AndyO Blog

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Norovirus family fun

Well, the entire family got sick with a norovirus over the past week. This was definitely not one of those weeks that I'll treasure as a parent (then again, maybe it's true that comedy is the Woody Allen formula: Tragedy + Time = Comedy. We'll see.)

Here's what happened:
  • Saturday morning: Cameron throws up. He can't go fishing with Uncle Erik. Within about 2-3 hours, he's outside playing. We all thought, "Wow, he must have had food poisoning or something."
  • Sunday: Brenda doesn't feel great, but she doesn't get sick. By late evening, Drew wakes up screaming. I find him throwing up in his crib (I actually didn't know right away, since I didn't turn on the lights).
  • Monday: Brenda stays home with Drew. Cam goes back to school. Later: Cameron throws up again. He's acting fine in about 20 minutes, but we decide to have him stay home from school. Drew is still not better.
  • Tuesday: Brenda stays home with both boys. Brenda gets the virus on around 5:00.
  • Wednesday (early morning): I get the virus. Brenda stays home with Drew and me. Cameron goes to school.
  • Thursday: We're all eating again. We go to Snappy Dragon for dinner to celebrate.
  • Friday: Everyone is back at school and work.
I hear a lot of people talking about germs these days. They use hand cleaner, anti-bacterial soap, try to run away when they hear you cough. But as a parent, you have no choice but to face all those germs head-on. As a parent, it's a 100% probability that you will be thrown up on. I guess you can only take solace in the fact that your parents went through the same thing with you. It's twisted karma.

I'm hoping we don't see Mr. Norovirus around this house for a long, long time.
posted by AndyO @ 7:15 PM   0 comments

Friday, April 21, 2006

Drum lessons with Matt Chamberlain

Last Month I did something I've never done before: took a drum lesson. But this wasn't just any drum lesson. It was a one-on-one class with Matt Chamberlain. If you haven't heard of Matt Chamberlain, chances are you've heard his drumming. Matt is one of the most in-demand studio drummers in the world. Here's a partial list of the albums he has played on:

  • Tori Amos - The Beekeeper and every album she's done since 1998
  • David Bowie - Heathen, Reality
  • Fiona Apple - Tidal, When the Pawn
  • The Wallflowers - Bringing Down the Horse
  • Elton John - Songs from the West Coast
  • Garbage - Beautiful Garbage
  • Edie Brickell and New Bohemians - Ghost of a Dog
  • Pater Gabriel - Tower of Song: Tribute to Leonard Cohen
  • Natalie Merchant - Motherland
  • Liz Phair - Liz Phair
  • William Shatner - Has Been
  • Faith Hill - Fireflies, Cry
  • Cristina Aguilera - Stripped
  • Stevie Nicks - Trouble in Shangri-La

My introduction to Matt's playing goes back to 1994, when he started playing with the Seattle band, Critters Buggin'. It was a Friday night, and I was at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard with Martin and Ryan of Wake. The venue was pretty deserted for a Friday night. As I watched and listened to Matt, I knew I was watching someone with an extraordinary sense of groove. And the music he was playing was pushing boundaries, touching equally on jazz, rock, fusion, hip-hop, and many other styles.

Fast forward to Saturday, March 25. I received an e-mail from Donn Bennett Drum Studio with information about private lessons with Matt Chamberlain. I e-mailed them with my interest, but Matt's sessions filled up almost immediately.

Fast forward to the following Thursday. I received a call from Donn Bennett Drum Studio. They said if I wanted the Friday session with Matt, it was mine. Someone had dropped out, and no one else was calling back. I took the session. Almost as soon as I hung up, my stomach tensed up. It was a good thing I had less than 24 hours to worry about it.

When I arrived for my lesson, Matt was late. I used the extra time to look around the drum shop, buy some sticks, and talk with Donn Bennett. As I've said in other parts of my website, Donn Bennett Drum Studios is the heart of drumming in the Seattle area. Everywhere on the walls are signed pictures and drum heads from the world's greatest drummers. If you looked up at the drum museum that is set above the drum shop, you'd see drum sets from famous drummers--from Alan White (Yes) to Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick). There's an exact replica of Ringo Starr's famous Ludwig kit.

When Matt showed up, he was talking on his cell phone. He looked the same as I remembered: tall and lanky, wearing a green army jacket and boots. He was friendly and funny, and in no time we headed back into the studio to start my lesson.

The studio itself was a dark room with two Mapex drum kits sitting side-by-side. Between the sets was a practice pad. Matt started off telling me he had a (rare) week off from studio work, so he decided to teach--not take vacation. "My girlfriend thinks I'm crazy," he said.

Matt played some beats for me to illustrate a few things. This lead to some discussion about the Moller Technique, which I'd seen in a Steve Smith instructional DVD, but it was nice to be able to discuss it with Matt. (The Moller technique t involves hitting the drum and then letting the stick drop and hit again as you raise your hand.) I could probably spend the next year working on this one thing.

Matt also showed me a nice exercise of breaking up 16th notes between the hands and feet all over the kit, which of course he made sound amazing.

One thing that happened during this lesson was that whenever I tried to play something that he was illustrating, I sounded terrible. It's almost as if Matt's technique was like a different language that I couldn't speak. From what I understand, this is a natural feeling when working with a teacher. I think for this to be my very first drum lesson amplified the feeling even more.

At any rate, just being able to hang out with one of your favorite drummers is an inspiring thing. And, more importantly, it helped me understand the importance of teachers and how they can help you grow as a player. More on this when I start studying with a regular teacher.

posted by AndyO @ 11:10 PM   1 comments

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chris Mess's Bowie recommendations

In Chris Mess, we play one David Bowie song, "Ziggy Stardust." I've never really been into Bowie, except for what I've heard on the radio. But playing "Ziggy" has given me a true appreciation of this man's genius (there's something about getting "inside" a song that really helps you understand it).

Last night, after Chris Mess played "The Mercury," Chris and my brother Erik had breakfast at The Hurricane Cafe. We got to talking about music, and Erik asked Chris what Bowie he should buy. Chris sent an e-mail that I thought others might appreciate, too.
"As for Bowie, for his 70's period I recommend first and foremost the album "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars". Incredible from beginning to end--lots of songs you've never heard before on the radio, which are nonetheless amazing. "Hunky Dory" would be next. This cd is full of elaborate piano ballads which are masterfully done in Bowie's 70's style, and then the last track is the rocker "Queen B*tch". It's a mellow listen, "Hunky Dory", but a good one. For something on the edgy experimental side, try "Scary Monsters"--Robert Fripp plays on it throughout. This is the cd that contains the hit "Ashes to Ashes" which is an amazing song."
posted by AndyO @ 1:16 PM   1 comments

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The President of China stops by my work

Today, the President of China decided to stop by my work on the east side of Seattle. It caused traffic nightmares for everyone. My brother couldn't even get out of his parking garage for 20 minutes. I often wonder why the rest of us need to suffer to make someone like President Hu feel important. I know there's security and all, but do they really need to mess up our evening commute?

Also, I never knew that Seattle had so many police. Everywhere you looked, you saw one. On every streetcorner, overpass, or clearning next to the freeway. They have to do this because of what the lunatics have done to leaders in the past.

You wonder why leaders like President Hu don't just get in an unmarked car to go to their destination. It sure would be a lot faster for him, and it wouldn't add to our traffic problems.
posted by AndyO @ 2:06 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

John Kerry stops by my work

Today John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for the last election, gave a talk at my work. For the first 15 minutes, he railed on about Republican incompetence in D.C., and then he took questions.

It was fascinating to hear him talk about his defeat in the election. He never seemed to acknowledge that he ran a poor campaign; he seemed to blame a lot of other people for his loss. He talked about how he won three debates. Someone asked him if he lost because his message wasn't simple enough. He agreed with that. Someone else asked him how he and the Democrats are going to simplify their message for the mid-term elections and the next Presidential election. Kerry went on to define a simple 8-point list.

It's clear to me why Kerry lost the last Presidential election. He let others define him. He was on defense, not offense. But Kerry also pointed out two things that contributed to his loss that were external factors:
  • Osama bin Laden went on TV the weekend before the election. After this appearance, Kerry's poll numbers started to drop and never recovered
  • No president has ever lost an election in the middle of a war
All this political stuff aside, Kerry was a nice guy. He seems genuinely concerned for America and told us it's our responsibility not to give up. That was the main thing I took away from his talk -- that we can never give up our fight for a better country.
posted by AndyO @ 10:52 PM   0 comments

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Solar Eclipse as seen from space

Here's an interesting picture of the shadow of the solar eclipse that just happened. Ever since I saw a total solar eclipse in 1979, these celestial events have always fascinated me. If you ever have the chance to see a total solar eclipse--even if you have to travel--do it.

NASA - Total Solar Eclipse
posted by AndyO @ 9:31 AM   0 comments

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wichita - coming soon to a theater near you

My brother has been keeping me up to date with his friend's Hollywood adventures, which have been getting more interesting. Scott Milam, one-time roommate of Erik's, wrote a Horror screenplay called "Wichita" that was not only bought by Weinstein Company (the brothers who created Miramax), but is currently getting set up for production. Anyone who been close to the Hollywood machine knows how quickly things can change for a movie on its way to production, but I'm impressed with Scott's abilities so far. I'm crossing my fingers for him.

The last time I saw Scott, he and Ken Harder were showing a bunch of us their recently-completed documentary "Big City Dick," about Seattle musician Richard Peterson. I was impressed with that film, too. It went on to win Slamdance, and got a celebrity-filled screening at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.

Here's the latest about "Wichita": Helmer's heading to 'Wichita': "Weinstein Co. genre arm Dimension Films
has acquired tyro scribe Scott Milam's script Wichita for Saw 2 helmer Darren
Lynn Bousman to direct."
posted by AndyO @ 10:03 PM   0 comments

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Drew walks

Last Monday, March 20, Drew learned how to walk. Every day since, he's getting better and better.

You realize how much we take walking for granted until you watch a baby try to walk. In many ways, human beings aren't really designed to walk at all. For starters, walking puts much more strain on the spinal column. But standing gives humans an advantage over just about every other animal: it frees up our hands.

Drew didn't learn to walk until he was 1 year, 13 days old. I think his brother, Cameron, learned to walk right around the same time. I actually expected Drew to walk much sooner, but he instead chose to become a "master crawler." People who saw him crawl couldn't believe how fast he was. (When we were in Hawaii last year, my recurring joke was pretending to wind him up and then put him on the ground.)

You can tell that Drew has gained confidence and independence since he started walking. It's part of that long process that will ultimately move him away from his parents and out of the house. Only 17 years to go.
posted by AndyO @ 2:17 PM   0 comments