Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Making a List… (or, Taking It For Granite, Part 4)

As promised (or, depending upon your viewpoint, as threatened), a gentle and completely unscientific, disorderly, incomplete, stream-of-consciousness-based list of things that I’m thankful for.  Testing.  Testing.  Is this thing on?…


Family gatherings that I can look forward to.

Gainful employment.

The freedom to write essays about what I wish, about subjects I wish, when I wish to write it, and the freedom to post that writing where I like. For today, I will not fret about what online spy software is keeping track of that writing, for purposes of targeted advertising or targeted national security activities.

A niece and nephew who crack me up.

A day off (of sorts) today.

Friends who crack me up – albeit more often online than in person, but this is oft-times unavoidable.

Friends who ask me to write tunes for them.

Students who ask me great questions about the copyright implications of my writing tunes for my friends.

Technology that allows me to make believe I’ve made recordings of my tunes with professional musicians that live in a recording studio in my house. (I oughta be a sales rep for Sibelius software, I swear.)

A mother who shows no signs whatever of slowing down, and memories of a father who lots of people should wish had been their dad.

The opportunity to vote for people I want to vote for.

The opportunity to stand in a relatively short line to do so.

People who are willing to read my writing.

People who are willing to click a virtual button and thereby admit publicly that they Like my writing.

People who are willing to click another virtual button and open their online defenses, which is to say, subscribe to this blog and subject themselves directly to the rantings published herein.

A local driving range whose existence has allowed me to figure out how to hit a golf ball from one end zone to (and beyond) the other one.

A thrift store that sells working golf clubs for less money than I would spend on lunch at your average T.G.I. Applebee’s Olive Garden.

The Rachel Maddow Show audio podcast.

A sister who is more fiercely protective of her brother than her brother is sometimes; and a brother-in-law who is so not your stereotypical intolerable brother-in-law. (I could have done SO much worse in that department.)

Summer opportunities to teach alongside a number of brilliant teachers (most of them far less heralded than they ought to be).

Summer opportunities to teach alongside a number of people who regularly make me laugh in a very silly way.

Former teachers with whom I am still in contact.

Students who make me laugh unexpectedly.

A college band experience that taught me the sorts of things I needed to know in order to be successful in either of two career paths … and that introduced me to people I now call lifelong friends. Woo Minutemen.

The brief but unforgettable experience of helping to provide a college band experience for other people. Woo ‘Saders.

Friends with whom I seamlessly resume conversations after weeks, months, or years of separation.

A church choir which I can count on to produce, week after week: beautiful music … a community of caring … and belly laughs.

A church music group that has allowed me to become a slightly better than hopeless bass player.

Friends who have the ability to make me smile, buck up my courage, and feel honored to know them, just by writing a one-sentence Facebook message.

Friends whose snark has rubbed off on me just enough.

Administrators – bosses, essentially! – for whom I am inspired to work hard. (Yes, I have them.)

A working car, and a trustworthy mechanic.

A roof over my head. A dry basement under my feet. Electricity. Food (albeit slightly bachelor-y food) in the fridge. And a fridge.



Patient readers.

November 23, 2012 Posted by | arranging, band, blogging, choir, civil rights, education, Facebook, friends, golf, marching band, music, social media, teachers, technology, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sorry … Grateful

Had an interesting conversation with a colleague late last week which, predictably, got around to the subject of Thanksgiving. We are, after all, in the “final approach” to that holiday.

Being in the middle of the downward glide path into this national holiday means (and has meant, for the last few decades) that we are also staring straight down the barrel of another Holiday Shopping Season. We have now even attached a nickname to the day after Thanksgiving, which is “traditionally” the first day of the month or so in which many people (myself included) realize they should have been doing their holiday shopping some time during the previous eleven months.

I’m sorry, but to me, “Black Friday” sounds to me too much like “Black Monday”, the day in 1987 when the stock market made a kind of a collapse-y noise.

It also seems an annual tradition for one or another of the large American purveyors of foreign-made merchandise – the “box stores”, a nickname seemingly derived from the fact that after you visit them, you may experience the wish to be placed in a box – to announce their intention to start their Black Friday sales even earlier than last year, even earlier than their esteemed competitors. And this year some of those outfits will start their Black Friday sales earlier than the end of the last Thanksgiving Day pro football game. I’m no stick-in-the-mud, but I do long for those times-gone-by when a holiday was in fact a whole day. Ah well.

Be that as it may; I shall wake up at 2:30 Friday morning and roll the hell over.

I have no interest in standing in line forever, risking (lately) life and limb, to acquire goods which will be offered for even deeper discounts a week or two later.


Anyway: the aforementioned conversation.

My colleague made note of another Thanksgiving truth which appears to have held true for all these years: somehow, Thanksgiving Day in the United States has remained impervious to commercialism.

I know, I know … right off the top of my head I can think of several ways in which that seems not to be actually true:

[] At 9 AM Eastern time, there is this little event in New York City with giant balloons shaped like Bullwinkle Moose, Snoopy, and the fad cartoon character of the moment. True enough, but this event, sponsored by and named for a New York City department store, culminates in the appearance of … not a giant Turkey, or a Pilgrim and a Native American standing on a float shaking hands, but the justly-famous S. Claus. Who is many things, but “associated with Thanksgiving” is not really one of them.

[] Large men with shoulder pads who get paid to slam into each other in pursuit of an oblong leather ball that bounces in a farcical way … slam into each other in pursuit of an oblong leather ball that bounces in a farcical way. Networks pay money to broadcast these three (used to be only two) games; people pay money to see them live; ad agencies pay money to have their messages plastered all over the airwaves during the games so that people will think hard about Black Friday, and not nearly so much about Belch Thursday.

[] In order to properly celebrate this holiday, people rush the supermarkets in order to procure all the crucially important elements of a proper Feast — usually making each other crazy in the process. The holiday is Not Complete without a number of Required Elements – the food equivalent of preparing a figure-skating routine. Triple-axel? Check. Turkey-with-stuffing-and-gravy-and-cranberry-sauce? Check– no, you will NOT take that last can of green beans, that’s MINE!!

[] In order to properly celebrate this holiday, people climb into their cars and turn all the major highways into pretty quilt-like patterns of unmoving vehicles for hours at a time on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. And nowadays, that applies to the Tuesday-before, as well. Beat the rush, create a rush. At least the oil companies are happy.

So, no, this holiday isn’t impervious to commercial interests; but those commercial interests are just poachers, anyway. My colleague’s point was fairly straightforward: Christmas has Santa Claus. Easter has the Easter Bunny. Valentine’s Day? Don’t get me started. But Thanksgiving has … no particular marketable mascot, I don’t think.

On Thanksgiving, we complete the requisite craziness of preparation, and we observe both the Detroit Lions’ desperate attempts to win a Turkey Day game (sorry, fans, but they’ve lost their last eight in a row) and Willard Scott’s desperate (and failed) attempts to pronounce the name of the high school band enjoying its only national-TV appearance ever. But then we sit down – in some form and in some location that may or may not be Norman Rockwell-ian – and take at least one moment out of the year to pointedly express our gratitude for what we have.

Even if it isn’t much.

Even if our future is uncertain, unknown, or bleak.

Even if it’s the local TV news crew making video recordings of homeless people sitting at long folding tables, eating Thanksgiving dinners provided by food pantries – and I remember rather vividly one particular Thanksgiving broadcast of this sort, in which a homeless man looked straight at the camera and said, “I’m alive, and that’s something.” You think you’ve got troubles?…

Even if it’s a national TV network broadcasting greetings from US soldiers in Afghanistan or someplace where they’re equally in harm’s way, eating turkey in their mess hall and waving, via the camera, to the people they really would rather be with. You think you’ve got stress?…

It’s perhaps the one moment in American life in which people actually pause and think of something, anything, that they have, for which they are grateful.

Even in a world which can look, and feel, and be … a pretty sorry place sometimes.


Ed. Note: The next few posts will be of the grateful variety.

November 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not a Damn Thing Wrong With It

I heard some pretty good news this afternoon.

Well, what the heck, it was very good news.

I first realized what I was reading, online, when I realized that a friend’s Facebook cover photo was not merely a picture of a left hand but that the left hand in question had a wedding ring on it.

Cool! And then some. How exciting! Someone’s engaged.

After some careful reading, I realized that I knew both parties involved in the engagement. Even better.

I will admit that I haven’t known these two terribly long, at least not as Official Facebook Friends. We all were in the same college band, but I was not in the band at the same time as these two were (I’m very old; they’re not), so we only actually connected within the last couple of years. Most of those years, at least as they relate to our college band, have been chronicled to some degree in this blog space. No need to go back over that territory specifically, except to note that an awful lot of people from different band “generations” have ended up better connected … or in fact connected at all … because of the events of these past couple of years.

Therefore, I’ve stood and chatted with Friend #1; and with Friend #2 I’ve only traded Facebook and eMail messages. Friend #2 actually offered a few thoughts that helped reduce the stress of my one stressful blogging experience awhile ago, so although we’ve not ever talked face-to-face, we’s like THIS.

So. Two relatively new friends, whom I knew were an Item … are now planning to become a Legal Item. Again … cool!

This engagement thing is a big decision, as I recall. When you participate in this agreement, you commit yourself to a new joint life, to be spent primarily with one particular person. To share an awful lot of yourself and your existence with them.

Yeah, yeah: fill in your punchlines here … clearly not every wedding in the world is followed by a marriage that lasts the entire remainder of the newlyweds’ lifetime. You want to take my word on this: I am well aware.

But I do not begrudge others the opportunity to go for it.

There are people out in the world that do, though – and not because of the punchlines that you may have filled in, above. And not because of any particular bitter experience with matrimony that they may personally have had. They’ve just decided that some people really ought not enter into that dangerous, uncertain, risky behavior we have labeled “marriage”.

But, anyway, I’m thrilled to hear that Friend #1 decided to propose to Friend #2. As far as I can tell from their almost ridiculously cute Facebook posts, these two were destined for this from the get-go. Yes, all relationships do (or will) undergo trials and tribulations – after all, when two separate distinct human beings share a relationship for a long enough time, they will discover differences that will seem as important as their cute and fun and wonderful shared interests and beliefs. But Friend #1 and Friend #2 just seemed like a very logical pair.

So if they want to make a go of it, more power to them. Mazel tov, said he, in spite of his documented Methodism.

If you hadn’t guessed the Paul-Harvey-esque “rest of the story” already, … good. If you have, … then you know what I’m about to write.


Friend #1 obviously loves her friend very much. And Friend #2 … seems to love her friend just as much.


Not a damn thing wrong with it.

November 11, 2012 Posted by | friends | , , , , , , | 5 Comments