Balthazar told me what his schedule looks like at school. When he gets to schools, he draws, goes to lunch, naps, plays on the playground, then waits for the buses. I guess things haven’t changed a lot in the schools since I was little. Of course, he thinks my schedule looks like this: drive forever on the highway, do boring stuff, play racquetball, eat a chocolate bar, then go home. That chocolate bar thing is totally random.
All of you will surely recognize the man on the left. His biblical image comes at you in all of its hair and puffy-shirtness like a thunder clap. Yanni stands as the hairiest, women-loving man I know [of]…though Hugh Jackman must be at the top of this game too! And on his right is the much subdued version of the eighties visage, also Yanni. When did this happen? No ‘stache to whisper its childhood stories to concert viewers. No curly locks of Grecian do to reveal the arcane secrets of musical composition. It’s a transitive state of Yanni’s image much in the same way we all saw Metallica shed their fettered styles of 80’s heavy metal.
So Yanni will be coming to Duluth in April at the Gwinnett thingy (Arena, perhaps?). I know most of my known world will simply abuse me verbally for going to a Yanni concert (which will actually be my third or fourth), but I couldn’t give a crap. If you’ve never seen one of these concerts, you really don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a phenomenal appreciation of the musical arts, internationally complete. I suppose many of you only like your music for its pop artist front [wo]man, but I really enjoy the instrumental musicality of it all. I would compare what Yanni conducts on his stages to that of the Cirque du Soleil band (on a small scale) and Dream Theater / Liquid Tension Experiment. You could draw comparisons with Phish and Wide Spread Panic. All of these bands have two things in common: they’re killer jam bands and composed of some very talented musicians.
I’m imagining some possible scenarios where I could lead a drum circle into a sort of performance. Most facilitated drum circles enter into spontaneous or random rhythms and are then led to compose the music. I would really like to lead people (sometimes naively) into known songs. There’s an extra sense of excitement when you realize you’re playing an actual song. Even if you don’t know the song, being led through a composed set of rhythms is very rewarding! I spent about 10 minutes this morning and worked out the basic rhythms within M.I.A.’s “Galang.” It’s a fun piece of music if you haven’t heard it (YouTube link provided below). My intention in recreating it for a drum circle is not to play the song succinctly, but rather to have all the parts present and accounted for. When and for how long each part plays is up to the facilitator. If the groove is held well, someone could play the voice part through a solo drum!
Drum Circle Arrangement, Galang:
M.I.A., Galang (emebedding not allowed)
My wife and I like to think strategically about our future. Planning and foresight can save you a lot of grief and work in earnest.
In the event that we should become multi-millionaires in the future, we want to make sure we know what we’re going to do with the money. The following is an ongoing list of major things on our list:
Establish a Commune
And by commune, you have to understand my interpretation of the word. The usual ideas just don’t cut it – my idea of a modern commune is little more than a community of friends living in close proximity, each generally having some arcane talent. Other than that, everybody maintains their own job. The added benefit is that you have a community of actual friends in close proximity to help with things. Think about some of these nicer neighborhoods going up that include parks and community facilities like a club house or picnic area. That’s where the millions of dollars come in – someone has to pony up the money to put it together.
Establish an Olde World Arts and Crafts Guild
Look into America’s early years after the Declaration of Independence. As was popular in Europe, guilds popped up all over the place. Funny thing was, they never seemed to last. The guilds cranked out some epic-level work, but rarely made the profit needed to keep the their doors open. The Industrial Revolution was what put them out completely. Mechanized art, while not for the purists, was the way of the future and a clear winner in the end. Revival after revival, it was only when the the passion was washed out by insufficient funds that the guilds closed their doors. An arts and crafts guild would work today, but only if I could poor money into it endlessly.
Create an Elderly Care Facility that Cares
Most elderly care facilities – the ones that the average senior citizen could afford – are clever facades on the same old song and dance. There are too many horror stories to count as you look across the gamut and research their “customer appreciation.” A big reason for this is funding. The hired help is majority volunteer, public service workers, or minimum wage. When you’re not paying well, it’s hard to attract good help, but that’s just what you need.
My wife is the one with real passion for this one. She would love to pour many into a retirement home that is treated more like a spa than assisted living. It would have to be a non-profit venture with backing. The key is to rally support within the area communities, government, and of course, mad money.
Build the Lake Lanier Boardwalk District
How cool would it be to have a boardwalk district on Lake Lanier? I envision long wooden decking, boat slips, a beach, and fantastic night life and retail shopping. There should be bars with karaoke, an outdoor stage, a gallery, and much more. Normally, this kind of thing wouldn’t need so much money to keep it up, but I think I’d have to pay off the Corps. of Engineers a hefty sum to allow it!
Create a Seafood/Freshwater Fish Restaurant on the Lake
Along with that whole boardwalk idea, you have to have some big foundations. I purpose a fish restaurant out on the water. It would be awesome to have its center piece being a large circle of the lake with underwater lights and sub-level glass for viewing. Above that, have two to three stories encircling the “aquarium” for diners to look down upon. There is some real opportunity to make a case for the environmental concerns surrounding the lake in a venue like this.
Build an Irish Pub
Another permanent resident of the boardwalk should be a good old-fashioned Irish pub. If you know of McGuire’s in Pensacola, then your thinking along the same lines. Good food (or bad, but traditional!) and drinks. These relics of America’s past have always been places of fun and festivity.
Oh, good grief! I awoke this morning to find my Zune in a less than pleasing way. I was concerned that the number of times I’ve dropped the device had finally caught up with me and I was paying the ultimate price. However, I decided to check out what was being said online about this problem – perhaps it’s something Microsoft can service. What do I find? A pandemic of global proportions effecting only Zune 30 users. It sounds like it’s related to a date bug in the device, but it has yet to be answered by Microsoft. Some have hope that normal operation will resume tomorrow, when the date resolves firmly to day 1 of 365. I’m not holding my breath. The timing couldn’t be worse as we’re heading off for a short vacation tomorrow. If neither mine nor my wife’s Zune won’t work, I’ll be sorely disappointed.
I had thought this might be a good excuse to buy an upgrade to the newer generation Zune 80 or 120, but I’d have to find my place all over again in the current audiobook I’m listening to (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”). Arrrrgh!
Search around on the net and you’ll find no shortage of complaints and Microsoft bashing surrounding this recent development. It’s a sad day, and ironic one too. I had just poked fun at a friend recently who bought an iPod without thinking of the alternative. To be fair, however, had she bought a current model Zune, she’d be unaffected by the problem.
*UPDATE* Microsoft has released a statement regarding the Zune 30 bug that hit all of us this morning. They’re essentially telling everyone to wait until tomorrow morning to turn on the Zune. As of 7:00am for Eastern timezone folks, your Zune will magically begin working again; almost ass mysteriously as it stopped.
Though it’s not in their official release, the problem is most likely due to a bug in its ability to handle a leap year, which 2008 qualified. The idea being that a leap year has around 366 days instead of the usualy 365. As of January 1st, Greenwich Meantime, the device will be back on 1 of 365 – and working. It’s a logical solution, but a very unfortunate goof for the Zune hardware team. Maybe we’ll get a coupon toward the purchase of a new generation Zune in the mail for our trouble (ahem…are you listening, Zune team)!
The big deal for me at Christmas this year was the receipt of my first stereo, personal field recorder. I got a Zoom H2, which has its list of unhappy customers, but is also one of the more popular devices to own for the money. This is the big time for yours truly because it means I’ll be able to record my drum circles and the occasional Gypsy band jam session (in which I am a contributing percussionist). I am so looking forward to this!
I have also recently attended a drum building workshop (mental note: blog about the workshop), and built my very first drum. I should say, finished my very first drum shell – that is where the workshop begins. It has been several weeks since the workshop, but I have only just been able to dedicate proper time and attention this evening to the tuning of said drum. Since I was trying somewhat to be good to my neighbors, I kept the energy attenuated.
To kick off my eager anticipation of the H2 and Thunderhead, I’ve recorded my first moments using both. It’s completely raw and unedited. There are also some distinctions in the three recordings that are really only meaningful to me. Suffice it to say, I’m still working with the tuning of my drum and the use of a new electronic gadget.
I got a Christmas card from the nice folks at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – the Climate Witness division. You may recall the article I wrote for them concerning the pitiful state of Lake Lanier (speaking of which, the scientific review of my story is now available). The card reminded me of the potential relevance of our recent confusing weather. Only one week before winter and the northeastern region of Georgia was coming in at highs of 70°F. Today marks the first official day of winter, but it actually arrived in a forced gust of cold wind yesterday. We went from muggy days in the high 60’s to the sudden shock of sub-freezing temperatures Sundays afternoon. By Monday morning, we were in the low 20’s and all remaining signs of water in the streets had frozen solid. There was as much as a 50° shift from last week to this in one day. Is this an aspect of climate change, or just a strange time in the history of our weather? We’re not supposed to realize climate change marked in the passage of a few days or even years, but I can’t help but notice things with a new perspective.
Anyway, I’m still not sitting around the house watching the weather channel, though it may sound like it at the moment. Regardless of the ridiculous weather, we have taken opportunities to enjoy the arrival of winter, officially. We spent most of the day at Stone Mountain yesterday in the Christmas Village. Despite the cold wind, a bundled family – and several hundred others – managed to persevere and blow a wad of money enjoying the spirit of the holiday. We took in the lights, sounds, and smells of sweets, a parade, and cheesy stage shows.
- Tomorrow I attend a “Build-a-Drum” workshop. Very exciting! #
- My son’s kindergarten teacher called me in to pickup a “sharp object.” It was a 3/4″ Forstner drill bit that he had forgotten in his pocket. #
- First day of drum building was eventful! Tomorrow, I finish up and get to hear how it sounds. #
- A mere 20 hours later and I have a drum from the drum-building workshop! #
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Frequency is probably a term more commonly associated with 80’s synth-pop artists and electrical sound engineers. However, it’s not to be underestimated or underutilized as a viable word in other situations.
I worked with one of the more difficult teaching challenges in my experience yesterday at my drum circle. A gentleman joined us with a peculiar short-coming – he had no current musical interest and an unclear memory of the interests from 30+ years ago when he called it (music) quits. I see many people that claim to have “no rhythm.” At face value, it’s true. However, everyone has rhythm whether they recognize it or not. Your heart beat has kept a rhythm for your entire life; surely one can learn to keep one externally for a few minutes. As it turns out, there are some people that this may seem even less possible for. This guy that I worked with seemed to have a real mental block to rhythm, or to something even more fundamental – frequency. In his words, he had trouble with numbers in that they held no relevance. I believe the problem was actually that he assigned no frequency to numbers. In order for counting to assist you in musical timing, one must use a consistent spacing between the numbers. Without it, counting does us no good. I attempted to teach this concept in many styles; visual, tactile, and aural. Each of them seemed to provide a glimpse of what he was missing, but none of them resonated completely. Having thought about it more sense the drum circle, I have some additional ideas of how to get this message across.
For one, utilizing the old method of counting seconds may be helpful (e.g. one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, etc.). Forcing yourself to say one thousand between every second counted manages to keep many of us attuned to a consistent frequency. There is also the issue of matching patterns, which I think people can more easily grasp than timing. My five-year-old is learning about patterns in kindergarten as an introduction to math. Following this course, I may be able to explain frequency in terms that a potential drummer can understand. In the end, I want this guy to grasp the concept of the wave. Hear the noise of each crest. Feel the silence at each trough. Of course, the goal is anticipation. Without that – and this is something that he struggles with – one can never ride the wave!
Our son recently contracted Streptococcus within his person. We’re all familiar with such things, but the signs of this particular infection alluded us. We knew he had a stomach ache, but little else. The stomach ache became chronic and Balthazar the harbinger used is poo oracle to let us know something was truly wrong. We found out later in the week that Balthazar had experienced several “Scientist Poops,” which turns out to be what the slow-minded adults refer to as “diarrhea.” I asked Balthazar why he called it this, and he simply said it was because it “looked like Scientist.” I still don’t really know what this means, though I imagine any hopes that he may one day become a brilliant scientist are now futile.
In a completely unrelated story…
Humans give off subtle signs of emotional and physical wellness through involuntary interactions of the psyche. Some of these things manifest themselves as physical aberrations, though primarily they go unnoticed by all but the most well-attuned.
My lovely wife, mother of our two children, gave me these subtle signs recently in a way that could not go unnoticed. At some ungodly hour of the wee, my wife woke me with slurring speech to notify me of my duty for the baby girl in the house. She had been working late that night, and had probably only just gotten to sleep an hour earlier when Sorscha woke her. I took on the charge with no questions. When I reached for Sorscha, I found that she was rather soaked, as well as the pad she lay upon. During these cold nights, her pajamas take the form of what’s known as a Sleep Sack. It’s a wonderful invention in which you simply bag your child in a zipped enclosure and allow them to steam gently in their own moisture. Some (ours) include the ever-helpful swaddling wrap that Velcros tightly around the child so as to prevent escape and recognition as anything but a human-faced grub. When I opened her sack, I found that she was completely naked and a loose diaper was balled-up in the corner of her little sauna. It was as if the changing included such activities as:
- Open zipped-enclosure
- Toss in diaper and seal tightly
- Gently shake to activate absorption.
Needless to say, I performed the cleanup, fed her, and reintroduced her to a drier version of her bed.
And the message was well-received that my wife was rather beyond simply being “tired.” Sleep deprivation can do some interesting things to a person, but thankfully humans have an innate method by which these things can be communicated.