After turning in grades
for the Creative Nonfiction class I taught this fall, I hadn't even finished congratulating myself on the prospect of having all my days to myself again when I got an e-mail asking if I would teach another class at Lakeland College during the spring semester. Because Lakeland has been very good to me - letting me teach Creative Nonfiction twice now, and Advanced Composition once - I couldn't very well refuse them in their hour of need. So I'm signed up to teach "Introduction to Mass Media" during second semester.
The class meets three days a week, M-W-F, at 10:10 a.m. The first class gathered yesterday, and I found - after having the luxury of three hour class periods - that 55 minutes is barely enough time to get anything done. But, as I remarked in an e-mail to one of our daughters yesterday, not getting everything done on Monday gives me something to do on Wednesday, and it is always good to be prepared as you face twenty-five inquisitive minds.
I intend to work them hard enough that they'll have something to grumble about, yet their efforts will be directed at making them the "experts." By the end of the term, they'll be teaching me about the mass media. It should be fun.
Those of you who know The Middlewesterner know that Mary and I always spend a week or ten days in Cozumel each January. This year was no exception. With the exception of going to and fro, we had a wonderful time, as usual. I did a bit of scuba diving and the rest of the time worked at preparing my "Mass Media" class (see above) and enjoying the food. Mary did more scuba diving, and she saw nurse sharks for the first time, and several sea turtles. I was disappointed to find that Johnny Bravo's was closed; he served "the best beef tacos on the island," one of which was mandatory for my Cozumel trifecta. So - no Trifecta this year. Also, I was disappointed to see that La Altenita was closed for several days during our stay. Toward the end of our visit, we found the owner and arranged our traditional last night feast of tamales. La Altenita's come wrapped in banana leaves (Yucatan-style) rather than with corn husks. This year's tamales were just as tasty as last year's.
We had fifteen songs already written for Trinity's upcoming "train" album, yet Dean Schechinger - who writes the music to make my ordinary lyrics turn to magic on Trinity's albums - was a little depressed because we didn't have a "train wreck" song. You'd think there were already enough train wreck songs, but no. So, while I started writing a train wreck song here, Dean wrecked his own train, which I've tidied up, and now we have TWO train wrecks for the album. And a total of 17 songs altogether, if we include "The Nobody Dies In a Polka Polka" written by me and my guitar-pickin' friend from Ripon, Doug Burk. Both verses in "Nobody Dies" have railroad settings.
So - work on creating the lyrics and music has been coming along nicely. Dean needs to finish up melodies for three of the songs yet. I have to repair my lyrics on two of the songs so they work the same from verse to verse. Then Doc Abbick, our featured guitar player and lead singer, will do the voo-doo that he does, which is to make the songs uniquely his own. We'll start recording the album after the end of the semester, along about the beginning of summer, with the goal of releasing it - our second album! - sometime next fall. In the meantime, I have been practicingpracticingpracticing. I play my basslines against music files Dean sends me and, I must say, I am starting to sound like a bass-player. Sometimes my fingers know more than I do! If I get to sounding much better, I will want to buy the last instrument I'll ever buy, an excellent quality acoustic flat-top bass, such as a used Guild, if I can afford it, or one or other of the acoustic flat-top basses made by Martin Guitar Company and available in the middle price range. I want something that plays easier and sounds better acoustically than any of the basses I currently own. If it will be the last bass I'll ever buy, it had better be a good one, right?
On Sunday, Doug, and I recorded live versions of ten instrumental tunes we've been working on. Doug is my guitar-pickin' friend from Ripon, Wisconsin, and is the fellow who has taught me most everything I know about music, even as I have resisted. He believes that only 2% of it is talent; the other 98% comes from practice. As I say, I resisted that message, but you know what: after practicing hard, as I have been for the past six months, I am more inclined to agree with him. I am starting to sound like a bass player.
Am I having too much fun?
Say No. Say No, Tom - you just go on and have all the fun you want.