Monday, December 28, 2009
Is there anyone who doubts his place among the game's greatest coaches of all time? I won't go into all the Top 25 finishes or the gaudy stats, but the man is a coaching legend. And I was just lucky enough to jump on the bandwagon when I was 23 years old.
Eighteen years later and I can hardly believe I'm about to watch him lead the Seminoles onto the football field for the last time. I was there for many a game, including the "Choke at Doak" when the Noles mounted the best comeback in college football history and the 1999 Sugar Bowl with my mouth wired shut from jaw surgery. The latter was one of the best games I've ever attended with Bowden and Peter Warrick lifting the Waterford crystal football over their heads at the end.
For the moment I will forget the Jeff Bowden/Chris Rix years when the program nosedived, potentially soiling Bowden's dynasty. I prefer to focus on the positive, and there is plenty in Bowden's portfolio. Even through the lean years, Coach was developing talent and giving players a shot to compete at the next level, just ask NFL starters like Darnell Dockett or Chris Hope. He's always served as mentor and "father figure" to his players, some who came from rather bleak circumstances. Winning or losing, Bowden is always a standup guy.
His folksy speech and down-home mannerisms have endeared him to countless football fans and to mothers whose couches he graced on many a recruiting trip. Of all the things that will be missed most at FSU by his departure, certainly recruiting acumen will be top of the list. He would swoop in with his southern charm and steal top recruits right out from under the universities of Florida and Miami. Bowden's recruiting classes were perennially among the nation's best. There were many years that FSU dominated the top rounds of the NFL draft, sending future all-pros and hall-of-famers like Deion Sanders, Warrick Dunn, Anquan Boldin and Derrick Brooks to the pros. And every one of them have Bobby Bowden to thank for preparing them as men and as athletes. (See Top 10 Florida State recruits of the Bobby Bowden era for more.)
There is so much more I could say about the man, the legend, who was so much more to Tallahassee than just a football coach. His presence on the FSU sidelines will be missed, but it is time to move forward as we celebrate the past.
I am just thankful for his grit and longevity. I appreciate the class that he brought to the job of head coach. I am very proud to count myself among the myriad of Bobby Bowden fans. Thank you, Coach Bowden, for so many great years, for the excitement, the trick plays, the amazing athletes (Marvin Jones was one of my all-time faves), the National Championships and the mark you made, not only on FSU or college football, but on the game as a whole.
Now, as FSU transitions to the post-Bowden era, LET'S GO NOLES!!!!
Friday, November 27, 2009
reality time. watching the news tonight reminded me how much i despise what christmas has become in the western world (specifically america!)...the crowds, the spectacle, the spending...it's enough to make me naseous...how in the world did christmas turn into "black friday"???
maybe the above video by "the advent conspiracy" will stir a couple of people from their spending stupor!
/end annual rant
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I urge you to go now and vote for my blog before the competition is over! Hurry! All you have to do is either click the image above, or go to http://top50indianablogs.com/?p=409 and click on "Vote" in the little white box. Thanks for supporting me!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
|#1||Passing Yards/Game (330.2)*|
|#1||Total Offense, including Yards/Game (414.2) Yards/Play (7.1)|
|#3||Offensive Touchdowns (13) and Points/Game (26.5)|
|#3||Team Sacks (12)**|
|#3||Scoring Defense, TDs Allowed (6)|
|#4||Scoring Defense, PPG Allowed (15.5)|
* Peyton leads with 1336 yds & Reggie Wayne is second in receiving with 399 yds
** Freeney & Mathis tied for 3rd with five (5) each.
Did anyone else notice that the NFL had gone pink, yesterday? (And no, I don't mean Pink, the artist who sang the intro to NBC's Sunday Night Football last season.)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Some of the most popular blog posts, so far:
Please stop by and leave a comment or two, so that I know you've visited. To date, we have nearly 1,300 visits. Not a bad start.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Dial The Truth Ministries says:
"Could [Leviticus] be any more clear?
Simple. . . Straightforward. . .Settled. . .God Said It. . .
I Believe It. . . That Settles It. . .Right. . .?
Not hardly. . . The clear statement from the word of God does not settle anything for this generation of disobedient, carnal, worldy, tolerant, non-judgmental, Christians."
This site goes onto label Satan as the “master tattooist." I mean, just look at it! Doesn't that look evil???
On the other side of the coin, one reformed theologian writes, “If these actions do not have evil associations in our own time, there would seem to be no reason to forbid them.”
A blogger at All Things Ink says, “Historical context is paramount. When Leviticus was written, tattooing was largely a pagan practice, done to mark slaves or to show devotion to a pharaoh. Since tattooing has evolved the rule may be outdated.” Here’s a word from the Jewish community about the history of their belief.
Considering both sides from a Judeo-Christian perspective, what are we to do with the tattooed??? Should we kick them out of the Church? Should we limit their participation in worship services? How do we respond to the clear message of that one Old Testament Scripture?
Heaven help us if our denomination were to come out and endorse “those who are inked.” What if they allowed “the inked” to be ordained and practice as full-fledged members of the clergy? Would we be able to bear it? Would they have to cover all body art in order to officiate services or partake in the sacraments?
You know, some hardliners, like Dial-God-up-on-the-phone-we’ve-got-a-direct-line Ministries, would question their Christianity. If their denomination were to give credence to “satanic” body art, they would probably have to denounce such action with great public fanfare and accordingly leave the denom. At a minimum, they would certainly quit funding it with their offerings.
The reformers, on the other end of the spectrum, might see such a decree as a welcome sign of change, acceptance and openness. They might embrace the inked into their churches, love them as Christ and welcome the value they bring to the communion table. They might not even have a problem sitting under the leadership and counsel of such a person. And they certainly wouldn’t pull their support, financial or otherwise.
Two sides of one coin, or in this case, one Scripture. Two very different responses. Which one do you think sounds more like the Spirit and letter of Christianity?
Monday, September 21, 2009
After humiliation by an arch-rival and near humiliation by a nobody team last week, this week was football redemption! I'm speaking about Chatard's redemption after a 31-7 defeat at the hands of arch-rival Cathedral, and Florida State's redemption after nearly choking at Doak against underdog Jacksonville State. If you didn't see the highlights, the Seminoles went into Provo, Utah, and put a hurting on then #7 BYU in front of a sold-out crowd, 54-28. It was like the Seminoles of old reborn and scoring from both sides of the ball. It was a sorely needed win against a top-10 ranked opponent.
Chatard, my high school alma mater, drubbed a team from Anderson 42-13 on Friday. The Trojans were no doubt still feeling the sting of embarassment from the previous Saturday. The offense stuggled to put a single drive together against top-ranked Cathedral, scoring only once as time was about to expire. This week, they scored early and often. Way to go Trojans!
Now, if only the Colts can win tonight at Dolphins' Stadium in front of a national TV audience, it will be a football weekend trifecta! I have no doubt about the Colts' ability to score. Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne for at least one 50-yard bomb and a touchdown is nearly a foregone conclusion. What waits to be seen is if the defense can play as hard for four quarters like they did in Week 1 against Jacksonville. I remain hopeful. The new defensive coordinator stands head and shoulders above his predecessor Meeks. He's aggressive. Just when you think you've stopped the bookends-with-burners Freeney and Mathis, he'll unleash the linebackers on an all-out blitz! Love that kind of defensive playcalling....missed it the last several years.
I'd be even happier if my Samsung TV weren't on the fritz. I may just have to watch tonight's game at a bar. If the Colts make this my perfect football weekend, you'll hear me hollaring and honking my horn all the way through Fishers.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
If you haven't visited Never Again! my online Holocaust memorial, here are some of the most recent posts:
- American Students Gripped by Holocaust Horror
- Destination Lodz, the Lizmannstadt Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland
- September 11 means something else to Transylvanian Jews
- Mass Graves Identified by Ukranian Eyewitnesses (which was also covered on this blog as a tribute to Father Desbois)
- The Auschwitz Album
Since launching the memorial blog concurrent with the 70th anniversary of WWII, there have been over 600 hits. I invite you to stop by and leave a comment. Thanks.
Friday, September 11, 2009
This time it was GMAC, but I only use them as one example of the pervasive attitude amongst many businesses. It is the attitude that believes online transactions are a marked privilege that they, the business in question, bestow upon their indebted patrons. GMAC disabled our online account, preventing us from making our monthly installment, albeit a couple weeks late, via the Internet (of the aforementioned newfangledness). Instead of making it more convenient for us to pay, they are, in effect, punishing us for being late. This begs the question, “Do you really want my money, or would you rather wait another week for it?”
Internet bill payment options provide just as much convenience for the creditor as for the indebted. It’s not like they invented the Internet (*ahem* Al Gore) just to reward us for patronage. No, like us, they reap the cornucopia of daily benefits offered in this age of information. The free-flow of information along the international superhighway is what powers business today. For any business to put up roadblocks is just asinine!
And, trust me, it’s not just GMAC barracading avenues for accounts receivable. It is businesses all over the country, including Household Bank. I’ll spare you the boring details, but you get the picture, I’m sure (imagine me on the superhighway flustered by flashing lights atop orange-striped barrels). Trust me, it gets worse...
Social networks are the newest media to become exploited by business enterprise. And, once again, the stooges have tripped onto the roadway, blocking traffic, confounding customers and causing ill-will. Take Marsh Supermarkets for example. They “stubbed their toe” on Facebook and have yet to make good on promises to their loyal fans. I was among the masses duped by their offer, then offended at their accusations. I did not pass go or collect my $10 in groceries! Thank you very little.
The same week as Marsh’s Facebook fiasco, I was duped by another social marketing snafu. This time, Wendy’s, dangling the carrot (sorry, couldn't pass up a Wendy's=Carrot Top reference) of free frosty goodness, lured me onto their site for a gimmicky contest and a coupon. Nevermind that the coupon included a security code, a barcode and was printed from the corporate website, I was refused a free Frosty at my local Wendy’s. And to think that I actually became a fan and posted their promo on my fb page…the nerve!!!
All this to belabor my original point that businesses, especially here in the good ol’ corn and rust belts, need to get out of the IBM Selectric age and join us on this side of the millennium! (pssst...it's almost 2010!) The Internet is here for better or worse, richer or poorer…you get my drift. So instead of treating the public like a mail-order bride, how about a little love and respect??? You’re not doing us any favors by allowing us to pay you what we owe. You’re the beneficiaries of online transactions as much, if not more, than we are. And furthermore, don’t dabble in online media until you know WTF you’re doing. Hire a wet-behind-the-ears marketing team that actually uses tools like Facebook and Twitter, then parse their ideas through some marketing vets who can see past the ends of their noses. Surely you can figure out how to spread a little goodwill and achieve effective public relations through a free medium. No more pile-ups on the information expressway!
There...I feel better. Maybe I should have parlayed my online management skills into a consulting gig. Maybe I still will. What do you think?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
This French priest has devoted his life to exposing the truth about the Jewish Holocaust in the Ukraine where more than a million Jews were executed in mass graves.
During WWII, Nazi death squads known as Einsatzgruppen operated behind the front lines of the German advance through western territories of the USSR, including the Ukraine. They butchered men, women and children as part of the Third Reich's "Final Solution to the Jewish Problem."
Many of the unmarked graves in the Ukraine--estimated at 1,200--were previously undocumented. That is until Father Desbois and his research team set out to interview hundreds of eye-witnesses.
He has been praised by many in the Jewish community as a champion of truth for his endless search of mass graves. I blogged about him today on my Holocaust memorial blog, Never Again! There you'll find links to news articles, as well as his 2008 book The Holocaust by Bullets.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
You see, I had grown up in Indiana my whole life until 1986. I thought that Notre Dame was the standard in college football. I didn't even know who Bobby Bowden was before moving south. Even after arriving in Tallahassee the summer of '86, I proudly wore my navy and gold and scoffed at those who thought FSU was the new standard. To be honest, I really wasn't that much of a college football fan. That didn't last long.
For those of you who've never lived in the south, especially in a small college town, let me frame it in terms my Hoosier friends would understand. Think small town Indiana basketball on a wintry Friday night. That was how football crazed Tallahassee was in the late 80's when I arrived. So a healthy dose of Seminole Saturday Nights--the golden helmets sparkling under the lights, the flaming spear thrust into the turf by Chief Osceola accompanied by an eruption of adulation, causing the big replica spear to light up in the south end zone--was enough to make me shed my Irish garb FOREVER!
I still remember that Saturday, September 28, 1991. My friend Ronnie Byrom, once a lineman for Bowden's team, had invited me over to his fraternity to watch the historic FSU-Michigan match-up. By the end of that game, I had become a true believer. Apparently, so had the nation. Never again would I settle for the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust football I had grown up with in the midwest. I wanted to see high-arcing, 50-yard bombs to Lawrence Dawsey! I needed a weekly dose of wiley Bowden trickery, like a drugatic needs his fix!
Needless to say, after attending the university and working there for a number of years, I became a die-hard FSU fanatic. Yes, my blood runs garnet and gold. I proudly hang my Seminole flag on the porch every weekend in the fall. I am ready for this "dadgum" season to start! What about you? Are you ready for some football???
Monday, August 31, 2009
Above are pictures of my grandfathers Doyle and Wright from the 1940s. They served the United States valiantly, as did all the brave men and women of "America's Greatest Generation." Today, on the 70th anniversary of World War II, I honor their memory and that of every soldier who served to secure liberty and promote the ideals of democratic society.
In addition to my grandfathers, several great uncles also served the U.S. Military in both theatres of the war. Fortunately, they all made it home to Indiana and rejoined their families. One of them, my Uncle Les Dunning, is a decorated veteran and still lives today in Dayton, Ohio.
Thousands of families were not so lucky. None were as unfortunate as our Jewish brothers and sisters across the globe, especially in Europe. Think for a moment of the many generations of families that were cut off due to the fanatical, genocidal policies of Hitler, Himmler and the Third Reich. I was watching a documentary recently in which the son of a Holocaust survivor was mourning the loss of his grandparents. He wasn't fortunate enough to ever know them.
And while my father's father (pictured above left) died before my ninth birthday, I at least got the chance to spend time with him and love him in the flesh. He and his brother returned to father children. My mother's uncles all returned to start or rejoin families. I still see some of those first cousins, once and twice removed, at family reunions. This year, as I reflect on what happened two generations ago, I will cherish those members of my family even more, knowing now just how fortunate I really am.
See WWII anniversary news articles here.
Lodz, Poland remembers murdered Jews
Europe Commemorates WWII
AP story describes start of war
Poland's Jews commemorate WWII
Yad Vashem marks 70th Anniv. of WWII
Detroit's Polish-Americans remember WWII
NY Times Op-Ed "When Thief Stole From Thief"
Polish survivor of WWII in Maryland
Poland Remembers WWII
Sand drawing reflections of WWII --VERY COOL!
Pro-Jewish blog in France
What started the war?
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The article tells of an Indianapolis rabbi who opened his synagogue to a Turkish-American Muslim for a celebration of Ramadan, an Islamic holy day. Think of that for a moment. In today's socio-political climate where tensions between Arabs and Jews run redhot, these men in downtown Indy have not only found some common ground, they are fasting and feasting together!
Joining them in the celebration are two protestant congregations, as well, which made me very happy as a protestant Christian, myself. I don't often see my co-religionists reach across denominational boundaries, let alone religious and cultural ones. To me, this speaks to the "good news" of Jesus, who like these men, loved to sit across the table from those who were not like him and practice the fine art of fellowship. He was not afraid to befriend a so-called enemy or invite a hated member of society to his table. He knows firsthand the benefit of putting aside one's own wellbeing for the benefit of another.
And while these men are not laying down their lives one for the other, I'm not so sure they wouldn't. At least they've made a bold statement about religious reconciliation. And in this day and age of jihad and self-righteous rhetoric, it is a welcomed and appreciated gesture.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I have no doubt that the Jewish Holocaust happened, yet even still I cannot fathom—nor begin to wrap my mind around—the brutality and terrorism exhibited by the Third Reich during WWII. As evidence, I point to the many testimonies I’ve read and witnessed either firsthand or as documented on film. I have touched a living Auschwitz survivor and listened as she recounted her harrowing story.
I have been thoroughly gripped by these accounts for the last year or so and was recently reminded when I read of the homeless Holocaust survivor who died in New York. Suffice to say that I am moved deeply by every story that I hear. Stories of survivors like Eva Kor, my new hero, and Szmulek Rosental (aka Steve Ross) cause me to reevaluate my own priorities and my appreciation for life and personal liberty.
I’ve blogged before about Eva, but I only learned Mr. Rosental’s story while watching Bearing Witness: American Soldiers and the Holocaust. This short documentary meant to be used as a tool to educate young people is very well done and provides thought-provoking questions in the accompanying discussion guide. It is one of the best documentaries on the subject I have seen, considering it is time-condensed for teaching purposes. I think this video paired with a presentation by Eva would be ideal for a seventh grade class (anyone know any junior high teachers or admins?). It’s important that we educate the next generation to ensure that truly and forevermore, “Never again!” Watch a clip of the intro to this video documentary, below:
Why We Watched?
Educated as I have become on the subject, I have yet to figure out how the Nazi death camps were kept secret for so long, why well-meaning Europeans kept silent or why the Allies turned a blind eye when they had ample evidence. The former I can understand because of all the Nazi propaganda, the terror they spread and the fear of individuals speaking out. The latter, namely willful ignorance on the part of the United States, I have been unable to come to terms with even after reading a lengthy book on the subject, titled Why We Watched .
I find myself intrigued, fascinated, repulsed and feeling a bit guilty, but I cannot let the memory of what happened die with those who survived and those helped put an end to the Holocaust.
Streaming Video of Bearing Witness:
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I am just thankful that he used his God-given talent to make a mark on the world, to inspire and influence thousands of artists and to leave a lasting musical legacy.
A few other bloggers have begun to buzz about today's sad news, leaving a tribute to the greatness that was Les Paul:
(this blog includes several video clips)
If you're so inclined, you can sample an audio clip of The Les Paul Show, Episode 1, from AllMusic.com. Whatever you do, please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page to share your Les Paul memories.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
In a world of hypocrisy and self-centeredness, a man of integrity, conviction and compassion definitely stands out. That's why I've always admired Coach Dungy on and off the field. The guy is a class act.
Since stepping down as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, he's stayed busy promoting his books, his Christian ideals, supporting numerous charities (Mentors for Life, All-Pro Dads, Big Brother/Big Sister...just to name a few), being a more devoted father (to six children, no less) and just serving the general good of society. In his latest move, he's come out in full support of ex-con, ex-QB Michael Vick, of whom you may or may not also be a fan. You can consider me in the latter category on this one. But not only has Dungy paid lip service, no, once again he's backed it up with his actions. He has become a mentor and friend to the beleaguered athlete and killler of dogs (sorry, had to!). Even if you don't support Michael Vick, you have to recognize Dungy's actions for what they are.
He's just a good guy through and through. He's the kind of father figure you'd want on your side. The kindly "uncle" you'd call to bail you out of jail, to give a word of advice, or to help you when you're down and out. And the thing is, he'd gladly do it.
I said it before and I'll say it again, Tony Dungy is one class act!
(Read the full story on IndyStar.com:
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever tackled. It comes with no standard operating procedure manual and yet numerous, new challenges arise everyday. It is a constant high-wire balancing act. I find myself having to be firm, but flexible; reflexive, yet relaxed; the teacher, yet teachable; an able provider, yet always present. I have to draw secure boundaries while trying to encourage independence. And give tough answers softened by tenderness.
Because I was raised by baby-boomer parents whose childhood boundaries were more restrictive, I look for ways to expand boundaries a safe distance for my children. But it is hard to escape the patterns you learn growing up, and it is merely human to react in anger when those boundaries are pushed and tested. To discipline in love and have maximum effect; to find ways to redirect their energy and alter behavior is the most difficult part of the whole job.
I find that I am least effective when I am on a schedule. If I put myself first and the things I want to accomplish in a given moment, then I am less flexible, relaxed and understanding. My patience flies right out the window with the first misstep of my children in those moments. And with one angry word, a glare, a grumble under my breath, I feel as if I’ve undone a multitude of good. Instead of fostering confidence and promoting peace, I sometimes find myself shattering both with a single act and it happens before I even realize I'm doing it. It is worst with my youngest. I guess I’m spoiled now that my children are getting old enough to do things for themselves and assert more of their independence. When my 5-year-old falters, I often lose patience with her quicker than I did even one year ago and it bothers me.
At the heart of the issue, I find that I’m rather selfish. I have very high expectations for my children and a rather short fuse. That is another part of the great balancing act—juggling my desires and theirs, judging which wants I will afford them each day. In the hurriedness of life, I often become a miserly old curmudgeon and bypass perfect opportunities to show them how highly I value them. I want to become more liberal with my praise and learn to bite my tongue when curses want to tumble out instead.
Last night as I was trying to put my thoughts to bed and get some rest, I said a quiet prayer. I asked God for more patience and to help me bring more balance to this position. I know that I have a great job. And while it is the toughest challenge I have and will ever face, I can surely say it is the most pleasurable and rewarding.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Inspired by the "Pick Your Top 5" craze on Facebook, I decided to create a list of my own without adding the FB application. I limited myself to my favorite modern drummers, four of which have heavily influenced my own drumming style. So here goes...
"Maestro of magnificence!" That pretty much encapsulates my feelings of this hall of fame jazz drummer. I first heard Dave Weckl in the late 80's while searching the FSU Library for recordings of Will Lee, bassist for Dave Letterman's band. Both Lee and Weckl were session musicians for Chuck Loeb's debut album Magic Fingers released in 1989. I was blown away by his rhythmic prowess, the speed and flurry of his drum fills and how he totally stole the show on this cd. I became an instant fan and began listening to everything I could that featured his percussive talents, recordings by Chick Corea, GRP All-Stars and his solo work.
I had to break down and purchase one of his instructional videos, titled "Back to Basics." It was the best video purchase I've EVER made! Nevermind the excellent instruction in stick and foot control, the drum solos are mindbending and worth every dime I spent!
Weckl is as fast as any death metal drummer, as fluid as the best R&B stickmen and as bold as any drummer I've witnessed. He was influenced by some of jazz's best ever, Buddy Rich tops among those, and it shows. I consider Dave Weckl the best modern jazz drummer in the world, and apparently I'm not alone. Modern Drummer magazine has named Weckl one of their Top 25 of all time.
Not too many fans of rock music would argue if I proclaimed Neil Peart best rock drummer of all time. Maybe you could make a case for John Bonham or some of the other drummers on this list, but even they haven't laid some of their exquisite percussive skills on vinyl like Jedi master Peart!
My uncle played Rush's "2112 Overature" and "Temples of Syrinx" for me in his basement back in the mid-70's. I thought it was the most groundbreaking, hard rock I'd ever heard, not to mention Peart's over-the-top drum fills. I would go on to explore all of Rush's discography, both Peart and Rutsy versions, before naming them my favorite all-time rock band. Neil Peart is the primary reason for that.
Never has a rock drummer had such an influence on his band, partly because Neil serves as Rush's main lyricist as well as their drummer/percussionist. I had to add the latter title thanks to Peart's work on some of Rush's early work which included tympany (kettle) drums, bells, chimes, and gongs...among other things.
When I first heard his drum solo on Exit...Stage Left, I was blown away by his precision rolls, round-the-kit drum fills, use of cowbell and overall drumming mastery. The guy knows how to work every tom, even a thunderous 20" floor tom, into a measure-busting drum fill. He never subscribes to the simple timekeeper roll, even though his timekeeping is impeccable. And Rush changes time signatures A LOT! so that's no easy task. People flock to see Rush in concert for the intricate drum fills that adorn every one of their songs.
A more recent favorite, Carter Beauford provides the percussive base for DMB (Dave Matthews Band). His batter's gloved, match grip style is his trademark. He usually steals the show, which is saying a lot at a DMB concert, since every musician on stage is top caliber.
I became a fan after a friend turned me onto DMB in the late 90's. Since then, I've gobbled up all the video of his playing that I could get my hands on. The guy is phenomenal and never ceases to surprise me. Just when you think he's laying back in the groove, he'll mezmerize you with a flurry of bass drum kicks accompanied by splash cymbal rolls. You've got to pay close attention or you'll miss something incredibly awesome!
Beyond his grooverific percussive style, his excellent pedal work and his high-octain approach to drumming, Beauford actually seems to be enjoying himself more than anyone on stage. Maybe he's just gloating, I don't know, but he's always got a big smile on his face....whenever he's not making a "drummer face," that is.
Number four on my list could share the spotlight with Weckl, only because he's had the biggest influence on my drumming. Yes, even more so than Peart. That's because he and the next drummer were the first ones I really tried to emulate on my uncle's drumset.
Watch the video of Smith's solo while touring with Journey in 1981 and you'll understand part of my fascination. For a rock-n-roll drummer, you cannot do any better than Steve Smith. But what I was surprised to find out is what a world-renown drummer he really is, putting on clinics for Sonor drums, playing studio sessions and even jamming with Buddy Rich's big band. The guy has SERIOUS chops that are not bound by musical genre!
Anyway, my first exposure was Journey's Evolution album and I spent countless hours following his blues beat on "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'." Then my uncle brought home Journey's live album Captured. From the opening number with Smith's pulsating bass drum and furious drum fill intro through the drum solo (similar to the one linked on YouTube) to the one new song that capped the album, I was in complete and utter awe of his drumming. You get a glimpse at his genre-spanning prowess on that one album, from the bluesy shuffle of "Walks Like a Lady" to the ear-thumping of "Dixie Highway," "Line of Fire" or "La Do Da"...take your pick.
I could go on and on about Steve Smith. As I said, he's one of my main drumming influences, but I'll leave it up to you. Go online and check out some of his work on the album highlighted above, on YouTube or on the Burning for Buddy sessions.
If you read the Steve Smith section, above, you already know that Porcaro was a heavy influence on my early drumming style. If Jeff were still alive today, he'd undoubtedly be among the world's best drummers. But Jeff left the world MUCH too soon, and the drumming world still misses his smooth-as-silk shuffle.
Known primarily as the talented drummer for the jazz-fusion-infused rock group Toto, Jeff was previously a much sought after session drummer who played for the likes of Boz Scaggs, Seals & Croft and Steely Dan. He was trained under his father's tuteledge and Joe Porcaro was a great jazz drummer in his day.
The effortless way Jeff played the shuffle beat, demonstrated below on his one and only instructional video, was his trademark. It took me YEARS to learn it and I still struggle with it at times, especially all the ghost notes on the snare drum! Jeff always made it look easy...a surefire mark of a great drummer.
For me, 1992 will always be a dark year because of Jeff's untimely passing. Who knows what he might have achieved by now. Countless albums from the 70's and 80's bear his unmistakeable signature, but I grew up on his work with Toto. "Hold the Line" was one of the first songs I learned to play on the drums.
There is a blog dedicated to everything Jeff Porcaro. And this concludes my dedication to the Top 5 Modern Drummers in my estimation. Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I had another musical mentor, but he was a grade school and high school classmate who lived down the street from me. Steve Mascari had two older siblings. He cut his teeth on his brother and sister’s massive record collection. Steve was also a budding musician who usually had instruments in his basement on Winston Drive. He broadened my musical horizons, introducing me to the music of The Who, The Police, Yes, Genesis and a Canadian trio who was just beginning to get heavy rotation on FM radio. No doubt, there will be an entire entry devoted to my favorite band of all time, Rush. Steve and I met in fifth grade at Saint Matthews. It was the only year I attended that school, but he and I became musical buds. From then on, most of my relationships were dependent upon a mutual love of all things rock. Steve’s influences ran more along the prog-rock vein of the 1970’s. His siblings had the older Styx albums, The Who, Rush, Genesis, Kansas, Yes and the like. I learned to appreciate concept albums, epic songs that could take up an entire side or an entire album, multiple time signature changes, keyboard solos (well, sort of) and sophisticated drum solos. My jaw nearly dropped when I first heard Neil Peart’s solo on the live version of YYZ (Exit…Stage Left)…yes at Steve’s house.
My musical tastes were expanding. I even learned that headbanging would play a part in my future, thanks to Steve’s parents and their introduction of cable TV to my world. In the early 80’s, we could spend mindless hours watching MTV on American Cablevision in the Mascari basement. After granting access to the extensive album collection at their house, the Mascari’s now offered MTV, Little Caesar’s pizza and rides to high school. Yes, those were the good ol’ days.
Prior to my exposure to MTV, the only hard rock/metal I had been exposed to was music by AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne. That reminds me of another darker influence on my life…the high school youth group at Central Baptist Church in Broad Ripple (now Trinity at Westfield and Central). The rabble-rousers there, most of whom were a few years older than me, listened to REO Speedwagon’s Hi-InFidelity, AC/DC’s Back In Black and whatever else would set their parent’s ears ablaze. I befriended one of the few kids my age and Owen introduced me to Ozzy’s Blizzard of Oz album. I was shocked, thrilled and mesmerized by that music. He hung with some hippie wannabe’s who also listened to Hendrix and Black Sabbath. That was my earliest exposure to the darker, heavier side of rock-n-roll, but we’ll explore that some more in part three of this continuing saga.
For now, I’ll leave you with this musical memory. Some of my first actual purchases of rock music came compliments of the Columbia House Record Club. Yes, I licked stamps and taped my penny to the reply card! In return, I received by mail my first three cassette tapes—Genesis Abacab, The Police Synchronicity, and Triumph Allied Forces. After that came many trips to Peaches in Broad Ripple and Karma Records. I don’t know how many albums and mix tapes I amassed during high school, but my job at Little Caesars hardly covered my expensive hobby. And there were concerts, too, but we’ll visit all those memories next time. Until then, keep bangin’ your head and…Rock on!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thankfully, my parents never got into disco, and there is a stretch of the mid-to-late 70’s where we listened to mostly Christian artists, Keith Green, 2nd Chapter of Acts, The Archers and The Imperials…but I digress.
My early childhood was spent listening to Meet the Beatles, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In fact, my neighborhood pal Mike Moffet cut a guitar out of a cardboard box and would jam along to Sgt. Peppers ad nauseum. I often accompanied on air drums, yet even I at 8-years-old was better than Ringo.
As I got older and learned of the “secret death of Paul McCartney,” Mike Myers and I would scour dad’s Beatles collection for “clues,” even attempting to play certain records backwards to find “hidden messages.”
My parents bought me a record player for my 6th birthday. It was my favorite present. The bike they bought me sat unused for many years, but that record player was nearly worn out by my 8th birthday. Some of my first 45” singles included Heart’s “Magic Man,” Boston’s “More Than A Feeling,” Manfred Mann's "Blinded By The Light" and Starlight Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight.” The latter is the funniest considering my age and naiveté about anything sexual.
As disco was dying a slow, painful death during my junior high years, I was heavily influenced by an uncle, only four years my senior, who had begun amassing a collection of rock albums by Led Zeppelin, Journey, Foreigner, Toto and Styx. These were the musical influences that shaped me through my adolescence. Ah, the good ol’ days!
Toto, Foreigner and Journey were the bands that provided a soundtrack to my early attempts at drumming. Yes, the uncle who helped shape my musical tastes at decibels unsafe for veteran baggage handlers also had a drumset in his basement. I tried like hell to keep up with drum gods Jeff Porcaro and Steve Smith, but “Hot Blooded” was more my speed in those days.
Steve Smith was the drummer for Journey at the height of their career in the early 80’s. And just when I was getting familiar with FM standards “Wheel In The Sky,” “Anyway You Want It” and “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’,” Journey released a live album that blew me away. It was right about that time I was allowed to go to my first rock concert at IU’s Assembly Hall. You guessed it, Journey was the headliner. They were on tour with a new keyboard player who sported a crimson red baby grand on loan from IU’s School of Music, no doubt. They were playing new songs from their Escape album, like “Stone In Love” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It was a dreamlike experience for a novice rocker and prepubescent 8th grader to be sure.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a bit more about the influence of Keith Green in my musical past. His piano-driven pop/rock was my introduction to “Jesus music” and really was very good. Well, his first two albums produced by Bill Maxwell, who is also an accomplished drummer and added his chops to those albums, were very good. Then, Keith got kinda full of himself and took over and the albums went downhill. That, and his career was cut short by a tragic plane crash in Texas. Still, his first album For Those Who Have Ears To Hear molded my softer side and helped give me an appreciation for piano as a percussive force in rock music.
My next entry on this topic will delve more into my evolving musical tastes through high school and my passion for darker music that aligned well with my testosterone-driven teenage angst. Until then, keep your feet on the ground…just kidding. Rock on!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Eva knows about prejudice and persecution. She was a Transylvania-born twin of Jewish descent who became a victim of Nazi experiments at age ten under the cruel hand of Dr. Josef Mengele. She spent nearly ten months in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the deadliest of World War II’s death camps, and has an amazing story of survival and triumph.
At the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (January 27, 1995), Eva publicly declared her forgiveness of Dr. Mengele and the Nazi’s for what they did to her and her family. She was accompanied by former Nazi Dr. Hans Munch, a man she was able to personally forgive for the role he played at the death camp.
“Forgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It is free, it works and has no side effects” (excerpt from TheForgivenessProject.com)
As I’ve been studying the Holocaust over the past few months, I’ve found it hard to wrap my mind around the atrocities of Hitler’s regime. I’ve found it even more difficult to forgive my own country for standing idly by while these atrocities were committed. It’s not like our government didn’t know. They willingly chose ignorance and inaction.
After meeting Eva in the flesh, how can I not forgive? Her message is almost as big as her personality, and very moving.
Hitler saw Jews as an infestation of sewer rats and treated them as such in his propaganda and his death camps. Eva grew up under his tyranny but would not succomb to it. She’s outlasted and overcome the hate and incarnate evil he represents. She was named a 2008 Hero of Forgiveness by The Forgiveness Alliance, but more than that, Eva Moses Kor is my new hero.
Links of interest:
19 Stars of Indiana Book
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
I've been on the playoff bandwagon ever since the ill-conceived BCS was launched back in the 90's. I say, what's good for the basketball court is good for the gridiron. What would we call March Madness if college basketball had a corrupt system to determine the national champion? March Moolah?
College football needs a playoff system and it needs one NOW! This is actually an Obama policy I can stand behind. In fact, I'm thinking of writing my representatives on the matter.
I know it's just a game, people, but tell that to Utah. Tell that to the money-grubbing university presidents, the boosters, the conference execs and the TV networks. There are millions of dollars, dare I say BILLIONS, at stake here! So, really, it's more than just the game of football. It is college scholarships, capital improvements for campuses, research funding and so much more for higher education.
And on a point of principle, it's about fairness.
How fair is it that a dominant Utah team wins out, going undefeated and doesn't even get a nod for the national championship? Oh sorry, they received ONE vote for it in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. Are you kidding me???
Think of all the great March Madness moments over the years, where you've cheered on a Gonzaga or Western Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. Cinderella stories like their's are what make the month of March, and college basketball in general, so fun to watch. Why wouldn't the TV networks want that for the month of January in college football? I know I do.
And I also want what's fair. Excluding the majority of Division I schools from the BCS is ridiculously unfair! It is what forced schools like my alma mater (FSU) to join a stupid conference (the ACC) back in the 90's. I liked our independence just fine, thank you! Notre Dame is the only independent included in the BCS' supercomputer formula.
Why the heck are computers figuring who's best in college football anyway? I've never seen a PC OR a Mac score a collegiate touchdown! Have you?
We need a playoff in college football worse than Brittany needs a lifecoach or the Jonas' Brothers need a haircut (or some real talent)! We need college presidents who are supposed to be the forebearer's of morality and higher education to do what's right and fair. Quit being such greedy, elitist bast***s and open the competition (and the hugenormous booty to boot) to everyone in Division I!
I agree with Rick Reilly of ESPN.com. Utah IS the national champion. No two ways about it!