“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.

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