The Battle Of The Bands

I find myself reticent about writing this. 

I did the thing where I was a judge and it was every bit as frightening as I thought it would be. Overwhelmingly so. I'm not willing to do a lot of discussing the details of the groups that competed, but some of my thoughts are going to be unavoidable, I guess. I took notes, in part to be able to tell the story and in in larger part to take seriously the charge of standing in judgement of an "artistic" endeavor. Some of my fears for the artistic impulse were unfounded, there was little art. 

It started easy, it was a group of surprisingly competent kids, a family who wrote songs that ranged from the best parts of the Ramones to the worst parts of Weezer, but were always fun. They won hands down the best song title: "Dude, What's Up With Your Golf Cart?" It was easy to write notes, I fell into advice, maybe because they were so young. You can forget that you're often doing the same job that they are doing and just react as a listener. This was going to be easy. Help them out a little, stay out of judgement on the tunes, just tell them where to tighten up a little and remind them whay they came. I can do this. 

And most of it I could do. There was set criteria. Most of the bands were fine -  not amazing, exactly - but a few got close and we used the metrics to suss out who did the best job. I made a few notes and I resisted the urge to tell one band that I just couldn't do any better or say anything meaningful because I found myself intensely disliking them as human beings. They were fine musicians, but they were smug and boring. It was even boring that they didn't know they were boring. I had a bunch of lovely side conversations, short vignettes about Phil Collins and his excellent musicianship tempored by his unfailing poor taste. It could have been fun.

Then it got tough. The second act was a Main Guy and another guy who the Main Guy talked into doing the battle that day. And it was bad. I mean really, really, uncomfortably bad.  They seemed to be able to play their instruments, (and they played a few instruments apiece, not terribly but not remarkably, either) but they clearly had not only not played together, but they hadn't even discussed what they would do. There was no plan and there was no chemistry. Ten minutes in I had decided that it wasn't - couldn't be - a traditional performance. This was, instead, performance art about audience and how uncomfortable they can be. 

This guy got on the stage and started to play something that glancingly resembled a blues bass line, he later identified it as a simple I IV V, which it wasn't but perhaps endeavored to be, and the tone of the set was established. It wasn't anything. The accompanist played some wandering guitar over the baffling bass line, but nothing happened. There was no statement of motif or any exposition. It seemed, at first, to be a paeon to free jazz, but without the sense or sensibility of Ornette Coleman. It was post-Garcia noodling. It cascaded from there: Main Guy played merely competent sax and substantially worse keybords. It was a mess peppered by the occasional breaking of the fourth wall to ask the judges table how he was doing for time. 

At times Main Guy would look at the judges table with an indescribably sadness on his pretty face. He seemed to know that this wasn't working and I assumed this was a part of the performance; the realization that being young, good looking and talented isn't enough, but also realizing it at that late moment while the show was underway and the distance back to the beginning is much further than the distance to the end.  I belive that the Artist was trying to make us uncomfortable the way Andy Kaufman once did and in that see ourselves. 

Be careful looking at yourself. I saw more than a few things I need to know. I need to remember that talent will not replace preperation. An audience is a delicate thing, yes, we can take some abuse, but in the end if you love an audience, respect them and give them a little bit to be amazed at they will lkove you back. I wouldn't have needed much, but Main Guy wouldn't give that to us. Andre, my incredible, excellent friend and wonderful understander of music commented that he had to give this Main Guy the lowest marks availablee: It was what he wanted. He asked for it. 

There was dramatic anguish and it was a show, but it wasn't recommendable. Too uncomfortable. 

The gent after, however, saved all of our faith in local music. Cuddles :D.  That was his name and I'm checking it because I loved it. Cuddles :D couldn't win, he was up against criteria that didn't fit him, but he was my favorite thing of the evening. It was electronic, but Cuddles :D backed it up with presence. He accompanied his computer and mixer with dance, performance and a sense of humor. We laughed and watched him for a half hour, not laughing at him, but completely with him as he took us through his music. Cuddles :D telepathed the parts he thought we should notice and instructed how to recieve the set. How to know him, and how to experience his music. I can learn form that, too.

I love the two sides of the coin. Sure, both were "losers" in any sense of battle, but one was redemptive and one was destructive. 

I walked away really unhappy, nevertheless. The final band was a little older and clearly accomplished on their instruments. You could feel they expected to win. This is not to say theyt didn't try. They did. The energy was great, but the songs weren't there and their confidence was offputting. There was no joy when comment time came letting the air out of their confidence. 

I'm not made to be a judge of anything. Ask me to write about it or sing about it, but I'm not made for it. I hope it made me a kinder judge and I hope that it made me more attentive. I took it seriously. I drove home with some lessons, really heavy from this gravity I felt over the situation. I felt a guardian of some small hope. I've been where these guys and girls were, hoping and doing your best for a relatively small stake. It feels big, the small town festival opening spot. So I took judging as a big thing. I didn't delight in hurting anyone, though I suspect I did for even the acts I damned with vague praise.

I don't know. I would do it again, but knowing what I know, I'd dread the whole thing more. 


The world is a frightening place

I spoke in the past post about being done with school. I walked out on the Education program because it seemed really depressing and would have taken me another year to two to complete. I was absolutely certain that I would be able to 1). Get an English degree and 2). score a sweet job in a month or two.

I got the degree. It came in the mail today. It looks nice.

I haven't had any real luck getting a job. I know what people say about the job market, but I'm no whiner and I can do this. I figure what you need is to know people and I'm a guy who's pretty rich in social capital.

I'm poor in experience, however and I've worked as a musician for twenty years. In that time you become that guy. It's sort of like typecasting, but imagine that the only role you've played for 20 years is Paul Westerberg. Yeah.

So I'm making new friends who don't know me so well, an in the meantime I'm writing. A lot. The desire when I got this sad BA in English was to write. I've written songs for twenty some years and as it became clear to me that no one was going to care as much as me, I kept writing. You can't call yourself a writer and not write.

With that Mid-Western work ethic instilled, I'm writing. So what if no one has hired me?



I was born in 1974, the same year as People magazine; the same year as Patty Hearst's abduction and Nixon's impeachment, the Bathurst Gaol Riot, TWA flight 841, The Rumble in the Jungle, and the discovery of Lucy, A skeleton from the hominid species Australopithecus afarensis.

I wrote songs even as a child. I used to sit on the swingset in the back yard on Edgelawn with my dog Charlie and make 'em up as I went along. We had stairs that went down to our finished basement alongside the back of the house. I sat on the cement at the top and sang about the same things I do now-mostly loneliness and how hard people are to hold on to.

Popular songs included "I Haven't Got Time For The Pain", "(You're) Having My Baby, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (the Stones version), and "Smokin' In The Boys Room".

Jack Benny Died. Penelope Cruz was born.

Throughout school I felt incredibly isolated. Parties depressed me in high school. I went home more alone than I had been while getting ready. I never knew what to wear or how to talk to the girls. I never knew what to say. I couldn't fight. I got my ass kicked a lot in grade school, both at school and at home. I'm pretty good at taking a beating, however, though I've always been a little afraid to hit in the face.

Young Frankenstein, The Towering Inferno and Herbie Rides Again came out. The Goddfather II won best picture.

The year began on a Tuesday, I was born on a Friday night. June 14; Gemini; year of the Tiger. I share a birthday with Che Guevara, Boy George, Yasmine Bleeth, Marla Gibbs and Jerzy Kosinski. That sums me up pretty well.

My earliest memory is of being in a shoe store and being small, staring at belt buckles and hugging the salesman's leg for wearing the same pants as my daddy. They were blue. I looked up and was scared.

My Father was 36 for most of the year and my mother was 26 for half of it. She turned 27 the Wednesday before I was born.

My sister turned 3 a month or so before I was born. she wanted to return me initially, but decided to keep me, after all.

My best friend growing up was Pat Stammer. He didn't like me, but there wasn't many kids on Edgelawn. I pronounced "Edgelawn" Edge-a-lawn until very recently.

Happy Days premiered and The Brady Bunch was cancelled. Little House on the Prairie started a nine year run.

Rikki Feltes changed my life in 5th grade. I think he was the first person who seemed to like me. Maybe it was Phil Kramer. The first girl I "went out" with was Maureen Conlon. She broke it off behind the bushes, but said we could keep it going if I didn't tell any one. My first kiss was Kathy Lies in the parking lot at Freeman School. There was some wonderful petting and awkward female relations that ultimately led to a rather disappointing loss of virginity at 18. It wasn't the girl, she was wonderful in many twists of the term, but the build up killed it.

12 days after I was born The first use of a UPC code was implemented for a pack of Wrigley's Gum in Troy, Ohio. 4 days after that Rev. Martin Luther King's mother was killed during a church service in Atlanta, Georgia. 15 days after that Christine Chubbock shot and killed herself (eventually) during a Live TV broadcast in Florida.

I've been to Florida twice, both times to Disney World. Once as a child and then again as an adult with a girl I worked with and her children. Epcot Center was my favorite, as a kid I got a stuffed "Figment", as an adult I got a Virgin Mega Store T-Shirt for free from the resort.

I had more fun as an adult.



Think I'm gonna make a few changes here for awhile. I'm not gone or abandoning childish, high school confessional writing, but I'm pretty interested in doing something else for a little while. I apologize for my absence and all, but I've been thinking a lot about what comes next.

I'm always thinking about what comes next. What's in my head this week and for the rest of the week will be stories. Probably my own, but if I think of someone else's, I'll get that out, too. I'll ease in to night with a confessional one. When I try to remember the night my father left for good it's blurry. Time has done a white wash job and I don't know if the details have any crisp snap left. Now I wonder if all memory is some common vegetable. Maybe?

My mom disappeared one day. We all woke up, Kim, dad and me and mom hadn't come home from her 3 to 11. I still don't know where she went. I could guess, but I'm not going to. I don't need to know a lot about my life. She showed up at home around 6 or 7 that evening with Kim and I doing homework at the kitchen table. It was a Sunday. We'd been a little confused all day and I think dad was trying not to show how lost and how pissed he was to us. She came in and told my dad to leave and let him know that she was done getting beat up. I have no idea what words were said, but I know the content and I figure we'll keep this from a child's view.

I think my father was gonna put an end to that nonsense and came at her to do so, but mom pulled a knife out of the block and told him that it wasn't going to happen anymore. I can't remember this part, but I think she cut him to get the point across when he got even closer, I can't be sure. That could be too many movies and a bad memory. He left. We sat on the bed in Kim's room and watched him walking by over and over again getting
his stuff out.

He'd left before, but that was the last time.

You know, I'm really not trying to tell a sad story. Hell, I love my mom for that, and for always maintaining as neutral a POV about him as she could throughout our growing up. We remembered what we remembered and we learned about him what we did and she never had to say a bad word. I'm not a poorer person for this and I'm maybe stronger for the example she set. She did what she had to do and I learned, maybe too well, that you do what you gotta to get the life you wanna live.

I'm not married and I may never be. I don't see it as a wonderful thing. I hate the ceremony and can't see any better way to be let down by an event than to plan a day for a year. None of this matters. I'm not shaped by this and it's not why I am how I am.

It's just a song I sing when you're not around.


Life as Chicory.


So I mowed the lawn, hung over and over heated.

And I wrote. I used to be writing all the time, but lately there's this eerie quiet in my head that spends some of the time laughing at me and alternately waiting for me to notice that I haven't noticed the quiet and then pointing fingers laughing at me.

I was a waiter, but I wasn't really waiting on tables, I was waiting for time with a pen and watching everything. Yeah, I used my story, but I told it from the POV of a stranger and all the things I guessed about him while he ate lunch. That's the thing I learned too late, your story is boring. My story is boring. Tell it again. I told the story of someone passionate, because I rarely am. I told the story of someone engaged and reckless, because I am detached and careful. This, these words here; these are lies, too.

But I did mow the lawn and I did write and there's a very new quiet. There's no accusations when the words come.

The best thing is realizing the way the world works and having the sudden revelation that I'm wrong about one thing:

The universe is not random.

I'm not approaching Deism or anything, in fact the opposite - God is a plant. Vegetable matter. God giggles when we screw and controls our advertising and our movie releases. God wants you to be Vegan. God made all television digital and when I buy the stuff I mix up to kill the Creeping Charlie and the Clover it feeds them. I don't know if God switched the stuff or if it made it that way, falsely packaged from the inception,

But i know God is a weed and God is very, very hungry.

Teaching Art: You're doing it wrong.


First off, let me give you the hardline according to The Kevin Trudo:

When music plays, it's ok if it makes you dance. Maybe It should make you better, it should interest you and it should make you feel something. Maybe. But Art for the sake of art is boring and dying it's own slow death, thank god, really only propped up by a few sumbitches in sack cloth and ash.

No. I am not talking about classics. Well done music isn't cool and never will be, but will also never go out of style. It's called timeless for a reason. Bach is not in danger of collapsing under his own weight. there's pretty good legs on that fella.

I'm worried more about prolapse and the stinky anus of art music coming out of itself to reveal just how hollow that hole is (by definition).

There it is. Take it anyway you want. I have no issue with a healthy dose of music snobbery, I myself claim more than a little, however when you let it get in the way of taste, man, that's just new money. That's showing your ass.

This all descends from a "teacher" that Jen and I have shared who has a very particular definition of art. It doesn't coincide with ours (or, I wonder, anyone else I know who has not been lobotomized) and seems thinner than a book of poems.

I don't like to slam folks more than once a month or so, so I'm not naming names, but the idea of taking something that could have life and embalming it offends me. Art is a standard and a goal, not the clothes that comes in. You can ape a standard and often execution, but sincerity and vision are almost impossible to call in.

I will say it again: Excellence is always the brightest thing in the room. Pretension, well, some serious tarnish is inherent.

And this from a guy who calls himself "Pretentious, yet whimsical" on his business cards.

The Problem of Evil.


Every so often I read something like this and I think of her. 

There's even the chance that this could find her. Maybe I'll send it. The thing is I remember a few stories I've been told very well and hers is one. I will not tell it; it's not my story. My story is that I will think of her every time I hear Cat Stevens (esp Moonshadow) and almost every time I see the Mississippi. I love the Mississippi for swallowing that bastard and I sincerely hope that his death is the only one I ever celebrate. 

And as I celebrate I ask myself about evil. By nature I'm privatio boni - I do not anthropomorphize Evil, nor do I doubt that it exists..however, unlike Augustine I try very hard not to hold it in orbit with (capital G) Good.  I am speaking exclusively of moral evil - I do not believe in natural evil....perhaps there's a fixed constellation of evil...a balance....but if so why would we remain as a species so terribly offended by it? I'm essentially a-religious and an atheist, so I hate the idea of evil with the capital E. I don't want to give it the  power and fury of either suppression or examination. Nevertheless there's a reminder everywhere you sniff that we are surrounded by things and people that are around to take things from you and hurt you. 

I wonder if my appreciation of that hungry river makes me evil. 

Certainly I've done worse than enjoying someone's death. I know I have. If I really examined that in all of it's depth I fear I'd take myself for a drive on the Mississippi myself.....I'm not going to do that. There was something I wanted to say and all my musing keeps watering it down. I believe:

That life hurts. We hold on to each other. It's poor comfort and often causes further pain; but it's what we have. It's all that we have. 

Justice is a man-made concept. We try very hard to figure it out. We imagine there's a divine being to agree with us. We try to order the chaos and the animal in us with jails and judges. The thing is, our appetite for pain becomes evident in the justice we design. I think we're alone in the universe and that we're not qualified for justice. 

I am glad he died. I watched the news. I figured he'd take someone with. It may not be Justice, but it feels right to me. 


I'll re-read this and I'll think of you. I'm sorry for how it must have hurt and for what it took from you and for your silence. I just wanted you to know that I know. I have this story about it: that I doubt myself a little more and I doubt the world a little more and I have more belief in the strength of the individual because of your story. Because of you. I wanted you to know that. I wanted you to know I keep it with me: for my self and my wife and her daughter.



Katherine Hepburn is Dead.


Note: I brought this in from an abandoned blog. I need some space and this really should have been here in the first place. 

And Barbara Stanwyck and Jane Wyman and Greta Garbo and Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman. And for that matter any woman I would want a young lady to have as a role model. I guess Angelina Jolie has merits, she has been outspoken and defensive of her stupid choices. She's seemingly kind and charitable and seems to have the will and resources to have a litter of third world babies. My problem there is that since she became the commodity that she did the roles where she gets to be strong and interesting and sometimes wrongfully so have dried up.

I watched Mr and Mrs Smith. That sucked. I don't know if most of the world knows that sucked anymore than they know Justin Timberlake sucks, but all these things are true. This gets me into the subtext of the post. Quality and this thing in my head about Applied art, Fine art and the arts and crafts movement. Maybe we'll get there, maybe not, but find one category that li'l JT fits and we'll talk a little more-and I mean a defensible position, not an eyes-shut-subjective-or-guilty-pleasure offense. Believe me, that is offensive and I hope not just to me.

That later. Maybe. Maybe Tomorrow. Christ, I have to assume that a large percentage of the people finding this are rock stupid as a large percentage of the world is-ok, rock stupid is childish-but, let's say thoughtless. I still want to dumb this down because I want people to like me and I want to be popular. If you've gotten this far I'll assume you can carry a thought in an envelope or I piss you off.

The parts she doesn't do anymore and hasn't since "Girl, Interrupted" and (I'm puking in my mouth a little bit) "Foxfire" are the flawed and confident. The things I admire in Kate and Greta. The things I would want a daughter, if I had a daughter, to see.

I think in some ways we have seriously shafted ourselves by allowing the puritanism of those jolly good ol' days die. I'm not advocating censorship, I never will, I'm encouraging some candor and self policing. Since the gates were opened we've lost naughty. It's straight to dirty and all the movies have lost the winks that used to let us know that, while we were watching with our kids, that part was for the grown ups.

Not that I remember. I'm fucking 33. Nevertheless, there's the inclusive feeling of an in joke that we've sacrificed for our freedom to say anything. We fail to notice so often that our boundaries are usually what makes art, well, art. Our limitations and what we're able to do with them are what makes us great.

With an unlimited budget and resources, we don't rely on our creativity. "Titanic" is what results. Some of our greatness goes away. Our difficulties in life are rarely in our hardships, they're so often in the luxuries. I had a talk late last year with Matt about the shitty people we would have become if we had had any success. I am an absolutely wonderful failure.

The other thing that dies with the budget restrictions and the ability to ask the question "should we do this simply because we can?" are the roles for women. And I mean roles about women as people. Forget the Bechdel test, it's worse than even mere misogyny: it's become dumb and, worse yet, tepid.

I want a strong, confident and flawed woman. Not out to prove that a woman could be an action hero, because, really, who gives a shit? I want movies about people I know doing things that I do well. I want her to be flawed both physically and emotionally. I want her to be like the people I know and I want her to be comfortable with that. A human being trying to compensate or in the throes of ridiculous circumstance is not a role model. A leader does what we do every day, but better than we do.

Goodnight, Kate. I really miss you.

Note on "Their Eyes Were Watching God" By Zora Neale Hurston

Now, I'm just working this out in my head, but theory emerges as such.

It's not testable theory in my head, so as such it's garbage, but it's speculation. Which is bad, but I'll try to be unkind about it and see where it goes.

 I am Reading "Their Eyes Were Watching God" By Zora Neale Hurston. I do not love the main character, and I feel this way mainly because I believe she does not need my sympathy or love. I think she is far too well loved as it is. The author holds her in such high esteem for seemingly her sole existence. Or perhaps the act of being created was sufficient trial to justify her being loved. 

And there may be a point in there. Maybe the only reason to love anything is by nature of its existence. 

But I don't love her. Not a bit. I don't find anything in her to love. 

Note on East of Eden

The genius in East of Eden isn't in Steinbeck's willingness to bridge that fourth wall. It's a part of it, certainly. I doubt he was the first to write himself into the story and use it as the key to unlock his moral, but he was damn good at it. He usede himself unlike others, however. He used himself not as a fictional character, but as a fact.
It's not unlike Cal. He makes us distrust and dislike him at first. It's the only way we get to really love him. At least I do. He, Samuel and Lee are the only realized characters. Even Adam, for all his worth, is a surprise when he has a thought. Adam is a device, Cal is the character.

No. II

When I was in high school I got one piece of very good advice from a very questionable source.

The source is more interesting than the advice in some ways. She was a girlfriend of sorts. This was marked by a year of hanging out and not being able to call her a girlfriend. After we sort of agreed on being in a relarionship she did some very un-girlfriend like things like putting other guy's penis' in her mouth and keeping me at a distance that was pathological if anything. It was a confusing time and not terribly good for my self esteem which is a kind of advice in its own way, if you can imagine, but that's not really the point. I hope I'm okay with that by now. Maybe not, though. Maybe all this self-help talk is complete bullshit and we never really get over anything, we just learn not to bring it up so much. I mean, it's possible the best we can do is not think about a thing very much anymore. 

Her mother had dome something terrible to high school person. Perhaps she had imposed some rule that was unfair and unacceptable. In retrospect the things that seemed terrible then seem like parenting, now. I was sympathetically indignant and I think I agreed with her when she called her mother a bitch or some other creative insult. I was trying, I'm certain, to ingratiater myself by agreeing with her in some hopes that we would get to do the sort of thing she typically reserved for other guys at parties. 

She stopped me. Her words were to the effect that She was angry at her mother and she was going to say things about her, but at some soon point she would no longer be angry and the love she had for her mother was going to be back and the last thing she needed was to know that she had forgiven her mother and the things she said would die, but she would remember the things I said and she might never know that my words would die; she would never be sure I loved her mother. Which was wise. I didn't loveher mom. I would probably not really mean those things, but she wouldn't know. She would just remember me bad-mouthing her. 

So, kids, never pretend to have stake in a relationship. Listen quietly and never vocally take sides. She was a lot of things, rash, mean, damaged . . . but she was also wise and kind and beautiful about some things. 

Two morals are in here:

1.  Shut your mouth and listen, and

2.  Divinity comes in some ugly forms. 

No. I

No one has ever asked me to write a column. A letter, a paper, a report and a note for the dogsitter, yes, but these sorts of things never stop me. In spite of my lack of invitation, or perhaps in my contrarian way because of that I am going to write one. We'll call it a weekly meditation or an occasional bloodletting or a bi-weekly review. I don't know, but in order to think of myself as a writer any longer I need to actually write. Which I do, but it seems that sharing it should happen. I can't justify that statement.

So let's start with a story. Caveat: All of my stories are made up either wholesale or in part. Often it's just embellishment, but just as often it's bull shit or I fabricate exposition or dialog to round the thing out I never saw firsthand. I have a tremendous ability to expect, a hope for a decency of spirit that I rarely see. I fashion a lot of stories around an entirely made up anti hero who is almost always wrong but has a code.

I have laundry to do. Job hunting that I need to follow up on. Jeans that I should be patching. A table to be re-finishing. Studio time to be sorting out. Kids to do right by. I will, I will..but first this story. It's a story that contains no adventure or discernible parable.  It's just  thing that happened, or could happen, and i my telling I hope for it to be something that an event cannot be. I hope the events are clear, but ultimately fade into the telling itself. It' about me and how I say it, then you and how you find it.

And I worry about this last thing the most. How you'll find it. I know you didn't ask for it and I left it in a sort of thoughtless place. Here. this page. This endless, un-weeded page that I should go through and minimize, but never do. There are so many fallow and untended things here and I apologize. It's a shabby place to find this. Maybe this evening I will go through and delete all of the useless and self serving posts around here. Yeah, but first - you guessed it - a story.

Listen: I'm approaching this story the only way I know how. I'm telling you all of the things I'm up against and afraid of. It's the only way I know how to do it and now it's here and almost certain to be a let down. Still, here it is:

When I was just a little older than my son is now I remember a thing. It's the first thing I remember and the edges are pretty tattered, but we - my family, at the time two adults of each respective gender and mirror children, a boy and a girl, me youngest - we were in a store. I remember it as a shoe store, but I have no reasons why I think that and I have no evidence to support that. Just impressions.

I was entertaining myself as kids do. Running. I don't really know. Touching things for no reason. At some point I must have felt lost and went for my father and I grabbed him and hugged what I thought was his leg. Then I looked up and realized that I had, instead, the leg of the salesman who was wearing similar pants as my father. I looked up and I saw  strange man and I cried.


And that's all I remember. Not how it was resolved or how long I cried or if my parents comforted me laughed or a little of both. See? It's really only scarcely a story. And yet for some reason it has been baggage for the last 37 years. I can only guess why with possible interpretations.

My favorite of those interpretations these days that it means that a part of life or growth involves embracing some things that you think are of a certain fiber until they collapse into a completely different and unexpected substance.


But I hugged my father's leg and then it was not my father's. I'll look at me son and wonder what he's going to experience and what he's going to remember. What he will value or what his memory will value for him like my own inexplicable memory of salesman pants. Maybe I'm just concerned because it seems that everyone is always wearing jeans these days, tat we all sort of dress the same.

I mean, it's pretty much all I ever wear.

A Brave New World? Maybe not.

Friday evening I am to enter a new world, I am to become a thing I never meant to be:

a judge.

I went back to school a few years ago upon the realization that I really don't want any job I'm qualified for and in the process I learned a few things about myself. The biggest thing is that - while I find private music instruction to be one of the more rewarding things I've ever done with my life - I never want to teach music in an institutional way. I figure that I never want to be the guy who almost made it, or just flat out didn't make it (since close is arbitrary and debatable and completely beside the point) who takes that out on a class full of students, year after year. I didn't pursue a degree teaching music. I wound up going for an English degree after becoming terrified of the institutions I was visiting in the education program. Again, not the point.

The point is that I never wanted to stand in judgement of music. I'm not sure I'm even qualified to do so. I mean, it's all pretty subjective, what we like and what we don't. But Friday I will be one of three judges in a battle of the bands. The bands are exactly the demographic I want to avoid, they're young.

I'm nervous. I want to try to stick to the things that can define. Where they need to improve and where I think they did well, y'know, encouraging stuff. I'm not sure I can bring myself to say I think that the song is wrong. Maybe that I think the song is unfinished, unrealized. I don't know. This is going to be hard for me because I worship the song.

But, like I said, I don't know how to judge a thing that is inherently subjective. This is not to say that I don't have a definition of quality, it's just that I doubt the efficacy of that definition. By this I mean to say that I'm not sure I can impose my standards on another: One person's "That song doesn't go anywhere" is another's complete vision. 

What I am going to do is take notes and share how it goes. 
Wish me luck and check back.




I found this today. I knew there was some issue about the new Cal Cedar Blackwing pencils, but never in my life thought that this had happened.

I live in a vacuum occupied mostly with my own thoughts, I don't consume in the same way a lot of my friends do. I read for info and I'm not nosy about drama. Either way I missed this. It began with hype for me a few years back. I never really used the original very much. I liked them and all, but at the time they were around I could still get USA Made Mirado Black Warriors. Them are gone, too.

Either way I was excited to get to try the NEW Blackwings. I never realized that the purists would strip it of joy.

I own a few boxes of these new, Blackwing tributes and I think they're fine pencils. I like quite a bit of the stuff CalCedar offers, notably the Golden Beear line, I prefer these as I prefer US made stuff. Still, not my point.

I never for a second, in all of my un-initiated way that these were the same pencils. I never felt deceived by the advertising or the hype. I though it was fun. Hell, it sounds a lot like Steinbeck's Blackwing 602 wasn't even what they had at the end, from things I've read and knowing that Eberhard Faber changed hands a few times.

I have some Eberhard Faber pencils, I like them. That's all. Theses aren't my favorite. I would love to get my fingers on one of the originals to see for myself if the hype is real, but not at the current prices they're going for.

For me, for now, I'm just pleased that these are out there.


I write. A lot.

I do. Most of it in notebooks on pencil. I have so very many blogs saved and I update most of them every blue moon. But in between I write. A lot. Songs, papers for school, notes to self, ideas and even a few short stories and one play. This year I want to share that stuff.
A large impetus is that I can do this from phone or tablet and I have completely quit caring about the reception of my music or my writing. I've become comfortable being old and ridiculous. I will cross link, but for know you can expect my thoughts on pencil and paper. I just have to find the notebook I wrote it out long hand in...


Sorry, it's a bad writer who isn't writing.


RE that awesome movie posted below

as of this writing there are 6,814 views. I sincerely think this should blow up tremendously. Help.

Here's the direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ4VQt-UZKI
 Go ahead, cut and paste it. Do you need a reminder of the video?

Ok, Scots are as funny as Cats.

They just are:

F-ing Cats!

Has it really been this long? So sorry. Life got in the way, but I'm getting my feet back wet with the best thing in two weeks. People use the whole Laugh out loud thing pretty liberally, not me. I laugh on the inside and I'm proud of that. This one violated that trend.

Alt Religion @ About.com is pretty awesome. Especially Catherine Beyer.

Now to go catch up on the Steve Brown I promised. Look for that in a few.


Dolls have sex, but then so do priests. Oh, and Mr Rogers gets freaky.

So very much to be happy about. Yep. Yeppers.

Try 17 unfortunate screenshots on for size. A sample?

How about Ben Franklin's exhaustive list of sobriquets for being drunk.

Have you heard of Mariel Clayton? Neither had I, but she does dark and delightful things with dolls and then photographs them. Another example:

Really screw around on that one, there's just so much to love. It's more serious and much darker at times. Overall, really lovely stuff. 

As long as we're on the subject of unspeakable things and darkness, The Catholic Church remains as corrupt and evil a thing as when (note: both these links are to info about AntiPope John XXIII, but there are a great many more examples I will one day put elsewhere) they sold indulgences and had evil popes. I think they still do. This is absolutely no shock, I know. It's nice to have their absolute horror of a soul on display, however. You know what you're dealing with. Read this by Christopher Hitchens. He's a wonderful writer and very smart dude. 

You know IMDB. Someone went one better. Behold: the IMFDB. The Internet Movie Firearm Data Base. So you don't have to wonder who's packing what and where.

And so, in closing: here's what 8-bit characters would look like if you ran into them at the Super Wal-Mart.Oh, and video. I always do video. Here's 37 seconds of awesome for you to post on your best bud's facebook walls: