Martin’s Top 100 Moments of 2012

January 3, 2013 Uncategorized Leave a comment

Wow, it must have taken some cajones to put him on the cover of anything.

Here’s a tradition carried over from my old blog. At the end of the year, I make a list of the top moments in my life for that year. The list is not about my favorite moments, nor my best moments. These are the top moments, the “Hitler as Man of the Year 1939″ moments, the ones that changed me, moved me, taught me, inspired me, humiliated me.

These are mistakes, triumphs, failures, wild successes. Some are comprehensible by anyone, others belong only to me. They are not listed in any particular order, only the one in which I think of them. Listing them, the good and the bad, is my way of saying “thank you” to a Universe who gave me another adventurous.

If I left out a moment you think should be here, don’t be upset. Exact your revenge by leaving a comment!

  1. Finally meeting Max Morath in person in Columbia, MO and going to lunch with three generations of ragtime pianists.
  2. Savoring a cup of “No Chewing Allowed” hot chocolate with Jess in Bryant Park (it was $6 for a dixie cup of the stuff and oh so worth it).
  3. That moment when I learned that the phrase “meet me at the Yoda fountain” included having to find an actual statue of Yoda in a fountain.
  4. Sitting with Bryan, Yuko, and Bill for two hours at a Japanese restaurant in Sedalia, MO trying to come up with rhyming quadruplets to use in our big show on Saturday afternoon, and then finally roasting our ragtime friends at the John Stark Pavilion on the final Saturday of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. “Who does it with your pet…”
  5. Filming the map sequence from the latest episode of “Mark v. Universe,” where we did 10 takes of Mark fake running while his friends threw leaves at him.
  6. My catastrophic performance in the cruise ship’s “shake your ass” dance competition, of which I am grateful no photographic evidence exists.
  7. The time I was holding baby Ava and she tried to breastfeed off of me because she mistook my moob for a boob.
  8. Chowing down on a cheeseburger with friends Adam and Jess at Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern and picturing Bill Murray behind the counter.
  9. My first, second, and five hundredth glimpse at the Star Wars:Hunt for the Holocronaction figures made by my friend Daniel Harp.
  10. Polishing a bottle of Maker’s Mark and laughing my guts out with Sonny, Brian, and Jeff in Mississippi during the Templeton Ragtime Festival.
  11. Accidentally interrupting an NAACP meeting in rural Mississippi while wearing my absolutely most metrosexual shirt (thanks, Jeff).
  12. Brewery tour of Brooklyn Brewery and getting trashed on great beer before noon.
  13. Throwing my golf club after a particularly frustrating round of golf, trying to quit the tournament, and finally turning it around the next day to win the team tournament.
  14. Riding the Coney Island Cyclone for the first time. It ripped me a new one and I’ve never been so happy to be ravaged.
  15. Walking the silent halls of Ellis Island and trying to imagine the place as a cacophony of hopeful, hungry people all very unsure about where the currents of life would deposit them.
  16. The ghost tour in Annapolis where the very first ghost story the guide told was about a ghost who haunts unfaithful couples and asks for “Martin.” Ugh.
  17. Making sweet Victorian love at the Chalfonte Hotel.
  18. Seeing “Million Dollar Quartet” in Chicago and having my socks rocked by just how great the musicians in the show were. I’ve never wanted to play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis more than I did that night.
  19. Flashing my Yoda poster out the office window at Stormtroopers in the Old Town St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
  20. Two epic piano fails: bombing my big concert in Mississippi and forgetting how to play my own composition in Sacramento (the first time I ever started a piece over in front of an audience… ugh).
  21. Touring the house from A Christmas Story with Jess and fulfilling the dream of any civilized person by posing for a picture with the Leg Lamp.
  22. Having my golf buddies sing “Martin do you remember…” to me after I drank an entire bottle of Old Forester the night prior (and no, I didn’t remember any of the things they said I did.)
  23. The team golf tournament, where Chris and I competed for best team player. We could call in Mat or Mark to help for one shot. For me, their help was devastatingly effective, but the pressure was intense, which led to: Mat, to Mark, after Mark blows a drive for Chris: “Redeem yourself.”  Mark, to Mat, after Mat blows a long iron for Chris: “Redeem yourself.”  Chris, after calling for help on his third shot: “For the love of God, somebody redeem themselves.”
  24. Margaret giving me a Christmas gift, and in the process accidentally dumping an entire glass of iced tea down my crotch.
  25. The wild horses galloping by our tent in the moonlit morning at Assateague National Park.
  26. This phone call: “Martin, this is Chris from the Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill. Happy birthday! Just wanted to let you know how excited we are to debut your movie.” (this is how I found out that my birthday gift from Mat, Margaret, and Mark was (known collectively as “The Halo”) was the gift of a movie premiere for the little Star Wars movie I’ve been working on for years. The premiere is April 20th, 2013). This led to…
  27. Rolling camera again on the film project that I’ve worked at for 10 years, making two trips to Houston, TX and spending hours with my friends gathering footage of Dan’s amazing models in our quest to finally finish Hunt for the Holocron, which included…
  28. Jeffrey mounting the camera to a bicycle to construct a makeshift camera dolly, reminding me how blessed I am by friends who say “Why not?” instead of “Why?”;
  29. Vicky ironing the giant fabric greenscreen against which we were shooting the models;
  30. And Emily force-feeding me Chick-fil-A and making sure I didn’t pass out from heat exhaustion.
  31. Getting lost with Jess in the woods by Clopper Lake.
  32. Max Keenlyside’s concert for the Northern Virginia Ragtime Society, in which he played both a piece I wrote and a piece he wrote for me.
  33. The crummy day made the best one by Brian Holland, who called me from the recording studio in Nashville after he and Danny Coots had recorded my “Seagull Shuffle” for their new album. Incredible.
  34. Winning the bowling championship with my bowling team, Livin’ on a Spare.
  35. Smoking cigars and drinking single-malt scotch with Tooch, Scotes, and Jess on our birthday cruise in June.
  36. The moment where I almost gave up and slept in the car when the temperature hit 27 degrees while we were camping at Shenandoah. I may never feel warm again.
  37. Performing my “Melody for a New Life” at the baptism of my goddaughter, Olivia, followed by drinking Adam Litke out of all of his “RyePA” at the baptism party.
  38. Finding our rabbits’ new den… in the box spring of our queen bed, inspiring a future rag called “Bunnies in the Box Spring.”
  39. My impromptu singing lesson from Jeff Barnhart at Chip’s house in Mississippi.
  40. Sitting with my oldest friends in a cramped car until 3 AM watching the first rough cut of my film in years.
  41. The moment Jeff Barnhart turned to me and said, “I had a great time this weekend; you being here was a big part of that.”
  42. Jessie’s hilarious private dance routine after we watched “Hugo” together.
  43. Getting promoted, demoted, and promoted again in the span of three months.
  44. Spending the day after my 30th birthday in the hospital with chest pains. Seriously? The day immediately after?
  45. Playing a duet with Marit Johnson in Columbia, MO. Marit was one of the first ragtimers my own age I ever met (in 1999).
  46. Climbing Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, swimming with dolphins in Grand Cayman, and riding a bobsled roller coaster through the rainforest in Jamaica.
  47. Staring up at Niagara Falls from the Maid of the Mist.
  48. Climbing the stairs to the Cave of the Winds and getting more wet than I can remember being.
  49. Tart gin coolers and the world’s greatest Bloody Mary on a bar tour of Key West with old friends.
  50. Losing the title of “World Champion of Old-time Piano Playing” at the contest in May and finding a program with my name on it in the trash.
  51. Celebrating my mother’s marriage to a fantastic man in September.
  52. Climbing (and hunting from) a treestand for the first time with my brother and father. It was so serene, so quiet — the whole day felt like it moved with the wind.
  53. The moment in December when this line from a poem I wrote in 2006 finally made sense: I know the inevitability of coffee tables/and the books that are sent there to die.I know what it is to be caught by sunsets and snowdrifts,/Ugandans and shiny pumpernickel,/and still seek the caption/that proves the story of my life/was really about someone else.
  54. Performing my composition “The Elliott Special” for the Elliotts in Sedalia at the Maple Leaf Site, and finally getting to taste an Elliott Special (it’s an amazing, old-school cocktail) at the after hours.
  55. Finally seeing “The Hobbit,” a film I’ve anticipated for 9 years, and watching the rock giants battle to the death.
  56. Listening to Keenlyside’s “The Facemelter” for the first time and realizing that I really had achieved my dream of inspiring someone with my music.
  57. Receiving the devastating and accurate Letter from a Friend.
  58. The adult horse’s first entrance in War Horse and forgetting, for the remainder of the show, that it was a wooden puppet.
  59. Finding this amazing website and devouring all of the artist’s creations in a single sitting: (#50 is my favorite)
  60. Going bowling with Brian, Bryan, Max, Will, and Bill in Sedalia, MO. It was our first non-ragtime event together, and it was absolutely hilarious to see some of the finest pianists in the land – men who eat the ivories for breakfast – bowl like disfigured cockatiels.
  61. Jamming with ragtime pater familias Mike Schwimmer on Eubie Blake’s “Baltimore Todolo.”
  62. Playing charades with Mark, Mat, and Chris up at the Chautauqua house. Chris: <acting out Webster’s Dictionary, miming opening a book and examining it as a reference material> Martin: He’s a scientist, he’s a researcher, he’s looking in a book, he’s looking in an old book, he’s looking in an ancient book, it’s an ancient book of spells! Mark: HE’S A WIZARD!
  63. Watching “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and enjoying all of the Pittsburgh sights (not to mention crunching on delicious, delicious teen angst).
  64. Claiming victory not once but twice in our annual Risk tournament. The Sparrow Rises!
  65. Trying to pull down the horse saddle from the wall at New Years so I could ride Tooch, an impressive feat of drunken laddering.
  66. Seeing George Lucas in the flesh at the LDAC in San Francisco during my Lucasfilm tour.
  67. Realizing there would be another Star Wars movie in my lifetime thanks to the Lucasfilm/Disney merger.
  68. Directing my brother in a corporate video shoot for the FDA, and directing Carrie Compere in the same shoot, especially her alternate “ghetto” take on the very technical dialog which continues to crack me up to this day.
  69. Receiving the Christmas wreath from Emily, bedecked as it was in music and little books for my two great passions.
  70. A round of horseshoes with the boys at SSCC – a glass of scotch in one hand, a horseshoe in the other – followed by a twilight walk in the woods.
  71. Gnoshing on cheese fondue at Kashkaval in NYC.
  72. Finding out that the first of my very close friends had become a first-time father.
  73. The train ride between Sacramento and San Francisco through mountain, valley, and stream.
  74. Having TJ, my new boss, tell me I was a “valuable member of [his] team.”
  75. The Oreo milkshake at Boxcar Barney’s and the cone of kings at Twist ‘o the Mist.
  76. My epic dice rolling that won my friends $850 at Craps (I think I won $30).
  77. Performing at Walter Reed Medical Center as part of their Stages of Healing program.
  78. Meeting Dave Jasen after years of admiring (and devouring) his scholarly works on ragtime. It was a great honor of my musical life to have him say, “I hate you!” when he heard me play.
  79. Spending our wedding anniversary (June 28) moving out of our old apartment of five years during one of the hottest weeks on record (the average high from June 28 through July 8, 2012 was an astounding 99.5 degrees), only to have that disgusting day become an amazing one when our maid of honor and best man surprised us with a romantic dinner at her place. As one person said on Facebook, “You two live your lives in Technicolor.”
  80. The moment when I realized my second album, “Handful of Keys,” had done more sales in 6 months than my first CD had done in 4 years.
  81. Drilling into aluminum with Dan and Bill to build a proper dolly for the second model shoot in TX.
  82. Max Morath saying, “Call me Max, for God’s sake,” when I tried to call him “Mr. Morath.”
  83. Trying to hook Tooch up with the guitar player on the cruise ship, proving once again that while I am a talented pilot, I am a horrible wing man.
  84. Soul food at Yats with McNally.
  85. The Haiku Tsunami of 2012,which resulted in gems such as, “No English needed/Yeah, Martin has a degree/Doctorate of Peep.”
  86. The 14,000 hilarious moments on GChat, my window to the world, with old friends.
  87. The drive from Sedalia to Columbia, MO with Will and Max during which Will displayed frigging freaky talent for playing jazz neckpillow.
  88. Mark’s homemade breakfast in Brooklyn and dining on the terrace.
  89. Dennis James’ theater organ concert at the Missouri Theater for the Arts where the whole room came alive, like a giant wind-up music box.
  90. Getting my piano back after three weeks in storage. It was like having sanity delivered by the truckload.
  91. Interviewing for German radio with Georg Hirsch.
  92. Realizing the cover of the Old-time Piano Contest’s program misspelled my name “Spitzbagel.”
  93. Receiving our first trick-or-treaters ever. We lived in an apartment in DC for five years and never got any until we moved to the townhouse in July.
  94. Posing for old-time photos with Jess and Tooch, and then again with my Texas friends.
  95. Performing at a great, swanky Great Gatsby party in Colombia, MD.
  96. Playing Donkey Kong Country Returns with my brother over Christmas like we did when we were kids.
  97. Having LoveSac post our little video on their Facebook page for all of their fans to see, and having LoveSac’s owner posting a comment on the video.
  98. Learning what a McGangBang is from Will Perkins (double cheeseburger with a McChicken inside of it).
  99. Partying with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg at the Supreme Court in January with the Council for Court Excellence.
  100. The last time I stood in our King Street apartment, waving goodbye to five years of happy memories.

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