Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snare Drum Tweak

I've never really loved the sound of my Pearl Master Series birch snare...until today. I never knew that snare wires (pictured) could make such a profound difference in the drum's sound.

These are Pearl Ultra-sound replacement snares. I bought the "D" type (tighter wires in the middle) which is designed for wood shell drums where the player wants sensitivity. The "C" type are for rock drumming (looser wires in the middle) & "I" type are typical equally tensioned wires. They were a little hard to find--finally got them at Interstate Music, $17.78 plus shipping.

My birch Pearl now has the sensitivity I'm use to from a metal shell drum. I like to really run the gamut of dynamics and I play lots of ghost notes, and these wires really brought the sensitivity they promise. Before I changed the top head the drum sounded drastically different. And then I changed the batter head...

Tried the new Remo Vintage A and it's sounds primo! It's Remo's original formula that came out when they first went to plastic heads: a 2-ply head of 7.5 & 3 mil film.

When you hit the drum in the middle of the head it has a nice crisp solid sound and feel--gutsy. Hit it outside the center and it's got crisp ringiness. That's the combo I like in a snare--to be able to lay into the center and have punch, and to play between the center & the edge to have a brighter voice--like having two snare drums.

The combo of the new wires & new head is A+. Can't wait to put it on the kit & play with the band.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Addiction @ Oakbrook

God was and is doing big things through yesterdays service at Oakbrook. My good friends, Jeremy & Mandy Carter, shared their story of pornography addiction. Click here to get the details and service highlights on Jeremy's site.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gran Torino

Actor/director Clint Eastwood is only getting better with age. Parts of Gran Torino are vintage Eastwood yet this has more nuance and layers than earlier works. It is a great redemptive movie with themes of racism, friendship and sacrifice. 5 Stars imho.

Eastwood's character, Walt Kowalski, lives next door to a Hmong family. (pronounced "mung") The two main Hmong characters, Thao and Sue, were played by actors with no prior screen credits. They were both very impressive, especially Ahney Her who played Sue.

Weirdness not with the movie...
The first part of the movie is full of racial tension and the awkward intensity of Kowalski's genuine hatred for any ethnicity. What was odd was how much the Kokomo crowd laughed loudly at things that were not funny. It really unsettled me and I leaned over to Slater on two occasions and said, "This isn't funny--they shouldn't be laughing." Later in the film, after some walls come down, some of Kowalski's racial slurs are humorous; but I thought the crowd was inappropriately premature in their early guffaws.

If I had not known it had an R rating, I would have guessed it PG-13 after seeing it. It probably got the R rating the same way Good Will Hunting did; plenty of F-words by gang members.

Official Gran Torino movie site.
IMDb Gran Torino site. This site (IMDb) has lots of good info about content as well as anything else you'd like to know about a movie. I did lots of investigating before deciding to take Slater to this as well as dialogueing with him afterward.

Great movie that will stand the test of time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Waitress" / Frittatas

Kerri Russell & Andy Griffith in Waitress
I'd never guess that a movie set in the South about a phenomenal pie-making waitress trying to figure out her lame life would be compelling. Then again I'd be wrong. The writing is clever, different and unpredictable. The acting is all you'd ever want including a great supporting part by the great Andy Griffith.

This is one of those tasty movies that's not really like any other movie, yet is somehow very believable and easy to relate with. And it does a great job of telling the story through pie--if you can believe it. Really enjoyed it! Give it a rent it's PG-13.

Interesting & sad note: One of the waitresses, "Dawn," is played by Adrienne Shelly who also wrote and directed this gem. Sadly Shelly was strangled to death in her apartment in 2006 as she walked into a robbery before the film was released in 2007. So if you like this, it's truly the last of its kind.

Now for Real Waitresses: FRITTATAS = A+!

Checked out local restaurant FRITTATAS the other day for breakfast with the family on a snow day. As a result I can only sing its praises. The coffee was great and the breakfast food better than any place in town I could think of.

Waitresses were pros and the atmosphere clean and bright. It's great to see a local place with a packed house. I hear "Omeletties" on the west side is owned by the same people. Have to give them a visit. Next time you're ready to set a spell for breakfast or lunch try Frittatas.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dungy Leaves Legacy

The Colts and their fans have been the most fortunate franchise of the past seven years as the great Tony Dungy announces his retirement today.

In this day and age, how many people in the public eye garner 100% positive comments from peers, the public and the press? At least one: Mr. Dungy.

I am in awe watching sound bites from him and about him. What an accomplishment in one's own time to be so respected and admired for one's character, play and interaction with all people. Humble in victory. Stoic, leaning on his faith in Christ in the wake of his own son. Oh--and there is his NFL record:

Only African American coach to win a Super Bowl.
Most consecutive playoffs (10) by an NFL head coach.
Only coach to win 12 games six seasons in a row.
Highest winning percent w/one team .759
Youngest asst coach, 25

Want a good read? Check out his book, Quiet Strength.

Thank-you Coach Dungy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sundance Channel

One the few bright stars in these days of 200+ TV channels is The Sundance Channel. And just two of its unique shows are Live from Abbey Road and Spectacle with Elvis Costello.

Just the other night Elvis Costello had one-on-one chats with each of the three Police members: Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland and Sting. That was followed by a great performance by The Police and Costello doing hits Walking on the Moon and Sunshine of Your Love.

In essence it's great conversations and great live performances by gifted musicians.

Live from Abbey Road has no host. Simply it features new and old musicians recording live in the studio made famous by the Beatles. Here are just some of their eclectic musical mix: Dashboard Confessional, David Gray, Brian Wilson, The Black Keys, Diana Krall, Gnarls Barkley, The Fratellis, Herbie Hancock and the list goes on!

Each show usually has 2-3 groups and the mix of styles is very refreshing.

Bored with TV? Tired of top 40? Try the Sundance Channel.

And while I'm at it, how 'bout a hand for Robert Redford and his attempt with the whole Sundance concept of helping the arts flourish! Who knew that Butch Cassidy's partner would leave such a legacy.

(I nearly hyperlinked myself to death in this post ;-)

Oh, and how did a guy like Elvis Costello end up married to a hottie like Diana Krall???!

Friday, January 9, 2009

God and Drugs

In the past two weeks of my back saga I have had two profound impacts: prayer and medication. It has been interesting to come to terms with them. At first I was saying, “Oh, I’m doing better—it’s amazing what prescription drugs can do!” And about that same time Sandra told me of another Oakie in the mall who was praying for me & my back. I flippantly responded, “Based on the sheer volume of prayer I should be fine.” The flippant words hung with a tinge of profundity.

And very quickly I questioned if I was giving credit where credit was due. In short it seemed I was under-crediting God. So in my mind and to people I’d run into in real life or on Facebook, I began to credit God first, and then mention the drugs.

It was a little tweak, but I would say both my spirit and my body felt sincerely better as a result.

In the last two days I’ve been backing off of the meds. Yesterday, I took them only in the morning, none in the afternoon, and for the first time, none at bedtime. As I laid quietly in bed I felt the ever-so-subtle settling of my lower back. And I wondered if it was wise to pass on the meds. I felt no real pain, only the dull oddness of a back out of whack.

I wondered if I would be worse in the morning. Maybe I should send Sandra downstairs to get the drugs. And it occurred to me I was having the same dilemma: where is God in this and where are the drugs in all this? It felt like I was having a little holy war in the moments before I fell asleep; and perhaps I was. I was going between trusting God that all was fine and going for the meds as an insurance policy. I chose to stay on the positive; of trusting God that the night and my back would be fine.

So often God is calling me to trust and the evil one calling me to be wary and unsure. And it occurs to me at these times of physical tiredness or unhealth, that I am more prone to attack and confusion by the evil one; the one I often forget exits.

For the record, I awoke today with nary a pain. For that, I thank God. And to the degree that the meds have helped me these two weeks, I thank God for the doctors and for the meds.

So I guess lately I’m just trying to keep my back and my perspective straight.

(FYI there is still a specialist to see in regard to the bulging disc the MRI revealed. So keep the prayers coming.)