Kansas and LSU

Upon my arrival to Lawrence, I checked into the hotel to find this gift from the band: A fruit basket and a (very, very large) sweatshirt.

I’m wearing the sweatshirt as I type this. It’s huge, and, well, I’m not the biggest guy. It reminds me of a performance I had several years ago. The (now-defunct) Eos Orchestra performed “Strange Humors” at their gala one year, and after the performance, I stood up from my table and did the “bow-and-royal-wave-to-the-crowd” thing. A woman across the table leaned towards me and said something to the effect of, “you wrote that? Your music makes you sound much taller than you are.” Ummm, thanks?

My trip to KU was part of their first annual “NeXt Festival,” a concert packed with the music of living composers, 80% of whom were in attendance. (The loser in this case: Schwantner.) Who was there? Jonathan Newman, Joel Puckett, Carter Pann, and I. It was a lot of fun, including, on the first night, with a bit-too-much drinking.

Here, left-to-right, are Jake Wallace (grad student in conducting at KU), Carter Pann, Amy Knopps (also a conducting grad student), the top of Joel’s head, Langston (a former KU student), and Maestro John Lynch.

I was getting over a cold when I arrived, and the excessive drinking on Saturday night didn’t help matters. Carter had insisted that all of the liquor would “kill the cold,” but I’m reasonably sure he was lying. The next morning, this cup of coffee was awfully appealing.

You know what’s not appealing when you’re sick and a bit hungover? Waffles and a side of shrimp cocktail. It’s no fried chicken & waffles, I tell you.

After brunch (I, for the record, only ate yogurt), we walked on the main drag of Lawrence, looking for clothes for Joel Puckett, whose luggage was lost on his flight from Baltimore. Along the way, the guys posed for their album cover.

At the dress rehearsal, Jonathan and Joel followed the score for “Turbine,” while Carter looked completely unconvinced.

It’s tough to make out the name plate on the door, but it’s “Jonathan Newman.” Newman has a rider in his contract explicitly demanding a private dressing room, a box of Cracker Jacks, and a warm coconut milk bath. That dude is a diva. I questioned the coconut milk bath demand, but I have to admit — for the concert, he was like a Scent of Hawaiian Rain.

The concert was fantastic. Holy damn that’s a great band. If you want the full break down, check out Newman’s blog. Post-concert, we went out for, yes, food and drinks. Newman agreed to some freaky beer+shot combo thing. I don’t remember what it was called — a Stout Sanchez or something like that. (I might be mixing that up with something else [NSFW].) As the beer/liquor cocktail was presented, Newman looked almost giddy in anticipation.

Chug it! Chug it! Mmm! This is super tasty!

Then again, maybe not.

Louisiana State University…
The next morning, I flew to Baton Rouge to work with the wind ensemble on both “TurbineandRedline Tango.” Rebecca Phillips, a student of Frank Wickes (to whom “Turbine” is dedicated), is writing her dissertation about me and those two pieces, and she conducted both works while I was there. Dinner on that first night was a catfish po boy. Quite tasty, especially with lots of Tabasco. (Tabasco is made in Louisiana, and it’s everywhere.)

Frank Wickes took me on the tour of Baton Rouge, including the state house. Built in the 1930’s, it was inspired by the Empire State Building.

Inside, a wall of photos included this shot of former Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis, the composer of “You Are My Sunshine.” Seriously.

We took the elevator to the top of the state house, and I took this shot from 27 floors up.

The Louisiana House of Representatives. It was election day, so it was deserted.

Rebecca’s performance of both pieces was great. Wow, that’s a good band there at LSU. Here, just after the concert, are Frank Wickes, Rebecca Phillips, and a typically-dorky-looking me. Don’t worry — I’m getting my hair fixed this week.

At the airport the next morning, I saw this sign, directing me to places to both pray and smoke.

I took the picture because I loved the little symbol for the chapel. I’m totally getting shirts made with that on the front.

Upon my return home — the flight made infinitely more pleasant by my recent discovery of Xanax — AEJ and I made one of our favorite dishes, Beef Burgundy.

And last night, I took a picture of Loki. While cleaning it up a little, Loki sat in front of the monitor. So, I give you a picture of Loki in front of a picture of Loki. Dude. Totally blows my mind.

So, great trips all around. This coming Sunday, I fly to the University of Tennessee. I’m sure that’ll be great.

Can I just say, in closing, that so far this season, “Lost” has sucked? Anybody notice that they’ve killed off one of the best characters, and besides that, nothing has happened? The Sopranos only got away with that last season because it’s been on for so long, but even with that loyalty, come on, give me something. I ended up resenting The Sopranos, and I’m growing to resent the wasted 6 hours of my life spent this season on Lost. Do the writers not realize that Kate is a lame, boring, empty character? I was a big Party of Five fan (there, I’ve said it), but Charlie — I mean Jack — isn’t the best part of the show, either. Sawyer, cool, but Sawyer is cool because he’s a cold bad-ass with a tiny soft-side — but it has to be slight. They’ve managed to turn Sawyer into a pussy. “I love you, Freckles.” Oh, gag. So, we’ve spent 6 episodes focusing on three characters, two of whom have always been lame, and now, even the third one is a drag. What’s next? Are they going to kill Locke? Go ahead. That would mean one fewer show to watch. They’re on the edge as it is.


Anonymous says

It was great having you in Baton Rouge...the never-ending 16ths in Redline sound better as a marimba part over a 2nd violin part still to this day! :)

So there must be something about LOST that draws in composers, cause I am also obsessed along with more or less every comp major I know. Where else could you get an idea for a vibraphone concerto about electromagnetism? haha...

Again, great having you in Baton Rouge!

-Nathan Langfitt

Courtney says

I gave up on Lost in the middle of last season. At least I still have Prison Break to keep me occupied!

Anonymous says

The "Stout Sanchez" in question looks to be an Irish Car Bomb, my friend:

----> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_car_bomb

Guiness + Jamison & Bailey's Irish Cream = crazy delicious

For more than you want to know:

----> http://sourcherryfarm.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=81

-- your friendly neighborhood bartender (in Ohio)

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