Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Denouement

All right, for all you gossip columnists out there, I have found a best man (Joe Boxman) and my groomsmen (Forrest and my brother Eric). I've asked Nick to sing "In My Life" by The Beatles. He claims to be learning it without sheet music, which means he'll learn it in the wrong key and then insist he's right. Oh, well. At least the lyrics will come through clearly.

Is it weird for me to say it didn't quite feel like Christmas for me this year? Maybe it's because I was so busy with work and school (and the lack of a television, meaning I didn't see any Christmas commercials), or the fact that I was in Bloomington until the night of 12/24, and back within 48 hours. I don't quite know what it was - probably all of the above factors.

Regardless, with this being the first year ever that I bought Christmas presents with my own money, I learned a new meaning to the Holiday. I got used CD's and DVD's for my family, but I made sure it was something they would love.

Perfect example: Any time a song by Three Dog Night would come on the radio, Mom ALWAYS mentioned how this was the first band she ever saw in concert and how the song takes her back to 8th grade. So I got her the best of Three Dog Night. See? Thoughtful!

On an unrelated note, Kieth Buchanan (Graham's ex-boyfriend and my former roommate) has left Bloomington. He didn't have everything quite as ready as I'd thought he would for move-out day, so between that and the awful ice storm we had on 12/23, I couldn't take him up to the Greyhound station in Indianapolis. Thankfully, a friend of his came over from Cincinnati to help him pack. He took him up there, so everything worked out.

I don't know if I mentioned this, but Kieth was gone from just before Thanksgiving to 12/18. He originally thought it was going to be a week long excursion to be there for his mother in the wake of his parents' divorce. It turned into a month because of the infrequency of buses going through his corner of Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, Graham has been dating a new guy since before finals. One night Graham was having him over and had a table and wine glasses and candles set up. It was really sweet. He asked me not to tell Kieth about it. Unfortunately, Graham is such a damned slob that all the dishes and the candles and EVERYTHING was still out, including a wine spill on the tablecloth. It would have been a little difficult to convince Kieth that what he saw was my mess since I'm never over there for recreational purposes.

Since Graham left the entire place looking as though the Rapture had occurred in the middle of a dinner party I had no problem telling him what had gone on in his absence.

Graham is now moving into a new phase of his life: he has started going to church. Anyone else I would be happy for them. For Graham, I don't know - something doesn't smell right about this.

I don't want to go into too many details, but Graham was scheduled to fly out 12/22. When he heard Kieth was going to be back on the 18th, he rescheduled for a flight on 12/17 so that he didn't have to see him. He also took a piece of Kieth's luggage and his modem. Graham also left Kieth a very impersonal note saying "I hope you find what it is you're looking for in life. Please don't take anything that isn't yours. Happy Holidays! --- g "

I'll admit, my first impressions of Kieth weren't good. But in the time I got to know him, I really came to like him a lot. Hey, hey, my, my, how the tables have turned.

There is a sense of melancholy about all this in that I may never see him again. Life has taken him to Colorado, and for me, well, that's still yet to be decided.

An acquaintance of mine on Facebook had this posted on her profile as a note. I figured this would make for a better year-end recap than any sort of uber-verbose rant:

Q: What did you do in 2008 that you had never done before?
A: Visited Bowling Green, OH. I worked as the grading assistant for Zappa, Hendrix, and (in a limited capacity) Beatles. I also got engaged to the right woman.

Q: Did you keep your new years resolutions?
A: My secret resolution was to win Shelley back, but that stemmed all the way to November after Kate and I broke up. Still, it was only 6 days into the new year that it happened. So, yes. I did.

Q: What would you like to have in 09 that you didn't have in 08?
A: A career in a graduate program somewhere. Anywhere but here. That and a wife.

Q: What dates in 08 will remain etched upon your memory?
A: January 6th, June 13th and 14th, October 31st (for good and awful reasons), November 20th - 22nd, and December 13th.

Q: Did you suffer from any injury?
A: Broken spirits and crushed egos count, right? Then yes.

Q: Best thing someone bought for you as a gift?
A: Shelley got me The Boondocks DVD back in January. It made me really happy.

Q: Where did most of your money go?
A: An engagement ring, CD's, the occasional DVD, groceries, pizza, gas, Alabama...

Q: What did you get really excited about?
A: The prospect of asking Shelley to marry me (I started making payments in July), working at Spencer's, working at the school (yeah, I know...), my senior year as an IMP student, going up to Bowling Green and seeing Rick again, living off-campus, buying a cat.

Q: What song will always remind you of 08?
A: Oh, yeah, right, this will be a brief answer...
JANUARY - "The Boondocks Theme" by Asheru, "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young (I just saw - I had this for January of 2008 when I wrote my 2007 recap! Care to know why? The song reminded me of Shelley!)
FEBRUARY - "Mammon" by Todd Rundgren, "King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown" by Augustus Pablo
MARCH - "A Day In The Life" by Jeff Beck, all of Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart
APRIL - "Swastikas On Parade" by The Residents
MAY - "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" by Skip James, "Killing Floor (Live)" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
JUNE - "Mama Talk To Your Daughter" by J.B. Lenoir, "Changes" by Band Of Gypsys
JULY - "Orange Claw Hammer (Acoustic)" by Captain Beefheart & Frank Zappa, "Morphine Song" by Ray Davies
AUGUST - The entire After The Gold Rush album by Neil Young
SEPTEMBER - "Like A Hurricane" by Neil Young, "King's Lead Hat" by Brian Eno
OCTOBER - "Hey, Hey, My, My (Into The Black)" by Neil Young, "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" by The Johnny Burnette Rock 'N Roll Trio, "Susie Q" by Dale Hawkins
NOVEMBER - , "Kick Out The Jams" by The MC5, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" by Gil Scott Heron
DECEMBER - "Ever Fallen In Love?" by The Buzzcocks, "Everything I Own" by Ken Boothe

Q: Favorite TV programs of 08?
A: The Office

Q: What was your greatest musical discovery?
A: Um...Neil Young, Captain Beefheart, and The Residents

Q: Best book you read this year?
A: Ray Davies: Not Like Everybody Else by Tom Kitts

Q: Favorite Film of this year?
A: Burn After Reading and Harold

Q: How would I describe my fashion concept of 08?
A: Hmm...I invested in a Che shirt and a hammer and sickle shirt early on this calendar year. I'd say that set the stage fairly well. Seeing as we now have a Socialist president. (Oh, and by the way, I'm BEING sarcastic!)

Q: Which celebs did you fancy the most in 08?
A: Ray Davies, Jimmy Carl Black (RIP fellow drummer), and Neil Young

Q: Who do you miss?
A: Rick Chandler and Eric Condon. Easily.

Q: What countries did you visit in 08?
A: Papua New Guinea, Equitorial Guinea, New Guinea

Q: Biggest achievement?
A: Engagement.

Q: Did you fall in love in 08?
A: Yes. And it's a beautiful thing.

Q: What's one thing that would have made your year more satisfying?
A: For Condon to put his violin down and apply himself, for Sarah to butt out of things she knows nothing about like people's relationships, for Gill to break up with Amanda, for Johnson to get his license, for Shelley to be assertive and honest with her parents, for Mom to mind her own damn business, for Mary to cheer up and be happy knowing she is alive, for Andy to have not jumped to such asinine conclusions and not written me off as a thief and liar, for Joel to have been a better bandleader, and for Laura to stop being a crotch-hopping pothead who flirts with any guy she sees.

Q: Did you learn anything valuable?
A: I learned not to waste people's time with blogs and emails and shit.

"A very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. Let's hope it's a good one, without any tears." Or is it "fear"? Whatever, I like "tears" better.
(No, seriously. This year kind of sucked. I really don't know how I could have gotten through it without Shelley. I wish I was kidding.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Roll Over, Trump, and Tell Ted Koppel The News

The real crime, I think, is the hair.

Seriously, did he really think he could get away with it? Selling a seat in the United States Senate. It was so flagrant that he might as well have put it up on

But, GOD, that hair! I know, I know, your man Mitch doesn't exactly have a suave aura about him either (you aren't fooling anyone with that comb-over, fruitcake)...I still don't know what's worse.

And to think, this guy was proposing he could - maybe - take the Senate seat for himself if (and I'm paraphrasing here) "No-fucking-body fucking else had the fucking money for this fucking seat in the fucking Senate", which in turn meant he would make a bid for the Presidency in 2016. Make no bones about it, people, there be crooks in both parties, old school (*cough* Ted Stevens, the Clintons) or new (Rod Blagojevich, Sarah Palin).

Also - I'm engaged now.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Humor The 13 Year Old Girl In Me

Deep down, I secretly love these things. For the love of God answer it.

What would you do if..
1. I died:
2. I kissed you:
3. I lived next door to you:
4. You found out I was married:
5. I stole something:
6. I was hospitalized:
7. I refused to leave my home:?
8. I got into a fight while you were there:

What do you think about my...
9. Personality:
10. Eyes:
11. Hair:
12. Family:

Would you...
13. Help me hide a body?
14. Keep a secret if I told you one?
15. Hold my hand?
16. Take a bullet for me?
17. Go on an extended road trip with me?
18. Try to solve my problems?
19. Help me kill a man? Woman? Domestic animal? Endangered species? The neighbors' dogs?
20. Scratch my ass?

Have you ever...
21. Lied to make me feel better?
22. Wanted to kiss me?
23. Wanted to kill me?
24. Broke my heart?
25. Kept something important from me?
26. Thought I was unbearably annoying?

27. Who are you?
28. Are we friends?
29. When and how did we meet?
30. Describe me in three words:
31. What was your first impression?
32. Do you still think that way about me now?
33. What reminds you of me?
34. If you could give me anything, what would it be?
35. How well do you know me?
36. When's the last time you saw me?
37. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't?

Um...thanks in advance for your responses. I look forward to reading all two of them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lost In The Woods

I'll admit, I've been in a funk this past month or so. Maybe I wouldn't have so much contempt for you-know-who if our little episode had happened during a less loaded period in my life. But it triggered lots of self-doubt and was just ill-timed.

My association with this person will be strictly professional come January, even then I won't have to deal with them directly but once or twice. The graduate applications will be submitted by the time of my birthday (1/11 - I expect checks in the mail from each of you), and from then it will be out of my hands until I hear back. Whatever the decisions may be.

What I'm saying is while I'm not quite out of the woods yet, I see a village in the distance. Could be Bowling Green. Could be New York. Could be someplace I haven't even thought about yet. (On that note, I've got a resume to prepare. I hate entertaining the very thought of me not getting into a graduate program, but there's always a chance.) All I know is it's not going to be Bloomington.

And it's definitely not going to be Seymour.

Special thanks to Neil Young and The Clash for bringing me out of this dark place. Funny I write this on such a sunny day.

At least I've learned some things from this. I saw a two month old entry where I said I would miss IU and not harbor any bad feelings. On Halloween I was given every reason in the world to get my ass out of here once I was done. Bad feelings? Well, they are aimed at one specific person. He has probably moved on, whatever. He's wired different from the rest of the human race.

I've also learned that no matter what the message is - preacher or professor - people can be total hypocrites. Everybody has a side they don't show often, whether it's a shy little girl or boy inside a very extroverted person, or a complete jerk hiding within a very cool and charismatic exterior. It probably goes without saying that I learned how NOT to do things, as well.

It makes me feel like a complete idiot. How much derision have I had towards what Frank Zappa called the "check-mailing nincompoops" who waste their time and money on glorified snake oil salesmen turning a profit off our own inherent fear of doomsday and Armageddon? And yet I did the exact same thing with (fuck it, might as well) Andy.

The big lesson from all this is that until I met Andy I was still marching to my own drummer. I didn't owe anyone anything and sought out to impress no one beyond myself. Perhaps I should go back to being my own person again. At least then I won't have anyone to disappoint, amuse, or amaze but me.

I've got to admit, it's getting better. Getting better all the time. (It can't get any worse.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I wrote lyrics tonight.

I'd like to think I'm getting better at it. I have had time to discover some intensely personal artists like Neil Young, Syd Barrett, Ray Davies...

Most of America saw reprieve in the form of Obama's nomination to the Presidency, but for me - aside from my college visit to Bowling Green State University - things have just sucked.

I've told you about the personal stuff with you-know-who via email. (Don't want to mention his name, lest it get brought to his attention.) Its resolution was anticlimactic to say the least. No one's in trouble. I wrote a song about him. I finished my song about Joel. By the way, I was writing a song about Joel. There's also another one I wrote about how hard it is to quit smoking.

Maybe some other day I'll post those up.

Long story short: my grandfather was diagnosed with a heart aneurysm (in his aorta) right before the wedding. They didn't tell any of us to keep spirits up. Knowing this could kill him at any second, I made a conscious effort to get a hold of him. Maybe it's because he and I were never close I felt obliged to attempt to make peace? I don't know. I called on Gramma's birthday, left a voicemail saying happy birthday and that Papa was in my prayers and thoughts. Gramma called me back and gave me the rundown - the aneurysm is not a high-risk presence. He could go on living his life as normal and pass away from some other natural cause, we're talking years.

Took the GRE on 11/15. I ate shit on it. Thankfully, ETS has my scores from last year, so any school I designated to receive my score this year will also get the scores from 2007. That's a load off.

Visiting Bowling Green was just awesome. The music library is like something out of a dream for me. It only confirmed my suspicion: that BGSU is my #1 choice for grad school. The only downside is it has just made me all the more paranoid that I won't get in. And I don't know what I'll do if I don't. I haven't given that much thought to it. I truly do not have a fall back or a safety or whatever...unlike last year, and that was because of my friendship with Andy.

Here's the song:
What Next? (The Bottom Drops Out)
Mom calls me up, says your granddad is sicker.
Doctor found out he's got a really bad ticker.
He could die any die, so pretend that you care,
It's harder to face since all I did was put on the airs.

And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.

Boss calls and says "Sorry, man, but times are tough;
I got to take all my part-timers and lay all you off."
You're a paycheck away from buying that car,
But I might as well go and blow it all at the bar.
My friends are down and out, they can all use a fix.
Bartender, just give us the booze, don't even mess with the mix.
Scotty's losing his job, Pete's getting a divorce, and LJ is strung out on pills.
Bartender, another round while me and my friends sit and write out our wills.

And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.

Am I gonna make it to sixty? Will I make it to forty?
Stress is fatal.
Do I wanna make it to sixty? Will I even want to see forty?
Life is fatal.

And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.

Sitting at my parents', back from the cemetary
Because today was the day my grandfather got buried.
He died in his sleep of a heart attack,
It's at this inappropriate time I see that I look good in black.
It suits me well, matches my mood, makes me look thin, reflects my attitude.
Scotty found another job, LJ checked herself in, Pete's playing the bachelor game.
But for me it's still bad, life makes me so sad, everything's still the same.
So I'll sit here in black in this dimly lit room, wastin' on a cloudy afternoon.

And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.

My better half's here but I'm all by myself, I sit and seethe, she sits and stares.
My guardian angel has left me in Hell, why can't I talk to this person I know really cares?
I love her so much but I'm too scared to think
So I go to the kitchen to fix me a drink.
The orange juice reminds me of a happy little boy,
The one whose biggest fear was losing his favorite toy.
He'd cry if he saw me, his ambitions all gone.
His life's now one big night without a hint of dawn.

And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.

Am I gonna make it to sixty? Am I gonna see forty?
Stress is fatal.
Do I wanna make it to sixty? Will I even wanna see forty?
Life is fatal.

And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.

Even if I knew where to look, there's no way out.
I'm trapped in a life full of fear and self-doubt.
Don't get too close - the real me is too scared to speak.
The one you know is bold and smart and turns the other cheek.
One disaster begets another, I sit here perplexed.
Both of me agree when we wonder what next
Will ruin our day, week, month, or year,
From a tiny paper cut to hitting a deer.

And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.
And when you think things are bad, the bottom drops out.
Things can only get better from here, then the bottom drops out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election 2008

Fellow Americans -
CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, the BBC, Wikipedia's main page, even Fox News have all announced Barack Obama as the projected winner of the 2008 Presidential election.

So, with that, let me just go ahead and get that little bit of pride out of my system:

BARACK OBAMA, MOTHERFUCKER! Hey McCain, how do you like

THESE nuts?

Palin - see you in the funny papers!

Bush - your days are numbered, bitch!
Cheney - "Your pacemaker's a fake 'cause you haven't got a heart" - Eric Idle / Hey Dick, why don't you come over? I'll cook you a microwave dinner.
Ted Stevens - see you in jail, gramps!
Romney - see your slimy ass in 2012...

Bill Clinton - don't even pretend for a minute you helped this man get elected. This primary season you reduced yourself to a joke and a half.

Hillary Clinton - you all but called for someone to pop him once Geraldine Ferraro had her little racist gaffe in March, which you quickly buried by unleashing Jeremiah Wright on the United States public. Go back to the Senate where you will languish for another eight years, at which point you will be too old to pursue the highest office in the land. You LOSE! Good DAY, Madam Senator!

I haven't said this...I don't think ever...but God Bless America.

And God Bless us, Everyone!

Thank you, Tiny Tim!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I posted Jimmy Carl Black roughly twelve hours ago singing "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" in 200 Motels.

It pains me to report that Jimmy passed away Halloween night of cancer. He had been suffering from leukemia since 2001. It eventually spread to his lungs.

Jimmy Carl Black with Frank Zappa's band in 1980, doing "Harder Than Your Husband" in his Lonesome Cowboy Burt voice.
Use this link if the embedded video doesn't work.

For me, it's somewhat of a personal loss, not just because I met him or that he was also a drummer, but because the first Zappa album I heard, We're Only In It For The Money, opened with a disorienting amount of noise and creepy whispering. Then once it ended, I hear "Hi boys 'n girls, I'm Jimmy Carl Black 'n I'm the Indian of the group!"

That was around 8 years ago that I first heard it. From that point on I was hooked to the music of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.

YouTube link.


100 Entries...Damn, I'm Really Wasting Other People's Time

I remember the last few times I've logged in and I'll see that I've made 94 posts, 95, 97...and thinking just how in the Hell I'll be able to make my 100th entry count.

How about with a wedding?

Friday was a bustling, busy day. I got my hair trimmed - NOT CUT - but trimmed. And it looked just fine. I swung by my apartment to get an outfit to wear for the rehearsal while Shelley took her time getting ready.

The entire ride to Seymour I was prepping Shelley about how my grandparents are and how they might or might not be open to her, etc. When we got home, Eric Lindstrom (I know, talk about confusing - THREE Erics) was helping Maddie get her stuff out of the house. He and Dad seemed to get along well. As soon as we got them ready and they were on their way, Shelley and I ate a light lunch with Mom, Dad, and Nick.

I asked if they had heard from Gramma and Papa, and if they knew how soon they would be here. Mom said they didn't know, and Dad jokingly said, "Thanks to you, they're probably pulling in to the driveway right now!"

And they were. Weird.

One thing I had forgotten was the fact that Shelley's grandparents live five minutes away from her parents in Dallas. She has told me many stories about how they're an old bickering couple and more often than not she sits between them in the back seat on the way to dinner. I also forgot that with Shelley's bad hearing she has had 21 years of nodding and smiling when she can't understand somebody, and that she also possesses the innate ability to "turn off" her hearing. She might hear you, but she isn't listening.

As a result, Shelley knocked it out of the park with Gramma and Papa. Shelley and Gramma share a mutual love of dark chocolate and sweets, while Papa's long-winded stories were perfect for Shelley's nodding and smiling. Since she is used to having elderly relatives who talk circles around her, it just clicked. They told me that they really liked her. Papa pinched her cheeks.

I have told her for at least two and a half years now that meeting my grandparents is kind of like the ultimate endurance test for whoever any of us are courting. It's really a milestone in a relationship. For Eric and Maddie it was during Thanksgiving 2005, less than a month after they officially started dating. Other girlfriends, mine, Eric's, Nick's were all told "You haven't really seen it all until you've met Gramma and Papa."

She hasn't dumped me yet...maybe she's waiting for the right time to say it.

Not only did everything go swimmingly with Shelley and the grandparents, they were on their best behavior. As soon as all the Kodak moments for the wedding were over and the dancing started, they were ready to call it a night. Since they had plans to visit Dad's brother Phil (who Dad has not spoken to for 9 years) on Sunday, them leaving the reception meant that was it for them for the weekend. It was just the right amount of face time that no one got on anyone else's nerves, no one said anything uncouth, and no one got pissed off.

The rehearsal was fun. Maddie and Kelley's family are the kind of people that make you feel like you're part of the family almost right away.

Perhaps I should give you a little bit of autobiographical poop:
Maddie's sister Kelley and I have been friends since middle school. We always talked on MSN Messenger (do any of you still use that? I'm exclusively an AIM person, though it's been months since I've used it...) and even went on a date. It came and went, we decided not to be a couple, and remained friends after that. On top of hanging out with Kelley at lunch, every year the high school band had to sell crap (cheese, sausage, microwavable meals) for no real reason at all I would always swing by the Lindstrom residence. The first two years it was sort of enforced (since I wasn't driving) that I did the door-to-door thing. My last two years of high school I stopped giving a shit about most things, but if I ever made one sale (besides Mom taking my sales forms to work and getting orders from Aunt Nancy and Gramma) it was Maddie and Kelley's mother Holly.

Three years ago at Oktoberfest, really on a whim more than anything else, we made an attempt to get Maddie together with Eric. They had apparently talked over MySpace or something, both thought the other was cute, so we decided to see what would happen. Call it basic anthropology. Weeks later, they were dating. Within a month, they were talking nightly on the phone. When Holly, Eric, and Kelley moved from Seymour to Chicago in the fall of 2006, Maddie moved in with us since she had both a job and classes.

As a result, we've all gotten to know Maddie really well. I really like her a lot, she's very intelligent, friendly, and has a great sense of humor.

Anyway, the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner was like a reunion of sorts for me and Gill (who was the third groomsman along with me and Nick, and dated Kelley for about two and a half years) to see the Lindstrom family.

And the wedding itself on Saturday was beautiful. I don't know what else to say. As Eric's best man I had to give a speech. It had floated around in my mind for about a month. The night before the wedding, I was up late checking email, and as is my custom when in Seymour, I checked the listings to see what (if anything) good was on TCM. I see The World's Greatest Sinner (1962), followed by 200 Motels.

Holy shit! The first film features a score by Frank Zappa, while the second one is a movie written and directed by Zappa featuring The Mothers of Invention:

(It still barely registers that I met Jimmy Carl Black, the man you see singing "Lonesome Cowboy Burt".)
Click this link if the embedded video doesn't work.

I called on of my Zappa buddies, and we both noted the motif later heard in "Holiday In Berlin, Full-Blown" in the score to The World's Greatest Sinner. The film itself sucked, but seeing 200 Motels in all its R-rated glory during the FCC watershed hours made up for it.

Anyway, I was about to doze off, when my best man speech just came to me. It was better than any of the version I had in my head, and I realized if I didn't write it down now it would be gone forever. I went to bed at sunrise and woke up at 1 in the afternoon. All of Saturday I went with no coffee, yet I was able to stay up until 4 or 5 in the morning. My speech was very well-received.

After the reception, Kelley, Shelley (the two ladies bonded quite well, by the way), Gill, Johnson, Nick, Kelley and Maddie's brother in law Tom, and I decorated Eric's car with the standard "JUST MARRIED!" fare, complete with hearts...and "$10,000 O.B.O." Don't know who did that...*devilish grin*. Their honeymoon was Myrtle Beach, which as I learned in the following days was just as chilly as it was here. Oh, well, I'm sure they had fun just the same.

Sunday morning, Dad, Mom, Nick, Shelley, and I grabbed brunch at Cracker Barrel with mom's sister in law Susan and her 40-something daughter Ami. Ami had some past experience as a wedding planner, thus she and Susan were around the whole weekend.

It's really hard for me to say what the "best" part of the weekend was, because each moment was perfect in its own way for different reasons: me and Eric alone in the Sunday school room where we'd changed clothes immediately before the wedding, slow dancing with Shelley, complimenting the DJ on a job well done (a conversation which eventually turned into "So you said you could start in January?" and "Let's talk pay..."), Papa telling the story of his brother Angelo dying in World War II (a fact I'd always known, but never the full story), the high school reunion aspect of me being with Gill, Johnson, and Kelley all at the same time (something that hadn't happened since before Gill and Kelley broke up), etc.

But if I had to pick an actual favorite moment for the weekend, it was when the topic of mine and Shelley's future got brought up. We'd had a few relatives of mine asking when we would be getting married, and we both agreed on the blanket answer of "Well, it's been talked about..."

I'll just tell you guys what I told Mom and Dad. Some of you may already know this in some capacity or another:
Shelley has said she would go wherever I went for graduate school. Since Shelley's parents don't know I'm still in their daughter's life (at least beyond friendship) let alone the fact that the proverbial shit will hit the proverbial fan once they know we're together, it's pretty much crucial we follow some basic rules to keep my parents pleased. One is that we wouldn't live together without being married.

This isn't to diminish marriage. Quite to the contrary, in fact. When we got back together, we decided that if things didn't seem to be working out to call it quits immediately. We also knew that when we got back together it would be for good.

Mom and Dad's thoughts on this: they couldn't be happier. We'll bring you more on this story as it develops.

My graduate school search is narrowed down to five, possibly six schools:
+ Bowling Green State University
+ University of Washington (Seattle)
+ University of Massachusetts (Boston)
+ City University of New York
+ The College Of William & Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia)
+ University of Texas, Austin

My ethnomusicology professor taught at BGSU for a year, and knows members of the faculty in BGSU's popular culture department. He gave me a few names to get in touch with. It's rapidly becoming my number one choice. A visit is in the works.

I apologize for the delay in publishing this post. Everything except the graduate school update (which happened Thursday) was ready by Tuesday of this past week. There's something else going on that I don't feel completely comfortable discussing in a public forum. It's a bit of a buzzkill, and one I didn't see coming. If you're interested in hearing about it, let me know (m@...).


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Out Of The Blue And Into The Black

For my history class we had to write an analysis of any song and discuss its message and significance. Writing was a breeze, it was narrowing it down to one song and one song only that was a pain in the ass!

I chose "My, My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue)" and "Hey, Hey, My, My (Into The Black)" by Neil Young. This decision was reached on two factors:
1.) I wanted to post it up here since you guys had literally NOTHING to say about these songs when I posted them up here a month or so ago.
2.) The class specifically asked for an American musician. While Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper, The Residents, Iggy Pop, The MC5, and Jimi Hendrix are all American musicians I love and admire, I picked Neil because he's Canadian. Consider it a minor act of defiance, one that will most likely go unnoticed.

"My, My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue)"

If the embedded video doesn't work, simply follow this link.

"Hey, Hey, My, My (Into The Black)"

If the embedded video doesn't work, simply follow this link.

The late 1970’s was a bleak time for rock and roll. The old generation was being blown off as “dinosaurs” by the punk movement. One established musician of the previous generation, Neil Young, had hit a rough patch artistically. It was on his 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps that he re-established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the rock world. His reemergence as a dignitary in rock and roll was heralded by the album’s opening and closing tracks, “My, My, Hey, Hey (Out Of The Blue)” and “Hey, Hey, My, My (Into The Black)”. In their mostly identical lyrics, Young addresses the idea of fame, the punk movement, and the death of Elvis Presley.
Neil Young released American Stars ‘N Bars in 1977, with only half of it having been recorded that year; the rest of it dated back several years. His next album, Comes A Time, was almost completely folk/country. Only two songs boasted his backing band Crazy Horse. He immediately followed this up with a tour where one half of the show was just Neil on stage doing acoustic numbers and the other half was Neil with Crazy Horse backing him. It was on this tour that he debuted “Out Of The Blue” and “Into The Black.”
Both versions of the song represent the two distinct sides of Neil Young: “Out Of The Blue” is a contemplative acoustic number in the same vein as his previous hits “The Needle And The Damage Done” and “Old Man,” both from his 1972 album Harvest. “Into The Black”, by contrast, is a hard-rocking number with noisy, minimalist guitar solos akin to “Cinnamon Girl” off Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969) or “Southern Man” from 1970’s After The Gold Rush. My personal preference rests with the latter version, though it is worth comparing the two for their slight differences lyrically.
The acoustic rendition features a more meek vocal performance, with the opening line “My, my, hey, hey/Rock and roll is here to stay” sounding more like a dose of self-assurance. He immediately follows this up by singing a now immortal line: “It’s better to burn out/Than to fade away.” This attitude embodies rock music: live fast, die young, and leave a pretty corpse. Neil was no stranger to loss; Crazy Horse’s original guitarist Danny Whitten died of a heroin overdose in 1972 the same night Young fired him. When he reiterates the line later on in the song, the second line of the couplet is instead “Than to turn to rust.” This connotes the idea that it is better for an artist to simply cease working than to grow stale and meaningless.
The electric version is led in by a heavily distorted guitar, at times sounding almost atonal. Neil’s singing is more passionate, as well. The first verse reads: “Hey, hey, my, my/Rock and roll can never die,” a more profound declaration than in its sister rendition. The first and second verse is separated by a simple but strong guitar solo. “Out of the blue/And into the black/You pay for this/But they give you that,” Neil sings. This can be interpreted as his view on the recording industry, where artists are discovered out of the blue – as nobodies – before being catapulted into stardom. “Into the black” can suggest both profits for the record companies (where being “in the red” implies financial losses) and a more cynical idea of the “black” being a void, where artists go once they are considered past their prime.
For Young, several years had passed since Harvest, which was a tremendous success. Shaken by Whitten’s death and the subsequent overdose of one of his roadies, Young approached a darker lyrical style. His career may have seemed to be in a void of sorts. The next couplet, “And once you’re gone/You can’t come back/When you’re out of the blue/And into the black,” is suggestive of Young’s inability to maintain the success that he had obtained in 1972. Once he had drifted out of the mainstream, he was placed on the back-burner while other trends and names came and went. There is also the obvious connection with death associated with those lines as well. The guitar solo after this verse comes immediately. In playing higher notes to the point that they almost shriek, Neil’s solo sounds like wails of sorrow.
In the third verse of both versions, Neil sings that “The King [Elvis] is gone/But he’s not forgotten,” following it up in the acoustic version by singing “This is the story of Johnny Rotten.” As the leader of The Sex Pistols, a band who by the time Rust Never Sleeps was released had completely self-destructed, Johnny Rotten moved on to form his own group, Public Image Limited. In doing so, he dropped his given moniker and chose to go by his real name, John Lydon. Neil is suggesting that Johnny Rotten and all he represented (rebellion, anarchy) are no more, but his legacy is secured. On the electric version it is left open-ended; Young asks, “Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?” The third verse of the acoustic version ends with the line “It’s better to burn out/Than it is to rust,” though the electric version is again more celebratory: “It’s better to burn out/Cos rust never sleeps.” The line lending itself to the album’s title was actually taken from a can of Rustoleum, though in the song’s context it is a message: The Sex Pistols may have “burned out,” so to speak, but Neil is still around.
Musically, the song was a major influence on musicians, earning Neil Young the nickname “The Godfather of Grunge.” Kurt Cobain used the line “It’s better to burn out/Than to fade away” in his suicide note. The song revitalized Young’s career, proving him to be more than just a rusty old dinosaur out in the stomping grounds with other musicians of his generation. Culturally, the song helped to revive rock and roll in a time where disco, metal, and pop dominated the market. It is rare for a song to carry out its own message, but for a song declaring “Rock and roll can never die” to pass along the musical torch to a new generation is nothing less than a rare, perfect, and momentous example.

Let me know what you thought/think.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

"I wish I had a pair of bongos...BONGO FURY!"

I'm sitting here listening to early Pink Floyd (I favor anything from before Dark Side Of The Moon. After that...meh...), and I truly believe that Syd Barrett's story is a tragedy.

Pink Floyd - Arnold Layne
(Let me know what you think!)

Shelley is helping make my Halloween costume. I refuse to divulge, you'll just have to be surprised.

A bachelor party is in its early stages of development for Eric. I fear I may have waited too long before I gave it thought, but it's not like I had a big celebration in mind with a Ferris wheel and fireworks. It will probably just be a bunch of us dudes going out for a beer (in Nick's 19-year-old case, a root beer). I'm so glad Eric didn't want some epic stripper-related blowout.

Then again, if I had a brother like that I wouldn't be attending the wedding, let alone standing as his best man.

It's really exciting. Every other girl Eric dated for the most part was a hosebeast of one brand or another. Like me, he has some interesting exes. One is married to a guy twice her age with two kids. Another turned out to have nothing really in common with him at all, ditching him for a guy who was into Nascar, trucks, and country music. I believe Dan Crall (Eric's college friend who introduced me to Masonna, Merzbow, David Lynch, and John Waters - in other words, you have him to blame!) referred to that one as a "stereotypical American bitch."

For the first time ever, with Maddie I can say I'm happy for Eric. I know I've said it before, but it really will change things. Mom has kicked around the idea of leaving Seymour once Nick was either in college or finished with college. Now that he's in college, I wonder if it will really happen. I say this because Eric and Maddie will at least be in Seymour for a few years since they've bought a house.

It will be a lot easier for Mom and Dad to move since Mom turned in her resignation notice at the nursing home on Monday. Not for two weeks. Not even for one. It was effective Friday. She had been looking at a job as head nurse at the Jackson County Health Clinic downtown (just a few blocks from the house), interview, job shadow and all. Her job shadow was scheduled for Monday, in fact.

She called to tell me how happy she was that she'd broken her issue into two parts: 1. quitting the nursing home position, and 2. keeping her options open regarding the job downtown. I had told her before Oktoberfest weekend even if the Health Clinic job is a bum gig she might as well have a crappy job that's three blocks away versus a half-hour drive one way.

It gets better: I got a call later Monday. She had turned down the job downtown as well. As I've learned, she has a tendency to do this every once in a while - quit and free fall until another job lands in her lap. When she quit the hospital in 2000, she took classes to get her real estate license, only to ditch it (after selling one or two houses) later that year to work at a doctor's office.

I hate that she was so proud of her tackling her issue, but I really hate that she tried to pass this off to me as something I should do if I ever encountered a dilemma. I'm well aware of deadlines and potential crises looming ahead. And I know to keep the graduate school applications in one pile and the research material for my Kinks project in another one. They are unrelated. But quitting a job is a two-part process, not two separate occasions: find a "better" job, quit your present one.

A dumb thing to do.

After the Zappa test on Tuesday, Andy and I had a bitch session of sorts. All this stuff with Mom was on my mind (nobody's going to go hungry, it's just I know, I KNOW until she finds another job she is going to grumble about expenses. And it's not like grad school applications are free. He who asks for money shall hear the bitching.), but Andy is having tendon problems in his left arm. For a guitarist, this is never good. He's had to cancel his show in December and had his surgery been on a Tuesday or a Thursday - you know how doctors are, your elbow can wait if it's good weather for golf - he would have needed me to cover Zappa for him.

I hate that his loss would have been my gain in a way, but his surgery has been scheduled for a Friday. Crisis averted.

Today I picked up a whopping four albums from Landlocked Music - I've promised myself a reward once every third payday:
Neil Young - Harvest & On The Beach
Alice Cooper - Pretties For You & Easy Action (his/their - the band was also called Alice Cooper until 1975 - first and second album, which were put out on Frank Zappa's Straight Records)

Alice Cooper - Refrigerator Heaven

David Briggs, who produced Easy Action to the band's dismay, also did all of Neil Young's albums aside from Harvest until his death in 1995, and did a damn good job. Small world...

I hate working on weekends, Shelley keeps reminding me it's extra income...but I'd like to see her deal with this region's finest batch of assholes for 5-8 hours on a Saturday or an entire open-to-close shift on a Sunday, where it seems EVERY nutjob has been let out of their little padded room and they have all congregated at the mall.

We'll see. I really like the idea of working at least through the Holidays. Pete has asked me how many hours I'd like...I told him as much as he needed me. I don't really want to twiddle my thumbs for the duration of winter break, which will run from December 20th to January 10th. For some reasons, that 22-day stretch seems so much longer than ever. Longer than that winter break where Shelley and I fell in love back around 2005/2006 - when I had my tonsils removed. Longer than my first Christmas as a non-Christian in 2006 and anticipated Shelley telling her parents off.

Maybe it's because I'll be in Bloomington. Maybe it's because Shelley won't be here. I get her place all to myself so I can watch Phyllis. This is a mixed blessing: yes, I won't be at my actual apartment and yes, it is nice every now and again to have some time/space to myself, but I have no idea how busy I'll be at Spencer's, which in turn will affect how busy my social life will be during break.

I'm hungry, I have work in 13 hours, and I've run out of things to talk about.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Happenings One Month's Time Ago

Inspired by the season premiere of The Office on 9/25, I figure I should do a recap by way of highlights rather than muddle through every little stupid thing that happened. It's been just under a month, and I can only apologize for those of you out there still regularly checking this site while the cobwebs form.

And you know what? I PROMISE to keep you all updated from here on out. It's just a little hard since I am using Shelley's computer a lot of the time since I don't have Internet at my place for my desktop.

Two days after my last real entry that wasn't cartoons or a smartass comment about the economy, Nick and Holly broke up. He seems better now, but she dumped him...he was bummed out for a while. He was her first real relationship, she was his second one. It's best for both of them to move on and see other people, experience dating, etc., and who knows? Maybe they'll get back together at some point in the (distant) future. Holly seemed really friendly, and I wish her the very best.

No, I didn't say "I told you so" to him, either. But I've seen couples in high school do just fine until college (my dear friends Joe and Tonya broke off their engagement a few days ago, though as Joe told me it was three years' coming, read: since they started college in separate towns on opposite ends of the state), at which point they hit a brick wall. So for them to be 700 miles apart almost completely throughout high school and go to college 675 miles apart...

I decided to spend most of my waking hours out of the apartment. That is the best remedy I can come up with, seeing both Kieth and Graham as friends still and using that stuffy apartment as a place to rest my head. Shelley was nice enough to copy her apartment keys so I can drop by to use the Internet, work on my Kinks project, write papers, grade tests for Z402, play with Phyllis, and eat. (I keep my food here even if that gives you an idea of how little I spend over at Woodlawn Terrace other than sleeping and showering.)

My social interaction with Graham has been stunted because I don't like a lot of his friends over at Collins. Tonight I removed a friend of his who added me because I saw she published a note advertising this pseudo-subversive cause called "Orgasms For Peace," where at the precise moment on the precise date those interested pleasure themselves or get pleasured in hopes that it will create cosmic waves and spread peace, love, and good cheer.

Doesn't Santa Claus bring those things, too?

There's wishful thinking for world peace and then there's just plain dumb. This is just plain dumb. The secret to world peace rests not in radicalism, candlelight vigils, marches, or by singing "Give Peace A Chance" in front of the White House. And it really isn't going to come about by jacking off. Trust me, if jacking off had an effect on anything other than one's own loins, I could have single-handedly taken down Al-Qaeda.

Care to know the real secret to world peace? It's not as fun as protest marches (though that is a good way to set the wheels in motion for a change in domestic policy) or as solemn and reverent as a vigil, definitely not as awesome as throwing a Molotov at a bus, and not as respectful to the memory of John Lennon, but nothing is ever what it seems. Never has been.

It really boils down to dollars and sense: open up trade with another country, and watch the hostilities fade away.

Also - dismantle the Israeli government, give a God-like edict that the nation cannot re-form until all of the members of the Knesset have passed away, and take it from there. Meanwhile, keep the region's government secular.

I can't stand these Collins assholes. I can be talking with Graham and one of these bogus hippies will run up, interrupting us, and act as though I'm not even there. Might as well be a tree. One of his friends I have introduced and re-introduced myself to no less than four times. You all can imagine how great that feels.

A wild guess as to where their minds would have been circa June 1967:

Thank you, Frank. Thank you for hating hippies back when it wasn't cool to hate hippies. Also - thanks for calling their bluff.

These are the people who are more than comfortable hearing Graham bitch about Kieth on a regular basis without unflinchingly questioning a word he says. The ones who aren't sitting him down and saying, "Listen man, you can make this work with some effort or you need to tell Kieth it's over. Stop fathering him, that's not what he needs. He needs love and support. Invite him to hang out with you. Would it kill you to take him out on a date? You're more than welcome to rant and rave about politics or music or school or your family...but this is something you DO have control over. You aren't married to him!"

But hey, what the fuck do I know about anything?

I've also noticed he's really good at pretending to know what he's talking about...when he really doesn't have the foggiest. Certainly gives off the vibe that he's knowledgeable in all matters.

Kieth has found a job on campus working as a caterer at the IMU. He's making good money and getting a lot of hours. It's what he needs: interaction, a confidence boost, and money to save and spend. Graham finally registered to vote after watching Sarah Palin's winking "by golly" performance at the debate. Thank God. (Again, I'm keeping discussion of her to a complete minimum. Less said the better.)

One slightly chilly night I brainstormed with Shelley about how I needed to revise my Kinks project. An album-by-album synopsis would get BO-RING. But analyzing a handful of albums along with essays on various themes in Ray Davies' songwriting (plus an essay on Dave Davies' songs with The Kinks) and hey...I smell a book. Or at least an undergrad's senior project.

The albums I will single out:
+ Something Else
+ The Village Green Preservation Society
+ Arthur
+ Lola Vs. Powerman & The Moneygoround
+ Muswell Hillbillies
+ Everybody's In Showbiz and A Soap Opera
+ Preservation Act One and Preservation Act Two
+ Schoolboys In Disgrace
+ Sleepwalker and Misfits

+ Poverty and Class
+ The Modern World
+ Nostalgia
+ Madness
+ The Early Singles
+ Dave Davies


Anyway, I ran this by Andy, who said it made a lot more sense and was "quite frankly" (to borrow an oft-used phrase of his) more feasible.

One day in class, I was really bored and designed a course that would cover the same period of time (1963-1978) for The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Who. There's some classic albums, some overlooked albums, some massively influential singles, and a great story to be told for the lot of them in that time-frame. (For my money The Stones pretty much died in 1978, The Kinks' streak of brilliance ended with 1978's Misfits album - though they squeezed off one more masterpiece in 1981, and Keith Moon LITERALLY died in 1978.) I took this one step further by designing a weekly scheduled syllabus and a listening list for each group.

For me, totally fascinating. For anyone else, it's, "Okay...Alex has officially gone bye-bye...I think I'll just leave him be."

I've established some rules for my grad school search:
1.) In or within 30 minutes of a major city.
2.) Not in California. (Too expensive. Also, earthquakes.)
3.) Not in the South. (Wanting to get away from ignorance. Also, no one ever really praises the merits of Montgomery or Atlanta or Biloxi, Mississippi.)
4.) Not in Indiana. (And yes. This includes Indiana University.)
5.) Not in the Midwest. (Change of scenery? Absolutely.)

I have also settled on a field of study: history. Pretty universal, not as competitively exclusive as media studies or cultural studies, not as inside-the-box shit as journalism. I'll hone my specific desired topic soon, but it will most likely be the US and/or the UK in the 1960's/1970's and its pop culture(s). In other words, rock history.

A couple weeks ago I talked to Dad about this and indirectly hinted that I'm not going to bother applying here for graduate school...and he understood the need to keep moving. One thing I mentioned to him that he agreed with was that I couldn't have made the leap from Seymour, a town of 18,000, to a big city and not gone bat-shit crazy. But using Bloomington - population 100,000 with students, 60,000 without - as a middle ground of sorts has been great. And unlike Eric Condon, I'm not going to blow off my time here as a waste or harbor bad feelings. It's been fantastic. I'll miss it, I'm sure, but I'll be happy wherever I go from here provided it's not Seymour.

More importantly, Dad knew what I was getting at. I felt like I needed his "blessing." I mentioned to Mom that I was looking at other schools "along with" Indiana, but that very notion had her telling me she'd miss me if I was too far off. Dad saying he understood that I needed to go somewhere else (he acknowledged my hatred of Indiana's awful weather, my desire to be in a more widely liberal environment, etc.) made up for all that. After all, it's not like he went from Louisville for his undergrad to Birmingham, Alabama for pharmacy school.

Dream schools:
1.) UT Austin
2.) Anywhere in/near NYC
3.) Anywhere in Nashville, Tennessee

But...we'll see. I'm retaking the GRE on November 15th. Given my past rejection I am frightened to death of the prospect of failure, let alone re-applying to graduate programs. I feel this is like me saying, "Am I good enough for you now, Master's programs? Is this what you wanted?" It's like that scene in Back To The Future Part II:

Marty: Doc, what if we don't succeed?
Doc: We. Must. Succeed!

Seriously, what would I do if I didn't get in? There is no contingency plan. Plan B is going to another school I applied to that wasn't my "dream" school. Plan C is the same. So is Plan D.

I just need to kick a little more ass on the GRE. Plus, there's a history professor on my IMP advisory committee who said she would be glad to help with applications. And it's not like I won't have a shit-ton of references. The more the merrier.

The band I joined last time I ranted and raved at you has kicked into second gear. Not gonna lie, I did what I could to do what Frank Zappa would call "put eyebrows" on some of the slower tunes. The slowest, dullest track has turned into a Who-esque rocker. This past week I invested in some drum sticks called Hot Rods, which are between brushes and sticks in terms of timbre and volume. Definitely spruces up my playing and allows for some shift in dynamic on songs.

Might want to scroll until you see capitalized boldface again, unless you have time.

Eric, the accordionist/trombonist and Jason the lead guitarist have recorded a few rehearsals...I don't know if any of you were dumb enough to check out my MySpace where I'm playing with songs on my headphones (meaning you just hear drums), but I have since been wary of hearing myself play.

Case in point:

Me doing "Mindless" with The Heliocentrics, December 2006.

Until now.

Between the Blues class and the Hendrix class I learned all about drummers providing rhythm and feel rather than playing in an ostentatious manner. There's reason I didn't like hearing myself play: it was too much all of the time. Keith Moon could play the way he did in The Who because Pete Townshend was not (and is not) a lead guitar player. He's a rhythm guitarist through and through. Keith managed to fill space (listen to The Who's Live At Leeds and you'll see that Pete's sustained, windmill style of playing left a ton of space in the high-end. Bassist John Entwistle - God love him - did great stuff on his instrument, but something needed to balance him out sonically) where a "lead" instrument would go but at the same time did a great job keeping time.

The Who doing "Pinball Wizard" live at Woodstock, August 1969

A phrase I've both Andy and my friend Mark kick around is the notion of a drummer playing "in the pocket." It took me a while to warm up to this thought, having grown up on the fantastic playing of Keith Moon, Aynsley Dunbar (Zappa, Bowie), Ginger Baker (Cream), Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), and Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix). If you were to compile a "highlight reel" of their drumming it would probably consist of them filling up space. But check it out: The Who, Cream, Black Sabbath, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Let's see here...all four of these groups consisted of guitar, bass, and drums (though The Who and Black Sabbath had vocalists fronting the so-called "power trio"). It's all the same school of playing. Dunbar, Mitchell, Ward, and Baker both started off playing jazz and blues before rock. Moon was from another planet. (And yes, I realize the astronomical pun in that statement.)

Bart Elliott at Drummer Cafe explains it excellently:
"...if two musicians (usually the bass player and the drummer) are feeling the downbeats together, feeling and placing beat "one" at the exact same time, they are said to be "in the pocket."
Many people feel that the question is not so much what the pocket is as much as how you know when you've achieved it. To the musician, it feels like the music is playing itself, as though everything has merged together ... all the rhythmic parts being played by one instrument.

Listen again to The Who. Keith's beats aren't manic, they are in sync with John's bass throughout most of the song. Fills aren't the Devil for drummers, just use them when needed (not when you feel like it - as I used to do). Many drummers today overplay, and as a result the music doesn't groove. Would you say "Pinball Wizard" has a defined 'groove' or 'feel' to it? Not in the same way a funk song would, but yes, it does.

Look at that list of drummers I admire. If you were to listen closely, aside from the spruced-up fills, these guys keep steady beats without overplaying.
Check out "Sparks" by The Who...

Unlike Jimi Hendrix, The Who were on FIRE at Woodstock...from 1:07 to 2:00 is literally my favorite stretch of sound ever recorded in the history of mankind. I am not kidding. If you were to ever be held at gunpoint and asked what my favorite piece of music/sound is, it's THIS.

"Diamond Dogs" by David Bowie (feat. Aynsley Dunbar on drums)...

"White Room" by Cream...

From the opening credits of a 2004 Japanese film entitled '69'. Haven't seen it, but this truncated version of the song is 3 minutes shorter than the studio version. You guys have lives outside of this least I hope, otherwise this past month has been Dullsville, Population: You.

"Paranoid" by Black Sabbath...

and lastly, "Purple Haze" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience...

(Listen to Mitch during the guitar solo.)

These guys provide good pocket beats, just with some added fills. It wasn't all balls to the wall manic drumming, though Mitch Mitchell could sometimes come a bit close for comfort.

Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" is a fine example of straight-up groove drumming and one of my favorites:

Is this making sense? The song has a "feel" to it. A definitive feel. I can't say the same about "Mindless" by The Heliocentrics. I'd do it differently now, that's for damn sure. I got bored because I felt like I was playing the same thing all the time. And I was because I was operating on the principle of MAKE AS MUCH NOISE AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN IT IS ALL ABOUT POWER AND VOLUME KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!!!!

But the best-known drummer who specializes in providing a pocket - and again, it is all within the framework of the music and the musicians in the band - is actually one of the best-known drummers in the world...

Total LOL moment at 1:35, especially out of context from the movie!


Long story short for those of you smart enough to skip my rant about what separates a great drummer from someone TRYING to be great: I learned the secret and made the transition from the latter to the former. (Don't overplay. Give the song a good "feel." Play in rhythmic sync with one other instrument, preferably the bass guitar.)

I've heard our playbacks after each practice and I can actually something I didn't think I'd say.

I'm a good drummer.
Took me long enough, no?

Of all people, Bill Bowser came to Bloomington one weekend with Joe Bray. It prompted me to not offer my promised rant about his career choice. (Joe got so drunk he puked on some of Shelley's paintings, which we had to throw away.) When I saw Bill at Oktoberfest he acted as though we hadn't hung out a few weeks ago; he opted instead to be Newlin's shadow, comparing Eric and Newlin seeing each other to a reunion of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. (I know.)

Expect one now. Soon.

The last weekend of September I had my mid-program assessment for the Individualized Major Program. One member of the committee was present, along with the assistant director of the program, Andy, and me. It went well, but some of the recommendations made are just impractical and/or unnecessary. The committee member in attendance was from the music school, thus a lot of music classes were strongly suggested for me. My project proposal outlined that I wanted to do a series of essays on The Kinks, which I in turn would like to have published as a book; there were questions asked that I had answered in April. It was redundant, but I had no less than six writing samples from both the book and my articles for Culture Week. (More on the local paper gig in a bit...)

It was fine until I started mapping out my schedule for next spring, aka my FINAL SEMESTER AS AN UNDERGRAD! Both sections of Music Theory, a heavily-pushed course, overlapped with the Rock Music of The 1960's and my IMP senior capstone course. I wasn't about to NOT do either of those, so Music Theory went out the window. Andy ok'd it, other faculty members and peers told me exactly what I was thinking: don't bother with theory.

Then another problem arose: the IMP capstone is only 2 credits. If I do less than 12 credits a semester I will no longer be considered a full-time student (the magic number might actually be 9,) but worse (and this is for sure) I would no longer be eligible for my parents' health insurance. Since other courses of 1 or 2 credits are Phys. Ed. classes or Chess...I figured, eh, what the Hell, final semester, might as well take a course where I learn something related to my career. There was also a History class suggested to me that I'm going to opt out of.

My courses for next semester:
Z120 - Music In Multimedia (we'll be working with Macromedia Director, the same program Prof. Glenn Gass uses in Z201, Z202, and The Beatles class. It's like PowerPoint on steroids.)
Z202 - Rock Music: British Invasion To The 1970's
A382 - The 1960's (History Course)
Z393 - The History Of Jazz
I470 - IMP Senior Capstone

I don't need Latin American Music, Music Theory, or Contemporary Jazz & Soul, so I'm not going to take them. I DO need to learn about the culture of America (and England) in the 1960's, hence A382. Broadening my horizons on 1960's popular music makes sense. Ray Davies and Frank Zappa, my two real idols, loved jazz music...I'd love to hear the stuff I've heard them praise and to expand my musical palate - enter Z393. The Senior Capstone is a writing tutorial (among other things) for the seniors in the IMP and only meets for the first 8 weeks.

As for Z120, wouldn't it be strange if for my semester project I just happened to design a Director presentation for a course covering the music of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Who? Funny how these things work out...

Culture Week is in a state of upheaval. Due to what sounds like a fairly petty conflict with the publisher - he wanted to promote his business in CW but they said no, he got pissy, etc. - the editors are leaving to start a bimonthly literary magazine. We were notified via email to come to an "emergency staff meeting" to "discuss the future of Culture Week." I couldn't make it since I was home for Oktoberfest (which I'll get to in a second). But the long and short of it is our editors left us high and dry, not telling us who to send our articles for November to or who the Hell is going to run the publication!

It gets better. That review I wrote for The Residents album? Didn't get published on the website. Every other article for October did. But not mine. Oh, and good luck finding October's issue...I haven't seen it in any of the newsstands around town. I got my copy at Wal-Mart, way out on the west side of town.

Quoting Daffy Duck: "Thanks for the sour persimmons, cousin!"

Oktoberfest was great this year. The last time I said that was 8th grade, which I keep going back to as the high point of my existence until college, when I walked around all day with Ashley Vega (whose cousin was dating Eric) holding her hand (the COOLEST thing a 13 year old boy could do, by the way...) and considering her my girlfriend after having a HUUUUGE crush on her the entire summer, rehearsing what I'd say each time I saw her, counting the number of times I saw her.

Puppy love.

After that, it was "Well, last year was better." "Ah, the year before that was better." "Man, this year sucked!" "Oktoberfest is kinda gay!" "Once I get to college, I'm not going to Oktoberfest!" "I'm not going NEXT year!" "I'm glad I didn't go this year!"

But to walk around all weekend with Shelley Leshin, who I met because of a stray piece of chalk, holding her hand (the COOLEST thing a 21 year old man could do, by the way...) and realizing she is the love of my life in the same setting as many years of fun Oktoberfest memories from childhood through adolescence, and knowing I won her back after a painful breakup and separation period where I never really stopped loving her, rehearsing how I would ask her back, finding out the right time and place to tell her I never really stopped loving her, well...

Who needs puppy love? I have the real thing now.

If my life were a movie or television series, the "scene" of me and Shelley riding in the 96.3 Cool Bus and waving at everyone would be allegorical - for a start, I'd see WAY more faces from my past rather than thousands of schmucks and their kids and only a few people I knew (this one weirdo in the Boulevards took our picture...) - but it would be an allegory for me accepting that I need to wave goodbye to Seymour and venture onward.

With a little luck, it could very well be my last Oktoberfest. I went into it knowing that. And it didn't take much effort at all to make it count.

Last thing, something I've not talked about, then I'm off to sleep: the beach (8/16-8/23) wasn't half as entertaining this year, aside from me bonding with Rick and learning he loves Dada and Surrealism as well as fine literature. Eric wouldn't quit pissing and moaning about how bad his job answering phones for TiVo is when he was sober, then he'd have two drinks and pretend to act drunk when he was just letting out his inner buffoon. His girlfriend Sarah has him convinced he is suffering from Asperger's Syndrome, but he refuses to get tested for it...therefore he thinks he has it.

Also - Sarah was a total bitch about me and Shelley being back together, telling me it was a mistake and that she hadn't changed. You know, it makes sense coming from her, since Sarah knows Shelley so well and has been such a big part of both of our lives in different capacities this entire time. She really knows Shelley in and out, you could almost say they "get" each other, in fact. So I can't really be too upset about this, since Sarah is completely qualified to make such an assessment.

I didn't realize until after the beach - after a week of Sarah being a total bitch about...well, a lot of things - that I'm comfortable with making myself unavailable or even just pretending to have other plans if they're ever back up here. Eric is too bleak and depressing about all sorts of stuff (the value of going to college, the concept of life itself). He actually had the audacity to say "we talk about things the way people who have seen the horrors of war do." That's disrespectful to anyone who fought in a war this past century, where true forces of evil were challenged.

You think McCain is scary? You think Obama is scary? How about George W. Bush or John Kerry? I hate making such an obvious statement, but try Hitler on for size! Or how about Stalin? Or Castro? Idi Amin? Doc Duvalier? Pol Pot? Hideki Tojo? Slobodan Milosevic? Arafat? And yes - at one point in time, long before we actually got him - Saddam Hussein? Despotic mass-killers. All of them. McCain and Kerry served in the armed forces. They killed people on the orders of their country. Aside from that, none of the four men listed at the top of this paragraph have ordered the systematic killing of an ethnic, religious, or political group.

If you had told me three years ago I would be defending George Bush against his harshest critics, I would have laughed. But if you're going to liken the deaths of 4,000 American soldiers to the ten million lives ended as part of Hitler's "final solution" then I suggest you just sit down and do some basic arithmetic:

10,000,000 - 4,000 = 9,996,000

Sorry, but Mr. Bush has some catching up to do if he wants to compete with Hitler. The man is a moron. But he's not a tyrant or a despot or a madman.

Aside from seeing 9/11 live on television our generation has been jaded. Horrors my ass. Never mind that Eric grew up never going to bed hungry, with two parents who loved him very much - they never beat him or sexually abused him, any needs were met and most wants. Listen to Kieth's story and tell me you've had it rough.

On a much less severe note, he's too close-minded about music. If he didn't discover it on his own, it's crap. But dammit if what he plays for you isn't the highest art ever made, played and replayed for you with his hyperbolic commentary.

He isn't the person I met two years ago, and from what I've gathered I met him in an oddly upbeat period in his life.

So, yeah...guess I'm not going to the beach next year (especially if Eric and Sarah are non-commenting readers like my brother Eric and Maddie are). Besides, I'd like to think I'll be busy moving to wherever my life takes me. You know, basic causes for celebration, not a week of the depressing revelation that someone you considered a best friend has committed the cardinal sin of giving up, turning them into someone you would avoid in the real world.

Once more, it's a great feeling.

Another week awaits and it's Zappa Exam #2, my first paper for F111, work on that Kinks project, go with Shelley and our buddy Luke to go see THE RESIDENTS up in Chicago!, work on that Kinks project, do my first paper for A383, get my hair slightly trimmed (Dad told me tonight that I "look better with long hair" and that it reflects who I am better than short hair. Suck on THAT, Shelley!) before the wedding, work on that Kinks project, and if I have time, work on my Kinks project.

And then work on that Kinks project.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

For M@

Now there's no excuse.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hi there.

So apparently the economy is melting like a wax museum on a hot day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Residents - The Third Reich & Roll (1976)

First of all, you like the new title? I do.

Here is my article for next month's issue of Culture Week. Since I realize most of you reading this don't actually live in Bloomington, consider what is actually a sneak preview my (monthly) gift to you.

Some six decades after the formation of the irreverent, nonsensical Dada movement in Europe, the San Franciscan avant-garde combo The Residents released The Third Reich & Roll. The album is a full-on Dadaist assault on pop music, making the accusation that this seemingly disposable art form was brainwashing the American youth. And why not? The members of the band – whoever the Hell they may be (the band has maintained full anonymity since their formation in 1972) – no doubt grew up listening to the songs they lampoon on this record.

The recording process for this album is interesting: the band played along with these 60’s pop songs, committing the results to tape. They then mixed out the original tracks they played with, leaving only The Residents. What results is easily one of the most bizarre albums this side of Captain Beefheart. Using a very stream-of-consciousness editing style, where one song simply fades into another, ends with a jarring cut, (as if waking from an intense dream), or in some cases combines songs in similar keys. The best example of this comes as a sort of punch line to their 35-minute long joke: the angelic, if hypnotic, refrain of “Hey Jude” (yes, they even skewer The Beatles) increasingly becomes more discordant; at the same time the instantly recognizable backing vocals from “Sympathy For The Devil” fade in, as does its searing guitar solo. The idea of something seemingly sweet – The Beatles’ most successful single, and a song of positive encouragement – slowly becoming corrupted by evil (literally, a song about the Devil,) is a stark metaphor for the pop industry: sure, on the surface these songs are fun and happy, but at its core is a world run by the almighty dollar, where careers can be broken at the drop of a hat.

If you can’t tell already, this isn’t an album for everyone. To begin, there is no real distinction of tracks. The album only has two tracks (one from each side of the original LP) with catchy titles that both your veteran grandparents and friends of Semitic origin will just love: “Swastikas On Parade” and “Hitler Was A Vegetarian.” It also bears mentioning that the cover (banned in Germany for some strange reason…) features Dick Clark in Nazi regalia holding a carrot, surrounded by little Disney-like dancing Hitlers. Not that the band was a group of pop-hating Neo-Nazis; far from it. Like the Dadaists, The Residents used irreverent humor and imagery to make a point. Anyone offended by it doesn’t get the joke, much like Frank Zappa’s more controversial moments. Those who do get it will love it.

(Note: The Residents are hard to find; their albums go in and out of print every so often. Search this album on YouTube to see their promotional film for it. If that hasn’t scared you off, acquire this album by any means necessary!)

Next Month: Cheap Trick, Next Position Please

Since you're reading this on the Internet and not in a newspaper, not only can I provide the link to The Residents' promo film for the album, I can embed it:

And if you find yourself liking it, here's "The Third Reich & Roll Concentrate" from their 1997 retrospective Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses. The "concentrate", as its name suggests, compresses the 35 minute album into a ten minute track. Other albums receiving similar treatments on the retrospective were Have A Bad Day, Hunters, The Gingerbread Man, Freak Show, Cube-E, God In Three Persons, The Mole Trilogy, Fingerprince, Not Available, and Meet The Residents.

Not that it matters, since I'm proud to say I have all their albums up to 2001's Icky Flix.

Forrest - you might like their treatments of Hank Williams numbers.

I truly do think that, like Zappa, there's something for everyone out there with The Residents. The Third Reich & Roll is probably a horrible place to start for all but those with the strangest and most eclectic of tastes. That or a twisted sense of humor. Still, bear with me as I work my way through their catalog and share thoughts, opinions, and of course the obligatory embedded YouTube video featuring the music in question.


Monday, September 15, 2008

"There's more to the picture/Than meets the eye...."

To begin on an optimistic note, and specifically something I've (deliberately) kept mum in the event it came to nothing, I have joined another band in Bloomington. The guy who lived across from Daniel and me this summer - once again, his name is Eric; what is up with this? Dad, my brother, Condon, my brother's future father-in-law... - bumped into me and it turned out to be at just the right moment. We talked about music, I mentioned how my status as a musician was "single and looking."

He got in touch with me earlier this week, and as it would turn out I knew another guy in the band through Eric Condon. Small town.

Anyway, the music was good. Not really like anything I've ever played before, in that I'm a lot more subdued. I like it - and quite frankly it takes skill to be able to play in a tempered style without going apeshit all over the kit. More importantly, the songs themselves were carried musically by the entire band, not just the rhythm section (the band actually doesn't have a bassist right now), not just a hot-shit guitar solo in every single song, not just an eccentric lead singer. Not that I dig the music of the group The Band (in fact, I gave my copy of their greatest hits to Forrest), but I can certainly understand how a group that existed for the sake of music seemed like such a breath of fresh air to people like George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Especially since neither of them were in ideal situations in their bands at the time (Clapton was in Cream when The Band appeared on the scene.)

Speaking of The Beatles - and I'm not complaining here - but Shelley's iTunes on random play has shown favor toward Beatles tunes from 1969: "Don't Let Me Down" (underrated), "I Me Mine" (amazing), and "Old Brown Shoe" (an unsung favorite of mine) out of the past four songs. Maybe there really is a little man in their pushing buttons...

I spent most of Wednesday at the music library on this very laptop hijacking the music of Captain Beefheart and The Residents. So far, so awesome. I don't really know where to begin, both talking about them to you or listening (especially with a band as prolific as The Residents.) All I can say is expect an occasional rant about them.

And m@: "O Superman" by Laurie Anderson is on the listening list for the 70's and 80's class. Shelley thought it was great, I thought it was good. I was blown away by Brian Eno's music, as well as the precursor to Cheap Trick's albums 'Heaven Tonight' and 'Dream Police' that is the song "Fox On The Run" by Sweet (of "Ballroom Blitz" fame). Also, after much deliberation, I still can't abide most British art rock. I find it to be the definition of pretentious crap (besides Stan Brakhage's horseshit experiments in cinema). Each time I hear it, I think to myself, "No wonder punk rock swept in and took over so easily...and THANK GOD!" At which point the MP3 player in my head cues up "Anarchy In The U.K." by The Sex Pistols at top volume...

Man! Is that not a bucket of cold water in the middle of July? A shock at first, but in the long run just what you needed?

In other news: Sarah Palin. I hate her guts. Let's leave it at that.

As a follow-up to my last entry about how crucial it is that I bust ass out of here as soon as I can, I can only say the signs in real life are/have been stacking up. And before I enumerate them, I'll go ahead and say yes, I know sometimes I'm picking and choosing things and saying it applies to me and/or is a message. But it works for me, this is my blog, and if you don't like it then you can create your own and say so.

To begin, there's my living situation. I've actually sat down and talked with Kieth a few times this past week. He's a nice guy, very down-to-earth and has a big heart. What he went through with his parents doing all sorts of nutty shit in the name of Jesus I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. More importantly, his is a completely different perspective on their relationship, told in confidence - which I shall respect - and not rehearsed and told and retold again and again. (Do you see what I'm hinting at?) I heard things that convinced me I wasn't being told the complete truth, not to mention that I gained a lot more sympathy for Kieth regarding both his past and his present.

What I can say is this: Graham's complaint that Kieth was cold and distant can actually be more easily said from Kieth about Graham. Graham had his facts straight, he just painted himself out to be the victim.

On the subject of my past statements and assumptions: the big one is I stand corrected in believing everything I hear. Though, in my own defense, I was convinced I was being told the truth.

I told both of them in April I was going to remain neutral in all conflicts, but unfortunately when they break up, one of them has to leave. And it won't be the one enrolled at IU Bloomington. So I'm already on a side by default. To be honest, I'm not sure it's the right side anymore. I know to take Kieth's word with a grain of salt, but I also know to take Graham's with a cup.

The second sign I have to get out of here is my job at Spencer's. No reflection on my coworkers, I enjoy working, joking, and making fun of people with them. It's a reflection on the people I see come into the store. I have heard this from Mom so many times already: there's idiots wherever I go. Fine. I just want to go to a more liberal environment, because once you get out of Bloomington's gorgeous downtown area you are in the land of meth-heads and in all honesty it's just as dreary as Seymour or Muncie. But dammit if there isn't that one-mile radius of people with Obama bumper stickers covering up their Hillary bumper stickers on the back of their Subaru station wagon...the rich, uppity white American "progressive" are actually higher on my enemy list than the neck-tattoo sporting trailer trash that come into the store. At least the trailer trash aren't shameless phonies.

On the other hand, this is coming from a soon-to-be card-carrying Socialist who has a big nose and, if you haven't noticed by now, is a dick.

(An extension of my second reason is published below in a separate entry.)

My third reason involves my hatred of the Bloomington music "scene." I use quotes because it's a clique. It's a clique that our kids will blow of as a "good old boys" mentality, where a guy on the activities board at the Union will book both (yes, BOTH) of the bands he's in for shows all across town. Man, this town is just diverse, isn't it?

Bloomington: just because you're a college town that has bars with stages and sound systems in them doesn't mean you have a "scene." It's more like the same group of rich kids from the north side of Indianapolis (who dress like it's 1983 or earlier - and live in squalor) hang out at different bars every night. I speak, naturally, of my dear friends, the "hipsters." Fuck them.

Reason number four relates to stuff on the IU campus and in Bloomington. There was a rape downtown this past weekend, and it happened apparently in fairly plain sight. Did any chivalrous gentlemen rush to the girl's defense? Did anyone kick the rapist until he started bleeding from his ears? Did anyone do anything besides maybe take pictures with their camera phone?

Last weekend a group of students suffered injuries when an unknown assailant ran by and slashed them with a knife.

"But Alex, murders happen daily in cities!"

I know, cities are sources of colossal violence. It's pretty simple: don't ever go out alone past dark, and don't ever go out in an unfamiliar part of town alone or with someone else past dark.

My problem with violence in such a concentrated area is twofold: in an urban location driving everywhere is practical. By contrast, I walk EVERYWHERE in Bloomington. I walk home from Shelley's on a weeknight. Alone. I would never walk anywhere alone at night in a city - that's just common sense. But the knifing happened in a well-lit part of campus...and I can honestly say I don't feel safe here. There are bad parts of town in Bloomington, but since the campus and region immediately surrounding it attract locals just as much as students, it's as if every single BLOCK is a different part of town.

Lastly, to foster some discussion, two versions of the same song:

"My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" by Neil Young

My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

Out of the blue
and into the black
They give you this,
but you pay for that
And once you're gone,
you can never come back
When you're out of the blue
and into the black.

The king is gone
but he's not forgotten
This is the story
of Johnny Rotten
It's better to burn out
than it is to rust
The king is gone
but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

"Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)" by Neil Young

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

Out of the blue
and into the black
You pay for this,
but they give you that
And once you're gone,
you can't come back
When you're out of the blue
and into the black.

The king is gone
but he's not forgotten
Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?
It's better to burn out
'Cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone
but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.

1.) Did you like the song?

2.) Which one do you like better?

3.) What does it say to you?

4.) Do you like what the song says?

Think. Comment. Discuss.


PS - I received a very strange message from Bowser, who is back in Indiana after a 12-day stint in Los Angeles. Aside from responding to and commenting on your responses and comments, that will most likely be my primary focus next time.