Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's About Time

So I finally got RockBand II and I have to admit I'm hooked. Well, actually my son got it for Christmas but I keep playing it. This game is a blast (and not just the drums). Speaking of the drums, my RockBand kit has a Rock 'n Sock throne. I was surprised to find so much Prog on the song list... Rush, Kansas, Dream Theater. I'm thinking for my next project I'll bust out some frisk and my airbrush to trick out the guitar.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back to Prog Drumming

Wow, I just had one of the best times playing
music I've ever had. I had the chance to jam with Mauricio Sotelo of the group Cabezas de Cera, one of the premier Chapman Stick players and most avant garde musicians in prog music today (also, one of the nicest and most gracious musicians I've ever met). Mauricio and CDC were recent headliners at NEAR Fest and Baja Prog and he happens to be friends with my band partner Frank D'Angelo. Mauricio is without a doubt one of the most interesting and innovative Stick players around. We hung out, had a little wine, and played weird music for a few hours. What could be better than that?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Whiteboard Mural

15' X 4' dry erase marker on whiteboard. This started when I told my students to graffiti my whiteboard. 32 markers and a couple of weeks and this is the result. They did require some direction but it's amazing how every student said they can't draw! This has actually become legendary with everyone involved claiming bragging rights. The following are closeups, left to right.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Graffiti My Whiteboard

For Bell Work I had the students in three classes graffiti a section of my white board, then I added imagery on top of theirs. Their work work did not vary the line in any way and all of it was essentially on the same scale. I brought my additons in to demonstrate how to manipulate scale, line weight, superimpose themes, add such elements as visual contradiction, pun, repetition, contrast, symbolism, and color contratst, etc...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Whiteboard Drawing

I've been told by one of my fellow teachers (Ms. Sheridan - teaches journalism and English across the hall from me) that I have to keep a record of all the stuff I draw on my whiteboard. These are just some border design ideas I put up to get them thinking about ways to dress up the illuminated manuscript project they've been working on.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Whiteboard Drawing

I drew this on my whiteboard at school. It is NOT a reference to 9/11. It is mere coincidence that I drew this yesterday, however, it happens that a fellow teacher was in New York at the time of the attack. When she saw my silly drawing she laughed but also said it made her uncomfortable. This gave me an excellent opportunity to talk to my class about the power and purpose of art. We talked about the many uses of art beyond entertainment, such as being a means of expressing thoughts, beliefs, emotions, etc... We talked about advertising and propaganda. We talked about art's power to tap into the mind of the viewer and illicit responses we may or may not have intended. All in all an interesting classroom discussion.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Whiteboard Drawing

Unbelievable... No way..... It can't be done.... two posts in the same night on the same topic.... GET OUT! Okay, whatever. Anyway, as I said in the last post I'm covering medieval illuminated manuscripts and woodcut printing in the same lesson (wow, aint I innovative?). So, to get the woodcut idea across, I keep demonstrating by drawing on the whiteboard using a subtractive method. That is, I fill in a space with black dry erase marker, then "draw" by erasing, using a paper towel to remove the ink. In this case I drew the ribbon border, then filled the interior space with black and created the capital B and the pattern around it by erasing. I love the kind of unexpected shapes that you get by working that way. And, yes, that drawing is on a whiteboard. Can't tell you why it looks yellow, must be the light.

Whiteboard Drawing

Right, well it's been quite some time since I posted on the blog and it's likely much readership has fallen off. So be it. I still intend to continue this in spite of my own lack of consistency. Today's post is another whiteboard drawing done for my classroom. I'm teaching a unit on Medieval and Gothic art which contains an extensive look at illuminated manuscripts. I've devised a project in which my students will each produce their own illuminated manuscript based on their choice of a lyric, poem, or excerpt of literature. Each student will produce a recto (right hand page) consisting of the text, an ornamental capital, and a decorative border, as well as a verso (left hand page) containing a suitable illumination for the text and it's own decorative border.
In addition to illuminated manuscripts, which were typically hand painted, I've been discussing woodcut prints, a popular form in Medieval art. I'm asking the students to combine the techniques for this project. In the case of the recto, I'm requiring each to create a linocut (easier than wood) for the ornamental capital that usually begins the text. We'll print the block on parchment (modern), then add the text and ornamentation using markers. Once the recto is complete, we'll produce a verso consisting of a larger linocut image depicting, i.e. illuminating, some aspect of the text. We'll then add a decorative border to accentuate the illumination. All in all it should give the students an interesting introduction to medieval art (with a modern twist) using two of the popular styles of the day.
The whiteboard drawing that I've created uses dry erase markers to demonstrate the concept. The ornamental capital was created by filling in a rectangle with black ink, then using a paper towel to "cut out" the letter and leave patterned marks around it. This is meant to simulate the woodcut process, a subtractive method of drawing. The decorative border in this case is intended to introduce the students to the practice of creating weaving and branching patterns, something I had them practice several times as bell work. The text I've chosen is a "madrigal" by P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickle) called "My Bonny Lass She Smelleth". I thought it an appropriate choice because it actually parodies medieval music.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tool Stuff

I went to see Tool here in Phoenix on July 21st. Fantastic show. Anyway, one of my friends was working on the crew as a rigger. I saw him today and he tossed me this shirt, said he thought I'd probably wear it more than he would. Very cool! Thanks Mark.
In addition to the shirt, my buddy grabbed the sheet they gave him listing the various back stage passes. I thought it interesting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Teacher Mind Map

Back to school. Meetings and training before the students come back. We have some new teachers so I drew this one while we were discussing classroom environment. It just seemed right to make him into a mind map about the subject being discussed. He seemed like he was thinking about it. Peripherals, by the way, are any ancillary aspects of or in the classroom that contribute to the learning environment.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Loss of a giant

I just learned of the passing of Jim Chapin, the man who wrote the book on coordinated independence. I have to say that his book is the seminal work on drumset indentendant coordination. I discovered it in the early '70's and begged my teacher to walk me through it. Surprisingly, I introduced a student to this wonderful text only yesterday! Mr. Chapin's book is one of the finest drum books ever published and he is one of the most inspirational figures in drumset music. He is a shining example that you don't have to be a recording or performing star to be a profound and moving force in music. I don't have a single recording of Jim Chapin playing, however his book is one of the single most memorable and influential works in my library!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Amsterdam Percussion Group

So I saw this group on Youtube and, being a fan of Terry Bozzio and all things percussion, I had to have it. I searched and discovered no mention of it on Bozzio's website, or any of the DVD sources I normally use. I couldn't find any reviews either. I finally had to order it through the group's website. It took two months for them to finally ship it from Holland and with glee I popped it in the DVD player only to discover that something in the formatting prevents my system from reading it. "Cannot Play" flashes on the display. Fortunately it does play on my computer so it's not a total loss. The music is wonderful with compositions by Bozzio, Piazzolla, Zappa, and members of the group. Some of it is reminescent of Pierre Moerlen's Gong. This one will get many plays!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Other One Kit

This is my other kit (actually my first kit). It's a four piece 1967 Ludwig. The tom is 14" (rail consolette mount), 16" floor tom, 22 x 18" bass drum, and 14" metal concert snare (13" picolo pictured here). Good stuff.

Gig Kit

Folks have asked so I thought I'd post. This is my main gig kit. The brand is Po' Boy Drums (I'm an endorser). It's a natural finish, birch and maple hybrid. The toms are 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16". The bass is 20 x 18", and the snare is 14 x 5.5". I use a double kick pedal and I typically add a 13 x 3" picolo snare on the left as well as a second foot pedal with a jam block. The cymbals are Zildjian, Paiste, and Po' Boy.

Friday, June 12, 2009


You know, I was thinking about my favorites and I realized that I'm a mass of contradictions! Check it out:

My favorite composers are J. S. Bach and Frank Zappa.
My favorite painters are Francisco Goya and Max Beckmann.
My favorite writers are Stephen King and William Faulkner.
My favorite playwrites are William Shakespeare and David Mamet.
My favorite sculptors are Michellangelo and Claes Oldenberg.
My favorite film directors are Alfred Hitchcok and Quentin Tarentino.
My favorite drummers are Ringo Starr and Terry Bozzio.
My favorite printmakers are Albrecht Durer and . E. L. Kirchener
My favorite illustrators are Gustav Dore and Robert Crumb.

I'm sure I could continue but it's 1;30 AM. I'm tired, good night.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


To those who have followed my blog I apologize. I have not posted for quite sometime for the simple reason that I have been in a crisis of a personal nature that I am not ready to share publically. Those who know me intimately know my crisis and sympathize; thank you. The print I've posted is, of course, Goya's famous "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters". It, I think, is profoundly appropriate to my current situation. At present I am in fact, suffering a similar fate to that of the individual depicted in this astonishing etching. That said, I will now segue to the promotion of a brilliant documentary that I just finished watching. Goya: Crazy Like a Genius is one of the latest works by art historian Robert Hughes and it is brilliant. If you have netflix you can rent it right away. I have always loved Goya's "3rd of May", "Sleep of Reason", and "Saturn Devouring His Children" but I have never truly appreciated Goya until now. The guy was freaking brilliant. I hope you will bear with me through this difficult time, I'm certain I will come out the better for it. In the meantime I hope you'll enjoy learning about a troubled genius who understood and suffered as you and I do. Goya rocks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whiteboard Drawing

Another whiteboard/dry erase drawing. 6' x 3.5'. Here's a hint: el bano.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whiteboard Drawing

I've decided to start a new type of blog entry: Whiteboard Art. For most of the projects I assign my art classes I end up doing a large drawing on my dry erase white board (approx. 6' x 3.5'). I did this drawing to get the students thinking about texture, value, and blending.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Anima Update

Wow, cool stuff is beginning to take shape with Anima Obscura. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Frank and I have decided to reduce the band to a duo comprising me on drumset, percussion, and Chapman Stick and Frank on midi guitar and 7 string. We are both using loopers. We've never seen an act like that (but we know it's possible because we've been performing one song that way for some time). It was a little rough going at first though. It is very difficult to time two loopers and to make seamless changes from one groove/instrument to another. Today however, we had quite a breakthrough. We're worked on a piece that begins with a bass loop on the stick, then I enter with a darbuka solo. Frank builds a slow ambient sound scape on midi, then switches to seven string and waits. I stop the bass and percussion and allow the soundscape to play solo, then on cue, I start the bass loop and Frank and I come full on with heavy guitar and full drum set. The soundscape and bass are rolling underneath us. We improv and solo over it for a long time, then I fade the bass out and Frank starts to play a gamelan(!) rhythm in 5/4 on the synth and I switch to two handed tapping on the stick. So far it's a very interesting piece.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stupid Cat

I like my last triptych so I started stretching canvases for another. My cat Fedora thinks that anything I'm working on is a good surface for resting her lazy butt. I cut the canvas, laid down the bars and stepped away. When I looked back she had her butt planted right in my work. Good kitty.

Oh of course I'm well aware that the phrase "stupid cat" is redundant.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Five Year Plan

It's amazing to me, but it's been five years since I last did a painting. I've been busy with music, performing, teaching and of course I've been drawing and sketching all this time, but I haven't been painting. I've actually never been happy with myself as a painter so recently I hooked up with an old college friend whose paintings I admire. He really wants to play the drums so I offered to give him drum lessons if he'd let me watch him paint and give me tips (translate as Lessons, thanks Jon!). Well, here's the first result. If you've been following the sketches I've posted, you'll recognize that this is in the same line of thought. This is a hybrid of a Baroque triptych alter piece and a comic strip from the Sunday paper (that's why each panel is square). This is a mixed media with ink, acrylic, and collage elements on canvas. There are invented images as well as photographed images. There is ala prima painting and glazing. Each panel is 18" x 18". This is a very spiritual piece that explores my frustration with philosophy, religion, and politics. There's a strong sense of "walking into light" with the figure in the right panel. The death imagery, the flytraps, the flys, are all deliberate means to convey my current state of dissatisfaction. I'm very pleased with the shifting perspective in the composition. I also like the warm, dry, desert colors on the left in contrast to the cool, tropical colors on the right. The title is "Shooting the Bottle off the Buddha".

P.S. If you want to see some great work check out my friend Jonathan's blog. He's one of my "followers" in the top right corner above my picture.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Directions

Wow, it's been over a month since my last post. For those who don't know, I lost the bass player in my band a few months ago and I have not been playing out at all. The other day my partner Frank and I auditioned a bass player who had all the chops we could ask for. Unfortunately, after the audition Frank and I were both in a strange mood. As we talked about it, we realized we just don't want to play that music anymore. We felt the stuff we'd written is in many ways too restrictive and formulaic. We want something that's different from anything we've done and which offers us a new challenge. We have decided to try performing as a duo using real time digital loops. I'm using the drumset, Chapman Stick, and percussion with two loopers ( a Headrush and a Jam Man) and Frank is using two loopers as well, one with his Brian Moore Midi guitar and the other with his seven string. So far the music is very ambient. However, I think that with practice we will find the way to establish an interesting structure by switching loops on and off while creating grooves and solo sections. It's definitely a challenge but I think that's going to make it all the more rewarding.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Landscape Escape

I had my middle school students do a project I called Landscape Escape. They had to set a simple geometric shape approximatel 1/4 the size of the page in the center of the picture plane. They had to use simple branching to create a forest emphasizing foreground/middleground/background and comprising a cool color scheme. They had to fill the central space with imagery that would contrast the landscape in at least three ways. This student created contrast by using a warm color vs. cool, animal vs. plant, and domestic vs. wild. I like it.
By the way, this is the work of a special ed student who suffers with Autism. He absolutely loves to draw and he loves his dogs.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Black Page Marimba Attempt

So as I said, I have a marimba in my office and, since I can already play the drumset part for Frank Zappa's The Black Page, I decided to tackle the mallet part as well. Far easier said than done. This is my first try and it is indeed far from perfect, but worth documenting. I'm working the same way I did with the drum part. Generally, for the first time through, I will ignore the complex phrasing and just try to get the pitches and sticking right, then I can practice with a metronome and get the polyrhythms rhythmically correct. So when you listen to this keep in mind that I'm just sort of playing the rhythm by ear. I'm also ignoring the rolls. All I want this first time through is to get the pitches and sticking down. This is approximately the first six measures of the piece.

P.S. that's not a video, just an MP3 with a static picture attached. Not even my hands.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Black Page Update

"That's right folks, don't touch that dial". I'm gonna try to keep you updated through this just like I did last year. Step by boring step! Unh-Hunh, the resolution for 2008 was to finally play The Black Page on the drum set and I succeeded, even playing it live before an audience of five or six drunken twits in a dive bar in Scottsdale, Arizona.... GOSH I'm proud of myself. The res for 2009 is to play the mallet part. Yes, since I'm now officially a music teacher, I have a marimba in my office and, by God, I'm gonna play that damn thing. Every morning I have about twenty minutes and every afternoon I've got my prep hour. I'm devoting that time to The Black Page. Presently, I can play the first four measures. I contacted Zappa percussion alumnnus Ed Mann through to ask for advice and he was kind enough to give me this sage wisdom... "*) transpose where necc.*) play with whichever mallet grip feels best to you* ) use normal methods (math) to conjugate polyrhythms and create a worksheet if necc to mark the subdivisions of the meter, that's what I did - it seemed to work. good luck Ed Mann". Thanks Ed! So, at this point I'm up to measure five. I'm very confident that I'll be able to complete this. Special thanks to Keith for the vibes so I can practice at home too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Black Page

So, now that I can play the drum part for The Black Page, I've decided to tackle the mallet part. The transcription I have is for keyboard melody, so I'll have to compare it to a recording to figure out if there are any quirks I need to be aware of. The score is from an old copy of Keyboard Magazine. I'm playing it on marimba and I would love any tips if anyone's got some.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Drumset Mindmap

Okay, many people have requested this for quite some time so here it finally is: The Drumset Mindmap. The right side of the map generally follows the origins of the Drumset as a unique musical instrument beginning with it's roots in the marching band music of the late 1800's, through it's development in Vaudeville and New Orleans Second line, to it's ultimate real birth in Jazz. This information comes from the Percussive Arts Society. The left side of the map explores the various instruments that have from time to time been incorporated in the set. Above are three of the most important basic rhythms applied to the set and, below are depictions of the common notation key and a typical score. I hope this meets expectations! Once again, this is on 20" x 30" x 1/4" foam core and the color was done with a combination of transparent highlighters and opaque Sharpie markers. Special thanks to my son Zane for his assistance in adding so much color. Click on the label links below for more mind maps and teaching aids.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Hey there, here's my first post of the new year. I don't know about you but it seems to me that the world is being overrun by Jerks. A Jerk has been running our country, invading others, and eroding our civil liberties for the last eight years. In fact, Jerks in power in almost every country on the globe have acted in similar fashion. Jerks in business and industry have been systematically destroying the world economy with predatory lending practices, by taking outrageous perks and bonuses, and by lying, cheating, and stealing every chance they get. Religious Jerks from every sect and denomination on Earth have amped arrogance, ignorance, bigotry, and hatred to new astounding levels. The media in all it's myriad facets from vitriolic talk radio to insipid network news has sunk to mudslinging, innuendo, and slimy ridicule as a primary export. In addition to politics, business, religion, and the media, the general population has donned jerkness as it's new mantle. The Jerk zeitgeist pervades all aspects of human endeavor. Read the comments below any video on YouTube and you'll know what I mean. Our trains and buses have signs asking us to turn our music down and give up our seats to the elderly and disabled because we're such Jerks we have to be reminded of what common courtesy is. Jerkness is so prevalent that I could list examples ad infinitum. I've been a Jerk and you've been a Jerk. In the words of the inimitable Frank Zappa, "Jesus thinks you're a jerk!". There is only one solution: don't be a Jerk. As long as one person isn't a jerk there's hope. You can be that person and so can I.