Tuesday, January 30, 2007

She's Gone

I was going to do a big post on the fact that I shipped my pink Ibanez to it's new owner today. But it really doesn't matter. What's been on my mind since yesterday is Nanner. Her house caught fire and she lost pretty much everything. My inane ramblings about a guitar really are inappropriate in the face of this tragedy. I know most of my readers also read her blog and have expressed their support, but if you haven't please go over there. She's doing ok right now, but I'm pretty sure she's going to need all the support she can in the days and weeks ahead. I really need to call her. Nanner, if you have a chance to read this, anything you need that I can do, call me.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rites of Passage

For Jude's benefit, I'm going to do a sea story. It involves 2 somewhat related rites of passage in the US Navy. The first is called a wetting down. It is something that is done when an officer is promoted. The promoted officer is expected to throw a party for all of his peers (specifically all of his friends previously of the same rank but now no longer) that should cost roughly the difference in pay between the old rank and the new rank. I believe this tradition was created by junior officers to force senior officers to by them alcohol. Because we all know what is meant by "wet". Realistically, BTW, this tradition is only observed for your first promotion from Ensign to Lieutenant Junior Grade.

Anyhow, I happened to be in Newport, Rhode Island attending Surface Warfare Officer School (SWOS) when I was promoted. I had the good fortune to be with several of my Nuclear Power buddies who also were promoted at the same time, so the total number of us was about 10. Being our SWOS class was pretty large (perhaps 40 or so) we decided to all chip in and throw one big party. We rented the Navy beach, catered food, and had a clubhouse available to us. Did I mention we were all promoted near the end of June? So the weather was perfect.

Imagine, if you will, 40 some odd Naval Officers, all about 24 years of age, in the best shape of their lives, all running around the beach, swimming, playing volleyball, and other assorted beach activities. My female readers can let their imaginations run wild. There were women at this party, as it was pretty easy to get dates back then. I was married at the time, so imagine the Wife in a bikini, with longer hair than she has now. The body was the same. Was I the luckiest guy on the beach or what?

It was quite a fun day. I remember playing a lot of volleyball. I also remember messing with my NUPOC buddy. NUPOC stands for Nuclear Power Officer Candidate. Instead of going through ROTC to get commissioned like I did, he went to Officer Candidate School to get a Reserve Commission, which was converted to a regular commission on completion of nuclear training. One of the reasons that college graduates go NUPOC is that the Navy bribes them heavily. So we mercilessly tease them about being only about money. I was with a group that were all non-NUPOC and we were laughing about it. So one of them takes a dollar bill out of his pocket and says, "watch this, it's called Find the NUPOC". He drops the dollar bill on the ground. And lo, one of my NUPOC buddies comes and picks it up. "See," he says. "NUPOCs fall for it every time."

The other rite that pretty much everyone goes through in one form or another is called "tacking", as in "tacking it on". It applies to enlisted personnel when they first get promoted to Petty Officer 3rd class and each promotion until they reach Chief. Once you become a Petty Officer, you get to wear a crow with a chevron on your uniform. Those that already have a crow, that is, all the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class Petty Officers, get to tack your crow on by punching you in the arm. And you have to let them. Some are sneaky and catch you unaware, some will give you a little tap, but then there's those that make you stand there, wind up, and then let you have it. Luckily, this tradition only applies for the day you're promoted, but most of them end up with a major bruise on the arm by the end of the day.

The other thing that gets tacked on is your Surface Warfare pin. There's one for enlisted personnel (silver) and one for officers (gold). Again, once you earn your pin, then those that have already earned it can tack it on by punching it. While you're wearing it. And yes, even with the backs on the pin, it hurts like hell. If you're lucky, you're not bleeding by the end of the day. But, you take it like a man. Cause, let me tell you, earning that pin takes a lot of work and effort. It takes normally about 2 years to complete all the requirements. I still have mine on my leather jacket. Cause even after all this time, I'm still proud of that achievement. I personally had to go through more bullshit than most to get mine, but that's a story for another day.

There are more wonderful traditions such as these (most notoriously Drinking Your Dolphins for submariners), and I'll have to post those one of these days as well. Today I'll just leave you with this:

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Not much to say

I haven't posted much this week, mostly because there hasn't been much going on. We did have a band meeting on Tuesday, but it wasn't too exciting. I'll probably post about it soon. Jude asked for a sea story so I owe her one of those. Maverick went to his first solo-fest today. He did pretty well, but we won't know his score until Monday.

I think I'm coming down with a cold. I feel all achy and tired. Hopefully I can just sleep it off. I'm going to go crash now, but thought I just throw something up real quick to let everyone know I'm still out here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Same Old Song and Dance

I managed to watch the entire State of the Union speech tonight. It was actually kind of sad. I was expecting plenty of material to get all hopping mad about and rant. Instead, all I heard was blah, blah, blah, clap, clap, blah, blah, blah, clap, clap (while standing). Really, it was downright dull. A couple of things did sort of jump out at me. First, after 6 years, you'd think Bush would learn how to say insurance (emphasis is on the SECOND syllable, not the first), vehicle (the H is silent, dude!), and nuclear (that's pronounced NOO-CLEE-AR). Sigh. I would hope the man leading the country speaks better English than I, but alas, it is not to be.

A couple of his points made me shake my head. I even took notes to make sure I'd remember. For example, he proposed to eliminate the deficit in 5 years. You know, the one he created. After all, the budget was balanced when he took office. He mentioned a reserve civilian corps to help out the military reserves. So why exactly do we need that? Oh, again, cause he fucked up in Iraq. He mentioned "intense diplomatic negotiations" in Asia to deal with North Korea. I'm not sure exactly what he meant but it sounded like a lot of talk and no action going on. My favorite however was how he mentioned we were shining light to the rest of the world on what's going on in Darfur. I believe that's the first time I ever heard him mention that country. And I don't know exactly what he's been doing. Oh, wait, now I remember...NOTHING!

The total high point of the entire speech however, wasn't Bush at all. It was Chaney. The Wife noticed it and so I paid close attention. She was right! Chaney never blinked! I swear in the hour the president was talking, he blinked like 12 times! He almost blinked a few times, but the eyelids never fully closed. I believe this is the most convincing evidence yet that Chaney really is a robot. And he never smiled! I take that back. He smiled once. As a matter of fact, it looked like he was trying not to burst out laughing. It was right after Bush announced his plan to reduce dependence on oil/gasoline by 20%. I'm pretty sure Chaney knew his oil company buddies would never allow it. He probably thought it was funny to let Bush leave it in the speech. The other great moment came when both Bush and Chaney reached for and drank out of their water glasses AT THE SAME TIME. I'm not sure which was the puppet and which the master, but considering that Chaney's a robot, I'm pretty sure the puppet was the one with the mouth moving.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I've Got a New Girl Now - Upate!

Well, I dood it. I had a chance to go to my favorite guitar store yesterday, just to see what they had. At a quick glance, I didn't see anything that jumped out at me. But I went to the back room, and there it was, hanging on the wall, centered in the doorway. You could almost see the halo around it and hear the angelic music. But I was cautious. I played it, and it felt good, and sounded good. But to be safe, I played a few other potentially promising guitars. None measured up. The price was a steal. It seemed almost too good to be true.

So I decided to take a chance. The shop has a 7 day return policy. If it didn't really measure up, then I could bring it back. And it was a model I'd been looking at but didn't think I could afford. So I took the chance and picked it up. First test, I played it side by side with my Yamaha. If you rate the Yamaha a 10, this was an 8.5. Sounded nearly as good, felt nearly as good. I was cautiously optimistic. But the real test was today.

Being the 3rd Sunday of the month, it meant Alive at 5 Mass. So I brought it with me and put it through it's paces. The verdict, well, the title of the post says it all. It felt perfect. There were a few times I thought I was playing my Yamaha. And again, I've wanted one of these since I knew what a real guitar was. So what did I get? I got this (stock photo, not my actual guitar):

Yes, that's right, I got a for real, Gibson Les Paul Studio in Wine color. It's a translucent finish so you can see the maple wood grain. This picture doesn't do it justice. And it feels and sounds awesome. I know you're all jealous, but do try to contain yourselves.

As a result, the Ibanez is now on ebay. So if you're interested (or know anyone that is) have them search for it (Ibanez RG550). You all know what it looks like. When I informed the Wife that the Ibanez was indeed going, there was much rejoicing. She's wanted me to get rid of that guitar since the day I bought it over 5 years ago. So she finally gets her wish. And I get a dream guitar. Overall, not a bad deal.

UPDATE: Holy shit! I've had that auction up about 24 hours and I've already gotten over 400 hits on it and a slew of email about it, from as far away as Australia. Guess I'm not the only one out there that likes hot pink guitars.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Am I evil? Yes I am

I haven't had much time to blog this week as I've been tied up with the usual family stuff. And any spare time I've had in the evening I've been dedicating to music. So the internet took a back seat. I haven't even been able to catch up much reading as it's been busy at work and I haven't had much of a lunch hour this week.

I thought I would relate a story from band practice this week. I debuted a new song for the group to work on. I'd played it for a couple of members of the band and they like it. I had originally written it as a ballad, with one of the singer's voices in mind. I thought she'd have the right voice for what I was trying to do. After I played it for everyone, our bass player says to me "You're so emo!" Ouch!

Our keyboard player suggests we try rocking the song up a little. So we try it out with a couple of different tempos, and it was ok, but after a few tries, we agree that we just don't have the groove on it yet. Our keyboard player suggests adding a bridge to the song. The bass player thinks he might have something so I tell him to work out his idea and bring it back.

THEN, the keyboard player tells me I don't write any rocking songs! Excuse me? So I start playing the riff for Power of Darkness. The bassist and drummer (both teens) start making fun of the song and acting all evil and growling and stuff. I state that it's a song off of my CD. Grasshopper happened to be with me with his iPod and yells out he has the song on it. So we plug the iPod into the board and had a listen. I believe it shut everyone up for a moment. Then the keyboard player says "we need to do that song!".

Never question the Rocker Guy's skills. Emo indeed.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

It's over

I've come to a painful decision this week.

I thought it was going to last forever. I'd told myself I'd never give her up no matter what. If you'd have told me a year ago it would come to this, I would have thought you were crazy. I was so happy. Her long neck, her wonderful curves, the smoothness of her when I ran my hands over her, the way heads turned whenever I was seen with her.

But a few months ago, it all changed. You can blame one of the singers in the band really. I was completely happy and satisfied until she put suggestions in my head. Making me question everything I'd previously believed.

I tried really hard to love her. Did everything I could for her. But in the end, it turns out we just weren't compatible. It all came to a head on Wednesday. It had been building for a while, but I decided to give her one last chance. Unfortunately, she let me down. It was then I realized we just weren't compatible. I mean, she's wonderfully perfect, but just not the right one for me. So I finally broke down and admitted it. So as a result, it's over between us.


I'm going to sell my pink Ibanez RG-550. It's just not compatible with my style of playing. After upgrading the pickups and doing everything I could to make it sound the way I want, it's just not getting there. On Wednesday, I played it at a gig and I was hitting the pickup selector switch, volume, and I had to play it in a position on the neck that I preferred not to.

So I'm hunting for a new guitar. This time, however, I'm going to wait for the perfect guitar to come along. I want one that feels the same way as when I bought my Yamaha. The Ibanez is the third guitar I'd had to "settle" for as a backup. I don't want to settle again. Every now and then, I find a perfect guitar. I've played 4 so far and own 2 of them. The search is on for the 5th perfect guitar. Once I find it, the Ibanez goes up on ebay.

Unless anyone out there is interested in a very collectible and seriously upgraded Ibanez RG-550 in Road Flare Red. If you are, make me an offer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What I did New Year's Eve

I'm sure most of you attended parties, enjoyed festivities, or generally partied it up on New Year's Eve. What did we do? Paint Maverick's room.

We'd been talking about it for quite a while. We'd been agonizing over the color but on Saturday the 30th, we finally found one we liked, Colonial Blue. It went well with the curtains the Wife wanted to put in the room. The original plan was that the Wife would do the painting. Cool! I was off the hook!

We'd purchased the paint and supplies on Saturday and on Sunday after Church, we emptied out the room and the Wife began to tape. She wasn't done by lunchtime, so after lunch I finished up the taping and then had to run out to get a couple of last minute little things. Before I left, I got the primer for the room ready and cut all the corners. I then turned over the painting to the Wife while I ran out to Home Depot.

Now, I was gone for maybe 45 minutes. Having painted quite a few rooms before, and knowing we were only putting up one coat of primer, I had expected the Wife to be done priming the room when I got back. However, her arms were not used to the awkwardness of a roller. She'd only done about 2 walls.

So just imagine who took pity on his Wife finished painting the room for her? Yup, it was me. Now, mind you, it isn't like she twisted my arm or gave me the pouty face or promised hot sex or anything. I simply knew that we had limited daylight and that it needed to get done while there was still available light.

So off I went, to put up a coat of primer in half the room then two coats of the new color. The Wife was good enough to help out with the brush work in the corners and above the trim. We kept the moldings white for a nice contrast. The room was finished up right around 4:30 just as the sun was going down. Damn were my arms and back sore! I was ready to crash, but really needed to get the tape off and some of the furniture back in the room. So I totally sucked it up and just kept going. I think the results were worth the hard work. See for yourself below.

BTW, after dinner we did have a nice family night and watched Monster House on DVD. Everyone enjoyed the movie greatly. After we put the boys to bed the Wife fell asleep in the chair and I watched the season finale of Dr. Who. She woke up just before midnight, we cried Yeah! and Happy New Year, then went to bed. Exciting times, I know.

Happy Birthday!

Today (Tuesday, that is) is the Wife's birthday! She's 39 again, though I won't say which 39th birthday it is.

Happy Birthday to the most beautiful woman there is. I don't get to gushy on this blog, but I must say that in over 20 years together, she is still the hottest, sexiest, most wonderful everything thing there is. I still so crazy about her words cannot describe.

Dear, I love you more now than when we first married. I can't imagine life without you. Happy Birthday.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Year's Parties

I was going to make this two posts, but decided to combine them. Mostly since I probably won't remember all the details a week later anyway. That's the problem with getting old. The memory goes.

Anyway, I had the good fortune of going to not one, but TWO parties the week between Christmas and New Years. The first was an annual gathering of the high school gang. One of the "crew" now lives in Montreal (and is a female that writes scripts for video games appealing to males) and usually is in town around Christmas, so we normally have an "adults only" gathering while she's here.

This year it was quite fun. We had food (oh, my God, tons of it. The hostess is Italian, can you tell?). After we'd chowed and had a few drinks, we decided to play board games. So we pulled out Trivial Pursuit, 80s edition. Holy shit, talk about making you feel old! I specialized in the music category and the hostess' husband in sports. He was so good he'd know the answer before the question was even finished! Anyway, it was a blast just hanging and playing games. We need to do that more often.

Friday was a "band" party at one of the singer's houses. I brought the kids since it was a family gathering. The Wife stayed behind as she wasn't feeling well and hadn't slept much the night before. They boys had a great time and got to shoot pool and go in the hot tub. Yes, they got to use a hot tub, in December, in New York. I brought the boys home around 8:30 and went back to the party, where the real fun began.

By the time I got back, all the teens in the band had gone to a movie, so only adults were left. And more wine came out. And great quantities were consumed, though not by me. I'm not much of a drinker. But damn is it fun to watch other people when they're drunk! One of the singers got very loud and happy. And then pulled down the arm in the sofa to reveal a working speaker phone. Which, of course, let to drunk dialing!

She called everyone she could think of trying to get them to make a burger run and bring it back. No one actually did, but we were laughing so hard our sides hurt. And, of course, the wine loosened up the drinkers to tell embarrassing stories they might not otherwise have told. As I said, it's quite entertaining being around drunk people.

I think I got home around 12:30, which is really late for me. Again, us old guys can't last that late. Luckily I only party like that a couple of time a year.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Revelation in church

Here is the next post in this "vacation" series. This came to me while in Church on Christmas day. During the quiet parts of the Mass, I like to meditate and pray. Some days, I just like the quiet. Other days, things just strike me for some reason.

Christmas day, some things just popped into my head and struck me. It actually had nothing to do with Christmas or what the homily was about (I can't really recall what he talked about now). Anyway, one of the things I've been stressing over a little is my commitment to the band. I really enjoy playing and doing the retreats and occasional worship services. But I was glad when we cut back to one Sunday mass a month. If I have to play at a 5 pm Mass, it basically takes up my entire Sunday. We go to church in the morning as a family, come home and have lunch. Then I need to be back at church around 3 to set up and warm up. I don't get back home until sometime after 6, then it's quick dinner and get the kids ready for school on Monday. No real time to relax, spend time with the family, or just plain hang out and watch a game.

Well, the band has been asked to play an additional Sunday evening mass each month starting in February going out to other churches on a rotating basis. It's a real testament to our music ministry that other churches want us to play Masses for them. However, my first thought was "ANOTHER Sunday evening Mass? Do I have to?" The band pretty much signed up for it so I couldn't find a graceful way to say no.

So, here I am in church on Christmas morning, and two thoughts came into my head. The first was the story of Jonah. If you have not read that book of the Bible, I recommend it. It's short and powerful. Long and short of it is that God asks Jonah to go to Nineveh and prophesy. Jonah didn't want to go because he really hated the Ninevites. So he tried to run from it. God showed him the error of his ways. Then, once Jonah finally decided to go, he was expecting God to destroy Nineveh. When the repented and God spared them, Jonah was pissed. In the end he had to learn that God asks us to do things at times that we may not want to do and even hate to do, but we need to do them anyway.

The second thing was the end of one of the Gospels (I forget which off the top of my head and don't feel like looking it up). Jesus tells Peter that when you're a young man you'll go where you will but when you're an old man you will be lead where you don't want to go.

So this is how I was feeling. God was obviously telling me I needed to do something, but I really don't want to. Really, really don't want to (sounds strange I don't want to play music, don't it?). I really would like God to make my music ministry what I want it to be. But, like Jonah, I think he's got His own plan here. So, I'll be participating in this Mass. Because I'm afraid what might happen if I don't.

As a little clincher on this whole deal, once I'd basically resigned myself to this, I found out that we'll actually be getting paid to play for these churches. Just like the Big Guy. If you just follow His lead, he gives you unexpected blessings. Don't know what we're going to do with whatever we earn, but I intend to make sure it goes to further the ministry. Sometimes it's really hard being on a mission from God.