Saturday, April 25, 2009

Drum Clinic

Here's an entertaining and fascinating explanation of how the drum track for Toto's 1982 monster hit, 'Rosanna", was built. It is explained with great technicality by Jeff Porcaro, who played not only with Toto, but also did much session work with numerous artists, most notably, Steely Dan. "Rosanna"'s track was inspired by the work of another frequent Dan drummer, Bernard Purdie, particularly, Steely Dan's "Home at Last" and "Babylon Sisters". Porcaro also gives credit to Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain", which had stickwork by Jon Bonham.

As you will see, Porcaro was an exacting, brilliantly time keeping musician. No wonder Fagen & Becker called him back over and over....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On to the Second (Third?) Act

I still can't believe it. 40. Four decades old since Thursday last. It's been over 14,600 days since I entered this grimy and beautiful world. Who was once a smart alecky brat of a youngster is now...well. Anyway, I feel odd and yet not so much. Forty was an age I couldn't fathom for most of my younger days. It seemed so, grown up, old, even. Like by that unimaginable time I was supposed to be a bank president, homeowner, father. I'm none of those now, though I haven't done too badly. Getting married in a few weeks. Got a doctorate. I feel I am far more mature than even 2 years ago. In my late 20s, I went through such a down period I almost wondered if I would live to 40.

I kept telling myself over the past months that I would start clean at 40. Put away the adolescent tendencies for good. Marriage will help. Should the Lord bless us with children, that will also help. Both will very likely assist with my self-centeredness. Lord, please.

Forty is better than 30. Much. When I reached that marker, my life was a shambles. I celebrated that birthday at an ultra sleazy local saloon, amongst people who were not exactly edifying. I'd given up on love, and had my faith on a shelf. A year and a half or so later, I began the trek back to the Father. The rest of the decade was filled with victory, not always easy, mind you. But worth it all. 40 is good. A new chapter. I don't know how many more pages, paragraphs, or even sentences or words are left in my story. I don't know how much more running time there is in this movie. But the plot has finally gelled; the tale is building towards a peak. Exposition-done! Time to be something that at least ressembles an adult. But the inner adolescent needs to breathe, too, so I don't become a crumudgeon. Onward...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Big D

Earlier this month we flew to Dallas, TX, a town I only knew previously from my many layovers at DFW. I wasn't really sure what to expect, other than big hair and ubiquitous faded W bumper stickers. Of course that is just simplistic, and we did find an interesting city filled with all the usual big city things. My culinary goal was to find primo BBQ and Mexican food, and we did (RJ's in the West End, just great for Mexican).

We, or at least I was there for the annual American Academy of Audiology convention, where audiologists, students, ENTs, engineers, and drag-alongs attend learning seminars and a big expo floor. The latter consists of hearing aid manufacturers and a whole host of hearing and balance related product hawkers erecting (sometimes alarmingly huge) booths to tell you of the latest technology, how they've cracked the code or some such. Years past, they thought nothing of passing out free iPods and noise cancellation headphones. AAA has cracked down, limiting the 2009 show to $25 maximum swag; next year, $0. The Ethics Board has spoken!

AudiologyNOW 2009 was a success for me. I learning quite a bit more about electrophysiology, one of my favorite fields within the field. I also co-presented a poster on the auditory characteristics of Asperger Syndrome patients. Many good, pointed questions from session attendees. We attended a few of the infamous hearing aid parties, though not the one at the gargantuan Gilley's, home of the mechanical bull you might've seen John Travolta ride 30 years or so ago. One of the larger companies held their big gala there, with 3000 + (!) in attendence. Imagine the background noise! Oh, the irony. The country act, Sugarland, was scheduled to play this event but backed out the day of. We instead went to a much quieter dinner party at a lovely restaurant called Sambuca. Just a low key evening of moderate level conversation and tasty snackies. Oh, and a grand hot toddy that assuaged my doggone sore throat. Never has whiskey and honey gone down so divinely.

We also took some time to vist the 6th Floor Museum downtown, located in what was once known as the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza. This was a fascinating and surpisingly moving tour through the early 60s-from JFK's debate with Nixon to the spate of conspiracy theories surrounding the former's assassination. The museum employees hand you a headset, through which an ominous narrator guides you around the sixth floor to large photographs and miniatures as you wind through this most complex of historical events. Eventually, you are led close to the window, the one where Lee Harvey Oswald fired that magic bullet the Warren Commission said solely offed our 35th President.

We also made our way down to the well known grassy knoll and wandered up to a broken wooden picket fence. A mysterious local informed Sonia that the alleged other shooters fired from behind it, though the fence itself is not the exact one that stood in '63. Also, orange spray paint marks the spots where the gunmen stood. The scene was eerie, but entrancing. We spent quite a while just imagining what sort of evil happened where we stood.

Though we mainly stuck to downtown, we also saw some outer reaches, parts of town that even ressembled S. FL, with its new prototypical outdoor plazas. We laughed at a tanning palace called "Palm Beach Tan." Another worthy mention, Buzzbrews, a diner right across from our hotel. Great food and coffee. Those egg and chorizo wraps were splendid. We'll be back should we ever find ourselves back in a BIG state's biggest town.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Everyone Does!

Well, sure, you know that director-of-the-eccentric Spike Jonze will be treating us to his cinematic imagining of the beloved book Where the Wild Things Are later this year. Apparently, this experience prompted him to quickly follow-up with another adaptation of another children's (patently, er, scatalogical) classic.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Go, Butch!

Quite a few years ago, I worked in various capacities (cameraman, tape editor, sound board, more) on the media crew at church. During a particular stretch, the director of our disparate crew was a fellow named Butch Blasingame. Butch called the shots as we taped the church service each week, as well as occasionally picking up fretted necks for some good old gospel jamming (as much as was allowed in a buttoned down Baptist church, anyway). There are plenty of enteratining recollections of my time working with Butch, but, those are for another time. Mr. Blasingame lead our sound/video group for 5-6 years, moving on to Texas in '93 or '94.

In the last few weeks, I've reconnected with Butch (or Butcho, as he's now known), discovering that he's the lead guitarist in a band called Ravenstone. Based in Athens, GA, Ravenstone ( derives its sound from many sources: classic Southern fried rock, blues, C & W. Contemporaries might include the likes of Drive-By Truckers and Widespread Panic. Good stuff. Check out their video for "Felonious Monkeys", a gently damning tribute to some of those fine folks in govt. and big business we can thank (at least in part) for a good deal of our current economic woes. Get your outrage on, indeed!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Well, THAT was Awkward

I don't know whether to laugh or slink under my chair.