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Roger Bissell, the Muse-Seeker
June 27, 2018

Welcome to the REBLOG!

(Just as a blog is a web-log, so this REBLOG is

the web-log of REB, Roger E. Bissell)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mayday, mayday, mayday!

Actually, May 1, 2019 has come and gone (except in Hawaii, I guess), but it's not too late for an extra shout-out to my uncle, Ray Schellenberg, who just turned 86 yesterday. Many, many years ago, he loaned me his trombone so that I could start playing in band in 3rd grade. (In the fall of 1956, if my memory is accurate.)

My uncle still dances up a storm, and I'm still playing trombone at the tender age of (nearly) 71. I did a jazz gig at a Celebration of Life on April 30, I'm playing a recording session today, and I'm playing in a swing band on Saturday night. Just enough time between gigs for the horn to cool down a bit. ;-) 

Also the day before yesterday, I turned in to my editor an essay on free will that will be published in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies this December, and I'm expecting any day now to get some files to copy edit for a couple of friends in academia who are still fighting the good (iintellectual) fight, trying to make the argument for limited government and free society.

It's good to be involved in that kind of battle, to help others make a difference. But I like writing too, and I will have another book coming out this fall, this one on logic and knowledge. It's title will be What's in Your File Folder? and it will be published by Amazon both as a Kindle and as a paperback.

We're having a lovely spring here, with the foliage and flowers growing very quickly into a world of green - and construction sites all around us throwing together new homes and business buildings, as well as a new interstate exit that may make our local trips a bit easier.

I'll be back again soon, so in the meantime, have a great month of May!


12:37 am pdt 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Liberty, liberty, liberty...liberty!

Folks, I just finished directing and participating in a very successful and enjoyable conference on the Great American Songbook. It was held the past three days in Indianapolis for Liberty Fund, an organization that each year sponsors 150-200 conferences around the world. I've been to five of their conferences before, but always just as a participant, sitting with 15 others and a discussion leader around four squared tables.

This time, however, was different. I was asked by Liberty Fund's program director, Douglas Den Uyl, to create a proposal for this conference on American popular songs from 1915 to 1950. I had to select about 400 pages of readings which were sent to the people invited - and then to show up, to make sure our facilities and discussion and meal sites were in order, and of course to take part in the discussion. 

There were people from all walks of life, including college professors, a screen writer, an Indiana state legislator, a folk singer, and I, your humble trombone playing and singing blogger. 


I made some new friends, took part in fascinating discussions (both during and apart from the officially scheduled sessions), and ate some delicious food at several locations, including a nearby Ruth's Chris Steak House. We were given a tour of Liberty Fund headquarters as well as the Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum for the Great American Songbook, all located in nearby Carmel, Indiana.

Very simply, we had a blast!


All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend the Ides of March (perhaps I should rename it the Ideas of March!) and to cap it off with a tip of the hat to St. Patrick. As well, of course, to Liberty Fund and to the people who made my job easier - Bradley Birzer the discussion leader, Sarah Skwires the Liberty Fund representative, Nila Spears the conference assistant, and the aforementioned Dr. Den Uyl who helped with the A/V !

All for now.


9:29 pm pdt 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Hello, again!

Wow, time flies when you're having a good time! Honestly, other than the fact that I have been incredibly busy with my career, family, and hobbies, I have no good excuse for not having updated my blog sooner. Eleven years...really? I guess that one reason I've been hooky is getting involved in Facebook. I post a lot there. But putting that aside, it's time to rev things back up here on!

When last I posted here, I was still free-lancing and working at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and my wife Becky was teaching middle school in L.A. and Orange counties. But in the spring of 2010, I took retirement from Disneyland, and we moved with daughter Rachel to Antioch, Tennessee, where we still live. I was fortunate enough to connect fairly quickly with old friends and colleagues, and I am enjoying a nice variety of music work, including recording sessions, jazz gigs, and church performances. Also, I am back near my older children, Rebecca, Andrew, and Daniel (who are now all in their 30s) as well as six grandchildren! My oldest son, Charlie, lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and I get to see him occasionally, too. Becky and I will be celebrating our 29th anniversary this April (2019), and our children all ganged up on us four years ago to throw a special Silver Anniversary get-together for us. Becky's daughters, Desiree Head McDonald and Marissa Head, came all the way from California to help us celebrate!

I guess the biggest news, though, is that I have been doing a lot of work writing essays and editing and publishing books. My friends Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl have hired me to copy edit their two most recent books: The Perfectionist Turn: From Metanorms to Metaethics (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and The Realist Turn: An Alternative to Constructivism (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2020), the latter still being in the writing and editing process this year. I have done copy editing for other authors, including Kurt Keefner, Ari Armstrong, and Tibor Machan, on some of their writing/publishing projects, but the two books I confess to feeling the most personal gratification in helping bring to publication were The Vision of Ayn Rand: The Basic Principles of Objectivism (Cobden Press, 2009) by Nathaniel Branden and Think as if Your Life Depends on It: Principles of Efficient Thinking & Other Lectures (Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace, 2017) by Barbara Branden. I transcribed the two sets of 20 and 10 lectures from the audio recordings about 10 years ago, and I worked with Nathaniel and Barbara personally to make sure that the text of the lectures was correctly carried into print!

As for my own writing and friend Chris Matthew Sciabarra is an author of several books as well as editor of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, in which I have had a number of essays published since the journal began in 1999. Currently, Chris and I along with Ed Younkins, a professor of accounting at West Virginia University, are editing a book called The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, which will be published this June by Lexington Books. My name will appear on the cover as one of the editors, and an essay I wrote, "Up from Oppression: Triumph and Tragedy in the Great American Songbook," will appear in the volume as well. Here is a link to the web site we will be using to promote The Dialectics of Liberty and to organize discussion on its ideas. 

In addition, I published a book on philosophy of math in 2014 (How the Martians Discovered Algebra: Explorations in Induction and the Philosophy of Mathematics) and (co-written with my late father, Eldon Bissell, and my late sister, Julie Bissell Tupker) a family history book in 2018 (The Bissells of Barstow: The Genealogy of Pierce B. and Sarah Van Boskirk Bissell). Both these books are available in paperback and Kindle format from Also, in 2015 I published a book of poetry by my father and me called Next to My Heart: Poetry of Life, Love, and War. Later this year, I will be publishing another book with Amazon called What's in Your File Folder? The Nature and Logic of Propositions. I'm hoping to be able to put out a book every year or so as long as my fingers and eyes hold out!

The one other joy in my life is singing. My friend Glenn Martin of nearby Lebanon, Tennessee, who is a fine musician (composer, trombonist, pianist), and I have appeared in the area as a duo for the past 5 years or so, and I have freely mixed vocals and trombone playing. As a result, I've gotten other vocal work, including most recently a performance with the Nashville Pops Orchestra, in which I had the opportunity to re-create three duo recordings Tony Bennett did with Lady Gaga and Michael Buble. Tony Bennett's arranger and conductor, Jorge Calandrelli, lent his presence and talent (on piano), and the event was successful enough that we are now working on bookings with symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Canada. Stay tuned for further details!

I think that may be more than enough to digest for now. I promise not to wait another 11 years to update this blog!

Best to all,

Roger Bissell 

10:40 pm pdt 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


On the eve of Thanksgiving 2008, I thought I'd take a breath, reflect a bit, and express my gratitude for the good things that have happened during the past month.

First, I had a very nice trip to the Southeast in early November. It began auspiciously enough on Election Day with a flight to Nashville, Tennessee, where I picked up a rental car and dropped in on my older daughter, Rebecca, and middle son, Andrew, and grandchildren for a brief visit, then motored up to Lexington, Kentucky for a two-day visit with my oldest son, Charlie. He and I watched election returns for a while, but as you all know it was over fairly early. The next day we knocked around for a while and ended up playing nine games of pool. (That's how many games it took for my old "touch" to return. It has been years since I played that much pool, and my embarrassing performance each time I play a game or two reflects it all too well.)

On Nov. 6, I returned to Nashville, had another brief visit with older daughter, middle son, and grandchildren, then dropped off the rental at the airport, where I flew to Charlotte, North Carolina to join the Side Street Strutters Jazz Band for two days of pops concerts with the Charlotte Symphony. The concerts went very well, the crowd spontaneously shouting during some of the rounds of applause on our Saturday concert. And the city was a vibrant, cosmopolitan, booming place, with fabulous food. Ah, the blackened pork chops at Mert's--don't miss them, if you can!

On Nov. 9, I again returned to Nashville, picked up another rental, and proceeded to have three wonderful days of visits with older daughter, middle son, and grandkids. (Youngest son was busy working double shifts the entire time. But see later...) Andrew and I had fun recording a song I wrote based on his granddad's poem, "My Desire to Retire." Now all you curious readers out there can hear what I sound like trying to sing country music! Andrew did the studio engineering as well as all the instrumental tracks except for a little non-descript piano plinking, which I did, along with the vocal and all the "church choir" parts at the end. What a blast! (This was the first time I've overdubbed multiple voice harmony parts since about 1978, when I did arranging and vocals for the Louis Brown Orchestra album, "Big Band Bridge." Sadly, it has been out of distribution for many years. Sometime soon I will do an "In Memoriam" for Louis and upload some tracks from the album at that time. )

I returned home to SoCal on Wed. Nov. 12, just in time to meet up with the Strutters, who motored up to Oroville (north of Sacramento) for a community concert and an elementary school "outreach" concert on the 13th. These both went quite well, too. After returning from Oroville, I met up with Becky, and we drove up to Hollywood, where we rendezvoused with our college friend, Milo Schield and his wife, Cynthia. They treated us to the Reason magazine 40th anniversary celebration, which included a gala (banquet etc.) on Friday evening the 14th and a full day of panel discussions on Saturday. Milo again joined us for dinner Sunday evening at the Abbey in Orange, a converted church which serves great steaks, trout almondine, and what have you. We discussed life in general, the future under Pres. Obama, and a couple of projects that we will start working on in 2009 (one on logic, one on music).

Then, the prodigal (youngest) son, Daniel, arrived on Thurs. Nov. 20 for 3 days in the area. He and a friend came to Disneyland one day (seeing me in my Pearly Band glory!), did some recording in Long Beach another day, attended an improv theater in Fullerton one evening, and came over for a family dinner one other evening. He is planning a return visit in May, and is seriously considering moving here next summer to pursue his career in acting, voice-overs, improv, etc., possibly even applying for employment in the character department at Disneyland.

Tomorrow we will be having a family dinner after I get off work. Becky and her daughters, Desi and Rissi, and our daughter Rachel will collaborate on making a turkey dinner "with all the fixin's", which I will gratefully help to demolish, along with Rissi's guy Thomas and their little boy, Auggie. A nice way to cap off a month very rich in quality time with family and friends--and to launch into another month with more of the same on tap!

Thanks for letting me share.
9:35 am pst 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Memoriam, October 2008

October 2008 will go down in my memory as one of the worst months of personal loss I can remember. (The only one that compares is when I lost my Dad in September 1984.) I had hardly begun to process the loss of my beloved trombone teacher, colleague, and friend, Rex Peer, when I found that my dear friend and ex-father-in-law, Danny Dill, was near death. Several days ago, in the Biography sub-section of Histories & Mysteries, I compiled obituaries and other material celebrating both of them. I have now moved that material to separate files which are linked from the Biography page.

On the positive side: two weeks ago, I had a very successful and enjoyable time in Sun Valley, Idaho, where I played with the Side Street Strutters Jazz Band and sang with the All-Star Big Band for the radio broadcast. More recently, I finished the second review draft of a long essay on the mind-body problem, which is tentatively slated for publication in the Fall 2008 issue of Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

Also, just this past Tuesday, I composed a tune to go with the poem written in 1998 by Danny Dill, and I will be recording it in two weeks in my son Andrew's recording studio at his home in Nashville. If time remains between now and when I leave for the Southeast on November 4 (yes, I voted absentee!), I will also finish my orchestration of Rex Peer's "Blue Trombone," a solo for trombone and piano which he wrote back in 1966, and I will enlist Andrew's aid in getting it recorded, too. During that trip, I will also be playing with the Strutters in a pops concert with the Charlotteville, North Carolina Symphony Orchestra. I'll report on all this in a month or so.

7:13 pm pdt 

2019.05.01 | 2019.03.01 | 2008.11.01 | 2008.10.01

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