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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...

    Only one rule: If you're going to comment, please at least pretend we're all grown-ups here.

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

“Bart, stop pestering Satan!” – Marge Simpson

Been meaning to write for about a week.  Wanted to get in one more before the end of the month, and who knows, maybe this’ll go up before midnight and I will have succeeded. (EDIT — Spoiler alert: Nope!)  You see the Simpsons quote in the title…you know the deal… Here’s a random post…

  1. Most of you will know I’m a big pro-wrestling fan.  (So much so I’ve even signed up with Pro-Wrestling Loot–free plug.)  I know not everybody is going to share that passion, but if you’ve been a fan and drifted away over the years, I just want to take a second to encourage you to tune in.  Monday Night Raw has been pretty good lately, and they’re pushing a guy named Finn Balor, who if you’ve never seen him, you’re missing out.
  2. I failed to write about going to the National Blues Museum a couple of weeks ago, with my dad.  It’s a fun place.  I’m a little under-educated on some of it (but that’s why there are museums) but even so, they’ve got some really cool pieces in there and there’s a lot of fun stuff to look at and read about.  Highly recommend it.
  3. I’m stalled on my Dennis Lehane read-through.  I started “Shutter Island” but got stalled for a variety of reasons and haven’t picked it back up.  That’s not on purpose.  I’m sure I’ll get back into it and have a good time.  Part of the problem is I’ve seen the movie and that makes reading the book a little harder.
  4. Last week was a big week at the record store.  I discovered I like Ryan Adams, so I picked up some of his stuff.  While doing that, I bumped into a 1967 copy of the Beach Boys’ “Smiley Smile,” which was a cool find.  (It’s now hanging on my wall.)  Then this weekend Dave (my brother) and I hit the record stores to pick up copies of the new Descendents record.  I also got Brian Wilson’s new “Brian Wilson and Friends” live record and an old Lou Reed live album I didn’t have yet.  Lots to listen to!
  5. Talking of my brother.  We’ve got drums done for his solo record.  Just need to do background vocals and mix it to his satisfaction and we’re done!  Working title for the band is Dave and the Not-So Daves.  No idea on the album title.  Should be out before election time.
  6. Which brings me to the reminder that Donald Trump is a dangerous lunatic.
  7. I don’t remember if I talked about it here or not…but I’m thinking I’m going to do a small solo-release late in the year.  It’ll be an all-acoustic retrospective thing.  Just me playing some songs from my solo career from “Grounds” through “Trigger Warnings and Sunshine” with maybe a couple new songs on an acoustic guitar.  When you’ve got 8 albums, sometimes people need a gateway release to get their foot in the door, because they don’t know where to start.  I thought this would be a way to do that where I could have some fun, too.  Assuming I actually do it, I’ll probably call it “Sorry, I Didn’t Mean to Shout.”

It’s a short one, but it’s going to have to do.  The other stuff I want to write about is more “full post” material.  Hopefully that means I’ll write more soon.

Current Listening:

  • Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
  • Nice As Fuck – Self-titled (on Spotify–haven’t been able to find a physical copy yet)

Brian Wilson Review – St. Louis, MO 7/21/16

A bucket-list item happened for me last night. I got to see Brian Wilson perform all of what is widely regarded as the best album of all time, the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” in sequence, along with a lot of other hits (and not-so-hits!).

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This is the best photo I got out of 1,000,000.  As good as phone cameras have gotten, they still suck.

I went with my Dad, Susan, and my brother. While there, I also met up with some old friends from high school that I don’t see enough of, including the guitarist from the band I was in as a teenager (union jack/Marc Schneider).  Didn’t think to do a group shot with the family, but did do a group shot with the friends, which I have stolen from my friend Nik’s Instagram page…

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I think they’ve all aged better than I did.  But in case you’re not used to seeing it, that is genuine happiness on my face. 🙂

My relationship with Brian Wilson’s music is a little unusual.  I described it in brief in the review of the Love & Mercy movie I wrote last year…but there’s more to it (isn’t there always?)  There have always been at least a handful of Beach Boys tunes I’ve liked, even if there were years that I denied it because I was in a punk band and I thought it was cool to hate nice things.  (There were also years that I claimed I hated the Beatles.  Didn’t always make good decisions.)  I remember when I was a kid (like under the age of 10) during the Summer where our air-conditioner stopped working so we stayed with Grandma for a little while, there was a commercial on TV for a Beach Boys greatest hits collection.  I remember asking if we could get it.  Dad, wisely, said that we could get A Beach Boys hits record, but it didn’t have to be THAT one…and of course I was young and an idiot and wanted THAT one…  So I never followed up and didn’t own any Beach Boys until I got old enough to by a greatest hits (but not the one from TV) with my own money.

As I said a year ago, I spent most of my Beach Boys fandom as a casual fan, but a much bigger fan of Brian Wilson solo, beginning with his release of “Smile” in 2004.  Since seeing the movie last year, I’ve been working to correct the deficit of knowledge on the band itself.  Along with getting more and more familiar with the hits, I’ve also been listening to the weird 70s stuff, when it was mostly Carl Wilson’s show.  Brian and Co. did a good deal of that stuff at the show, which was a nice surprise.  (They did two sets and an encore.  Set one was “hits” and album tracks.  Set two was all of “Pet Sounds.” The encore was more hits, ending on Brian’s signature piece, “Love & Mercy.”)  If you ever want to have the experience of saying, “How can THIS be the Beach Boys?” to yourself, I recommend picking up copies of “Surf’s Up,” “Sunflower,” “Holland,” and “Wild Honey” and just making a night of it.

I’m glad I’ve been on a Beach Boys kick over the last year.  Made the show a lot of fun–but I think it would’ve been fun even for the people who only know them from their Full House episodes. “Fun” is the best word for the show.  (“Fun, fun, fun” in fact…sorry.)  I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had that much pure, free, fun at a show.  The Who might’ve come close…but that was more of an emotional journey for me than a celebration…  Seeing Brian Wilson was a joy throughout–a celebration of all he’s overcome and the stuff his music has helped me get through.  And those songs are just so infectious and filled with so much joy (even the sad ones) that it’s almost impossible to have a bad time to that soundtrack.

The band was great.  Fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine accompanied Brian and sang a lot of leads.  He still sounds great.  There were a couple of points in the night I considered trying to get a “YOU’VE STILL GOT IT!” chant going for him.  Jardine’s son Matt is in the band too, playing a little guitar and singing the high-parts Brian isn’t able to hit anymore (no judging–it happens).  He did a phenomenal job.  And Blondie Chaplin was there too… He’s kind of a cheeseball and seems to think he’s Keith Richards…but whatever, it was fun!

The only thing that wasn’t fun was something I fully expected.  The average age of the crowd was probably 483-years-old, and a lot of them had obviously not been to too many concerts.  There was a guy behind me having a good time, cheering, letting out “whooooo!” sounds in quiet moments, like ya’ do.  People kept turning around and saying shitty things to him and commenting about it like he was being an awful person or something.  So Dave and I started joining in with the guy–again, like ‘ya do.  At one point a couple several rows in front of us got up and either relocated or left in a huff when the guy behind me let out one too many “whooooos” for their taste.  That’s when I shook my head, looked behind me, and saw that the guy whoooooing was in the handicapped section in a wheelchair.  So…it was the kind of crowd that has less fun than a guy in a wheelchair and looks down on him for it.  At that point I went over to the guy, thanked him and the girl with him for having fun and hooting and hollering and we shook hands probably four or five times and had a good time celebrating being there together.  So even the only down-part turned into an up.

…and good God, hearing the guy that wrote “God Only Knows” sing it was a breathtaking moment.  I was sitting listening to Brian belt it out and near the end of the song, I realized that I’d had my hands folded in a prayer-pose the whole time.  It was a spiritual moment, man.  Even the whooooo-less among us felt it as the whole crowd rose to their feet at the end of the tune.  Brian, being Brian, after the ovation went on for a while eventually said, “please be seated” and got a good laugh out of the crowd.  The memory of him doing that song is one I’ll carry with me as a warm feeling for a long time.

And talking of Brian himself…  There have been reviewers throughout the tour (and probably from last night as well) who have pointed out that he’s showing his age.  He’s not hitting all the notes.  He’s not even TRYING for some of the notes (ha ha).  He’s a little visibly shaky.  He seems to not be very energetic and just sits behind the piano all night…etc etc…  Well…some of that’s true.  But it’s also true that he’s 74 years old.  More than that, it’s not your average 74, either.  It’s a 74 that has seen extensive drug use.  It’s a 74 that saw both of his brothers die; one WAY too young.  It’s a 74 that was held a psychological and physical prisoner to a deranged “physician” (Eugene Landy) who kept him virtually catatonic until he needed him to dance in the spotlight.  It’s a 74 that before THAT got hit so hard by his dad when he was younger that he lost hearing in one ear.  And I could go on…  The point is, he’s still DOING IT.  It’s shocking that of the three Wilsons, he’s the one still living.  If the 70s and 80s didn’t take him, the 90s should have just from getting off all the drugs Landy had him on ALONE.  But he’s somehow still with us, and he’s somehow still playing the best album anyone’s ever written.  How DARE anyone criticize him for not being a tenor anymore?

There is so much more I want to say about what seeing Brian Wilson meant to me.  However, I have absolutely no idea how to say it.  Even though as a fan, you don’t KNOW your musical heroes, you do get to experience something very intimate in hearing them perform their songs that mean so much to you.  Maybe that’s why I found myself unknowingly praying during “God Only Knows.”  Maybe only He does.

There are still some dates left on the tour.  If you can get to a show, do it.  And buy one of the shirts.  They’re neat.

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See?

 

Like I said, I got to cross off a bucket list item last night.  And I got to do that with people I celebrate being with.  It was a good night.  Hope you have one too.

Love & Mercy to you.

A Dumb Survey

I’ve wanted to write about the violence and bloodshed in the world for several days.  I’ve wanted to talk about how I grieve with a people who’ve once again seen their innocents slaughtered by those who should be protecting them.  How I think that even if the anger is justified, the murders based on badge alone are not justified.  Those policemen should be mourned too.  I’ve wanted to talk about how senseless driving a truck into a crowd seems–I can’t think of what point it proves.  “We’re mad as hell and have licenses?”  The world is a bad place this week.

…but that’s all the energy I have for it right now.  It’s hard to find the motivation to say more when the words don’t seem to make a difference…  So I’m going to answer a dumbass blog survey I found at this link.  Let’s have some fun in the face of the insanity, huh?

  1. Who are your top three lady heroes?
    Interesting one to try to answer as a guy.  I’m not sure I’ve thought a lot about that.  I’ve definitely known and read about some very heroic women though…so…  This is going to be a little off-the-cuff…  I’m going to say Alanis Morissette, as weird as that might sound.  In the era of the boys’ club of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Metallica, et al, she put out “Jagged Little Pill” and it still holds up. Then maybe (actress) Maggie Smith because of how long she’s been turning in awesome, brave performances. And…I don’t know…as much as I’d have preferred it to be Bernie who got the nomination, I’ve respected Hillary Clinton for a long time, even when I haven’t agreed with her.  I should probably have said Anne Frank or somebody like that, but I wanted to go outside the box and also name living people…  I don’t like this answer, but off the top of my head, there you go.
  2. When you were little, what did you want to be?
    I think a ninja.  Probably a ninja.
  3. Who do you think should run for president in two years?
    I don’t think that’s how it’s going to work.  But, the hell with it, Bernie again.
  4. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? Ever?
    This year, it’d be something from the Dennis Lehane books I’ve been reading.  I liked “A Drink Before the War” a lot, but “Mystic River” actually really stuck with me too.  All time is difficult…  I point to “Catcher in the Rye” as being my favorite book pretty often, but I’m not sure it’s the **best** book I’ve ever read.  “Best” and “favorite” are two different things.  But I also can’t really think of what else it could be. Maybe “Angela’s Ashes?”
  5. What makes you feel afraid?
    Spiders.  And dying alone.  In that order.
  6. Would you rather get lunch with Gillian Flynn or J.K. Rowling?
    I really liked Harry Potter but I don’t know that Rowling and I would get along face-to-face from what I know of her… I know next to nothing about Flynn.  So let’s go with her, because at least it’d be meeting someone new and maybe we’d hit it off and I’d end up as a background character in a book or something.
  7. What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?
    I don’t know, man…  All of it?  I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my childhood embarrassments.  I farted in church once…let’s go with that.
  8. If you had the option of adopting a baby fox or baby koala, which one would you choose?
    If I had the OPTION, I would adopt neither.  Those are both animals not meant to be domesticated.
  9. What’s your dream job?
    Sitting on my ass, but I’m still applauded and rich.  But I’m just not sure how to get into the field.
  10. Who is your favorite mythological god/goddess?
    Cthulhu, if he counts.  If not, I don’t really have one.
  11. Who was your first crush?
    I don’t want to put her name in print, in case she ever goes Googling.  She knows who she is, and that’s fine.  It didn’t work out, obviously.
  12. If you had to choose between using Internet Explorer forever, or permanently using an AOL e-mail address, which one would it be?
    Explorer, no contest.  I’ve never stopped using it (although it’s called “Edge” now in Windows 10).  I like it.  It’s familiar and it works fine.
  13. If you could either be a duck or an owl, which would you be?
    Duck.  Because I don’t really want to be up all night, and it seems like ducks have more friends than owls…ducks travel in flocks, while it seems like owls just sit alone in trees.
  14. What do you love about yourself most?
    “Love” is a big word…but I think one of my better qualities is that I’m loyal.
  15. What don’t you like so much?
    Short temper.  (I assume we’re talking about what I don’t like so much about MYSELF, right?  If not, then I don’t like Imo’s Pizza very much.)
  16. Rugrats or Doug?
    I don’t think I’ve ever watched a full episode of either…although I probably find Rugrats more infuriating, as a general rule.
  17. Which house would you belong to in Game of Thrones? Like, very honestly.
    Never seen it, never read it, don’t plan to do either.  No idea how to answer.
  18. If you got a (new) tattoo, what would it be of?
    It’d be The Who’s logo.  I presently don’t have any tattoos, and The Who has meant a lot to me for decades.
  19. What would you like to eat for your last meal?
    Something that takes a very long time to make.
  20. If you had to be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose?
    I don’t know if I even know what reality shows are still on…  One of the cooking ones, maybe?  Because that seems the most harmless.
  21. Who has influenced you the most?
    That is a very big question.  I could probably list a few dozen names…  A bunch of different family members and close friends.  Maybe the odd celebrity or two.  I don’t want to start listing people and risk leaving somebody out…  I hope I’ve done okay letting people know what they’ve meant to me in-person, though.
  22. What are your favorite lyrics?
    It changes almost daily.  Let’s go with pretty much all of The Who’s “The Real Me” as a safe answer though.
  23. Real jeans or jeggings?
    I’m going to go with the jeans, mostly for testicular reasons.
  24. On the first day of ruling the world, what would you do?
    Probably stay in and rent a movie.
  25. If you were forced to open a bakery, what would you name it?
    Cakes n’ Shit
  26. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done on a date?
    I don’t know…just fail at it, mostly.
  27. What do you hope to achieve by 50?
    That’s tough.  I think I’d just like to know I’m doing something that’s either important, or at least that is fulfilling.  Mostly I’d just like it if when my name comes up people say, “Yeah, he’s a pretty good guy.”
  28. What has been your best moment this year (so far)?
    It’s been a weird year.  I’m proud of the record I put out.  I’m proud of the Rickenbacker I bought.  I’m proud of the work achievements I’ve had.  I have trouble thinking in “bests.”  I’ve had a lot of stuff that’s gone well.  That’s good enough.
  29. Would you rather be stuck in traffic for two hours, or have Chipotle run out of guacamole forever?
    At present, the traffic thing.  Once you’re stuck, who cares?  Nothing you can do about it.  A traffic jam is a temporary inconvenience.  The guac thing, however, would be highly detrimental to several people I know.
  30. Why are you so amazing?
    Oh, hush!

And that’s it for now…

————

Current Listening:

  • Michael Penn – Palms & Runes, Tarot & Tea
  • Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

Quick Musical Roundup

I’ve got some other stuff I want to write about, but I’m organizing my thoughts on that stuff.  So in the interim, here’s a post about music I’ve recently picked up.

  • Mumford & Sons with Baaba Maal, The Very Best, & Beatenberg – Johannesburg
    AKA – Mumford & Sons & A Shitload of Other Guys.  It’s a good listen.  Great blend of the folksy Mumford sound we all fell in love with in the first place and the electric sound we got to grow into on “Wilder Mind.”  Suffers a **little** from not being a Mumford-only release…but not much.  I dig a good EP and this is a GOOD one.  (Side note: I find it infuriating that they did not use the Oxford comma in the list of band names.  Had to Google to find out that The Very Best is one act and Beatenberg is another one.  You’ll notice I have placed the comma where it fucking belongs in this write-up.)
  • The I Don’t Cares – Wild Stab
    Paul Westerberg and Juliana Hatfield fell in love, I assume, and released this album.  It’s apparently some of Paul’s unreleased stuff and presumably similar to what we would’ve gotten had he managed to get the Replacements into the studio.  (Although it does contain a weird cover of one of Paul’s songs off of “Suicaine Gratifaction” that I wish they’d left alone.)  It’s okay…but just okay.  Had too high of hopes and got an album that would’ve benefitted from being a little shorter and a little heavier.  But, that said, if you’re looking to get a Westerberg fix, this’ll do it.
  • The Deep Hollow – Self-Titled
    I’m going to keep it simple.  This is what I thought The Civil Wars (or as I call them, “The Civil Bores”) was going to be.
  • Hatebreed – The Concrete Confessional
    Loud, mad, and heavy.  (There’s the Oxford comma again!)  About what you want out of a band called Hatebreed.  Not quite as good as “The Divinity of Purpose,” but still does the job if you’re looking to stick all ten middle fingers in the air and bang your head a little.
  • Tegan & Sara – Love You to Death
    Excellent synth-pop record.  At first I didn’t think it measured up to “Heartthrob,” which I absolutely adored…but I’ve only listened to it twice and I’ve woken up on separate days with either “That Girl” or “100x” stuck in my head with only those two listens.  Infectious record.  Highly recommend it.
  • Andrew Bird – Are You Serious
    Hipster-sheik violin guy makes violin music for hipsters.  A little embarrassed that I like it…but I like it. Folk-rock based, but the guy plays a violin as a lead instrument.
  • Los Straightjackets – The Further Adventures of Los Straightjackets
    It’s from 2009 and I may have even mentioned it here before, but I can’t remember.  Recent purchase.  Los Straightjackets is a surf-rock band that plays dressed in Mexican Luchador masks.  What’s not to love?

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    Lucha-Derek approves! (Thanks, ProWrestling Loot!)

     

  • Rufus Wainwright – Take All My Loves – 9 Shakespeare Sonnets
    Rufus has finally written his opera, and good-God is it ever beautiful.  It would have benefitted from less spoken-word segments in the CD format…but even so, those moments are still effective.  I feel ill-equipped to comment for very long on opera.  I listen to certain classical pieces, but I’m under-educated on the qualities of opera as a genre.  However, to my ears, this is a really beautiful and moving production.  (It probably helps that I’m a huge Rufus Wainwright fan and have hoped he’d do this for close to 10 years, though!)

And that’s it.  Maybe I’ll write something else soon.  Maybe not.  You know how I am.

————

Current Reading:

Dennis Lehane – Shutter Island. – I’d breezed through “Mystic River” in two sittings and loved it.  Going to try to take it a little slower with Shutter Island though.  Saw the movie…know the big twist…so I’m just reading it to enjoy it, not to lose myself in it.  Liking it so far, though!

“The lights, the noise, the letter X. It’s all designed to inflame the senses. I’m overstimulated. I’ve gotta get out of this town.” – Ned Flanders

Been about two-weeks, hasn’t it?  I’d been getting in the swing of writing more often, but kinda let it drop again.  I think it’s just that when I write about something like the Orlando shooting, it’s hard to go back to writing stupid posts that are all-over-the-map with a Simpsons quote in the title.  But here we are…much like our guns laws, it takes a couple of weeks, but then nothing changes and we get back to the routine…

Let’s get pointless…

  1. This was a weekend full of gigs for me.
    • The Ric bass saw its live-performance debut with the Michael Feldman Group.  We played in a bar on Saturday night.  Decent gig, but the audience wasn’t much to write home about.  Handful of people were there for us and clapped, and I’m glad they were there, because the rest of the crowd wouldn’t have noticed if we’d lit ourselves on fire then pissed it out.  Worth it to see some folks have fun though.
    • Then today, we did a “duo” thing at a wine-garden.  I didn’t have a lot of fun.  It was outdoors, and despite the severe heat and the concurrent threat of rain, there was no covering over the band.  We were just standing out in the open.  Although, things as they were, thank GOD for the cloud cover, because at least it wasn’t blistering sunlight…but when I’ve got a pedal board on the ground that’s got $1500 of gear on it, a vinyl awning doesn’t seem like a lot to ask on a day where we can hear thunder.  Played the old green Ibanez bass I’ve been playing for 20 years at this gig…mostly because it has survived the elements before, so I knew it could do it again…and also because the Ric is nice, but I’ll never forget my old friends.  The green one is far from being retired.  Not everyone knows it…  I don’t think I’ve written about it anywhere…but for reasons I no longer recall, back when I first got the Ibanez, I named her Rachel.  I think I just liked the name.  (Still do, actually.)
    • Both gigs were ultimately well-played and I’m glad that the people who actually came to see us (in particular Dad and Susan) had fun…  But I often end up resenting the gigs where most of the crowd has their backs to us.  I’ve played too many gigs where I could’ve been replaced by a boom-box.  It’s frustrating.  I’ve long-since paid my dues…just clap between songs, ya’ bastards!
  2. I’m up to “Prayers for Rain” in my Dennis Lehane read-through.  Enjoying it so far, but nothing super-graphic has happened yet, so it’s still in the “fun” chapters.  “Gone Baby Gone” was excellent, but is ultimately one of those reads where you feel really gritty after finishing it.  Lehane creates an ugly word-picture as well as anyone I’ve ever read.  I think what hangs with me so long is how believable the ugliness is…  I know it’s fiction, but it’s the kind of stuff that DOES happen in the world, and sometimes reading it makes me feel bad to be a human, knowing what we’re capable of…  Hell of a good writer.  It’d be good to see him write about eating a delicious piece of cake after playing in the park with a dog, though.
  3. If it’ll keep Donald Trump from getting elected, I’m willing to take back everything I said about Bush.  Who do I contact about that?
  4. I talk to people about YouTube shows I watch a lot.  Just for the sake of it, here’s a list of my present favorites:
    • Game Grumps – A couple of loveable douche-bags with potty-mouths playing video games and talking about anything BUT what they’re playing.  I don’t know.  Makes me laugh.
    • Wrestling With Wregret – A guy who seems like he could be your buddy that knows a lot more about the thing you both like than you do talks about wrestling.  I like the content and the fun of the show.  And Brian Zane seems like he’s probably one of the nicest and most relatable guys on YouTube. Talks about a lot of the old-school wrestling I like while still keeping up with the new.  Totally respectful of the business and informative.  Really a pleasure to watch.
    • What Culture Wrestling – Another wrestling show, this one from Britain.  I don’t like it quite as much as “Wregret.”  They tend to go a lot more negative and some of their bits are pretty cringe-worthy…but there’s still fun to be had.  Their recaps are usually pretty good and most of their lists are fun.  They’re also starting up their own actual online indie promotion…which I’m really hoping either gets its own channel or just goes away soon, because it’s really getting in the way of a channel I’ve otherwise enjoyed.  But for now, I still like about 75% of what they post.
    • Kevin Smith – Yes, Kevin Smith.  The “Clerks” guy.  I’ve got a soft-spot for him, despite not having seen any of the flicks since “Clerks 2” (or “Zack & Miri,” maybe?  Whichever was later.)  I’ve sort of lost track of his film career, but I’ve always found myself paying attention when I see his name come up.  Came back onto my radar with the death of Prince (Kev’s a big Prince fan and worked with him for a while) and I’ve been digging into his “Fatman on Batman” segments ever since.
    • Comic Book Girl 19 – It’s the fun, stoney, weird girl you know, and she’s reviewing movies and stuff.  That’s basically it.  She’s funny most times, and I like her take on stuff, even when I’m not interested or I end up disagreeing with her.  Plus, if you look close, you’ll realize that she has absolutely no ear lobes.  I’m not judging that.  (In fact, I think she’s pretty and it’s endearing.)  Just noticed it one day and was like, “Huh…”  Can’t not see it now.
    • Cracked – Yes, I know…  “You’re kidding!  Cracked has a YouTube page?  Is the sky also blue?”  Of course Cracked having a YouTube page is old news…but if I’m listing pages I go to regularly, this is definitely among them.  “After Hours” and “Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder” are my most regular options, but I enjoy a lot of stuff they post.
  5. I miss playing guitar and bass in a church.  As you know if you’re a longtime reader of the blog (or if you just happen to know me), my church recently went to an evening-only service and I had to bow out of it.  I still make it to occasional small-group stuff, but I miss attending an actual service and really miss PLAYING in one.  I don’t want to leave my current church…but boy I miss that…and I’m not sure how to address it.
  6. Fourth of July is coming up.  I don’t really like fireworks.  Not because they frighten me or whatever…I just don’t like the interruption of them.  I don’t care to go watch them…I feel like if I’ve seen one firework, I’ve seen a million, so why bother going out in the heat and crowd?  When they start going off in the neighborhood, my first thought is always, “Come on…I’m trying to read, here!”  Plus, I’m not a big fan of America, either, so it’s celebration for celebration’s sake for me, and I’d rather just sit around.  That said, though, if I’m invited to go to anything, I’ll go to it and I’ll end up having fun.  I’ll just be kinda bored during the part where stuff’s blowing up.  (Also, the City of Florissant makes a big stink about how you aren’t allowed to shoot off fireworks in this town…but they don’t do a damn thing about it and then they shoot off their own in the park anyway.  The hypocrisy bugs me.)
  7. Father’s Day passed by last week.  Pretty proud of the gift Dave and I went in on together this year.  My Dad introduced us both to the Dick Van Dyke Show when we were young and he’s long-since been a fan of Carl Reiner.  Reiner put out a new book called “Why and When the Dick Van Dyke Show was Born.”  Both Dave and I had the idea to get Dad the book, of course…but then it got even better when Reiner announced on Twitter (that’s right…a 94-year-old comic-writer is on twitter!) that he’d autograph and personalize copies of the book for Father’s Day.  That was a no-brainer.  We both wanted to get it for him, so we decided we’d go half-and-half on it.  One of the better gifts I’ve ever been part of getting for anybody, I think:20160613_181055
  8. Haven’t been sleeping well lately.  Been in a bad cycle.  Hoping that the gigs will get me some needed exhaustion tonight, but it’s 11:30 as I’m writing this and I don’t feel like I’m winding down.  I was up until like 3 last night following the first gig and got up at 9 for a small-group meeting and I’ve been going ever since.  I’m stiff, sore, and maybe a little dehydrated from the gigs…but I’m wide awake.  So it goes.
  9. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long work-week going into the holiday.  One of my team-members is going out of town for part of the week, so it could get crazy.  I sure hope I’m sleeping before then. At least I’m at a point where I appreciate working with the people I do and the job is something I basically enjoy.

I think that’s it.  Feel like we covered a lot of ground in this one.  Good job, guys.

————

Recent Listening:

  • Bottle Rockets – “South Broadway Athletic Club”
  • Michael Manring – “Thonk”
  • Mountain Goats – “Beat the Champ”
  • Mumford & Sons (and a bunch of other folks I guess they know or something) – “Johannesburg”

Processing Orlando…

NOTICE: I am writing mostly out of a need to process my thoughts.  A lot of the information is fluid in this situation and so is my train of thought.  I may change my opinion over coming days, and I may not fully stand by everything written in this post when I circle back on it.  Please only read into it what is actually there…and if we need to talk, let’s talk.

I’ve spent a lot of my day getting very angry, in light of the Orlando shooting.  Angry at posts I’m reading on Facebook.  Angry at tweets I’m reading from the Republican presidential candidate–posts that are exactly the kind of thing that clinched the nomination for him to begin with.  Angry at the prejudice that exists.  Angry that I don’t know what if anything I can do about it.

Last year, someone I knew and spent real time with killed himself in part because he was tired of getting beaten up and verbally/spiritually abused by Christians for being gay.  (I’m not over-simplifying it.  He was a bible college student and other students assaulted him for what I then thought were just rumors about his sexuality.  The college, brave Christian Solders, did NOTHING and the bullies even had people leaving them notes on their white-boards telling them THEY were being prayed for…years later, he actually came out.  And now he’s dead.)  I have opted not to state his name publicly–and I’m angry about that too…but it’s not my story to tell in the first place, and also I don’t think anyone’s suicide should be the first others hear about them, so I’ve maintained his anonymity–it’s not because he was gay, it’s because he deserved to keep living.

This year, I don’t know anyone who was shot in Orlando…but I mourn for my friends who are gay and continue to be afraid…because this isn’t the first time they’ve been afraid.  It won’t be the last.  Most of them were terrified to just tell their PARENTS.  Now they’re terrified to go to nightclubs, too…but I’m not sure that’s new either, in some neighborhoods.  I definitely know gay people who feel like they have to justify who they ARE any time it comes up.  I even had a gay man apologize to me not too long ago for asking if I was also gay…why should he have had to apologize?  All he did was ask me a question.

That’s actually a good story, and I haven’t written it here before.  I won’t get into specifics, but the guy walked up to me and said, “I hope you don’t mind if I ask, but are you gay?”  My reply was, “No, I’m just really tired today.”  After we both chuckled, I realized he was serious and I clarified that I’m not, but out of curiosity, why was he asking?  “Oh, it’s just that I heard you mention a Jeremy (my then-roommate) and I was wondering…”  “Oh, no.  We’re just roommates.”  “Oh okay.  It’s just that I’m gay, so I was curious.  Sorry.  I hope I haven’t offended you.”  “No…there’s no reason to apologize, man.  You just asked me a question.  Why should you have to apologize for knowing who you are and asking me if I’m the same?”  At no point did I feel threatened.  At no point did I feel grossed out or upset.  If anything, I just felt bad for the guy.  Why SHOULD he have to worry about asking a simple question that only needs a simple answer?

It’s religion, isn’t it?  Religion and religious fear is what drives this bullshit.  I mean, I can’t really speak for other faiths, but this country pretends to be founded on Christian principles when it suits them, right?  So it must’ve come from somewhere…and it seems pretty systemic…  The handful of Bible verses that point toward homosexuality being a sin are the ones that caused the murders and the suicide that I can’t get out of my head today.  Those same scriptures made a man almost flinch when I calmly replied that, “No, I’m not gay, but out of curiosity…”  Those same scriptures…that are in the same Bible that declares that you shouldn’t have a bathroom in your church (Deuteronomy 23:12-14) and that women should go into exile during their menstrual cycle (Leviticus 15:19-33)…those same scriptures are foundational in this ugliness, aren’t they?  (As a sidebar, I encourage you who think everything in the Bible should be literally practiced to see what kind of push-back you get if you remove your women’s bathroom sometime.)

But it isn’t JUST religion, either, is it?  There are atheists who think that homosexuality is “just gross” too, aren’t there?  Or are there?  It doesn’t seem like I hear as much from them, but statistically they must be out there, right?  I mean, we all know there are rapists in prisons that lay no claim to the Bible, but would kick your ass if you asked them if they were into men.  There’s a weird macho-status that gets wrapped up in the conversation too, isn’t there?  But where did that come from?  It must’ve been that somewhere along the way, those same guys were taught that being gay was “wrong,” right?  (Although I’ve noticed that for some reason if you show those same gay-bashing tough guys two women making out…that’s fine for some reason…)

And what about Islam?  I can’t speak for the religion.  I can’t speak for the people who live in Islamic countries.  I can’t even claim to know all that much about ISIL…  But I do know that ISIL was everybody’s FIRST thought, even in the midst of hearing it was a gay club that was targeted.  And I know that the dickless prick who killed 50 people called 911 and CLAIMED allegiance to ISIL when he was going in.  But I also know that investigating authorities have said they don’t think it’s a coordinated attack.  Claiming allegiance isn’t the same thing as being a field agent.  I claim alliance to Pete Townshend, but he didn’t call me to play bass when Entwistle died.  The fucker.

Yet…every Republican I’ve ever met is saying we have to do something about ISIL.  And, yeah, we do…but it’s not like we’re alone, or even in the majority of having that belief.  Muslims hate ISIL more than we white, Christian suburbanites do.  Muslims are the ones who ISIL is making look bad.  ISIL is systematically working to unfold the Muslim faith and the people groups most commonly associated with it.  They’re looking to spread chaos.  They’re looking to spread fear and hate.  And it’s working…because we report that a security guard turned gay-killing bastard was connected to ISIL, despite the near total lack of evidence.  (NOTE: Should this be proven otherwise in the coming days, I will gladly redact this statement.)  Hate sells…and you don’t even have to be a terrorist to sell it, do you Trump-voters?  God, there are a lot of you…and most of you don’t even have the courage to admit it.

An upsettingly large portion of my day has been spent reading the posts of people I went to bible college with trying to sound like they’re not ACTUALLY on the side of–GASP!–gay people.  It’s a shame to reveal oneself as a bigot while trying to say something nice.  I’ve seen a lot of posts that boil down to “hate the sin, love the sinner.”  (That isn’t in the Bible, by the way.)  It would be impossible for me to do that on this one.  I’m just going to say it…  I don’t think being gay is a sin.  I just don’t.  Not anymore…not for a long time.  I wish I’d said that clearly from the pulpit in my days as an active minister.  We need people to do that…  Even if it WERE sinful, I still have a problem with “hate the sin, love the sinner…”  Because I have trouble reconciling the love of Christ with hating anything.  The love of Christ DRIVES OUT hate. If you have experienced otherwise, then you have not experienced His love.  I’m sorry…but you haven’t. 

On this day, the only person I will call a sinner is the shooter…and as has become my policy in these situations, I will not ever intentionally learn his name.  He is nameless evil to me, and he can stay that way.  But I will make an effort to remember at least one victim, once more is out about them.  The only sin I see is the sin of hate.  And hate seems to be the only thing worth hating.

…and I guess that’s where I am as of now.

To my friends in the LGBTQ community, I pray for a day where you are no longer called “brave” for just being who you are.  I am so, so sorry this happened.  I’m here if you need me.

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