Truman? Like your whole life is a TV show and there are millions of people watching you on their television sets at home? I feel like that all the time! Not in a selfish- everyone should be watching me because I'm so worth watching- kind of way. More so in a- did that really just happen, surely someone is filming this- kind of way.
So, throughout the film that is my life, I meet many characters. Some are extras, put there to fill time and screen space. Others play much more important roles, altering the course of my life even. And then there are those few that are cast simply to shake things up, to provide funny and interesting spice to my life. Characters like "Old Lady Witherspoon" as my brother and I came to call her. We met Old lady Witherspoon on a fishing peer in Navarre Beach, Florida. She had a mystical connection with a blind catfish. I met another of these characters today.
The setting for today's scene is the dog park at Kiesel. I take Jenny there at least twice a week, weather permitting. I wasn't feeling too well, but decided to go anyway. When we got there, I let Jenny loose and sat down next to a woman on a bench. Allow me to paint a picture of her appearance. She had long gray hair, a crochet rose in her hair, huge sunglasses, a baby-blue t-shirt with wolves on it, tight dark-blue jeans, a fanny-pack-ultimate with two (2) drink holders, black socks with kitty cat argyle, and dirty white tennis shoes. If this woman is a character in the TV show of my life, here are several of her lines (un-edited, actual things she said):

To her dog: "hey little bug, little bug.... little bug. You through with play? Through with play? Wanna go walk? walk? wanna go walk? little bug, little bug. bug. little bug."
"Did you get sand in your lungs? Did you eat some of that dirt?"
"Did you slime yourself? or did someone else slime you?"

Me: "What's your dog's name?"

Her: "Riku. it's the name of a character from Final Fantasy. I also call her termite."

Me: "..... does she... eat wood?"

Her: "wood, paper, cardboard, carpet, walls, chairs... everything but lemons!"

Me attempting a joke: "You ought to call her garbage-disposal"

Her: silence.

I sat and wondered what a day in her shoes would be like. How many times would I say little bug? What would I put in my fanny-pack ultimate? How many hours would I spend playing Final Fantasy?

I never got her name. So for now, I'll call her Mira G. Butterfield. Thanks Mira, for enriching my life. Say hello to termite for me, once would be fine.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Glory Days

This weekend marked the sixteenth annual Young Voices Festival in Auburn. This is a large choral festival that involves kids from late elementary to early high school. I took three students this year, and am hoping this number increases every year. As is tradition, the Auburn University Singers do a show for all of the kids on Friday night. My students were sitting next to me during the show. I leaned over to them and said, "after this is over, follow me backstage and we can meet some of the singers!" They were all about it. So, after the show we went backstage and met a couple AU Singers. It was middle-school awkward and very short lived. Here's the kicker: as we were leaving, one of my students implored, "Reliving the glory days, Mr. Cater?"

Friday, May 2, 2008

Deal or No Deal?

My seventh grade concert choir was a semester class this year. This means that I got new kids after Christmas. I had about 50 students in my first semester choir. When it came time for the Fall Choral Concert, only 19 showed up. Perhaps its because I'm new at this, but it kinda hurt my feelings. I thought I had made enough of a connection with these kids to make them want to attend the concert.

Christmas came around and Santa brought me a new batch of seventh grade choristers. Now you're probably saying to yourself, "why doesn't he just give them an F if they don't go to the concert?" I can't. Apparently, I'm not able to give grades for anything that takes place after 3:15.

I had to come up with something to get these kids to come to the concert. Now, don't get me wrong. There are a bunch that will come anyway because they like the class and they want to come. But, there are a handful that "have cheerleading" or "a baseball game" or really just don't care. So, I bit the bullet today. I made them a deal. We agreed that if they have 90% attendance at the Spring Choral concert this coming Thursday night, then I will try out for American Idol. Yeah, I went there. If you know me, you know I'm not too fond of American Idol. However, many of my students daily urge me to test my skill against its judges. "We would have the whole school voting for you!" they say. So, I thought, if this is what they want; they'll have to earn it. There are 54 people in this choir. 90% of 54 is 48.6, which I rounded up to 49. Thus, if there are 49 or more seventh grade concert choir members at Thursday's concert, I'm going to be looking up audition dates and locations.

I think I'm pretty safe. Although, there were some of the baseball guys second guessing that all important game. There were a few girls going up and down the row asking "Are you going? Are you going? You?" Who knows- they might just pull this one out! Stay tuned.