RIP You Good Leslie, You…

Okay…so that post title would’ve been better when Tony Curtis died…but whatever.

I’ve got another post that I’m slowly compiling that involves the cold I’ve been rocking for a couple of days, but I just wanted to take a second and express my sadness at hearing of the death of Leslie Nielsen.  I’d consider myself a pretty big fan of Mr. Nielsen’s…but I went to his IMDB page to look at his list of stuff and found that I’ve probably only seen about 1/8 of his appearances, if that.  Now, admittedly, a lot of the “Scary Movie” and “Spy Hard” stuff wasn’t my—or arguably ANYONE’S—cup of tea.  But even eliminating that stuff due to it being what it is, I’m probably still on the loser’s side of how much I’ve seen.

…but his did two Columbos, and damned if I haven’t seen those!  (I also remember him playing the role of God on “Herman’s Head,” of which I am both proud and embarrassed.)

Anyway, this is a “rest in peace” to Leslie.  I remember one time he did an SNL appearance and in the monologue, he said that he didn’t know why he was considered a comedic actor.  He said something to the effect of (massive paraphrase): “The things I say aren’t funny.  I say non-funny things in a non-funny way, and people laugh.  I don’t get it.”  What’s that old saying about dying being easy and comedy being hard?  Leslie Nielsen probably could’ve taught a doctorate-level class on that.

Well…I guess what I’m saying is “Thanks for all the laughs.”  Even though you were never funny.

My Christmas List

Grandma asked me what was on my Christmas List this year.  I didn’t have it ready to go (though it was close), so I told her I’d have it together over the weekend.  The “Empty Checking” podcast has seen me buying stuff much more frequently than I have in past years, so this was a little tougher to put together…but I think it’s a good, weird list. 🙂

I go back and forth on if it’s worth prioritizing these things…seems like even the high-priority stuff doesn’t end up under the tree sometimes…but I’m going to go ahead and put the stuff I’d be a little bit irritated not to have in red.  (This includes stuff that I’m not likely to buy for myself, but that I do actually WANT.)

 So here it is.  I expect the family to coordinate this appropriately.  🙂  Let’s rock…



  • U-2 (Apparently I’m missing a few, and with that concert coming up, it’d be good to stock up…but keep in mind that I’ve got a birthday in there before then, too…so this isn’t top priority yet.)
    • No Line on the Horizon
    • All That You Can’t Leave Behind (Which I KNOW I owned at one time, but I think I loaned it to someone and it’s gone forever.)
    • Achtung Baby
  • Queens of the Stone Age – “Rated R” Deluxe Edition (red cover)
  • Motorhead – The World is Yours
  • James Blunt – Some Kind of Trouble (I know, I know…but I like him…)


  • Doctor Who – Season 5 (I think they’re calling it Season 5…only one with Matt Smith as the Doctor, if nothing else…  And though this is marked in red, since it’s British, it might cost a little too much, so I’ll understand if I have to end up buying it for myself.)
  • Alice Cooper – Theatre Of Death: Live At Hammersmith 2009
  • Simpsons – Seasons 9 and onward…


  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City – Nick Flynn
  • The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil – George Saunders
  • Kurt Vonnegut (These are the only ones I’m missing…don’t necessarily need ALL of them, but would like to see one or two…)
    • Sirens of Titan
    • Deadeye Dick
    • Bluebeard
    • Hocus Pocus
    • Timequake
    • Canary in the Cathouse
    • Fates Worse than Death
  • Horns – Joe Hill
  • 20th Century Ghosts – Joe Hill

Graphic Novels (These are likely to be $15-20 a piece…so I highlighted the ones I’m particularly interested in, but sooner or later I’ve gotta get ’em all, if I want to understand it.)

  • Blackest Night
  • Blackest Night: Green Lantern
  • Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
  • Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns
  • Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol 1
  • Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol 2
  • Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps

Other Stuff:

  • I’d really like to have a buckwheat pillow again…don’t know where to find those of my own accord…
  • Couple flannel shirts would be good…recommend XL for the size…
  • Also could use a couple of hoodies with zippers.  Size XL.  Any color but green (which I have) or yellow (which I’ll never wear).
  • Still looking for a pair of Brick Red/Maroon Chuck Taylors…I’m a size 8.
  • Gift Certificates to the following places are always welcome:
    • Best Buy
    • Kohl’s
    • Guitar Center

If anyone wants to go nuts and spend a lot of money:

  • Blu-Ray Player (gotta convert sooner or later…)
  • Record Player, preferably with that USB output thing most people are offering these days.
  • Banjo Money.  Gonna need about $400.  🙂

And that’s it…I certainly don’t expect all of that…but that’s the stuff I promise not to buy between now and Christmas.

Another Slapsgiving Gone By…

…and I didn’t even get to slap anybody.

Seriously, though…  Thanksgiving was awesome.

Per usual, we went to Cape Girardeau to see the (mostly) Southern half of the family.  Despite being in Limbaugh-land, it was a good trip.  Lots of good food and most everyone that was physically able showed up this year.  (Of course, there are a few who are just getting up in years and can’t make it anymore—and they were missed.)  Particularly good to see my cousin Terry, who hasn’t made it out for a few years.  Meant to talk to him a little longer than I did, but he had to split a little bit before I did and while he was on his way out the door, I was sitting with Uncle Eddie’s old, old, old, beautiful Martin guitar on my lap.

…and that was really cool.  A new cousin (by marriage) named Matt brought a guitar, and Eddie brought a guitar too.  I’d seen Eddie’s case sitting there all morning, and when Matt took out his guitar, I asked Eddie, “Hey, is that other guitar over there yours?”  “Yep. I brought my Martin.”  The case opened, my eyes were filled with a vision made by the Heavens, and Eddie didn’t even strum one note before he put the strap around my neck and handed me a pick.  I was nervous even HOLDING the thing, but my fingers found their places sooner or later, and at that point Matt and I sat and played a few.  (For the record, it’s a beautiful instrument and sounds like a guitar SHOULD sound.  My hands were actually jealous of themselves as I strummed.)

Matt and I played passably, but forgetfully—apparently, neither of us is very good at remembering lyrics.  I let Matt choose what we were playing because he hasn’t been playing as long and I can fake-it pretty quickly, so I figured we’d stick to his song-set.  After a while, I was a little tired of playing and I turned to face Eddie, who’d been standing by, enjoying hearing the two of us play.  Following is a brief approximation of the conversation that took place…

Me: Eddie, I’d love to hear you play this guitar.

Eddie: (smiles) Well, I only know about three chords.

Me: Well, as long as you play them in the right order, it’ll be fine.

***Eddie plays an old country song flawlessly.***

Me: Well those were the RIGHT three chords!

Matt: I saw you play FOUR chords!  You’re just hustling us!

Me: Next thing you know, we’ll be playing for money!

***Eddie plays a good five or six more songs, wonderfully.  Including “On the Road Again” and “Lost Highway.”  Also including a few guitar solos.  I compliment him and tell him I love hearing him play…”***

Eddie: Well, I only ever learned the one style.  All the others came along after my time.

Me: To tell you the truth, right now I’m not sure why I even LISTEN to anything else, much less play it.

***We end with a handshake and go home.***

Now…I know country isn’t for everybody.  But when it’s played as purely and humbly as Eddie plays it, it really should be.  If I thought I could talk him into it, I’d take my recording gear down to Arkansas and set it up in his living room.  But I doubt that he’d let me…so I guess I’ve just got to soak up the sound at Thanksgiving.

Anyway…like most years, there was speculation that “this might be the last time we do this…”  But I’ve heard that noise before, and I can’t imagine this family voluntarily choosing not to see one another, even if someone else in the family becomes the host of the day.  So I’m just going to go ahead and look forward to next year.

…hope your Thanksgiving was great too.

Coming up next: My Christmas List.


Comic Books Purchased This Week:  (Sorry I forgot to mention them earlier…they’ll be reviewed on “Empty Checking” sometime this weekend.)

  • The Traveler – Issue #1
  • Uncanny X-Men – Issue #530
  • Captain America #612
  • Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet – Issue #4 of 4
  • Batman Beyond: Issue # 6 of 6
  • Batman Detective Comics – Issue #871
  • Justice League: Generation Lost – Issue #14
  • Superman: Earth One.  (Which is more of a “graphic novel” thing…but whatever…)

Things I Like to Eat

I’m low on ideas…so here’s what I usually order from the fast food places I go to regularly…

If I’ve forgotten your favorite, just ask and I’ll add it.

  • Wendy’s – Spicy Chicken combo.  Sometimes a baked potato.
  • McDonald’s – Either a Double Quarter Pounder or the Chicken Selects.
  • Subway – Subway Melt with lettuce, tomato, bell pepper, banana pepper, black olives, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Bandana’s – Combo of usually turkey, chicken, sausage, and/or pork.  Also fries.
  • Long John Silver’s – Three chicken and two fish plate…or platter…or whatever they call it.
  • Wing Stop – 10 Original Hot (sometimes boneless), Large fries, Two rolls, Two things of Ranch.
  • White Barn – A burger and fried okra…sometimes also fries.
  • Steak ‘n’ Shake – Nothing now that they’ve stopped selling taco salads.  Just give me a damn shake.
  • White Castle – A sack of ten.  Sometimes also onion rings.
  • KFC – Anymore…the Variety Big Box serves me pretty well.
  • Penn Station – Large Club, or Reuben and Medium Fries.
  • Most Chinese Places – Kung Pow Chicken and Crab Rangoon
  • The Chinese Place by My Office – Empress Chicken and Crab Rangoon
  • Taco Bell – 2 Soft Tacos, 2 Beef Meximelts, and either a Bean Burrito or a Mexican Pizza.
  • Rally’s – Chilli Dog and Fries.  (I hate everything else there.)
  • Arby’s – French Dip, but I’d prefer something other than Arby’s.
  • Jack in the Box – Dead to me.  None of the “restaurants” have gotten my order right in like a year.  Dead. To. Me.

So if you’re stopping by one of those places…that’s my order.

…and I’m now realizing how weird it is that so many of the names of fast-food places are possessive.  Seems a majority end in “apostrophe, s.”  Interesting…kinda…

I promise I’ll have something decent to say soon.  Sorry about this.  🙂

Random Stuff

You know the drill by now…let’s rock…

  1. I like that it’s finally cold.  But they’re predicting temperatures in the 60s for a day or two next week…  That’s stupid.  It’s November.  LATE November.  It’s supposed to be cold.  So everybody wish for cold real hard, okay?
  2. There’s this radio station in town that started playing nothing but Christmas music this week.  (Maybe it started last week, actually…but I think it was this week.)  It’s been on non-stop at the office.  Couple of problems here.  (1) It’s not even Thanksgiving yet—WAY too early for Christmas music.  (2) As I’m sure we’ve covered in previous years, I’m not that big a fan of Christmas music.  I only like a handful of songs…and most of them are not played on radio.  I’m thinking my iPod and I need to counter with a little Misfits or something…
  3. Otherwise, work is fine.  🙂
  4. Speaking of the Holidays.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that’s my favorite holiday.  So yay.
  5. Still been enjoying the “Conan” show.  (And for the record, I don’t think I’ve heard one NBC joke all week.)  Somehow, even the Decemberists were made tolerable on this show.  Magic.
  6. George Lopez STILL isn’t funny.  Sorry.
  7. Having some trouble getting posts to stay posted on the “Empty Checking” page for some reason.  I don’t know if I’m violating their “terms of use” somehow or what…but I’ve had my last two uploads go missing on me.  Hoping to work that out, but until I do…I guess don’t expect a podcast this weekend…
  8. I keep trying to remind myself that I need to save money for Christmas.  Then I go to the comic book store, or we go somewhere cool for lunch, or there’s a new CD I for some reason can’t wait to hear long enough to put it on my Christmas List.  In short…you’re all getting tacos this year.  That’s all I can afford.  Sorry.
  9. Apparently there’s a “Wizard of Oz” remake in the works.  Now, I’m not that big a fan of the movie (or books)…but this still begs the question of “Why?”.  Why remake a classic that is still celebrated and loved by kids and adults alike?  Just seems insane.  …but I’d cast Christian Bale as the Scarecrow.  Just for irony.  (Geek joke.)
  10. I need at least two new tires.  All four are really low on pressure right now, due to the temperature change…but the front two are pretty much bare.  Dangerously so.  So I’m looking for a sale, if anyone runs across one.

And that’s it for now.  I’ve got some stuff I want to talk about at length, but I’ve got to motivate myself to write about them.

…until then…


Comic Books Purchased:

  1. Batman: The Return (One-Shot)
  2. Batman Incorporated – Issue #1
  3. Batman – Issue #704
  4. Avengers #7
  5. Darkwing Duck #6
  6. S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (Which was dug up just for me by the guys at the Fantasy Shop.)
  7. Morning Glories #4
  8. The Sixth Gun #6 (Which, incidentally, came out on Cullen Bunn’s birthday—he’s one of the creators.)


Music to Work By for 11/18:

  1. Willie Nelson – Country Music
  2. Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat
  3. Punch Brothers – Antifogmatic
  4. The Drams – Jubilee Dive
  5. Caedmon’s Call – [self-titled]
  6. Aimee Mann – Lost in Space
  7. Reverend Horton Heat – Holy Roller
  8. Frank Black & the Catholics – Show Me Your Tears


Sorry I haven’t blogged in a few days.  Hopefully the little “freebie” attached to this post will make it up to you. 

This is a sampling of the next (upcoming) free-download thing in the “demos” section of  Occasionally, I’ll sit around and play my own stuff in the privacy of my own basement.  Sometimes, I remember to press “record.”  It’s kind of cool to have a random sampling of myself attempting to play stuff I wrote, and I like re-listening to that stuff to identify strengths and weaknesses.  Sometimes, while I’m recording, the “producer” in me kicks in and I start layering in other tracks.  Usually that will lead to the song taking on a different life than it ever has before.  When the recordings get to that point—the point that it’s no longer a “demo” but officially a “recording”—I call it a “treatment.”

Lately, I’ve taken to “treating” songs from my actual records.  These treatments are in no way meant to replace the original performances, but are maybe kind of fun re-workings for people familiar with the more “official” versions.  In the case below, I sat and recorded a new version of “Stranger” (available in “official” form on the “Grounds” record at my website or on iTunes).  The original track was me playing my guitar and singing.  Just an acoustic and vocal.  Then I threw on an electric track.  Then three layers of background vocals, for fun.  Then mix, compress, EQ…and done!  🙂

For the record, the original performance is still there.  The lead vocal and acoustic guitar are the original take.  That’s why they sound a little “rough.”  First song I’d sung that day after being awake for less than an hour…and I wasn’t quite “there” yet.  But I like some of what my voice accidentally did, so I left it.  EDIT: Oh…and as a brief glimpse into my “process” I left in the part where I noted which guitars were used for my own benefit.  I played my Parkwood acoustic and my Gretsch electric.  I like the tag-on of “…and Gretsch” that I’ve got on there.  Made me laugh, so I left it.  🙂

I’m going to be putting this, and a few other (absolutely free) treatments on my website in the very near future, once I’ve mixed the others.  (There should be five, when I’m finished.)  But as a thank you to my readers (if any) for being so loyal (if true) and patient with my on-and-off dementia, I thought I’d give you first crack at this one.  🙂

So here you go…

Click here —> Stranger – 2010 Treatment (Copyright 2010, Derek Brink, work in progress.)

Hope it’s your cup of tea.  If not…the original is still considered the “official” version anyway.  I just keep drifting back to this song for some reason, and this is what happened last time I did.  🙂

Sorry if that link disappears in the future.  WordPress doesn’t let me post audio direct to the page because I use the free version (I know, right?).  So it may disappear if I need the room on my website at some point.