11.30.2003

the agony of defeat

there comes that time, when you must look at the clock, and then at your word count, and concede that there's really no possibility that you're going to make the goal that has been set for you.

this would be that time.

i made a valiant effort - i got in around 6,000 words this weekend, but it wasn't enough. the pull of everything else that i needed and wanted to do over the course of this month was stronger than the urge to make the goal. so, to those who have succeeded, i extend my congratulations, and i will very likely see you next year.

the odd thing is that i still have a pretty strong urge to finish the book...but i do need a bit more time to get my facts straight. there were a couple of sequences that were off kilter, a few things that i actually had to go back and re-read old journals and the like to clarify - and i was still off in a lot of instances.

now, though, i have some people who are clamoring for an ending...so i have a commitment to finish this thing, but i want it to be right, and i want it to read well. i'm not so sure that either of those things are true at the moment.

and it's early enough, now, that i can still salvage some portion of this weekend for something constructive....so this is my goal, now.


11.28.2003

grateful

now playing: atlanta rhythm section, "champagne jam"


not particularly happy about working today, especially considering that i only got to bed at 2am when we got home from donnie and faye's house...but there's something strangely peaceful about coming to work when only a third or so of the normal inhabitants are here...i will get much done today.

we opted out of actually preparing food this year...decided to dine out, and actually had a really good time. we figured the place that would come closest to getting it right that everyone would enjoy would be cracker barrel, and we were right...we parked right in front of the door and walked right in. i thought when we pulled into the lot that they might've been closed, there were so few cars there. it was perfect. the kids were in good spirits and we spent most of dinner giggling...

nanowrimo update: i have three days left...inlcuding today...to come up with 17,000 or so words.

i'd have to say that the odds don't look too hot here...chances of actually finishing are feeling somewhat doubtful. but i'm not throwing in the towel just yet.

i know that everyone else who maintains one of these things probably does this, but i've never been one to let something like being cliched become an obstacle...so here, then, is my gratitude list.

(i actually used to keep a gratitude journal, back during the luddite days when people actually used to write these kinds of things down manually...can you believe that?)

gratitude
a short diatribe concerning appreciation and thankfulness...

***the whos:

the insular group of individuals that comprise my immediate family: wendy, jayda, and dylan
wendy is my companion, jayda is my confidant and dylan is my mirror; soulmates, all of them.
(i'm especially thankful that, during the time that so often sees parents and children growing apart as they find their way into their own circles, that my children grow closer to me. they remind me that my remaining time on this planet is precious...i try to give them as much of it as i can, and they prove to me constantly what a wise investment this has been. to watch them grow has been the great joy of my life.)


my extended stone road family...darryl, barry, quin, and donnie
it's hard to explain to someone who's never experienced it, this circuit that exists between people who do what we do. going out and playing our asses off is the best team sport ever. if you don't play an instrument or sing and you've thought about taking a swing at it, do. even if you do it in the privacy of your own undisclosed location and no one else ever hears a note that you generate but yourself, it really is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. and, not unlike sex, it's a lot more fun to do with others than by yourself....but by yourself is pretty OK too. the time it takes to become somewhat adept at an instrument pays for itself. i've been blessed with talents that have allowed me to go places and do things i'd have never gotten to experience otherwise...and even though i might have peaked some time ago by the world's standards of success, i'm having the time of my life right now. blake allen, charlie degenhart, marty higgins, todd bartolo and the youngers - i love playing with you guys, and i constantly look forward to the next one.


my circle of friends
this becomes dangerous...to name names or not to name names - that is the question. i guess we'll just put it this way....if you're not reading this, then i'm not talking about you specifically. how's that?
without being quite so pat, there are some folks that i've managed to reconnect with in the past year that i'm really glad to have managed to track down. on a weeknight in the fall, i drove my kids two and a half hours south on a school night to the washington dc area to meet my friend thor from high school, who i hadn't seen for twenty years - thanks to the internet, we're now back in touch. the kids got a huge kick out of him, and we all had a blast. you just can't not mention that.


my heroes
in stream of consciousness order:

my kids, my mother and grandfather, david phillips, jerry opdycke, tom del colle, craig wilson, con healy, david lindley, ed king, tom wood, luther crotts, jim johnson, duane allman, lindsey buckingham, sonny landreth, stevie ray vaughn, jackson browne, stephen stills, frank perry, jerry garcia, jimmie spheeris, david wilcox, henry "heineken" beck, john gorka, doug hopkins, ry cooder, rusty young, paul cotton, richie furay, lightnin' hopkins, joe walsh, neil peart, george marinelli, garry lee, silent bob....to name a few, of course.
(these kinds of lists are tailor-made for "head slapping", V8 style, after the fact. i'm sure i left out someone who's vitally important to me.....)


***the whats:


music
for saving my life, for giving me hope, for offering me a future, for lifting my spirits and giving me insight, for bandaging my loneliness and letting me know that there were other people out there who shared my experiences. for speaking to me personally and for those who responded to me personally, i'm grateful.

talent
i've historically had a hard time talking about this out loud, for fear of sounding arrogant or vain, but i'm thankful for the level of expertise i've managed to accumulate to this point in my life. i'm thankful that i've had the opportunities in my life that my talent has enabled me to take advantage of, and i'm thankful for the resources that have enabled me to pursue as many of the talents that i've been able to. i'm thankful for the roomful of guitars, lap steels, mandolins, banjos, and assorted stringed mayhem that lives in my house, downstairs from my home studio for which i am also thankful.

technology
i'm thankful that i fell backwards into this line of work as i was coming into the autumn of my musical aspirations. it's a perfect fit - almost as if i'd been doing this all along. it keeps my interest, and i feel like i'm contributing something by helping people who feel overwhelmed and illiterate by all this. it's a good gig to have.

the usual stuff
health, freedom, food, clothing, shelter...i take more for granted than most, and am way too quick to jump on the "woe is me" train if things aren't going my way - i'm very much a byproduct of the age of entitlement, much to my own chagrin sometimes. thankfully, every now and then i get to drive home in the splendor of a sunset like the one dylan and i got on the way home from GuitarDay last weekend, and it puts things in a more healthy perspective.


so, i'm feeling rather humbled and grateful now, having put all this in a form where i have to digest it all at once...but can't help but mourn the fact that none of it is eligible to throw at my word count...ah, well. that's work for another day. or two (since that's all that's left....).




11.27.2003

conversationalist

now playing: america, "children"

it's quarter to three in the morning, and wendy and i are home, sitting at our parallel desks in the living room...she's reading the news from home and i'm eating ice cream to soothe the needles and razors in my throat from the gig earlier tonight. my voice held out just long enough - by the time the end of the fourth set rolled around, i was just screaming to be heard, but it was great. we were able to play at a comfortable volume - loud enough to fill the room, but not so loud that we were pounding each other into submission....

donnie and i had a great night. we were totally in sync for most of the night. the circuit is beginning to open up there, without the preliminary work that i had assumed would be needed for it to happen. we haven't really had any opportunities yet to work out some of the parts that i'm looking forward to nailing down, and it dawned on me tonight that maybe this is a good thing - we're developing a rappore without forcing it, and that'll make it easier to sit down and work out stuff like that once we have time to do that.

everyone was in such great spirits tonight...it really was a great gig.

one of the officers of the club came up to me personally between the second and third sets and told us that we were the best band that he'd seen there in the eighteen years he'd been coming there.

fuck.

wendy asked me on the way home how i would describe what it was that she saw taking place when donnie and i were playing and we fell into sync the way we're starting to.

i thought about it for a while, and the only analogy i can really come up with was being in a country where no one spoke english, and you could only vaguely understand a word here or there, and then bumping into someone who speaks english and being able to have a real conversation.

that's pretty close.



11.25.2003

do i look fat in these leather chaps?

now playing: nick drake, "pink moon"


i don't handle responsibility well, i don't think.

i've been handed quite a bit extra lately, here at work, and my knees are buckling. i know that ultimately, i'm going to get my feet planted and get a good push to get myself righted...but i just want to crawl under my desk today and forget that i'm a grownup.

my daughter is home, sick as hell - and i think i'm next, because my voice is moving slowly into harvey fierstein territory...i'll soon be running through the offices, screaming, "david! david! why did i just put my mother on a plane to atlanta?" and, of course, this'll be all well and good here today, but tomorrow night stone road plays a biker thanksgiving party, and i dunno how forgiving they'll be when i sing my medley of air supply songs with this voice...i mean, i know how forgiving and sensitive those guys can be, but you just don't sing those great old air supply songs without being able to give it your all, man. i mean...they might get angry. if i'm not one hundred percent, then they may take to idle chatter during our set...or worse, get up and move to the hors'duerves table while i'm singing...and, maybe - just maybe - if they've been drinking early enough...they may ask the entertainment committee not to bring us back next year. how completely and utterly brash.

if this appears to be the case, though, and they're not responding, then we'll have to pull out the heavy artillery and throw some rowdy, rambunctious music at them.

yes, that's right.

i'm talking about heavy music, man. stuff like tom jones or maybe even michael bolton!! so a word to the wise, you leatherclad fuckers...we're gonna rock your world tomorrow night! whoooooohooooo! yeaaaaaaaaaa!

now, sing with us....

"maaaakin' looooooove...oudddda nuthin' at aaaaaaaalllllll....."

11.24.2003

you want me to fix what?

now playing: dolly varden, "be a part"


so right out of the gate, today, i'm being asked to fix something that doesn't even resemble a computer. and, to quote the most overplayed band in rock and roll history, "i see a bad moon rising...."

nothing good can possibly come from this. but i will do as they ask.

ahwell. been reflecting on saturday night's show, and what lies in store for the rest of the year...wednesday night, we're playing a huge pre-thanksgiving party for an area biker club. i love those...and it should be a blast.

and i know that, all things considered, we had a good night on saturday night, when you factor in that we haven't played in almost a month, but the vocal situation is still bothering me. i'll admit it, right here, in a public forum...our vocals haven't quite recovered from shawn's dismissal. donnie hasn't really found his way into the vocal mix yet on any of the songs he doesn't sing lead on, and quinn doesn't have shawns' range. so, while a lot of the songs don't really notice that he's not around anymore, the ones that do make his absence pretty obvious. thankfully, there are only a few - but i remain convinced that we can overcome this.

saturday night's gig was at one of those places that has a pretty tiny area for the band to set up in, so i had to stand right in front of darryl's kit. literally, right in front of it....where i could feel the wind from his kick drum on the back of my leg.

huh huh huh huh huh...that was cool...

ok, off i go into the realm of the unknown and unqualified...i seriously hope i don't fry this thing...



11.23.2003

Philadelphia Guitar Show

note: check the forum for a brief report from the philly guitar show.

big fun. bought my son a rickenbacker t-shirt. i don't think either of us have ever seen that many guitars in one place at one time.


mojo letter

now playing: redskins vs. dolphins on espn

long ago, i saw an episode of mork and mindy where a guy had died in her father's music store...some guy that no one liked just dropped right there in the place, and when his wife came rushing to the store, they all told her how much they like him and what a great guy he was...so, mork disappears into the back room and uses an alien power he has that only works once every dozen centuries or so to bring this guy back to life. he does this, he says later, because everyone loved this guy so much...and doesn't understand why everyone would say these things if the guy was an asshole - and they're all pissed that he wasted this opportunity on the dickhead that no one likes.

fast forward to about six thirty tonight, when (after finishing some errands at work) i head over to the redner's across the street from work...the redner's immortalized in my earlier post...yeah, that one. the soup post.

anyway, i walk into the back toward the deli section and i can't help but notice that the nasty-assed soup that i complained about was gone...replaced by the soup that they had before, the soup that wasn't broken but that they insisted on fixing anyway.

so, i'm thinking to myself...i actually got what i wanted here. i wrote a letter, and it actually worked...bad soup gone.

so, i'm wondering - what if i'd put up with the soup and written my letter elsewhere, if that one was gonna actually work, then i shoulda used it for something a little more important. why didn't i write dubya a letter, telling him to repeal the patriot act, bring our troops home, and look for another job.

no, i had to waste my mojo letter on soup.

i sure do feel like a selfish bastard.


11.21.2003

research

now playing: jay ferguson, "thunder island"


(it should be mentioned that "now playing" features a kickass slide guitar solo from joe walsh...just in case you were interested)



this weekend, there's a stone road gig. it feels like decades since we played last. sheesh, take three weeks off and you start to forget what people look like...

this weekend, i will tell you now lest it not be said afterward, will be busy as hell. i have a dozen things i want to do, and i'm 24 hours away from being officially ten thousand words behind in my nanowrimo committment, so that's weighing heavily on my mind, as well.

i got out my journals last night when i got home and started reading through some of them - there sure was a lot of stuff that i'd forgotten in the time since all this happened. some things that happened, some things that were said, some names that i'd happily put in archive and wiped from my hard drive, if you will...but it'll definitely make the next couple of chapters in the book a little more truthful and vivid...

...should i get a chance to write them this next 24 hours.


the thing that wouldn't leave

now playing: the spinners, "could it be i'm falling in love"

with apologies to the belushi saturday night live skit...have a read:

AlterNet: Bush Goes To England, Blair Goes To Hell


the dixie chicks got a raw deal.
i'd be ashamed of this asshole, too.


perhaps a regret or two...

now playing: jim photoglo, "we were meant to be lovers"


they say that hindsight is always 20/20.

in working so much on this book lately, and thinking about the events that led into and out of my stab at commercial success as a musician...combined with the recent onslaught of celebrity personalities like paris hilton* and everyone's favorite sulker eminem* being bitten in the ass by past indiscretions, i have to wonder:

would it have helped my chances for success if i'd done a lot more stupid stuff when i was younger?

i mean, we all know from our experiences in life that there are decisions that we make that affect the rest of our lives in some way or another...even decisions that seemed somewhat insignificant at the time. but, as the news is pointing out to us - there are some things that just seem destined to come back to haunt you.

by now, you'd think that it'd be a no brainer to never, ever videotape yourself doin' the nasty. it would appear that ms. hilton never heard of pamela anderson and tommy lee, or tonya harding...and she's not old enough to remember the whole rob lowe episode, i guess...

so that's my downfall, where my old aspirations are concerned. i never rolled tape. it's not that i never did anything stupid or childish, i just never documented myself for posterity in full reproductive splendor.

having said this, i think it's time to relive the dream. i'm gonna write a batch of new songs and start shopping them around and start psyching myself up to make a new record. maybe i'll write one or two that make plentiful use of the "N" word and deride a few racial or religious groups...

at the same time, i'm gonna videotape myself having sex with as many different women as i possibly can. wendy, you're just gonna have to bear with me on this one. i may not get another shot. and while whatever recognition my actual talent receives from the whole process will be fleeting, at least i can entertain the strong possibility of becoming governor of california later in life.

in fact, i might get an early start on picking a running mate...so if anyone has kato kaelin's phone number, hook me up. i don't think joey buttafuoco would identify with west coast voters...sorry, man.

anyway, back to my point....

if you're interested in being videotaped having sex with me, drop me an email. i'll do my best to squeeze you in as soon as possible.


if you're reading this, anna nichole smith - i'm afraid you're not eligible for this offer. sorry.

or...what the hell. maybe you are.





*these are CNN links, and as such will expire, oh...probably before i'm done typing...


11.20.2003

also....

for those of you who don't often check out the folks i link to over to your right, i submit this for your review....

i need to see things like this every now and then when the media has clubbed me into starting to believe i really am insane and the assholes who think that saddam personally piloted one of the hijacked planes into the world trade center are following a certain logic that i just don't get or understand....

there are a lot more people out there who know just how fucked up we are here than i realize sometimes...i feel better knowing this.


"i feel like i'm riding in a car with a drunk at the wheel..." - david crosby



is this a scrunchy i see before me?

now playing: my wife's awful taste in television


there are those who think that those who specialize in an area or a vocation excel in it all the time...but i've always thought the opposite to be true. most mechanics i know drive beaters, most cooks live at the drive thru, most carpenters have huge to-do lists at their own homes, and thus it is with those of us who make a vocation in the computer field...the PC that i type on as we speak has one monitor unplugged next to it, with a perpetual glowing reminder that reads "no signal input or cable disconnected"...

there are half a dozen computers in my house. one of those, the one in my daughters' room, has had problems burning CD's for over a month - i just got that fixed this evening. i also took a look at her printer, which she had told me this past weekend was jammed pretty solidly.

i opened up the printer, removed the remnants of paper from it, and found a hair tie wrapped around one of the internal pinch rollers - formerly freshly fallen from the desk it sits next to, i would assume. we both got a good laugh out of that one.

after i finished getting miss jayda squared away, i walked next door to my erstwhile studio to get back into the process of rennovations that have been stopping and starting for some time now, and ended up standing in the middle of the room for fifteen minutes or so, trying to get a handle on where everything would go when i reassembled everything. damn that guy who sold me the console and threw the stand in for free! if he hadn't given me that option, i'd have a pretty solid handle on what i was going to do...but now that i have a stand for my console, i'm thinking that i might want to use it, and move the desk that it would sit on otherwise somewhere else in the room and do things differently.

choices, choices, choices...


also, i have to tell you...watching dylan dancing around the living room to that awful david hasselhof video i linked to earlier this week was the highlight of my day, man. he's just too damn funny.


11.19.2003

today's guitar thought

now playing: christopher cross, "sailing"




joe walsh on playing hotel california on guitar:


"It continues to be quite a challenge to play correctly," Walsh said. "You have to pay attention [to] the interplay between the two guitars. I don't know where we were at when we thought those parts up.

"But we were somewhere," he added, laughing. "I would hate to be another guitar player who has to figure the song out. I can barely play it. And I wrote it!"





...so if you see me later today and my chest is stickin' out a little bit, you'll know why. and yes, that noise you hear is my ego purring. *grin*





ATTENTION JAYDA AND DYLAN

courtesy of one of my links across the way, this is for you, guys.
i dare you to sit through the whole thing.


i realize that sometimes we hurt the ones we love...and i love you both very much.


sweetiehoneydude

now playing: the eagles, "pretty maids all in a row"

i can't remember which single this song appeared on the flip side of, but i have vivid memories of lying on my bed as a teenager with the arm pulled up and back on my record player so that it would keep repeating...and listening to this song over and over and over again. the harmonies on the fade of this song still makes the hair on my arms stand on end.

dylan came downstairs this morning with his gym shirt on under his white polo shirt, skateboarder emblems showing through...i tried to show him the error of his ways, but he wasn't hearin' me today. he then proceeded to put his coat on with the collar folded underneath and throw his bookbag over his shoulder on the way out to the van.

i want to say that it's a boy thing, but i'm here to tell ya...that would bug the shit outta me.

i'm realizing today that i've got roughly ten days to write the entire second half of this book. and, in the spirit of this epiphany, i just lost a few hundred words to my tempermental computer here at work.

could that be my karma telling me that i'm not supposed to be doin' this here?

no way, man.

incidental to the book, i had a long conversation today with one of the other primary characters...who pointed out that i have a tendency to lean on the word "man" quite a bit, and that it might be inappropriate to address her as such. i tried to explain my use of the word as a term of endearment, but it was - sadly - to no avail. therefore, i've been forced to utilize another not-quite-word to address this individual.

i'll adjust. eventually.

people, for all their purposes and functions in life, sometimes serve well as signposts - markers - barometers for how far we've come, for how many miles we've put behind us or how many miles we have before us. there are people who serve as role models, as icons, as examples, as reminders, as reference points...some become good friends, some are just incidental characters near the bottom of the credits - "man with guitar" or "musician in corner" or "chain smoking woman" or "stoic farmer in baseball cap" or "redneck at traffic light"...but they eventually become unwitting, thin rails of iron with small green numbers at the top along our road - perhaps without even realizing it sometimes, as they give us a glimpse of the big map with the red arrow, notating that "you are here".

i think that i did some time as a signpost today.

alan freed and jfk

now playing: JFK week on the History Channel

man...i'm such a sucker for this shit....

anyway...fresh meat alert.

just updated the most recent edit of alan freed's blues a few minutes ago.

keep in mind, though...being a scatterbrained bastard, which i am, there are edits all over the place. so you may think you've read everything up to this point, but i've been adding stuff in spots all over the book. so you may have to wait until it's done to read it again all the way through.

just an FYI.

11.18.2003

$93.00 sick day

now playing: action news

rain, rain...is apparently coming again another day.

i put a couple of major projects to bed today, somehow, amidst playing the superiority complex game with my boss this afternoon and trying to placate some folks who should, by all accounts, be capable of self-placation by now.

i also had a long conversation with blake about music and our mutual history...and found out that he was, in fact, thinking about calling me to join aunt pat a good solid four years ago.

coulda, shoulda, woulda.

i've gotten a couple of great emails from friends about the recent thoughts i posted regarding writing and self-perception and such...i think that strikes an empathetic chord with my friends who find themselves in the same boat, simply because i think the act of participating in creativity invokes a lot of self-doubt and self-criticism and questioning...julia cameron has been a great place to go for perspective for me, but i've historically had a hard time applying her perspective to my reality...it seems to come down to individual efforts that either shine or don't, really. i've never been able to do the whole "morning pages" thing. mornings are not my friend. mornings do not offer me clarity or perspective. mornings are a blur of dread and lethargy and general limpness. the only thing i accomplish in the mornings is managing to center myself over the rails and prepare for the coal to warm up enough to get me down the tracks.

my day off yesterday, incidentally, cost me almost a hundred bucks, as a result of not depositing a check that would've covered withdrawals that ended up hitting a day early, racking up $93.00 in overage charges.

see, this is what i get for giving myself permission to feel like shit, instead of buckin' up and dealing with it and carryin' on.

so, those of you who are constantly chortling that i'm pushing myself too hard - be prepared to revisit this moment next time you start giving me shit.

i just might hold my hand out if you nag my ass too much.

zzzzz....

now playing: janis ian, "at seventeen"

tired. drained.

i ended up taking the day off yesterday, and slept for all but about six hours of the day. i don't remember the last time i slept that long.

and i'm still not quite myself.

there are a few projects that have their boot on my throat, however, and i must rebound one way or the other...and rebound i will, but my body doth protest too much.

decided over the weekend that we're taking the kids to new york city this christmas.

wish i was more talkative. it'll come in time.


11.17.2003

the dime that the day turns on

now playing: bryan ferry, "slave to love" (on vh1 classic)

so, i'm sitting down to start a blog entry before i get back to work on my book, and this video comes on.

wow.

this is a moment.

this is tom hampton, coming to you live, from an official moment...

i love this song, first of all...and i love this video, too. when this album came out, i was in the UK, and i remember getting a vhs video compilation as a christmas gift that led off with this song, and i loved the video as much (if not more) than the song. for those of you who haven't seen it, it's got all these absolutely nonsensical "golden age of video" bullshit images in it (woman sitting luxuriously on rotating chair...WTF?), but the storyline is something like this...

a plane lands, and a group of paparazzi rush the plane, flashbulbs blaring, and bryan ferry steps out...they follow him as he's singing the song...he gets into a car...as the car stops at a traffic light, he gazes out the window at a couple kissing in the convertible next to him, with paparazzi still hot on his trail, flashing at him from the other side of the car...the camera follows him down a hallway towards a bedroom, and then pulls back to reveal a small group of photographers behind him, slinking up to the doorway he's just walked through...the scene shifts to him, sitting on the edge of a bed, singing, then back to the paparazzi who have their cameras raised, and then frozen...it pans back around to bryan ferry, who - it's revealed in the shot - is singing the song to a blonde-haired lady of no more than 4 or 5 years old, sleeping soundly. shot pans back to photographers, who slowly lower their lenses and turn and walk away, leaving them alone. the video ends with ferry holding the sleeping child in his arms and dancing with her to the music.

just kills me, man.

not unlike the commercial that's on a lot right now of the guy who struggles to get into his hotel room, sits on the edge of his bed eating what must be a crappy meal, then runs for most of the next day, hailing a cab, running through the airport to find his flight delayed...then plops, dejected, into a seat to have his daughter materialize next to him with a sweet, "hello daddy"....he turns as a smile lights up his face with a "hello, sweetheart!"....the mirage fades to reveal he's talking to her on his cell phone.

that one gets me every time, too.

i think i know the source of all this, though. between writing about a time when my children were much smaller than they are now and sitting down recently with jayda's beau to watch movies of the kids when they were small, i've been thrown pretty forcefully back a few years. i think about it a lot lately.

it makes no sense for me to write it, because it doesn't make sense, but i miss my kids. or, i should say, i miss my kids when they were kids.

this is bullshit, really. this is about regret, more than anything. i regret that i pissed away so much time when they were smaller chasing after something that turned out not to be anywhere near as important as what i was missing while my attentions were turned elsewhere. i mean, i was there for a lot, but i didn't get it then. i had no fucking idea what was going on under my nose.

i guess what i'm trying to say in too many words is that i just wasn't aware. realistically, i don't think most people are - and i don't know why i feel like i should have been any different, but i have a lot of regret about that time of my life. i feel like i was distracted through the whole thing, like i was going through the motions at the time and not really involved with what was going on, with my relationship with my kids. when i watch these movies now, it's as if i wasn't there for some reason.

what does that come from?

tonight, my son fell asleep on the sofa next to me watching the patriots/cowboys game on tv. i got him upstairs to bed, and not long after, my daughter came down and watched the rest of the game with me, and then we watched viva la bam together while i waited for laundry to dry, and talked...we went to new york on saturday night, first to poughkeepsie to pick up a console for the studio, but then we decided rather spontaneously to drive through new york city on the way home...we took the midtown tunnel through after driving the loop around manhattan, and i took them through times square, down broadway, so they could experience NYC on a saturday night. dylan, specifically, was excited by the huge cup o'noodles rotating styrofoam in the sky. jayda was mortified to discover that the "cute little boy" that she saw out the window was actually a dwarf...

my point, i guess, is that i feel a lot closer to my kids now than i did when they were smaller, and i wish we'd always been this way. i know in my heart of hearts that we only got this close because their mom and i split up, and i got to spend time with them, themselves, and i feel like they revealed themselves to me in the time since. their mother is, to say the very least, a...ummm...a strong personality. let's just leave it at that. i don't think they get many opportunities to make their own decisions, to express their own opinions, to be themselves when they live under her roof. i try to allow as much room for that as i can when they're here. i think that's a huge part of why we've developed the relationship that we have.

huge.

i don't know, though, what it is specifically that i regret. should i have left their mom sooner than i did to allow for this relationship that we have now to have formed sooner than it did? i don't know if that's it or not. i guess i just wish i could have some of that time back now.

i'd like to watch my son crawl up the stairs in his diaper and try to climb between the rails again.

i'd like to watch my daughter dance in front of the tv, with her coat hanging off her shoulders just like adam duritz, singing "mr. jones" along with the video.

i'd like to watch dylan climb into the drawers in his grandmothers' kitchen.

i'd like to watch jayda dancing in her ballerina outfit to tori amos' "winter", spinning about with her hands in the air.

i'd like to see them both on the tire swing in their grandparent's yard, spinning in circles and then falling down the hill like tiny drunkards.

and i'd like to know, in the moments that i was experiencing these things, just how precious these snippets of time are, so that i could give them the respect they deserve and treasure them while they were happening.

obviously, i can't do this - i can, however, treasure the moments that we have now. i can take my daugther christmas shopping and help my son with his homework projects and know, in this particular pass, that i won't get these moments back, and know just how huge that is.

alright, that's enough.

i need to compose myself and fold some clothing. i don't think i can prolong this weekend much more than i have.


11.14.2003

also....

now i understand

now playing: music from hell.

i'm on hold right now, waiting to talk to a friend...

a light bulb has gone off over the top of my head. i have just been enlightened with an understanding i've never fully had before.

i have seen (heard) just what could possibly motivate someone to place the barrel of a gun in their mouth and pull the trigger. i never really understood this before, but now i think i do.

the hold music on the phone right now is jimmy buffett's version of "southern cross".

good thing there are no loaded weapons about...



MAKE IT STOP!

validated

*now playing: rickie lee jones, "last chance texaco"


this weekend, i'm driving four hours to upstate new york to pick up a new console for my home studio, which i'll probably have installed and ready to go before the weekend is up.

and i'm struck, today, by the fact that i haven't really done much work in the studio over the past few months that didn't involve someone else's projects or songs, and it cultivates some thought regarding what, exactly, my role is these days.

i'm a songwriter. or at least i was a songwriter, once upon a time. blake and i were discussing this on the phone a couple of days ago, as he seems to be at something of a crossroads himself regarding what his motivations have historically been, and what it is that makes him do what he's doing...i've never made a secret about the fact that i considered blake one of the best songwriters i've heard or worked with, and i immediately think (as most people do in a situation like this) that, with his talent, motivation shouldn't be that hard to come by.

it dawns on me, though, when i make a statement like that about someone else, that the same could very well be said of myself.

bragging and touting my talents isn't something that comes easily for me. i was dragged into this world through the old south and taught humility, and can't stand braggadocio or arrogance in people to this day. but, the fact is, i'm pretty damn good at what i do, musically. i'm probably one of the most sensitive musicians that you could possibly hope to have in your corner - i play what's required of the song, not what best suits some innate need to steal the spotlight or prove what a great player i am. i come up with consistently tasteful parts, and i'm pretty damn versatile, too...i play a lot of different instruments well.

the astute reader is asking, by now, what any of this has to do with songwriting.

nada.

therein lies the most obvious clue regarding where my motivations lie these days.

i just don't feel as though i have anything to say, as a songwriter. and i'm pretty sure this is due, in large part, to the perceived reception my last album received.

"what?" you're saying. "that was a great record! the songs were great, you did a great job putting them to tape, you had a great producer and stellar musicians on it, guys who'd worked with pros...you got a glowing review in Performing Songwriter magazine, and you had people that you respected singing your praises all over the place! so what's your goddamn problem?"

what's my problem, indeed. see, all those things are true. it was a great record. i did have people that i respected gushing over it. a musician friend who became a friend largely as a result of having heard that record told me, point blank, that it changed his life...that it made him reconsider his priorities as a writer, to dig deeper and examine things more closely.

and then, you might ask, how much more fucking validation do you need than that, dick?

and you'd be well within your rights to do so.

the answer is...

well, i think the answer isn't quite so simple as yes or no. i don't think it's validation that i wanted in the first place. i think that it was acceptance on some level that i never quite got to...i think that's what i was shopping for.

but i think that the larger issue, for me, was that i was ill-prepared for what was required of me on a business/networking/schmoozing/asskissing level. i think i was naive enough to think that i'd find a good manager who'd insulate me from having to deal with all that...but that wasn't very realistic of me.

the fact is, the music business in our day and age doesn't allow for you to live outside the machinery and write good songs and play great shows and have that be it. you have to actually get out there yourself, go to the release parties and the conferences and the little happenings that are constantly going on and keep your name and face in front of people and sell yourself every time you leave your house. there's such a glut of available supply - the demand moves on to the next supplier if you spend too many nights out of the slipstream. right now, there's a dozen guys waiting for john mayer to take a deep breath - the second he does, they'll elbow him out of the way and take their one album, fifteen minute turn.

this is the cycle. or, i should say, this is the cycle now.

this is the machine we've built...the internet ready, 500 channel, always-on, short attention span machine.

as an aside...one of my favorite bloom county cartoon strips finds opus and portnoy sitting together with the TV remote, surfing through channels...and opus remarks, "you know, there was a time when you could sit down with your family in front of the television and watch milton berle or jack benny and know that most of america was watching the same thing you were...". ultimately, they land on "bikini babes of the bahamas" and portnoy asks, "you think uncle miltie would approve?"

the moral being....

the tides have shifted, and no one holds large chunks of attention for very long.

i want to be ok with this. in a lot of ways, i think i am ok with this. i'm not really that concerned with the fancies of the rest of the world until we do something completely ignorant as a populace and elect a president from texas who sucks the nation into an unnecessary war that has no logical motives, sending american citizens to die while we all sit around with "god bless america" t-shirts on, slapping "support our troops" stickers on our SUV's. then i get concerned with the general direction of things...but from an artistic standpoint, i don't want to play to the mainstream. i want to do what i do for a small but appreciative group of people.

and you know what? that's what i'm doing.

what i've realized in the time that's gone by since 1998 is that...yeah, ok, i'm a good songwriter. but -- i get a serious rush out of being able to do things on the instruments that i play that not a lot of other people can do. and when i'm doing sideman work, my validation or acceptance or whatever it is that i need from sources outside myself comes directly from whoever i'm playing with at the time. if blake or charlie or marty or whomever my collaborator might be is happy, and the circuits are working, then that's what i need to get me through the night. that makes me happy.

would i consider going down the songwriting path again? it's never a matter of "never", but i don't hear that particular call at the moment. i'm having too much fun right now, playing with the people i'm playing with and doing my thing with my white trash trailer park classic rock cover band.

life is good...when i get out of its way and just let shit happen the way it's supposed to.



* no, i didn't change it yet....now leave me alone.

11.13.2003

agitated

now playing: dennis yost and the classics IV, "traces of love"


yeah, it's still the same winamp playlist...not for much longer, tho.


a certain someone had the 'nads to come into my work area today and tell me that i should go back to playing full time again. usually, i just shrug this kinda stuff off, but for some reason this kinda pissed me off....maybe it's because i've had this conversation three times in the space of a week already. i got another chapter in the perpetual, ten year long bob stirner lecture before i left for chicago on saturday, and then blake and i talked for a while about it yesterday, and then todd today...

the more i hear about it from people, the less inclined i am to want to even entertain the thought.

this is normally a temporary thing, though.


11.12.2003

bran hangover

must make a point to hit the cereal aisle tomorrow during lunch. the top shelf of the cupboard is almost empty. had to mix granola, raisin nut bran, and honey bunches of oats just to get a decent bowl tonight.

i hate mixing 'em up like that. i get such a headache the next morning.

blake and i opened up a dialouge earlier today about songwriting and motives that i'm planning on espousing a bit on...maybe tomorrow. i also have to hop back headlong into the book, lest i waste the commanding jump i got on my word count during my trip...

john gorka has a new record out. must investigate.

carpal cerebral tunnel syndrome

now playing: firefall, "strange way"

miles to go before i sleep.

my brain hurts...although it's dulled to a vague ache. i think i've proven once and for all that it's possible to suffer mental repetitive stress injuries. i was making corrections to a no-frills website that i promised a friend i'd put up for him, and none of the corrections seemed to be registering...i finally called someone who wasn't on our network here at work and asked them to check into it, and apparently our proxy server here at work was storing the site in its cache, leading me to believe that no matter how many times i transferred those files, they still weren't there.

only slight relief comes from knowing that i was doing the right thing all along. more relief would come from having figured that out waaaay before i did.

i just finished transferring my huge mp3 collection onto a new server here, too...and that means all my old playlists are now useless. i made one huge one, titled "nothing after 1982" which has been on all week (some explanation there for those who have been noticing a pattern amongst the "now playings" of the past couple of days...).

off i go. computers, driving, computers, driving, book, sleep. hopefully, in that order.




simplify...simplify...simplify....

now playing: fleetwood mac, "angel"

today would be one of those days when turning in my CompTIA certification and dusting off my forklift operator's license seems almost serenely logical. when i compare the amount of occupational stress in my life now to the stresses in my life all those years ago when i was Mister Factory Guy, i seem to come up with some tough questions about where i went wrong. 'course, i was always broke, was unhappy with where i lived, wasn't satisifed with my marriage...

nowadays, though...

hmmm...i'm always broke, i'm not real thrilled about where i live....

maybe this isn't the best time for "compare and contrast"....

as a result of this whole book project, i'm finding myself thinking a lot about that particular period of my life lately...when the kids were much smaller, when a lot of my life down the road looked much more open-ended than it does now...i think that in a lot of ways, i've been clinging to a false sense of having simplified my life in the time since, somehow. i'm starting to see, however, that this is simply not true. my life is as hectic now as it was when i was scrambling to make tour dates in newport, boston, new york city and philadelphia in a three day period. it's just hectic in a different way.

tonight, i have to drive out to morgantown and set up a wireless network for someone who bought pc's from me a few weeks ago, but only just recently got their internet connection installed...then out to collegeville to inspect a possible repair job. if i'm lucky, i'll be home by eleven o'clock.

how is this simpler? or better, for that matter?

this is history repeating itself. this is life taking something that i enjoy doing and putting me in a position to do it over and over again until i'm sick of it.

i can't help but wonder what gene it is that i carry that brings me back around to this point time and time again...do most people, as a rule, have a higher tolerance for repetition, where things they're passionate about are concerned? or is it maybe an issue of the possible lack of passion on my part for both of these periods of my life. they're a lot more similar than i'm probably willing to admit to myself at the moment.

maybe i'll try a little subliminal suggestion...i'll emblazon the word NO on the wall across from my monitor and see if seeing it on a regular basis will make it any easier to say.


11.11.2003

further proof of the male menstrual cycle

now playing: marshall tucker band, "heard it in a love song"

while i'm in "ass ripping" mode, here's the text of a letter i sent to the supermarket that sits across the street from where i work, who seem to have decided to make some ill-advised changes in their salad bar:


-------------------------------------------------------------------
To: Richard Redner, Redner's Warehouse Markets

Hi, there.

I'm writing to address the recent changes made in the produce section of the Leesport store.

I work right across the street from the store, and I go there at least three times a week or so for lunch.

I think that you should be aware that the last four times I've gone there, I've left empty-handed due to the recent changes made to the soups you carry.

I'm familiar with the fable of the "soup nazi", and I could understand how, from a marketing standpoint, that this could potentially help you move product in this area.

However, I don't think that having a product that tastes like old spackling compound is going to benefit you or your customers in the long run.

Simply put, I've attempted on a couple of occasions to give this antifreeze that you're passing off as soup the benefit of the doubt, but I will do so no more. It's the nastiest stuff I've ever tried to eat. Even something as simple as chicken noodle comes out like dishwasher seepage.

I think that you're doing your customers a serious disservice by continuing to stock this diaper residue, and you'd be best served by going back to the soups that you used to sell at the salad bar.

I'll still stop over for the occasional sandwich, but until some changes are made, you've lost a soup customer.


Have a nice day.


Tom Hampton
-------------------------------------------------------------


i guess what this is all pointing to would be one inevitable conclusion...

walk a wide circle around me until the funk subsides. then all will return to normal.

veteran's day, the sequel

now playing:we all live in a capital I from sesame street (thanks, napster!)

so today i got my first email from someone i don't know who reads my missives here. apparently none too fond of the implied sarcasm of my "support the troops" statement earlier.

maybe this is more in line with his definition of supporting the troops....

or perhaps you've forgotten that your president and your republican congress voted to slash $$9.7 BILLION dollars in veteran's medical benefits over the next ten years and another $$15 BILLION dollars in disability compensation over the same period???

this money was cut from the budget to make funds available so that you could get a check for three hundred bucks from their most recent tax cut.

by the way, this happened a mere TWO DAYS after the invasion and occupation of iraq began.

as a veteran myself, i find this kind of used car salesman double talk absolutely APPALLING.

i don't recall any mention in your email, however, of your service record....


if this is how you go about supporting the troops, then call me a traitor. i don't give a fuck. i happen to think that there's more to it than slapping a $3 bumper sticker on your SUV, personally.

don't come back, now, ya hear?



happy veteran's day

now playing: karla bonoff, "the letter"


reprinted from a new york times article in today's paper...without even an attempt at permission:


....from the things they wrote:

Excerpt of a letter from Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens, 34, of Springfield, Mo. Private Givens was killed May 1 when his tank fell into the Euphrates River after the bank on which he was parked gave way. This letter was written to be delivered to his family if he died. Melissa is his wife, Dakota his 6-year-old stepson and Bean the name he used for his son, Carson, who was born May 29.


My family,

I never thought that I would be writing a letter like this. I really don't know where to start. I've been getting bad feelings, though and, well, if you are reading this. . . .

The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. I will always have with me the small moments we all shared. The moments when you quit taking life so serious and smiled. The sounds of a beautiful boy's laughter or the simple nudge of a baby unborn. You will never know how complete you have made me. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never dreamed existed.

Dakota . . . you taught me how to care until it hurts, you taught me how to smile again. You taught me that life isn't so serious and sometimes you just have to play. You have a big, beautiful heart. Through life you need to keep it open and follow it. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can play. I love you, and hope someday you will understand why I didn't come home. Please be proud of me.

Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I know you will be strong and big-hearted like your mom and brother. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom's belly, and the joy I felt when I found out you were on your way. I love you, Bean.

Melissa, I have never been as blessed as the day I met you. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover and best friend. I am sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A lifetime's worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That's how long I will be with you. Please keep my babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. . . . Teach our babies to live life to the fullest, tell yourself to do the same.

I will always be there with you, Melissa. I will always want you, need you and love you, in my heart, my mind and my soul. Do me a favor, after you tuck the children in. Give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside and look at the stars and count them. Don't forget to smile.

Love Always,
Your husband,
Jess



happy veteran's day. don't forget to support the troops.

11.10.2003

just how long can he stay awake, anyway?

now playing: mae moore, "bohemia"

(note: it was gonna be "fine fine day" by tony carey, but the song was over before i could find anything resembling a decent website. he had no official one. and i'm a stickler. if i say "now playing, that means now playing. ya know? ya KNOW?)

alright, so i had my laptop along for the weekend, so i could pump up my word count during the trip. here's a summary, exactly as it was written.

here ya go...enjoy.

********************

11.08.03

now playing:david wilcox, "chet baker's unsung swan song"

typing on a train is something of an adventure, i think. there are two adorable children behind me, zachary (4) and mackenzie (2). we've become fast friends. i've already babysat while their mom went to get them milk from the dining car. they're on their way to texas, and apparently there's some marital strife going on with their mom and dad. sounds way too familiar.

in front of me a few seats is my ex-wife...or, i should say, it would be my ex-wife if she were a foot taller and had a serious crack problem. she's chatting everyone within earshot up about her problems...glad she decided to sit in the fore section of the compartment.

it's been dark for some time now and my little friends behind me are starting to drift off, i think...they're getting a little cranky.

i've had a 3000 word jump in my book since i got on the train and we're only a few minutes outside of lewistown (which is mentioned in the book a number of times). i might just finish this bitch on the train, at this rate.

11.09.03 early am

my little buddies zachary and mackenzie ended up sitting with me for a good chunk of the morning, zachary playing a game on his mom's cell phone and mackenzie sitting on my lap, looking out the window as the sun came up. cute kids. zack has a pretty serious case of pinkeye, so my number shall be coming up soon...just hope i can hold out until the drive is over.

there is a Crazy Black Man on the train.

i know this will sound as though i'm profiling, or that i'm prejudiced, or something of that nature, and i'm gonna get reamed for saying it - but it seems that every long trip i go on involves at least one Crazy Black Man. this particular Crazy Black Man has made a habit of stalking the aisle, making noises like Goat Boy from saturday night live. it's gotten to the point where several of us have begun trying to communicate with him when he goes by, making our own Goat Boy noises, but he doesn't respond. Duh. we don't speak Goat Boy, so how could he understand us? now i feel like one of those dorky fratboy idiots who make pseudo-chinese noise at the peking buffet.

Crazy Black Man will not be stopped. nope.

in the middle of the night, someone got stuck in the bathroom. i just knew it was Crazy Black Man, but it turned out to be someone else. too bad. it woulda been the perfect cap to the trip if the door had swung open to a cavalcade of Goat Boy indignance.

i'm feeling a little overwhelmed....it's after 8:30, and i don't think there's any way i'm going to make it back home in time for work on monday morning. i sure do hope i'm wrong.



so i caved. i'm travelling with limited funds, but i hadn't eaten anything for 24 hours, and the mcdonalds was right there, right next to the metra ticket counter, so i gave in. went inside and sat two tables away from another Crazy Woman (whose nationality i will omit, lest it really seem like i'm singling out) who was telling someone to "drinky they meelk so dey grow up biiig...". there was no one but me within fifteen feet of her, and i was havin' orange juice, so draw your own conclusions.

the lengths that we will go to in order to pander to illiteracy and/or stupid people is probably more evident nowhere on the planet than here in the south concourse of chicago's union station. each of the gates here actually says its number out loud over and over again....track number twelve....track number fourteen..track number ten...track number eight...track number twelve...track number eight...track number ten.....track number/track number twel/track num/track number eight...

i'm trying to tell myself that perhaps it's due to a large number of international clientele or something of that nature, but i seem to be cancelling that argument out internally by realizing that if you don't recognize the number twelve, who's to say you'd understand it being spoken to you ad infinitum by an automated version of the airport "red zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only" lady?

i can't think of a single reason for this. sorry. waste of money. gettin' on my nerves by now, too, and i have an hour of this to listen to yet, since my amtrak train was forty minutes late and i missed the 8:30.

this is god's punishment for attempting to talk to Crazy Black Man in his native tongue.

i was watching the weather on tv in mcdonalds, and was seriously humbled by the map. i have a long assed drive ahead of me, and i've just lost two hours, courtesy of amtrak.

i'm fucked.

11.09.03 5:50pm

departing now. we've spent a good chunk of the afternoon visiting kenny's resident VW repairman, who make me wish that he lived in my backyard. i'm seriously jealous. he lives on a farmhouse literally in the middle of nowhere. it's corn, corn, corn, corn, 50 bugs and vanagons, corn, corn, corn....he was born and raised in east tennessee, so he instantly felt familiar to me.

kenny gave me the master list of everything i could possibly want to know about the van, and i've tried to commit most of it to memory, but i know i'll end up asking again at a later date.

ok. off we go. time is not on my side.

11.10.03

FUCK.

blew out the rear tire on the driver's side...a mere hundred feet from the service plaza parking lot. it felt like a lucky stroke that it blew there, but this is gonna kill my time.

better start figuring out what i'm gonna tell the boss now. cuz unless they're pulling in now, i'm not gonna make it.



it's a little after noon, and i pulled it off. i arrived at home at 6:45, just in time to take a shower and leave for work. since saturday morning, the only sleep i've gotten was on the train, and although i'm feeling a sense of fulfillment in having managed to pull this whole thing off in the face of near trip-ending diversity, i'm just plain friggin' beat.

between fatigue and pinkeye, my ass is kicked. i'm predicting a 6:30pm bedtime this evening.





11.08.2003

unforeseen circumstances

now playing: jeffrey focault, "miles from the lightning"

highway 222 south was closed since just after lunchtime today until god knows when. traffic was backed up all the way into shillington, six miles away.

needless to say, i missed the train out of lancaster, and won't be able to leave until saturday afternoon. this puts me in chicago sunday morning, and completely under the gun to get back home in time to go to work on monday morning.

am i upset? pissed off?

nah.

LIVID would be a little more accurate.

it probably speaks a great deal to the kind of person that i've become that i felt absolutely nothing about what was going on further up that highway, only anger that i had lost several hours of work and would have my whole weekend jerked around.

that anger was compounded quite a bit when i got further up the road and saw that the accident was apparently in the opposing lane, thirty yards or so separated from the southbound lane that we'd have been travelling in.

there's something to be said for having a fire department staffed with paid professionals, as opposed to good ol' boys who like havin' them there sirens on top of their four wheel drives...here in pennsylvania, that's what we have. overzealous rednecks.

yeah, i'm still pissed.

i came home and went upstairs to take a nap and cool off a bit, but i had limited success, i think. no, it's not logical - anger doesn't often follow a logical path, and there's nothing i could have done to have changed what happened...even if i'd left an hour earlier, i'd still have missed the train.

i'm sure that by tomorrow, i'll be over it, once i'm seated and pulling out. or maybe i'll be over it once i'm back home and this whole lost weekend is behind me.

while i was sleeping, i had this crazy dream that jackson browne was playing on my front porch, taping for a radio show...i came inside and grabbed my weissenborn and started out to sit in with him - he was playing a song i'd never heard before - and some jackass with a bunch of passes on a lanyard around his fat little neck wouldn't let me onto my own porch!

just imagine the indignance....

if that dream came from any specific event of the day, it was finally getting the booking agent from the sellersville theatre on the phone, and finding out he'd given the opening slot for the poco gig to a cover band from the town the theatre is in.

oh, well.

i should get back to work on this book thing...clock's tickin'.

11.07.2003

spaghetti, man! that's it, man!

now playing: dolly varden, "be a part"

the songs that show up in "now playing" are all in a huge (huge meaning several thousand) song playlist that perpetually resides in my mp3 server here at work - dolly varden is a great, great band - and it struck me as i was getting ready to drop this entry in and that song was playing that they're from chicago.

this time tomorrow i'll be in chicago. just struck me as funny, that's all.

b.w. stevenson came on right afterward, but i have no impending texas travel plans at the moment....

gonna bring along our antique compaq laptop so i can try to keep my word count up...jayda asked me last night if i was gonna be working on my book before i went to bed. she's hooked.

that just kills me.

i'm glad i'm doing this.

i also gave her my copy of william kotzwinkle's the fan man, which she's gobbling up as well. my buddy the jaymeister gave that to me many moons ago, and it's been a point of reference for many, many conversations that have taken place between he and i in the time since. books, man. very cool, man.

i haven't seen dylan all week, though. he has his father's trait of avoidance in the face of anger or tension.

did i mention what a great band dolly varden is?

mixed feelings

now playing: train, "hopeless"

so i heard a story this morning on NPR morning edition about an owner of a textile plant in north carolina who had taken an active role in letting his employees know where they stood politically. apparently, he called his 1200 employees into a meeting and addressed them and told them directly about the 200,000 jobs lost in north carolina alone since dubya took the reins, among other things, and that he was going to personally ensure that every employee was given an opportunity to register to vote, and that he'd provide transportation to the polls for employees who needed it.

now, in my head, on one side, there's a tiny little voice that's saying that this business owner might be leading his employees a little bit...

but on the other side of my head, there's a 500 member choir, backed by the london philharmonic orchestra that's playing and singing what i feel much more strongly, which is...

FUCKIN' A, MAN!

all euphemisms aside, i feel pretty good that someone is trying to break through the haze that the people that elected this jackass in the first place are walking around in. dubya carried the south 4 years ago, and i'd like to think that some of the people who are living on unemployment and welfare due to the "jobless recovery" we're in the midst of would be open to getting information from somewhere other than the bumper stickers on the trucks parked outside the bar. more power to him, i say. if just one little light bulb went off over someone's head during that speech, then he did a good thing, as far as i'm concerned.

in other news, another helicopter went down yesterday in iraq.

if this is what they mean by "supporting our troops", then the world really has gone fuckin' insane. we cut their VA benefits and send them to die in the desert so that dick cheney can hand out no-bid contracts to his cronies.

if i were still enlisted, i don't think i'd feel very "supported" right now.

11.06.2003

artsy fartsy boy

now playing: the innocence mission, "i hear you say so"

so, yeah.

we all knew it was time for a light makeover, but nobody said anything.

i appreciate your sensitivity, and i hope you like the new scheme.

whoever it is that actually checks in here...

i just came back from the world's latest lunch, and i don't feel like lifting my arms above my head right now. man, oh man. i know better. well, normally i know better. i didn't today.

i spent a lot more time than i should have, looking through blogskins for ideas and didn't see anything that really felt like me, so i figured - alright, screw it. i'll just dive in the code and splash around until the lifeguard notices me and makes me get out before i make a scene...

i'm diggin' it, though. much better.

i must...no, must fight the urge to try and finish everything on my work plate tonight. it's not gonna happen, but there are a couple of things that i must finish.

i leave tomorrow afternoon to go pick up the new chariot - i should be saving my strength.

i need, i need....

now playing: john gorka, "bigtime lonesome"

it appears to be official - just talked to my seller earlier today, and the trip to chicago this weekend to pick up the new van is all set.

this makes me very HAPPY.

in other news, i sliced my leg open last night with a falling broken dish and fell asleep on the sofa holding a tissue over the cut...woke up at 5:30 this morning after having done maybe 30 percent of the dishes, which remain undone yet today.

my house is a shambles.

i need to list more stuff on ebay.

i need to throw some shit out.

i need to enforce the same mindset on the other occupants of my present dwelling.

i need to come back to this later, i think.

11.05.2003

the revolving guitar door....

now playing: B.W. Stevenson, "if i pass this way"

(i'd go on a diatribe about what a tragedy it is that no one has posted an official site for him yet, but i'm not feeling very verbose at the moment...)

just got off the phone with my guitar tech, who tells me that one of my sextuplets will soon be ready to come home...keith at amos guitars has a slew of my kids on the table at the moment, and it looks like my pewter telecaster and my chet atkins acoustic will be coming home this weekend...i'm dropping off my dobro to have a pickup installed in it, as well as the one he's already working on at the moment...









i've owned that one for almost a year, and haven't played a note on it yet. it went straight in the day i got it.

dylan's rickenbacker bass has been promised by december 6th. he'll be stoked.

i'm working on a web design project right now on a personal level for the controller of the company where i work...it's his high school graduating class' 25 year reunion page. they graduated in 1978. boy, the fun i could have with this...


good morning, miss moneypenny....

now playing:U2, "stay (faraway, so close)"

you really do learn something new every day.

last night, much to my amusement, i learned that if someone insists on talking to me while i brush my teeth and i'm forced to reply, that i sound vaguely like sean connery if i speak with my toothbrush in my mouth.

amazing. really.

my daughter also told me that she's reading my book as i write it, and that she's learning a lot of things that she never knew....

if nothing else comes from this madness, then that's all the encouragement i needed.

11.04.2003

live from the overlook hotel

now playing: jimmy neutron on the TV a few feet away

i'm clicking and clicking away on the book, and am overcome by an almost uncontrollable urge to lapse into repeating, over and over, into wordpad:

all work and no play makes jack a dull boy
all work and no play makes jack a dull boy
all work and no play makes jack a dull boy
all work and no play makes jack a dull boy
all work and no play makes jack a dull boy
all work and no play makes jack...

it's all this friggin' nickolodeon. that's gotta be it. either that, or god is givin' my karma the smackdown for being lazy in coming up with a name for my main character.

somewhere, at some point, i'm supremely confident that someone has written an entire nanowrimo tome that repeats the above sentences to the power of fifty thousand.

i'm finding that i've given almost no thought to the flow of this thing...it's spilling out and jumping from timeframe to timeframe, all over the place, and i don't rightly know where this is going, other than what it is that i want to say by telling this story in the first place.

wading...wading...wading....

now playing: marty higgins, "big enough"

man, oh man...

so i just took a few minutes leading up to this post clicking around to see what everyone else writes...sheesh...

i did so because i was reading a CNN article about dead sites on the internet (and i should note that i'm loathe to link to CNN content, as i know it'll be gone before i finish my post, in all likelihood), and i wanted to see just what else was out here.

in the past, i've really only linked to blogs that i would say to someone personally, "look...you really have to read this. maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't, but i take something away from this everytime i go." my current personal fave is beth cherry's north carolina experiment. what she's written is so courageous and so evocative that it almost keeps you from noticing what an absolutely masterful job she's done of designing and assembling her page. she mentions in a few of her posts that she gets mail from strangers on a pretty regular basis, and if you invest some time reading it, you'll know why - by the time you've read a chunk of it, you'll feel like you've known her all your life. my latest addition is david corn's capital games, which never fails to fire my ass up.

dave has written a book, "the lies of george w. bush: mastering the politics of deception", which came out in september from crown publishers.

i can't wait to read it...after i'm finished writing my own.

anyway, what i was getting to, is that you really have to work to find blogs that are worth the calories you invest in sliding your mouse around on your desk...it sure does seem like there are a lot of folks out there without a lot to say.

"ohmiGOD, it is SO monday today. i have algebra first thing in the morning, too. i hate algebra. i hate mondays, and i hate algebra. but i hate them both more when i have to deal with them at the same time. thank god chad's in my class. if i couldn't stare at the left side of his bumpin' bod and daydream about him, i'd just diiiiieeee...."

"my mom is so lame. i just spent $60 at hot topic for this slammin' black leather top, and she won't even let me wear it. so today, i put it on under my sweater and wore it to school anyway. the bitch."


no, these aren't actual posts, just a condensed version of some of what i read. that, combined with my own need to get in touch with my Inner Teenage Skank...

i'll trade several small towns worth of Britney wannabes for one jay or beth or christian anyday of the week. rock on, folks.

oh, and another thing....

now playing: ellis paul, "conversation with a ghost"


...last night's football game kicked ass. as much suspense and drama as there was in the baseball postseason this year, the AFC is gonna have this winter. i'm smellin' it already. last night's patriots comeback smelled an awful lot like the 2001 super bowl...shrewd coaching and a great come from behind win in the last minute of the game.

gotta love it.

i'm such a friggin' guy sometimes....

the adventures of "joe blow"...

now playing: lifehouse, "simon"


ok, so i gave in and posted the book - just keep this little tidbit in mind...joe blow is the working moniker of the main character until a name pops into my head that i deem suitable. yeah, i know, pretty lame - but if i'd set aside the time to give it more thought, then i'd have come up with something permanent by now. it seems odd to me to refer to him in third person and use my own name, for one thing. for another, i'm pretty certain that there'll be some creative license taken at some point...so while i'm using actual names in some instances, it just seems more honest if i abandon any pretense of this being a nonfiction work. if you're actually inclined to read it and want to know which parts are true and which aren't, i'll be happy to tell you.

cameron crowe did this the right way - he waited until much farther down the line to do anything based remotely on his life. for me, though, nothing else was really beckoning me at this point...and on the notice that i had, it came the most naturally.

i sat down years ago and started a song called "alan freed's blues", but never finished it. that title was taking the song somewhere that demanded more attention than the space of a song allows, and this seems like a good place for that to come to rest.

jayda went with me on one of my service calls last night, and we talked about boyfriends and moms and had mcdonalds apple pies - good parent time. she pooped out on the way home, which was kinda surprising...there's no school today due to the elections.

i'm trying to figure that one out. why is it important to shield our children from the democratic process? yeah, keep them little fuckers away from the polls...send 'em across the street to the drug dealer or down the block to the liquor store, where they belong.

my son was chained to his desk to finish homework he'd solemnly pledged would be ready to turn in on monday. he's officially grounded until thanksgiving at my house.

my son lies.

a lot.

i will beat this, though. if it means i have to play the dick, then i guess it means i have to play the dick, but the lesson needs to be absorbed that trying to bullshit me will not make his life easier in the long run. or the short run, either.

on a different but no less frustrating subject, i'm becoming more and more amazed at the shit that i'm asked to pull off at work. our company was audited by the bsa about a year ago, and my boss has never recovered. we haven't reacted in what i'd call a logical way - what we've essentially decided is that new is bad, and completely illogical and non-cost-effective upgrades are good.

makes for some pretty maddening work, lemme tell ya.

i'm on it, though. this is the week in which i must kick serious amounts of ass.

11.03.2003

hindsight is....unnecessary?

now playing: dan fogelberg, "to the morning"

boy, oh boy...

as much as i know it woulda been worse if i hadn't, i sure am wondering right now why the fuck i bothered to come to work today.

i can actually hear the verterbrae snapping in my back as we speak....

11.02.2003

somewhere there's a river...in ohio?

now playing: jimmie spheeris, "i am the mercury"

a long lost friend of mine turned me on to jimmie spheeris...i still have the cassette he gave to me that had jimmie on one side and david wilcox's "home again" on the other side. it's practically unlistenable now, but it makes for great reminiscing music - which is definitely a shot in the arm as i descend into the depths of self inflicted nanowrimo hell...i wish i'd been aware of jimmie before he died. but he's been gone nearly twenty years now.

i have to think he must've been a beautiful soul. i would love to go to the place where this music comes from.

i think that jimmies' spirit might find its way into this book of mine, somehow.

it's closing in on midnight, and i know already i'm going to have one of those weeks this week. i'm hoping i'm wrong. i'd love to be wrong. hopefully, i'll be able to tell you in a week that i was wrong.

now, though, i think i'm going to turn in and try to rest up. it hasn't been a particularly stressful weekend, save for a couple of moments of brief domestic tension...i only sent my son up to bed less than an hour ago - junior procrastinator that he is, i allowed him to take advantage of the absolutely beautiful weather we had this weekend and didn't force him to work on his report on the state of Ohio until after dark...but he came through in the end.

now i lay me down to sleep....


Through the trees, trails of gold come filtering down
The sunken leaves, such a simple crown
Let the river roll
Send me laughing, tumbling down

Somewhere there's a river, running slow
Shaded in the trees of spring
On it, I'm gonna float and roll
Vanishing into the dream

jimmie spheeris, "somewhere there's a river"


11.01.2003

distractionary tale

now playing: grateful dead, "terrapin station"

gotta stroke my creative genes...i'm a freakin' writer now, after all.

i started this cute little project this afternoon - twice - shot the first draft in the foot and then realized that this was the wrong way to go about this, as far as the spirit of this project was concerned, so now i'm just gonna go with it, as much as i can, and hope that i actually like what comes out.

thankfully, it's been a pretty lazy day, for the most part - however, in neglecting some of my other responsibilites, i'm stacking the cards against myself for tomorrow. i have to go to work, and i will probably have to do an emmaus run as well...but i want to try and engineer that to take up a small chunk of the afternoon and be done with it.

i'm finding myself to be less and less patient with clients/customers lately. i get phone calls for things that people should be able to take care of themselves, and i'm normally a very patient person where that's concerned - but i'm gettin' a little short on patience these days. i think a big part of it is that any activity after work requires that one of us be carless, or that we both go along. i don't have a problem with the latter, but it relegates both of us to the same agenda for the night. and with rehearsals and kids to carpool to various and sundry locations, it makes it pretty unnecessarily hectic.

this is all gonna change very soon, though. the new and improved "grover" shall be paid for and on its way this time next week. i can't begin to tell you how much less tension there'll be around here as a result.

dylan was looking at the pictures of the van when i grabbed that one to post it and he's stoked - i'd so love to put him on the bus with me and take him out to pick it up and ride back with me. i think he'd get such a kick out of that.

ok, back to my tale....

cheeseburgers everywhere

now playing: my son snoring on the sofa

once in a great while, you try to cram stuff into a very small space and it all manages to fit.

that was the case tonight, i think. the kids managed to get in three halloween runs - one with their mom, one with their grandparents, and something of a run here (certainly moreso for dylan than for jayda, whos' never really put a lot of effort into trying to fit in here). dylan and his posse disappeared to go around the block, only to be discovered over half an hour later by yours truly, walking up 6th avenue towards chestnut street with frosties from wendys'. apparently, they'd made the rounds of the fast food places on penn avenue and gotten some pretty righteous loot out there.

thankfully, there's strength in numbers. dylan dressed as a prostitute, in a dress with pink hair...he also had some makeup issues that implied facial hair, so he was christened "russian streetwalker barbie".

i went looking for them on my bike after a sufficient amount of time had passed, jokingly remarking that if i took the car, i might get arrested for solicitation if i pulled up next to him and he got in.

dylan passed on the trip to donnie and fayes', opting to stay at dereks', but he was on the sofa sleeping when we got in. jayda came along, and actually seemed to enjoy herself. it wasn't what you'd call a party, but it wasn't really a coffee clutch, either. the drummer from donnies' old band was there, faye's kids and a friend of hers whose name escapes me. jayda and i played pool in the basement and i very narrowly managed to win - she was a ball away from shooting at the eight, and had i not gotten very lucky, she would've taken me. faye was coaching her, and she took to it pretty quickly.

after the gathering was reduced to my entourage, faye donnie and jimmy, the drummer guy, we watched jackass reruns for an hour on MTV, and i almost hyperventilated...i tried to evade the charms of beavis and butthead back in the day for quite some time before they caught up to me, and now i'm afraid that i'm under bam margera's spell. anyone who spends all morning ironing cheeseburger decals on their dad's clothing can't be all bad.