Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lee Rudnicki's Snare Drum Solo at DCA

In honor of my good friend's wild and wacky performance art, I present video evidence.

Be sure to visit Lee at Blog7

Funny Dog Picture

Monday, November 20, 2006

Movie List 2006

These are the movies I have seen so far this year, ranked in order of preference. I would recommend the top 25 for viewing. Those below pretty much suck.

1. Borat
2. Little Miss Sunshine
3. The Illusionist
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
5. Casino Royale
6. Inside Man
7. Mission Impossible III
8. Thank You For Smoking
9. Devil Wears Prada
10. X3 – The Last Stand
11. The Queen
12. The Prestige
13. Invincible
14. Tallagega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
15. My Super Ex-Girlfriend
16. An Inconvenient Truth
17. Monster House
18. Cars
19. Superman Returns
20. Flushed Away
21. World Trade Center
22. Eight Below
23. Deja Vu
24. Hollywoodland
25. American Dreamz
26. V for Vendetta
27. Benchwarmers
28. Da Vinci Code
29. Prairie Home Companion
30. The Science of Sleep
31. Snakes on a Plane
32. Nacho Libre
33. Poseidon
34. Firewall

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Selling My Car

I have a sweet 1995 Mercedes Benz S420.

There are many fond memories of time spent cruising in the "Mercy X3" with my friends. Vinyl the Wonder Dog, with his head out the window, taking it all in. Roland I and went everywhere in that car when he first moved to California. It even went on tour with the Renegades.

Have you ever owned a Mercedes? Better yet, have you ever owned a Mercedes and taken it in for repair? Those suckers are expensive. I had to replace a mirror once and it cost $600!

But what a great ride. You really feel like someone special riding in a car like that.

"The car of Russian Mafia," in the words of my lodger, Alex, who was from Moscow and knew the car right off the bat. "Very comfortable."

It was like driving a living room. But the cost of upkeep wore me down. I bought an Acura TL, and I have fallen in love all over again. The TL is an amazing vehicle, and it treats me very well.

But I will always have a special place in my heart for that Benz.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Concert Review

On Monday night, the Ohlone Wind Orchestra had it's first concert of the school year. This group is made up of assorted pro and semi-pro players, with a sprinkling of talented amateurs. I play what I call 'utility horn', meaning that I play whatever part needs to be covered. If someone doesn't show up, I play their part. My assigned parts switch off between first and fourth.

A note about horn playing. There are usually four parts in a horn section. First horn is the glory role - you get the solos and the best parts. Second is a lower part, harmony with first. Third is another high part, like first without solos. Fourth is the really low stuff.

So I go from playing really low to playing high. Fun stuff. Dangerous at times.

Anyway - we were talking about last night's performance.

Our conductor, Tony Clements, is also conducting the Wind Ensemble at Hayward State. When he found out that they had a concert on one of our normal rehearsal nights, he thought it would be cool to invite our group to share the concert with them.

It was a great idea, except for the traffic. Tuba player James Barany and I decided to carpool. We met at my house in San Jose, and started our journey. 90 minutes later, we pulled into Hayward State, searching for the perfect parking spot. That eluded us, so we parked a mile or two away and headed for the concert hall.

We performed first, and our set included:

Fanfare from La Peri by Dukas (Brass Only)
Original Suite for Band by Gordon Jacob
Awayday by Adam Gorb
Armenian Dances, Part II by Alfred Reed
Lord of the Rings Symphony, Movement 1, Gandalf the Wizard by Johann De Meij

The Dukas fanfare is a standard. Sounds great, not too hard and fun to play. I had never played it, but had conducted it on a number of occasions. It was our first tune, and the horns were a little rough.

Original Suite is another classic. I was a little embarrassed, as I had neglected to bring Original Suite on stage and had to leave the ensemble to get it out of my horn case. The band played quite well on it, even though we only practiced it a few times. That is one thing that I love about the group - things can come together quickly. First chair trumpet Ken Walter played extremely well on this (and everything else).

Awayday is the tune that brought me into the group. I first heard it played by the Blue Devils in 2001 and I really liked it. I bought it for the Leigh Wind Ensemble, and we played through it a few times, but never performed it, as it is a beast - very difficult rhythms. And the woodwind parts are nuts. We had never played it all the way through, and our performance suffered a bit. There was a point in which two sections of the band were in different places in the music. But we got back together in short order. Click to hear a recording.

Armenian Dances and Lord of the Rings went very well. I must admit that I prefer the Armenian Dances, Part I, but this was well done - and we played the heck out of it. Ohlone is a fairly loud ensemble, which I like. Gandalf went well - Tyler Morse did a heck of a job on her solos. She is a marvelous player. Next semester, I will be playing first (along with Ryan from Stanford), and she has set the bar nice and high for us.

It was great to get a chance to perform these tunes before our own concert on November 19th.