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“Whiplash,” Jazz, Drumming, Prog Metal, and a young woman named Devikah.

August 18, 2017

So I finally got around to watching the movie “Whiplash.” It is about a student drummer at a prestigious (fictional) school, having to deal with a horrifyingly sadistic music teacher/band leader (think drill sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket,” but a lot less funny). The kid almost kills himself (literally) trying to be the best drummer he can, and avoid being abused by his teacher.

Was the film worth watching? A little, since I like jazz on occasion, and really appreciate great drumming, no matter the genre. However, the film was quite disturbing and hard to stomach.

I’ve just done some research, and it seems the movie is mostly B.S. A teacher could never legally be as abusive as the teacher in the film (using an incredible amount of homophobic, racist insults, physically assaulting students). The student’s practicing methods are not portrayed accurately, anyone who bleeds that much while playing drums is doing something very very wrong, etc.

The actor Miles Teller (no, I’d never heard of him before either) who played the student, is, it turns out, very musically gifted. He was a self-taught drummer. and had been playing for many years.. rock cover bands.. but learned all the immeasurably difficult drum parts in less than a month.

The film.. if you want to see some great acting (J. K. Simmons won Best Supporting actor for his performance as the sadistic teacher), don’t mind being disturbed, and really like jazz, you might want to watch it.. maybe.. but otherwise.. skip it. Seriously.

For those who are morbidly curious, here is trailer:

The rest of this post is not about the film. I’m now going to write a bit about a drummer I found on youtube. Her name is Devikah, she is only 18, and looks like a really cute anime character. She’s also a damn good drummer.

I found Devikah while looking up tunes from the “Whiplash” soundtrack. One of the videos that showed up was Devikah playing drum covers of the two main musical pieces from the film.

Here is the video:

After the video, I clicked on one of her comments, which led to some info about her, also on youtube, and found a link to her website. On there, as on her youtube channel, are many more videos. Turns out she is quite versatile, and can play various styles of music, including prog metal. Devikah is in college now, but is available to play gigs a few nights a week. She’s a drummer for hire, living in Las Vegas.

Here is Devikah performing a prog metal cover of a song by a band called X Japan:

Here is her website: https://www.bandmix.com/devikah/

Some of you are likely not familiar with the genre of music called “prog metal.” “Prog” stands for “progressive.” The most famous prog metal band in America is Dream Theater. Prog metal is crazily hard to play. It is, or, should I say, it can be, a mixture of metal and other musical styles, including jazz and classical. Like jazz, prog metal is something of an acquired taste. I’ve been into jazz off and on for quite awhile, but have only been listening to prog metal for a few years.

Here is my favorite song by Dream Theater:

Dream Theater is not my favorite prog metal band. I prefer a band from Sweden, called Opeth.. formerly mostly a death metal band that went prog..

Prospekt (spelled with a “k” on purpose) from England (sadly, they have a different singer now than the one on their first album). Unfortunately, this amazing band is practically unknown.. I’m trying to change that. Here’s an audio-only video of their song, “Shroud.”

I also really like some music by the band Pesefone. This band is from a tiny European country I’d never heard of before, called Andorra. I only like this band’s instrumentals. For the most part, I do not like the singer’s voice. But the instrumentals are fantastic. This band is also pretty much unknown. Here’s an intense instrumental (audio only):

And some American instrumental bands.. Scale the Summit.. I listen to this band quite often.. hmm.. hard to choose which track to put here.. Alright.. this is a video of one of the guitarists playing “Black Hills,” which is the first Scale the Summit track I bought (please pay for your downloads if you can find them available for sale):

The Fine Constant:

Animals As Leaders:

And lastly, the band Liquid Tension Experiment, made up of three of the guys from Dream Theater, plus bassist Tony Levin:

Alright then.. thanks for coming along on this musical journey through film, jazz, and prog rock. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip.

browsing international radio stations and finding..

August 6, 2017

So I had an idea to listen to international radio stations online.. something fun to do.. don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this sooner.

Why did I think of this at all? I was watching one of my favorite British sitcoms, called “Black Books.” A character on the show mentioned being employed by something called Radio 4.

Even though I’m somewhat of an Anglophile, and heard the station mentioned in the past, I’d never looked up Radio 4.. so I looked it up tonight.

Here’s the webpage I was streaming from.. not sure if it’s official..

http://www.internetradiouk.com/bbc-4/

Here’s the official home page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4

After reading about it on Wikipedia, I found the station online and streamed it for a bit, then decided to try radio stations from Jamaica.. why not.

There’s a webpage called jamaicaradio.net http://www.jamaicaradio.net/#rjr-94-fm-94-1-kingston that allows streaming of many stations. At the moment, mostly dull hip-hop that doesn’t sound Jamaican, some reggae, some free-form dance DJ weirdness.. terribly amateurish, and then..

Country?

Yes, on 94.9 RJR.

Here’s the homepage: http://www.rjr94fm.com/

(Oh, you might be wondering where I am.. Boise, Idaho).

I was going to switch to something else, since I don’t tend to listen to country (although I like a little of it) but a song came on that I thought.. hey why not listen to this? So I did..

I figured, like most radio stations in America, the DJ would not say what the song or artist was played, or even be on the air at all, so I googled the lyrics, and found the song!

(What’s with string sections in classic country songs?!! Ruins the tunes! I’m not talkin’ good ol’ fiddle music.. THAT I like.. no, I’m talking about string arrangements.. sort of a ’70’s thing I guess? I’ve noticed this in a lot of tunes that are otherwise great).

What a way to discover a song by Reba McEntire! How random, huh? This is a great song, and I’m going to purchase download of it. (Don’t be a pirate.. if you like a song, and you can find a download for sale, pay for it).

Anyway.. for those of you who are curious about music, radio, and other countries.. google the name of the country of your choice, the words “radio stations,” and “live streaming.”

I think I’ll try Japan a little later, even though I don’t know any Japanese, except for a few words. I enjoy a bit of Japanese music once in awhile. Maybe I’ll like more. Been watching an anime series called “RahXephon” that is both semi-incomprehensible and amazing! The opening and closing musical themes are wonderful!

After sampling Japanese stations?

Hmm.. I will try some in India..

I’m still listening to the Jamaican station.. the DJ finally came on.. bit of a surreal experience listening to a dude with a Jamaican accent hosting a country show. I do wish he’d play whole songs.. doesn’t even do a fade out, just cuts them off a bit before the end sometimes.

He’s just played a tune.. I couldn’t tell who that one was by, so I googled the lyrics I heard.. found that one too.. Randy Travis “Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me.” I like that one too.

And now, something by Patty Loveless.. so the DJ says.. his last song of the night.. just googled Jamaica current time.. what, only an hour ahead of Boise? Doesn’t make any sense! NYC is two hours ahead of us! Oh wait, Jamaica is on Eastern Standard Time, and NYC is on Eastern Daylight time. EDT is one hour ahead of EST.. I’m guessing they don’t have daylight savings time in Jamaica? So, only one hour of time difference between Mountain Daylight Time, the time zone that I’m in, and Eastern Standard Time. Don’t they have a sort of Caribbean Standard Time? Well no, the Islands are spread out quite a bit.

Right then.. that one.. the Patty Loveless (what a depressing last name) song.. strange theology in the lyrics.. “When the Fallen Angels Fly.” Whoops.. that one cut out too.

Now it’s religious music.. damn.. ok then. I’m out. Actually, I really like some religious music, but it tends to be several centuries old, and composed by one of the greats.. Bach, Mozart.. that’s NOT what started playing just now..

But anyway.. please enjoy this song by Reba McEntire (wow, she’s hot in this video! Big hair, but.. wow, classy too) courtesy of my curiosity, and 94.9 RJR in Jamaica.

Human sound, healing, mantras, speaking in tongues..

August 4, 2017

I have a very strange feeling that I have never felt before, and which is hard to describe. I feel like I need to speak in a language that is ancient, primitive, something not heard by modern man. If not that, then perhaps something from the Middle East? Hebrew? Arabic?

Some people believe in speaking in tongues. I can speak in tongues.. I suppose, but I don’t think there is anything spiritual about it. I can make sounds that are like a language… but they are gibberish as far as I can tell. The sounds are vaguely Middle Eastern, as far as I can tell, from listening to my students, and people from the Middle East who I knew back in college, and who spoke various languages such as Arabic and Assyrian.

I feel a bit cathartic when I speak in this way, but am also worried.. what if I am speaking in some ancient language, and what if what I am saying is not good. What if it is a curse? Or worse?

I also feel as if I strongly need to not only speak from my mouth, but speak from my whole body. As if I could resonate sound from all of my body and project it forward. If that is possible, I don’t know how to do it.

This feeling just came upon me very recently, and I don’t understand it.

The best thing I can do right now is to use an audiobook called “Heal Yourself With Your Own Voice,” or something like that.

The narrator/author makes strange, sometimes embarrassing, or almost orgasmic sounds, to create resonance within the body, and to heal one’s self. The listener is supposed to repeat these sounds. I’m guessing these practices are rooted in some ancient, primitive tradition. But I could be wrong. It doesn’t matter, if making these sounds helps.

I’ve had the audibook for years, but have not made the sounds. I don’t live alone, and feel inhibited.

I also have a 4 DVD series on how to free one’s singing voice. Loosening up the voice so more notes can be hit, and one’s range can be expanded. I have the potential to be a good singer, if I practice. But I feel that singing, although a good start, would not be enough. Maybe it would. Maybe it would help a lot.

I haven’t used this DVD series much, and have only worked, or rather sung, my way through the first DVD a few times. Again, because I don’t want to sound strange and bother my family members. Also, I really don’t like the guy on the DVD. I find him annoying.

I’m staring to think that I should really get past these inhibitions and work on these vocal exercises.

Perhaps I should chant mantras as well. The only one I know is long, in Sanskrit, and is a prayer of praise to the Hindu god Shiva.

I like chanting it, and I don’t. I don’t want to chant to any god. I don’t believe in any god written about in any book.. either that or I feel that any god that has been written about is just a tiny view of a part of what God really is. Like all religions get a tiny bit of a view and think their view is absolute truth.

Maybe I should just chant “Om.” According to the Hindus, that is the sound of the Universe.

Unfortunately, I’ve had SO much negative Christian programming in the past that I feel any chant in a language I don’t know is potentially bad.. conjuring up evil, demons, or bad luck.

So I tend not to say mantras. Maybe I should work on getting past my fears, and chant mantras anyway.

Maybe all and everything is a part of God, so it doesn’t matter if I’m chanting to Shiva or whoever.

I don’t know, but whatever it is.. sound.. vibration.. I feel strongly that I need to let it out.

In this short video, I demonstrate my version of speaking in tongues, and what the “Om” and mantra sound like:

The Incredible Importance of Self-Respect.

August 3, 2017
This post is about the immense value of having self-respect, and the potentially immense drawbacks and dangers of not having self-respect.
 
Before I go further, I want to point out that self-respect is not the same as having a big (and easily bruised) ego, or arrogance. Those things are not healthy. Self-respect is very healthy.
 
On to the rest of the post..
 
I have come to realize that so many problems we experience are those we bring on ourselves.
 
A big cause of problems we create for ourselves is lack of self-respect. Often, we don’t even realize this.
 
I’ve been looking back on my life, and have been wondering why I was bullied in school at times, treated poorly in the churches I attended, and was sometimes picked on and harassed in the workplace at various jobs.
 
I don’t know all the reasons, but I have finally figured out one of them.
 
I had not respected myself enough. And it showed.
 
Why had I not respected myself? I’ve dealt with serious depression pretty much my entire life. I think this was revealed by my tone of voice, mannerisms, body posture, etc.
 
People could spot me as an easy mark. Some people have a predatory nature, and almost a 6th sense. It is their nature to spot weakness in others, and cause harm.
 
Tone of voice matters. Body posture matters. How we dress and conduct ourselves maters. We can appear confident, even when we are not, even when we don’t feel up to it, even when we are depressed or anxious.
 
In fact, in some circumstances, we NEED to act like we respect ourselves, because otherwise we are much more likely to be victimized, passed up for raises and promotions, make poor relationship choices, and will generally be mistreated.
 
 
Women, pay special attention to this next part. There have been many studies on rape. Although rape is not entirely preventable, there are things women can do to decrease their chances of being raped.
 
What can women do? They can project confidence. One study I read about in college had to do with women being raped in parking lots or parking garages. The conclusion of the study was that women who walked in a way that was not confident, looked at the ground, etc., and appeared weak were much more likely to be raped than those who walked with poise and confidence. Rapists, like other criminals, tend not to want a challenge. They want an easy target. Don’t be one.
 
Scan the area, be observant, develop situational awareness. Men should do this too.
 
Another thing women can do is walk with their car keys in one hand, with the sharp end of one key pointing out. This key can be used for stabbing. Aim for the neck, shoving upward, if you can. Or an eye. A good kick or knee to the crotch works quite well also. Or a kick to the knee or other part of the leg to destabilize balance.
 
Another thing to do is take a self-defense class.. a serious self defense class that meets weekly or bi-weekly, not just a one day seminar. Effective self-defense classes increase confidence in both women and men.
 
Keeping yourself in strong shape is also a very good idea.
 
Don’t be an easy target.
 
Going back to my past..
 
There were times that, even if I knew what I know now, I might not have been able to change my posture and behavior, but maybe I would have. Forewarned is forearmed.
 
I can’t change my past, but I can learn from my past. Right now, I am learning, I working on making changes, and am going to be making more changes.
 
I have already been paying attention to my posture and how I walk. I have also started to dress a little better, regardless of where I am going to be.
 
Even if I’m just headed to the grocery store or to the library, I make sure to look a little nicer than I used to. For example, I won’t just wear an old t-shirt, sweat pants, and beat-up shoes. No. I show respect for myself, and dress better. I wear a pleasant-looking but not overly formal button-down shirt, a good pair of jeans or shorts, socks of appropriate color and length, if I’m wearing socks, no socks with sandals, and shoes that are in good condition.
 
Unless I feel like looking a bit funky. Then I’ll wear my Converse Chucks with my own custom artwork. That’s ok once in awhile. If I’m on a hike though, or doing something else outdoors, then sweat pants, old t-shirts and so forth are fine. It’s about dressing appropriately.
 
It matters how we look. It also matters how we sound.
 
I notice that I sometimes speak in somewhat of an anxious voice that is higher pitched than my natural voice. I need to work on that.
 
Getting in shape..
 
I need to get myself in better shape. This includes improving my diet, which I’ve already started to work on, and get more exercise. Eventually, I also want to regularly attend a practical self-defense class. Being in shape equals feeling more confident.
 
Taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths is important. Practice.
 
I can also do such things as shine my shoes, practice my posture while I’m at home (something I really need to do, not only to improve confidence, but to decrease pain and be more healthy), wear clothes that fit well, not sit down too long and get up from my chair once in awhile.. set a timer for this.. meditate for more mental peace and clarity.. make simple, small improvements that add up to big results.
 
Will I be problem-free? No, but I believe I will have less problems, be more resilient and better able to handle problems that come along, and will be taken more seriously in the future.
 
What about you? Are you experiencing problems in the workplace or in your personal life?
 
Consider how you carry yourself. Consider if you are appearing and acting in a way that shows you have respect for yourself, or are you doing something else?
 
Do you respect yourself? Do you act like you do?
 
Even if you are often down or anxious like I am, you can still make small, positive changes which will make big changes in your life.
 
There is a saying, “fake it ’til you make it.” I even heard a Ted Talk about this. I will put a video of this talk at the bottom of this post. This talk has been viewed by over 12 million people. It focuses on body language and confidence. There are other Ted Talks and various youtube videos that can be helpful.
Do what you have to do to no longer be a victim, not only a victim of others, but a victim of yourself.
 
You will eventually make better choices, and have a better life.
 
Is all this easy? Of course not. Improvement and gaining self-respect requires a LOT of patience (the most difficult part, I think), self-awareness, kindness to yourself, honesty about yourself, and determination. It also requires small, incremental steps, which are doable. I can do this. You can do this. Remember that film, “What About Bob?” Baby steps!
 
Ted Talks and other videos can be helpful, and so can podcasts. You can find Ted Talks and other useful podcasts if you look for them. These don’t cost anything.
 
Check iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.. for guys “Art of Manliness” is a good podcast choice, although it covers a huge range of topics, not just building confidence.
 
There are also two books I am interested in reading that I think will be very good. “The Art of Worldly Wisdom,” written by Baltasar Gracian, and published in 1702. The other is “The 48 Laws of Power,” by Robert Greene, published much more recently. I don’t know how much these books will help, because I’ve only read a little of each so far. But I am optimistic.
 
Don’t kill yourself trying to find just the right self-help book though, and try to find books at the library. If you want to buy books, buy only those you like the best, and find the most useful. And shop around. Using money wisely is something to feel good about.
 
In summation..
 
Creating self-respect, maintaining self-respect, and acting like one has self-respect. This is incredibly important. Take heed.
 
In the comments section, I’m going to include a song which might seem frivolous, but it isn’t. Listen to it, and believe what you hear. (And, I’d give it a ’10.’ It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it).
https://youtu.be/-1pYKdqD1ls
https://youtu.be/Ks-_Mh1QhMc

a feminist ideal found in the bible?! The Wife of Noble Character.

August 3, 2017

A feminist ideal found in the Bible? Maybe. This chapter in Proverbs is about a highly successful working mother.

It’s a famous chapter in the Bible, and is called “The Wife of Noble Character.”

(Yes, I confuse some people, I suppose. I’m not a Christian, but I quote the Bible on occasion. I’m a former Christian, who used to study the Bible.. a lot. There are many astonishingly horrible passages in the Bible, but there are some excellent chapters and verses as well. Why am I a former Christian? That’s personal, and not relevant to this post).

Here are the verses describing the wife of noble character.. I’m not married.. but I can dream..

“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31:10-31.

beautiful.. spiritual… anime?

August 3, 2017

I’m not generally into anime, in fact, this is the first anime TV series I’ve watched since back in the ’80’s, when I was into”Voltron” (the lions version, not the vehicles version) and especially into “Robotech” (Macross Saga and Robotech Masters.. never did watch much of the third series.. the first two series are truly amazing)..

But this one is beautiful.

It’s also terribly hard to understand! At least.. it has been for me.. I’m watching it for the second time.

It is not only science fiction, but very spiritual, in strange ways. There’s romance, extra-dimensional beings, genetic engineering of people, possible Jungian archetypes, art and architecture reminiscent of ancient Egypt, and other elements as well.. I’m guessing other people will understand it better than I have thus far.

I finished the whole series.. It is on Amazon Prime.. not sure if it is on Netflix as well.. might be able to get it from your library?

I took a few days off, and am watching it again. Hopefully, I will be less frustrated this time, and understand more.

But yeah, even though there is some violence, and disturbing images, the show is so often beautiful.

It’s in English, but the opening and closing themes are usually in Japanese. Here’s what the beginning montage of the series, which shows how it looks and sounds like:

the pursuit of happiness can lead to unhappiness.

August 1, 2017

The reason so many people are unhappy is because they are pursuing happiness.

This might seem like a terribly cynical statement. But consider this..

That majority of the time that humans have been on this earth, they have not concerned themselves with pursuing happiness. No. They were too busy pursuing SURVIVAL.

Such is still true for so many humans living on this planet today.

The trouble with pursuing happiness is it can lead to a neurotic state in which one continually and obsessively asks, “Am I happy enough?” “Those people look happier than I am. Maybe I should buy that luxury car, or take that drug, or seek fame, or..”

And the more unhappy they become.

I’m not saying happiness is bad. But maybe, instead of always pursuing it, let it sneak up on you, while you are doing something productive and good with your life.

Also, simple contentment and gratitude for what you have should not be discounted. Contentment and gratitude are very important, and do not lead to the rat race of frantically pursuing happiness.

Something else to consider: we Americans are taught that pain is an option. We feel that in no circumstance should we have to endure pain.

But pain is inevitable. It just is. The first Noble Truth of Buddhism? In life there is suffering. I’m not Buddhist, but I feel this is worth mentioning.

We are all in pain some of the time. It can be extremely difficult to not frantically seek to get rid of pain. Yes.. if you have a headache, take some medicine. Yes, seek medical attention if need be. But don’t expect to always be free of pain.

This can be an especially hard truth for those of us who live with chronic pain, whether it be mental or physical. Or both.

Sometimes, the best we can do is, instead of trying to relieve the pain, just sit with it, and be patient. It’s hard. I know. This is something I struggle with, which is why I am writing about it.

I think, once one accepts pain, and learns to be patient and sit with it, one will find peace.

And maybe someday happiness will come along.

If it does, be grateful, but don’t cling to it, and don’t be too surprised when it is gone again. And lastly, don’t chase it once it has disappeared.

Live your life. Be content, be grateful. Happiness in some form will come back again. But don’t worry, and don’t be afraid to wave goodbye to it when it leaves.