“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  I’ve played too many gigs where I could’ve been replaced by a boom-box.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.

The SECOND Most Responsible Irresponsible Decision I’ve Ever Made

I have come to accept that Lemmy is dead and he won’t be coming back.  I’m not happy about it, but I’ve accepted it…

…so somebody has to play a Rickenbacker bass.

In Case
None of the pictures are going to do it justice.  This one least of all.

 

I picked up a Ric 360 just after Thanksgiving last year, as long-time readers should remember.  (Long-time readers should probably also get out more…but I do love you.)  At that time I had no intention of buying a Ric bass to go with it.  I wasn’t entertaining the idea at all, even in the weeks right after Lemmy died–although I did think it would be cool.  So how did this happen?

I started listening to a lot of progressive rock.  No, really.  That was the motivation.  I started listening to Yes in spades, and Chris Squire always played Rickenbackers.  And so did Geddy Lee (of Rush) for a long time.  Les Claypool has been known to wield a Ric.  John Deacon, sometimes.  Once in a while you’d see Entwistle with one.  Of course, McCartney before he landed on the viola-shaped bass.  Tommy Stinson of the Replacements…Cliff Burton of Metallica…Roger Waters when he wasn’t playing a Fender…and of course Lemmy…  There are all these bass players I’ve looked up to forever that played Rics. (Most of them played the 4001 model, while mine is a 4003–but who cares? I just said “mine!”)

…but it starts with Chris Squire.  The first time I saw a Ric was in Squire’s hands–my bass teacher had a Ric-brand promotional picture of Chris Squire on the wall of our lesson room.  The first time I heard a bass tone and thought, “how did he get that punch and that sustain at the same time???” it was Chris Squire on “Heart of the Sunrise.”  And the first time I priced one and thought, “Yeah…right…” it was because I was on a Yes kick.  And then I got older, cared more about who played what, and discovered all the above names…perhaps or maybe DEFINITELY most associated with the instrument being Lemmy Kilmister.  Chris Squire died in 2015 (and I didn’t get that sad about it until recently–more on that in a moment).  So did Lemmy.  This is at least in part in tribute to two of my heroes. Disparate as they may be.

The real story here though is why I recently started listening to Yes in the first place.  I have a friend who does some writing for local publications.  (I’m not going to use his name, because I didn’t ask his permission.)  He gets to interview cool rock stars who come through and sometimes he asks his Facebook friends (like myself) for questions.  He had an interview with Jon Anderson of Yes scheduled, and I had a question and also a comment…  I wasn’t going to share this publically because it was nice that it was just my own little story for a while…but maybe it’s nicer when it’s shared.

I asked something to the effect of “In 1993 I saw Yes and you said you always loved playing “All Good People.” Is that still true?”  But then I also said that I just wanted to thank him for something.  In 1994, Yes’ “Talk” album was a regular listen for me.  On the night my mom died, I was listening to “I Am Waiting” off of that record over and over again, and it is quite probably the last song she ever heard while she was alive.  And that’s a sad memory, but it’s also kind of a sweet one, and I wanted to relay my thanks to Jon Anderson for that because it’s nice that there was still something beautiful in the room when something else that was terrible happened.  My friend relayed that story and reported back to me that Anderson appreciated it and said he’d think about it when he played the song on an upcoming tour.  I don’t know if it really stuck with him or not, but that was really cool to hear.

After that, I immediately started listening to Yes in earnest for the first time in several years.  Of course the first two songs I listened to were “All Good People” and “I Am Waiting.”  But it snowballed…  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I picked up a boxed set of their first 12 studio albums and I’ve been digging the hell out of it.  The whole time thinking, “No…but really…how DID he get that punch but also that sustain???”  And through it I realized I never really mourned Chris Squire, who was a huge influence to me in my formative years as a bass player.  For the past few years I’ve been on serious punk, metal, and country kicks, respectively…and it just took some time for me to get back around to prog, man…  And now that I am, yeah, it sucks that Chris Squire died, and I overlooked that at the time.

Today, after driving to work with “Tales from Topographic Oceans” playing on my stereo, I looked at my bank account, and as luck had it, I had some extra money.  (I won’t go in to where it came from.  It’s nothing sordid–it’d just come across as bragging and this whole post is close enough to that as it is.)  I’d previously glanced at the prices on used, vintage Rics and figured why not go to my local Guitar Center and see if they had one?  They did have one…but the problem was it was new, not used.  I asked to play it anyway, and spent about a half-hour checking it out.  Even though it was a **little** more money than I had in mind (but not much more) I knew I was in love before I even made it to the counter.  I was already texting my dad and brother about it, while I was waiting in line.

headstock
You don’t always get to have a photo from the first time you met…but here it is…

Buying this bass feels great from an “I’ve finally got one!” standpoint, sure…and I’m not going to pretend that it was all reasons of seeking closure that made me buy it.  I largely bought it because–dammit–I COULD.  But there’s a little bit of closure there too.  There’s a little bit of “For Lemmy.”  There’s a little bit of “For Chris.”  And yeah–I’m going to go there–there’s a LITTLE bit of “For Mom,” what with the Yes connection…  But there’s also a LOT of “for me.”  Because this thing is awesome, and worth every penny.  (Incidentally, it was a few less pennies than the guitar.  And this time I remembered to pressure them in to throwing in a free strap and set of strings to go with it.)  And, hey…always nice to have new friends, isn’t that right, Rickenbacker 360?

both.png
“Yes.” – Pun unintended.

It was a long, weird process to get to the point of buying it, and I’m not sure if sharing it even really went anywhere, or if it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened…but don’t we look happy together?

Rick2
…and the first song I played on it? “Roundabout.”

Maybe you SHOULDN’T ask these on a date…

I get bored easily and I like answering survey questions.  Found a list of questions that were suggested as atypical questions you can ask on a date.  (Original Source.)  I thought that was an interesting idea, and decided I’d pretend I was on a date and being asked these questions.  So…this is what it’s like to date me.  Buckle in.

  1. Who inspires you? Who do you aspire to be like?
    I don’t know that those are the same thing.  When someone says “inspires,” I think in artistic terms.  I’d love to write songs like Pete Townshend or David Bowie.  Or to write like Vonnegut or Salinger.  But ASPIRE…  Who would I like to be like?  It’s mostly personal friends…  That’s kind of why you choose each other, I think.  I’d like to be as strong as one friend, as smart as another, as handsome as a third…  I’d give names, but let’s not entrap anybody.  🙂
  2. What was the last book you read without skipping through anything?
    Dennis Lehane’s “Sacred.”  Should be reading “Gone Baby Gone” this weekend, too.
  3. What is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it?
    Hmm…this is a weird date, but if that’s what you’re into, who am I to judge?  I have various and sundry scars and marks that don’t seem to want to fade…  I’m not sure any of them are very weird.  Got one on my knee from a car accident where I probably should’ve gotten stitches but thought it’d be fine with a Band-Aid.  But I think that’s as close as I can come to “weird.”
  4. What is the most random thing you’ve ever watched all the way through on Netflix?
    I don’t have a Netflix account, but my former roommate did.  I binge-watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  But otherwise I think my viewing was pretty tame in the times I used it.  I watched some of season 4 of Arrested Development with some friends once, not having seen the rest of the show in order…so I was a little lost and uninterested…but I don’t think that counts.
  5. If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
    I’d like to pick the day…but probably Cate Blanchett or somebody just to see if stunningly pretty people care about being that pretty.  Or Elvis on a fried-baloney day for the exact opposite reason.
  6. Do you believe in ghosts?
    Not really.  I mean I believe in an afterlife–Heaven, Hell, and all that–but hauntings and such…?  I have my doubts.  I’d like to think the dead have better things to do.  I wouldn’t tempt fate by screwing around trying to hold a séance or anything, but I am highly skeptical of anybody who’s got their hands on a weegie board.  I haven’t encountered any “haunting” stories that don’t have some sort of rational explanation, if you look for it.  I’m much more afraid of real people than I am of intangible spirits.
  7. Shark diving, bungee jumping, or sky diving?
    No, no, and no.  If that was what you had in mind for the second date, it’s been nice having dinner with you, but we probably won’t work out. You could maybe talk me in to one or another over time…but let’s not rush this thing.
  8. Which would be harder for you to give up: coffee or alcohol?
    I already quit drinking alcohol three years ago.  I drink coffee like a fish.  Well…like a fish who swims in coffee.  Which would probably kill the fish.  But then so would alcohol.
  9. How did you meet your best friend?
    I don’t remember the specific event.  I know that one day I realized we were into a lot of the same music and knew I’d like to get to know him better…but we’d definitely met before that.  I often don’t remember the first time I met someone.  We met many years before we were best friends, lost track for a while, and circled back into each other’s lives through a combination of bumping into one another at a wake and Facebook.  And I’m not sure either of us really decided to be the other’s best friend–we both just kind of realized it.  He might tell the story a little differently though–he’s probably got it in a better order than I do.  In general, he’s better organized.  🙂
  10. Do you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth?
    Both.  I love chocolate and ice cream and all that, but also enjoy a good pretzel or potato chip.  I’m a fat guy.  I find joy in a lot of places.
  11. What is something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to?
    The human emotion of love.  Or getting a tattoo.  Let’s say the tattoo.  I’m afraid of needles…but I’ve always wanted one.
  12. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
    I’m pretty proud of a couple of my records and the work behind them.  (As well as a couple of albums I’ve played on for other artists.)  I get proud about stuff I’ve done at work sometimes too, but I’ll usually fuck something up later that afternoon and end up staying humble.  Proud of my musical collection and knowledge…  And there’s a handful of blog posts or other writings I’ve done that I’m pretty pleased with.
  13. If you were going to go to the movies alone, what would be the perfect film for you to watch by yourself?
    Probably a musical biopic.  Something like a Love & Mercy or even Hi Fidelity.  I recently was trying to make time to go see I Saw the Light, but there wasn’t a showtime when I could go.  But I’m more likely to watch a movie at home than go to the theatre.
  14. What is your favorite Wikipedia article? (Shuddup. Everyone has one.)
    Believe it or not, I don’t have one.  And don’t tell me to shuddup.  I use Wikipedia a lot, and when I do, I park on a page for a while.  Usually a band discography or biographical info…but I don’t have any bookmarked or anything.  Do people actually do that?  Like you’ve got a favorite Wiki page?
  15. What is your favorite physical attribute about yourself?
    I really don’t have one.  Don’t get me wrong, imaginary girl I’m on a date with, I have my vanity issues…but I don’t really know what my best features are or spend time looking in the mirror thinking, “Yes…THAT!”  I just try to look like me. If anything I’m more interested in covering stuff up than showing it off.
  16. Tell me about the best vacation you’ve ever taken.
    Haven’t taken a ton of vacations.  I can’t remember any family trips except to the family farm in Arkansas.  But those trips were lovely.  I’d like to think that even if we’d gone to Disney or Paris or Oz, I’d still talk about loving walking around the farm.
  17. Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?
    I will typically go to a record store or book store.  Maybe a cafe or someplace to eat.  I like shopping a lot, so I’m likely to go and spend money in my free time.  I’ve had to try to be intentional about GOING HOME in recent years, in fact!  If I weren’t careful, I’d spend entire paychecks at Barnes & Noble.
  18. What is one of the weirdest things you used to do as a teenager?
    I was in a band.  EVERYTHING I did as a teenager was weird!
  19. Gin, vodka, or tequila?
    Well, as I said, I don’t drink…but I did used to enjoy the occasional tequila shot. Prefered whiskey over all of them, though.
  20. What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you?
    At work, it’s that it’s my job–you just DO your job, man.  As a musician, the motivation is usually just to work through whatever I’m writing about or whatever I’m going through as a person.  Everything else is a variant of “trying to have fun.”
  21. In your opinion, what is the best Disney movie to come out since Disney’s Golden Age?
    I have no idea when the “golden age” was supposed to be…so I’m going to say Lion King.  Is that fair, or is that supposed to be in the “golden age?”  I was a Bugs Bunny guy, not really a Disney guy.
  22. What kind of phone was your first cell phone?
    I’m going to say it was a Nokia, but I’m not 100%.
  23. What did you love most about the place you grew up? What about it did you love the least?
    Well, it was St. Louis and I’m still here, so it’s a little bit of a tough question.  I guess I’ve stayed because we’ve got a little bit of everything within a half-hour drive.  You can find urban bustle, urban violence, urban commerce, urban revitalization, suburban seclusion, suburban community, suburban small business, rural solitude, and rural collapse all within the same afternoon if you do it right.  Few other places in the country offer that kind of variety.  And all my stuff is here, so that’s convenient.  The stuff I don’t like boils down to the city feeling a little like it has given up.  Like any time we have hope, we shoot Michael Brown and pretend it was all in a day’s work.  And if you try to talk about it, you just fight–you don’t talk.  The divide in this town is deep over a lot of things–not just race…  And I sometimes feel like not only will it not ever get better; we don’t even WANT it to.
  24. What trajectory are you hoping to push yourself onto? Where do you want to head?
    I’m a company man.  I’ll probably stay at this job until they tell me otherwise and try to go as far with it as they’ll let me.  I’d love for the musical career to finally go somewhere, but even if/when it doesn’t, I’ll still do it.  I’d like to push myself to actually write something for publication someday too.  And even though I’m pushing my way toward 40, there’s still the part of me that wouldn’t mind being in a serious, lasting relationship.  Although I hope saying that doesn’t add any unnecessary pressure to this imaginary date.  Since it’s my imagination, I’m going to imagine that you’re blushing.
  25. What is your most bizarre talent?
    I don’t know.  Probably something with sandwiches.
  26. Is there a documentary or book that really changed the way you thought about something?
    Oh, several.  I try to learn something from everything I read.  Brennan Manning had a big impact on me though–especially The Ragamuffin Gospel.  And I don’t watch a ton of documentaries…but Bowling for Columbine made me think differently about a lot of stuff at the time it was out.
  27. What are three albums (soundtracks or compilations don’t count) that really define you or have shaped you as a person?
    Oh God…only THREE???  The Who’s “Quadrophenia.”  Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”  Neil Young’s “Harvest.”  But there are dozens more.  Those three just came to mind–they’re some of my all-time favorites.  (“Quadrophenia” would be in first place on any list, no matter how much time I put into thinking about it.)
  28. Who was someone you really looked up to when you were little — someone you considered to be a mentor?
    Like any kid, I wanted to spend a lot of time with my dad and my brother.  So I did.
  29. What’s your favorite cheesy pick-up line? Have you ever used it for real?
    I don’t use pick-up lines normally.  I get to know the PERSON and if she seems like someone I’d like to spend more time with, I’ll try to do that.  If she seems to like spending time with me, I’ll ask her if she’d like to spend some time alone together, maybe at a restaurant or coffee shop, and we’ll see what happens from there.  Although, I must say, it’s weird that you fell for the old “I seem to have lost my phone number, can I have yours?” line.  You’re pretty gullible, aren’t you, lady?
  30. Who is a character from a TV show or a book that you’ve always resonated with?
    I hate to sound like a pretentious douchebag…but Holden Caufield from “Catcher in the Rye,” if we’re talking about books.  Offended by hypocrisy, but embodying it in my own life…  I get that…  Of course, also Rob from Hi Fidelity, too…  From TV, there are a few…but I mostly watch comedies and I like to think I’m less inept than some of those guys.  Cory from “Boy Meets World,” Ted from “How I Met Your Mother” (before the last season killed my enjoyment of the show forever), and even Frasier from “Frasier” come to mind in varying degrees though.
  31. Can I get you another drink?
    You don’t listen, do you? I mean this first shot of tequila is just SITTING here…

Okay.  Now…marry me.

————

Current Listening:

  • Steven Wilson – “The Raven That Refused to Sing,” “Grace for Drowning,” and “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”
  • Porcupine Tree – “In Absentia” and “The Incident”
  • Dream Theater – Self Titled
  • Yes – Just a shit-ton of Yes.

“Go out on a Tuesday? Who am I, Charlie Sheen?” – Marge Simpson

It’s 11:00 at night, and I’ve just realized that the reason I couldn’t get my work laptop to work from home is that I’m an idiot and I wasn’t logging on to my own wireless Internet.  So I’m blogging.  Let’s put a Simpsons quote up there and do a random post of stuff I’ve been meaning to write about for a while.

  1. I went to a wake for an old friend a couple weeks ago.  Mike Anderson was a good guy.  As I said to his family, “we didn’t talk a lot, but every time we did, I walked away smiling.”  He’s another one who went out too young.  Everybody stop doing that.
  2. Donald Trump still scares the shit out of me.
  3. A couple weeks back, I woke up with the Yes song “I’ve Seen All Good People” randomly stuck in my head. As a result, I’ve fallen down a deep Prog hole.  As a birthday present to myself (and using an Amazon gift card) I picked up a boxed set of Yes’ first 12 studio albums and have been slowly working my way through that.  I also re-discovered an album from 2013 that I somewhat overlooked at the time.  I dug up Steven Wilson’s “The Raven That Refused to Sing.”  I liked it at the time…but my album of the year was Jason Isbell’s “Southeastern” so I wasn’t really in a Prog place at the time and didn’t fully absorb it.  I’m now deeply immersed and loving it.  The title track is beautiful.  And I’m going to HAVE to track down 2015’s “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” before too long.  Wilson is great–as I should’ve known since I already liked his band Porcupine Tree before his solo career.  Anyway… Progressive rock is awesome and you should all go to the nearest record store and buy some of it.
  4. Just celebrated 7 Years at my job on May 18.  That’s like one dog year!  Or something…  Anyway, glad they’ve kept me around and been good to me.
  5. I’ve been actively reading Dennis Lehane books.  I’m about to start “Gone Baby Gone,” which I got for my birthday.  (Probably going to read it over the upcoming weekend so I can just marathon it.)  Read “A Drink Before the War,” “Darkness, Take My Hand,” and “Sacred.”  First one was my favorite so far.  The second one stuck with me the hardest and left some unshakable images in my head, and the third was okay, not great–but I’m still glad I read it.  “Gone Baby Gone” was made into a movie, so I’ll probably be okay with it.  It had Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman in it.
  6. Speaking of movies, I saw “Elvis & Nixon” with my dad on Mother’s Day.  (What? It’s not weird. Both our moms are dead.)  It was fun.  The actor that played Elvis was a somewhat unusual choice…but Kevin Spacey as Nixon was more than worth the price of the ticket.  It’s not going to be anywhere near the running for best picture, but it was lighthearted and fun and I’d watch it again.  Probably has a hell of a director’s commentary.
  7. My brother and I have continued work on his solo record.  I like the songs he’s written a lot–more than one serious ear-worm on the album.  And I’ve had a lot of fun playing on it.  I think I’ve written it here before, but in case I haven’t…  This is some of the best guitar work of my entire career.  I’m excited for everybody to hear it!  But first we’ll need to record those pesky drums!
  8. On this past Thursday, I broke a tooth.  Not the first time that’s happened…but it was enough to make me go to the dentist today.  He said the word “extraction” and said it applied to five of the teeth in my head.  Kind of a bummer.  Haven’t started pulling them yet though.  Repaired the one I broke last week and have an appointment to fill in some others next week.  Then we’ll see where we stand financially and get serious about the really bad stuff.  I’m nervous about that.  Mostly financially…but also I’ve never had a tooth pulled before, and for at least a couple of them it’ll take an oral surgeon instead of my normal dentist, so that’s even worse.  I don’t trust doctors easily (which means the dentist I presently use is a VERY good dentist)…  But also, I bought a super-fucking-expensive guitar last year, man…  I don’t wanna spend this kind of money on my teeth now.  I’m not trying to win a beauty contest–I just wanna chew!  🙂
  9. On May 27, I celebrated 3 years of sobriety.  I don’t talk about the reasons I quit too often, but I’m glad I did.  Everybody else is free to drink whatever they want to, and I’ll be glad to be your ride home.  But I had my reasons, and I’m still content to stand by them, until some girl tricks me into drinking wine with her and also smoking.
  10. It was my 36th birthday on May 29.  Had a good time with family and hearing from friends.  Got some really nice gifts.  The main one I’ve spent time with so far is the boxed set of the complete “Boy Meets World.”  It aired from 1993-2000.  So I was kind of the target audience at the time.  It’s one of those shows that’s stuck with me.  And with the launch in recent years of the spinoff series “Girl Meets World,” I’m glad to learn I’m not alone in that.  (The new show is great too, but I sometimes feel weird being 36 and watching a show about a preteen/teenaged girl.)  I’ve just been sitting, watching episode after episode for the past few days.  Enjoying it a lot.  The show is really life-affirming and fun, and that’s a nice change from the music I listen to…
  11. Got some gigs coming up with The Michael Feldman Group on June 24-25.  I have no idea where.  I’ll find out and let you know!

And that’s it for this round.  Hope to blog at you again soon.