6.28.2007

Nodame Cantabile / Nintendo DS : 4 of 5

I knew I had to get this import game after reading about it, since I'm a fan of just about any music game, and this one is focused on classical music! The story is based on the popular manga of the same name, which I haven't read (although Mikie recommended it to me, so I think I will starting reading it soon), but that hasn't kept me from really enjoying this game. The main object of the game is to follow a conductor by tapping and dragging on floating musical notes with precise timing, kind of like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! with moving targets. The musical selections are all classical hits, including popular pieces by Mozart and Bach and even opera favorites, and the renditions sound pretty good on the DS, too. There are also a few extra mini-games, one of which is a nice version of Taiko Drum Master (although simplified), plus some funny things like cleaning up a dorm room (which can be a challenge since you kind of need to understand how garbage is sorted in Japan!) or helping cook dishes at a Chinese restaurant. All of this is tied together by the manga storyline about students at a music school and their various interactions. Of course, all of the dialogue is in Japanese, and even though I can read quite a bit of it, I actually just click through to the games pretty quickly. Nodame Cantabile is a great addition to my rhythm game collection, and it's definitely fun to tap along to some nice symphonies for a change!

6.26.2007

Walt Disney Treasures / More Silly Symphonies : 5 of 5

I've finally finished watching all of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets from 2006! I saved More Silly Symphonies for last, since these cartoon shorts were my favorites from the first wave of DVDs, way back in 2001. The first DVD of this new set contains all black & white cartoons, beginning in 1929 with Hell's Bells (which is a pretty unexpected name for a Disney short!). All of these follow the original Silly Symphony idea, showcasing how animation can be synchronized to music, each with some kind of theme (there's a cartoon for each of the four seasons, for example). Lots of new techniques were pioneered in these shorts, and it's fascinating to see early effects such as glowing light, used in the streetlights in The Clock Store. The second DVD has the rest of the series in beautiful color, including classics such as The Goddess of Spring (which was training ground for Snow White). I really enjoyed the Christmas shorts, the hilarious antics of the Three Blind Mousketeers, and the clever operation scene in Broken Toys. Both discs have a From the Vault section for cartoons that include some kind of politically incorrect scene, but seeing these shorts intact is a must (even if you have to listen to Leonard Maltin's warning). I was especially impressed with the bonus documentary and wealth of commentary tracks, which really made this set feel like a Warner Bros. Golden Collection (in fact, many of the same animation historians are here!). The Silly Symphonies were a landmark series, far beyond the quality of other cartoons of their era, and watching these amazing classics is sheer entertainment for any Disney fan!

6.23.2007

Starcrash : 3 of 5

When I was a kid, I was crazy about all the cheap science fiction knock-off movies that were rushed to the theaters to ride the success of Star Wars. It didn't matter how bad they were, since I was excited by the special effects and thinking about model building and how cool everything looked. The "best of the worst" from my childhood was Starcrash, which I actually saw more than once in the theater (since it was a double-feature with something like Battle Beyond the Stars), and I remember studying old issues of Starlog and other movie magazines with photos of the crazy spaceships (including the enemy fortress, shaped like a giant hand whose fingers actually make a fist when it goes into battle!). Anyway, I was recently talking about childhood movies with my pal Ryan, and when I remembered Starcrash, I had to buy the DVD immediately. I truly felt 10 years old again when the movie started, and I absolutely loved the cheesy dialog (some of it stolen from Star Wars) and terrible acting by Marjoe Gortner (complete with crazy afro), Caroline Munro (proving a bikini makes a perfectly good space suit), and even David Hasslehoff, looking super young and goofy as ever. Starcrash has it all - big space battles (with really colorful lasers and star fields), stop-motion creatures, a rip-off light saber, and of course the incredible torpedoes that crash through the windows of the enemy ship, then pop open to reveal two soldiers inside! Of course I'm biased, but Starcrash will always be one of my favorite science fiction disasters, and I definitely recommend it if you need some adventure with lots of laughs on the side.

My new kick

Last week during my Ernesto Marquez Sextet gig, the spring on my bass drum pedal broke. Thankfully it was only out for the last few songs, but I definitely had to do something out it this week. It's well-known among my bandmates that I have a cheap drum kit and I'm too lazy to shop around for anything better, so I have been playing my old Yamaha drums into the ground for years now. So, I figured rather than replacing the spring on my cheap, ancient pedal, I should just get a new pedal. When the Sextet recorded our CD at Brain Machine, I used their studio kit, and I was really impressed with their bass pedal - a DW (Drum Workshop) 7000. I decided to get the same model, and I found it quickly online at Zzounds.com (I like this website since my old pal Mark used to work there in Chicago - I have no idea if he still does, but I still shop there!), and I just got it a few days ago. The construction is really amazing, and I'm impressed by all the sound-dampening features it has - the action is going to be so smooth! I'll be trying it out tonight for the first time, which should be fun. Now my bass pedal is the best part of my kit, so maybe I'll have to start upgrading some other pieces someday!

Check again, iTunes

iTunes has a feature called Sound Check that would be so much better if it actually worked! The idea is that iTunes will analyze all of your songs to determine the general volume of each one, and then when it plays back it's supposed to equalize the volume so you don't have to keep turning it up and down when it plays quiet songs or blasts the loud ones. This is supposed to carry over to the iPod, which I listen to almost every day for eight hours straight at work, but I can tell you from experience, it doesn't do much at all. I still have to keep fiddling with the volume, which is kind of a pain. I'm sure my listening habits aren't quite normal (Bach's Coffee Cantata followed by Morning Musume's Kanashimi Twilight, for example), but I still wish Sound Check could help me out more.

6.19.2007

Backing up my backup

Probably the best thing to come out of my recent MacBook defect is getting serious about backing up everything. Previously I would backup things like photos to DVD, but I didn't have any backups of my 14,000 plus song iTunes library! So, I finally bought a LaCie 500 GB external hard-drive (which matches the LaCie 120 GB drive I already had), and now everything is backed up properly! It definitely feels good to have all of my photos, video projects, songs, and home folders (from both my MacBook and my Power Mac) safely copied with plenty of room to spare. Speaking of my MacBook, I have great news - the repair is complete and FedEx tracking says I'll have it back today! I'm totally thrilled - it's been weird not having it for a while (and it's been crimping my blogging frequency, which I'm going to use for my excuse this time)!

Manga Mentions 6.07

Manga continues to be my "escape of choice", so I've quickly burned through another five volumes recently! Continuing the new series I've started, To Terra Vol 2 was another really interesting chapter, culminating in a battle between Jomy and Keith (with some spaceship conflict thrown in!), plus the introduction of a kind of "super Mu" with incredible powers. Suzuka Vol 3 was a much more straightforward romance this time around (not much embarrassing fan service at all), revealing Suzuka's grief over a friends's death, plus the new character Miki to give Akitsuki more headaches. Things are picking up again in Video Girl Ai Vol 4, since a new video girl enters the picture (or I should say, exits the TV!), and Yota and Nobuko have some wonderful doki-doki scenes. Monster Vol 8 is another masterpiece, which is essentially a long setup for the next volume, since Tenma is actually planning to kill the evil Johan during a library dedication ceremony. Finally, I really enjoyed Osamu Tezuka's Buddha Vol 3 (the manga I'm most proud of reading right now), where Siddartha has his first experiences as a monk (and actually receives the title Enlightened One from a king), as well as a fantastic time-jumping side-story about a boy raised by wolves (connected to characters from the past volumes). Time to read some more!

Ocean's Thirteen : 3 of 5

I didn't even see Ocean's Twelve (and from what I hear, I didn't miss anything), but I liked Ocean's Eleven enough to want to check out this third film, and it was pretty fun. This time the gang of suave Vegas con men go up against Al Pacino as a way to get revenge for their pal Rueben, so they do everything they can to ruin a new casino (which is created beautifully in CG approximately on top of where the actual Aladdin casino stands). It's always cool to see their plans and how they manage to rig games (going as far as infiltrating the dice manufacturer in Mexico) and their other crazy schemes (even though getting both of the giant underground drilling machines from the Chunnel seemed pretty crazy!). This is definitely a fashion movie, too - watching all the expensive suits and other designer clothes in every scene is half the fun! The soundtrack is nice and funky, very much in the style of the original (which I still listen to every now and then). No one really has to stretch in their acting, since every character is essentially an extension of what we all think these actors are really like, but that's not a negative - it's fun to root for these kind criminals and see them take down the badder guy. If you're a fan of Vegas movies or any of these actors, you'll enjoy the movie!

Hallmark discrimination

I hope all the dads out there had a nice Father's Day! I sent my Dad some chocolate goodies and a Hallmark card, but each time I go card shopping I'm noticing a bad trend - discrimination against only-child sons! The Father's Day section was almost 50% filled with those silly "From the both of us" cards, so those are right out for single only-kids like me. The next 25% are all daughter cards, because I guess Hallmark thinks only girls want to give their daddies nice cards. The last 25% is a smattering of step-dad cards, plus a whole bunch of cards that begin with "I know I never told you this before, but...", but since I'm in the habit of actually telling my parents I love them (what a shock), I can't use those either! Thankfully, I found something nice in the mere 5% of cards that apply to me, but I hope Hallmark starts making more cards that work for sons like me!

Surf's Up : 4 of 5

Lots of comments have been made about the avalanche of penguin movies lately, but believe me, surfing penguins make much more sense than tap-dancing ones! I've been looking forward to this movie from the first time I saw the trailer, so my pal Melinda and I decided to see it soon after it came out, and we really enjoyed it! Surf's Up is shot as a documentary covering Cody Maverick, a penguin from Shiverpool who dreams of competing in a big world surfing championship to be like his idol, Big Z. The fake documentary film style is sheer genius! It definitely reminded me of all the Bruce Brown films I've enjoyed in the past, and the creative "hand-held" camera work looks fantastic. Most of the dialogue takes place in interviews, which have incredible natural voice work, and work as a great device to make the typical song-montages much less boring than usual! Of course, the water animation is another breakthrough for CG animation, but I think the character design far outshines it. Each penguin has great expressions, very different body and face types (similar to The Incredibles, in a way), and I love the details like the tropical tattoo patterns their feathers make. The story is great as well, and really captures the surfing spirit that I admire so much. Surf's Up is a surprisingly wonderful film, and definitely one of the best from Sony Pictures Animation!

6.14.2007

Galveston weekend

Every now and then my pal Tom and I take a little road trip together, and last weekend we headed to Galveston. The drive was pretty easy and fun, too. We decided it was Andrew Lloyd Webber weekend, so we listened to Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, and Jesus Christ Superstar all the way (and there was plenty of bad singing going on, that's for sure!). We stopped in Houston first to enjoy the Menil Collection, which is a great museum of modern art with lots of incredibly famous stuff (I really enjoyed all the Magritte pieces). We also checked out the Rothko Chapel, which I've wanted to see for a long time. Later we checked into Galveston's not-so-fabulous Beachcomber Inn, but it was nice and close to the beach, so were able to walk almost everywhere. We ate at Shrimp & Stuff and had some nice gulf shrimp (and stuff), then we did a lot of beach walking before having a few evening drinks. The next day we walked around the downtown area (the Strand), and got to see some huge cruise ships in port. All in all, it was a relaxing trip and a really nice weekend!

View photos: Galveston Road Trip

Crazy week continues

I guess problems come in threes sometimes! This morning I got up early to get some things done, and I was feeling pretty good when I left for work. I hopped in the car, drove about 100 feet and realized I had a flat tire! After getting over the shock from all the stuff that has gone down this week, I let my office know what was going on and put on the spare donut. I was able to do it myself with no problem, and it only took me about 30 minutes. Then I changed my sweaty shirt and drove to NTB to have it fixed, but of course they said they couldn't get to it until noon. Thankfully my pal Ryan was able to come get me, and they actually called me back around 11:00 to say it was fixed! I was really glad it was fixable - they said that a wire had got inside there and finally poked its way through. Now I have a working car with four good tires again. Hopefully things will calm down now - I'm just glad I didn't decide to try skydiving this week!

6.13.2007

Busy but getting better

OK, it's time for a little catch-up! Life has been really busy lately, which is why WEBmikey has been stale for so long. Last weekend was completely full, since I went on a road trip with my pal Tom to Galveston (with a museum stop in Houston), and this week is one of those times when I have something going on every night, as well as plenty of errands that I need to take care of. I've been getting up early to keep up with my Japanese studies, but I keep running out of time for blogging. On top of being busy, I also had two annoying problems pop-up at the same time (both of which are taken care of now).

The first problem was I noticed my car had a minor oil leak. I had just got my 90,000 mile service done before the road trip, so I figured it was related somehow. I actually noticed it before the trip, but since it was only a few drops a night, I just kept my eye on it for the drive, and the level never budged whenever I checked it. Early this morning I took it to the shop, and it was only a simple washer that had been put in crooked, so the fix was really fast (and the service department left me a big apology note in the car!). So, one problem down!

The second problem was my beloved MacBook suddenly developed a display defect! I single pixel-wide horizontal line appeared across the screen and stuck there, and since it was there both in Mac OS X and in Windows XP (via BootCamp), I knew it was a hardware problem. I took it in to the new Apple Store at the Domain, which is really convenient since it's so close, and the guy at the Genius Bar immediately said "Let's get you a new display". Of course, this meant shipping it off for repair, but at least they can do that right from the Apple Store (and the fixed computer will be shipped back to me). The day before I took it in, I stayed up late to back everything up, and now it's on the way (I'm writing this on my trusty Power Mac now). I should get it back next week, and thankfully everything is covered by the warranty. At least it's the only hardware problem I've had with all the Macs I've owned!

6.07.2007

Mothra vs Godzilla : 4 of 5

I absolutely love these new Classic Media releases of the original Godzilla films! It's so cool to watch both the Japanese and US versions and compare their differences, and the commentary track is by far the most scholarly discussion of this genre that you will ever hear. This time I enjoyed the 1964 release of Mothra vs Godzilla (released in the US as Godzilla vs the Thing, since they wanted to sell more tickets by keeping the other monster a secret!), which is considered by many to be one of the best Godzilla movies (and one of the last where Godzilla is a destructive force, rather than a kind of hero for Japan). I'm sure I saw this ages ago, but I completely forgot the story of Mothra's egg washing ashore, the death of the current Mothra, and then the birth of the caterpillar twins! The scenes with the "small beauties" (played by an old pop group called The Peanuts) speaking in unison are always great, and it's fun to hear them sing to Mothra. Godzilla does some great damage (using his tail much more in this movie), including destroying Himeji Castle, and there are some dramatic electrocution scenes before his eventual fate in Mothra's sticky webs. The visual effects are so cool for the 60s (thanks to one of only two optical printers in existence at the time!), and the music is fantastically dramatic, which is discussed in a short biography of the composer Ikufube. Besides the dubbed voices (some done by the Speed Racer crew), the US version includes an additional missile attack scene, which is really interesting. I totally cannot wait for the next round of DVD releases - seeing these movies in their original form is making me a huge Godzilla fan!

Densha Otoko : 4 of 5

You would think I've had enough of the Densha Otoko story by now, but since the theatrical version was recently released on DVD in the US, I decided I should get it for my collection. I actually saw this movie just after I finished the TV drama, so at the time I didn't enjoy it as much as the series, but after watching it again, I can see what a touching version of the story it is! Overall it's a much slicker production with far less goofy comedy (though it certainly has its share, especially in the imaginary battlefield sequences), which lets the beauty of the plot shine through a little more. I love the moment where we realize that two of Densha's net friends are actually married, but so distant from one another that they don't know they are both cheering Densha on! I also enjoyed the text effects where different things are "typed" onto buildings and things in the real world, which really makes the various montages interesting. Densha and Hermes are both really fantastic - I could really believe in the shyness of Hermes, and Densha's big kokuhaku moment at the end is phenomenal. His speech about his honest thoughts about his life and how it's changed is a guaranteed sobbing signal for me! The DVD is fairly no-frills, with only a few bonus features that mostly consist of text slides to read about Akihabara and so on. However, there's an interesting commentary with plenty of details about manga cafes and other things seen in the film, which is nice. It was great just to enjoy the movie again with a fresher perspective, and now it's much easier for everyone in the US to check it out.

6.05.2007

Hello! Morning Theater Vol 10 : 3 of 5

The last Hello! Morning Theater DVD I watched was back in January! I guess I've just been content with music videos and concerts recently. Anyway, I started watching these skit collections with Vol 9 working backwards, but this one is the latest release (which has been sitting on my shelf for months!). This volume was a little disappointing, since there weren't very many laugh-out-loud moments for me, but then again, time seemed to pass quickly through all 15 segments, so it must not have been that boring! The main story plot (if you can call it that) is about fairy tale characters hopping out of their books (making the kids who own the books sad!) and wandering around the Haromoni world. There's a little bit of everything - Jack in the Beanstalk, Pinocchio, Hansel & Gretel, The Little Match Girl (and even a bit of Urashimataro). I don't know the story of The Blue Bird, but it's pretty hilarious when Miki runs by as a giant pigeon dropping golden poop (seriously!), which the characters mistake for golden eggs! It was fun recognizing some other cultural references, such as Gepetto claiming he made Astro Boy or Arale-chan from Dr. Slump, and I enjoyed the pun when the Little Match Girl, who always says "Macchi katte kudasai" (please buy matches), pulls out an Abe Natsumi photobook and switches to "Nacchi katte kudasai" (Nacchi being her nickname, of course!). The two episode Christmas special is also included on this DVD, which has some nice references to old characters and fun versions of Jingle Bells and Rudolph to sing along with. It was fun to enjoy these skits again, but I don't think I'm really desperate to keep buying more.

Finally finished

Whenever I can see the end of a task is in sight, I have a habit of making a sprint to the light at the end of the tunnel - I just like to go all out to finish up whatever I'm doing. This weekend my mad dash was to finish watching all of the shows I purchased from YesJapan, and now I can say I've seen nearly every single episode they have to offer, and I've got them all archived for the future. I watched so many shows (usually about 30 minutes each) that I lost count, but it must have been at least 15 or so. Back when I discovered YesJapan, I thought these were the greatest thing I'd ever seen, but now they are only semi-interesting, so I'm glad I've finished them up (although I'll probably still check out new episodes periodically). Although there's some great Japanese learning buried in there, I'm weary of sifting through all the boring and often rude humor to learn something! I still think YesJapan is a cool resource, and I know beginners will be just as excited as I was when they take a look, but I can learn more watching an anime episode rather than cringing over these shows' embarrassing moments. Anyway, it was still a nice accomplishment to see them all!

Musume Dokyu! Vol 6 : 3 of 5

It's amazing I watched the previous volume of this series back in February, especially since I bought both of these at the same time! I finally caught up just a little on my DVD stack recently, and it was fun to watch another set of four segments with the Morning Musume girls, each one focusing on some kind of teaching this time. First, Yossie gets advice from some sort of "life expert" that analyzes her daily routine and tells her important things like she shouldn't use a green toothbrush or go to sleep with the TV on - it's a really snoozer segment, with way too much of the expert doing all the talking! Second, Makoto (looking razor thin for some reason) learns to play Furusato on the vibraphone, which is extra interesting to me being a drummer, and after tons of practice she gets it right, playing with two other musicians to make a nice trio. After that, Mikitty has a series of voice lessons primarily in English, and learns to sing Amazing Grace, of all things! It was actually pretty fascinating, watching her try to make sounds like "th" that she's never spoken before in her life (nice revenge for my troubles with "ryo"), and she ends up doing a good rendition of the tune. Finally, Risa gets a Korean lesson, which I'm sure was interesting for her, but pretty boring for me. For bonus material, there are extended segments from the last volume - more Sayumi bento-packing action, plus way too much footage of Reina being a disinterested employee. It's funny watching this volume since Mako-chan has graduated and Mikitty has just resigned, but enjoying history is part of the fun of following Jpop idols!

6.03.2007

Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 / Nintendo DS : 5 of 5

As you may know, I have plenty of Nintendo DS games waiting for me to play, but since rhythm games will always be my favorite, I had to make the time to play this sequel to one of the best games ever, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! This new version of the Japanese game includes all of the cool features that were added when the game was Americanized into Elite Beat Agents, such as the incredibly important skip feature (which lets you keep trying to pass a stage without having to listen to the song intro over and over!). In addition to the regular Ouendan characters in their black uniforms, there's also a rival squad in blue uniforms - they divide up the city to help various people, and of course join forces for the big finale. I'd say the easy mode may be a little too easy, since I passed every song all the way to the end on the first try, and since then I've finished the medium and half of the hard mode. The song choices are cool, as usual, including some Jpop that I already knew, plus lots of great songs that I want to check out now! I thought it was cool that Sambomaster's Sekai wa Sore o Ai to Yobundaze is the final song - hearing it so many times as the closing theme of Densha Otoko really helped! The manga-style introductions to each stage are really funny, but unfortunately not as entertaining as the first version (although I thought the bedwetting stage was a total riot!). They could release a new version of the game every month and I would obediently buy it and enjoy it - it's just that good!

More Star Wars geeking

This week I decided to have a little more Star Wars fun by checking out Star Wars: Revelations, without a doubt the biggest production fan film ever made. I had seen most of the movie before in pieces, but after hearing more about in the George and Me documentary, I decided to download it and enjoy it all. The movie is completely free (they can't charge since it's based on Lucasfilm properties), and now they even have complete DVD images with amazing menus, which makes it a breeze to enjoy the film on your TV. There's a lot to like about this movie, and of course plenty to cringe at, but you can't ignore the truly amazing special effects! I love the fact that so many people put so many hours into something purely for the sake of fandom, with no compensation at all.

I also was pretty psyched to see the first trailer for the upcoming Lucasfilm animated TV series, The Clone Wars! The 3D-ization of the original Cartoon Network character designs looks a little strange to me, but the space battle sequences look perfect, and I'm sure the whole production will only look more amazing when it finally airs. I'm also excited that Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination is coming to Fort Worth - this cool exhibit has been traveling for quite a while, and now I'll finally get to see it, since some of my pals and I are planning a trip in the coming months.

Walt Disney's Legacy Collection / True Life Adventures Vol 3 : 4 of 5

It's time to visit the big bronze globe again with another set of Disney's spectacular nature films! This collection seemed particularly jam-packed to me, with two feature length films as well as two more shorts (that aren't so sort!). The African Lion is definitely one of the most popular True Life Adventures, featuring all of the classic safari animals that are always so fascinating. Besides the mighty lion, there's the giraffe, rhino, and elephant to learn about, as well as lots of birds and baboons. The footage of huge hippos swimming effortlessly underwater is truly amazing, and I also enjoyed watching lionesses hunting as a team with great skill (although the carcasses they end up dragging around are seriously gross). But regardless of the spectacle of The African Lion, Jungle Cat is even more exciting! The Brazilian jungle is just so much more lush and spooky than the plains of Africa, and while the focus is on the jaguar, it's the supporting animals that amazed me. I never imagined that anteaters could fight, or that sloths can barely pull themselves along the ground if they fall from their tree! Next is Bear Country and The Olympic Elk, both really entertaining, and of course there is plenty of bonus material to round out the set, including some old TV segments about the photographers, plus more Animal Kingdom features. Seeing these movies really made me think about the Disneyland attractions they inspired, such as scenes from the Jungle Cruise and the old Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland - I just love enjoying a taste of Disney adventure!

6.01.2007

Akihabara Geeks : 3 of 5

I noticed this short documentary (originally produced by NHK in Japan, but released completely dubbed on this DVD) while browsing through Netflix, and even though it's only 45 minutes and a little over-dramatic, it was still a fun way to enjoy some Tokyo scenery and remember a place I've visited. Akihabara is a section of Tokyo (although they insist on calling it a "town" in the narration) filled with hobby shops catering to otaku (geeks) of all kinds - electronics, computers, anime, manga, and anything else that can be obsessed about. This DVD kind of follows a day in the life of five different people, and it's generally positive about geek culture, touching on the community aspect and the realization of dreams, which is nice to hear. There's some nice background into how Akihabara got started, especially since one of the guys owns an electronic parts store, selling tiny diodes and LEDs all day to old men building radios and other home projects. Of course, one of the guys is obsessed with girl anime characters, and even though the narration is a little cruel, I felt like cheering him on as he spends over $400 in one store on figures and things - whatever makes you happy! Another guy is a PC overclocker, who builds completely custom computers to break Pi calculation records, running them so hot that he has to cool them with liquid nitrogen, and even then they just burn up after the job is done. They also follow the life of a girl who works in a Maid Cafe, who surprisingly finds inspiration for life in her job. The last guy is a video game developer who self-published a super-popular game and now has a successful business, all thanks to Akihabara. This documentary is definitely an easy way to spend an hour, and it was nice to think about my brief time in Tokyo again.

R-L-R-R-L-R-L-L

I've just started teaching drum lessons to my friend Eliza, and so far it's been a cool experience! Eliza is a vice-principal, so she decided she wanted to learn to play drums as a summer project during her time off from work. I've never taught before, so I was a little nervous starting out - not only because it was my first time, but since Eliza has spent her whole career as an educator, I felt funny trying to teach a teacher! Our second lesson was last night, and it's going really well. I dug up my old drum books that I used back when I was taking lessons (sometime around 1981, based on penciled notes in the books!), and I'm basing the lessons on what I remember being taught at the beginning. My drum teacher was named Richard Thompson, and I met him because he also taught the son of my school choir teacher. He was a great teacher, and taught me some important concepts that I still think about every time I play a gig. He also introduced me to jazz, and learning about that music and its drumming style has really influenced the way I play. Of course, I wasn't the best as practicing on my own, and he gave me lots of speeches about it, but I was able to get by on some kind of innate rhythm I have. I took lessons with him about two years, and then he moved to New York to teach at a prestigious school, if I remember correctly. Anyway, it's been great using the old books again and beginning to teach Eliza, since I have to practice a little to be sure I can play the exercises as well! I'm amazed that one of the books is still in print, A Funky Primer for the Rock Drummer, which is jam-packed with cool beats that I refer to (in my mind) constantly. Another nice benefit of teaching is that Chris is cooking me some fantastic meals as payment, which is an awesome break from the microwave for me!