Welp, it’s been a summer.

I mentioned a “family health” thing a couple of posts ago. On June 17, exactly one year after we lost my mother, my mother-in-law Lauretta Beck Philhower died. She was only 71, and her loss has been a gut punch. Lauretta was a kind soul with a great laugh and a love of good music. We miss her terribly.

Then there was some reshuffling at work, and now I find myself running the assessment program for the entire institution. That’s fine. My predecessor did a bang-up job of creating mechanisms, so all I need to do for right now is top off the fluids and keep the tires inflated. This does move me into an even-larger administrative role. Be careful what you wish for, kids.

Also, I’m recovering, as the Covid finally caught me last week. Made it 2 1/2 years. Since I’m double-vaxxed and boosted, it was just a really bad cold for me. Still, 0/10, would not recommend. This meant I had to bail on playing in my first pit orchestra in nearly two decades. My guess is, the mute changes were so involved they wore me out, which weakened my immune system.

Long story short, the opera isn’t done yet. That’s OK. I have no performances scheduled. I hope to get back to work on it some this week. I can tell you that Acts I and III are finished, and if I’m being honest, the ending is beautiful – everything I would want. This is primarily due to Dave Cole’s libretto, but I’m going to allow myself a little brag and say the music is awesome as well.

The Australian performance of Triple Double had to be postponed for one month, but it happened last week. You can watch it here – it’s the second piece on the program, but do watch the whole thing, as Kara Williams and her accomplices play a variety of excellent pieces by a variety of excellent composers. This performance is easily one of the top three performances of my music in terms of quality. I was honored and humbled to sit in my living room Wednesday night and listen. My beloved, not one for effusive praise, said, “that was really good.” Check it out.

I have started opening some channels for a performance opportunity (well, the playing of a recording) that would be out of this world. More on that if it develops into something. Suffice it to say that growing up in Pinhook, Indiana (pop. 19) you don’t expect to hear your music at essentially the Antipodes of Pinhook. So once I’ve been heard in Australia, what else is there? (I’m still working on Asia, Africa, South America, and yes, even Antarctica.)

Also, I saw Antipodes of Pinhook at H.O.R.D.E. in 1996.

Thank you all for coming on this journey with me. Let’s see what’s next together.


And so here it is, December 31, 2014, approximately 8:11pm as I start writing this.

Professionally, this year was as good as I have experienced. FOUR major premieres (Minnesota Movements, the short opera Bedtime Story, Tenebrae, and the first in the Urban Legends series), more performances of Rational Exuberance, and an article on Morton Gould’s West Point Symphony accepted for publication. One of my works was selected for a performance in Plymouth, IN, and not only did Amanda and I get to attend the performance, both my parents and her parents (along with an aunt and a cousin) were able to attend as well. I go up for tenure/promotion this next academic year, and all signs point to success in that endeavor. I was able to organize my research plan and my compositional output (the aforementioned Urban Legends series), and I really feel like I am at the top of my game.

Personally, however…

The polar vortex hit on January 6. Two days later, our beloved Dachshund Julie suffered what was most likely a pretty severe stroke. The little girl held on for a couple of months, but on March 10 a decision was made and that night, with Amanda by her side, she left us. Similarly, our cranky old Hep Cat suffered kidney failure in mid-October (more on the timing of that in a moment), and – true to his spirit – left us on November 11 in the vet’s office while she was preparing to do what needed to be done. (We refer to this as Hep’s last middle finger to the world – “You can’t fire me! I quit!”) The hole in our hearts has not yet healed, nor is it likely to. Julie and Hep were family, and now our family is smaller.

The reason we had to leave town in mid-October, when Hep suffered the beginnings of his final illness, was because of another loss. Jay Flippin, the greatest total musician I have ever known, lost his battle with liver cancer on October 16. Dick Cheney still breathes air and Jay Flippin is dead – it makes you angry. Jay was and is who I want to be when I grow up. A true polymath, he spoke several languages and was as at ease discussing theology, science, and history as he was behind a piano. There are very few people for whom this is true, but in Jay’s case it is true: This world is better because Jay Flippin was in it.

My beloved wife had some health scares as well; to respect her wishes, I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say there were long stretches of existence on pins and needles. She is fine now, thankfully.

November brought a loss of a different kind; a good public servant named Jay McNamar was voted out of office and replaced with a decidedly less good public servant. Jay was (technically, as of this writing, still is) my state rep, and I’m glad he got to serve. My anger over this and other events (like Ferguson and Eric Garner) led me to say some pretty heated things, and at least three family members have severed their relationships with me. But I must and do stand behind what I say.

I didn’t blog much, but four posts seemed to resonate.
On Academia
Against Cynicism
A New Birth of Freedom
Man on the Moon

I don’t know how much more blogging I’ll do, but I don’t think I’m done yet. I have some plans to make my web presence (something I should have more of as a composer) stronger, and blogging might fit into that. I don’t want to spam everyone, though.

Also, a lot of people on Facebook want me to be Secretary of Education, so I got that going for me.

So now it’s 8:45pm CT. 3 hours and 15 minutes to go in 2014. Here’s hoping 2015 continues what 2014 started professionally, and wipes the slate clean from the personal annus horribilis. Good luck to one and all in 2015, and let’s leave everything a little better than we found it.


It’s 2013. I’m not doing resolutions per se, but I do have some goals. Here are the first three:

(1) Have one of my pieces performed in New York City. Any of the five boroughs will suffice, and it doesn’t have to be a premiere.

(2) I have acquired a nice euphonium (compensating and everything!), so I want to become a respectable jazz euphoniumist.

(3) I want to get one article from my dissertation prepped and accepted for publication. It may not actually get published this year, but it should be accepted before December 31, 2013.

How about you, readers? What’s on your plate for 2013?


I know, I know, we haven’t lived in Cincinnati for nearly four years. Still, apart from my hometown in Indiana it’s where I lived the longest, and I consider it home for now. Because of this, I stay informed on the political goings-on back in the Queen City.

Those of you who live in the new 31st Ohio House District (which includes Amberley Village, Silverton, Madisonville, Clifton, Walnut Hills, St. Bernard, Norwood and other places in central Cincinnati/Hamilton County) should vote in the Democratic Primary for Luke Brockmeier. He’s running against two old-school anti-choice “Democrats,” and he’ll be a fine representative for this district. I know Luke and I’ve worked with Luke, and I can tell you this: No one will work harder to represent all the people of the 31st District. No one.

The primary is March 6. Vote for Luke Brockmeier!


I really only have one “resolution” this year.

See that number up in the title? Not too large, not too small. It also has significance for those of us who enjoy British humor (excuse me, “humour”) and science fiction, and if you do enjoy British humor and science fiction you will know that significance.

It’s also the number of pounds I want to lose this year. Less than a pound a week. It isn’t my final weight loss goal, to be sure, but it is certainly accessible. Also, the lifestyle changes for weight loss along these lines are more likely to stick than more radical changes for greater weight loss. Finally, since it is not that high of a number, I could conceivably pass it as well.

Tomorrow I shall find a scale. (Whether or not I divulge the current number remains to be seen.) In one year’s time, I shall subtract 42 from that number and see if I made it.

Wish me luck!


On this day in 1898, the “Old Boys” of the New England Conservatory of Music, under the guidance of Conservatory Bursar Ossian E. Mills, had a meeting with the “New Boys.” Their goal – create a group that would help the men adjust to Conservatory life. (At that point at NEC, men were outnumbered by women 16-to-1.) From that meeting sprang the Sinfonia Club, which developed into the Sinfonia Fraternity of America and eventually Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc.

For 113 years now, the fraternal clasp has inspired manly musicians and musicianly men to hold to the ideals of sacrifice, secret zeal, and truth. I was initiated into the Theta Pi chapter (Morehead State University) of Phi Mu Alpha on April 20, 1991. I have made many stupid decisions in my life, but two that were incredibly smart and right: I asked my beloved Jawa Girl to marry me, and I pledged Phi Mu Alpha. The friendships and bonds that have been forged in Sinfonia are the strongest in my life.

Come brothers, hail!


Fifty-six years ago, September 4 also fell on a Sunday morning. On that particular Sunday morning, Linda Williams and Johnnie Flinn were at Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, Indiana. Linda’s uncle, H. Robert Williams, was preaching that morning.

However, the service wasn’t the only reason they were there.

Before the service, they stood up in the front of the church with two witnesses, and Uncle Bob performed the ceremony.

Happy 56th anniversary.