“Behold the awesome nonsense of nature!” – Carl Carlson

Bet you thought I forgot about you, huh? What’s that? You didn’t? You got here by Googling “What is Carl from the Simpsons’ last name?” Ah. Well… For the handful of people who do enjoy my little corner of the Internet, my apologies for not writing more lately. I’m suffering from a case of the “I stare at a computer all day” virus, and often avoid the computer at home. So…let’s catch up with one of those random-post thingies…

  1. Went to see Coheed & Cambria with my friend Brandon earlier in the week. Brandon’s a big fan of theirs. I’ve been familiar with them for a while and meaning to explore them further. When Brandon ended up with an extra ticket and invited me along, I picked up some of the music I didn’t have before, immersed myself in their bullshit mythology (which is excellent–just because it’s bullshit, that doesn’t make it not excellent) and have a new band to obsess over. The show was great. Circa Survive opened and I liked them too…but Coheed was definitely the main event. Haven’t been to that high-energy of a show in a long time, and it was a lot of fun. I’m officially going to order the bullshit comic books explaining their bullshit mythos as soon as I have the extra cash to spend on that kind of bullshit.
  2. So, a lot of people I know are having babies… And a lot of those people have been posting their baby photos on Facebook. And that’s cool…but you know what isn’t? The NAKED baby photos. And here are three reasons why. (1) That is NOT your own nudity to do with as you please. Posting photos of someone else’s nudity without their consent, no matter your relationship to that person, is an extreme violation of personal privacy. (2) Someday, someone WILL use those photos to cause your child embarrassment. (3) You don’t know what might be going through the minds of the Facebook “friends” you have…and there are some real sickos out there, and you’d be shocked to find out who they are. Do you really want to give something that can essentially be used as pornography to a disturbed individual, knowing that the source material is your own child? Much less…what if the person decides to ACT on their urges, and knows where to find your baby? Think things through people. That’s all I’m asking.
  3. The band’s first gig is just around the corner. September 13 will be here before you know it! I have tickets available for $6. If you pay at the door, it’s $8. (Or you can also buy online here.) So the math seems pretty simple. Don’t be a jerk. See my band!
  4. I’m also excited to announce that I’m working on booking a solo gig at the same location in October–but that’s not officially official yet. Details forthcoming!
  5. A few quick music reviews:
    • Camera Obscura – Desire Lines — Typical Camera Obscura. Doesn’t break new ground for the band, but for those who’ve heard their previous work and thought, “Man, I wish there was more of that,” they put out some more. And it’s good.
    • Newsted – Heavy Metal Music — The metal album I’ve been excited about for months is…is…fine. It’s not as great as I was hoping, but it’s fine. Sort of like if Alice Cooper joined Corrosion of Conformity. I know. I didn’t ever wonder what that would sound like either. Turns out it’s okay, but not much to write home about.
    • Coheed & Cambria – The Afterman: Descension — Just saw them live, so I’m probably a little biased…but it’s great. You know how a lot of people talk about a band’s early work as being their best and they got either derivative or boring as time went on? Not true of Coheed. They might be making the best music they’ve ever made right now.
  6. My new solo record, “Ink Stained Fingers” is coming along. I’ve got all of the main parts recorded (though I’m considering outsourcing some piano parts) and I’m doing some mixing tests. I’m taking the time to find the right “feel” for the songs. I’m working on the first half of the project at present. Even though it won’t be on vinyl, I’m thinking of it in two “sides” and I’m mixing the first “side” right now. It’s going alright. I’m at the stage now where I’m still figuring out exactly how to put the “sound” of the record together so it achieves everything I want it to. At this point, I’m hoping for a November release, if everything falls into place right.

…and I’m going to stop there for now. This has been an exhausting week and I’m tired of writing. There’s more to say, but hopefully if I don’t say it now, that will push me to say it later and I’ll actually write again soon.

Until then…

“I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was, and now what I’m with isn’t it. And what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me.” – Abraham Simpson

Well, if you don’t count right now as a new week, then I’m just barely under the wire for my third post of the week.  In my head it’s Sunday night–though this will technically go up on Monday after midnight.  So it’s technically a new week as writing begins, and DEFINITELY a new week as the post goes up…  But…  I’m counting it.  My blog, my rules…

Let’s do this one random-style again…

  1. Saw West Side Story with my roommate yesterday.  It was a good production.  Plus, my high school drama teacher played Officer Krupke.  That was kind of cool.  It was a lovely night for a play and a great performance of a great show.  Couldn’t have asked for too much more, all things considered.  Also, we bumped into one of my cousins while we were walking to the seats, too.  Always nice to have an unexpected family reunion.  🙂
  2. Work this week was a very different experience.  I won’t go into details for what are probably obvious reasons, but I feel like I’m pointed in a different direction at the office now, and I’m optimistic.  (Optimism is a new thing for me, and I’m not sure how to do it…but we’ll see how it goes…)
  3. The solo gig I had scheduled for September 13 has been changed to being a full-band show.  The Social Gospel will make our debut that night.  We’ll play second.  About a 45 minute set.  Should be fun.  Further details forthcoming.
  4. Got a little bit of a concert-series coming up in the next month or two…  I’m going to go see Coheed and Cambria with my friend Brandon at the end of the month.  Then there’s the Iron Maiden gig at the start of September.  Then at the end of the month, my brother and I will (at least probably) be going to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club–and by the way, their new record is great.  So if anyone needs me in August/September, look for where the rock and roll is happening.
  5. Sobriety Update: I don’t miss drinking most of the time…until I’m standing in a “quick-shop” style store looking for a Coke or a bottle of tea, and the Guinness is right there in the next set of refrigerators.  Found myself standing there deeply sighing yesterday.  Then got in the car and went and had fun doing something else…but still, for a second there was weakness, and I don’t like that.  I’m looking forward to the day that I don’t even glance at the labels anymore.
  6. New Record Update: None!  I had all these plans of what I wanted to accomplish on the new record this weekend, but the weekend flew by.  I’m hoping to get some work done throughout the week, but finding recording time mid-week isn’t easy.  Although, I think the roommate works late a few nights this week, so I’ll have a couple of late-afternoons to myself and maybe I’ll set up a few microphones and give it a shot.
  7. I’ve been behind in my comic book reading.  As of tonight, I’m one issue away from being caught up on Batman–and the one I haven’t read is an “Annual” issue, so it doesn’t necessarily totally count.  I’ve got a couple stacks of indies to get through after that (namely The Unwritten and Morning Glories) and then I’ll get caught up on The Flash–I hear he’s finally face-to-face with the Reverse Flash for the first time since Flashpoint.  I’m looking forward to that.

And that’s it…  I have a few other things I want to write about, but I’ve been sleeping like crap lately and I should really go to bed.  So I’m doing that.  Goodnight.

This is a post about how I love musicals and I’m writing it completely off the top of my head and I’m not re-reading it for syntax or coherence of thought. Or spllelling.

I like musicals.

No joke. I really do. And for some reason I’ve found myself having to defend that lately–probably because it’s Summer, and that means outdoor theatre, and this year I actually have people to do that with, so I’ve been excited about it. People seem surprised that I like musicals. I don’t know why…I mean… I’m a songwriter. If you look through my records, it’s pretty clear that I’ve slowly been writing my autobiography song-by-song. There’s not much difference between that and a musical. In fact, I maintain that EVERY songwriter is secretly writing his own, personal musical. Except maybe for Sammy Hagar.

Here’s a brief list of musicals I genuinely love and why…

  1. Music Man – My brother was in it in high school.
  2. Little Shop of Horrors – For all of the reasons you’re supposed to…and my brother was in it in high school.
  3. Les Miserables – I’ve discussed this on the blog before. Started singing a medley from it in high school, fell in love with it, and some of the songs make me cry while driving.
  4. West Side Story – When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, by God!
  5. Jesus Christ Superstar – First time I realized heresy can be entertaining and make a valid point.
  6. Annie – Yes. Annie. I like Annie. I worked sound for it when I was in high school, and it was the first real play I’d ever worked on. Got a soft spot for it.
  7. Camelot – Specifically the movie version–though the play is great, too…but the movie has Richard Harris in it, and he’s so fucking Richard Harrissy!
  8. Guys & Dolls – I was in orchestra pit playing the bass for our high school production. Got the “Best Orchestra Pit Member” award at our awards ceremony that year. Still have the little statue thingy they gave me.  Plus…I mean…  “Luck Be A Lady,” y’all…
  9. Lil’ Abner – I wasn’t actually in it or involved (long story) but this is another one my high school did while I was around…and my friend Beth Ann will always be the quintessential Daisy Mae in my heart.
  10. Cats – Mostly I like “Memory.” Other than that, I don’t actually have much of a relationship with “Cats” at all.
  11. Fiddler on the Roof – I don’t even know where to start…but the music in “Fiddler” might be the best music in terms of pure writing quality in all of Broadway.
  12. Wizard of Oz – I don’t love the movie anywhere near on the level as my dad…but I’m a Judy Garland fan. So it’s a must.
  13. Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory – Again, specifically the movie. The Gene Wilder movie. Because Gene Wilder.
  14. Bye Bye Birdie – The movie is great, but I have a particular affinity for the production my brother’s high school cast did. Their Conrad Birdie was black, which added a whole other layer to the setting of the play.
  15. South Pacific – I have had “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right out of My Hair” stuck in my head for 15 years and it has caused some embarrassing moments.
  16. Tommy – It’s the by-God WHO. And it’s a movie and a lot of people will say that means it doesn’t count…but “Tommy” is one of the first musicals (or rock-operas, if you must) that I really poured over and fell in love with. Without it, there might not be a list at all. And Jack Nicholson tries to SING in it. It’s hilarious.
  17. Rocky Horror Picture Show – I mean…come on.
  18. 1776 – I am almost ANGRY that I’ve never actually seen the play, because I love the movie so much.

And there’s a whole bunch more that should be on that list that aren’t there, but this is off the top of my head and that’s where I’m stopping.

Musicals have been a big part of my life for a long, long time. Even with the absurdity of people breaking into well-choreographed song and dance numbers to describe mundane events in their lives…I love that. I love the absurdity. And the wit. And the sadness. And the escapism. A lot of musicals deal with some really heavy topics, but they do so by singing about them. Musicals taught me long ago that if you can sing about your problems, you can contextualize them, and–holy shit!–find people who identify with you and will stand and applaud during your curtain call. That’s important. That’s why every songwriter writes. And I’m indebted to musicals for a lot of who I am as a writer and as a person…and I don’t know why people find that strange.

And as a side-bar, if I went through my recorded solo records, here’s the list of songs I’d consider putting into the musical of my own life (though not necessarily in this order)…just in case anyone wants to make a playlist.  I’m putting a * next to the songs I would use as major themes.

Derek Brink: The Musical

  1. Fall Apart
  2. Stranger
  3. Battle Cry
  4. A Song for Friendship
  5. Everything
  6. Moments (Although–fun fact–I have never once played this song again after the final recording session for that record.)
  7. He Is
  8. Beautiful*
  9. Scars*
  10. Off My Feet
  11. Being There*
  12. Something More
  13. Promises
  14. I Was Born
  15. Looking Back
  16. Things I Meant to Say*
  17. Good Things*
  18. Remember Me
  19. In My Heart
  20. Please*
  21. Immortal
  22. Born in this Town
  23. Selfish
  24. A Turning*
  25. New Year’s Eve
  26. Nothing Stays the Same
  27. Suspended*
  28. All My Ghosts
  29. Just Another Day*
  30. …and most of the new one, once it comes out.

“I can’t take his money. I can’t print my own money. I have to work for money. Why don’t I just lie down and DIE?” – Homer Simpson

I’ve set myself a goal to blog at least three times this week. That’s a depressing goal, I know…but nevertheless… I’ve got at least three posts I want to put together. and this is the first one–random in nature, of course, as you could tell by the Simpsons quote in the title. (I still like that gimmick…) So anyway… Here’s post one for the week. Let’s go!

  1. I’ve been losing a little weight. People have been pointing it out in the past week. It’s nice that people are noticing. For those asking what I’m doing, basically I’m just going for smaller portions of food, and I’m purposely doing things that require me to walk a little bit. (IE – Going to the Muny, walking around the Loop, and even just intentionally parking a little farther away from places so I have to walk a little bit to get to where I was going. And also, I think it helps that I quit drinking and I’m not just pounding down random six-packs of empty carbs anymore–not why I did it, but it’s a nice side-effect.) And I do not know how much I’ve lost, where I started, or where I am now. If I set goals for myself, I know I will not meet them, then I’ll get frustrated, and I’ll give up. That’s how I work. I’m not interested in goals…I’m interested in lifestyle changes that bring results. As I told a friend: “I didn’t weigh myself getting fat, so I’m not weighing myself getting thin.” 🙂
  2. I recently re-watched West Side Story with a couple of friends. I forgot how much I like the movie, but I’m looking forward to seeing the play way more. It’s playing at the Muny this week, and I think a few of us have tentative plans to go. Should be fun! So if you see me skulking around, randomly snapping my fingers and telling people to stay “cool, boy–real cool” or randomly shouting “MAMBO!” at unsuspecting Puerto Ricans…that’s why. (Also–side note–we watched the movie at my friend Dani’s house, and she’s got these two huge, awesome dogs…and now I really want a dog again…)
  3. Did a bunch of stuff on Saturday with my brother and Jeremy… Here’s the breakdown:
    • Went to Blueberry Hill. Had the (5oz instead of 7oz–smaller portions!) burger. Great as always. My favorite burger and favorite bar in St. Louis. Also, it was good to know I can go there–even THERE–and hang out with a Coke instead of a Guinness and it’s no big change.
    • Went to Vintage Vinyl. Spent probably an hour and a half in there. We had lots of time to kill–which is no problem, particularly for me and Dave in a record store. I briefly lamented the fact that it’s tough to find a turntable that will play 78s anymore (otherwise I would’ve walked out with a STACK of early-pressings of Dave Brubeck singles on the Fantasy label. Then I walked out with copies of (pre-Dumbledore) Richard Harris singing MacArthur Park (don’t ask) and Big Star’s “Nothing Can Hurt Me” soundtrack.
    • Then it was over to the Tivoli theatre for a midnight showing of Spice World. I’m not kidding. Those who know me well know that I make no apology for liking that movie and/or that group. My brother and I kind of lost one weird, weird summer to the Spice phenomenon back in the 90s, and seeing the movie on the big screen again was pure nostalgia for us both. Jeremy went along mostly for lack of anything else to do, I suspect… But he laughed at a few things, so I don’t think it was a total waste for him. In all a fun night.
  4. Somber turn: My friend Barb got some bad news about her husband last week. I won’t put it in print, because it’s the kind of thing that’s HER’S to tell, not mine… But I did want to note that I know she’s carrying a big weight while still coming in to work every day, and I admire her for it. My prayers are with her and her family as they’re going through some real uncertainty, and if you’re of the praying type, I’d like to ask that yours be, too.
  5. Less somber turn: Got locked out of a Kia Rio on Friday night. A friend of mine called Megan was in town (we know each other through church and a group got together to hang out) and her key got locked in the car. So we got a “car unlocking kit” from someone at the Christian College (who apparently are so Christian they have a “car unlocking kit” just sitting around–ahem) and of the seven of us working on it, no one could crack it. So her brother had to drive an hour or so into town with a key. Oh well. Still fun seeing everybody, and it’s a good story. Plus, I got a gigantic Q’doba burrito out of it. (Didn’t follow the “smaller portions” rule on that one.)
  6. My dad was in Kansas City this week and brought a slab of Gates Ribs back with him. I had a few last night. Man those are great ribs. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t thinking about a smaller portion of them right now.
  7. I mentioned the Big Star CD I bought earlier. Can I just harp on Big Star for a second? Big Star is maybe best defined as “That band you always kinda meant to listen to, but didn’t.” They are perhaps best known for writing at least MOST of the framework for the song that became the theme song to “That 70’s Show.” And they pretty much went nowhere, while writing incredible songs that influenced the entire NEXT generation of alternative rock acts. There’s a band like that in every generation–the band right outside of the popular stuff that means something to the guys who develop the popular stuff of the next decade. In the 60s it was the Velvet Underground. In the 70s it was Big Star. (In the 80s it was the Pixies. In the 90s, it was anyone who wasn’t Pearl Jam, and in the early 2000s it was indeterminate–too recent.)* Groups like R.E.M., the Replacements, Wilco, and even Cheap Trick all cite Big Star as an influence. And even though they’re different genres, I maintain that if you play Big Star’s “Thirteen” and then follow it with Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” you’ll see some real similarities (and superiorities) that might make you question why the hell you’re blasting Mumford instead of Big Star–and I love Mumford & Sons. Do yourself a favor and go pick up (or–shudder–download) a copy of “#1 Record” and/or the “Nothing Can Hurt Me” soundtrack. You’ll thank me.
  8. Saddened to hear last week that my colleague of a few years, Rick, is no longer with the company I work for. I don’t know details on that–I always take the approach of “it’s not my business unless someone tells me” on that kind of thing. But after you work with a guy for a few years, whatever the reason, it’s a shame to see him go. I wish Rick all the best–he’s a good guy with excellent taste in micro-brews. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet somewhere great soon, if he hasn’t already.
  9. Very, very sad to learn of the death of St. Louis indie rock (and photography, and radio personality, and just about everything else) icon Bob Reuter. I didn’t know him personally, but he left his mark in so many of the circles I’ve run in that I personally felt the loss. He did the photography for one of my friend’s records (My 2 Planets “Other Side of Summer”). He had the quintessential “deep cuts” radio program with “Bob’s Scratchy Records.” And he’s just one of those guys who no one seemed to have a bad word about. Nobody seemed to dislike him. That tells you something. He deserved a better exit than accidentally stepping into an elevator shaft. I was shocked to find out that’s how he went. I didn’t even know that actually happened to people. It shouldn’t have. He should’ve died an old man, crushed under a mountain of vinyl and beautiful photographs. Rest in peace, Bob. I’ll scratch a record for you.
  10. Speaking of records… My new record (“Ink Stained Fingers”) is coming along pretty well. I spent a lot of the daylight hours of Saturday adding in some electric guitars to a few of the tracks. (Though I’m keeping the electric tracks to a minimum and pushing them WAY into the background for the most part.) The sound is starting to round out nicely. It’s going to be a TOUCH more full-sounding than I had initially planned, but I think I’ll still get the overall feel I had in mind. I’d call about 8 of the 12 songs completely done at this point, pending a full mastering-treatment and a review of the whole project in one sitting. I’m excited and happy with it…but there IS a part of me thinking, “I wonder if I know anyone who can play piano on this one…” 🙂
  11. Oh, and the gig on September 13th is now totally official. The Facebook page for it is here. I’ll be opening for two great acts with whom I’m happy to share the bill. I’ll post some more details shortly…probably next week.

And that’s it for now. My next post is already about half-written and will be a defense of why I’m talking so much about musical theatre these days. Until then, MAMBO!!!

————

* Behind the scenes outtake: I was trying to speak my thoughts on the subject of “that band” for each decade into my phone’s text-to-type app. I said something like “In the sixties it was the Velvet Underground. In the seventies it was Big Star. In the eighties it was the Pixies. In the nineties it was anybody who wasn’t called ‘Pearl Jam’ and in the two-thousands it was, possibly early Foo Fighters or someone?” The phone wrote: “60s it was the velvet underground in the 70s it will take star in the 80s with the pink in the 90s that anybody wasn’t appropriate pear would you thousand was probably the poop but.” Almost went with that.