Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Birthday!

Today is Grasshopper's 10th birthday. He's out there trick or treating right now, dressed up as Jack Sparrow. Happy Birthday to my litte pirate treat. Arrrg!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Women have LOOOOONG Memories

Last night we went to the commitment ceremony (and reception) for the pianist in our band. In case you're not clear what that is, she and her partner exchanged vows as life partners. They're in Canada this weekend to get legally married there tomorrow. As a side note, the Wife and I had an interesting conversation with another band member and his wife on the significance of what we'd witnessed and how it relates to our faith, but that's a story for another time.

Right now, I wanted to talk about the reception. As always, following the food and cake, there was dancing. Now, being the musical type, you'd think I might enjoy dancing. I will say I had a great time dancing at my own wedding and never left the dance floor. However, at most receptions, I don't dance. Well, that was how it was early in our relationship. At some point after getting married, we attended a reception and the Wife wanted to dance, and I said something to the effect of "I'm a musician, I don't dance". So now we don't dance at receptions any more.

It's not that I won't dance with the Wife. If she asks me, I will. But, basically, I don't like dancing. I don't mind a slow number where I have an excuse to hold the Wife close, but other songs, not so much. The funny thing is, if you strap a guitar on me, and put me in front of a bunch of people (or even on my own), I'll be moving, jumping, swaying, and generally acting like a crazy person to just about any kind of music I can play. Put me on a dance floor, and I'm outta there. I just don't get into it that much. When a great song comes on, it doesn't want to make me get up and shake my thang, it makes we want to grab my guitar.

Those of you who are of my generation (and perhaps a tad older) will remember the song by Loggins and Messina, "Your Mama Don't Dance and You're Daddy Don't Rock and Roll". For our boys, it's just the opposite. Your daddy don't dance and your mama don't rock and roll.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anatomy of a Song

I've been asked before how I write music. Truthfully, inspiration comes from lots of places. Sometimes the music writes itself first, sometimes the lyrics, sometime it all comes at once.

Today, as I was on the treadmill, I was listening to Deni's music. As a side note, can I say that her music is just blowing my socks off. I was getting very inspired just listening. I knew that when I was done, I had to sit down with the guitar and try to write. As I was finishing on the treadmill, an idea came to me.

There's a part of the Mass, just before Communion, where we say "Lord, I'm not worthy to recieve you, but only say the word and I shall be healed". This is a very powerful and personal statement for me. I thought it would be a good idea to write around that. So I sat down with my guitar and some paper, and wrote that at the top of the page. Then I started playing.

A chord progression came to me. So I began playing it over and over while looking at the lines. That's when the germ of an idea came to me. A single line to go with the chords. I kept playing, seeing if I could come up with more. After a bit, I had a full refrain. Now I needed a verse. I also needed more than just the chords for the refrain or the song would be boring.

Nothing was coming up, so I did something completely different, I started playing the riff to Deni's "Too Much Fun". Why that song? It was the last one I'd listened to, so why not? Anyway, it got me into a different grove. So I tried some of the chords in the refrain more in the new groove I was getting into. And "Presto!", I now have the music to the whole song!

Of course, I don't have any lyrics for the verses yet. What I usually do at this point is just keep playing the verse music over and over and letting the song mull in my head until the concept hits me. Usually, at some point, I figure out what the song is about, and the verses start to write themselves. Unfortunately, I don't have that yet. That's why I'm posting. Need to take a little break from it. I'll pick it up again until it hits me. Then it goes to the band to work out the full arrangement. But I have a title, "I Am Healed". Hopefully, soon, I'll have a whole song!

Monday, October 20, 2008

War story

I promised "war stories" of when the Wife and I were dating, so one is to follow. But first, I'd like to introduce 2 ladies that are new to blogging (well, one took a break and is back, the other is new). So go say hi if you get a chance. I'll add them to my blog roll when Blogrolling is back up and running. They are Janna and Amy. Glad to have you guys on board.

Ok, so I had to wrack my brain a little for a good story. When you've been together 25 plus years, you'd think there'd be all this good material, but truthfully, a lot of it is dull day to day stuff. But back in our dating days, things were "fiestier", shall we say.

Let me begin by saying that one of the Wife's pet peeves with me is not being home when I say. For example, if I'm going to band practice and say I'll be home at 10 pm and I roll in at say, midnight, she's going to kick my ass. However, if I say I'll be home "later" and come home midnight, I'm covered.

As a bit of background, back in college if I wasn't hanging with the Wife, I was probably hanging with my best pal Scott. We spent a lot of time playing music, Axis and Allies, and generally getting into trouble. I had a bad habit of saying I'd be at his place until whatever time and shaving it REALLY close if I was going to meet the Wife.

So, one time, I had promised to meet her, can't remember the exact details. But in any event, I was WAY late. Like 30 to 45 minutes. I kept saying to my pal, "I really need to get going" but never quite left. So, we're outside in the driveway and suddenly in pulls the Wife (then the Fiance). She was totally hopping mad. Like, flames coming out of the eyes mad. I recall her yelling at me, getting back in her car, slamming the door and taking off.

So what did I do? What any sane boyfriend would do. I got in my car and followed her, of course. What ensued was a semi-high speed chase all through town. We ended up at the beach where she finally stopped. I recall we had it out, meaning she kept yelling at me and I kept apologizing. Eventually she calmed down and we got to hang out at the lake.

Moral of the story: Gentleman, don't keep your lady waiting. Ladies, expect your man to cave and do crazy things to make it up to you when he pisses you off.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Couldn't Turn Away

I didn't want to watch the debate tonight, but there was nothing else on.

Was it just me or did anyone else want to reach through the TV and just punch John McCain in the head? Oh, my God, the more he talked the more he infuriated me. Forget that smug "That Young Punk Don't Know What He's Talking About" look, his almost being patronizing to Obama, and his apparent attitude that he has all the answers and doesn't need to talk to anyone else. There was his dancing around the fact that Head Start and No Child Left Behind was fucked up not because it was a good idea needing "reform", but that Bush made tons of requirements then didn't pony up the money he promised to make it work.

No, the clincher was when he tried to say why Sarah Palin was such a great running mate. Because autism is a major childhood disability these days and Sarah Palin knows all about the struggles parents with autistic children face.

And how the fuck would she know that? Forgive me Brighton, but how is having a Downs Syndrome baby like having an autistic child? And considering your other children are normally developing, and autism doesn't usually get diagnosed until a kid is older, around 2, again, how the fuck would you know what it's like to be me? Or any other parent with an autistic child? How are the challenges of have a Downs Syndrome baby (challenges, BTW, you've pawned off onto others so you could run Alaska and run for Vice President) anything like the challenges my wife and I face? Or any other parent dealing with an autistic child?

The answer is she doesn't have a clue. And for McCain to insinuate that selfish, whacked out woman in any way would represent my and my child's interests was a major insult to me. I'm not really a fan of Obama, but I now totally LOATHE McCain. Couple that with things I learned about how he basically turned his back on his principles to coddle to Jerry Fallwell and jumping on the Bush Bandwagon all to secure the party nomination for President after Bush kicked his ass in 2000 just goes to show he's no maverick, but a politician willing to do what's necessary to gain office.

Monday, October 13, 2008


What a weekend we had for camping! We went to the town of Herkimer and went to the Herkimer Diamond Mines. Basically you go there, the give you small sledge hammers, and you pound on rocks in an open air mine trying to find "diamonds" which, if you get one intact, is a perfect 18 facet quartz gem. According to the people at the mine, they're highly prized in Asia right now. In any event, it was rather fun pounding on rocks with hammers. It was kind of funny to think we actually paid money for the priviledge of making big rocks into small rocks. And you should have seen how seriously some people took it! I saw people with big sledge hammers pounding away at this place! And others with serious pry bars to go with them! It was too funny.

We did get some nice crystals, but we got better gems from doing "sluicing". We got a bag with dirt, and in the dirt were various gems. You put the dirt in a screen and sluice off the dirt to reveal what you got. It was also great fun.

Our campsite was the coolest ever. It was a KOA, but the tent sights literally backed up to a wonderful creek. The boys couldn't resist frolicing on the water's edge. And you couldn't ask for better weather. Saturday was sunny and 65. Fall was in full swing so we got great color on the trees. The only down side was that it was really cold at night (OK, it was about 40 degrees, but in the open air, that's cold baby. I was fine in our sleeping bag warmth wise, but I REALLY had to pee sometime after we went to bed and who wants to get up in the cold just to pee? Didn't make for the best sleeping. The Wife was all bundled up and near morning needed me to be her space heater but she did all right too. The boys seemed fine bundled in thier sleeping bags.

Morning was awesome. It was chilly, but there was a fog that just made for a beautiful sight. I have a couple of pictures to give you an idea of the site. We had a great campfire dinner and hung around the fire until about 9. By then, most of us were totally beat from swinging hammers and doing all that outdoor camping stuff. But overall it was quite a good time. After getting home yesterday, we hung out the rest of the day. The Wife and I put the kids to bed at a reasonable time and dutifully fell asleep watching Sunday Night Football. A good night's rest in our own bed and we were good to go. I'm feeling great today, although the Wife's ass is really hurting from crawling around the rocks for a few hours. Now tomorrow back to the normal grind.

Here's a couple of pictures of the stream we backed up to:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Under the open sky

Our big adventure for this weekend will be camping with Grasshopper's cub scout den. We're going to the Herkimer Diamond Mine. In order to get there at a reasonable hour, we're leaving Saturday morning at Oh Dark Thirty (that is, meet at the leader's house at 6:30 AM!). From there it's about a 2 1/2 hour drive out to Herkimer. We'll have fun all day, the camp in the evening, complete with camp cooking, smores around the campfire, and sleeping in an honest to goodness tent (on an air mattress, of course. We need SOME creature comforts). We're heading back Sunday morning after breakfast.

We're actually looking forward to it, and the boys are into camping, especially Maverick now that he's been a boy scout for a few years. The crazy part is that whether you camp for a day or a week, you have to bring about the same amount of stuff. Which is a lot. The Wife created her insanely long checklist to make sure we don't forget anything. And, of course, she's sweating that we WILL forget something. On the plus side, it's not like we'll be in the wilderness in case we're short something. But her deal is to sweat this stuff so I let her. We've already begun getting things out last nigh, because she hates packing at the last minute. It should be a lot of fun, but campouts don't result in much sleep so I see some naps in my Sunday schedule. Luckily, the boys are off from school on Monday and I have the day off so I can catch up on stuff like grocery shopping then.

On an unrelated not, I promised Lisa B some relationship "war stories". I'm working on a good one. It's strange how you look back on 25 years together with someone and it seems like no time at all has passed. So stay tuned.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Getting to know you - UPDATED!

The new guitar showed up today. I had to run home at lunch to pick it up. Not because I couldn't wait to get my hands on it (which I was itching to do) but because when I checked DHL's website they said they delivered it to my door. And I still wanted it to be there when I got home. When I reached the house, there was a big box leaning against the front door practically screaming "Take me!"

Anyway, I pulled it out and gave it the quick once over. I had one concern about a crack in the finish around the neck that was not mentioned in the ebay add or shown in a picture. I emailed the seller and he reassured me it was just a crack in the finish, not that the neck had broken and been repaired. Since the crack only went about 3/4 the way around, I figured it was probably the finish.

Upon closer inspection I noticed a few other little things. 1. This guy used wickedly thick strings. I can barely bend the damn things! They'll have to go very soon. I'll put on my usual gauge to make them comfy. 2. He blocked the trememlo. Meaning he physically put a piece of wood behind it to keep it from moving. And it only has 2 springs, which will not be enough to hold the tremelo down. Tremelo arm was also missing. 3. The idiot used screws that were not threaded all the way through to hold on the strap pegs. Meaning they weren't tight to the body so they would eventually rip out and fall off your strap. I put on my trusty strap locks so problem solved.

I've played with it and here's the verdict: I'm cautiously optimisitc. I plugged it in to my Fender amp and I like the sound out of the pickups a lot. Not quite as good as my SG2000, but very nice. The output is a lot higher so this guitar should rock something fierce. The neck is the same as my existing Yamaha which makes me very happy. It's the same size and nearly the same wieght as my trusty baby, so if feels very comfortable to wear and play. Sunday I have a gig at church so I'll put it through it's paces. Once I change the strings (no time this weekend unfortunately) I'll feel much better. Then I have to get the tremelo in shape. I have a feeling this will be a great edition to my sonic arsenal.

UPDATE: I put my new baby through all it's paces yesterday, including playing my real baby at the end of the set for comparison. If I didn't look down, I wouldn't have know it was a different axe. Being my SG2000 is a 10, the SG1300 is a 9.8 or 9.9. It is truly the backup guitar I've been looking for. Comfortable right out of the gate to play and sounds really good. Only comment I got from the Wife is that I had way too much gain going with it. Which isn't a bad thing at all.