Hot Dog Hannibal Lecter

Sunday night, I heard an NPR broadcast about an actor who was in Silence of the Lambs, and his story of working with Anthony Hopkins. So when I woke at 3am this morning, I was only a little surprised to find scenes from the movie replaying in my mind. I found it hard to get back to sleep, as I thought about the gruesomeness of cannibal Hannibal Lecter.

I dozed off though, and started dreaming. I “woke up” in my dream (isn’t it crazy to be dreaming about waking up in your dream?), and there, next to me, in my bed, was a hot dog cart.* I somehow knew that only the mad craftiness of Hannibal Lecter could get an entire hot dog card set up in my bed, and not wake me up. I knew that there, in the dark, behind the hot dog cart, was the cannibal Hannibal Lecter. And in my dream I thought:

“Oh no, I’m about to be eaten with ketchup and mustard!”

Then I woke up.

*Incidentally, last night I attended a Kiwanis meeting with Keith Wass, hot dog magnate of midcoast Maine. After the meeting, I was behind him in traffic. His license plate? Hot Dogs.

A Youtube Clip You’ve Nailed

I started working with a new drum student a month ago. He’s very talented, hungry, ready to practice, and already studying out of my college freshman textbook. He’s a freshman too: in high school. Anyway, I asked him a series of questions about what he’s learned from Youtube. Youtube is, in the words of my former pastor, free music lessons for people who can’t take music lessons. And that sorta is right. There’s lots on Youtube for us to learn. My student has learned a lot from Youtube, since he hasn’t been able to me challenged as much as he’d like from teachers around here. (Incidentally, I think I’m going to be another such teacher; I don’t think I have the chops to teach him much. I’ll probably learn more from him than he does from me.)

Anyway, one of the questions I asked him was “What Youtube video inspired you to practice a particular lick/feel/groove/fill/system, and that you worked on so much you actually learned it?” Here’s my answer…

I’ve posted before about Steve Gadd’s “Crazy Army” solo. The video of Vinny Colitua and Dave Weckl displaying their drum polyrhythm madness, and then how Steve plays a solo based on a drum corps marching beat. Well, I loved that video so much, I found the music for “Crazy Army.” And, based on some videos I watched on Youtube, I learned how to play it.

So now, music type person, what video on Youtube got you to get into the practice room, learn something new, and now you have mastered that particular lesson? Post a link in the comments!

Getting Into the Woodshed

So what was the impetus for me getting into the woodshed? Why have I all of a sudden been on a practice jag? I’ll tell you the story. Listen my children and you shall hear…

Iburgundy sparkle ludwigs was playing a gig at a local place here in Rockland ME. On this particular gig, I opted to use my ’66 Ludwig Super Classic kit. (Here’s some vintage drum knowledge for you.) Burgundy Sparkle was only available for 3-4 years, from about ’66 to ’69, with maybe some spill over on either side. Usually, you could count on Burgundy Sparkle being dated somewhere in those years. The Super Classic is a designation Ludwig used for a 22″ bass drum with a 13″ tom tom and a 16″ floor tom. This particular drum kit is everything one would want to see in a Super Classic; matching “keystone” badges, rail consolette tom mounts, “baseball bat” mufflers, and white painted interiors. It’s just a regular, unmolested, honest Ludwig drum kit in somewhat rare finish.

So anyway, on my break, I head to the bar for coffee (my usual drink of choice), and there’s a guy sitting there, regular looking guy, and he says to me “That’s a pretty interesting Ludwig kit you’ve got there. Is it vintage?” So of course I drum geek out on him, and tell him all about it. I ask him if he plays, and he says that he does. He then says to me “I also noticed your grip; you must’ve studied somewhere.” And so I recount how I was a music major for a little while at UMA, and at the time I was there the jazz program was highly regarded, and it was known as the jazz school you went to if you couldn’t afford Berklee. And I said, not a little smugly, “I studied with Steve Grover.” I looks at me quizzically. I inform him that Steve is the jazz cat to call for drums in ME.

So this part gets a little hazy. After this little bit of bragging on my part, the guy I’m talking to mentions his name; it’s Tom Oldakowski. Then Tom drops this other little bomb on me: he’s the drummer for Radio City Music Hall.

Over the last year, Tom and I have hung out a few times. When he’s in the area, we have lunch, talk drums, catch a local act, or whatever. And his aquaintance has really inspired me. As we talked that night, I told him that my hand work stinks. And it does. He, very kindly (everything he says is very kind), said he thought my hands looked good. They don’t. He’s being a gentleman. But meeting him has made me work on my hands. I’m actually practicing, not just playing drums along with some music on the stereo. And it’s because of a chance meeting in the little town where I live, where a big fish in a big pond let the big fish in the little pond know… Hey, you’ve got work to do.

Perhaps It’s Time I Got Back Into This

With the popularity of Facebook–for the world, including me–I’ve been neglecting my blog. I suppose not so much neglecting it, as choosing not to use it. Things published on Facebook get to my 600+ friends. Things published here get seen by very few. Of course, what’s published here is available to the world, and not just my “friends.” Some things I’d like to say may be very helpful to the right people, and that audience is probably not on my friends list. Specifically, I’ve been getting back into drumming. I never got away from it; I’ve been playing for the 4+ years I’ve been relatively silent here. But for the last year or so, I’ve been doing some fairly serious practicing. And some of what I’ve been learning and working on may help other drummers–and a drummer in Ontario looking for a Stick Control practice regimen won’t find my routine on Facebook; but they could find me here.

Also, I sometimes like the history of myself, and sometimes like to review it and remember. The Facebook archiving “feature” (if you could even call it that) stinks. Want to find out what you were doing in the fall of 2013 while it’s January 2016? Good luck finding that on Facebook.

So, let’s give this a go for a while, and see if I can keep it up.

The 10 Commandments of the Blues Jam

Nine rules shalt thou follow, and ten shall be a balm unto thy health. Listen, and thou shalt not be as the heathen on stage.

1) If though calleth a tune at the blues jam, you may play of the Chicago or of the Delta.
2) Treadest thou lightly on the R&B and the R&R. Though they be of the offspring of the blues, lo they also be from afar.
3) Amy Winehouse and 4 Non Blondes are right out.
4) When thou callest a tune, thou must callest the key to thy bandmates. The key of C# is an abomination to all. Use it not.
5) If thou needest an ending, look to thy drummer who shall set thee up and lead thee. Do not just stop playing; that is most foul. Givest the bandmates the “cue” by the raising of thy hand, or lifting thy guitar neck to the heaven, and your bandmates shalt follow thee.
6) To the singer/songwriter: The open mic is your domain. You may annointest the people there. Bring not your originals to the blues jam.
7) Thou shalt play nicely with others. The jam is not for your band alone. It is not a showcase for thy group.
8) If thou bringest thy guitar amp to the jam, it shall be of the practice amp size. Thy Marshall shalt thou not bring, neither thy Twin. Turn not the gain to 10 to get “your sound.” Make not thine rhythm section’s ear’s ring; that pleaseth not.
9) If thou playest the harmonica, thou shalt keep them quiet until called to the stage. When the time comest to play your chosen harp, it shalt be in the same key as your brothers.
10) If thou listenest only at the jam, thou shalt offer a sweet offering at the tip jar.

© this day, Eleven July, in the year of our Lord 2015, William of the Rhythm

Quickbooks Won’t Print Invoices

I know I haven’t posted here in a while. Facebook has taken the place of my blog. (Check me out over at facebook.com/billyrhythm) Today, though, I wanted to post a solution I’ve found for a particular Quickbooks problem: Quickbooks won’t print and invoice–either PDF or on paper. Receipts would print. Reports would print. Only invoices wouldn’t print.

What I tried:

  • Restart computer and printer
  • Verify and rebuild Quickbooks data
  • Back up and then restore the company file
  • Download and run the Quickbooks printer preference removal tool
  • Remove and reinstall printer drivers
  • Remove Quickbooks using the Revo uninstaller tool (which also removes all registry entries), and reinstall.

None of that fixed it. What did fix it? Face it, that’s why you’ve read this far. What fixed it was…

…switching to a default Quickbooks invoice template. Yup. The customer was using a custom template. Something there got hosed. Switching back to the default template fixed it.

If that worked for you, please leave a comment.

Dreaming About the White Ford and the Gun Range

Last night’s dream: It started out with me selling a white Ford truck to Spike Hyssong. We were in the parking lot of Wasses, and strangely the slope of the parking lot was the other direction–it went downhill to the west. Anyway, we jump in “my” old truck, which I haven’t used in six months, and try to get it started. It cranks, but won’t catch. I put the pedal to the floor to get the carburated engine more fuel. It still won’t fire. So then I pull up the choke handle, and it still won’t catch. (Side note: Though I’ve owned a white Ford truck, it was fuel injected. I owned a carburated Ford truck, but it was blue. I’ve never owned any vehicle with a manual choke handle.) Thankfully, due to the slope of the parking lot, we start rolling away from Wasses. I pop the clutch just before we fall into a quarry (where’d that come from!), and we start driving.

Next thing I remember, we’re driving on Old County Road. It’s there I realize that this isn’t my truck at all, but it belongs to Harley Colwell. Spike asks me if there’s anything wrong with the truck, and I tell him “It needs a battery.”

Next up. I’m at a house owned by Barbara Koster Pratt Stewart. It’s a small Victorian style New England farmhouse, and James Thompson is trying to sell it for her. Barbara isn’t living there, so she’s let Jim and his family stay in the main house.

Outside the main house is a big old barn. Inside the barn is a shooting range. a bunch of people are in there shooting, but I don’t remember who other than Blaine Curtis and Spruce Head lobsterman Jim Tripp. I’m there with my M1 Garand, and I’m teaching Paula Sutton how to shoot. She claims she’s never shot before, but she loads the Garand, drops into the prone position, and fires of a string of shots all in the black with a great grouping except for one flyer. I’m impressed.

We’re sitting around talking when Jim Tripp walks up to me, points a loaded revolver at my head, and starts laughing. I push it away from me and say “That’s not an ok thing do.” He insists he would never shoot me. And while I believe him, I’m very shook up. I say something to “Look, this wasn’t some quick ‘I accidentally passed the muzzle in front of you while I was drawing from a shoulder holster” moment. You deliberately pointed that gun at me!” I walked off the range.

I went into the main house, which was small, but immaculate. I found the living room, and Jim Thompson had the complete Monty Python collection of DVDs. Every movie, every TV show, every sketch, on 40 DVDs. I decided I needed to find one particular bit, but I couldn’t remember the name of it. I was going to fast forward through 40 DVDs until I found it. Then I heard Susan in the other room.

I went up to her, and she was telling me about her bad day. I cut her off and said “Jim Tripp held a gun to my head and thought it was funny.” Then I started crying. I couldn’t stop. I wasn’t really afraid, but just emotionally spent. Susan, sensing that, didn’t say anything. She just held me and rubbed my head. Then I woke up.

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Buns

I love cinnamon buns in the morning. The combination of cinnamon and coffee really does me in. But I’ve got three kids; time in the morning to make risen, yeast based cinnamon buns doesn’t exist. I need something fast, so usually I turn to muffins. Here in New England, though, we’ve got a tradition of biscuit making, dating back to feeding sailors on long voyages. And, someone along the way invented this olde timey biscuit based cinnamon bun. If you’re looking for a raised, yeasty, Cinnabon style cinnamon bun, this isn’t for you. If you want a cinnamon bun you can have ready in 1/2 an hour with ingredients probably already in your pantry, here’s the recipe.

NOTE: I DOUBLE everything for the rolls, ’cause I like BIG BUNS (and I cannot lie). I don’t like too much icing, so I don’t double that part. If you like your cinnamon buns smaller, like the size of those that come out of the grocery store fridge section, use as is.

IMG_1080[1]Not a pretty picture, but it’s an iPod photo

For the rolls

  • 2 cups baking mix (Bisquick, Jiffy, etc. Here in my house, we use Jiffy, as that’s what my Mom always used), plus extra for rolling
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tbps brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

For the icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • milk (if icing is too thick)

Preheat oven to 425°. Mix the baking mix and milk in a bowl. Throw some baking mix on your work surface (as you would when flouring a board). Use a little more than you think you need, as you’ll need to be rolling later, and you don’t want this stuff to stick. Turn out the mix onto the “floured” surface. Put some baking mix on your rolling pin, and roll out into a rectangle. The mix is sticky. If you’ve made biscuits, that’s the feel you want. If you’ve never made biscuits, it’s sticky and fairly wet. Don’t over work, and don’t make the mix too dry. When I make them (again, I double the mix), my rectangle is like 18″ by 10″. Once you’ve got your rectangle, schmear the softened butter onto it. Make sure the butter is pretty soft, nigh on melted. Too hard and you’ll tear your dough. After the butter is on, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle over everything. Leave one of the long edges bare; you’ll need that bare edge to seal the dough.

Now for the rolling… Start rolling on the OPPOSITE side of the bare edge. Just sort of flop over a couple of inches or so. I start at one end, and work my way to the other. Do it again. About four rolls or so later, you should be done with a big log. Cut the log into the thickness you want. Again, I double my recipe, and cut them about 1.5″ thick. Put the rolls with cut sides facing up on a pan. I use stoneware pans, and they don’t need to be lubricated. If using a metal pan, you might want a touch. I put my rolls close together, but not touching. Bake 15 minutes. Don’t overbake.

For the icing, melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium bowl. Add the powdered sugar and the vanilla and whisk. If it’s too thick, thin with a little milk. Go easy on the milk; a dribble will probably be all you need. 

After the rolls come out of the oven, wait 5 minutes before frosting. Enjoy!