“The government just issued an Orange Alert, which again means… nothing.” – Kent Brockman

Been meaning to write for a while.  For what it’s worth part of the reason I haven’t is WordPress has made some changes I don’t like and they’re pushing me to add stuff I flat-out WON’T because this isn’t designed to be a monetized blog…but that’s all creator/owner nonsense that shouldn’t impact anyone but me.  Let it be known that unless you see me specifically mention it, no ad you ever see on the blog is endorsed by me and you shouldn’t fucking click it.

That said…let’s do an everything/nothing post…  Simpsons quote in the title, etc…

  1. We had an eclipse here.  About half the country had an eclipse, in fact.  I didn’t watch it.  Wasn’t interested.  Absolutely every picture I’ve seen looks the same (except, conveniently, the ones from NASA or the ones where somebody fucked up and something artsy happened by accident) so I feel like I’ve seen it, even though I didn’t. I spent most of the day irritated at the businesses that closed for it; particularly at the place I’d planned to go for lunch.  Which closed at noon, with the eclipse more than an hour away.  But I digress…  Hope those who found it mystical (although I’d debate the magic of anything we can accurately predict down to the second) were happy with whatever they saw in it.  I opted to keep staring at my work computer screen.
  2. I’ve started up the podcast I was talking about a couple of posts ago.  It’s going pretty well!  Good amount of listens/downloads.  It’s going a little better than I was anticipating, so that’s nice, especially if it keeps growing.  Go give it a listen.  The Empty Checking blog can be found at http://derekbrink.blogspot.com. Or if you’d prefer to listen to it direct from the host, the no-frills SoundCloud posts can be found at http://soundcloud.com/emptychecking.  I’m having fun with it, and I hope you are too…  New posts every Thursday!  Probably!
  3. One of the things I talked about in brief on the first episode of Empty Checking was the death of Glen Campbell.  He was great.  Not just a country singer, but also a member of the Wrecking Crew, having played on even the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album.  A great musician and by all accounts a great guy.  I’ve got a decent amount of his music, but with 60+ albums to his name, I’ve barely made a dent.  Big loss to the music world.
  4. Then this week Jerry Lewis died.  I was VERY sad to learn that (although it can’t really be called “unexpected” since he was in his 90s).  I’ve been a big Jerry Lewis fan for a very long time and in the past I’ve been an MDA contributor because of his telethon.  I’ll be talking about him on Empty Checking this weekend in long-form.
  5. Also on the podcast (this is getting dangerously close to just being a promo spot, but seriously, listen to the damn thing!) I updated my thoughts on the new Doctor Who.  In a previous post I said I would be hesitant to see a female Doctor.  Wanted to update my thoughts in writing here in addition to what I said on the podcast…  While I still have reservations about what a female Doctor might mean long-term for the show’s ratings and while I still believe it’s a transparent PC publicity stunt (that could VERY easily backfire)…I like the casting choice.  I’m very familiar with Jodie Whittaker from her work on Broadchurch (which stars pretty much the entire fucking cast of Doctor Who past and future).  She’s great.  If anyone can pull it off, it’ll be her.  I’ve gone from hesitant but still loyal to kinda excited, but still hesitant, and still loyal.  So that’s improvement.  🙂  Assuming it’s well helmed by the new crew, I’m expecting to be completely won over in the first episode.  We’ll see!
  6. Been grumpy lately.  It’s partly because I’ve recently hung out with people I used to go to church with and I miss them and I miss that church and I haven’t felt motivated to do too much about finding a new one.  I’ve been sleeping in most Sundays.  I wish my prior church would start some service it makes sense for me to attend…but they aren’t doing that.  So I’ll just be grumpy when I see the people I never see anymore.  Y’know…the hardest part about that is that I don’t get invited to much stuff anymore…  When you’re a member of a church, they say you’re “family.”  But find yourself unable to attend a service and suddenly you’re acquaintances at best.  The friend circle that regularly gets together outside of church services stops texting you, you don’t get asked to come along to special events, and Facebook sends you reminders of how easily you lifted out with their daily “On this Day” feature…  And that sucks, man.  There are people I’d have helped move bodies two years ago that I’m probably never going to see again because of one stupid fucking time-change.  And I’ve been harping on it all this time.  I just don’t fit in most churches…I’d found the one where I did and finding another one is like looking for a unicorn in a sewer.  But I’ll shut up about it now.
  7. Haven’t done a damn thing on the new record.  I’ve been focusing all my energy over the last two weeks on–you guessed it–the podcast.
  8. Been watching 30 Rock on Netflix.  It’s fine…but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything during the times where I stop paying attention.  Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer are both funny as hell though, so they’re keeping me in it.
  9. In case you’ve not noticed there’s been more racial conflict in the country.  I’ve considered writing a lot of different stuff about it. A lot of my thoughts have been randomly and abruptly tweeted–the empty void of Twitter is pretty much where that stuff belongs.
    Long story short…  I see why people want to tear down Confederate statues and I think their hearts are in the right place…however a lot of Black people I know think it’s a wasted gesture that’s just causing violence and Nazi rallies and that the money could be better spent funding inner city schools.  I have trouble disagreeing with that.  Shit, most of us wouldn’t know where those statues WERE if not for the protests over them coming down.  But that’s irrelevant…
    The violence in Charlottesville was reprehensible, of course.  (Most of us wouldn’t know where that town was either…)  There’s just no excuse for killing in the name of “pride.”  And there’s no excuse for beating a man for the color of his skin.  And there’s no excuse for not arresting every fucking ONE of those racist sons of bitches for using hate speech intended to incite violence.  BLM protesters get arrested…usually those protests aren’t violent until the cops show up.  The milk-toast cops who didn’t swing one baton or fire one gas canister at the Nazi rally…
    Y’know…I’ve been a lefty a long time and again, I think a lot of people MEAN well…but I’ve been a little embarrassed that our response to Charlottesville has largely been a cry of, “THERE’S A NEW CIVIL WAR COMING!!!”  There isn’t…no one’s funding it, no one’s leading it, no one’s succeeding, and no one’s going to be able to have the military presence to stand against their own country’s military.  It isn’t a war unless you’re able to fund a war.  It just isn’t.  But if it were, you’d know you were on the right side if you beat the fuck out of a Nazi.  And those idiots are so mind-numbingly fucking stupid that they don’t even have the sense to wear hoods like the KKK.  (You’d also be right to beat the fuck out of a Klan member, were it war.)
    And on that same note, the division between the left and the others on the FAR left is stupid.  So is the division between the left and the right on this particular subject–because frankly I don’t think there IS a division in general.  “Racism is bad” is an almost universal thought and the people on the right are disgusted to have the racists using their brand to speak their garbage…  And I know there’s a racism of ignorance at play too.  I know a lot of people have racist attitudes, but would be shocked and offended to be CALLED racists…but that’s not who we’re fighting.  We’re fighting ACTIVE racists…and even those who don’t see their own racist attitudes hate the supremacists.  The left should be joining the right in condemning the racist minority (albeit emboldened by Tr*mp) instead of trying to make it all about ourselves.  Yeah, fight ’em on healthcare…but when the right is disowning racists, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  And we’ve got a lot more friends than the celebrities we’re listening to on twitter are allowing us to believe.  Plug into your own thoughts…talk to your own friends and acquaintences…stop listening to the media who’re only interested in creating the next bloody story and think for your damn self.  You’ll find some common ground to stand on.
    So that’s jumbled…but those are my thoughts.  It boils down to just fucking STOP it and treat people like people.  Unless they’re Nazis.  Fuck those guys.

That got long…so that’s it.  Go listen to the podcast.  Or make dinner.  Or go to bed.  Or go to work.  I don’t know when you’re reading this.

————

Current Listening:

  • Glen Campbell – Ghost on the Canvas
  • Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven?
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Processing What I Wish I’d Known at the Time

I don’t know if there’s a “trigger warning” on this post or not…but I’m going to talk about rape in it.  And I will also be using some very strong language–because this sort of thing is the time and place for it.  So know that going in…

Brief pause so you can consider if you want to keep reading or not…

Okay.

This weekend a very brave, close friend of mine went public with her story of being raped by a former “boyfriend” in college.  (Part one is herePart two is here.)  And even though I’m posting those links, I’m going to be using pronouns instead of names in this post.  I’m not sure how much is appropriate to say in my own post, so I’m going to at least not use names…  And I’m not going to soften it by calling it “sexual assault” or whatever.  Rape is rape and we need to keep calling it that.

I had no inkling that my friend had been through this, although I knew her well at the time that it happened and had even made small talk on a couple of occasions with the “boyfriend” in question. In fact, I can see his face in my mind right now as I’m writing this…  This entire weekend I’ve been thinking about what I missed, when I missed it, and when I should have known better.  The entire weekend, I’ve been thinking about the fact that if I’d even suspected that after he shot the breeze with me in the Library, he went off and raped my friend, I’d be in prison right now for what I’d have done to him.  I don’t know what happened to him after she (thank Christ) got him out of her life.  I’m not sure I’ve even thought about him since then, and it’s been about a decade.  But right now I hope the motherfucker is dead and no one cared enough to look for him.  If I could say one thing to the cocksucker, I’d want it to be the last thing he ever heard: “Jesus does not love you and God never knew your name.  No one will ever miss you.”

But I digress.

My friend was very brave in sharing her story.  But it took her 10 years.  Ten years ago, I was hoping my church elders didn’t figure out that I drank and cussed in my private life, otherwise I’d have a really awkward conversation…  At that same time, my friend wasn’t sure she could tell the people close to her that she’d been raped.  I know that you can only know what you know…but I’ve felt a deep mix of shame and embarrassment over the past couple of days.  Not only did I miss that someone I care about was going through what is probably the worst thing that’s ever going to happen to her…but when I heard they “broke up” I think I even said, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”  I feel sick thinking about those words.

I’ve e-mailed back and forth a little with my friend since reading her blog post. One of the things I’m grateful for is that her story doesn’t end 10 years ago.  She found a great guy to marry and they’ve got kids and everything now.  I’ve expressed a lot of what’s above in my e-mails to her, plus some other stuff that I’m not going to be printing here.  I’m proud of her for sharing.  I’d be proud of her if this hadn’t ever happened and all she’d done was graduate college and lived a nice life with her husband, too.  But knowing that courage grew from fear…she might be the strongest person I know.

I’d have been sad and angry about what happened regardless of when it transpired.  But I’m struggling hard with the fact that it was during a time where I saw my friend at least weekly; usually more often than that.  I don’t know if I could have stopped anything.  But I wish like hell I’d had my eyes open enough to at least suspect something and say, “Are you okay?” rather than, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

I’m learning a lot this weekend.  I’ve decided that this is an opportunity for me to learn and grow and open my eyes more often.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to help again.  And I want to make some promises to my female friends and family members.  I want them to know that I am among the MAJORITY of men who find rape disgusting.  That I’m furious at the men who do it, the men who cover it up, and the men who pretend that the victim probably brought it on herself.  I want them to know that inasmuch as it depends on me, I will fight for their safety.  That if they’ve been attacked, I will do what I can to defend them, and if they share their story with me they will be BELIEVED and not blamed.  I want them to know that I take personal responsibility for my actions and if I’ve ever been wrong or treated them inappropriately I am not only sorry–but I MEAN that I’m sorry and I will do everything I can to change…

I want to promise to do better, to be better, and to fight against what’s worse.  I hope others will help me do that.  I don’t know what that means just yet.

I do know that I’ve donated to RAINN this weekend.  If you’d like to do likewise, please visit https://donate.rainn.org/.  People who’ve been hurt need to know that there’s a story after the story, and organizations like RAINN help people find it.  Check them out.  But be forewarned…donating to a charity doesn’t take away the pain of knowing what you missed.  It’s just something you can do.

Thanks for your time in reading this post.  I have a lot of internal processing to do.  Probably a lot of people do…I just happen to think out loud.

 

Stuff I’m Working On

Like the title says…here are some updates/announcements about stuff I’m working on…

  1. A couple months ago, a friend started a blog about pro-wrestling.  We were talking about maybe me writing some contributions for it, mostly write-ups of my memories of old angles, Pay-Per-Views, etc…  Stuff that I liked as a kid/teen that maybe a modern audience didn’t see live.  Then he stopped writing the blog.  Don’t know why; haven’t discussed it…  But I liked the idea and I still want to do it.  So occasionally, I’ll be posting those pieces here.  I’ll be calling those posts “Wrestling With My Memories” and they’ll start coming pretty soon.  I’ve got a big list of stuff to write about, and maybe it’ll get me posting more frequently.
  2. As you’re all aware, I’m working on an album for early 2018 called “It Could Be Worse.”  I’ve been on pause with it for the last few weeks.  Things got busy and I need to be in the mood to do vocal takes.  It’ll get done.  Just need to get off my butt.  Right now, the mic stands are out in my car following my last gig with Mike Feldman last weekend…so that’s where we are in the process.  🙂
  3. I’m also going to be bringing back my old podcast soon.  I was doing “Empty Checking” on a weekly or every-other-weekly basis for about a year.  I stopped for a few reasons.  In part, I got a roommate and it got hard to find a quiet hour to talk into a microphone about the shit I bought. But I also got a little burnt out on it.  And I stopped buying comic books, which was making up probably 90% of the podcast at the time.  But I liked doing it and I’m living alone again…so why not?  It’ll be a different experience this time.  Few if any comics.  Mostly music.  And I’m looking into hosting options…the one I was using at the time was okay, but I think I can do better.  I’m actually considering doing the whole thing on YouTube and just posting the videos in the blog.  And there will probably be a *slight* redesign of that blog just to mark the change. We shall see…  As soon as I’ve got a host figured out, I’ll start promoting it here.
  4. I’m also outlining my NEXT musical project.  Yes, I know the first one isn’t done.  But I’ve got a bunch of oddball, proggy songs that’ve been looking for a home for years…so I’m stitching them together.  No idea on a release date for that.  Late next year?  We’ll see…  But I’ve realized that I’ve got one–ONE–ridiculous, pretentious-assed prog record in me, so I’m working on it.  My default is the rock meets folk meets country meets punk thing I’ve always done…  But prog and heavier music have always been a big part of my life, and I want to make my own, humble contribution to the genre…finally..  The working title is “Complete Departure.”  Because it would be–it won’t fit with anything else I’ve ever done.  But, of course, that title is subject to change.  It’s an ambitious project.  And it might even get scrapped as I freak out about it while recording…but if I don’t talk about it, I won’t think about it…so here we are.
  5. The *other* thing I’m working on is losing some goddamn weight.  I’ve been “heavy” for a few years now and I’m willing to accept that I’m not going to get back to “thin.”  But lately, it’s been a number I’m just not comfortable with anymore.  So I’m going to do something about it.  I’m pricing exercise bikes.  So far, I’m only short by the cost of one exercise bike.  Also when I first wrote this, I misspelled “exercise.”  So that bodes well.

And that’s the stuff I’m working on.  Couple more small bullet points below…but wanted to do a post just about upcoming projects, rather than my standard “everything/nothing” posts.

Current Listening:

  • I’ve been getting in to Dinosaur Jr.  Never really listened to them before now.  Wow.  This band is where “grunge” came from in the 90s and most of the kids in flannel had no idea.  A lot of them probably still don’t.  Enjoying the hell out of them.  Present favorite album is “Without A Sound.”
  • Also been listening to solo J Mascis (the front-man of Dinosaur Jr).  He’s great as an acoustic solo artist.  The “Tied to a Star” album is a gem that I’ve overlooked for FAR too long.
  • Manchester Orchestra – “A Black Mile to the Surface”  (aka – “A Bad Title for a Great Album”) – GREAT release.  Took me three listens, but this thing’s an epic and it’s worth every listen.

Recent Reading:

  • I read George Saunders’ novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” about three weeks ago and it’s still with me.  I’ve been wanting to share about it.  It’s a quick read.  Think it only took me like three sittings.  It’s written almost like a play in quickly attributed dialogue.  It’s about the death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son Willie.  What is known in real-life history is that Abraham Lincoln visited his son’s tomb after he was interred and held the lifeless body in his arms for a while–a vision of Lincoln most people probably do not call to mind when he is mentioned.  Saunders took that concept and ran with it.  “Bardo” dives deep into the spirit world and examines what the residents of the graveyard must’ve thought of it…but it’s so much more than a ghost story.  The book is an examination of grief and while yes, it helps to know a ***little*** about the history, it’s largely unnecessary.  The Lincolns are just a backdrop for Saunders’ greater points about death, mourning, and giving the dead permission to die while the living gain permission to live.  It’s chilling, moving, and stunning.  You definitely could do worse than to make this the next thing you read.

And that’s it.  Goodnight.