Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Real Dead Week

So here we are, on the Monday following the end of Finals Week at Sac State. They used to call the week before Finals Week "Dead Week". It used to refer to the tradition of being a week of study prep leading up to finals, where no new material would be assigned, and everyone is pretty much floating around like zombies as they try and catch up on a semester's worth of studying that they didn't get around to doing.

But this week, this is the real "dead" week. It's pretty quiet in the music building here as all the students have gone their various ways for the holidays. Just me and a few other hapless staff members floating around. It's also a dreary day outside, as a storm front is dropping continual albeit light rain today.

I guess I'd call the mood somewhat melancholy today.

I just finished reading a booked loaned to me by my friend Cassie, entitled, "Real Men Don't Rehearse". It's written by Justin Locke, who was a bass player primarily with the Boston Pops for nearly two decades. The book is basically a series of anecdotes about the life and times of a professional orchestra musician. It's supposed to be mostly humorous in nature, and indeed it is at times, but I found it to also be somewhat inspirational. We often forget that even career professional musicians started somewhere, and often had to claw their way up to the top. Just as many of us do here at the local state college level. I guess it's just nice to know that, really, we're not that much different, that we all had humble beginnings. And of course that professional musicians who are out there making it in the 'real world' are real people too.

My favorite line in the book, and it's one of the few that resonates with me as a composer as well as a bass player, is the definition offered of the word 'atonal': "a fancy musical term that means if you play a wrong note, there's a good chance no one will notice".

Indeed. I think probably a lot of my music could probably fall into that category. Heck, a lot of life can be defined like that. We make mistakes all the time. And most of the time, chances are no one will notice. Even though we often feel like we have a bright neon sign pointing at us. But I digress.

The first three movements of my String Quartet No. 2 are essentially done. I haven't tackled the 4th movement yet. Really I just haven't had the time, nor have I found the inspiration. I'm hoping it returns soon.

Last night was the first rehearsal, for me, of Big Fish the Musical. I'll be directing the orchestra for it in January with Runaway Stage Productions. The cast has of course been working at it for several weeks now. Last night was the first "work-through", a fancy musical term meaning "we're going to try and get through it and see if we all know how and when to get on and off the stage when we're supposed to". Last night was Act I. Well, it was most of Act I anyway. Tonight we're back at it again for Act II. Well, Act II plus a wee bit of the end of Act I. I really don't have much of a role for these rehearsals, as they're just singing along with the Broadway Cast recording and acting through the material. Mostly I'm just there to observe and see how things are going, and how they're starting to come together. But it's an important first step towards the goal of putting the whole show together so it can be appreciated by a real live audience. The holidays are drawing near, so we only have a couple more nights before taking a break, but after the holidays it will be full steam ahead. So I've got lots of score study to do to be ready for the first orchestra rehearsal on January 3.

I guess, for me, it's not really a dead week after all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cocoa Time

So, here we are on December 1, and again the time has just flown by. Only two weeks till finals - can it be over so soon? This is my 33rd semester of working here at Sac State (good lord, has it been that long??). Where did this time go? Sometimes you sit back and just wonder in amazement at all that's happened and all that has passed. But I digress.

It's been cold out! We've all been waiting in California for the winter weather to arrive, mostly in hopes that the ongoing drought would be somewhat abated by, I don't know, some actual rain? Supposedly we're supposed to see some of the wet stuff in a couple of days, but we shall see what comes to pass. In any case, I'm taking advantage of the 33 degree mornings and sweltering 56 degree afternoons to catch up on all the cocoa drinking I've missed out on over the summer.

I don't drink coffee.

Every morning I drive to work up J Street, and as I pass by the Starbucks on 39th I see people frantically rushing around in an attempt to make it back to their cars before they freeze outside, or their coffee becomes cold. (Which is the worse outcome, I want to ask). It's funny, because although I've always rather liked the SMELL of coffee, I never could stand the taste. The closest I get to coffee is a mocha. And even that's rare. But I think it's a good thing, especially as I scroll through post after post on Facebook from various people who praise their undying devotion to the bitter brew. Some people really seem to think that they can't possibly function in the morning without their jolt of bitter brew. Some people are completely fanatic about this. Caffeine addiction much??

Well. Glad I have my cocoa anyway. The semester is drawing to a close, and I'm proud to report another successful year in the music writing world. Not only did the Sac State marching band do a bang up job with my Tragic Kingdom show, I delved back into the wonder world of original composition and began working on a String Quartet. Though I'd been meaning to write one for years, it's finally coming to fruition. It's already more than half done, although I admittedly only started working on it two months ago. But next spring some of it should be performed at Sac State.

So, things are going well, the kid recently turned two and is now learning to count and actually string words together to form more complete thoughts, and life marches on. Looking forward to winter break, but first we have to get through the sense of semester rush at school...bring on the madness.

And cocoa. I need more cocoa.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Connor's Growing Up

Well, we went to Hawaii this summer, and just returned a couple of weeks ago. It was my first trip there, and of course Connor's as well. It was a great time, as we spent it on the Waikiki Beach at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. While there we of course went swimming at the ocean. Connor enjoyed the water, though I think he enjoyed playing in the sand more. We also got to visit the Honolulu Zoo, which was just across the street from our hotel, as well as drive to the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, Disney's Aulani, and the Dole Plantation. And for some exercise, we even rented bikes with a toddler trailer from our hotel and took a ride around town. In-between we did a lot of walking and exploring of the Waikiki area, and of course trying out the many restaurants they have there.

All in all, it was a great trip, though I'll have to go back again when I'm not saddled with a toddler and visit the Polynesian Center and Pearl Harbor. Kind of tough to do cultural things with a baby. Especially when he starts screaming because he's tired. Like he did at the USS Arizona Memorial. Sigh. And the Polynesian Center - fun place though it's basically open from 12-5 basically, since the performers in each land have to also do the evening luau show (which we didn't attempt). You really need more time than that to fully explore the place and really try out all the cultural shows and activities they have.

Anyways, the thing we worried about most before leaving on this trip was the plane ride, since, although we bought Connor a seat so he could be in his car seat, it was still a long time to expect him to accept sitting in one place. A 90 minute delay on the trip out due to a faulty warning light didn't help either. But, really, he handled it pretty well. And having distractions such as toy cars and plenty of Pringles certainly helped!

Well, he's made another milestone since we got back. Just this week we upgraded him from a crib to a toddler bed. So now, he technically doesn't HAVE to stay in the bed once we put him down. On the first night, he actually wandered out a fell asleep just inside the bedroom door. I discovered this as I went in to check in on him and promptly ran the door into his head...ooops. But he didn't wake up! Thank goodness. At 2:40am that morning he awoke crying; I think he got scared because it was dark and he couldn't remember where he was. So I put him back in his bed and he fell asleep fairly quickly after that.

This was three nights ago. The last two nights he's actually crawled back into his bed himself after exploring; I guess he realized it's much more comfortable than the floor!

Friday, June 12, 2015


Well once again I find an eternity has passed since I've written a blog post. Not my fault! Well, actually it is. But life does tend to keep you busy, what with work and raising a kid and doing the odd musical here and there. But it's summertime here now, which means peaceful times in the Department of Music and time to catch up on a lot of things. Including writing.

I was struck today by the thought of how things change as I was driving to work up J Street. There's still the old decaying storefronts from another era: Copenhagen's, the Pfaff Sewing Machine store, and so on. And more recent changes, such as The Beat record store on 17th and J that is now a BevMo. I used to shop at that record store when I was in high school, in fact before it moved to the downtown location from 33rd and Folsom. I guess the inclusion of DVD and BluRay movies to their arsenal of products wasn't enough to save them. I think by the time Connor becomes a teenager, no one will buy CD's anymore. Why would they? They can already hear anything they want on demand with a few pushes of buttons on their smartphones or tablets or what not.

Not that I'm much different. I used to buy and collect CD's, and I still have a pretty impressive collection. But when was the last time I popped one in a player and listened? I can't even remember. Even driving in my car I hardly use the CD player. I just plug in my iPhone and play music from that.

It's a sign of the times I guess. Things change. Times move on. The "good ol' days" are gone and but a distant memory. My kid will never know the joy of searching through a used CD bin and coming across a rare gem that you've been looking for.

Well, anyways, enough nostalgia. Today is Friday, and it's the third weekend of the musical Catch Me If You Can, which I'm directing the onstage orchestra for. I say orchestra, but really it's a modified big band. The show is pretty hot, that is to say the music cooks along and brings a lot of energy to it. And tonight I'm debuting my new white tuxedo jacket, as previously I've just been wearing a tux shirt with bow tie and cummerbund. And yes, that's the right spelling of cummerbund. Who knew? Not me. I just found out this second.

Meanwhile, music writing is going well as I've completed the first part of the fall marching band show, and we've met to go over ideas for the second part just this week. I'm also writing some charts for River City High School, and just in the last week I've had my compositions start popping up for sale on martianmusic.net. A new endeavor, hopefully that will help spread my music beyond the confines of this college music department.

So things are looking up, Connor is growing up fast and developing a personality. Boy, he loves life. He's the most energetic and happy kid I've ever seen. Except of course when he doesn't get what he wants...welcome to the terrible 2's! And at only 19 months old, he's quite the overachiever! Next trip for us will be to Hawaii in July. I've never been, and of course neither has Connor, so we're all looking forward to that!

Now if I can make a point to write on this more frequently...