Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Due To My Lack Of Editing Skills, I'm Going To Let Someone Else Do The Talking - or - Bringing The Bacon Home To Roost

“A culture that views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure, to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter, will probably view individuals within it’s community, and other cultures within the community of nations, with the same type of disdain and disrespect.”

-Joel Salatin in FOOD, INC., a Magnolia Pictures release.

PHOTO CREDIT: Participant Media and River Road Entertainment

Friday, November 12, 2010

Look Where I Am - or - What's Going On Around Here?

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Monday, November 08, 2010

All God's Creatures - or - I Know The Answer

It recently occurred to me that the funniest thing I have ever witnessed anyone do happened to take place while I was in 6th grade. The funniest thing said by anyone I've ever know was said by Betsy C. What she said was, "Jesus." That alone is not very funny. Betsy C.'s father was a bovine veterinarian and her mother was a sixth grade English teacher who seemed to win a lot of radio contests. Betsy was boyish in appearance and stature; short with a mop-top hair cut and a squeaky voice. She came into school one Monday and vehemently declared that, "Jesus is the answer. What is the question?"

For one week straight in sixth grade, anytime any question in any subject was asked, immediately a high pitched voice from the back of the room could be heard.

What is the Capital of Madagascar?

What year was the U.S. Constitution signed?

A train leaves California at 5:30 am traveling due west at 50 mph. What times...

Her grades suffered, her mother was questioned, and her joke went unappreciated by me for years and years and years. Until now. You might ask, what happened, Obsquatch? Why, all of a sudden did you remember Betsey? Well, I was going through my collection of tapes, yes audio cassette tapes, and found some recordings of my college radio show, called "Jesus Ate My Homework." I popped on into my stereo and listened to the version of me from 12 years ago. One the recording, one of the local listeners called in and asked me where the name of the show came from. My long winded response had to do with my class schedule and how I never got my assignments done on time and the lame excuses that I have made up while handing in late papers. I have learned my lesson since then. I now remember the answer to all life's questions.

Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?
Does white wine or red go with duck?
Where is the restroom?
What is your social security number?
Does this dress make me look fat?
Are you happy with your long distance phone provider?
Who loves Dinosaurs?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Should I Wear? - or - A Thursday Night Phone Conversation

Dan - Hi man, I'm making a movie for that Children's Theater Company that I started and I wanted to know if you'd play bass in it.
Obsquatch - Sure thing, Dan. I'll bring it over in ten minutes or so. Sound good?
Dan - Yeah, and also bring your banjo.
Obsquatch - My banjo?
Dan - Yeah, your banjo. You can play a couple chords on the banjo, right?
Obsquatch - Sure I can. Alright, I'll bring the bass and the banjo. What should I wear?
Dan - I'm pretty sure you will be wearing a Frankenstein costume.
Obsquatch - A what?
Dan - A Frankenstein costume.
Obsquatch - **maniacal laughter**
Dan - I assume you are okay with that.
Obsquatch - **laughter continues**
Dan - I'm gonna hang up now. I'll see you in a few minutes?
Obsquatch - **Popping blood vessels in eyeballs due to hysterics**
Dan - *CLICK*

Photos to follow

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three Reasons To Lead A Boring Life, Sleep, Sleep, And Sleep - or - Insight Into My Insides

I stopped eating meat months ago. I like tofu and humus and falafel and garbanzo beans and veggie burgers. I actually didn’t stop eating meat, I stopped buying, ordering, requesting, and cooking meat. If someone puts a steak down in front of me, which actually happens quite often at my work, I will eat that god damn stake. If it’s cut and cooked and sitting there for me and only me to eat, and if I don’t eat it, it will be thrown into the garbage, I’m gonna love the hell out of that stake with a knife and fork and some bĂ©arnaise sauce, but I won’t order one off a menu and I sure as shit won’t buy a bunch of stake from a national chain grocery store where the meat comes from God know where and is injected with God knows what. Truth be told, I stopped ordering and buying meat for no good reason. If someone asks me why I’ve stopped, I tell them that eating cows isn’t exactly good for cows. I like cows; they are big and dumb and affectionate, just like me. Then again, cows, as they exist today, wouldn’t exist at all if human beings didn’t breed them to be exactly what they are: big, dumb, affectionate, and tasty. So the question becomes; is it better to exist solely to be reared, raised, and slaughtered for your delicious muscle mass or to never have existed as a species at all? Ironically and hypocritically, I’ve been wearing my leather shoes and my leather jacket a lot more since I stopped eating meat.

I didn’t drive my car for a week. I left it parked on the street blocks away from my house with my busted ass ipod sitting on the seat and my work tux in the back. I’m pretty sure it was locked; sometimes I forget. Nothing happened to my stuff, not in this neighborhood. I wanted to take a break from my car for a while. Not only was I trying to reduce my fuel consumption and save some money, I just really like riding my bike around Chicago. Instead of driving the ten miles to work in a traffic filled panic that I might be late, I left an hour early and biked my ass there. It was great. I even lost a few pounds. I got a $50 parking ticket because I didn’t move my car for the monthly street cleaning. They post signs on the street three days before street cleanings, most people see these signs for three days. It’s hard to miss them, they are brightly coloured and tied around every other tree on the street. People see them and take note while they are on their way to their cars, days and days before someone with a bright orange vest puts a $50 ticket on their windshield. I didn’t walk, or bike, down the street that my car was on all week long, so I didn’t see the signs. I didn’t see the God damn signs. I sure as shit saw the bright orange ticket on my windshield days after the fact. The street cleaner had perfectly avoided my car and there was fast food liter and piles of yellow and brown leaves under and around my car. It cost me more to not move my car for one week than it would have if I moved it all week long. I really don’t want to learn a lesson from this.

I flew back to Vermont and hiked more than eight mountains along the Long Trail. I hiked with my Pops. We shared our thoughts, our tents, our woes, our joys, our take on what was wrong with the world, out take on how things ended in the canyon, we shared jokes, coffee, ibuprofen, after dinner back rubs, and book reviews. We shared our diners on top of mountains. I carried all the food. It was a beautiful handful of days. My Pops is an amazing man. I’ve know this for a long time but it is just so damn nice to be reassured that the man that raised me is the smartest man that I know.

I started eating meat again on top of Castle Rock, which is a warming hut on the top of a mountain. It was a Vermont Summer Sausage. My mom had bought two of them and put them in the food bag. Vermont Summer Sausage is delicious. I need to spend more time in the woods. Nothing compares to time in the woods when your heart is racing and you are always a little short of breath and the sun breaks through the clouds for a few minutes and you are sweating out of every pore on your body just like you should when you hike up mountain after mountain and the wind is rushing through your hair and it feels so good that you put your arms out and you close your eyes and listen to the wind whistle through the trees and you can’t hear anything but birds and wind and the steady thump of your heart aligning with the thump of your boots on the mud and the rocks and you can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and there nothing but wild around you and you’ve got hours to go before you can take that sixty pound pack off your back at the next camp and you realize that apples have never tasted as good they do when you eat them on the alpine ridge and you are proving to yourself that there really is more to life than an alarm clock and a pay check. I need to get back there as soon as possible. Back into the woods again.

I returned to Chicago and was served a rotten stake at a fancy hotel while I worked. I threw it out myself. I promptly stopped eating meat again, kinda.

I rehearsed with the band every day, for hours, for weeks in preparation for a performance at CMJ in New York City. Every musician, secretly or openly, wants to play in New York City, is dying to play in New York City, myself included. There is a pristage that goes along with saying, “I’m flying to New York City to play a gig in Soho with my band.” Before I could justify dropping hundreds of dollars on transportation to a gig that might or might not have anyone in attendance or pay us anything, I wanted to at least make sure that the band was well rehearsed, therefore, I rehearsed with the band every day, for hours, for weeks, until we got it right. There were minced words and miffed members, feelings hurt and calluses formed, blow-ups and melt-downs, broken strings and dreams of grandeur, wrong notes and wronged musicians. The soda machine, they call soda “pop” here, in the practice space has Miller High Life cans in it for $2. That is illegal, but fucking brilliant. I made sure to bring a fist full of singles to each rehearsal. The band I play with got into the habit of passing a “speaking knife” around in a circle after rehearsals so that each of us could discuss things we liked and things we wanted to change. If you had the “speaking knife” you had the floor and everyone’s attention. I am now well versed at swearing at the top of my lungs with a large sharp object in my hand. I am also good at saying, “I love you, man” in the same context.

I flew to New York City at 6 in the morning and left the next day at 6 in the morning. I did not sleep night before this flight, or the night of the flight home. I flew to NYC to play a 45 minute set at CMJ Music Marathon. It was amazing. I don’t remember much because of the intensity. We left the knife at home, but the band went to a dinner after the venue closed at 4am and we cheersed each of ourselves and each of our songs with skunked Coors in cracked plastic dinner cups.

I flew home to Chicago and only hours after landing, started teaching a bunch of “at-risk youth” how to be better performers. Their school is on 103rd st, and if you know anything about Chicago, you should know that 103rd street is pretty much as thick as the south side gets. I’m talking about metal detectors and armed police at every entryway to the school, see-through back packs and standardized uniforms, bullet holes in every stop sign on the streets, and flowers on a lot of the corners. I asked these hard kids, and I mean hard as in these kids are dealing with problems and pressures that people like you and people like me don’t ever have to deal with, and they are dealing with these problems and pressures every minute of their life without a support group and without a network of friends or family backing them up. If they fall, they fall HARD. I asked these HARD kids to write down what is means to them to be an artist. I asked them to define them selves at artists. I asked them to convince me that they were artists. I wish I could share with you what they wrote, but I can’t. It’s not mine to share. I can only tell you that I was shocked, blown away, floored by their answers and their pride. I can only tell you that these kids, that most people from affluent neighborhoods on the north side of the city would right off as gangsters and hood rats, these kids proved to me that they were unbreakable. I can’t share what they wrote, what they said, and how they said it. I wish I could. I wish you could have seen it because it was amazing. I can only share with you what I wrote, because you know that the second I asked them to do it, they spun around and TOLD me to do it also.

What Defines Me As An Artist?

- I am a crooked tree in a forest full of straight trees and only straight trees get cut down when the lumberjacks show up.

- I am imperfect. Flawed, jaded, cracked, and damaged in obvious ways and I will show off my faults and make the world jealous

- I rise up and prove my talents to those people who doubt me.

- I can shake my butt with pride and I got moves like you’ve never seen.

- I can play Reggae on the ukulele

- I am not afraid of critique or ridicule because I know I am right, and I love being right.

This was day one. This was the first thing we did together. At the beginning of the day, I was just another white dude floating through their world, at the end of those three hours, we were sharing our inspiration. I taught the kids my little hand shake, a tiny gesture that we could share. I call it, “Fiveing the pound”. They laughed when I tried to get them to do it at first. They present a fist for a pound, and I slap it with my palm. Then we switch, they show me fives, I knuckle up and give it a bump. Fiveing the pound. Get it? Now they line up and give it to me as they walk in to take their seats. I’m on day four today and come home tired and awestruck.

So, yeah, I’ve been busy.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Vermont's Footpath In The Wilderness - or - To See What We Can See

Today is another day-before-I-fly-somewhere-cool day. No hair cut this time, no boyish nerves creeping in, but rather a new pair of boots. Waterproof boots. Hiking boots. Burly boots. I’m off to spend four days and three nights hiking through the mountains of Vermont with my father. I call him Pops. We are going to hike a rather picturesque and also quite challenging leg of the Long Trail. The Long Trail cuts the state of Vermont in half, top to bottom, and has always been a dream of mine to hike it, top to bottom. I'm going to do this first, which happens to be right in the middle, with my 65 year old father. Pops. He is a former college Dean, a current graduate degree professor, and one hell of a bread baker. Between the bread and the students, he says that the rewards of his work cover both the long and the short term. A student of his will take a few years to graduate; a loaf of bread on the other hand, comes out of the oven after an hour or so. A job well done either way. I once knit him a scarf during high school Calculus class. It is the definition of unfashionable, and without a doubt is by far the ugliest scarf I have ever seen. And he just loves it. Probably because he is color blind. Most people are blue-green or red-blue colorblind. My Pops is both. As a kid, I used to ask him to, “pass me that purple thing,” knowing full well that A) there was no purple thing anywhere near him and B) that he would grab something that he thought might be purple in hopes of being helpful. “Not that, the purple thing.” This would go on for a while, with him desperatly grabing at anything that was within arms reach until eventually he caught on and would either say to the heavens, “What did I do to deserve this cruel child?” or snap at me with a smirk across his face, “get the damn purple thing yourself.” He is the smartest man I have ever known, baring that one time, years ago, when he put his hand into the whirling blades of the family snow blower and effectively cut off his own fingers. That… wasn’t so smart. I drove him to the hospital with my mother in the back seat and his severed fingers in a bowl of snow in her lap. I drove as fast as I could, taxing the engine of the small, gray family hatchback; passing every car in front of me whether there was a passing lane or not, flying the wrong way over icy one lane bridges, and blowing through the few red lights there were in my home town. When some stoic Vermont driver honked at my obvious recklessness behind the wheel, my father held up the bloody, squirting finger stumps on his left hand, spurting three streams of blood onto the window as if to try to justify my blatant disregard for the rules of the road. The doctors put his fingers back onto his hand, reattached all the nerve endings and everything, and he can play the flute just fine. He is a well-read and convincing political activist, a fierce advocate for peace, a hard-line walker if ever there was one, and a compassionate ol’ Grizzly Bear. He’s my Pops and starting tomorrow, we are going to spend a week together, huffing up mountain after mountain during the foliage change in Vermont, eating camp stove soups and home made granola bars, catching our breath on mountain tops, and shitting in the woods. Sounds perfect.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Reprinting Of A Reprinting - or - The Return of Odysseus By George Bilgere

The following prose was featured on Garrison Kiellor's,The Writers Almanac, a daily broadcast of famous birthdays, happenings, and blunders on NPR. Find it online at

The Return of Odysseus
by George Bilgere

When Odysseus finally does get home
he is understandably upset about the suitors,
who have been mooching off his wife for twenty years,
drinking his wine, eating his mutton, etc.

In a similar situation today he would seek legal counsel.
But those were different times. With the help
of his son Telemachus he slaughters roughly
one hundred and ten suitors
and quite a number of young ladies,
although in view of their behavior
I use the term loosely. Rivers of blood
course across the palace floor.

I too have come home in a bad mood.
Yesterday, for instance, after the department meeting,
when I ended up losing my choice parking spot
behind the library to the new provost.

I slammed the door. I threw down my book bag
in this particular way I have perfected over the years
that lets my wife understand
the contempt I have for my enemies,
which is prodigious. And then with great skill
she built a gin and tonic
that would have pleased the very gods,
and with epic patience she listened
as I told her of my wrath, and of what I intended to do
to so-and-so, and also to what's-his-name.

And then there was another gin and tonic
and presently my wrath abated and was forgotten,
and peace came to reign once more
in the great halls and courtyards of my house.

"The Return of Odysseus" by George Bilgere.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Deux Petits Bateaux - or - The Power Of The Sword Of Omens

One wintery spring evening in early 2005, I walked into a local pud wearing a Thundercats tee-shirt. Recognizing a fellow nerd, two strangers named Tom and Tom bought me a beer, handed it too me, and lifted their glasses with a hardy "HO!!!" Less than a week later, I was in Tom's living room (across the street and two floors above the local pub in question) playing bass with them. They were starting a gypsy/calipso/surf/jazz band named Mar Caribe. I was intrigued and became obsessed with ukulele and banjo duet Tom and Tom had written named Little Boat. I turned down a chance to be the bass player in Mar Caribe and can honestly say that I missed out on playing some great songs with some great musicians. This lil' beauty popped up on the interwebs yesterday...

Deux Petits Bateaux from Kate Raney on Vimeo.

Listen to Mar Caribe here. Buy their album. I'm sure there is nothing like it in your giant stack of CDs. And give me sight beyond sight while you're at it.

In related news, holy fucking shit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Potable Quotes - or - Drinkable Thinks

Once upon a time there was a crooked tree and a straight tree...

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Much Needed Elevation - or - Getting Outta Town

It's been a busy summer so far and before it is over and the sun starts to set by four o'clock and the winds start carrying a little vendetta against warm weather, I need to take some time and get out of this city. I am headed into the woods and I am bringing my boots and a tent. I am headed to a pond named after a guy named Joe. I am headed to lush mountain ranges and campfires full of lushes. I am headed to where you can see more stars than people. I am going back to my home for a week and I couldn't be happier about it. If this is the only reward I get for working so hard this summer, it is all worth it. I wish all of you a peaceful and restful August. Next time I say hello, I will say hello from a mountain top. I wish you could hear me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CD Relase On Friday - or - Yippie Skippy!

If you'd like a copy of the disc, email me and I'll make it happen one way or the other. Right now we are charging $10 a copy and will gladly mail it anywhere on the face of the planet... and beyond.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Parade Of Ex-es - or - Calpurnia's Warning

Things couldn’t be better. Am I exhausted? Overworked? Under-paid? Over extended? Under appreciated? Yes. Yes I am. But I am happy. I am soaked to the bone with my own sweat, stretched to my maximum by my own commitments, pushed to the edge of my physical limits, and ready to wake up and do it all again tomorrow. I am bruised and callused and burned and scared and bandaged and bleeding and happy to show off my battle wounds. There is dirt under my fingernails from last week that, no matter how hard I use that bristle brush, won’t come out. I am living in a torrent of my own design and, in all honesty, haven’t had a day off, a day to myself, a day with no work, a day alone, in over thirty days. I smile more than ever these days, but my body, my muscles, my being whines about the last job with every new job that I take on. My bones are tired. So why is it when I get to rest them, when I finally find some time between the whetstone and the grindstone, when I’m rebuilding my strength, why is it then that my dreams turn into a parade of ex-lovers. It is as if ever past commitment, every pretty face that has turned sour towards me, every lost and shattered relationship is dispatched against me while I sleep. They are beautiful and vindictive and unrelenting; lined up like Senators at the Theater of Pompey. I wake up exhausted, with my heart visibly beating through the thin summer sheets. Last night’s thunderstorm has become this morning’s drizzle.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Garrison Keillor's Notes From July 12th - or - I Really Am A Direct Blood Relative Of The Other JC

Going on the Belief Walleyes Eat Late

by Thom Ward

we fish at dusk. No strikes.
Just the occasional bass
thwapping the roof of the water,
making us wish our boat
were anywhere but here.
Which is the umbrella bed—
fat sandbar of stalk weeds, shells,
tangled hooks and lures,
the snouts of old centerboards.

We've nailed some giants off this bed.
Speckled green, dorsal fins bristled,
they died in the snarl of our net.
The thought of those fish
can tease a mile of line from a reel.
So we let out a little more
As the lake goes back and the loon
cries to its mate. The locals say
when you can't see the end of your pole
the day is done.

"Going on the Belief Walleyes Eat Late" by Thom Ward, from Small Boat with Oars of Different Size. © Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of the man who said, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." That's Henry David Thoreau, (books by this author) born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1817). In 1854, he published Walden, or Life in the Woods, which has become a beloved classic.

It's the birthday of poet Pablo Neruda, (books by this author) born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, in Parral, Chile (1904). As a boy, he read all the time and wrote poetry. Even though his father disapproved of his writing, he kept doing it, and he was encouraged by the poet Gabriela Mistral, who lived in his town and later became the first Chilean to win a Nobel Prize. In 1923, when the boy was 19, he sold all his possessions in order to publish his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight), and he published it under the name Pablo Neruda so his father wouldn't be upset. In 1924, he published Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which was incredibly successful.

It's the birthday of mystery novelist Donald Westlake, (books by this author) born in Brooklyn, New York, (1933), the author of more than 100 books.

He worked as slush-pile reader for New York-based magazines, and at night he wrote his own short stories — things that did not often advance past the slush pile. In fact, he received 204 rejection slips before his first short story was ever accepted. But soon after that, the first novel he wrote was accepted by Random House. It was called The Mercenaries (1960), it was huge best-seller, and it was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

He wrote fast, sometimes publishing four books a year. Publishers had reservations about releasing multiple titles in one year by a single author. And for this reason — especially early in his career, when he was furiously prolific — he used pen names. Mystery novelist Donald Westlake was also mystery novelist Richard Stark, and he was Curt Clark, and Timothy J. Culver, and Tucker Coe. And he was Samuel Holt and also Edwin West.

Almost all of his books are set in New York City. His two most famous characters: one a bumbling, disorganized criminal, John Dortmunder, and the other a callous felon named Parker.

Westlake wrote on a typewriter — manual typewriters, not the electric kind — from the 1950s through the 1990s and into the 21st century, up until he died on New Year's Eve 2008 from a heart attack at the age of 75. His reasoning: "I don't want to sit there while I am thinking and have something hum at me." For decades, he wrote in the middle of the night, getting started at 10 in the evening and going through till 4 in the morning. But later he moved his work schedule to daytime — still seven days a week — saying, "I loved it [working at night], but social reality impeded. Now I wander in here at 9 in the morning or so, and come back for a while in the afternoon. I am a very lenient boss." He usually wrote about 7,000 words in one sitting, which is something like 25 double-spaced pages in 12-point Times New Roman font.

It's the birthday of (Gaius) Julius Caesar, born in Rome around 100 B.C. He came from an aristocratic family that traced its lineage back to the goddess Venus, but by the time he was born, his parents weren't rich or even distinguished. And so it was rather ambitious of him to try to become a Roman politician, at a time when it was almost a requirement for all politicians to come from powerful families.

In the last years of his life, Caesar was appointed absolute dictator of Rome. He had ambitious plans to redistribute wealth and land, and he began planning public works and an invasion of Germany. But a group of senators, led by Brutus and Cassius, wanted to bring back the old republic. So they organized an assassination on the steps of the Senate. Caesar died from over 20 stab wounds.

Julius Caesar said, "Which death is preferably to every other? The unexpected."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®
-Garrison Keillor
The Writer's Almanac

Face Book Doesn't Know Me - or - Still Dizzy After All These Years

A friend emailed me this photo from Facebook. Maybe I'll breakdown, maybe I'm steadfast, maybe I need breakfast.

And then there is this lil' thang. Even my Pops, who hates tattoos, likes it.

I have since shaved the rest of my chest, sliced my nipple, been slapped three times by the Rev's wife, and done too many shots of Jameson to count. I am loving life. Now, if only...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Currently Reading, Currently Reeding - or - My Teen Years Are Not Considered Teen Reading Material

As much as I think the alternating authors for alternating chapters is a gimmick to keep both stories a little more suspenseful than they actually are, I am really enjoying this book. John Green has a way of making insignificant and unremarkable main characters into some kind of social litmus paper; proving to me that even the most drab friends of mine from my childhood in the woods would be perceived as unbelievable if I had the energy to write them out the way that I remember them. The dread headed mountain hermit that, every summer, would build an ewok-style tree house and move into it as a summer home away from his mother's house. The hot and busty pot head neighbor who would invite me over after school, ask me to do her Earth Science homework for her, which I would happily do day after day after day because when I finished, she would get me stoned to the high heavens while she danced around her room, whipping her hair all over the place while singing Violent Femmes, smoking a joint and driving me crazy in her over-sized t-shirt and panties. She got her weed from a mostly homeless guy who lived in a tiny shithole appartment that was always full of dirty dishes and zombie people.

The more I think about it, the less I think my life is suitable for a John Green audience. Maybe that is why he hooked up with David Levinthan on this book, so show a bit more edge and to drop a few more F-bombs.

Fuck yeah, John Green.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lines I Wrote - or - As Yet Unpublished... Wait... Fuck... Now I Need A New Second Title

"You don't know what you are missing."

"I don't know what I got."

"I believe you. Are you ever coming back?"

"We shall see." Just as the words left her lips she did the unforgivable. She smiled. Maybe it wasn't a full smile, maybe it was a shrug and a smile simultaneously, but to me it couldn't have hurt more if she used a sledge hammer. How dare she smile now. At me. Like this? I didn't have a choice, my mind had already blurted out the words, my mouth just followed suit.

"No. No we won't. You might see it, and I might see it, but I think that this, this right here, you and me, this creek and this moon, that half dead tree and this big rock with it's obvious examples of bad penmanship, this is the last thing that we will ever see. You are right, you don't know what you got. And I can promise you that you don't know what you are missing."

That was when I turned my back and walked off. It suddenly occurred to me that I might be color blind. Tomorrow I'll know for sure. Tomorrow I'll look at that mess of dots again and guess what number is hiding behind them. No matter what I see on that test card, I don't know if I'll ever see her again. I'm not sure what kind of blindness they call that, but it stings a lot more than not being able to tell the difference between green and red.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lil Guy - or - Back Against The Wrecking Machine

Yesterday, I saved a baby Robin. Birds don't trust people. But babies just don't know better.

I think it was a he because he jumped. Jumped and fell from about fifteen feet.

I saw a fully grown red bellied Robin only minutes earlier. He has a worm in his beak. I helped the lil guy get back up to the area from which he jumped and seconds later he was fed a worm, ruffled his not quite flight ready feathers and looked out on the world from his 15 foot high perch, rebuilding his pride and preparing for his next jump.

I silently went back to work with a smile on my face.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Three Quotes Oe Equal Or Lesser Value - or - A Psychologist, A Screen Writer, And A Band Walk Into A Bar

"A certain degree of neurosis is of inestimable value as a drive..."
-Sigmund Freud

"There's someone here. He stole your underwear."
-Charlie Kaufman - Eternal Sunshine

"I tried to do my own thing, but the trouble with your own thing is you end up on your own."
-Beta Band - Simple

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Fucking Bike Club Kicks My Butt - or - Poopin' In A Washing Machine

Here are some photos. I don't really remember these events. Somehow I got a Ft. Lauderdale visor out of it. Holy crap, I'm an idiot. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You Didn't Ask But Imma Tellin' Ya Anyways - or - See Here, Here's How I See It

This is what I think.

When people talk to me, hear me blather on and on about, well, just about anything, and then tell me I am weird, I am flattered and charmed. It’s like a pick-up line to me.

Here’s how I see the world.

Accomplishments are, in my opinion, best in large quantities of small doses. I like accomplishing many little things through out a day; getting outside and running around on the grass by the lake on a beautiful sunny day, getting all my dishes cleaned and put back into the cupboards after cooking myself a good sit down meal, finding a new place to bike too, searching for the oldest head stone in a cemetery, sitting and playing 80's metal tunes on my ukulele and making people smile as they walk by, or putting on a brand new pair of socks. Things like that complete my days, and I find myself trying to fill my days with life's simple accomplishments. Happiness is elusive when you search for it, like looking straight at the stars only to find them disappear as your focus lands right at them. It is easier to see and recognize happiness when you are not staring straight at it, but rather when you catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of your eye. I don't look for happiness anymore, by that I don’t mean that I’ve given up on trying to find happiness, I only mean that I don't search for it directly. I don’t ask myself, “What will make me happiest right now?” I just laugh when I feel it is time to laugh and bitch and swear when it is time to bitch and swear. Sometimes, swearing up a storm of curse words that would make my parents disown me is exactly what my endorphin glands need to get kick started back into making me smile again. That's probably why I've been threatening to punch all my friends in the dick. Dick punch threats are hilarious.

Someone once said to me, “Only dead fish go with the flow.” I believe them to this day. Someone else said to me, “You seem to look good in women’s sunglasses,” to which I replied, “I know. Weird, hu? Good thing I’ve never tried on women’s underwear. I just don’t think I could restrain myself if they made my butt look good.”

And as far as love is concerned…

Love wreaks havoc of the placid waters of my mind and turns them into a boiling torrent. It is wonderful and exciting and exhilarating to be in love, until the undertow grabs hold of your ankles and drags you, kicking and panic stricken, to the murky and lonely bottom. Of course I never learn my lessons and as soon as I can pry myself free and kick to the surface for a fresh gasp of air, I suddenly find myself swimming with reckless abandon away from the safety of the shore and straight towards a thunderhead in the middle of the ocean. I guess my fear of drowning isn’t convincing enough to keep me in the shallow end. I just wish I had some floaties.

This is me in another life...

And now I want to see this movie. Someone rent it and bring it to me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dig On This One - or - Stuck In A Groove

Stuck in a Groove / Phonovideo from Clemens Kogler on Vimeo.

"Phonovideo is a VJ tool or visual instrument used to display animations in an analog way without the help of a computer. “Stuck in a Groove” is the first film made with this technique, it serves also as a demo for the technique .
In the future phonovideo should be used for live performances in cooperations with musicians, performancers and other artists.
The music for “Stuck in a Groove” was created by Richard Eigner/ Ritornell.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Inner Face Punched - or - What Else Would I Write About At 4:52am Besides The Thing That Is Keeping Me Awake Against My Will

Every morning for the past two weeks it is the same. Every morning at 4 am or so, I wake up. I wake up and wonder who has been punching me in the face all night. The bone underneath my left eye is swollen and tender, it aches to the touch and I can feel my heart beating in my bloodshot eye. If feels like my something is building up pressure behind my eye, trying to eject it out of my skull from inside my head. I push on my eye with my palm and it throbs behind my eyelids. My left temple feels like a railroad spike is slowly piercing it; a rusty, oily, dull and crocked railroad spike, being driven in by a ball pin hammer. I can feel my teeth ache all the way through my jaw line and up past my cheekbones. It hurts to open my mouth, it hurts to close it, it hurts to yawn, it hurts to sleep. What kind of inconsiderate asshole has broken into my apartment in the middle of the night and started walloping me in the face? When I blow my nose, streaks of blood are mixed in with the fibrous brown junk that has invaded my sinuses. I am suddenly totally awake, absolutely wide-awake, eyes open, face aching, in complete pain, and miserable. I am sick. I have a nasty sinus infection that isn’t going away. It’s been a few weeks, some days are fine, some are torture. By this point, I know that no one has broken into my apartment and punched me repeatedly about the face, and by this point, I know how to get back to sleep. I grab two towels and stumble towards my shower. I leave the lights off while I crank the hot water knob. It needs to be hot, almost too hot, and I need to stand directly under the showerhead and let it pour over my head, 360˚, like a scorching deluge, blanketing my entire head. I will stand like this, in the dark for about a half an hour. The sludge in my head will start to break up and I’ll drag it out of my face in a fit of snorts and coughs and sounds that I remember hearing my grandfather making from behind the closed bathroom door of my childhood. I remember hating those sounds. As a reward for my efforts, I get mouthfuls of brown and red chunks. I have a face full of gross and it won’t let me get rid of it without it proving that it’s taste, texture, color, and viscosity is gag worthy. I lean my head out the shower and spit mouthful after mouthful of awful into the newly lined trashcan next to the tub, just like I did last night. There is no way that I was going to spit this out into the shower drain and run the risk of this blob refusing to squeeze through the drain holes and just sit by my toes. I’d rather change the garbage bag again tomorrow, er, I mean later today, just like I did yesterday. The pain slowly subsides underneath my blanket of hot water. My temple, my eye socket, my cheekbone, my teeth, they all calm down and I turn off the water. I wrap myself up in my two towels; one around my waist, one over my shoulders. I slowly return to bed, mostly soaking wet. I take a chug off the NyQuil bottle sitting on my desk, next to my alarm clock. I’ve stopped using the measuring cup days ago. “That tastes like sleep,” I murmur to myself as I slid back into bed after tossing my towels onto a large pile of their comrades that has taken over half of my couch. Maybe I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow. Nope, got no insurance, and I’ve dealt with sinus infections just fine in the past. It’ll brake and I’ll be fine. Maybe I’ll just write about it instead.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Any Kinda Mustache Promo Is Good Promo - or - Amazing Band Poster In Need Of A Band

This poster was drafted up by Chicago's Sons Of Susan a day after a show I played with them. I assure you that if these three mustaches ever meet again, the world will treble at the bass our feet.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Goodnight, Beautiful Mystery

"So it goes." This is Billy Pilgrim’s way of accepting the passing of all things into death within the pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five. Three simple words that signify the release of existence into the vast void of nothingness. It is a beautiful method of looking at loss; inevitable, simple, and peaceful. It makes dying a graceful action, like a cowboy’s last, slow saunter into the sunset. I have dead friends, dead family, dead pets, dead neighbors, dead bottles of champagne. I can let them go with a smile, knowing that I’ll remember them in the best ways I know how. But when love dies, it doesn’t simply cease to exist. It burns a path all the way back to the beginning and leaves a crosshatch of scars over your heart. So it goes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Quick Listen Into What It Is That I Do - or - APTP Fills Me Up

Got a minute?
Wanna know about The Albany Park Theater Project?
Sure you do. Here's a link to a Chicago Public Radio's talk show, 848, that addresses some of the topics in FEAST as well as an interview with some of the actors and directors in APTP. Enjoy, or should I say, Bon Appetite.

Click the Image to go to APTP's performance page.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Currently Reading - or - Princess Leia On Being Bipolar

"Imagine having a mood system that functions essentially like weather - independently of whatever's going on in your life. So the facts of your life remain the same, just the emotional fiction that you're responding to differs. It's so fun. But ultimately I feel I'm very sane about how crazy I am."

-Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

A Three-Day Lifetime - or - Lacing Up My Therapy

Yesterday I wrote a play with children. I was singing songs, cracking jokes, and forgetting about the world outside those doors.
Today I will work at a wedding. I will be creating the dream day for some princess, making sure everything is perfect, and watching her friends and family dance like fools for one night.
Tomorrow I will go to a funeral and bury a friend. I will not ask why, I will not break down, I will only try to close that book with a smile and move onto another one.

It's a whole lifetime of experiences, laughter and tears, pride and pain, jubilation and suffering, life and death, jammed into three days. If I were listening, it would speak volumes about who I am and what I surround myself with, but my mind is somewhere else, and I can only seem to focus on my own emotional pendulum.

So I will go running, try to shift my focus onto my breathing and give the torrent of memories in my head a chance to settle so that the sun can shine through the water again.

It looks like rain.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vegas: A Short Story With No Plot

I am in Vegas.

I know that it is Vegas by intuition.

I know it is Vegas from the air. The inside air. It is just a touch too cold to call comfortable and smells like absolutely nothing, even though there are cigarettes and cigars being puffed at almost every table. You might get a waft of perfume as a just-a-few-years-too-old-too-pull-that-look-off type of woman, dripping with diamonds and name brands you can’t pronounce, struts her stuff a little too obviously right in front of you and sends a wake of fragrance choking you along with everyone else that she passes, or you might be hit by a wall of cologne and booze as a slender, plucked, tanned, styled, and waxed slickster shoulders your drink out of your hand as he purposely fights his way to the high rollers room, but within micro seconds that air, which has been so recently tainted by aristocracy, is wisped away down a mind numbing labyrinth of airshafts and ducts to be recycled into slightly chilly, entirely non-remarkable casino air.

I know it is Vegas from the sirens and lights of the slot machines. They are everywhere I look, like a whirling flashing beeping ringing army that occupies the dark corners of the entire city. They are waiting to welcome you at the baggage claim in the airport, and they are lined up next to the doors of every bathroom in every restaurant, and they are sitting in the corners of the gas stations for the commuting gambler on his way home to his wife and children. The maze of machines on the casino floor chortles and buzzes and flashes like a carnival. Maybe one in five machines here actually hosts someone, has somehow lured someone into sitting in front of it and enticed them to start praying for those elusive sevens to line up. Maybe this person is feeding it nickels. Maybe it’s fifty-dollar bills. Maybe it’s a well dressed lady, sequins and high heels, diamond rings on all the wrong fingers, hoping her luck will change after a miserable night out with a flawed and hopeless lover. Maybe it’s a half drunk slob of a man in a stained tank top that doesn’t leave an onlooker any doubt as to just how hairy his back is. Maybe it’s some insignificant schmoe with four empty drinks next to him and two kids sleeping on a beige couch in the hallway between the casino and the hotel, waiting for their dad to finish gambling and take them up to the room. Maybe it’s an old lady with tubes up her nose and an oxygen tank resting below her stool. Maybe she just got there, maybe she’s been there for hours, maybe days, it’s impossible to tell by the way she’s sitting; bent, broken, and slowly turning to stone. She is blankly staring into the lights, cogs, and gears of the machine, into the abyss of hope and luck and fortune. Maybe the abyss is staring back at her. Most likely the abyss is just trying to fill it’s bottomless stomach. Maybe you know this person from high school. Maybe you wouldn’t want to say hi if you did. It’s hard to tell from here. Could be anyone. And whether they are important or insignificant to you doesn’t matter because you don’t exist to them. While their bodies go through the familiar motion of lever, button, lever, button, lever, button, their bucket full of quarters, along with the appearance of being a sentient life form, slowly dwindles away. Maybe they will be missed. Maybe not.

I know it is Vegas from floor, the oceans of brightly contrasting psychedelic carpeting that seem to stretch on for miles and miles, subconsciously averting your eyes from looking down and suffering the consequences of wall-to-wall induced vertigo. The carpets in Vegas are like none other in the world, they are designed to be visually obtuse, aggressive and mesmerizing to the eyes, gaudy and loud just like everything else in this town.

I know it is Vegas from the waitresses, the over abundance of cute girls in short dresses bringing me a seemingly endless flow of bourbon on the rocks. Of all the proof that I’m in Vegas, the waitresses are the only ones that help to quell my dread of being here. Slowly, I’m subdued… by the glassful.

I didn’t ever want to come back here. The wonders that make up this unnatural oasis are the proof that God exists and doesn’t give a shit about us; the strip that consumes enough energy everyday to power a third world country for a year, the neon lights that illuminate the sky like a beckon for the immoral, the false lakes full of water stolen from hundreds of miles away, all powered by Vegas’s own nuclear power plant tucked gracefully behind a mountain range just out of sight’s reach from the city and ticking away like a time bomb. This is all simultaneously proof of God’s existence as well as proof that He has lost faith in humanity, turning His almighty back on us forever. Proof that he has left us all to decay by our own vices, like over ripe fruit that is rotting on the ground below the tree.

If you take a look at the King of Hearts, you see a man stabbing himself in the head with his own sword. The face on the card changes from deck to deck, but that blank expression stays the same. I see it at every table, but here they call it a poker face.

Somewhere over the mechanic din of the slot machines, a desperate man has just lost the deed to his house. Two tables away from him someone has made enough money to pay off his mortgage, but won’t. That’s Vegas. Where the hardest thing to find is a clock, or a clearly marked exit, or a lover with a heart of gold. Three things you never think you will need to look for until you get here, and then spend unbelievable amounts of time and money searching for.

I lift up my glass of half melted ice cubes, swirl them around at the bottom of the empty glass and mouth the words, “Bourbon?” to that cute girl with a tray. She smiles, winks at me, and floats away across the casino floor to fetch me a new drink from some well-hidden barless bartender. There are no bars to be found on the casino floor, only scantily clad cocktail waitresses. The bars are tucked away in the restaurants, at least the ones with bar stools and ashtrays. The booze that makes it out onto the casino floor comes from behind closed doors, the bars themselves are accessible only to the wait staff. I find it odd that these fully stocked bars remain hidden from their potential clientele until I spend a minute trying to wrap my head around the concept of it. Who would want clients sitting at a bar when they could be pumping an endless stream of quarters into the voracious mouth of a slot machine? Besides, all you need to do is sit down at a blackjack table and some impossibly beautiful cocktail waitress will bring you drinks for free, because everyone knows that the limits on a blackjack table are considerably higher than the limits of one’s liver.

I return to loathing my surroundings until my waitress does her drink-balancing act towards me. “Bourbon on the rocks,” she says with an overly chipper smile considering what time it is. What time is it? I take the free drink cloaked in a cocktail napkin proudly displaying the hotel’s unique and highly recognizable emblem, and reach into my pocket to get a tip. I tip her in chips. It doesn’t seem like real money to me so I naturally don’t care about giving her twice what I usually tip for one drink. The skimpy outfit she has to wear and the fact that I’m already a few drinks deep doesn’t help to sway me from over tipping either. Still, my over generous tip seems to impress momentarily as she mutters, “thanks, sugar” thorough a convincing yet obviously rehearsed smile. Bright red lipstick and perfectly straight, glistening white teeth spin away from me as not even a single ice cube jingles on her overfilled trey. It strikes with sudden amazement by how many of my vices are exemplified by that drink toting beauty. I take a sip and let my Vegas angst slip away. I initially thought that I was getting the best waitress service the planet has to offer because she kept walking up to me the second I’d put my empty glass down and would ask me if I’d like a drink. Then I realized she wasn’t asking if I wanted another drink and even though my order hadn’t changed, Makers on the rocks, she continued to ask me what I would like. Wasn’t she just a bit taller the last time she took my order?

I mutter to myself, “There they are.” They are too far away to hear or even notice me, but I still say to them, “I found you.” A few hours before the cocktail waitresses and the blackjack and the slot machines, I found myself watching the wolves at the buffet line. Through all the pants-pulled-up-past-the-naval and the bright pink sweaters sporting the names of towns too small to be included on most US road maps, I was looking for a couple. I don’t ever know who they are, but I always look for them. It took me a few minutes, but I found them. I found the two people that stood out the most; a cute little lady in her mid-to-late 60’s, and her husband. Both are wearing glasses with bifocal lenses. He is tall, slender, and stoic, she is short and jovial, with soft edges to her face. They look like a modern version of American Gothic with the normal farmhouse background ripped out from behind them and replaced with a buffet line of people reaching over each other for that third helping of chicken fried steak. Rather than holding a pitchfork, the man’s hands are occupied with two heaping plates. The left one hosting an impressive tower of raw oysters that seems structurally sound enough to withstand a tater-tot bombardment from some rogue nation of drunken bachelor party goers. He must have taken his time building that spire, and during it’s creation I’m sure that many a oyster loving Vegas buffet goer was put off by the lack of materials left behind to the rest of the people with dreams of jackpots at at-least one table in this town. His other hand, the right one, is holding an identical plate piled high with pink shrimp. The shrimp tower is not nearly as impressive but would be quite a satisfying mouthful for even the most prodigious of mammals, whales included. I spent a good ten minutes looking for them and there they are, the small town community activist city council rep and the professor turned bread baker, in their home knit sweaters lined up at the raw bar relishing in the Babylonian towers of jumbo shrimp and oysters on their respective plates. Who knows what they are doing here, but they clearly look like they don’t belong here. The blandness of their appearance is what makes them stand out, that lack of glitz, the void of audacity. We don’t talk to each other, but I wish them luck as I watch her talk a mile a minute about God knows what while he slowly and silently hovers the plates over to their table. Bon appetite, my friends.

I turn around and I’m back on the casino floor. “What happens in Vegas...” I hear that everywhere I go. It’s like the I-heart-NYC tee-shirt of Vegas, no one that loves New York City wears one, just as no one who knows Vegas says that particular phrase. I spin around on my heels and stare the culprit down. This time it’s a particularly pathetic scenario. A guy, completely unexceptional in everyway, has spilled his drink on his friend’s pant leg. I can’t help myself, I approach them.

“You do know that that particular phrase is usually reserved as an excuse for people with sex, drug, and gambling addictions to do what every they feel they can get away with before having to face the music and deal with the consequences of their idiotic behavior, right?” I don’t wait for them to reply, I just walk far enough away so that they know I will hear it if they say it again.

A man is sitting on a bench near by the main entrance of the casino. He is cradling his head in his hands, his body is slouched over, his shoulders or dropped, everything about him looks heavy. He is flanked on all sides by empty glasses of beer, booze, and hope. I wonder what he lost tonight. His will power? His sobriety? His savings? His wife? His livelihood?

“Still nursing that same drink I brought you an hour ago?” I nearly jump out of my skin at the sound of her voice, centimeters away from my ear, the ice cubes rattle in my glass. Maybe a drop or two gets loose from the glass.

“Do you always like to scare the crap out your clientele?” I am trying to wipe the bourbon off the back of my hand with a ball of pulp that was, only minutes ago, my pristine cocktail napkin. She smells good.

“I’ve been on break for the last half hour and I figured, now that I’m back on the job, I’d see if you wanted another Makers.” That’s weird, she doesn’t have that southern accent she had a few minutes ago. Maybe it’s two different beautiful cocktail waitresses. Maybe this is the one I’ve been waiting days to talk to.

“Yes. Yes I would like another. But not here.”

Monday, April 05, 2010

Reviewing The Coining Of Krumbination - or - I'm Not Really A Jerk, I Just Write Myself As One

Thanks to Capt'n Nervous, this video has recently resurfaced. The faces have all become friends, and have just as quickly drifted apart. Funny how when you never actually see someone face to face it doesn't seem as sad when you lose touch.

This wasn't meant to be a thought provoking post, but I guess it demands some reflection that I am only in contact with the Capt'n these days. Hum. Enjoy the Video. I wrote this for Krumbine's Talking Heads series.

Join Krumbination

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Fucking Bike Club - or - Look At My Butt

Making new friends is easy when you got no pants on.
The Fucking Bike Club

As Close As I'm Gonna Get To Saying Goodbye

A body washed up on the shores of Michigan recently. It was the body of someone I know. He was a musician. An engineer. A drinking buddy. A friend. No matter how dark things got with him, no matter how much I despise how it ended, I will always remember him in a good light.

Cheers, Dave.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wristcutters: A Love Story – or – Cuddle Up And Crack Open A Vein.

This movie was given to me to watch. I didn't pick it out. There is no heart wrenching back story to why I would pick a movie with this title. I didn't know it existed before it was given to me, along with a whole bunch of other more-sweetly-titled movies, to watch on an airplane. I didn't watch it on an airplane. I took my sweet time getting around to it, but last night, after tossing around in my bed for a few hours, I gave up on trying to get any sleep and popped this movie in.

I'm not going to sit here and say shit like, "I not only loved the subtle nuances within the cinematography, scenery, and plot mechanics, but was pleasantly surprised by the subtle facial expressions utilized by the actors to express their character's emotional depth while never breaking out of the their constraining body casts dictated by the situations in which they find themselves."

Rather than say that and sound like a jerk, I'll just say that I really dig this movie. Even with it's seemingly pointless tangents and it's outright dark sense of humor, I found myself laughing, thinking, comparing similarities, pining for the days of a poolside walrus, and shortly there after, happily falling asleep.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I don’t care what time it is.

My bed is littered with instruments.

I can’t sleep there.

And everywhere else I look is already full of instruments that have no other place to go.

I have restrung them, retuned them, refurbished them, reintroduced them into the repertoire, refashioned my fingers around them, reacquainted myself with their tone, their strings, my calluses need time to readjust to their attack decay and release.

Attack. Decay. Release.

Is this really what happens to me after a dram of Irish Whiskey and a new Vampire Weekend album?

An Overheard Conversation - or - I Don't Think That They Offer A Masters In Understanding The Opposite Sex

I was drinking with some friends at the same table as these women. I know them, they know me, we were at the same table. This was a conversation between two ladies that didn’t know I was listening.

“If he is the kind of guy that you really like, that you know you want, then you know that you will jump at the opportunity. You will lie to him and tell him that you were wide awake and will meet him at that bar in a matter of minutes, even though you are in your pajamas and snuggled down in your bed. That’s what I mean. That’s jumping at opportunity.”

I left shortly after this conversation happened, knowing fully well that I’ve never been that guy for any woman I’ve ever met.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Seriously? - or - Fucking Seriously?!?

Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

I got a flat tire tonight, after having all my money stolen, my raise refused, my interest rates increased, and my health care canceled.

I’m waiting for something to go drastically right, because I’m getting a lot of the other direction from the swing of this pendulum.

The timing really sucks. The week is supposed to be great for me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Got Robbed Without Being There - or - Gimme My Money Back

$500 is all the money that I keep accessible to myself these days. Check that, KEPT. Someone stole it from an ATM at 4500 W North Ave block yesterday while I was at work.


I'm pissed. I want my money back. I didn't even get to waste it on something stupid. The bank says that I will probably get the money re-credited to my account in a couple days, but until then it looks like I'll be buying dinner with laundry quarters. Will someone take me out on a date? Wine and dine me? I'll compliment your outfit and serenade you with Irish drinking songs. And that's what dating is really all about, right?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chicago Is For Lovers! Or Drunks! - or - Preparation G

I hate being left alone to my own vices. Vices always seem to win. I need some serious distractions. Maybe I'll try learning figuring out the rubix cube, that should keep me out of harms way until the weekend.

Maybe I'll just buy a bunch of different coloured stickers and put them on every cube I see and just fool myself into feeling like a rubix cube master instead of actually being one.

Maybe I'll just rent 2012 and fall asleep to the apocalypse. Easy way out works for me. End of the world staring John Cusack, here I come. Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?

post script - no, the title of this post doesn't make any sense to me either, but that's because my vices got to me before I knew I had set them loose. Damn vices, always a step ahead.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

6:37am 3/5/2010 - or - Here's What's Happening So Far Today

It’s 6:08 am. Overcast and cool, probably 70˚ F. No air conditioning last night, didn’t need it. I slept with a sheet over me and the balcony door wide open. I have some ant bites on my ankles, which is a wonderful replacement for the frost bite that would have been Chicago’s alternative. Breakfast is a whole orange, peeled and sliced horizontally, a whole red apple – cored and sliced, a whole mango – sliced the way I’m learning is the only way to slice a mango, a whole banana – sliced into larger than bit sized sections, and half a pineapple – cut in a way that makes it look like a holiday decoration you’d hang from your porch rather than something you’d eat. All of this cost 120 pecos, just over a dollar. This is the second time I’ve gotten this fruit plate and I can’t finish it this time either. I’ll give some away to the kids that beg me for money. They seem to always go for the mango first. I don’t blame them, the mangos taste like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. They are soft and sweet and juicy and bright orange and inviting. I’m going to walk to the Ritzl gardens, maybe half a mile north of my surprisingly beautiful hotel (nestled in one of the many slums of Manila). I’ve got four hours until I have any real plans. The lack of sunshine today might be a bummer for me, but this whole place could use some rain. I’ve heard that there are massive droughts going on, and frankly, the place kinda needs a shower.

My first day I made the mistake of drinking the tap water. Stupid stupid stupid. I’m fine now. I’ve resolidified. Bottled water only, and no ice.

I’ve been waking up unbelievably early every morning, like a 12 year old at Christmas. Without hesitate, I walk around my new neighborhood, a stark contrast to northern Chicago. There is massive poverty, everywhere, but it is not morbid or depressing. I am greeted with wide-eyes stares that are quickly followed by toothy (and toothless) smiles as I wave and smile to strangers. “Good morning, sir!” the people say to me. “Good morning, Sir! Good morning, Miss!” I reply. Even the people sleeping on the street are happy and bubbly, either that or they are pretending to be happy. I’m not sure which, but they are damn good actors if it is the later. I give out fruit to the shirtless boys and girls who ask for money, tips to the street venders who sell me whatever food they think I want, high fives to the floods of laughing school children who fill the streets at 3pm, and handshakes to men and women on the street. There are security officers everywhere, so there is a sense of security, but honestly, they are just as happy to see me and shake hands as the school children, sometimes even more so.

I am only here for a week, but every second opens my eyes and makes me smile. And no matter what it smells like, or how uneven the roads are, or how absolutely crazy the traffic is, I’m loving every second of it. Every damn second.

The sun is breaking through the clouds just now. Gotta go be alive.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Imelda De La Cruz Is Made Out Of Awesome - or - A Sneek Peek At Your Favorite Musicial Colaberation

Imelda De La Cruz and I will be playing a show at Chicago's Double Door on Tuesday, March 23rd. It is going to be our first show together and we are having a blast getting ready for it. If I haven't said it before, Imelda is the most talented and thoughtful musician I have ever had the privilege to not only play with, but to become friends with. Check her out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Just One Week It Will All Change - or - Bad Haircuts Are Indacitive Of Good Times On The Way

What to say, where to start, why aren't I sleeping? This always happens. I look at my mirror and sing Dire Straights lyrics to my reflection. "That ain't working, that's the way you do it." Something has got to change, and I know what it is. All my life, my hair has been the joke that my scalp plays on my social life. I've had mohawks and pho-hawks, parts and cowlicks, blond hair, red hair, brown hair, purple hair, blue hair, green hair, and now (my favorite) gray hair. It grows straight out of my head, perfecting ignoring gravity exactly the way the rest of the physical world cannot. It had gotten out of control lately, it looked like some horrible giant had stepped on a fuzzy forest animal and, in an effort to feel less horrible about destroying something fuzzy, had glued it to the top of my head. At one point in my early twenties, I remember naming my hair, Bob. I remember telling my employers that Bob was a sentient being and was no longer my responsibility to maintain. Bob could take care of himself. Bob mostly just made a mess of himself and my employers made it clear that Bob had to go. Bob makes cameo appearances once in a while.

Last time i got my haircut, I went to the Hair Cuttery down the street from where I live, mostly because the haircut I got before that was at a fancy place with a fancy name, cost me $45, and looked like God had taken a dump on my head. At the Hair Cuttery, a solemn black lady named Michelle cut my hair. I was single then, but I blamed the clipper strokes above my right ear on my non-existent girlfriend.

"I asked my girl to cut my hair," I lied to Michelle, "and look what she did to the side. One swipe of those clippers over my ear and I bolted out of that chair and I came here." I pointed to the bald spot above my right ear where, in a self-confident fit of stupid, I had pressed my clippers against my head forgetting to put on the #4 clip. This was a bold faced lie, but it was easier to have a patsy in the form of a non-existant lady-friend than to take any heat for trying to cut my own hair. In the words of Yoda, there was no try, there was only do not. "Think you can fix it?"

"Sure I can fix it, but learn your lesson. Keep her away from those clippers." She laughed. I joined her laughter with a guilty version of my own chortles while pulling off my glasses and entering the world of fuzzy vision. Now, it should be known that when I take off my glasses, I cannot see a damn thing. My chin has to be resting on the space bar in order for me to be able to read anything on the screen of my computer. So when I take off my glasses and I get my hair cut, I get no frame of reference as to how much is being lopped off and how much is being left on top. It's almost like magic when I put my glasses back on. Everything about me looks totally different. I'm cosmically (cosmetically) reborn, and I am either a beautiful, beautiful butterfly or the ugly duckling. Mostly it the latter, but I’ll get to that. This liberation from responsibility due to lack of visual clarity is a technique that I am putting into practice a lot these days; flying blind. Just letting go of everything and seeing where I float off to – sunny sandy beaches or class five white water rapids. Either way, someone else is steering. It is a cathartic release for a nit-picky pseudo-perfectionist like myself. Alas, it is not the best way to get your hair done. Michelle nailed it that first time though, months and months ago. Back then, when I put my glasses back on and she handed me that black handled mirror while spinning me around, I saw myself neatly trimmed-in on the sides and back, and slightly-to-mostly out of control on the top. Order and Chaos, Ying and Yang, ebb and flow, Cain and Abel, Donny and Marie, apples and uranium. It was like a modern mullet; business on the sides, insane asylum on the top. I got my passport pictures taken a few days later. I made sure to be holding Ray-Ray the Ukulele during the photo shoot and there is clearly a noticeable shit-eating-grin smeared across my face as a result of playing "Tonight, You Belong To Me" while getting my international identification card prepared. Point being, it was a damn good haircut, so I made a point to remember Michelle's name.

I went back there today. Fifteen minutes later and after clump after clump after clump of salt and pepper hair was sheared off my head and fell into my lap, I put my glasses back on. In all honesty, I wasn't surprised. Excluding the last haircut I got from Michelle, I never like the way my haircuts turn out, and this one defiantly fit into the category of, “I hate you, haircut.” It was more of a military functional flattop than a style. It sat on top of my head like an awkward patch of grass in the desert, like a dead squirrel weeks after the impact, like a dunce cap, like a bright orange traffic cone, like a groaner of a punch line. It looked bad. I was not upset though. I mostly went to the barber as a need to start the last week of the way my life has been for a long time, and a bad haircut is a great way to start the end of a lifestyle you want to stop.

Let's think about that for a second. The only points that I've made so far are that I like flying blind, I usually get bad haircuts, and I’m trying to change the way I live.

I realize that I only get haircuts before big events, like my brother's wedding, or my best friend's wedding, or passport photo day (which is a thirty-one year-old’s equivalent to school picture day). Since 1998, I've been buzzing my own hair hours after getting a bad haircut. You might think that after almost twelve years of paying for haircuts only to turn around and buzz it all down to #4 moments later is a waste of time and money. You would think right. But the action of getting my hair cut is worth more than the $15 (plus $5 tip, even though I don’t like the end result, I tip people who make me feel good) and the half hour it takes to get it done. The point is that this relinquishing of my image to someone with a pair of scissors and a bunch of combs in a jar full of blue liquid is a catalyst for change in my life, I’m preparing for vast changes and improvements. And totally unlike Reganomics, change and improvements in me most frequently start at the very top of my head and work their way into every aspect of my life. I gladly shelled out a twenty as I prepared myself for what might be the best decision I’ve ever made.

This time next week, I will be landing on the other world. I am going there to meet her, the woman I have been dreaming about, the woman I whisper goodnight to even though I know she can’t hear me, the woman I call amazing. I am nervous and excited and overwhelmed and short of breath and totally unprepared, but I’ve cut my hair, twice, so I know I ready for some of those big time changes I’ve been dreaming about. Beautiful Mystery, I'm on my way to you

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An End To A Means - or - Where Am I?

It scares the absolute life out of me that there is such a vocal air of intolerance and hatred abound in the American population these days. Pro-lifers confessing, in the name of Jesus, to the murder of abortion doctors, huge groups of right-wing Christian fanatics demanding that public schools teach that the founding father meant for the US to be a Christian nation, political groups such as the Tea Party, Oath Keepers, and Friends for Liberty smearing together politics with blatant racism while forming armed militias, all of whom are fueled further into a blind nuke-um-all conservative rage by Fox News’ conservative extremist Glen Beck and his 9/12 Project. Quotes such as this one from Richard Behney, a Republican Senate candidate from my neighboring state of Indiana, who said that if the 2010 elections did not have the results he wanted, his reaction would be this. “I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show,” [sitation – New York Times - Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right] make it hard for me to sleep at night. I fear that the country that I am living in, that I am a part of, is becoming the face of modern intolerance. I am honestly scared for my sanity, my religious freedom, and my country. As Sarah Palin said to a sea of white, conservative, Christian zealots, who paid $350-$550 to see her disseminate her bigoted, sectarian, racist, yet totally hypocritical and self serving rhetoric at Nashville’s recent Tea Party Convention, “America is ready for another revolution!” You are right, Sarah. It is time to revolt against ideology, against intolerance, and against the ever-growing hatred being harbored within this countries white Christians zealots against all other people who differ, racially, morally or ethnically, from them. I will revolt towards true freedom of expression, true freedom of religion, and every single person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That means my tolerance for intolerance has been exhausted, and I will call out bigotry whenever I see it. Tea Partiers be warned.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beautiful Mystery - or - Botanical Mistress

This is my favorite flower.
Where I’m from, this is called Passion Vine.
Where I’m from, this doesn’t grow, doesn't bloom, doesn't survive the winter.
Where I'm from, it is sold fully grown on iron trestles.
I used to sell this plant to rich people with excessive gardens that they didn't tend.
I was always sad to send one off to it's doom.
Where Passion Vine is from, it is considered a weed.
I want to go there and try to find a flower I'd like more.
Maybe next week.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Change, Loss, And Other Verbs - or - I Got This Lil Grin Goin' Today

A month ago, I admitted that I had a problem that only I could solve. I started the cogs of a self-improvement machine, an experiment in self-control and decision-making. It started with a damn cold run along the lake, as well as the purchase of a couple of dumbbells and a small note pad that I now carry around with me where ever I go. It was time to start feeling more better, more often, without morphine.

A week ago, I signed up for a group, a class, and a change of personal philosophy.

Yesterday, I climbed. I was the only one to reach the top, and when I got back down to the floor, my forearms were burning, my fingers were numb and without any sensation, I was covered in sweat, and smiling like a madman.

Today I jumped at opportunity. It's more of a leap. Of blind faith. Off a cliff. In the dark. I don't know where I'll land, but I sure like falling.

Tomorrow, I play. My bands are getting out there more and more, playing better and better gigs for more and more people. Imelda and I have reconnected and will play a show together. My muses are in full swing and I am inspired to play my heart out like a madman.

I know what I want in my mind, in my heart, and in my life. And for the first time, I am doing everything I can to make it all happen. I am changing what didn’t work and focusing on what I know I want.

A lot of sad things have happened in my hometown lately. Unexpected deaths, seemingly unnecessary and unfortunate events, and my family, my friends, my community, and I are morning the loss of some very good people. It makes me realize that I shouldn’t wait to run and write and climb and jump and play and change. This is all the time we get, and I don’t want to waste it being angry at nothing, or at least nothing that I can't change. Instead I’m taking aim at what I want, what will make me feel like the man that I want to become. I will grab life by the…

Here are some links that make me feel good.
Charles Sparin's Happiness Project
Do Make Say Think is an instrumental band with a bunch of verbs for a name.
Storycatchers Theater does honest hard hitting theater with youth, some of whom are doing hard time, honest.
APTP will change the world, one play at a time.
I Love This World is a blog about the good things in life some of us forget to see.