Monday, May 25, 2015

Ten Opinions in a Row (#shoppingwithreptar Edition)

So I'm shopping with Reptar (correction: she's shopping. I'm just wandering nearby, offering suggestions that she dismisses and then sitting quietly while she tries on things and criticizes her body unfairly). So I figured I'd do something to distract myself. Therefore, I give you another ten opinions.

1. Go see Mad Max: Fury Road. It is brilliantly done. One of the best action movies I've seen in years. Keeps you on the edge of your seat, then lets you catch your breath for an instant until it plunges you back in. Great character development, especially in the span of a suspenseful movie. Just all-around so good.

2. Relating to that: I didn't realize there were websites and forums where "men's rights activists" whine and moan about how movies like Mad Max: Fury Road are ruining cinema because they gave Charlize Theron a lead role in a movie titled "Mad Max", where Max wasn't the good-at-everything superhero of movies gone by. You should watch the movie because it's good - but it's an added perk to stick it to those whiny guys.

3. People complaining that the new Human Torch is black need to pipe down. I have one friend who expresses that he likes the movies to be translated as literally as possible from the comics. Which I can understand, even if I don't agree. But the people who think that it's a bad thing because it's a black and white brother-sister duo (HOW COULD THAT POSSIBLY HAPPEN? ME SO CONFUSED), or, worse, that a black member would "disrupt the team dynamic" (which wouldn't happen because the Fantastic Four aren't as racist as that commenter) - go sit in the corner.

4. Okay, non-film thought: the fact that Ireland just voted to legalize gay marriage (and not just that - it was by POPULAR vote, not some elected officials deciding) is huge, and awesome. I think this is best summed up by this quote, from German official Jens Spahn: "One should think, what the Catholic Irish can do, we [Germans] can too," he was quoted by Welt Online as saying, adding: "The population is often more ahead in these matters than we think." 

5. Related to that: I hate it when people comment on posts about these important topics with "That's great, but what about this other important issue that I care more about?" One thing at a time, people. The world does not work on one problem at a time. Your issue's time will come (unless you're a men's rights activist. That time is not coming).

6. At this point I am firmly convinced that when my fiancée says she does not look good in a dress, 90% of the time she is full of crap. The other 10% is an objective issue with the dress itself.

7. I never fully understood the value of detangler combs and hair brushes until I grew my beard out. It was only like 3 or 4 inches, but running a comb through that and smoothing out the tangles was so satisfying. And made for a much softer beard.

8. If stores are going to dress up mannequins, they should have a card catalog or a "find-this-dress-in-store" feature that you can scan. That way you're not randomly wandering trying to find where all the Ralph Lauren dresses are.

9. I am sometimes torn between wanting to listen to a podcast and wanting to roll my windows down. I mean, I know I shouldn't care, but I feel dumb opening my window and blasting out a discussion of some random topic, rather than a song.

10. I am super excited to see my extended family this weekend. Med school and all of its scheduling conflicts, as well as sheer distance, prevent me from hanging out with them as often as I'd like. So the biggest perk of having an engagement party this weekend is that I get to see all of them. And I can't wait. That's not much of an opinion, I just wanted to give them a shout-out.

I have finished this list. And we haven't left Macy's yet. Still have at least one or two stores to check out. I need food.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dos and Don'ts for a Drummer at Someone Else's Gig

So we've officially graduated! I can change the subtitle of this blog to "A Physician/Musician's Thoughts on Blah Blah Blah" - finally! It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm the way spring was meant to be (I love Buffalo but this extended winter stuff is for the birds). The ceremony was a huge thrill, and the speakers were excellent (shout out to my great friend and bandmate Mike Wach for making everyone cry). And to top it all off, I got to play a gig in front of a large portion of my classmates and friends (which, for all intents and purposes, will be the last time...but we'll see). The Lodge was packed, and everyone was dancing and singing along, which is my favorite part of playing in a live setting. It was a perfect day and night.

Okay, maybe not perfect (as you can guess from the title of this post), but I can gloss over any minor things that happened that day. But one thing - really just one person - stuck in my craw that night, and embodied the inspiration for a blog post that I have thought about writing before, but never actually did. So here it goes. The following list was inspired by that guy. Don't be that guy.

DO (can be applied more broadly):
1. Sing/dance/cheer. I love the energy I get from audience members, it definitely makes the whole experience better. Every performer has been at empty-house gigs where you still had to try and put on a show and it just felt like work.

2. Approach me between sets. I love talking to people at shows (I realize this is not the case with every musician, so be wary of that). Whether it's talking shop about drums, requests for songs, stories about how you saw some great band live and how amazing (or awful) they were, I'm usually pretty happy to hear it. The exceptions to this are if the musician really needs to pee, or (broader generalization here) if they are single (not me) and have their eye on a specific person in the crowd - that's no offense to anyone else approaching them, it's just the call of biology.

3. Buy me drinks. I mean, not too many, because I can't play drunk, but if you want to do a shot or get my next gin & tonic for me because you like the way I play, that's awesome. Again, musician-dependent.

4. Admire from far away. Hey, thanks! I mean, you can tell me between sets or from the crowd if you'd like (see #1 and #2).

5. Critique from far away. Hey, I can't stop you. Although maybe tell me to my face less often, and in a friendly manner so we can converse about it.

DON'T (a little more specific to that guy/drummers):
1. Approach me between songs. Little snippets of conversation are fine, or if you're buying me a drink or requesting a song, but please don't try to engage me on the merits of my cymbal placement or tell me about your drumming abilities while I'm waiting to hear what the next song is.

2. Walk around to stand behind me and stare critically. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and it's distracting because I know you're there but I can't see you. I looked back to acknowledge and got nothing. It's just weird.

3. Ask to play my drumset apropos of nothing. Every drummer is guilty of this desire at some point or another. We'll be at some show and the drummer will have a set that looks beautiful. Or it could be ugly but we still suddenly get the urge to play. But most drummers are also aware that if the tables were turned, we would not want someone else playing our drums. Every drummer is protective of their stuff, though we don't want to be pricks. But if we have never talked, never established any rapport, you're just some stranger from the crowd...and if you come up (between songs - see #2), clearly tipsy and starting to slur your words? I don't really want you playing my drumset (especially when I am still playing the gig)! Even if you do offer me $10.

4. Touch my drums unannounced while I'm playing. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES is this okay. I've been trying to be objective in this post, but this was seriously unacceptable. If I am playing a song and we have not previously agreed that you are going to come up and join me, then I question what is prompting you to pick up the stick that I broke earlier and add your own percussion accompaniment. When I am hitting the chorus of "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and providing an optimal level of ride cymbal wash underneath the guitar riff, I don't need you adding your drunkenly off-beat hi-hat splashes.


It should be known that after the show was over, the guy begged me enough that I took pity and let him play my drums (again, didn't want to be a prick). The way he talked, I was expecting to have my mind blown. As it turned out, he was drunk, clumsy, not nearly as groovy as he wanted to be (though the drunk girls dancing were okay with it), and he couldn't hold a stick to save his life. I gotta be more assertive with this kind of situation. Not to mention he spilled water all over my equipment bag. The nerve of some people. Haha. #thankgoditwasnotalcohol