Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Week of Jazz

It was quite a busy week of music - a couple gigs in Portland and then Bombs Away here in Corvallis; all with the XTET of John (Guitar), Mike (Bass), Viking (Drums), with Lou Chavez subbing on one night on Drums, and myself (Flugelhorn/Trumpet). David Rosowsky sat in on Bass for a few, which was very nice. Among the usual corndogs of Blue Bossa and other brilliant (and some horrid) standards there were a smattering of originals offered up. And maybe I'm just gig weary, but a very few of the so-called "standard" tunes just aren't doing it for me these days - maybe I'll come round - but sometimes I feel like a select few of these chestnuts need to be taken behind the proverbial barn and "Old Yeller'ed". Or maybe just a fresh approach would be more civil - yes, I suppose that's the ticket. Anyway...

The gigs in Portland were for week long engineering convention where we performed on two separate evenings - a Monday evening at the Portland World Trade Center and a Wednesday performance at the Portland Art Museum, which I must visit with my family since in only five minutes of perusing I was able to see works of art by several artists whose works I'd actually studied - truly world class stuff! A work by Robert Rauschenberg - a layered transparent thingy under fluorescent light - caught my attention, although as you can tell by my description the art class I recently took did not exactly improve my powers of perception...but I was happy that I was at least aware of some of the works and artists and it will be fun to return and explore some more!

In other news - new workout swimming times to report: 200 free: 2:08; 200 IM: 2:27 (from the wall, drag suit of course). That'll do for now pig...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Carmike Corporate Propoganda

The following is a minor rant I sent to Carmike Cinema's corporate site - will probably get lost in the mix. (Thank goodness for blogs!) I just found the pre-show spot to be so terrible I felt compelled to complain. If you were in attendance and saw Carmike's new "All Digital" promotional advertisement (or whatever it was called - see? The actual point of the promo didn't register with me!) then maybe you'll share some of my sentiments... my letter goes something like this:

Your new "Carmike" promotional spot, the one espousing the virtues of Carmike's various digital services, its digital projection capabilities, etc., is pure #$%@! The spot ran tonight before "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and (I'm not kidding) nearly spoiled the entire evening for me and I'm certain many others in attendance! If there was anything funny, interesting or at all appealing about the piece it would almost be redeeming - but there is not! The marriage of music to visuals is most horrid - I wanted to escape the theater - it was absolutely maddening. But then, when the spot continued on and on for what seemed like five minutes, it seemed obvious to me that the team that put this thing together was clearly was out of their minds.

The spot, which was presumably produced to accentuate the virtues of Carmike (as if Carmike has some sort of lien on digital technology), does quite the opposite. It was insulting to me - after shelling out good money to be entertained - to have to sit through what seemed to me to be some sort of corporate sermon. What did we all do to deserve this? Are we not attending movies enough? With a pre-show prelude like this, it's no wonder.

Please pull the spot, fire the folks that put it together and realize that people go to movies to be entertained. Bag the propaganda and the mind-numbing self-indulgent corporate spots - your audience won't take it.

Rob Birdwell

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New Studio Tracks Coming - Someday

Just a post to get back to my musical roots - in addition to playing scores of Jazz gigs over the last year I've been chipping away at my own "produced" tracks. At first I thought I'd release a collection of purely "Jazz" tunes - nothing pop, country or disco! But it turns out that that is just too much of a restriction for me! And it's very challenging, for me at least, to write, produce and perform a purely Jazz CD (whatever that means in this day and age) with a band of one! Try as I might, I simply couldn't resist writing some tunes with vocals. I'm even experimenting with a story-telling, poetry thing with a jazzy/funk underscore. I'm shooting for about 8 tracks for the CD. No date projected for the release but I'm hoping to get something out by late 2006 or early 2007. I've got a few in the can already...well, sort of.

Possible titles on my yet-to-be named CD include:
  • Shameless
  • Aerostar
  • Ghost at the Gig (The Ballad of Frankie Templeton)
  • Lament
  • Listen To The Children
  • Homemade Movie
  • Incantation #1, #2, #3
  • ... ??

This will clearly be a "homemade" work - written and recorded in my basement studio! But I'm hopeful I will capture a little of what I had in my head to the tracks.

More to come I suspect...


Dog Days of Summer

Just saw "An Inconvenient Truth" - fantastic! Nice production, presentation, message, information...and as I'm into the music (hey, who isn't?) I must say that that part of the production was very effective...nothing over the top, mostly just mild dramatic underscore in certain places as if to provide an interlude to Al Gore's fine presentation, which stands on its own just fine. (The slick editing and variety of camera angles do spice things up - the display that he presents his charts with is gianormous!) I really like Melissa Etheridge's song, "I Need To Wake Up", written for the film and plays during the end credits - well done!

On another environmental note, we just purchased a used car that can run on E85 or "flex fuel" - naturally, there's no station nearby (that I'm aware of) that offers this type of fuel! I'm not sure it will make a difference in the whole scheme of things, but I'd like to think that a move away from fossil fuels (however small) is a good step.

I've received permission to display this logo in a generic letter to fuel stations that don't yet carry E85 - here's a simple letter that I will be handing out to gas attendants and station owners/managers when I attempt to fuel up with E85, but can't because they don't carry it:
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Dear Fuel Station Owner/Manager/Attendant,

I am the owner of an E85 or "“Flex-Fuel"” enabled vehicle. Presently, your station does not offer this particular fuel alternative; however, I am hopeful it will be offered in the very near future.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.


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I know, I know...if that's not the most lame letter, I don't know what is! Not to defend this lame-assed-ness, but my point is to simply and clearly convey a request (let's get it on with the E85, bring on the hydrogen, yada, yada...) - there are just some many forces at work here and the person at the service station is not exactly making the call (in fact, they're probably marginalized enough, working for a pathetic minimum wage!) The station owner may in fact have no recourse for offering E85 - I'm actually not sure of this point though. The fact is that we've all dropped the ball. Our elected leaders were not held accountable and big oil companies and car manufacturers have been able to hold off on ubiquitous fossil fuel alternatives for a number of years and have cited numerous reasons why (probably even more lame than my letter!)...suffice it to say, the letter is just one part of the message, but a message that must get out. Let's bring on the change, one car, one house, one product, one day at a time. But let us start right now.

Our vehicle in a 2000 Chrysler Town and Country LX. Although there are literally millions of E85 flex-fuel vehicles on the road today (not just the new models), you would think that by the year 2006 we'd have a plethora of choices at the pump. That's just not the case in Corvallis, Oregon at this time. Maybe it's true in your town too. Hopefully positive changes will happen in 2007.