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  • I like to discuss things like music, movies, religion, politics, and other stuff that might offend you if you've got a different point of view.

    As you read through my blog, you'll see the progression of someone trying to sound smart (but coming off pretentious and moody) changing into someone who mainly just wants to write something that will make people laugh and/or express some of his opinions. The more recent stuff is better--and generally more positive. Perhaps I've grown...

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“Y’know, I was voted best kisser in my POW camp…” – Abe Simpson

My last post was paranoid enough that I feel like writing something else tonight.  (Although I am not done wondering about the seizure thing.)  So, here’s an “everything/nothing” post, what with the Simpsons quote in the title and everything…

  1. I picked up a copy of Brian Wilson’s memoir “I Am Brian Wilson” last week (or the week before? I’ve already forgotten when it came out).  I’m reading it a chapter at a time and absorbing it piece by piece before moving on.  I’m enjoying it quite a bit.  It’s written in a non-linear style.  In the same breath he might mention his brothers dying in the 80s and 90s, then jump right to being backstage for the Smile shows in 2006.  He jumps all over the place, like any of us might when we tell a story…or write an everything/nothing blog post…huh…  Anyway, each chapter has a theme like “Fear,” “Family,” “Home,” etc.  Each chapter has a lesson it’s trying to relay–or at least that’s how I see it.  It’s a great read for any Beach Boys fan, even a casual one probably.  I’ve long admired and in my own way identified with Brian Wilson, and hearing his story in his words (“with” Ben Greenman, who helped him put the book together…) is a reflective and rewarding read.  …and if the part where Brian describes introducing his one year old daughter to her cancer-stricken Uncle Carl for the first time doesn’t just make you fucking sob, you’re not a person.
  2. I’ve also been trying to read Dennis Lehane’s “The Given Day.”  I’ve really enjoyed my Lehane read-through up to this point, but I’m struggling with this one.  It starts out with a prelude about baseball (of which most will know I’m not a fan) and it’s also set in a turn-of-the-century America I’ve always had trouble envisioning.  It’s a tough read for me.  It’s not a bad book or anything like that…I just like stories set in a more present-day (or the present day of when it was written, anyway) and that don’t count on winning me over to their metaphors.  I’m through the first major section, but I’ve paused going into the second…  And Brian Wilson is filling that pause more than ably.
  3. My brother and I went to see Nick Lowe play a solo set on Tuesday.  It was just Nick and his guitar.  It was a lot of fun and a wonderful set.  Nick told some great stories and played some of his (and other people’s!) best songs.  He knew right where to drop the hits and what people would think of them.  His hands in the air “hurray!” pose at the end of “Cruel to Be Kind” was as funny as it was deserved, and he knew just how to play it…but he also slipped in some moments that I didn’t expect.  His cover of the late Henry McCullough’s “Failed Christian” (which Lowe also did on his “Dig My Mood” record) was surprising and a moving rendition.  His closing selection of Elvis Costello’s “Allison” was a fun surprise as well, considering Costello is best known for doing the Lowe-penned “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?” (which Nick also played!).  (Nick Lowe’s working relationship with Elvis Costello is probably worth a book or two of its own…as is his relationship with The Damned…)  The only song he didn’t do that I was deeply hoping for was “The Beast in Me,” which Nick wrote and Johnny Cash used to do in the “American” era.  (Holy damn Nick Lowe has a deep catalogue!) But you can’t possibly play everything, and ultimately, it was one of the masters of pop-rock reminding us all how to have fun.  It was a great time…and Dave landed us SECOND ROW seats!  I don’t think I realized that walking in, and it was a wonderful surprise.
  4. Halloween is coming up.  And you can have it…  Never really been a fan, except for the years as a kid and teenager when I thought I was supposed to be, before I realized it was okay to turn off the porch light.  (And even as a kid, having fun…I was mostly scared that I was going to get scared…)  Not that I haven’t had a few good ones as an adult.  I enjoyed going to my friend Johnny’s party and reconnecting with some old friends a few years back.  And two years ago, I adored spending the evening with my friend Amanda watching a band (The Station) play at Cicero’s.  But I’m not really a costume guy, and if you’re not a kid you probably shouldn’t be wearing one…  I’d go to a club with a friend again, though.
  5. Three years ago, Randy Travis had a stroke and lost his voice. This past week, at the Hall of Fame, he sang Amazing Grace.  Kinda puts every time you thought something was too hard into perspective…  I’ve never been a huge Travis fan, but I’ve respected him…and I sure as hell admire him after that.  Bless him.
  6. Dave and the Not-So-Daves are putting the finishing touches on the record, now titled “Hits in a Perfect World.”  I’m busting for everybody to hear it!  Dave wrote some really fun songs and I enjoyed playing my ass off on them.  Just need to finish the album cover, etc, and then start selling it.
  7. I’m also still working on the “Sorry, I Didn’t Mean to Shout” project.  I think everything is recorded.  I’ve got way too many songs at the moment.  And mixing something that’s just guitar and vocal is harder than it probably sounds.  You’ve got to put the songs in the right order and you’ve got to mix them in a way that the guitar helps the vocal and vice-versa.  It’s a lot more personal and intimate than doing a full-band in a lot of ways…  So it’s not exactly on pause…but it’s more work than you’d expect and I’m taking some time away from it to come back with fresh ears.  Still hoping it’ll be out before the end of 2016 though.  (As a side note, it still needs a cover, too…if anyone’s got any ideas, I’d be willing to pose for a photo…)
  8. I mentioned in my last post that I’m now in possession of my grandpa’s old desk.  That’s nice.  I need to finish fixing up the bedroom it’s in and give it the once-over with some Pledge.  My “woke up on the floor” incident from Sunday delayed my progress a little…  But I’m excited to have the desk and to have it turning into a workspace where I can sit and write or read or whatever, and feel connected to family while I do it.  I’m going to move a comfortable chair into there as well and create a nice, warm, functional space…maybe a little record player in the closet, too…  Very grateful to Dad for letting me have the desk and to Bruce for helping me move it.
  9. In the wrestling world, Bill Goldberg is back for one more match.  I thought I was opposed to it.  I thought it was a bad idea…  Then I saw the promo on Monday night and Goldberg hit all the beats just right.  His final stinger to Brock Lesnar was great.  “Not only are you next…but you’re LAST.”  I got actual chills.  I liked Goldberg back in the WCW days and if he can bring one more good match, then sure I’m on board.  It’s still a hell of a great gimmick/entrance and he’s got charisma that even Hulk Hogan can’t hold a finger to.  (Yeah, I said it.)  Good to see him back.
  10. Talking of famous Jewish guys I really like… Leonard Cohen has a new album out tomorrow that I’m looking forward to hearing.  An interview he gave recently made me a little sad though.  He spoke of being in declining health and “getting his house in order” in his old age, eventually saying, “I am ready to die.”  And knowing his personality, I think that came from a place of peace, but it still made me a little misty…  Then I saw a subsequent interview this week where he referenced those words and said, “I think I was exaggerating.”  So who can tell?  Either way, if he’s placing pen to paper, I’m interested in it, and I’m glad he’s gracing us with another, even if he’s ready to be done.

And I think we’ll call it there tonight.  Wrote a lot about a couple things.  Thanks for reading!


Current Listening:

  • Still buzzing on Nick Lowe a little, but relistened to Amanda Shires’ “My Piece of Land” driving in the rain a little bit today, and it was wonderful.

Pardon me while I think too much…

I’m a little worried about my health.  I wrote back in April about a rough night I had that I blamed on bad sushi.  Well…it kinda happened again…but I’m not sure how seriously to take it.

On Saturday, I enlisted my friend Bruce to help me move a desk into my house.  Then after that, I spent some time on my own moving two small bookcases (which I slid–they weren’t very heavy) and some books to go into them.  Lots more activity and dust than I normally keep to…  I went to bed stiff and sore, as expected after that kind of activity.  Then sometime in the overnight/wee hours of Sunday, I woke up on the floor of my bedroom.  I’d fallen out of the bed.  My back hurt immensely, as did my legs, and I struggled to get back onto the mattress, but then went right back to sleep.  Woke up again in the late-morning (as I’d planned) and was stiff in my back and legs just like back in April…and I’d bitten my tongue just like back in April…and I’ve got a mild rash that’s actually a little milder than in April (didn’t notice it right away).

I attributed most of the physical stuff to moving the desk and bookcases.  Of COURSE I’d be sore after that.  I’m 36 and don’t work out like at ALL.  I even figured the rash might’ve been dust related–I’d forgotten that back in April I’d similarly moved my card catalogue into the house for the very first time, which had previously been collecting dust in a garage.  I’ve been thinking that maybe heavy, dusty stuff and I just don’t get along very well anymore…

But…  Back in April, a friend asked me, “do you think you had some kind of seizure?”  And I’ve been thinking about that, probably a little too much…  But I read up on nocturnal seizures and a lot of things fit.  So I’m wondering if that’s a possibility.  But then, back pains from moving things and biting my tongue with my terrible, cracked and broken teeth when I fall out of bed, and having a rash either from an allergen or as a result of muscle strain are also possibilities.  It does seem a serious coincidence that both events would happen after moving old, dusty furniture…

Plus, there’s the fact that after the April event I went to a doctor and he didn’t say anything about seizures.  (By the way, I’ve learned that the actual event itself in this case would be called a “convulsion” rather than a “seizure” if that’s what it was…it’s just as possible I had back pain, rolled over with extra “umph” to get through it, and slid off the bed.)  Then again, that doctor mostly just seemed to want to get out of the room.  I don’t know…there’s as much pointing to me being an idiot for thinking about it as there is pointing toward me being diligently, cautiously concerned.  I don’t have a prior history of seizures or whatever to my knowledge…so this would be very out of nowhere…  I’m just being paranoid, right?

If anybody has any thoughts, I’d appreciate hearing them.  Going to a doctor seems like a waste of time after the last one didn’t seem concerned.  And at this point my back and legs and stuff all feels a lot better…so I don’t need any cool pain killers.  Rash is clearing up with aloe–although it did seem to clear more quickly in April with the antihistamine the doctor gave me (which even further supports it being an allergy not a convulsion).  I’m not sure going to a doctor and saying, “I think I might’ve had a seizure maybe?” will really get me anywhere, anyway.  Seems like it’s an expensive battery of tests for that, right?

I don’t know.  I’m just tired and freaked out.  Please feel free to either justify me or tell me I’m nuts.  If it happens again, I probably need to see somebody who’ll spend some real time with me, huh?


In happier news, I saw Nick Lowe with my brother last night.  Lowe is the guy who wrote some of Elvis Costello’s early hits (“What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding” being chief among them) and he also had a number of successful songs of his own.  It was a solo set–just him and his guitar–and it was wonderful.  So that was fun, seizure or no seizure!

Otherwise, things are fine, I guess.


Current Listening:

  • A bunch of Nick Lowe on Shuffle and I’ve also listened to some Elvis Costello because it made sense.

Here’s My Week…

Hi folks.  I’ve been on vacation all week (the first one I’ve taken in my 7+ years at the company!).  I thought I’d blog more, but I’ve been too busy doing nothing.  It’s midnight and I’m getting some ass-to-sofa time, so thought this was a good opportunity to write.

Most of the week, I’ve either been doing stuff around the house or I’ve been doing stuff with my Dad in celebration of his 70th birthday (October 5).  That’s been fun.  On Tuesday, I took him to dinner at Tucanos, a favorite restaurant of mine–it’s a Brazilian place that brings swords of meat to your table and stuffs you full of it until you’re so full and happy that you want to die.  Then today, I hung out with Dad and a bunch of his friends in the “Gluttons” club, which he helped found in 1964…a bunch of them turned 70 this year, so they had a group party this week.  Fun seeing my old “Glutton Uncles” and listening to stories.  One of them said, “You’re one of the old boys now, yourself!” to me, and  even though I’m 36 and I know he was kind of kidding, that was actually a pretty nice thing to hear.  Still the family celebration to come on Saturday, too!

The only real other thing I’ve done all week (other than screw around on YouTube) is work on music.  I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been working on an acoustic career-retrospective release.  New recordings, acoustic guitar and vocal only, songs dating all the way back to my first record, four NEW (or at least unreleased) songs, etc.  If it IS a secret, it’s a pretty open one, since I’ve mentioned it both on this blog and in the interview I did over the summer.  I’ve been doing tests here and there on it over a few weeks, but I’ve been doing the real recording in earnest on it this week.  Almost done.  A couple more songs to work up, then mixing, listening, mastering, etc…  Hoping to have it out before the end of the year, but going to wait until after my brother’s record is out first.

Working on “Sorry, I Didn’t Mean to Shout” (that’s the name of the thing) has been an interesting process.  I haven’t played some of the songs I’m doing on it in a long time.  I think that the recording of “Fall Apart” I did tonight was probably the first time I’ve played it in about 5-6 years.  Got it in one take…some of them don’t ever really leave you.  (Whereas the stuff from the last three records have taken me dozens of takes and many profanities…)

Playing some of the old stuff hits me with a mix of emotions.  On some of those songs, I dial right back in to where I was and what I was feeling when I wrote them.  On others, I have to think long and hard about what they meant and when they meant it.  It has been interesting revisiting certain songs and finding that I don’t really agree with myself anymore, or that I’ve got a different take on how I want to play or sing it.  And that’s part of the fun of this.  I know as a fan, I’ll often have “favorite” versions of songs that are maybe single-edits, alternate takes, or demo versions, etc…  And it’s cool to do this knowing that some people might think “I prefer the acoustic version” about some of these tracks over time.  I’ve always wanted to do something like this–acoustic and vocal takes are the truest representation of the artist to the audience, and I find that exciting and interesting.

There’s also a side of it that I wasn’t expecting.  Playing especially some of the old songs, I think, “Oh God…my best work is behind me!” then I’ll play a different one or sing an older, clumsier lyric and think, “Oh…no…no it isn’t. Good.”  :)  I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my own work, and that’s in full force when I’m looking at it big-picture.  It’s been interesting to see how much I bounce back and forth between trying to do something musically interesting or complicated and just throwing down three chords and demanding that my audience “JUST LISTEN TO MY WORDS!!!”  I’ve always had a greater fondness for the craft of the lyric than any other part of it (I think if I ever couldn’t play music for some reason–arthritis or injury, what-have-you–I’d write sloppy, rock poetry).  But I’ve been enjoying some of the challenge of figuring out how to make some of it work musically in the acoustic setting…or just over 10-years of my technique evolving.

It’s been a weird experience, but ultimately I think a rewarding one…even if no one downloads it.  But I’m hoping you’ll all at least download the new songs, when it comes out!

Anyway…that’s it.  My big plans to run out the vacation include a trip to the record store tomorrow afternoon, I think.  Back to work on Monday, and I’m sure it’ll feel like I have  week’s worth of work to do on my first day back (even if it’s a light day–it’s just hard to get back into the routine).  Blog ya’ later.


Current Listening:

  • Pixies – “Head Carrier” – Came out last week.  Good record.  Not a lot of the crazy Pixies left-turns we’ve come to expect, but good, deep hooks and I’m really enjoying Paz’s contributions now that she’s a full-fledge member.
  • Drive-By Truckers – “American Band” – Also came out last week.  Like it.  I was hoping for something more raucous, but it’s got some really strong material.  Especially like what Cooley brought to the table this time.  And if nothing else, my biggest criticism of “English Oceans” was that it was mixed too boomy, and they fixed that for this one, so I’m happy.  Good, political tunes.  It’s a great summary of present-day America…which kind of explains why the cover is grey… Maybe not their best…definitely far from their worst.  In the upper tier of their career, especially in their post-Isbell era.

A Baker’s Dozen (Music Reviews)

Wanted to get something new on the blog.  Little sleepy and having trouble thinking of enough subjects to fill up a “random” post…so I’m just going to do some reviews of new music that’s come out recently.  (I’m going to try not to repeat any reviews I’ve done previously…sorry if there are any duplicates…  I’m not really a fan of my own work and am therefore not researching this.)

Before doing that though, and speaking of my own work, please allow me a quick bit of self-promotion…  I’ve got a new single that I put out just tonight, kind of on a whim.  It’s a bass solo, turned bass & drums piece called “Bite the Habanero!”  And you can download it for ABSOLUTELY FREE at my Bandcamp site.  Had fun doing it, so I hope you have fun listening to it.

Habanero Art.png

This is what the cover looks like.  Except it’s only digital. So it’s less of a cover and more of a picture.  Shut up.

Anyway…here’s a baker’s dozen (13) reviews of stuff other people wrote… For those who want the “tl;dr” version, I’m giving letter-grades after the titles on each one, too.

  1. Tegan and Sara – “Love You to Death” – A
    Great album.  Poppy and immediately, infectiously catchy.  I know it’s going to be in my top 5 for the year.  I bought it, listened to it once, then set it aside.  A few WEEKS later, I heard one of the songs from it on a radio in a store and immediately thought “Oh, that’s from the new Tegan and Sara” and was singing along…after only hearing it ONCE, weeks prior.  I don’t care who you are, that’s a well-written tune.
  2. Amanda Shires – “My Piece of Land” – A+
    This is really the whole reason I wanted to write this post.  “My Piece of Land” will absolutely be in my top 5 records for 2016.  Amanda is Jason Isbell’s wife, but there’s a lot more to her than that, and it’s all over this album.  She writes, folky, Americana, country-style stuff, for the most part.  This album is filled with gentle, soothing songs that wrap around you like your favorite blanket in your favorite armchair, and you just want to stay in them forever. It’s a deeply personal listen and has a very intimate feel to it, especially if you’ve got the pleasure of hearing it for the first time on a rainy Autumn day on vinyl, like I did.  Just a perfect experience.  This album is almost so good that I don’t even want to discuss it with anyone and just want to keep it to myself…but that wouldn’t be fair, now would it?
  3. Wilco – “Schmilco” – B+
    Easily the album TITLE of the year.  I’ve been on and off Wilco for years, but the title made me laugh and I bought it based on that alone.  :)  Listening to it, though, it doesn’t really MATCH the title.  You’re expecting a fun, upbeat record, and you get the most laid back, earthy record they’ve done in years.  That said, it’s a very GOOD laid back, earthy record, but it’s just kind of a weird left-turn from the title.  I like it, though.  Not sure it’ll crack the top 10 (it’s been a hell of a good year), but it’s good.
  4. Conrad Keeley – “Original Machines” – B-
    Conrad is better (?) known as the front-man of perennial indie (and personal) favorite …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.  He put out a solo record because…I don’t know…those guys were busy or something?  Anyway, it’s alright.  The theme of the record is that Conrad has moved about 20 times or so in his life and this record is something of an exploration of that.  It’s a fun listen.  Again, not sure it’ll hit the top 10, but I liked it.  I have a feeling I’d like it more if he’d done it with “…Dead,” but it’s fun and kinda folk-rock meets prog, so I’m on board.
  5. Nice As Fuck – “Nice As Fuck” – A
    Jenny Lewis is known as “Oh yeah, that girl from Rilo Kiley” to most people who know who Rilo Kiley was at the time…some of those people probably don’t realize it was a band name and think she IS Rilo Kiley…or think Rilo Kiley is Kylo Ren.  Stop bothering me.  Look…  All of that’s too limiting.  Jenny’s had a great career post-Kiley, including a great solo record called “The Voyager” from 2014.  Nice As Fuck is an all female, militant leftist band, dressing like Patty Hearst, and singing songs with lyrics such as “I don’t wanna be afraid / Put your guns away / Crisis is not ISIS / Spilling our own blood.”  I’m not making any of that up.  You’re either in or you’re out with this one…and I’m WAY in.  Nice As Fuck is definitely nice as fuck in my book.  (The album closes with like 45 seconds of the girls yelling, “We’re Nice As Fuck / Wish you good luck!” at you.  I mean come on…  Get on board…)
  6. The Jelly Jam – “Profit” – B
    Speaking of Prog…  For those unaware of them, The Jelly Jam formed from the ashes of a prog supergroup called Platypus.  The band has three members: John Myung (Dream Theater), Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs), and Ty Tabor (Kings X).  The album’s art features a photo of a monk with the work “Prophet” scratched out and replaced with the word “Profit.”  So you kind of know some of the themes of the album right there.  Tabor is known to be a Christian (incidentally, the only member of Kings X to still identify as a Christian) and wears his faith on his sleeve in the lyrics he writes, but he also has never shied away from expressing conflict in tandem.  This record touches all those bases and keeps you musically guessing like any good proggy project should.  Highly recommended–but again, probably not in my top 10 for the year…although possibly in the top 15.
  7. The Tragically Hip – “Man Machine Poem” – A
    I might’ve already talked about this one.  I know I mentioned the lead singer’s struggle with terminal brain cancer a while back, but I don’t know if I really talked about the record.  It’s good, strong, gorgeous rock music.  Moody but still fun.  “Tired as Fuck” is a great song that should be on everybody’s iPod.  This one’s destined for my top 10 for sure…maybe top 5.
  8. Descendents – “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” – B
    The Descendents are one of the most fun punk bands in the damn world and any time they do anything, it makes me happy.  This sounds like them.  Punky, poppy, and just a freaking good time.  The “Dents” are best known for their 1996 (holy shit, that’s 20 years ago) album “Everything Sucks.”  This isn’t as good…but few things are.  Nevertheless, it’s fun to listen to guys in their 40s still giggle at fart jokes and use words like “spaz” so if that’s your thing, pick it up.  It’s definitely my thing…
  9. Hayes Carll – “Lovers and Leavers” – B
    I saw Hayes Carll open up for the Old 97s several years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since.  He’s country-rock/alt-country.  But on this one, we’ve got a really intimate-feeling, relaxed, more acoustic feel than we’re used to from the guy who wrote “She Left Me for Jesus.”  There’s a very personal vibe here that is going to require more listening to really dig into…  I like what I hear so far, but when someone takes such a serious change in tone, it feels like the lyrics are worth absorbing (and Hayes has always written wonderful lyrics).  I haven’t quite done that yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  On sound alone, it might hit my top 10…if the lyrics are everything I’m anticipating, it might hit the top 5.  Or, hell, when we’re up against Bowie and DBT and the Pixies and Metallica (the latter three still pending release!) who knows what’s going to happen?  It might get an honorable mention and in any OTHER year would’ve topped the list! 🙂
  10. Steven Wilson – “4 1/2” – B-
    Good record…but I’m not sure it counts as a full record, hence the “1/2” in the title. Some of it is old or reworked material.  It’s kind of an EP?  I don’t know.  I don’t think it’s eligible for the top 10 because it’s technically not a full-on “new” release…but that might not be fair on this one.  Steven Wilson puts out beautiful prog music.  Check out “The Raven that Refused to Sing” or “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” as soon as you can.  The song/video for “Routine” off the latter is a heartbreaking story and tears me up pretty regularly.  “4 1/2” explores a similar headspace as a lot of Wilson’s other work…and that’s a headspace I like walking around in.
  11. Brian Wilson – “And Friends” (Live Album) – A
    While we’re talking about Wilsons…  I think my adoration of former Beach Boy Brian Wilson is pretty well known by now.  Seeing his show this summer with Dad, Dave, and Susan was a real joy and when I heard he was putting out a live album recorded during the previous tour, I knew I’d enjoy it.  And I do!  This was recorded before he was doing the “Pet Sounds” tour, but still hits a lot of those same beats, plus it includes a couple of my favorites from his most recent solo record “No Pier Pressure,” too.  I picked up the copy that’s got the CD and DVD, which is nice to have.  Highly recommend it.  It’s a good time.
  12. Billy Talent – “Afraid of Heights” – C
    One of my favorite Canadian punk bands (yes, there’s more than one).  Their drummer is in ill health and a different guy is filling in on this record, and I think I can feel that in the mix.  It’s not a bad record, but it seems like they’re a little “off” or maybe distracted throughout.  Or maybe it’s just that I liked their previous release (“Dead Silence”) so much that this one was just never going to compare…  Decent listen, but I was disappointed to hear it and think, “Yeah…it’s not in the top 10…”  Because I was really expecting it to be…but it just feels like they put out an album for the sake of it and could’ve waited a little longer to polish it up.  But, hey, I’m a big fan of the band, and sometimes records that don’t connect with me right away grow on me over time and I kick myself over it a couple years later.  This could be one of those.
  13. Devin Townsend – “Transcendence”
    Blew me the fuck AWAY.  I’ve drifted in and out of being one of Devin’s fans for more than a decade.  He releases a ton of music (24 records since 1996 if you count his work as/with Strapping Young Lad–that’s more than one record every year for 20 years), so it’s easy to drift away for a while, then come back and realize you missed three records.  I’m glad I caught this one while it’s new.  He does progressive stuff, but it’s progressive METAL, not prog-rock.  Nice a heavy.  But still catchy as hell, too.  This is a great record, and if it doesn’t hit my top ten, I’ll be stunned.

That’s it!  Hope you enjoyed it and are maybe considering buying one or two of them.  If I had to push you toward just one or two, I’d definitely recommend the Amanda Shires and Tegan & Sara records above the rest of the field, as of now.  Or the Bowie record from January that I’ve been talking about ever since…buy THAT, if you don’t buy anything else this year.


Current Reading: Dennis Lehane – “The Given Day” – Finally finished “Shutter Island” and enjoyed it.  “The Given Day” starts off with a story about baseball, and hating the sport as I do, that was difficult, but it’s getting easier now that I’m a few chapters in and there’s a boat involved and stuff… 🙂

I’m fine–just need to get this off my chest…

I started writing this as a brief thought, but it turned into a post.  Sorry it’s a little weighty.

As most people who’ll read this will know, I stopped drinking three years ago (as of May 27, 2016).  For the most part it hasn’t been that tough.  Most people are supportive if it comes up at all, and in the odd occasion that someone asks me if I’d like a beer, a simple “no thanks” fits the bill just fine.  But sometimes it’s still a little awkward.

Now, I’m not talking just about those times that I find myself playing in a bar or at an event that takes place in a bar or whatever.  Those situations can be a little weird, but usually I can order an O’Douls or a Coke in a plastic cup and no one notices that I’m not in on the revelry.  Once in a while there will be a guy after a set that says, “Let me buy you a beer!” and you’ve got to explain…but that’s not too big a deal.  You just let them know it’s a personal decision and you’re not judging them and it’s cool.  In fact I’ve more than once said, “Hey, I appreciate that, but I’m three years sober, so I’m going to have to pass…but how about I buy YOU a beer?”  Drunks usually understand why someone would want to clean up.

The times that it’s rough is when it’s a friend, and they think they’re being funny.  I was recently in a situation where one person in my group decided they’d like to have a couple of drinks.  It was a small group and it would’ve basically just been that one person doing the drinking, so I said, “Remember, I’m 3 years sober” and my friend’s response was, “Oh right, you suck.”  I know as a fact that this is a person who wants what’s best for me; who wouldn’t want me to compromise my integrity or my personal decisions, and if they noticed me buying a bottle of Jack Daniels at the grocery store would stop me and ask me what the hell I’m doing…  I know this person was kidding and thought we were all laughing; and out loud I did chuckle.  But it wasn’t funny.  I didn’t appreciate it…  (And I know that if they knew that, they’d apologize.  I’m not mad–it was a lapse in judgement and we’re all allowed those.)

The truth is, I’ve been struggling this year.  I haven’t really talked to anybody about that–this is the first that I’m really admitting it, although I’ve dropped hints here and there…  I don’t want to get too deep into the reasons I quit because I know it’d bum out some people I care about…but suffice to say that what I’ve always said about it is still true, and I still feel the need to stay away from the silly sauce.  But more than once this year, I’ve been at the grocery store and had to make sure I didn’t cut through the liquor aisle because I knew I’d linger too long.  Even last week, I was looking at different brands of tea and briefly thought, “I miss doing this with beer.”

There are reasons that it’s been harder this year than in the previous ones.  I’ve been a little (or lot) more stressed.  I’m living alone and I get bored, then live a little too much in my own head.  I haven’t been sleeping well and a shot of bourbon can be pretty relaxing.  I’ve had some nice dinners and know exactly what wine I’d want to pair with them.  Stuff like that…  Mostly the stress, I guess…  But yeah, I’ve missed it lately, and I’ve struggled a little.  (“Struggling,” by the way, means “thinking.”  I haven’t had a bottle anywhere near in my hand or anything like that.  Just “I miss that” thoughts.)

…and this is a bad time to have someone’s reaction to me being sober be, “Oh right, you suck.”  Because, y’know…it kinda feels like I do sometimes.  The reality is that I don’t get invited to hang out at stuff as much anymore–as though being IN a bar is going to result in me affixing my lips to the tap…or like people feel like they’d have to babysit me instead of having fun…  Or maybe they mean well, just thinking, “Oh he wouldn’t be interested–he’s sober…”

Look…  I’m responsible for my actions–nobody and nothing else can choose for me.  And I have been making what I think is a good choice for several years now…  But yeah man, I’ve noticed that I sit at home a lot of Saturdays these days.  And I’ve noticed the photos other people are posting that a couple of years ago I’d have been in.  And I’ve noticed the extra stress and the lack of sleep, and I’ve noticed that the root beer barrel candies at the office taste a lot like the Jim Beam Red Stag bourbon.  And yeah…that sucks, and it’s the kind of thing I’m likely to drag around with me a while…and didn’t I used to deal with that buy buying a pack of Guinness???

So, I guess what I’m saying is this…  Watch what you say to people who might be struggling.  Because sometimes when you’re kidding, it feels like you’re right.

That said, I stand by what I said earlier.  Only I am responsible for the decisions I make.  I am choosing correctly, I am choosing wisely, and if it weren’t a struggle it wouldn’t be a success.  So I’m going to be fine.  I’m choosing to be fine.  (What are those mantras?  “Making bad decisions is what got me here, etc…”)  I’m not going to give up on the choice I’ve made and I’m going to get through the struggle.  But part of doing that is going to include talking about it.  So here we are.  No ill-will to the friend that thought they were kidding.  Sometimes a cigar’s a cigar and a joke’s a joke…but then again, I also miss smoking.  (Kidding…sort of…)  We’re in this together and I’ve got people I can turn to.  Just might need to turn to them.

Thanks for reading that.  I promise my next post will be more fun or at least not as weighty.


Current Listening:

An “Alt-Country” mix of like 200 songs.  I’m about 30 in.  Artists in brief: Drive-By Truckers, Old 97s, Hayes Carll, Bottle Rockets, Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo, Slobberbone, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell, The Hold Steady, etc etc…

“MEL BROOKS IS JEWISH?!?” – Homer Simpson

Sorry it’s been a while.  I am not consistent in my blogging anymore.  Simpsons quote in the title means it’s a random post, as most of you know.  Got some stuff I should write focused posts about, too…but I’m writing so infrequently that the random thing is beneficial for now.

  1. Did a photo-shoot with my brother, our friend Tim, and Dave’s (I think) cousin-in-law or something like that today.  It’s for Dave’s upcoming solo album with Dave and the Not-So-Daves.  (I love that band name.)  It’s a fun, poppy, rock-based record and it’s coming together really well.  All the parts are recorded and it’s down to just the mixing.  I’ve got a decent mix, but I’m making a few fixes before handing it to Dave.  Being off for Labor Day probably gives me the time to finish it up this week.  I’d thought I was going to be done with it by the end of August, but it looks like we’re going one week into September.  And that’s fine.  It’s a fun project and I’ve had fun doing it.  As I’ve said a few times–it’s some of the best guitar-work of my career.  Can’t wait for everybody to hear it!  For the photo-shoot, I wore a hat and a sport-coat over jeans look. Probably a little more hipster-ish than I’d intended, but so what?  I think it looked nice.
  2. I’ve been doing recording-tests for my next solo release as well.  “Sorry, I Didn’t Mean to Shout” will be all-acoustic (just my guitar and voice) and will be a “career retrospective” piece, covering some songs from all of my releases up to this point, along with four new songs.  It’s particularly aimed at first-time listeners and it will be meant to have the feel of coming to see me at an acoustic set.  You’d think a thing like that would be easy to record, but you’d be wrong.  I’m playing around with different ways of setting up microphones to best represent the guitar/room.  I’ve got a tone in mind and I haven’t quite hit it yet…so I haven’t committed anything to tape just yet either.  Once I know what I’m doing with it, I think it’ll be quick…but getting there is taking some time.  Fortunately I have that luxury.
  3. The article Jim wrote about me last month got me some nice notice from some folks. Got some good emails and my downloads went up for a bit.  Thanks to everybody that read it…or if you haven’t, it’s still readable right here.
  4. I’ve been enjoying watching wrestling in a way I haven’t in a very long time.  Once in a while, WWE gets their shit together and puts out a really great product, and that’s been happening in spades lately.  Just really great to see, as a long time fan.
  5. Gene Wilder died.  That made me really sad–although I knew he’d been sick for a while.  A lot of people think of Willy Wonka first, but my mind immediately went to Mel Brooks (hence the post-title) and to Haunted Honeymoon.  Such a great talent.  I’m one of the people who immediately posted something about him finally being reunited with Gilda Radner on the other side.  In the past couple of days, people have rebuked those of us who said that because Wilder had remarried several years prior to his death.  And I get why that’s important to mention.  Of course my thoughts and prayers are with Karen Boyer as she grieves.  But I’d hope we’re not all so dead inside that we can’t recognize that someone can still love their dead ex-wife, even if they’ve moved on to a new marriage.  (I’ve seen that a lot with people in my life.)  And I’d hope that we can all agree that regardless of what happens on this side of Heaven, when Gene walked through the Pearly Gates, the first people to greet him were Gilda Radner, Peter Boyle, and maybe Marty Feldman if he wasn’t drunk.  There’s no reason that shouldn’t be beautiful, just because he was also lucky enough to find beauty here, too.  Regardless…rest well, Mr. Wilder.
  6. It’s 2 a.m. on September 5, as I’m writing this.  It’s Freddie Mercury’s birthday.  He would have been 70.  Everyone knows what a huge Queen fan I am, and Freddie’s birthday is all the excuse I need to sing loud and high-pitched all damn day.  So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be in my car, doing that. 🙂
  7. My dad went to England and brought me back a shitload of tea.  I’ve been enjoying cup after cup over the past week.  I sometimes forget how much I like tea.  Particularly enjoying the Yorkshire brand, which I hope is easily findable once I run out!
  8. I’ve gotten into the Canadian band The Tragically Hip in the last couple of weeks.  I’ve seen them before, opening for a band or two, but never explored further until they played what was very likely their final show last month, which was streaming online.  The lead singer, Gord Downie, has inoperable brain cancer.  The last show of this tour was probably the last show EVER and they made it easy to view.  Tuned in because it seemed important to do so, and immediately regretted not being more into them over the years.  They make some really gorgeous rock music.  Bought some of their stuff and even though I’m late to the party, I’m glad I’m getting in while Gord is still fighting.  All the best to him and the band.
  9. FYI – My “Things I Meant to Say” record is 10 years old this year. I’d forgotten that.  Go give it a listen.  A lot of it holds up pretty well!  :)  (Although I do wish I could slightly re-write the part of “Jesus Doesn’t Care” where I say, “I know the Bible in and out…” because that’s bullshit.  Meant well.  Otherwise, good record.)

Well…I’m tired.  So that’s it for now.  Have a happy Labor Day, if you’re off work for it.


Current Listening (when I’m not listening to Queen):

  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy – I See a Darkness
  • Paul McCartney – Pure McCartney
  • Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me (Documentary Soundtrack)

I got interviewed for a thing and I’d love it if you read it.

So something awesome happened.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jim Ousley interviewed me about my music career for PLAYBACK:stl and the piece went live today.  It was a lot of fun and an honor to have that happen.  Jim had mentioned wanting to do that a time or two before, but I didn’t know if I had much to say–wasn’t promoting anything, etc, etc…  Thank goodness Jim is persistent, because this was a joy to do.  I think he did a great job with the piece and everything I really enjoyed talking about on the day of the interview made it into the piece.

The one regret I have is that in the “who would be in your dream band?” segment, I didn’t mention Bowie. 🙂

Check it out here. And please share with your friends!

Thanks again for the good time, Jim!

More to come on the blog this week (I think!) because the article mentions a couple of forthcoming projects I’m working on, so I should probably start talking about them here.


Current Listening:

  • My Morning Jacket – “It Still Moves” & “Z” — I’d missed out on this part of MMJ’s career, having come in on “Evil Urges.”  I’ve been missing out.
  • Billy Talent – Afraid of Heights