Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Week Until Christmas

It's been said that the holiday season (which I can only assume means the time between preparation for Thanksgiving and January 1) can be a depressing one for a great deal of people, for many reasons. As it goes with nearly all my entries, I'm going to go stream-of-consciousness on a simple idea and then see where it takes us.

I find myself a little blue right now.  I don't know if it's work, the home life, or what, but I find myself a bit more detached than usual.  When one is live-and-let-live, this is bound to happen. I've experienced some letdowns over the last couple of years, as well as some disappointments after some long-term efforts.  While these disappointments are specific, the blue feeling is quite vague.  It's sort of like a general malaise.  I find myself, becoming over the years, more lethargic as well as more nihilistic. 

My faith and hopes can, to some degree, keep the nihilism at bay, but I've walked this walk before.  As anyone who has made it through their 20's knows, there are letdowns in life.  And I always thought that my 30's would be a wonderland that would take me from that inexperienced sentiment of youth to a dignified and wiser 40.  In many ways that has been the case.  Buying a house, finding a career, raising a child. But there are other things.  This goes for Jamie too.  Career advancement for both of us has seemingly hit a ceiling, in terms of actually getting anywhere with it.  Together, we've spent a collective three years chasing ghosts and bullshit, with nothing to show but a more nuanced resume and numerous attempts and numerous rejection emails.

Personally, I feel stuck. Jamie feels stuck.  What is the point if there's no silver lining?  On top of this, there's personal drama among our peers that we are incapable of solving.  It is becoming unsettling after so long, but not exactly unexpected.  Once a person reaches a certain age, it's inevitable that routine takes over and hopes and dreams take a spot in the backseat of whatever one happens to be driving. It's all the same and it all sucks.  The fairytales have relegated themselves to straight-to-DVD releases that are largely ignored, becoming $5 whiffs of a pretend happy ending stuck in a bin at Wal-Mart.  And while we pore over them, they end up back in the bin after a quick look, discarded because we need another gallon of 2% milk.

On the bright side, we will be doing our share of Christmas shopping tomorrow.  Somehow I got some gift cards thru earning awards at work and we'll be using those to spread some cheer around. That's one thing we've got going on.  It's going to be a very modest year.  But at least we can do this.  It is a chore, but at the same time it is a labor of love. 

It may be a sad time, but one in which we can share some joy.  And I want to get it right if it's possible.

Honestly, I am bored with life and kinda bummed about it.  There are a few perks, sure, but not a whole lot.  All I care about is having a somewhat happy family and taking it from there.  The people I care about deserve some happiness, and I'll pass along as much as I can.  I just hope the rest of it starts picking up soon.

Until whenever, the blahs are going to rule. Blah. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Goosin' 2: Rejection Boogaloo

So I finally got an email from the place I applied to far away. And of course they said "no." But I'm not mad about it.

It was a standard form-letter rejection sort of thing. Which obviously is ok. It's sorta like playing the lotto. And not winning, duh. Like that ever happens. But... I got a personal response.

I wrote back politely with a "someday I will be ready" sort of thing, which is true. But for now... I'm taking today's circumstances as they are.  If one is trying to take over the world, that one should be ready to move state-to-state.

Anyhow,  I'm thankful for what I have. For now, I'm around good people who want good things to happen. I can live with that...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Waiting For The Dryer To Finish Up

So I'm brainstorming about the whole becoming awesome at life thing... it's not easy. There are two ways to go about any certain thing. There's the proper way, which is usually more expensive, and there's the cross your fingers and hope it sticks way, which is cheaper but carries more risk. For some the proper way isn't an option. I've grown so accustomed to that, occasionally I forget that I can take the proper way. But, that doesn't build character.

I blew 43 bucks on a car radio at a wrecking yard today to find that out. No matter how much jury rigging I do on this damn thing, it seems like I can't get my radio right where it plays cd's.

Did the proper thing a few weeks ago and bit the bullet to get my brakes perfect but I cheaped out on a stereo today and there's no going back.  I don't mind radio stations or learning something about electronics but I failed nevertheless.

Anyway, enough about cars. That's boring. I'm having a great day today otherwise.  I got to strategize with my mom about vacation ideas, went to a dealership to nail down facts, helped a friend using this phone, and got some really great hookups at wrecking yards for non-radio stuff. And helped one Jamie with a party she was invited to.

And I had a few quiet moments this morning to assess my feelings on a lot of stuff. Busy people don't get to do that much.  I've had this inferiority/depression thing going on for a while and it keeps me from being bold or even thoughtful.

I've been hinted at that maybe facing my fears is the answer to all that. Maybe it is. I don't want to show my ass or anything, but I don't mind giving the whole being open and careless thing a try. I've waited for this new car for a long time. Waited for the verdict in my career for a long time. It's awful just sitting around waiting and taking it when I've got this fire burning inside!

I don't want the fire to go out and the ashes shoveled into a bucket with one of those little flat shovels that comes with the fireplace set.

I want to come alive and try this whole American Dream thing out....

But how? That is another thing.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

You Could Shine

I'm feeling the writing bug again tonight.  Before I get started, I would like to request that if you like any of this stuff, you know, you can subscribe.  Just sayin'.

Anyhoo.  As I'm slingin' words tonight, the first thing I'd like to say is Go Cowboys!  I've been a fan since '89... having to listen to games on the radio since they were so awful that year.  Watching them grow and win Super Bowls over the next few years was just something any kid or teenager at the time did in Texas.  If you're not a fan, hey I get it. That's just where I come from.

But that's just an aside.  As a freewrite fan, and someone who enjoys randomness, stream of consciousness blogging is just what I do.  What you are reading is simply transmissions directly from brain to keyboard, and I hope it is good.  There are no topics on my mind right now, it's all just a free flowing sort of thing.

Earlier, I saw an amusing country music video of some guy singing about Hillary Clinton.  It was incredibly shallow and stupid.  Had that song come on during my drive home in really slow traffic, I would have desperately hunted for Christmas music sung by atheists, or perhaps rap music made by apprehensive Mormons.

Just now, I got to thinking about Larry King.  He has a Twitter page, @kingsthings, where he does exactly what I'm doing now, but in 140 character increments.  He's got some really amazing and random pithy thoughts, and I think he uses the format quite well.  Twitter's a weird place.  You start out with The Onion, or maybe Mind Blowing Facts, or '60's Spider Man, and then they retweet a bunch of unrelated stuff, that leads to other related stuff, and you end up with a bizarre Twitter feed.  Such is technology.  It moves fast, you move fast.

On a more serious note, I feel like I'm holding back in ways. I should be pedal to the metal in life but I feel all this hesitation.  Buying a new car was pretty motivating I must admit... but it seems like I'm still stuck in limbo in other areas.  It's like I can't get out of the corner or ahead.  I suppose this is natural, especially being at the age it's important to preserve the things that keep the wheel spinning, but I feel like it's time to stand up and find some kind of way to start kicking ass.

I don't know exactly how to do that, and hopefully I'm not repeating older blog entries here, but I've got to do something ballsy before I'm too complacent to get it right.  I've already outlived some really cool people, and I've been passed up and have slipped on the banana in the MarioKart of life more than once.  What do I gotta do to stand up like a statue and get all Terminator 2 on some shit?

Anyway, philosophical questions for a philosophical life.  I feel weak. Too cautious.  Too apprehensive at every crossroads.  Afraid of being ballsy in a stupid way.  When you're 37, you have to get it right more often than not.  And in some ways I've done pretty well... the big picture as I see it could be better though.

Much is out of my control.  As it goes with anyone.  I guess what I'm leaving you with is the hope I carry around in those few tiny excellent moments... there's a shot at something that doesn't suck the life out of you.  Just be crazy enough, or slick enough, or lucky enough, or yourself enough to find that one talent or quirk you have inside to flip it all upside down.  You could shine.  So could I.  Where's the dang flashlight?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What To Say, What To Say

Now that things have settled a bit, I'm feeling like another freewrite.  I have no idea the direction this could go, which is half the fun.  Currently I'm coming off a fairly slow day at work.  The next couple weeks are going to be very interesting, according to the tea leaves, so I'm getting ready for that.

Randomly, and for no good reason other than a Facebook recipe I noticed a couple weeks ago which slapped me like a train, I've decided to come up with a cookbook, featuring recipes from several people I know.  It's a random hodgepodge so far, which is really nice.  The recipes come from a variety of folks.  People who are good at maybe one or two things in the kitchen like me, all the way up to seasoned chefs like my old friend Nathan.  There will be innovative recipes that break the mold, simple yet awesome throwdowns for say, a Wednesday night no one feels like cooking, and secret concoctions that can be experimented with in different regions.  Not sure how to pigeonhole it yet or theme it, but maybe it won't need that.  We'll see what happens in the coming months.

On a completely different note, I've decided that the news is stupid.  If it's not weather or traffic, it's ridiculous propaganda that serves no purpose except to make people argue.  Duh, shoulda seen this years ago.

And, while I'm switching subjects so quickly, I'd like to note that I came in here in my little "office" computer room the other day and discovered Prince's new album just sitting here among all the other riffraff and whatnots and stuff.  I plan on jamming to that tomorrow.  Jamie said she bought it after he played on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago (which I must admit was a pretty dang good show, he has always been an over the top amazing musician.) So I am totally looking forward to getting my jam on during a busy period tomorrow.

Speaking of music - we have two new radio stations in D/FW.  Since my CD player pooped out in the new ride, I've had to stick with the radio.  Which is OK.  So we have two new Old School Hip Hop stations.  Hot 93.3*** which used to be top 40 pop, and Boom 94.5 which used to be old school R&B.  An improvement on both I suppose.  Where else can you find Biz Markie at 7:30 am, or roll your eyes at Big Pimpin' at 8:15? It's pretty nice.  I rolled up to the parking lot at work last Friday jammin' Baby Got Back.  It was awesome.

You know what's not awesome?  Getting stomach pain at 12:45 am on a freakin' Monday, and not being able to get to sleep.  That happened to me yesterday, and I had to stay home from work.  It was exhaustion, bitters and ginger ale, and picking at Netflix till I had to get to sleep.

But the sleep was nice.  Got healed up and recharged.  It's almost time to recharge again.

With that, I'm gonna go plug myself into the nearest USB sleep module AKA bed. Goodnight!

*** Correction - Hot 93.3 changed format to current hip-hop at 6 pm on the night I wrote this.  Found out the next morning, and I adjusted my presets to take this one off and replace it with 98.7 KLUV, which is currently playing Christmas music.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Goosin'

Disclaimer: There are some names and locations I'm going to modify or omit.  If you'd like to fill them in for the purposes of imagination, please feel free to put that shoe on and lace it up!

Ever feel like you're in a place in life where you just can't move?  Like you're trapped? Or at least, stuck in a routine?  My routine lately has consisted of the everyday stuff, even down to what to get for breakfast and when (a breakfast quesadilla at 8:40 am), when to expect every call, an allotted time to worry about what could be an impending layoff (which didn't even happen.) And, of course, other things to expect right on schedule, such as bills, parking spots, moving desks at work, family events, everything!

So, just a few short weeks ago, a family member who lives nearby asked Jamie this: "If we move several hundred miles away, would you follow us to be close by?"  (This is where that names and locations thing comes in by the way.) Another family member of ours once remarked to me months, maybe over a year ago, that if we packed up and moved, that we would be followed to that location. 

So, it got into my mind that if we moved to this wherever place where the jobs were or whatnot, we'd have company no matter where it was.  But for someone to ask us if we'd do the same, I didn't answer.  It was a secret "I hope so." Then it became "I've thought about this before kinda." Then, I quit putting quotation marks around my thoughts and actually thought deeply about this.

Two days later, I'd done enough scoping around online to get a feel of the area, possible places to move, the logistics of making such a move and what the costs would be.  Just to get away from the routine areas of life. 

I happened upon a job opportunity in this area.  Now, what I do for a living has talents that are generally concentrated in D/FW, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida, among a few other metro areas.  But I found one there and applied for it, just for kicks and giggles.  Jamie's career specialty is also concentrated in certain cities as well, and the place we were looking at isn't known for that.  So that was another exercise in imagination research.

That job application got me thinking deeply. 

I thought of all the changes it would require, the possibility of Jamie and I living in two different places temporarily, the expenses.  I decided after relative boredom in the nuts and bolts of life, it was time to get sharp.  Just thinking about all this, the possibility, the peril, the opportunity, it gave me a goosin' deep down. 

So I went to bed the night I applied... fell asleep fairly quickly, but I was up at 2:30 after a fitful sleep.  It all just showed up at once.  I was like, "What if you don't get a call back from this company and all this deep thought about relocating was for nothing?"  Didn't get much sleep that night. 

Something had stirred up inside that I could no longer ignore. I don't know if it's because I've been "climbing the ladder" in life in order to stay afloat for so many years, or if I've just been stuck in a mindset overall for a long time.  We all get older, and we all get stuck in some routine and lose sight of something good that may come around that would be good.  As I get older I've realized that the more you get used to life, the less you have a chance to grow.

Life finally goosed me.  I have been driving a P.O.S. truck for over three years.  Don't get me wrong, it's been good to me, but it's been an all consuming A to B disaster since 2011. Since I've been thinking about this relocation challenge and what it could mean, the upcoming challenge of the old truck came up front and center.  How could I move far away and stat putting down roots for us in a new place with something unreliable?  It didn't make sense.

The next step was realizing it was time to get a new way to go.  Jamie heard about this dealership about 35 miles away that had a lot of used cars, so I decided to check it out.  After looking thru used cars together for hours we showed up.

Through a whirlwind of searching, trading, compromise, discussion, life stories, a rainy day test drive, getting the hell out of town, air conditioning, heaters, and deliberation even on the way, we found a vehicle.

It was surreal. But it's becoming real now.  The old truck is gone, and now I am driving something new, you've probably seen it.  It was needed.  We just bought it Saturday, and I had to get new brakes on it.  The dealership detailed it and all, but I still had to get a bit done on it.  But it got done right. 

There's a lot of happiness here about it.  It's a miracle.  But it is also a part of life.  Life's hard. It is a challenge.  I had to work in Houston away from home for a month at a time.  Had to fight fraud over the phone in freezing weather outside.  Had to take a few for the team, bullshit scenarios where I had to sneak out.

We get put in the corner for a reason, not for our benefit or demise, but to wake us up. I'm awake, and I'm in the outfield, and punching the glove.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Observations About Life

Coming in at a different approach tonight.  Lately I've been under the weather.  Not the actual weather, just feeling sick.  Jamie caught a cold last week from a little girl at Girl Scouts who had no business going to Girl Scouts that night.  And I caught it too over the weekend.  Such is life.  If you have sick kids, don't show up to events with a lot of healthy kids. Not cool.

I was off work yesterday, and had a chance to rest and recover.  Ended up taking a four-hour nap and going to bed early and sleeping even more.  That's just how it goes when it's you vs. the world. I've been on so many vacations where it's been sleep in a wonderful sanctuary of a place.  As in my Grandma's place.  It's always easier to drive 400 miles and hang out with Grandma in Mountain View and oversleep and let the cares melt away. Staying here still has its hangups I guess. But I'll tell ya, being sick and off the grid got me taking naps and sleeping like a champion when it came time.

This morning I woke up rested and ready.  But it was an Arctic Paradise this morning!  I got Grace's outfit together and she picked a long sleeve shirt instead and bundled up majorly. We got in the truck to go to school (which I'd warmed up already.) When we got in the truck, Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song was playing on the radio, and it was so appropriate for the weather!  She thought it was a Harry Potter song! That of course cracked me up and I got to tell her what Immigrant Song was really about since it matched the cold weather.

Which leads me to deeper observations about life.  First and foremost, it got cold and we all gotta warm up! In the now but also with thought.  I've been battling the negativity within and the circumstances.  Things can go bad in a second in life, but it doesn't have to be that way.  Sometimes you gottta say, turn off that MF, and make a quick spin back to the blessings. 

An old friend of mine, who is younger than me, is going in next month to get a pacemaker.  Whaaaaaat!! She works out and takes care of herself and has to have this done, that freaks me out.  It brings out the prayer side of me and the supportive side.  She is younger than me.  That was a knockdown from reality and mortality saying what can you do to help and bring the best of life to others. 

After losing younger loved ones and outliving healthy but physically weak loved ones, the landscape can be pretty bleak. I'm a big believer in prayer and friendship, and at a certain point, not explaining concerns and just acting to make things more bearable isn't enough. It's time to be an ass kicker, to make the actions match the feelings.  We all want to live, but if we don't, we have to prepare for heaven.

This life is a fleeting experience and nothing in it is permanent. We have to balance, on one hand the joy of acceptance and an appreciation of our talents, on the other, the miserable shit that made us that smart in the first place. 

I've always heard that while we are growing up, our parents are growing old.  It's true.  But as we grow older the hands on the clock of time consistently move, as they always have.  We have to know our spot and live accordingly, because the calendar and the clock are much more consistent than any one person.

Life is simply a brief moment on forever's timeline.  What will any of us do with it?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Back again pecking at this keyboard for no reason whatsoever.  Except...

This time I am about to go on vacation!  Well, it's not a real vacation since I'm not going anywhere, but it's time off anyway.  Friday at 5:30, I get me a nine-day weekend. 

I planned this maybe a month or two ago, but don't really have any plans for it.  I was gonna go hit the Crater, but I still have some truck things to do so that's out.  I also wanted to try to do some shopping for maybe a big item or two, but that's also out.

So it's time I have to take off because I haven't really taken enough and need to use it up.  It'll be damn good just to take the days off.  But it makes me feel bad because there are other people that could use the break more than me.  As in Jamie.  So.  What to do.

I figure I could finish off the new Dr. Tissue album during this time.  I think that would be a lot of fun to do.  All the backing tracks are there, most of the lyrics and sound effects and background tracks are there, it just needs to be recorded and put together.  Autumn is one of my best times for recording new music for ome reason.  The heat and the pressure slows down I guess. 

It's probably no surprise that October 10, 1991 was the day that I recorded my first album that actually had a name and a "project" name.  The project was called Psychlone and the idea was basically borrowing my cousins keyboard to put down songs on a tape and try to make rock music later. Which of course is not what happened.  I was days away from moving to another state and had this huge keyboard in front of me along with lyrics/stories I'd written and some stories by my friend Nathan.  All were silly of course, and there was a lot of improv, but hey, that's what I had to work with so you do what you gotta do, when you wanna do something fun.

I made copies of that tape and held it up like a trophy after moving, while in class in a different school in a different state where no one knew me yet.  It was a liberating experience.

Which of course led to other musical ventures - many of which were shared with new friends in Arkansas.  That was a place in my life where I finally became a free spirit.  Musically, creatively, it was an open door.  Prior to that I lived in a place that was very uptight and all about conforming and trying to out-impress your peers.

Sadly, there's a lot of pressure to out-impress people now;  I observe it in my adult life and it's silly, even after a college degree, some still adhere to such a social order. 

Anyhoo, I've veered off-point! I'm about to have this really fantastic, or boring, nine day weekend. Maybe it'll be musical.  Or creative in some ways.  Who knows?  Come October 20th, I might have some new stuff to share with you. If not... talk some smack!

I've got a few musical things going on.  Got a new Korg MicroKey of course, and that is a lot of fun.  My Dad gave me a Tascam recorder this year, which is great for random/field recording, and I've been compiling unused lyrics.  This could be a lot of fun!

There are gonna be a couple of days of absolutely nothin' though - if not to prepare for new projects, just to rest.

But for now, I'm just looking forward to this brief time off.  Call it Vacationitis, if you will.  I know I gotta hook everything up at work before I take some time off.  Really.  For real.  You don't have to remind me.  I always got my hustle on... and even if there's a little slack mode - Im'ma have it sewn up by Friday at 2 pm.

OK, maybe by 5:15. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Tacos of Illumination

Howdy y'all!  It may have taken a month or so, but I'm back.   As promised I'm not in sad mode this time around.  Hasn't been the prettiest month around, but it's ok.  I'll get the bad stuff out of the way first.  The day before my last post I got into an accident in my truck, the fourth collision in the old Ranger.  Some lady rear ended me at a red light, and it still hurts from time to time.  There were two small layoffs at work this month, and we lost some good people (and some half-asses.)  That's all I got for that. There are other things I could mention that are negative or sad but I'm more about healing than discussion.. we've all been there.

Now for the good news - we got a kitten!  He's solid black like Snowball was, but we got him at about five weeks old, and he's roughly three months now, and we named him Skittles because he jumps sideways and "skittles" around.  He's growing!  And he's biting and clawing like crazy!  That's actually subsided this last week or so, but he's really a go getter and quite a fighter.  I wouldn't mind more purring and catnaps.  But for now, his plots to kill me are actually sort of cute.  Plus he likes to climb in the fridge, which is hilarious.  Because I can open it to get a water or a beer, or ingredients for dinner, and he just makes his way right in there.  That's even cute, because that just proves he's a Texas cat.  Live here, and you're running towards anything cold you can find when it's hot outside.

Service King is really expensive.  They wanted so much to get a new bumper for my truck and patch the paint, the other lady's insurance gave up and wrote me a check instead.  Totaled the truck but that's ok.  I can spend a hundred bucks and patch that old ride up over a couple weekends and use the rest for other family needs. 

Several weeks ago, I researched MIDI and I have to say it's pretty awesome.  You can basically use a keyboard and have just about anything as an instrument.  Samples, cats, loops, regular instruments, sound effects, anything!  You could record yourself sneezing, and with MIDI you can pretend it's an instrument. 

I know this is random tonight, but if you know much about me, random is sort of how I am.  I've gotten to a place in my life where that's started to matter quite a bit.  There's nothing wrong with following the rules when you have to and not following any rules when you don't have to. Creatively, it's the difference between Dave Grohl and Kim Kardashian. 

I heard a song last summer by Daft Punk called Giorgio By Moroder, which explains this perfectly.  He was in high school in the late 60's/early 70's like my parents were.  And he wanted to make music for a living.  Of course it didn't pay much and it was difficult, but his theory on music was spot on.   Make music based on what is current and what you know, but don't let anyone tell you how it should sound or be done.  Be yourself and share the gift you've been given creatively.  He ended up being one of the greatest and most successful producers of music in that time period.

I think everyone can achieve that level of knowledge by way of interest in any subject or area of life. 

The mafia's pretty sharp at what they do, could you imagine a world in which honest folks had that kind of bravado and collected talent together?  Maybe it's out there... I'm just writing randomly, don't take me too seriously. 

Anyhoo, I haven't had tacos in a while.  I could go for a handful of tacos and wash em down with a nice Dos Equis or a really big limeade.  Mmmm, tacos.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Challenges Pt. 2

Hi everyone.  Sorry I've been so scarce over the summer months, but I've had a lot of living to do.  Since the last post, I've realized just how many challenges I do have to live with and tackle each and every day.  It came to a head last night when Jamie pointed out that I've been "ill" lately and that I used to be a very laid back and easygoing type of person. 

She's right, I was an easygoing fella, and I still have that personality sometimes.  But because of the challenges in life, it's hard to rest, or let things go and just take it easy.  The time she was referring to is when we first got together and got married and stepped out into this mean old world.  We had just enough to get by, and we really accomplished something by flying out of the nest we'd been raised in.  When one first moves out, especially with someone who ya love, it's going to be tough but much more importantly, it's going to be awesome.

Fast forward say 15 years, and that newness wears off.  We've had some victories since then, we bought our own place.  But the daily life and grind is harder than it was when we first got out of the hood, so to speak. 

Looking back, I can remember living in a nice, tiny apartment, and every couple weeks we could go out and spend money and it didn't hurt us.  Now, that's harder to do.  We're under more pressure and not getting paid better.  It's kind of a drag, because any other job out there is paying peanuts for nose-to-the-grindstone work and treating talented work as entry level cheap labor.

Opportunity has really dried up.  I don't blame anyone for that, that's just the economy.  It's not a good economy, because there are so many people trying to just get anything... if it was a recovering and vibrant economy, there wouldn't be such desperation, and people wouldn't have to go to extremes to just survive.

That said, Jamie and I have jobs where we can get by and do ok.  We're not blowin' rooftops, but we are getting by.  The thing is, we've been in the exact same spot for three years now and haven't gotten that big break, that next thing.  Perhaps it's coming.  I dunno. 

I think maybe the reason I'm not an easygoing guy like I should be, is that I'm looking at stagnation.  Not just financially, but with everyone around me.  No one is getting anywhere but older.  No one I know has made a big stride in life.  Everyone is stuck.  There isn't a lot of inspiration right now, and if you know me, I'm all about inspiration. 

It's a very dry time in my life.  And a lot of my loved one's lives too.  All we can do now is enjoy each other's company and help each other to make life better in any way possible.

So, before I finish up, if you know anyone who needs a boost, or if you need a boost, talk to anyone you know and see what can happen.  We're here to help each other.

I know this is a serious post, so my next one will be goofy and about music. :)

Friday, July 25, 2014


I have been thinking about how I haven't posted since June 1st, and decided, "Well, now's a good time as any."  So, here I am.  After a particularly difficult yet exciting week at work, I thought it would be a good time to wear my heart on my sleeve and compose what could possibly be a great blog post, or just something to say I did and is mostly overlooked.  Nevertheless, it's a freewrite.  Speaking to my work experience, I'm a closer in the mortgage business, and of course, the mortgage business is either feast or famine, or both. 

There's been a lot of pressure there with meeting goals and such, and on my end, we don't have a lot of control over it, so it's something where we take what we get.  I've been worried about it, but the last few days I've worried less, and today, I decided to quit worrying about it altogether.  Two reasons - worry is bad enough as a part of human thought and action, and of course, it's always wise to think ahead to try and prevent a bad thing from happening.

Anyhow, the last couple of months have provided me with several challenges.  First and foremost to my readers, I promised myself I'd share my early June vacation with you, not with a slideshow and pithy retellings of what are sure to be great memories, but a play-by-play breakdown of what it's like to vacation with me.  And it was a great vacation.  I just feel like I should do a post and catch you all up on life before I venture into travel and the poetic. 

We're talking challenges here folks, and so I'll stick to that.  Life ain't easy... are you with me?  The major challenge in my life right now is just to make sure everything stick together and not turn into a mess.  I feel like I've got a duct tape dispenser attached to my belt for the next thing.  I'm not sure if it's the summer heat, or what, but I feel like I'm being scrutinized and judged on every move I make.  I feel like I have to explain every detail of my life to anyone who asks.  I could be completely wrong, but feeling like you're under the spotlight is a very stressful endeavor. 

It's in many areas of my life, and I think the challenge is to know what is important scrutiny, and what is senseless judging.  My lesson here is discernment and proper response.  I think I am getting there with that aspect of things.  I always go back to the Golden Rule, which is treat others the way you want them to treat you.  That's a really helpful thing to know.  Being judged helps me to know when to write something off or listen to someone.  Being scrutinized helps me realize my own shortcomings and try to make improvements. 

I can certainly be a critic when I have to, but I'd much rather be a diplomat and be a part of making things better for everyone.  Compare the rhetoric of warring factions throughout history and the JFK speech on peace at American University on 6/10/63. 

I have other challenges.  I am trying to get into better shape, and while I've lost weight, I'm not as strong as I want to be.  That's something to work on.  I've got a major garage/yard sale coming up, and that's a heck of a lot of moving stuff around, but I have a room to clear and an A/C unit to fix.  I don't expect anyone to understand all the details and challenges of my life, but I do expect them to know that I am actively working on them because I care about the important things.

And one of those important things is sharing my family vacation with you guys.  It's a lot more fun than this post, I'll tell ya that. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shortline Sunday! Volume 4

After a long weekend of automotive work, I thought I'd get on here and share a bit of music from my wild and wooly teenage years, aka 1995.

Today's entry is from 10,000 Lakes.  The first 10,000 Lakes album to be precise, and it's called Minnesota Hat 1982.  Of course there's nothing to do with 1982 in it, that's just the title.  But that's only the beginning of the randomness.  The link follows, as well as a song by song piece of writing.  Hope you enjoy it. 

1. 50 Dogs.  This song was one of my first ventures into multitracking.  I had the drum/keyboard part of it already recorded, and then did the guitar and vocal part on top.  It's a song about when I visited someone and when we drove up there were like 50 dogs in the driveway.  It was out in the country and stuff, but it was totally worth a song.

2. Flyswatter.  Basically, this song was me trying to freak out my little brother on tape, but it was a song.  You know what I'm talking about.

3. Blue.  It was my ultimate power ballad.  Part of it got recorded over and I had to work that part out.

4. Be Triangular.  The last math class I had in high school was trigonometry and I had a hard time figuring it out.  So I thought I would make a really abstract song about being triangular, whatever that means.  It was of course, totally random and goofy, so .. basically I'm using the trigonometry thing as an excuse to be weird.  You know what's up.

5. Rough Noisy Bowl '82.  Another experiment in analog multitracking.  I basically took a tiny Casio and recorded a drum and bass song, and put it on a huge stereo and put words to it. 19 years later you can still rock your ass off to it.

6. Hat Rack.  This is one of those foot tapping guitar songs that flows really well with a stream of consciousness kind of feeling.  Anyway, where are you getting all of these ideas for Nintendo games?

7. Bacon.  I recorded this in the back of my dad's truck, (trying to freak out my other little brother at the time,) and it turned out to be an ok recording.  This was the first 10,000 Lakes recording.  It's fun to eat chips while recording a song.

8. Dr. Pepr.  This song was pretty much about the poor kid who couldn't live without Corn Pops.  If you remember the 90's you know what I'm talking about,

9. Window.  This is a very acoustic guitar centric album, and this was one that was mainly about the keyboards.  And the abstract.  Vacuuming ... a turtle ... in ... the middle of dinner!

10. Minnesota Hat 1982. The title track, and an instrumental version of Rough Noisy Bowl '82, with a little guitar action involved.

11. Bonus Track.  This was done in the cassette days.  So if you let your tape play on side 2 you'd get a bonus.  It's a nice, relaxed, end of album bit.  10,000 Lakes has always been about the music and this song is like you get to sit in the same room and enjoy the goofiness in person.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I've always been a very creative person, so I thought it might be a good idea to share the imaginative perspective I have as someone who likes to create. Music, stories, jokes, it's always a major part of my everyday life.  I have a very imaginative mind, and in a way it's like people with Restless Leg Syndrome have to shake that leg. (I get that from time to time, but I always just put it on some fast music to work that out.)

In a lot of ways, my mind does its own thing.  I think a lot, for work, about life, in creative ventures.  So a great deal of my ideas are involuntary, and just sort of show up.  It's also like fishing, when I get a good one, I hang on to it, and if it's not such a good one, I just throw it back in the lake.

The other side of having an imagination is it can lead to unnecessary worry.  If I'm not careful, I'll think up some scenario that's negative, and all of a sudden it just plays out in my mind (sometimes to extreme degrees.)  I liken this to some of the scenarios in movies that actually give them a really thick plot. 

Someone once told me, "No what ifs." What that meant was to make sure to not let the creative part of your mind do whatever it wanted to, because it could.  I thought about this for a while and it helped me to get some sort of guidelines for my imaginative side.

Fast forward to today.  I am still trying to tame the negative scenarios I let play out in my mind, while experiencing the thrill ride of random fun and thoughtful ideas that show up a few times a day. 

So, I guess what I am trying to say is the next step is organizing and recording the good stuff.  As a certified smartass, I can expect no less of an attitude from the imagination within.  Many of my ideas happen as I'm driving, or am busy with other things, or in the middle of the night.  

Perhaps that is the conundrum, one side of the brain is really active, and it takes some of the attention away from the other side. The imaginative side is on full throttle, while the logical, organized side is just kind of sitting there.  It would be really nice to be able to organize and bring some order to all the interesting stuff happening on the other side of my mind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Know It's Been A Long Time Since I Rapped At Ya

But it's been busy at work and in a lot of other areas of life.  I feel bad for not posting for three full weeks, so here goes.  Friday was, umm, interesting. 

Grace has been getting up a little early these last few weeks and she's dressing herself, and ready even before I am.  Pretty impressive.. only a couple of months I've really had to make extensive effort to wake her up.  At one point I even told her I was going to get an air horn so she would for sure wake up and get dressed, so we wouldn't be late.  Friday was one of those great days where she was ready to go before I was.

We had enough time to walk to school (we're only a block away or so cutting through the park,) and as always we had an intellectually stimulating conversation along the way.  Friday, I think we talked about her upcoming field day, and how complicated math gets.  (The night before I showed her my Calculus book from college.) Then she asked me what grade I was in when I took that class.  Then I explained college... I should have just said "14th."

So I walked back to the house after dropping her off and noticed from a few houses down something looked a little off on the truck.  As I got closer, I realized it was a flat tire.  Not a low tire, it was flat.  The inflator didn't do a thing for it.  I looked a little closer and realized how bad it was; the tread on the inner part was exposing the inner wire stuff.  So I needed to get the spare and slap it on and get to work.

But... I drive a 99 Ranger and the spare was underneath the truck, held on by a system that required the original jack to access it and lower it to put it on.  After semi-frantically looking for the original jack (which was long gone, because how much stuff do you have from the 90's still around, especially car stuff?) I decided I need a new one anyway.  I was surprised that I didn't have one right there, but then I realized after all the previous truck work, the jack was probably somewhere else. 

Next thought - there's an Auto Zone about 8 blocks away.  I texted my boss to let him know I'm gonna see if I could make it happen and then come on in or let him know.  I texted Jamie to tell her that I had truck issues so she wouldn't wonder why I wasn't replying to an email she might have sent to me at work.  By that time I was there and quickly got the jack and headed home.

No bueno.  The crank from the jack didn't work to let the spare down, so I let the boss know what was up.  He sent a teammate out to pick me up, and I decided to let the tire wait till Saturday morning.  There was work to do.

So one of my teammates came by to pick me up for work, and we rode back in.  Another teammate of mine texted him saying I messed up my tire just so I could ride in her "cop car."  I do have some real characters on my team!

So we got in and walked up to the office and I realized that my badge was where I kept it so I wouldn't forget it.  In the truck.

This began a new adventure.  So the security guy at the front desk laid out the rules.  He's a super nice guy, by the way, but his job is to go by the book.  It used to be you showed your driver's license and a teammate could vouch for you. Not anymore.  He explained he'd need my license and to call my boss to vouch.  No biggie, I thought... but.  From the 2nd floor mezzanine the guy that brought me to work announced to us that every manager in our site was in a meeting in the building across the parking lot. 

Security Guy told me he needed someone with some authority to escort me as a Visitor.  Luckily, Guy Who Brought Me To Work found someone with enough office cred to get me by.  Security guy took my picture and printed me a pass, and said "I know you, you're a good guy. But they're making it where it's a really bad idea to forget your badge."  After some appreciation, the Office Cred Lady came to let me through the door.  Our next step was to find the admin who could set up a temporary badge so I could get in and out.  You know, for pretend smoke breaks or whatnot. 

So we went to find the admin... and ten minutes later found out she was working from home that day.  We went back to her office and she started pinging other people who might be able to help.  During the search I got a text from the boss asking where I was.  So I told him I was still working out the badge thing.  Next thing I know, Office Cred Lady had a hookup for the badge thing.  She put a name and location down on a post-it, and then got into her desk and broke out a Reese's peanut butter cup, gave me a serious look while she handed it to me, and said, "Be appreciative."

So I eventually find the Badge Lady, and she cheerfully said "You must be Mitch!"  So I introduced myself and told her what happened, and she gave me instructions for when the badge would be activated and who to bring it to at the end of the day.

She was pretty happy about her Reese's, and I hustled for the rest of the day to catch up.   But it was all good.  Everything got lined up at work, I found a new tire on sale the next morning, and was reminded of how to prepare for the next day from some really cool people at work. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yo Mama Dental Floss System - Surround Sound

New album y'all!!!

So the idea hit me just a few days ago to take some previous recordings, add some new things, and call it an album.  So here it is! 

Dance your butts off and laugh your butts off, cuz that's what this is all about!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Shortline Monday again! (vol 3)

So I've shared some 10,000 Lakes stuff lately and want to broaden the experience just a bit. A few years ago in the internet I got wind of a musician from Denton who went by the name of Fishboy.  And the songs I heard were a lot of fun.  Like other shortline projects and my own music, his songs had sort of a homemade feel, a surreal lyrical flavor, and a depth of creative ideas.  The first album of his I ever got was called Little D, and it was songs about Denton.  Soon after I discovered his music, he came out with Albatross.  Jamie and I went to a show in early 2008 to see Albatross performed in its entirety, along with the band Poison Control Center from Iowa.  They were badass as well.  And before them was Teenage Cool Kids, also from Denton; they were wrapping up a tour with Fishboy and the PCC, and the singer's voice was almost gone.  He said he could use a cough drop or some Chloraseptic. And when you finish a tour in January, I can totally see that.  Wish I had somethin' for that guy.  The first singer in the show was one Sparlin Jessels, who sang really heartfelt songs, and broke a string.  It was an amazing show.

So later after the show in that freezing night in 2008, I picked up some more music and felt creative again.  It was later I discovered an older album by Fishboy, called Zipbangboom.  It had a few songs on it from other areas of the internet so I bought it off iTunes.  And that's the album I want to share with you tonight.  It's on Bandcamp for a listen but it can be yours too if you want.

Before I post it all, the thing that put the pieces together for me was when I picked up Little D.  I realized his last name was Michener.  Sounded familiar to me, but it hit me that his older brother Dirk was at the Beck concert back in '96, and also was in Cavedweller, and jammed with an old buddy of mine, T Bobcat.  I thought that was incredibly cool.  (The Beck show and soon-after interactions and times were pretty awesome too, but that's another blog.) 

So, for tonight, I present Zipbangboom, an album that takes you places.  It starts with a disappointing and/or unusual Christmas, then you meet an interesting mover on a busy day, find your way through a dream you may have had, to a dream someone else did have.  Then an apology with precious wordplay. You get to meet the tallest President, experience daily routines like never before, and try to prevent an assassination with help from a robot cousin. By this time, you feel like you've had a long day, but you've still got to fix a car and fall in love. By that time you're so tired you're asking questions with the last of your energy.  So now a little bit of instrumental refreshment... which leads to being able to hear everything anyone says whether you like it or not.  And then there's a song still in your head from earlier... and it sounds different now.

So without further ado:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shortline Monday! (Vol. 2 of Shortline Sunday)

Yesterday was a really busy day, and Easter, and all of that stuff.  So, here I am this evening making up for it with post #2 of crazy music madness!  Tonight's entry is of the most recent album I have released.  It was supposed to be a full album, but what happened was a song would get done here, another one would get worked on there... not 100% coherent.

See, all the previous 10,000 Lakes albums were done on tape.  One of the main themes of a 10,000 Lakes album was the idea that something could be recorded fairly quickly, ranging from one night with all the instruments, lyrics, and a tape recorder, to a more laid back approach, and completion over a month or two.

This one was done over a three year period, and not by analog means.  The early versions of some of these songs came about in '05, and the last recording was done in '08.  I was involved with a podcast at the time, as well as producing and recording rap music.  So I had gotten comfortable with recording higher quality music, and doing other creative things.

After waiting for so long and realizing that this project should stand on its own, I finally put together the 6th 10,000 Lakes release, "Pots, Pans, and Ceiling Fans.  And here it is:

Here's a bit of description of each song:

1. Metropolis - this song, along with Hairbrush and Discount Biscuits, was done all in one evening session in '06 or '07.  The idea was to create a full album, but these three songs were all I ended up with.  It was a good start, including randomness and irony.

2. Hairbrush - In the 3-song session, I wanted to make the most surreal song possible given the musical style.  And of course, add some power chords.  On "Cat Hospital" I had mentioned a fictional Carlos Santana song called "Hairbrush," so I made it into a real song. 

3. Fishtank Mountain - By song 3 or 4 on all of the previous 10,000 Lakes albums, there was a folksy song, or a ballad.  This song fit into that category.  I also had become a very big fan of Wesley Willis by this time.  His signature style was to repeat the song title four times as the chorus, and end the song with an advertising slogan.  I only used the first half.  It ended up being the most popular song I've ever made.  Here's the live in-studio version:

4. Discount Biscuits - Wrote the lyrics to this song at work.  That's where the lunch menu stuff comes in.  I wanted to do an all-keyboard and vocals song in the style of "Tablecloth" from "Cat Hospital," and "Rough Noisy Bowl '82" from "Minnesota Hat 1982."

5. Pots, Pans, and Ceiling Fans - This was the second song I recorded for the new album.  It was recorded in a snap session in '05 along with a song called "Brisketron" which was not included in the album.  It had to be re-recorded several times using the keyboard solo from the original mix, to sound just right.  The idea behind the song was hidden meanings and ridiculous puns.  The first lines are a riff on an Audioslave song.  It then delves into wordplay, jokes about instructions on household products, and of course some funky guitar stuff.

6. Squeegee In Hand, Windshield Far Away - recorded in 2008, this was the eventual cap on the whole album.  It was a bit of a style-copy of "Mambo #4" in the long-song, jam-band sort of recording.  The title came from, of all things, the MySpace page of one of my other projects, Dr. Tissue.  On MySpace, if you had a band page, you could fill in a tour schedule complete with location, time, date, other bands, the name of the show, etc.  So it was a perfect opportunity to come up with ridiculous band names, festivals, venues, and prices.  For example, a festival in Antarctica at 5 a.m. that costs $79,000, featuring Dave and The Robot Arm of Classic Rock, and 9000 Mermaids With Tambourines.  Anyway, one of the "band names" was Squeegee In Hand, Windshield Far Away.  So that's how that happened.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Big Bad Bank Teller

Here's an amusing story I once wrote, about the Big Bad Wolf and the bank teller who one-upped his 'tude. 

The Big Bad Bank Teller

I’m not the villain I used to be.  The times were once good for me, and the art was simple.  Just be bad.  They’d say, “Be as bad as you wanna be.  The good guy always wins.”  So, I figured, the badder, the better.  I knew my role.  But that was a long time ago. 
            Today is Wednesday, two days before I have to make payroll.  It starts to rain outside, so I rush into the Fifteenth National Bank on Hargrove Avenue, (celebrities have to keep things discreet,) so I can deposit my latest royalty check from DreamWorks.  “Should be no big deal,” I tell myself.  I’ve got payroll set up and checks already pre-written to my crew for Friday.  My check is burning in my grip – it’s a big one, and I don’t feel comfortable having it exposed.  Not that I can’t defend myself, I’m just not in the mood for that all the time.
            The line is long for some reason. I mean it’s 10:30 a.m. and a thoughtful person would expect either quicker service or fewer customers, especially at a bank that isn’t even trying to be the biggest kid on the block.  So I wait.  I look over at the tellers and who they’re serving.  There’s a real fruit loop of a lady chatting with this one teller who looks like that nutty guy from Anchorman.  They’re chatting away about her mortgage as if they’re talking about a wild spring break in Cancun.  Then, one spot over, there’s this poor sap trying to get away without filling out another form.  The teller he’s stuck with looks like she reads her training manual to her kids every night.  I’m hoping I can skip over her.  Over to the right, there’s this Troy Aikman-looking guy with a jug full of change.  He’s going to be a while, and his teller has this toothpaste-commercial smile like Saddam Hussein could ask her out and she’d say “Certainly, sir!”
            Anyway, after fifteen minutes of shuffling around in line, I’m up next.  Troy Aikman’s still giving his teller the Coinstar treatment, and my check is still bothering me.  I’m getting antsy, so I look over it again to make sure my signature is perfect and the account number is correct.  While I’m reading, I hear, “Next please.”
            It’s the training manual lady.  Great.  I walk up and explain to her that I need to deposit my $48,000 check.  Simple enough, right?  Nope.
“Sir, I need two forms of identification and your thumbprint for a deposit of this size,” she says.  I cringe. 
I fire back with, “I’m Big.  I’m Bad.  I’m a Wolf.  What more do you need?”
“As I said, sir, two forms of ID and your thumbprint.”
“Does it look like I have thumbs?  No.  I’m a WOLF!”
I sling my driver’s license on the ledge, and as I hunt for my credit card, I notice her nametag says “Katrina Bedlam.”  Oh, there’s a real pleasure.  I hand over my credit card, and she walks off.  Right then, the toothpaste lady calls her next customer.  Forty-five seconds later and I would have had it easy.  I guess the bad guy never wins, even if he’s trying to make financial transactions.
            She comes back. 
“Funds will be available in seven business days minimum.”  Yeah, there’s good news.  So I explain it in simple terms.

“Are you kidding?  I need this by Friday!”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Wolf. We need to verify these funds are available from the other bank,” she says.  I glance at her, and the only emotion she shows is a slightly noticeable smirk.  It fades away in seconds.
I tell her, “Hello!  It says ‘DreamWorks’ right on the top!  I think it’s a good check!” 
Swimming in frustration, I start regretting my role in the Shrek movies.  I thought it would be fun to play along and do something different in movies, but I question myself sometimes.  As I ponder… she says:
“My, what a big attitude you have!”
Oh hell no.  Now it’s back to business.  I think fast.  I’m going to have to undo the deposit and drive two hours to cash this check at DreamWorks’ bank.
“Listen, just cancel the deposit.  I gotta pay my crew.”
She gets this hoity-toity look and hands it over.  Finally, the end of this nightmare.  I flick her the middle claw and high-tail it out of there.  While I walk past, the security guy in the corner gives me the evil eye.  I realize my whole day is wasted because of this mess.  The check still bothers me since it’s worth so much money.  I grip it tight, and as I walk out of there, I think to myself, “If I’d been younger I could have huffed and puffed and blown this standalone banking center down.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Weird Wednesday

OK. I heard the audio to this on Russ Martin this afternoon, and seeing it finished off quite a Wednesday.  After hurrying this morning, blasting Slayer on the way to work, arguing with someone who really had problems getting something figured out for someone, making a super quick lunch trip to Wal-Mart (broke a time record with this one,) seeing baby geese by the pond, getting ahead of the game at work, and somehow getting around severe traffic with no issues this afternoon, I come home to look up this video.  Life's exciting and unpredictable.  This goat's pretty predictable though.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shortline Sunday!

I thought it might be kind of fun to share some music on this blog, since along with writing pithy short pieces and expressions of life, I make music too.  So here comes Shortline Sunday.  Shortline music is basically any type of music that has a lot of randomness in it lyrically, and that is a lot of fun to record, without any talent requirement or anything.  Or, musical freedom and randomness.  It's sort of like a freewrite, but with music too.

I'm going to try doing this every Sunday, it may just be a song or a link (with commentary.)  But sometimes it'll be an album.

So for my first Shortline Sunday, I would like to present the fourth album from 10,000 Lakes.  Cat Hospital, released in October 1999.

It had been a couple years since the previous 10,000 Lakes album, and a lot of personal changes had happened since then.  So I caught the music bug once again and started coming up with lyrics and music ideas on the guitar.  I also bought a Casio CA-110 and had been messing around with it to come up with some song ideas.

At the time I was in computer school, which was a thing in '99.  I had just bought my red Ford Ranger, which now has 219,000 miles on it.  Jamie and I had recently gotten into our first apartment, and were still figuring out how to get by.  So it was a very versatile time.  Nothing was quite settled, so much was new, and  I was also doing temp work during that period.

I don't know if I've written about the individual songs before, but if you're skimming through them, I can give you a bit of backstory or a tidbit about each one.

"Insurance" was fun, the idea behind that started with looking through the phone book for some goofy ad and I ended up on an insurance ad and made a song out of it.

"Atlanta" was a remake of a previous recording I couldn't find.  The line I remembered was "Get that hamburger out of your hair," which seemed like a funny line, so I reused it.  Still don't know how the heck I did that guitar solo type thingy.

"Kansas City Chiefs" was a tribute to this poor guy:

"Dallas N. Tollway" was about all the time I had spent on the road picking up supplies when I worked for Dad, and also my time as a courier.  I once got lost and saw a highway sign but couldn't read it.  It didn't look like John Carpenter or R.L. Thornton, but it looked like a name.

"Tablecloth" is a stylistic tribute to all the weirdest lyric makers out there, especially my old friend Quentin.

"Mambo #4" was a 'jam band' sort of thing.  I had like 8 minutes left on that side of the tape, and I had also just discovered, so I thought it would be a random way to lure Lou Bega fans to my weirdness.  90's trolling, LOL, sheesh.

"The Soup Factor" was my 'song with actual rhyming lines and stuff' thing that I thought would be important, to show that I do have a little sanity behind all the goofy stuff.

"Dennis The Phantom Menace" is a direct take on the play on words from Hal Jay on the WBAP morning show.  Star Wars: Episode I came out in '99 and I thought it was a funny pun and would make for a good song.

"Cat Hospital" of course, is the title track.  For about a year I had the privilege of commuting back and forth on 635.  Every day I would pass by this one shopping center in north Dallas, the back end showing, and in bold letters there was "CAT HOSPITAL" on the back of the building.  I thought that was a funny concept, a hospital for cats only.  So it became this song and the album title.

"Sofa" was my quasi-love song.  I thought that sitting on a sofa would be the most mundane thing that had nothing to do with love, so it became the title.  Also I made up a whole bunch of weird things that nothing to do with love and threw them in there.

"Boxing Match" was the super-surreal anything-goes song reserved for the folks who got this far in the album.  It was sort of a let loose and be weird type of idea.  Well all the songs are like that, but Boxing Match put a point on it.

"No Room For A Bonus Track."  I recorded this album on a 60-minute cassette.  And, after recording Boxing Match, I realized I still needed to make a little room for a bonus track that would go in kind of secretly.  But there wasn't much tape left.  So I was kind of sad there for a minute, and then I quit being sad and immediately recorded this song.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thoughts on Music

I've been a fan of music all my life.  It's always moved me, no matter the genre or the time when it was recorded. Really, it's genetic.  I've got a family picture from generations ago when my grandpa from Mom's side was a little boy, and the whole family was standing there, and I believe it was his dad who was holding a fiddle.  I remember my dad telling me a story once, when he was a teenager and brought home a Beatles record, and Grandpa kind of wrote it off and said "It'll all go back to country."  I was always amused by that, because it was an exercise of the generation gap in the 60's and 70's, and because in a way he was right.  Country music has always had high points in popular music, such as Garth Brooks' entry to the stage in the early 90's and of course since American Idol became a thing and focused on vocal artists.  Also when bluegrass got intertwined with pop culture when O Brother, Where Art Thou was released.  And these days we can thank Dave Grohl.

Personally, I've been involved in music since about first grade, when I wrote silly songs and got out the tape recorder just to do a recorded performance.  Then another time in 4th or 5th grade, and then in high school and beyond I got a real kick out of writing and recording songs, even if, and especially if they were goofy and ridiculous, and got my friends into it too.  There's something about telling jokes, and making music sort of play along, that's always interested me.

For years I really didn't like rap music or modern country.  Later I couldn't stand polka or reggae.  These days, I'll listen to any type of music, just because it's art in it's most expressive form.  It's crafted like writing, it's performed like acting, and it's focused on one sense but affects all of the senses.  A few years ago I bought a polka record at a thrift store for a quarter, just because.  It turned out to be a really good record and was about certain areas of life that other genres don't focus on.  It was new to me. 

You can go anywhere with music, as in it can take you anywhere.  My dad is a bluegrass musician and loves it more than any other type of music.  To me it's pure, it's about yearning, it's about love, it's about fun, it's about spiritual depth.  And learning how to play it is a challenge of it's own.  I think that's part of the reason I love metal so much, just because with both it's not hard to listen to something that's difficult to play.

I also love electronic music.  I got into it a little bit back in the big beat days when Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, and the Chemical Brothers were topping charts.  Some of that type of music is repetitive and catchy, some of it is really complex and also difficult to learn to emulate.  I liked it, and still do, because it's great to work to.  It's great road music.  And much of it is really uplifting and energetic.

I'm also drawn to jam bands, or really anything random and complex like jazz.  Right now I'm jamming to Tripping Daisy.  They're pretty good, they can do something mellow and thoughtful and then floor it with rock energy.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, but lately some of the musical artists I grew up with are making new music.  I think it started with Limp Bizkit - they recorded their first album in a while a couple years ago.  The Beastie Boys' last album came after a long wait, as did Primus's Green Naugahyde. They Might Be Giants re-emerged after a long hiatus, as did Beck, and of course The Pixies (23 years since the last new studio recording.)

It's nice to hear new music from established artists who took some time off or did their own thing or a while.  Some I suppose do it because they're raising kids, or got tired of traveling, or maybe got hurt, or just opted for career change only to rediscover their creative side.

I say bring it on!  There's nothing wrong with some new songs and some new expression.  There are ears waiting to hear that one song that will make them love music again.  As for me, I'm loving a great deal of the new music being made by artists young and old.  Some of it sucks though.  But some of it's pretty amazing.  You gotta look for the good stuff; it's not just gonna show up when you turn on your radio.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Special Feelings

September 6, 1997, in the late afternoon, I was expecting to get married to my favorite person, wearing a pretty yellow dress.  We were in small town Texas, barely two nickels between us to rub together, and hotly in love.  I stood there in front of God, family, and friends, in slacks, a short sleeved white shirt, and I think, a black bowtie.
Moments later I was knocked over with Jamie's beauty.  To me she walked, with her beautiful white dress. Her flowing red hair was curled and designed into this luscious covering I'd never seen before. Blossoms of baby's breath flowers were adorned in her hair. Her dad was giving her away to me, and I felt the weight of responsibility and love battle it out in my soul.

The moment we got married I felt like I was going through a tunnel of change.  It's as if my soul was going on a joy ride in a Maserati spaceship into some unknown universe.  Her beautiful blue eyes locked with my eyes, and as we exchanged vows, we never lost eye contact.  It was intense and amazing, and we both meant it.  To this day, that's the most hardcore moment I've ever known.

I've only gone through the tunnel twice - once when Jamie and I got married, once the moment Grace was born.  Life changes come like a log chain through the heart, but in a good way.  It's no less intense than a log chain throuh any part of anyone, but it carries the weight of meaning something heavy, serious, and wonderful.

True love and true change in life means so much.  I'm thankful for it, and I'm also thankful about being this far on the other side of it.  It's a bit of a bummer to feel old, but this summer... Jamie and I will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first date.  We went to see a Pauly Shore movie on our first date, after plenty of flirting at Dairy Queen. 

I may be getting older, but... Wow.  It sure is nice to be able to have some major fanfare about something so long ago.  Romance can still live among us aging folks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yard Work

A lot of people I really respected and loved passed away last year.  On top of that, life, of course, moved on as it does.  It was an experience that I'll never forget, and I share it because I believe we all have life thrown in our faces not in small doses, but all at once, like a stinging snowball of reality.

I'll post more about that later on.  But for now I want to share something else about life. It may be obvious, but the best way i can illustrate it is that life is a really wide fence.  All of our hopes and dreams are on the other side of the fence, because we're not on the other side yet.  Because fences are tall we can't see what's on the other side, but from where we stand, we see what's on our side and adapt to it.  At some point, we're going to cross over that fence.  All of our hopes and dreams are there, but if and how they materialixe is a mystery.

One idea is that we take care of the yard on this side of the fence.  Perhaps the other side isn't even a yard, or garden, or anything.  Another is just go get a ladder and climb over it to see what's on the other side and go get it.  Yet another says fill up your yard, find a way to the top and compare landscapes.

To me that's all good, but, I ask myself about these things.  Like, why is there a fence in the first place?  Can there be an open area of thought that leads one from dreams and ideas to clarity and accomplishment? 

I know how crazy the world can be, so that's why I'm stuck at the fence.  I think in a way we all are.  Time to do some yard work.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Cigarette

Author's note: I wrote this years ago, describing something that happened even years before that.  A cautionary tale about smoking. Sorta. And if you want to see the "spot," I'll send you a picture.

           Most everyone says cigarettes are bad for you, and that same most everyone will probably tell you that smoking will kill you.  And then there’s that one person who will tell you that a family member smoked for years and died of lung cancer or emphysema, and doesn’t smoke because of that experience.  I imagine I could tell you that same story, but it wouldn’t make you put the one out that you just lit.  

            Tell you what, I’ve got a story for you.  No, you don’t have to put yours out.  Actually, I think I’ll light one myself.  Hang on.  Okay, let’s share this ashtray.  I have to tell you about this one cigarette I smoked.  No, not this one right here.  I’m not playing a trick on you!  

            Before I tell you about this particular cigarette, I’ve got to tell you about Marty.  Marty, yes, she was a smoker, but that’s not the point.  She was the security lady at a place I used to work.  At the time, I installed cabinets and paneling at a high-rise downtown.  She was the one that let us construction guys in to do our work.  She was once a truck driver, and talked the talk.  If two of us came in to do some work, she would say something like: “Hey look, it’s Dipshit and Shitdip!” At first it was annoying, but we got used to it.

            What does this have to do with cigarettes?  Let me light up another one and I’ll tell you.  One day the whole crew was working there in one of the penthouses.  I was driving in that morning, like any other day.  I had a smoke on the way in, lit it on the freeway and flung it out on the side street.  The problem was that since I was driving slow, the cigarette didn’t land on the road, it landed in the bed of my pickup.  I didn’t know, but it landed squarely on a couple of padding blankets I’d used the day before to move some furniture.

            Ah, good.  Your sly smile tells me you know where this is going.  Hey, is your lighter out of juice?  You can use mine.  Anyway, I walked in the building and signed in – I almost signed in as “Dumbass” since that was Marty’s nickname for me at the time, but I didn’t want to be a smartass and a dumbass at the same time.  Three hours later, Marty came up to the penthouse, looking for me.  I sighed, and without any greeting, she stared me down and said, “Give me your cigarettes!”  I had no idea what her problem was.  So I gave up my smokes, and she grabbed my ear, in front of everyone, and dragged me out.  Being on the top floor and having a death pinch on your ear all the way down to the ground was one thing, but when she showed me the burnt-up blankets and the melted spot in the bedliner, which was right above the gas tank, I freaked.  It was like being pulled through some unpleasant vortex.  

            Oh, everyone knew.  The guy that put the fire out was working in the same penthouse.  I’m thankful it was him, he was the fire sprinkler installer.  If it was the painters, they probably would have roasted hot dogs over that fire instead.  I spent the rest of the day completely numbed by the experience.  

Marty never called me Dumbass again.  I had earned a higher honor.  For the next three months, my name was “Smokey,” and every day for a year I looked at that melted spot in the bed of the truck, wondering how many cars would have exploded had the sprinkler guy never shown up, and how long would I have been in jail.  

            You don’t believe me?  Dude, come look at my truck.  I’ll show you the spot.  I see you’re putting your cigarette out.  Well, that’s good I suppose, as long as you know the dang thing’s out.  Yeah, smoking can kick your ass.  Just don’t ask about the time I quit for a month. 


I had to bury my dog yesterday and it sucked. He seemed like he was recovering but it was not the case. I was wrong.  We all were. Yesterd...