Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pi Day Update:

I am very happy to report that our St. James Pi Day Celebration 2014 was a wonderful success.  Our fifth graders had a blast, and everyone came through the festivities smiling. It only took me a day and a half to recover, which isn't too bad.  By the way, our math field day received excellent news coverage with many interviews on our local radio stations, Portland's K103 fm and our local KLYC am 1260 (they even sent the YamVan for the occasion).  Our McMinnville News-Register also covered the story with student interviews and pictures. I want to thank Fr. Kelly Vandehey, our principal Jeananne Bloudek, and all our St.  James School staff for their support. Also, here is a shout out to Linfield College for sending over one of their math majors as a guest emissary.  Pi Day 2014 was a big project, but it was worth the effort.  There are now 184 students and assorted teachers and parents who have experienced how much fun math can be.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday is my day!

Tonight: Portland City Grill from 5 - 8 p.m. for my birthday celebration.

Today: Pi Day Celebration at St. James with 200 lovers of math.

All in all, a pretty good day.  See you there.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pi Day is coming

It is Pi Day Eve, and St. James School has been busy preparing all the necessary supplies for our huge, blow-out Pi Day Celebration.  I was pleased to be interviewed on Portland's K103 FM this morning.  The  morning personalities have always received our Pi Day news with great enthusiasm, and we appreciate their support.  In the afternoon, I was interview by our local KLYC AM Radio.  We are getting a lot of press coverage!  We expect local newspapers and television to be with us for the celebration tomorrow.  I know it might sound strange, but I honestly believe this could be one of the largest Pi Day celebrations in our area, if not the Pacific Northwest.

Tomorrow morning, 200 fifth-graders and teachers from eight schools will be challenged to measure circumferences and diameters of all kinds of circular objects and discover that mysterious, yet beautiful number Pi. Take that excitement and add to it some math trivia questions, many mad minute multiplication throw-downs, math major activity assistants from Linfield College, some delicious (and very circular) pizza and pie for lunch, cookies for snacks, Pi Day songs - we will have a wonderful day of math and fun.

Thanks to our supporters for their contributions: both the monetary and well wishes.  I will give a follow-up report on all the day's festivities.

Happy Pi Day 2014!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

How I found the Portland City Grill and how they found me!

March 14th St. James Annual Pi Day Celebration Update - So far we have received confirmations for 175 5th-graders and 16 teachers and chaperones.  I will have a final total Tuesday or Wednesday for our huge math field day event. It's going to be a blast.

My plans are still to be at the Portland City Grill Friday, March 14th.  It is Pi Day (3.14), and Albert Einstein's birthday. But not only is it my birthday, it is also my anniversary of the opening of Portland City Grill.

The Portland City Grill opened to the public on March 19, 2002, but this was after a "soft opening" to friends and guests the week before. That's when I first came in contact with this new Portland hot spot. It really began with a surprise call that had received from the PCG office. They had been told by a business friend that I had played piano professionally in Los Angeles, and that they should consider giving me an audition.  I had heard of the new restaurant/bar (it was wildly anticipated by the city), but I had never been to the place, even when it was Atwaters in the old days. It was now under new ownership and was scheduled to open soon.

I went up to meet the managers, and I was invited to have an audition - more precisely I was asked if I would like to play ( it was one of their soft opening nights, the week of my birthday).  As I looked around, my first impression was that it was a gorgeous night club: elegant, classy, with a spectacular  view of the Portland city lights 30 floors below, and with a wonderful Yamaha grand piano surrounded by tables.  I admit that I assumed they were expecting to hear the usual society background stylings of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, etc., which actually is an era of music dear to my heart. But that evening, just before I started toward the piano to begin my "audition set," one of the managers stopped me and explained, "Now remember, we don't want any of that old music here. We want fun music, rock and roll, 60's - 70's - 80's, everything young and upbeat."  With a grin on my face, I sat down in the middle of a huge, enthusiastic crowd and let the music begin.

It was just like being in college again. The place was literally packed with thoroughly enraptured guests. The energy was high with lots of laughter and singing. It was like a continuous party; the hours just zipped by. At the end of my audition, the managers said they were pleased and gave me a choice of playing nights.  I picked 8 pm on Friday, thinking it was my one free weekend evening (working around my choir schedule).  They said that was great, and asked what other night I could play. I picked 5 pm on  Wednesday (again working around choir practice and school).  And then they asked for another!  So I went with Saturday with an 8 pm start (enough time to accommodate my 5:30 Mass).  I went up for an audition thinking that I might be able to play there once or twice a month, and I ended up playing there practically every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evening for over ten years.  I was chosen as one of several fine pianists who eventually filled out the week's house musicians. Three of our original group still entertain there weekly.

So it has been 12 years this week. I still smile on my way to play there, and I usually smile all the way home.

Happy Anniversary, Portland City Grill.  See you Friday.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Friends at Portland City Grill

My fingers are still a little sore, but only from the fantastic energy and fun we had at the piano this weekend.  Old friends (including many MelloMacs) and new friends (including Nick from Calgary) inspired so many great songs. It felt like the singing never stopped. Let's do it again soon.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Concert season is over

The Christmas concert season has gone very well. The MelloMacs entertained brilliantly at the MAC and around town. CTK Choir was superb at their Sunday hometown concert and Monday's Grotto Festival of Lights appearance. Tuesday's Ivories Holiday Bash was a sell-out sensation - we all had a great time.  The students of St. James Catholic School were wonderful in their Christmas Program.  All is well in the musical world!  Thanks to everyone who helped make it so successful a season.

Now I can settle into a little more regular schedule.  The Yamaha grand at the Portland City Grill is still a great place to enjoy songs, and I will be there one more time before Christmas (this Sunday evening), so we still have one more chance to sing Christmas songs together.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas to everyone, and I hope this new year is the best one ever for all of us.