Sunday, October 24, 2010


Checking in from another two-week gig in Carson City. Joy is with me this time, her birthday is coming up this Wednesday, so I had to bring her. That, and this would probably be the last time I'd be able to do so until April or May. Packing for Joy means carry a whole fuck of a lot more than I normally would, and this time around it also included something new - our new Wii.

I'd always wanted one of these things, but our general state of poverty precluded purchasing anything like that. Then out of the blue we get a phone call from our daughter-in-law Melissa in North Carolina. It seems that she's gotten into the business of being an Ebay reseller, buying lots of particular items and reselling them individually. And apparently, she's pretty good at it. And she tells us that she'd been planning on sending us a Wii for Christmas, but she figured she might as well just send it to us right then and there, with a bunch of games and peripherals. She even threw in a coffeemaker for my folks. And sure enough, this giant package of Wii-stuff arrived about a week later. We got Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit, EA Sports Active, a Dance Dance Revolution game, DJ Hero, and even a GameCube 'street' soccer game. Joy and I, along with my little brother Mac, tore into the games with abandon. We golf, bowl, swordfight, play hoops, practice yoga, play balance and coordination games, and otherwise work up a good sweat while getting our game on. The package even included a mat for the DDR game, and a pair of MMA-style gloves with pockets for the Wii's Remote and Nunchuck controllers to be used for boxing and other combat-sports games.

But what I was looking forward to was what Nintendo calls the Wii's Virtual Console. With the Virtual Console, we can download original mini-games, downloadable content for Wii games, and most importantly to me, classic games from all Nintendo's old systems, as well as consoles from Sega, NEC's TurboGrafx 16, SNK's Neo-Geo, even the ancient Commodore 64 computer. With the Wii connected to the Station's free Internet, I downloaded Dr. Mario Online Rx for Joy, and the classic NES chestnuts Mega Man II and River City Ransom for me. And with games for as little as $5, the Wii's hard drive (augmented by an SD flash-memory cardslot - that's where the games actually went), I figure that the Wii will become a treasure trove of old-school games pretty quick.

And as an added bonus, Mac sold me his spare Xbox 360 for $40 and a carton of cigarettes. I can download stuff onto that system as well, and Microsoft's Xbox Live service offers it's fair share of classic games, even Atari 2600 and Mattel Intellivision. And I can get games from them for as little as $3 - bonus! In the long run, it means that there's that much more crap for me to schlep around from gig to gig, but at least it keeps me knee-deep in video games. So much better than gambling in my opinion. I may be spending money, but after the initial expenditure, it's all free!

I can live with that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Old Familiar

Just got back from Sparks the other day after a weekender at John Ascuaga's Nugget. After Shreveport, then leaving my drums untouched in the basement after coming home, it took a while to get used to playing my own gear again. In fact, it took a lot longer than I expected to get back to old patterns - probably an entire night of playing. But that passed without any real incident. Just like riding a bike, y'know?

But over that weekend, I came to the realization that I actually have it pretty good when it comes to my gear. My drums came to me cheap, and they're not the best drums Tama makes. But they sound great, and I take damn good care of them. I buy my cymbals as cheaply as possible but once again, they sound great and I take damn good care of them. It took years to assemble all the pieces of my rack, but it's been a godsend to me in terms of making it a whole hell of a lot easier to set up and tear down. Now I'm in the slow process of buying the equipment needed to mic my kit so when I play in a band that requires me to mic it, I'll be covered. Over the years I've met a lot of drummers who didn't have what I have, good players for the most part, but unable to do the job because either they didn't have the gear or had other vices that prevented them from having enough money to get that gear.

Now if only it could pay better.....