12.31.2000

My bands

I've been playing drums since 7th grade - first in private lessons and then with the spectacular bands you see here. All of these bands had at least one gig and exactly zero groupies.

St. David's Handbell Choir

Bell Ringing
Since the bell choir has kicked into gear for Fall 2002, I decided I should add the choir as an official "band". I've been ringing bells for years, both in Tulsa and here in Austin, and I really enjoy it. The music sounds really cool, I love the teamwork involved in playing in such an orchestral environment, plus all the weird notation in bell music is really fun. I generally play C4 and D4 (middle of the bass clef), which are great bells because they have a full sound but don't weigh 50 pounds! The bell choir performs about every six weeks or so downtown at St. David's Episcopal Church.

Stella

Jazz & Blues
Stella was basically born out of the breakup of Round Midnight - we all wanted to keep playing, just with a different guitarist. After we finished out our line up, we were rehearsed and playing gigs in no time. I like playing with Stella because I want to keep up my jazz chops, since I was originally taught jazz way back when I was a little tyke taking lessons (thanks, Mom & Dad!). We've managed to play some nice swanky gigs, and the audience seems to enjoy what they hear!

Round Midnight

Jazz Standards
My pal Jonathan (who is also in The Greatest American Heroes) answered an ad in the Chronicle for a trumpet to play with a jazz combo, and asked me to try it out, too. This combo featured guitar, standup bass, trumpet, and of course, drums. We played some mellow restaurant and party gigs, but just didn't have the right mix of personalities (meaning, the guitarist was a loser). One glorious night, he proclaimed "Ze Round Midnight is no more!"

The Greatest American Heroes

Surf TV Themes
In the last few months of 2000, some pals from Works (Chris and Barron) along with some former Day Jobs (myself and Ernesto) got together to try playing some surf tunes. As we started to have fun, we decided it would be even cooler to play old TV theme songs - the first one we learned was The Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not), so that became our name. We think everyone wants to hear TV themes and The Greatest American Heroes are ready to deliver!

The Day Jobs

Swing
Just when the neo-swing movement was hitting, some new Austin friends and I started a totally fun dance band, and soon were playing up to four times a week. It was incredible - out of town gigs, dancing followers, weddings and clubs (including over 60 Monday nights at the Caucus Club!). Alas, neo-swing is pretty well dead, and our sweet singing Matt just moved to Japan, so The Day Jobs are now enjoying retirement.

Empty Pockets

Folk
While I was in Stone Bluff, I was also playing some very mellow congas with a folk guitarist and flute. We were the typical Borders band, and played some other coffee houses and outdoor gigs, too. Once again, I sang backup, which was a blast. And just like Stone Bluff, we got a really sweet regular gig offer just as I was leaving.

Stone Bluff

Jazz
Most of the folks from Light of Day along with a few others under the guidance of consummate jazz man Larry Sheer. I was trained in jazz drumming, but really didn't get to use it until this band. We were pulling off some really funky stuff and shooting to be in a jazz festival downtown, and we got the gig just as I was leaving the band to move to Austin. Had a ton of fun practicing in the boonies and eating the goodies Larry's wife would make for breaktime.

Loose Brix

Poetry Beat
During the heyday of my beatnik days at Tulsa's Gold Coast, I joined this totally wacky band that backed up the poets (including me) as they read. We had a guy who played guitar through about 12 different effects pedals at once, and we did really weird arrangements of things. It was totally unstructured, which was great for poetry, but I couldn't handle it forever, so I was outta there.

CITGO All-Star Rock & Roll Revue

50s Rock & Roll
A bunch of folks at work, old and young, living out their rock & roll dreams. The main problem here was keeping everyone happy - we usually had to find something for four guitars to do at once. At one point we had 15 musicians, counting vocalists and horns (including Nick). We played many fun dances, all for charity, and even got to be on the news ("Meet Michael Walters - computer whiz by day, rock & roll drummer by night").

FineLine

Goofball Pop
Crazy college and high school kids trying to make music - only one of us had any experience making music, and that was a high schooler who was in it for the chicks (never found any). We played U2 and The Cars, plus our own silly compositions (the tapes are priceless - especially the "spooky wind" opening of our masterpiece). Lots of good times, until our rehearsal space was robbed and I lost my beloved Sears drum kit.

Haiku

It's 2001
Wake to greet the Obelisk
Tomorrow morning

12.28.2000

Quills : 4 of 5

I hope Amazon.com is braced for the increase in Marquis de Sade book sales - this is an excellent film. I had to see it immediately due to the role of my Number Two Obsession Kate, but this is a great movie in addition to her loveliness (which is severely played down, by the way). I should also give sighing credit to the sweet cherub who awakens to the powers of seduction and bitchiness. Amazing acting all around, humor, sadness, sex - Quills has it all. My only complaint is the story ends too perfectly, just like a bad Twilight Zone episode, but by all means, see it anyway!

Traffic : 4 of 5

Initially I wasn't interested in seeing this film, mainly because I knew it would be depressing and would present no answers to the insolvable drug problem. I was right, but I'm still glad I saw Traffic. The movie is made quite precisely - every shot is well planned and the plot interweaves three stories so well that you can keep track of everything easily (the perfectionism is probably possible since this is a remake of a TV mini-series). The scenes in Mexico are all shot with grainy, brown stock, adding to the poverty or third-world aspect and in high contrast to the rich-kids' world just across the border. Yes, Traffic is depressing, but it's also an important film of extreme quality. As an added bonus, now I can say I know how free-basing is done.

12.21.2000

Code Complete / Steve McConnell : 3 of 5

I've read about a hundred mentions of this book over the years - they all say this book is essential to good programming, even that it has "changed lives", so to speak. I finally decided to read it, since I'm developing some pretty cool software for levelfield that really needs to hum. Code Complete was an enjoyable read, giving me tons of ideas for code improvement and performance enhancement (I even took notes as I read). The best chapters give concrete examples (in several languages) where a technique really works - the lesser chapters are super-esoteric and talk a little too long about project management and the like, but they can be skimmed quickly. I have to admit that I didn't read anything to really 180 my programming style, so I must be pretty good already.

12.15.2000

Weezer / Weezer : 3 of 5

This is a really old album, of course, and I picked it up at Tower Records for super-cheap. I used to like the goofy energy of The Sweater Song when it was on the radio, and I remember the Buddy Holly video was cool (set in Arnold's from Happy Days). After buying the CD and listening to it, I'm pretty happy with it, since I've discovered several more funny jammin' songs, especially In the Garage, which talks about Dungeons & Dragons and KISS. A few tracks are just terrible - I can't even listen to the opening cut - but all in all, Weezer is a lot of fun.

12.06.2000

Haiku

Talking to myself
Pretend the dog understands
Stanze knows the truth

12.05.2000

Babe : 3 of 5

For someone like me who loves kids movies, it's a shame I never saw Babe in the theater. Oh well, it was a great movie to watch while I recovered from a cold. I have to admit that the effects weren't as spectacular as I was expecting - I didn't realize how often they used puppets rather than computer generated mouths on real animals. Overall, though, the story was fun, and I liked seeing the talking puppies and listening to Chuckie from Rugrats do Babe's voice, But what was up with those inane singing mice? They added nothing to the picture, weren't funny, and were just plain annoying - yuck.

12.04.2000

Antz : 4 of 5

Poor Antz - this movie got such a bad rap. It was made at the same time as A Bugs Life, and when they were both released so close together, everyone thought they were rip-offs of each other and the Disney flick won the battle. I love A Bugs Life, but I also think Antz is great - it's completely an adult film. In fact, it's a bona-fide Woody Allen movie. The story is fantastic and funny, and the animation isn't bad (though not nearly Pixar quality). The best thing is the plot doesn't suffer from any goofy sidekicks - nothing is thrown in for cute factor alone. More people should give Antz a try - help save it from the fate of bad timing!

12.03.2000

American Psycho : 4 of 5

Since I make an effort to read anything by Bret Easton Elllis (I'm almost finished with Glamorama now), I was very interested to see how they would make this movie. The book is actually a great satire of 80's super-rich culture, but of course, includes some of the most disgusting and graphic prose ever written. I saw American Psycho in the theater and really enjoyed it - they did a great job of reducing the violence and increasing the surrealism, and ended up with a great movie (of course, everyone thought it was either too tame or still too graphic). I rented the DVD because of the "uncut" claim, only to find about three more minutes of footage (a scene with prostitutes). Oh well, it was good to see it again anyway, and the interview with Christian Bale was interesting just to hear his British accent (I think it's amazing when British do an American accent!).

12.02.2000

Alice in Wonderland : 4 of 5

God, I love the old Disney features! When I watch these I am instantly five years old and enjoying every bit of the sappy music. Of course, today I can be impressed by the creativity of the animation for its time and be simultaneous disgusted at how many great poems were cut from the original book for the movie (I guess Walt knew that kids wouldn't want to know about the Jabberwock's head getting snicker-snacked by the vorpal blade). Alice is too cute - her overly polite accent is just right.

12.01.2000

Forbidden Planet : 3 of 5

One of the best classic science fiction movies, Forbidden Planet introduced not only the incredible Robby the Robot, but also the "sound effects as music" craze that swept through many more films of the era. The story is fairly interesting, though the surprise ending is too easy to figure out. Much more intriguing are the matte paintings to create the huge sets - they are far from realistic, but have that wonderful pulp look. The interaction with the girl of the story is kind of fun, but it's even funnier how the crew members get over death so easily. Leslie Nelisen plays the lead, and the agent guy from The Six Million Dollar Man is in there, too. No features on the DVD, but at least it's an excellent 16:9 presentation.

Edward Ruscha : 4 of 5

AMOA has done a great job recently getting some really interesting artist retrospectives together. Ruscha is brilliant, and the exhibit is huge and quite complete, full of photography, prints, and many smaller works, too, including laminated reproductions of his published "art books" so you can flip through them (complete with blank pages). I love the works in which Ruscha combines text with an image, abstract or otherwise, giving a single word so much power that it makes an impression lingering for hours.

Atari Historical Society

Since cutting my computer teeth on my Atari 800, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Atari. I remember being excited about seeing the Atari logo in Blade Runner, since that meant the company would be around in the far-flung future. Well, that didn't quite work out, but now you can drink in every last bit of Atari goodness at this site - all about the home games, computers, video games, you name it!

Visit site: Atari Historical Society

North By Northwest : 3 of 5

Another Northside place right smack in the middle of movie theaters and superstores, but this one has a micro-brewery! Sad to say, but I've not yet tasted their beer, since I've only been there on work lunches. I can say that the food is very good, though - they have a half-pound hamburger with very fresh fixins, and really amazing seasoned fries. I think at a previous visit I had some kind of shrimp pasta and I remember it being very tasty. The atmosphere is basically a single huge room with a nice fireplace (though only a few tables get to enjoy it) and some windows that don't offer much to look at. No pre-meal munchies here, but otherwise a nice place.

Mario Party 2 / Nintendo 64 : 4 of 5

I don't own this one, but have had two rousing games with Barron and Chris, and this game is phenomenal! It's basically a cutsie Mario board game, but after every turn there are tons of little mini games that everyone gets to play - sometimes in teams, three on one, or everyone against each other. In several hours of play (this game takes forever), I've only seen the same mini game once or twice! Don't buy this one unless you have human friends.