Jan 11 2013

VBS 2013 Development Diary: #5: Music

For the past two years Rahne has composed the theme music. For Law of the West, our wild west VBS, I was looking for music that would fit in with a John Ford / John Wayne / Roy Rogers good guy kind of western—not a spaghetti western. When she was working on it, we listened to a lot of music from classic westerns—both what I wanted and what I didn’t want.

The best example of what I didn’t want for our VBS, despite my love for the music, was the theme from For a Few Dollars More. Ennio Morricone’s haunting theme really conveyed the grit and dirt and decay and moral landscape from the movie perfectly—it just didn’t suit the tone of our Bible school skit.

We listened to a number of good pieces, including Red River and Silverado, but the best example of what we did want was Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven. It wasn’t that I wanted, ‘Hey, can you rip of The Magnificent Seven, without sounding like you ripped off The Magnificent Seven? What I did want was something that, like The Magnificent Seven, conveyed a sense of good, morality, heroism, and triumph.  A wild west where men are men, women are women, and good guys wear white hats and never cheat or shoot anyone in the back.

And I think she nailed it. When she composed her first theme song in 2011 for Adventure on the High Seas, our pirate themed VBS, her music definitely sounded nice and piratey, but the overall composition was fairly rudimentary. Last year’s theme was more of an overture with four distinct movements, with the fourth movement a variation of the first.

Again, we have spent a lot of time listening to music. We have found some decent traditional music, as well as a lot of stuff that sounds more suited for a Chinese restaurant. One shining star however is Tan Dun, composer for Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

A couple of weeks ago Rahne, Elsa, and I had kind of a jam session–both of the girls on piano and me on djembe drum and pennywhistle. Last Wednesday Rahne and Amelia got together to go over it some more with Rahne on piano and Amelia on violin.

We aren’t there yet, but the music is getting there. I am looking into buying an erhu, aka Chinese fiddle, so that we can get a more authentic sound once composition is complete.

 

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Nov 10 2012

Review: China Dragon

While on vacation we tried out a Chinese restaurant my brother recommended, China Dragon in Concordia, Missouri. It’s a little place on the main drag—restaurant only, no buffet.

The Food
The food was very good, and the portions are large. I don’t know about you, but I’m picky about my favorite dish, pork lo-mein. Some places have those thin, round, ramen-style noodles, and other places have those nasty, wide, flat noodles. This place has neither–they have what they call ‘soft noodles’ which are very nice (aren’t all noodles soft once you cook them?). Anyway, they are round and fat, like Americans. The General Tso’s chicken was very good–lots of chicken, not a lot of coating (there are some restaurants that have lots of coating and not a lot of chicken). The crab rangoon is literally packed as full as it can be, the egg rolls are great, and the egg drop soup is wonderful. I just really can’t say enough good things about China Dragon’s food. In my opinion the lo-mein could be greasier, but that’s a personal preference*.

The Service
The entire restaurant is served by the owner / waitress, Tina (her husband is the cook). Tina is friendly, bubbly, and just so darn nice she makes it very difficult not to eat there every night.

The Prices
It’s pretty inexpensive to eat there, and we have always had food to bring home.

Conclusion
Just go, man. Don’t believe me? Try these other reviews; my favorite is the one that says ‘GET OFF THE INTERSTATE NOW.’ Tell Tina her brother and sister from Higginsville sent ya.

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* I have a wonderful memory of leaving an entertainment venue late at night one November long ago and then eating leftover greasy lo-mein sans utensils. Mmmmm.

 

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