• Click any photo to see larger version.
  • Links that look like this take you to bonus photos, video, and audio.
  • Small numbers in brackets indicate footnotes; click on the number to go directly to the footnote, then click again on the footnote number to go right back where you were.
  • Click on any photo to see the full-size versio

Black and White and Read Nowhere At All

A penguin, a nun, and Santa Claus walk into a bar. The bartender says "We don't serve penguins here" and Santa ... WARNING! HOLIDAY-FLAVORED JOKE HAS PASSED ITS FRESHNESS DATE AND IS NO LONGER LEGAL FOR SALE!!!

Unhappily, the statute of limitations on annual newsletters has not expired, so you're stuck with the 2004 Tolopka Tattler. Better luck next year.

Because It's There

Had we gotten our act together a little sooner, the Tattler would have opened like this: "In the freezing howl of a winter wind, Janet and I rappelled into our driveway last night".[1] And for once, we wouldn't have been stretching the truth. An ice storm rolled through Portland just after New Year's (2005), and the up-the-block neighbors threw an impromptu party. We managed to (figuratively) skate to their house, but getting back looked like a challenge. So they anchored 150 feet of rope to a tree in their front yard and we hand-over-handed it down the slope of the street to our house! Frozen Januaries are becoming an annual event; 2004 arrived with 5 days of being snowed in. Since we find it remarkably easy to amuse ourselves, we loved it - though it's a good thing it finally melted because meals were about to become quite creative.

Soothing the Savage Breast

Some people have children. We have saxophones and bands. The time commitments[2] seem remarkably similar; in addition to playing we direct, arrange music, run websites, maintain finances, and spend eleven hours a week signing autographs for adoring fans. Band trips this year included San Antonio, Dallas, and St. Paul.[3]

Click here for additional photos and video from San Antonio, St. Paul, and lots more!

Doing the Time Warp at Benton County Fair

Power Rock Without the Power Cord

The Power Pep Band hit fun new venues this season, including Portland Saturday Market. We opened the Market in March and played two other shows during the year, including a Thanksgiving weekend Christmas show that ended with our horns feeling like enormous popsicles. Our 25+ other gigs included PPB's first-ever wedding, the Benton County Fair, Evergreen (WA) Marching Band Festival, and a company picnic in Hood River. We've also become the semi-official band of Special Olympics Oregon, playing four more torch-lightings for them this year.

In October we carbo-loaded with a pancake breakfast at a trombonist's house and then played at the 21-mile station of the Portland Marathon, giving passing runners a lift.[4] At one point Steve gave a big downbeat to start a Beach Boys medley and the band belched forth its special edition of Happy Birthday to celebrate his recent birthday. Not a dry eye in the house. Listen to that very rendition right here.

Feel-good band story of the year: PPB got a call a Lincoln High School football player's dad this fall. Seems his kid had never experienced a band at their football games since the music program had been cut years back because of funding difficulties. We agreed to play - but only if they'd get some students to play with us since we want to encourage music in the schools, not replace it. The crowd gave us a wildly enthusiastic reception at the games - and better still, we understand they're forming a band and a choir as a result. Every now and then, you get one right.

The PPB Sax Section

On the streets of San Antonio
Wailing at the Mexican Market

All My Saxes Live in Texas

Several hundred members of the One More Time Around Again Marching Band traveled to San Antonio (TX) for Fiesta this spring, where we played at the El Mercado ( the Mexican Market) and marched in the Fiesta Flambeau parade. PPB took advantage of the opportunity and played twice at El Mercado. After our last performance, the Pep Band had dinner at the marketplace. Margaritas flowed freely throughout the meal, leading to the biggest restaurant bill we had ever seen on a single check. Fiesta!

Are we charming or what? Click here for video of this shot!
Reward for a job well done!

Janet's the one on the right


Congressman Wu has a run-in with Imperial Storm Troopers

Out Standing in our Field

The Get A Life Marching Band completed a Tenth Anniversary Season[5] that included a sauerkraut festival; celebrities like Scooby-Doo and Congressman David Wu; and a parade that sent us through an alfalfa field. We had another band first in Cottage Grove, where the Animal House Parade reenactment was so short we spontaneously decided to march the route a second time.

With the Animal House Deathmobile in Cottage Grove

Backyard Swing

Second Wind Jazz Ensemble held its third annual Monday Margarita Madness this summer, where we pull power cords down our driveway to run amplifiers and blenders for a neighborhood concert/dance. The event is growing; this year there were pre-concert tailgate parties in not one but two parts of the street. In a band first, we auctioned ourselves off at a charity fundraiser for Frog Pond Church[6] and raised actual cash. We've been discovering new singers in the band, so this has been the Year of New Vocal Charts. Hyperventilating, Second Wind's latest CD, is available only outside of stores and on the band's website. Let us know if you crave a copy.

Better still, listen to a few cuts from the album online.

Steve's NOT the one on the left!

My Old Kentucky Homecoming

If four bands are good, five must be better. Western Kentucky University held its second Alumni Band at Homecoming; this year we were able to attend and even managed a nostalgia-laden visit with Dr. Kent Campbell, our former WKU band director. Though Homecoming day was soggy, we managed to be under cover each time it rained.[7] But as halftime approached, the rain continued. Bad karma. And then miraculously, just before time for the band to head down from the stands, the rain stopped! Eureka!! We doffed our clear plastic rain baggies and trooped onto the field – whereupon the kitty and canine precipitation commenced.

We play the halftime show, serenading a sodden Homecoming court, and traipse back to the stands for the second half. Minutes later, the director dismisses the woodwinds so they can dry their instruments and limit rain damage. We stay with the brass. As the fourth quarter commences, the director calls it a day and sends the brass home,[8] leaving only a couple of alumni in the stands. Near the end of the game WKU mounts a drive for the end zone. We look around - only Janet and I are left. At this point, we are the WKU Marching Band. Meaningful glances are exchanged. And when a WKU player dashes into the end zone, the inaugural saxophone duet version of Stand Up and Cheer echoes through L.T. Smith Stadium. We've never had a prouder moment.


Why, Oh Why, Oh Why-O?

As an appointed member of the Special Commission to Circumvent Election Shenanigans in Midwestern States with Round Ends and High Middles,[9] Janet made 4 trips to Ohio during 2004, taking advantage of the trips to visit family in Dayton and Cincinnati. Thanks to airline pricing vagaries, she also became familiar with the Columbus airport and the 80-minute drive to Dayton. On one visit, it snowed the night before her return, covering her rental car. Since she'd neglected to purchase implements-you'd-expect-to-find-in-the-car coverage, she had to dig out the windshield with her steensy little bare hands–brrr!

Round Yon Virgins

Janet's work with SCCESMSREHM went so well that we decided to get out of town before the authorities caught up with us, so we finished the year with a cruise through the Virgin Islands (a small part of why this letter is sooo late). Actually, Janet asked her boss for vacation time at Christmas and her boss said we should go on a cruise - so we did.[10] If you're looking for a great small ship cruise experience, check out Clipper Cruise Line (or parent company Intrav) - highly recommended. We snorkeled every day and sometimes twice; ocean wildlife highlights included a barracuda, a hawksbill turtle, and a spotted eagle ray.[11] We hiked Sage Mtn. (the highest point in the British Virgin Islands),[12] marveled at 40-foot granite boulders littering The Baths on Virgin Gorda, and limboed at a beach bar.


A small improvement over Portland winter

Being on vacation didn't excuse us from musical responsibilities. Following a lovely Christmas Eve dinner aboard ship, we headed up to the main lounge to hang out. A few passengers and the captain had gathered at the piano to sing carols - but lacked a pianist. We demurred (we don't actually play piano), but it turned out we were as close as they could get. So we ended up with Janet playing right hand, Steve sorta playing left hand, and a lovely Christmas memory.

The Baths on Virgin Gorda

Takin' Care of Business

We still hold respectable jobs at Intel & Metro as a way to support our music habit.[13] Steve pinch-hit as director of a 25-person lab for half the year, but succeeded in reclaiming a senior principal engineer role again at year end.[14] Besides driving several technical agendas, he's still the organization's diversity champion and is now Intel's representative to the Industry Alliance of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Through no fault of his own, he got to meet Frank Abagnale (Catch Me If You Can) at a conference this year. Janet's promotion to Senior Management Analyst at Metro came through as presaged in the 2003 Tattler, so she is now fully qualified to analyze senior managers; her preferred analysis technique is below right.

Frank Abagnale, Mr. "Catch Me If You Can"
... and workin' overtime!

Old age & treachery triumph over youth and skill

Put Me In, Coach

A dominating record of 5 wins, 5 losses, and 2 ties put Who's on First into the softball playoffs this year, apparently because everyone who finished above us was unable to play. One more loss was sufficient to claim third place and a big honkin' trophy.[15]

Left As an Exercise to the Reader

To soak up our few unclaimed leisure nanoseconds, we joined the health club down the street last February. The package included some sessions with a personal trainer, and Janet has continued to work with her "personal torturer". He's really a nice person, but "some of those exercises are not easy – especially if you're a wimp." Steve dropped over 30 lbs and (according to Janet) looks great.[16] Janet hasn't lost an ounce and looks the same – she chooses to believe that she has added muscle since she had none to start with (see prior wimp comment).

The gym thing also supplied our Halloween costumes this year. Steve went in gym clothes carrying hand weights with nuclear symbols; Janet went as U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix (photo), searching for "weapons of mass reduction".

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Is that dancing in the streets and wild celebration since we're nearing the end of this year's edition? Well, maybe it's just the ringing in our ears from all those years of playing in the band, but we'll take the hint. Have a great President's Day and stay healthy and happy through the rest of 2005.

With love,

Steve & Janet


We're outa here!

[1] A great entry for this year's Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest!

[2] And whining quotients!

[3] Okay, Dallas and St. Paul are right here in Oregon, but we really did go to San Antonio, Texas!

[4] Of course, it's possible they were simply fleeing the sound.

[5] Motto: "Still Eating After All These Years".

[6] Motto: "Hey, it's better than locusts."

[7] We stuck the college kids in the rain. Age breeds cunning!

[8] Kids these days are such wimps! :-)

[9] Motto: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

[10] We're not making this part up!

[11] Wanna see a spotted eagle ray? Go rent Finding Nemo and check out the schoolteacher near the beginning of the flick.

[12] Okay, it's only 1716 feet - but it's still the highest!

[13] Janet says she goes to work to get some rest from all our extracurricular activities.

[14] But not soon enough to avoid having to write 7 performance reviews - another reason for our journalistic tardiness.

[15] Honestly, you should hear it beeping!

[16] Janet thought he was pretty hunky before, but for a completely different reason.