Archive for September, 2002

So you want to sing “Hey Jude”…

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Ok, then, listen up. This is important. Hey Jude is one of those big, feel good, everybody sing along songs. You can just feel the tension rising as all of us wannabe Beatles lie in wait like hungry predators for that grand finale of an ending where everyone sings “Naaaa naa naa na na na naaaaa, na na na naaaaaaa, hey Jude”. However, here’s where we run into the worldwide epidemic. Let me demonstrate…
“Remember to let her under your skin, (the anticipation begins, the wolves are salivating) then you begin to make it better, better, better, better, (people are on the verge of aneurysms now…here it comes) BETTER, BETTER, YEAH!”(YES! Finally!)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude”
>>>JUDE JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!<<< That guy. That guy just ruined it. Anyone know why? Anyone? Bueller? Because Paul doesn't shout that for another 3 rounds. However, that guy just can't wait to yell JUDE "JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!" so he pounces to make sure no one else gets it first. Premature e-Jude-ulation. He has just completely ruined that line. In the song the line is placed perfectly for artistic effect. It just feels right. You spend three rounds slowly building up the tension, and then on that fourth round the horns and strings kick in, bringing things up yet another notch, and then at the end of the fourth round, Paul explodes in the orgasmic frenzy that is "JUDE JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!". Ahhhh. It feels so much better when you wait. The perfect ratio of tension to release. Too early and there's just not enough tension to release, too late and it misses it's window and falls like a badly timed punchline. So, everyone practice along with your CD, record, tape, 8-track, mp3, or whatever you happen to have: "Remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better, better, better, better, BETTER, BETTER, YEAH Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude (Stop it! Not yet! Wait for it!)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude
(That’s it! You! Out!)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude
(*glares* I see the twitching…don’t even think about it)
(horns and strings come in now)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude
JUDE JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!”
…and there we are. Practice until your willpower allows you to exercise enough restraint to do it right. Then you can get your official “Hey Jude Police” badge. Be vigilant. The only way we can stop this is together. Knowledge is power. Thank you, good night.
*Beatle bow*

Craig Davis and the Invaders (A Tangled Musical Web)

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So here’s the scoop on my newest musical project…
Backstory (bear with me here):
I’ve been playing with a cover band called The Rock-A-Fellas for about 8 years now. At one point I moved to Dallas for a year, and made the 3 hour drive back whenever we had gigs. We recruited Mike Holleman to take over my duties as lead guitar and lead singer. Now this is already interesting because Mike is actually a drummer who had played drums and sang with the Rock-A-Fellas for many years before I ever joined. He later moved away, played for Sheryl Crow, and made a living playing the Vegas Casino circuit before moving back to College Station because he was tired of living out of a suitcase and playing casinos where the music was nothing more than wallpaper to unappreciative patrons. So now here he was playing guitar and singing (he’s also a hell of a guitar player) preparing to take over my spot so I could leave now that I was living in Dallas. Well after a year in Dallas I decided to move back because the band was doing quite well, plus other boring factors. Mike was playing in several other bands and since we didn’t really need him anymore, we parted ways. During this time he had told me about how he was going to Austin on some weekends to record with a guy named Craig Davis. Turns out I kind of knew of him because my aunt and uncle had been good friends with him during my childhood, and when I would go stay with them to visit my cousin during school vacations, sometimes we would go visit Craig. Small world eh? But wait, it gets smaller…
So about 2 weeks ago Donnie Angonia, who plays in the Rock-A-Fellas with me, told me that a friend of the band, Dawn Lee, had called him to recruit him for keyboard duty. She was organizing a series of shows at The Palace Theatre (formerly a normal theatre whose roof collapsed, and was consequently made into an amphitheatre. Incidentally I was in the cast of a production of Oklahoma that was in the middle of it’s rehearsal run when the roof collapsed. Luckily it happened during the day when no one was actually there.) Dawn wanted to have Craig Davis come play a show, but the problem was that Craig didn’t actually have a band. He just got guys together whenever he wanted to go in the studio and record. She had put together a band of local guys and wanted Donnie to play keys. He had a prior commitment, and therefore passed my name along. She called me to play keys and sing backup and I agreed. After listening to some CD’s of his music, I really wished I was playing bass or guitar instead. Then Donnie ended up being free after all, so I called Dawn to tell her he was free, but if the other bass player couldn’t do it or anything then I could move to bass and Donnie could play keys. Dawn was elated to hear this since the other bass player had just realized he was going to be out of town! So I took over bass duties (which I was totally excited about since it’s a blast to get away from my normal lead guitar duties to play bass. It’s an entirely different thrill to me), and Donnie came on board as keyboardist. This was also handy since Donnie and I play in a band together, and we could also get together and work up backup harmonies.
So we now have until October 26th to learn 3 hours worth of music. I have been listening to 3 CD’s (with 14, 17, and 22 tracks of music!!!) non-stop to hammer Craig’s original music into my brain. I’m basically doing the equivalent of musical “cramming”, learning bass parts, lyrics and harmony parts. Craigs’ music is absolutely great. Very 60’s rock influenced. Like The Beatles and Tom Petty in a big musical orgy with elements of The Byrds, The Beach Boys, ELO, and Pink Floyd thrown in, plus occasional other musical spices. I’m very much looking forward to this gig.

The Bursting of Childhood Bubbles

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There are many movies, TV shows, etc., that have major childhood associations for me. For example, I remember spending every school vacation in Austin with my cousin (who is really more like a brother to me), and having certain movies we always wanted to watch again every visit. “Tron”, for example. We both had the action figures, and the cool light cycles with the plastic cord you would pull to send them racing across the room, preferably over some kind of ramp made out of books or something. Disney’s “The Black Hole” was another. I was also a huge fan of Indiana Jones (and still am). I loved the trilogy of Indiana Jones films! Like the Star Wars trilogy I would watch them periodically throughout the years. Well upon one recent viewing a few years back, I came to a startling conclusion: Temple of Doom sucks. I didn’t want to admit it, but there it was staring at me in all it’s child sidekick, monkey brain eating ugliness. I realized that I really wouldn’t care to watch that movie ever again. At that moment a little piece of my childhood died. While I do still like “Tron” and “The Black Hole”, I have also had to admit that they have lost a bit of the magic that they used to hold for me. Sometimes I wonder if certain things would appeal to me at all without the fond past associations and memories.
“V”, and “V: The Final Battle” also fall into this category. For anyone who is not familiar with them, they were television mini-series that came out in the 80’s about aliens coming to earth disguised as human looking peaceful types, but turn out to be reptilian human-eating types. I was totally enthralled by these series when they came out. I even read the books, which I quite liked. However, now that they’re both out on DVD I have found my childlike salivating enthusiasm to immediately buy them preempted by a hint of hesitation and uncertainty.
I used to proclaim that “Young Frankenstein” was one of the all time comedy classics, yet now I find it very hit and miss. There’s some classic moments without a doubt, but there’s also many moments when I find myself getting bored. Again, a moment of sadness at this realization.
Well at least the original Star Wars trilogy rocks as much as it ever did. “Time Bandits” still kicks ass too.

Lord of the Rings (spoiler free thoughts)

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Have you read it? If not, then go! Now! I’ll wait. Ok, it’s a pretty long book, so no I won’t. I first read the entire saga just before the “Fellowship of the Ring” movie came out. Now for those of who don’t know, it was really considered one contiguous work by Tolkien, however the publishers insisted on breaking it up into more digestible chunks (metaphorically speaking only – please do not attempt to ingest the book). So somehow it ended up as 3 “volumes” of 2 “books” a piece. However, for the purposes of this discussion we shall refer to it as one contiguous work.
I recently revisited this amazing classic by listening to the 13 hour BBC radio play. This, and many discussions with my lovely Jess (who has read the book 13 times) made me want to sing it’s praises here for those who have not yet discovered it (or even for those who have). Quite simply, I find Lord of the Rings one of the most amazing and totally immersive works of all time. It’s no secret that Tolkien laboriously created one of the most thorough worlds ever created for a work of fiction. He created languages, histories, races, maps and more (as evidenced by the appendices to the book) resulting in a world almost as well documented and “real” as our own. This however has no value if it does not lend itself to an engrossing tale. It does.
Lord of the Rings is so much more than just a book. It is as close as anyone can come to actually being transported to another world. When I was finished with this book, I felt as if I too had been on that journey. I felt invested in all my “friends” in the book. As the story comes to an end, it perfectly mirrors the emotions you feel as your relationship with this story is winding down, and you slowly fade back into this world. So many moments are laced with bittersweet poignancy as they create a microcosm of the emotions and relationships we all share. It’s not a story, it’s an experience. It’s a journey that will leave you forever changed. One you’ll look back on with both joy, and sadness that it’s over as you close the cover and say “Well, I’m back”.

Ruminations on Theme Park “Speed Passes”

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We went to the Six Flags theme park this past weekend, which made me contemplate the new “speed pass” phenomenon that seems to have inundated theme parks across the land. For those of you not familiar with “Speed Passes”, they’re basically little beeper sized gadgets that you pay an extra $10 to use for the day. At the entrance of each ride is an electronic station where you scan your speed pass and it electronically puts you in line. You can then go off and do whatever else you want instead of waiting in line for the ride. When your electronic “place” gets near the front, the beeper alerts you so you can go to the privileged “speed pass” entrance and claim your place near the front of the line. This is nice for you because you didn’t actually have to wait in the line, and it’s nice for the park because instead of standing there in line with your money just happily sitting in your pocket you can be off buying a $2.25 bottle of water or spending loads of money on a ring toss game trying to win a giant stuffed banana that you probably could have bought for one tenth of what it cost you to keep playing until you won it. Not to mention the $10 they already picked from your pocket to rent the speed pass.
Now this led me to think about the future of “Speed Passes”. Sure they’re great right now, when you can just be-bop to the front of the line, but eventually if more and more people start using speed passes, then you’ll have to wait in line to register your speed pass to begin with and then when it beeps you, you go wait in the now ever growing special speed pass entrance line. This will necessitate speed pass evolution. For example, they could then put out the “VIP Speed Pass”, which for a mere $50 allows you to bypass all the normal speed pass peons and go straight to the the secret VIP entrance taking you to the front of the speed pass line.
If that wasn’t enough, perhaps you could get a Super VVIP speed pass (for only $500) which allows you take the secret elevator to the special entrance room where you then jump in an air chute which deposits you directly onto an empty seat on the ride.
For the ultimate experience however, you would get the Super Mega VVVIP “Vengeance” pass ($2500 per ride). This allows you to get in the super secret futuristic air pod which takes you to the fully catered “selection room”. Here a wall of plasma monitors shows you each and every seat on the ride. You then wait for them to fill, and select your victim. That person is then dropped through a trap door which leads back to the end of the line and you are deposited on the ride by a huge, overly elaborate (yet extreme comfy) mechanism.
Oh sure you laugh now, but they also laughed about ever putting a man on the moon! Just wait until the day you find yourself plummeting through a trap door to the end of the ride only to see my evil grin sitting in your place on the souvenir snapshot monitor at the end of the ride.

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BLAH!