Monday, February 28, 2005
Congrats TSA, MonyP and Others From My Past....
Congrats are also in order for the eighth grade social studies class who defeated me in US History trivia this morning. Since I made them tell all the other classes that I beat them the last time I played against that class, they made me tell every class that they beat me today. It's only fair, I guess. In my defense, I allowed them two questions for every one of mine this morning. They really took advantage of the opportunity, they didn't miss any questions and (gasp!) I actually missed one art question. It was fun as always. Man, eighth graders are sure a lot more fun that seventh graders!
MonyP just emailed me to say that she also once beat me in naming Candian rock bands. We took turns naming rock bands who hail from our northern neighbors, the one who couldn't come up with one or reapeated one already used would be the loser. The loser was me. Thanks for reminding me of my shortcomings.
Oh yeah, a girl in college once beat me in a game of Jeopardy! that we were doing in the student union. I had been smacking people around all day, the girlfriend's roommate thought she could take me out, no dice. A couple of law students fell by the wayside. Then a girl I knew from program council spanked me by running the category "First Line of Shakespeare." She never let me forget it either. She was from Correctionville, Iowa. I have no idea why that would be relevent, but I remember it because I always thought it was a cool name for a town.
Slappy is Jebus closed down the open mic last night. With a big assist by Uncle Bill Brown on the bass, we brought it home with "Got My Mojo Workin'." We've discoverd that we can't open with that song, because it really trashes my voice. But when I know it's going to be the last song of the evening, that I won't be using my voice for anything important for 3 more days, I really let fly. Muddy Waters was blessed with the voice he had. I'm sure he smoked and drank himself to a voice like that, he lived a hard life and was a relatively old man by the time people got to know who he was and appreciate that voice. Me, well, I just fake it. Hurts like hell, too. I had an announcing teacher in college who told me specifically not to do what I do on that song. I can't help it, it sounds so damn cool!
That crazy girl from that crazy state (she needs a shorter nickname) was at the open mic last night. She was a 957 fan who was dissapointed when we broke up. Yep, we've dissapointed people in more than one time zone, we do rock! We were able to talk Shawn into letting us close things out last night so she could see us. Lord knows it's rare enough for me to do anything that pleases a lady that late at night.......
So, like the logo? It wasn't my first idea and it's dirivitive of the old 957 logo, but I wanted to get something out there even if it does suck. Maybe now people will yell "Your Logo Sucks!" at us when we play. At least it will be less personal for TSA.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Most would say I lack ambition, it's my biggest character fault. If I had been head of one of my parents' families, we'd likely still be speaking German. Not because this isn't a great country, but because it would have just been easier to stay in Germany.
No, I'm pretty happy the way things are. I remember rationalizing all of the problems in my marriage up to the very last days. No matter how bad things are, I told myself, I don't know what life is going to be like without her so I'll just stay in this bad relationship. I know now what a horrible decision that was, but at the time it seemed awfully reasonable. The bad thing is that I didn't try to make anything better, I just tried to muddle along the same way I always had.
So maybe it's not the best character trait, but there've got to be worse. The fact is, even with my life's not at it's best right now, I'm pretty content. It doesn't take much to make me happy. I spent the night playing poker and playing music at TSA-Platz. After I got home I realized how lucky I am. I fell into a friendship with a guy who likes the same sorts of music as me, who can play the hell out of a 12 string. I sort of found myself able to play a harmonica without too much effort on my part. We nearly immediately created a sound that people wanedt to listen to. Some people I know wouldn't be happy with that. They'd need to make money doing this, play every possible venue, be seen by as many people as possible. We were giving it away at 1:30 in the morning, two people watching, playing for ourselves really. I was so content on the drive home, so happy that I was able to spend an evening like that, not having the experience clouded by ambition. I play harmonica and sing a little bit. There's hundred of folks in our region who do that as well, lots and lots of them better than us.
I know it's a trap. 'Good Enough' are the worst words I can hear, generally inspiring me to do nothing more than stay exactly where I am. Maybe that's why I get bored with things so quickly. That's definitely why my life is the way it is now. I know it's why 3V doesn't want to be involved with me anymore.
I can't deny what my lack of ambition has cost me, on the other hand, I'll never have an ulcer. I'll never be arrested for insider trading and get a TV deal when I get out of prison. If I ever get rich and famous, it'll be something I just fall into. Maybe I'll appreciate it more because I didn't expect it. Be assured I won't get myself into trouble financially, needing all the trappings of my neighbors. I'll just muddle along with my millions of dollars, the other millionaires muttering amongst themselves about my lack of ambition.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Why I Love Sue Foley
In 1995 I got a subscription to 'Blues Review' magazine. Living in Iowa at the time, it was difficult to keep up with current happenings in the blues world, 'Blues Review' was a huge help, reviewing about 30 new releases every month and containing numerous articles about blues performers. I really got to know the music of some of the newer blues performers through that magazine, and since I was living in a town of 5,000 people didn't have much other than music to spend my money on. My music collection really grew during that 14 months.
The magazine came with my choice of CD from different blues labels. I chose the one from Antone's Records for a number of reasons. Antone's is a famous blues club in Austin, Texas. I was born near Austin and felt a little connection to the label because of that. A favorite acoustic blues guitarist, Steve James, was recording for Antone's at the time as were artists I respected like Kim Wilson.
I really enjoyed the CD, the Candy Kayne cuts were really cool, I liked stuff by Snooky Pryor and Lewis Courdray. One cut really stuck out, though, it was "Give Me Time," an old Muddy Waters tune done by a young Candian girl named Sue Foley. Her voice had the sound of a little girl's almost, but with a hard driving guitar behind it. After some research, I found out it was Sue herself playing guitar. I had assumed it was some seasoned professional playing guitar. I had assumed it was a male, not that I don't think a woman could be a good guitarist (I absolutely love Bonnie Raitt - probably my favorite slide player), but because there was almost a macho sound in her guitar playing.
Years later, living in southern California, I picked up a newly released Sue Foley CD "Big City Blues." Maybe it was the title that appealed to me, more likely it was the photo of an attractive redhead in a denim jacket on the CD cover. This was Sue Foley? She was beautiful! I liked the CD but it got sort of lost in the shuffle, and I didn't listen to it too much.
I picked up another Sue Foley a couple of years later, "Back to the Blues." a compilation of sides from her years with Antone's, her original label which ceased to exist shortly after that. This was a traditional blues album, with a few acoustic numbers on it. I really took to the album. At the same time, Sue released another album on a different label. "Love Comin' Down" couldn't have been much more different than "Back to the Blues," it was hardly a blues album at all. It had a much edgier, contemporary sound. This woman had an amazing way with a song, hers or someone else's.
So I had two terrific albums by a hot redhead (a real weakness of mine) when I found out she was playing at a club a few blocks from my house in Long Beach, California. I made plans to attend and was absolutley stunned by her performance at The Blue Cafe that night. The crowd hung on every note. She had been on the road a long time, her voice was no longer the little girl's, it was raspy, not quite so pretty any more. That just made it fit with her music all that much more.
I stood about six feet from the stage, amazed at the performance. Late in the evening as things were winding down, she slowed it down and did a ballad. Eyes closed, she emoted like few singers I've ever seen before. I stood against a post, watching her. Her eyes opened and our gazes met as she sang the line "you're the one." For just a moment, I believed that I was. Nothing anyone has ever done on stage has struck me like that one brief moment. I'm not so naive as to believe that it meant anything to her, I realize I was just standing in the right place at the absolute best time. Still, it's a little piece of my life that I'll never forget.
She did one other thing that night that made me respect her for all time. The club was videotaping her performance, with her blessing of course. As we got approached closing time, she told us she was going to play one more song, but that she wouldn't play until the video cameras were turned off. This performance wasn't for anyone else, just the people who were there. When she was positive they were all off, she did a Memphis Minnie song, just for us. She had a special way of making us all feel special.
I find this woman unbelievably attractive. Even if I didn't, I'd love her music, of course. This photo is a favorite of mine. Just look at her, this is all I want in a woman, attractive, casual and enjoying a dark beer of some sort in an imperial pint glass. Everything about this photo makes her appreciate her more.
Oh yeah, she plays guitar like nobody's business and has the voice of an angel.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
This Song Isn't About You
A couple of years ago, if I'd have wanted to talk to the particular art teacher (lets refer to her as '3V' from now on) I was subbing for at 7:30 in the morning, I would have just rolled over in bed and nudged her. I can assure you that we wouldn't have been discussing lesson plans either. Times change, I guess. Usually for the better it seems. At least that's what they tell me.
If you look to your left, you'll find a brand new link entitled "Dunn Bros. Open Mic." This will take you to the website of a guy named Ken Jones and his project "Across Roads." Ken has taken to our little Wednesday night affair and has been recording us now for a couple of weeks. It's been great for me to let people out of the area hear what TSA and I are up to. Also, though, it's a great learning tool for me. A year ago as TSA, JB and I were starting this certain band that was alleged to have sucked, I had no idea what I was doing on harmonica. For the first time in my life I was improvising. Now improvising is a great skill to have for a (quasi) musician. You can go a long ways being able to improvise well. On the other hand, certain things are going to work better in certain songs, so realizing exactly what you want to do in a particular song can make or break the song. We were recording ourselves quite a bit on video. I would burn Mp3's off of that and listen to them. On something as simple as "Anti-Love Song" I simply didn't know what I was doing, but did a couple of interesting things each time we played it. I started putting those together, and before long I had the harp line that I played every time we did that song. It's amazing how little you actually hear when you're playing. Hearing the whole thing without being involved in it is a different sort of thing. For me it almost is hearing it for the first time.
So I let 3V now about the site in the note I left her at the end of the school day. I hope she checks it out. And even though "Anti-Love Song" had the line "...even though this song is about you..." in it, it wasn't about her. I didn't write it. It struck me once while playing that it could be about her, but it wasn't. Neither is "Two Condoms."
The folks had a funeral after chili, so I took Julian from them while they did that. He fell asleep in the car on the way back to my place, so watching him wasn't a hassle at all. He woke up a while later crying, but the folks called right after that and said they were on their way to my place. I packed up the boy and took him downstairs. Let the great-granparents take care of a crying baby, that's not what uncles are for........
Since I had gone to church in the morning, I was able to head down to Dunn Bros. early and join Mike for a couple of tunes at the start of the open mic. Once again, the place was quite packed and the musician list was full throughout the night. TSA showed up at exactly 9pm (he's allowed to check out of work 7 minutes early, therefore it must take him exactly 7 minutes to get from work to Dunn Bros.), and we started discussing what we were going to play. While we were discussing it, Cody, who dispenses beverages all evening, pretty much requested an entire set. Even though he was there earlier when Mike and I played "Brian Wilson" he wanted to hear it again. Andy was game, but we decided if we're going to do the same song twice in one evening, it's going to be radically different. So it was "Brian Wilson" reggae style. Before that we did a really abreviated version of "Plastic Jesus." That song works better with a smaller crowd, there were giggles at every line.
As we were cleaning up, 3 younger guys who were hanging out at the coffee shop asked Andy where the rest of the band was. Andy was a little confused until one of them asked if we used to be in that 957 band. There wasn't much to say to them about that, but it was interesting to be recognized. We do a 957 version of "Brian Wilson," now I wish we had done that. At least three guys in the audience would have gotten it.
This morning I'm off to teach at the high school for some Art teacher who can't get into work this morning. I won't have to worry about running into Vicke because that's who I'm subbing for. She requested me......it was my understanding that she stopped requesting me about a year and a half ago........ That's my time folks, I'll be here all week, enjoy the buffet......
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Find Those Votes!
With the two major parties, though, it's all about winning. Karl Rove (correct spelling here, I found both spellings when I made the cartoon during the campaign) isn't so much a political genius as he is an election genius. The electorate is divided, for the most part has made up its mind before any campaign begins. It's gotten to the point where the message isn't the important thing, it's about getting your people to the polls. It's not about convincing people you're right, it's about finding enough votes to win.
The Dems were counting on the young vote, the under 25's. They concentrated on them, knowing if they could get the youngsters out, they could win the election.
Rove's team found their votes somewhere else, in evangelical christians. I don't point this out because I have any problem with evangelicals, in fact since that's where Bush resides in the religious spectrum, it's honest. But Bush talked to evangelicals in a different way than he did to the rest of the country, a way that would have turned off a good portion of the electorate.
Evangelicals turned out in November and voted for Bush as a block. They voted Bush because he assured them he was for "family values." For these folks, primary "family values" issues are gay marriage and banning abortion. That's all they needed to hear, they turned out.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing the republicans of any wrong doing. If the Dems had won the election based on a huge turnout of young voters I would be making the same arguements. Yes, Kerry talked to the youth differently than he talked to the rest of the country.
At some point we're going to have to get back to trying to fix things in this country. Politicians need a plan, not a plan on how to win the next election, but a plan of how to make things better. And until they do plan to make things better, they won't get better.
It does make me wonder where the next block of "found" voters is going to come from. Gays comprise, if you believe the studies, aproximately 10% of the population. It stands to reason that they comprise 10% of the electorate as well. I'm almost certain they would vote democrat, but how politically active are they? Evangelicals normally vote republican, but Rove strategized to get them to the polls and it made the difference. Are there enough gays not voting that getting them to the polls could make the difference next time?
Or will it be some other group? Macintosh users? Carnival workers? The homeless? Sorority members? The list could go on forever.
WARNING: The Following My Be Offensive to Some Readers
All of these things seem to be out the window. Not only do we live in an age where people can get offended by anything, but offended people feel the need to send complaints to the FCC about anything hoping to fine broadcasters. The FCC recently received a flurry of angry letters over a "Simpsons" episode. One of the things complained about was a character holding a sign that read "What Would Jesus Glue?" Apparently some think that the name Jesus can't be used outside of a church setting. Never mind that in the hispanic community, Jesus is a relatively common male name. The FCC threw this one out, but the fact is that a culture has been created where a group or individual can complain and demand action about anything they see on TV that they don't agree with. Some people just have to complain about something, which is probably why this blog was created in the first place......
A flag used to be just about content, dirty words, naughty human parts, etc. Now we've moved into the area of ideas. This week's episode of "The Simpsons" was flagged by Fox because it depicted and discussed (and satirized) gay marriage. I didn't see a boob or hear anyone swear in the entire episode. Drawn representations of yellow, oddly shapped humans who were of the same gender were, in fact, shown to be kissing each other, but I don't think that's what the flag was about, it was about the idea.
Some people don't agree with gay marriage. As far as I'm concerned it's their right to disagree. I disagree with the idea of reality TV, but I've never seen (nor do I want or expect to see) a disclaimer saying that the following episode of "The Amazing Race" may be derivitive of "Survivor," and contains no creativity at all. I might see a flag because someone has to eat bugs, but the inane idea of a reality show isn't flagged.
I haven't checked this out for myself, but I was recently informed that episodes of "Scientific American Frontiers" on South Dakota Public TV are being flagged as possibly offensive. It seems that the ideas expressed in this show may not agree with those stated in the Bible. I do not ask my pastor to announce before his sermon that things he has to say may be in conflict with science. Science and Religion are two ideas. No one can give you any proof that one is more valid than the other, therefore followers of one shouldn't be offended if ideas expressed by followers of the other don't agree with their own ideas.
It reminds me of an episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati." A right wing christian group contacted Mr. Carlson asking to ban songs from the air for language or subject matter, strictly content things. Carlson agreed, he didn't want filth on his station, it all seemed reasonable to him. Lists of banned songs started arriving at the station, just a few songs at first, but more and more were added each week. Finally morning DJ, Johhny Fever, confronted Carlson about what was going on. Carlson set up a meeting with the head of the christian group and read him the lyrics to a song and asked if they would be allowed to play it. Without hesitation the christian leader said the song would not be allowed.
Carlson threw the man out of his office, telling him he had just banned a song for ideas not content. The song was John Lennon's "Imagine." Some people can't even imagine you being allowed to disagree with them.
Once again, a classic TV sit-com has showed me the way.......
Monday, February 21, 2005
No Glass Allowed on the Unit
First of all, I want to say how dissapointed I am in Shawn and Gary, Not Abby SomeOne - let's get that straight, that they allowed me to get on stage last night and play music that wasn't original. How dare they! It's their open mic to do with what they want, but they need to be music nazis. "All cover tunes are, verbotten! You will play from 7:47 unti 8:02 MDT! We are already two minutes off schedule because some one broke a string! Mach schnell!!!!" Yeah, that would definitely make things more fun.
An open mic is not a springboard to a musical career, it's a place to have fun. It's a good place for developing your chops, for getting used to playing in front of people, but a vast majority of people there are playing music because they want to play music, they're not looking for their big break. If that's what you're looking for, go on that piece of crap "American Idol" show. Yeah, some folks show up at open mic for the express purpose to recruit for bands, and gigs have been known to be agreed on because of an open mic performance, but this activity isn't the norm. It's supposed to be fun. Don't take the fun out of it.
But enough of my yappin'. Our little open mic was a lot of fun last night even if 90% of the tunes performed were cover songs. Hell 100% of our tunes were, even if That One Guy asked me if I wrote "Brian Wilson." I wish I had, then again, if I could write songs like that I wouldn't be playing at an open mic in RCSD. My voice wasn't for crap last night and I had a hard time singing anything. "Vibrator Dependent" went OK, but trying to sing anything that required a little sensitivity was difficult. Should have stuck to the dirty material instead of doing the thought provoking. LIve and learn.
And to the three guys who had the twenty minute set up: It's an open mic! It's not your own personal concert! There were enough open channels on Shawn's board that you could have just plugged in and been done with it, next time leave the amps in the van. I'll indulge you on the drum set up, especially since he's the only guy who seemed to get it, playing a minimal drum set and being the first one ready. If you need all of your toys and distortion to enjoy yourselves, then go back to your garage, you can take as long to set up as you want there.
Man, I'm really bitchy today, aren't I? I should really just pitch this, but I wrote it so I might as well put it up where no one will read it.........
Saturday, February 19, 2005
The Random Thoughts of a Guy Who's Not Drinking for a While
Tonight ASO is down at Robbinsdale Lounge. If it weren't so cold out, I could ride my bike there. I've ridden my bike there before, it's about a mile away, the only problem is that it's about 400 feet lower than I am at my apartment. Robbinsdale is an OK bar, a little more blue collar than Cheers, but it has a great stage and dance floor. You can't beat it as a music venue in our little corner of the world. Too much video lottery, or "Electric Cocaine" as Shawn would call it, for my taste but it's a good place to see live music.
So I'll be hanging out in another bar during lent. Why do I do this to myself? I don't mean giving up the beer, I mean torturing myself by going to bars. Since I won't be getting Shawn and the boys to come over to my house, I guess going to a bar is my only option. That's OK, I'll make it.
In all truthfullness (if that is, in fact, a word) I haven't been too tempted. Of course, the beer is still in the fermenter, homebrew is so much more tempting than most of the stuff I can buy at a bar or liquor store. And I haven't had anything other than the afore mentioned Jager and bourbon shots since this all began. I had to dump another beer sample down the drain, and that pulled at the heartstrings pretty hard, but I made it through that, too.
Doing my part for saving the earth, I acquired a case of empty champagne bottles at last night's fundraiser. I'll recycle them in my own special way, though, cleaning them up good, removing the labels and refilling them with beer or meade.
Slappy is Jebus may be playing at the Hearitage Festival in Rapid City this summer. That would be kind of cool, but we still probably wouldn't be able to play "Two Condoms." There's plenty of places to play material like that, suprisingly few where you shouldn't. I'll have to talk to TSA about the festival and see what he thinks.
Since I promised folks I'd save them a table I oughta get headed down to the bar. If anything really cool happens tonight I'll be sure to post it as soon as I get home.
Friday, February 18, 2005
A Good Long Day
Teaching the English went OK. I love it when a teacher has a planned absence because everything's all laid out for me. Plus the students weren't 7th graders today, so all of my hair remains intact.
I got to visit my folks for lunch. They had Julian, so I had a fantastic lunch. He's such a great kid, and I just love being around him. Makes me want to have one of my own, ya know? I also stopped by after work. My folks were on their way out, but I showed them the website with a couple of "Slappy is Jebus" songs on it. They wanted me to download them onto their computer, so I did that for them. Dial-up made it take a little while, but I got that done with little trouble. I even organized them nicely on their iTunes for them.
Then it was back to Rapid City. I was playing with Mike at a county Democratic party fundraiser. That actually went pretty well, we did quite a few tunes and had a good response. There were quite a few older folks there, but they seemed to dig us.
After that Mike invited me along to play with a Celtic band at the bagel shop. Yes a Celtic band..... yes, in a bagel shop. I couldn't make this stuff. So here I was, playing a bunch of songs I've never played before, in a style I've never listened to much of. Somehow it seemed to work. Best of all I played with a guy who was playing bazooki, assuming that's how it's spelled. I actually had to ask him what it was he was playing. I was trying to pick up what chords he was playing when I realized that his instrument had 8 string and I wasn't going to pick up anything from that. We also had a flute and Irish whistle. I've now played with Irish whistle, bazooki, hammered dulcimer and didjeri doo. I do tend to hook up with the odd instrumentation.
Check out "Slappy is Jebus" and the rest of the Wednesday night open mic crowd on the web at http://www.accrossroads.com/ I implore you to give a listen to everyone one the site. Josh is an amazing guitar player, Afferent have wonderful harmonies and Willy Grigg is one of my favorite songwriter (that you've heard of or haven't heard of). A big thanks to Ken who put the site together. We got a music scene here, let's let everyone know about it!
Thursday, February 17, 2005
I Should Really Be in Bed
Got together with TSA and Mike Reardon today at the Twelve String Compound. Played for a couple of hours. Mike's a good teacher, and I'm getting those backup singing chops back into shape. Funny, but a few months ago I wasn't sure if I'd be able to sing lead after singing backup for so long, now it's the other way around. I never lost the harp, though. Man do I love to just play harp behind someone singing and playing guitar. I like playing guitar. I like singing lead. I love playing harmonica. When I just get to create lines, when I'm completely comfortable with what the guitarists are going to do next, it's just the best. I'm learning the instrument a little more every time I play it.
We worked on some stuff we'd done before and some new stuff. I trotted out the Presidents song, and it has real possibilities. I think our version will be even goofier than the original, that's a good thing. We had played "Walk on the Ocean" at Dunn Bros. last night, but worked it up even more today. I really like the backup vocals on that, just doing a simple harmony on the chorus. We added a little twist where I go a little higher the last time through. We're getting pretty close to how high I can go, but the range is there and unless I just finished a particularly nasty version of "Mojo" I can maintain it. Then we worked on the Eagles' "Hotel California." I never realized what an odd song it is musically. It's this strangely chromatic thing that's unlike most pop tunes. A lot of noodling has got me able to do a decent harp part on it, but we've pretty much dropped the harp in favor of me doing backing vocals throughout. Mike was schooling Andy on some really cool guitar runs. The whole thing came together really nicely. Finally we worked on Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." Gabriel's "So" album was one of my favorites when I was in college. While everyone was into "Sledgehammer," which is a really great song, I was digging "In Your Eyes." It's a pretty easy thing to play, with only two sections in the song. It does switch keys in the middle, but the change coincides with a change to second position on harp, so I can keep the same harp, I just have to be careful and remember the change. The best part for me was the chorus, singing a low "in your eyes" with Andy while Mike is doing a lead vocal, getting stronger and stronger as the song goes on. So a couple of hours and we've got two new songs we can do, with some improvements on a third.
Mike is playing a Democratic fundraiser tomorrow. He asked TSA and me to play. I don't know if Andy will be able to make it, but I should be able to. It could be fun, though I'll have to be careful with the "Blind Orange" Julius references among politically active people. BOJ has a life other than that of blog writer and musician, and some of these people may have seen my, for lack of a better term "Digital Political Cartoons." I'm proud to say I've been attacked by members of both political parties for some of my work. Apparently I'm too liberal and too conservative. If I'm pissing off both sides, I'd say I'm being fair. I'm not really affraid of anyone finding out who I am, I just really like the annonymity. Kind of interesting that I'm writing about people finding out who I really am on a blog where I don't use my real name......
A Message From the Globex Corporation
"Blind Orange" Julius
Evil Genius and CEO
The Globex Corporation
"Defy us and we will crush you"
Counting Backwards from 1400
There are also what Apple calls smart playlists which are playlists that can do certain things. For instance there are smart playlists that will playback my songs with the most plays or the songs I have rated the highest. While I was going through my master playlist though I realized that there were a lot of songs that I took the time to encode, but have never played in iTunes. I have over 4200 songs encoded, but I've never listened to about 1400 of them. So I created a smart playlist to play back songs that have a playcount of zero. The idea is to play this playlist until I've eventually listened to everything I've encoded. So, while typing this, the total on this smart playlist dropped below 1400. It'll take a while to get rid of all the zeros (3.9 days is what iTunes tells me) but as much as I listen to music, I know I'll get there.
Nice show at Dunn Bros. tonight. My sister and niece dropped by. That's another reason I like doing all ages shows, my 14 year old niece has never seen me play before. She got to see a little of the open mic scene that I enjoy so much, got to see cool artists like Willy Grigg. She got to see TSA and me play some "Slappy is Jebus" material as well as some tunes we did with Mike Reardon.
We played our set with Mike tonight which is always fun. We started out with Toad the Wet Sprocket's "Walk on the Ocean" then busted into "Who's Been Talkin'," "Mojo," "Brian Wilson" and finished up with Dylan's "I Will Be Released." I really liked doing Mike's two tunes because I get to do the things I like most, play harp and sing backup. "Walk on the Ocean" and "I Will Be Released" have these really great harmonies in the choruses that are just a blast for me to sing, and not having to worry about singing lead let's me to do whatever I want on harp. I've learned to enjoy singing lead, my singing on "Mojo" is getting a little wilder every time now, but I'm still a lot more comfortable in the background. Give me time, but let me do some of what I like, too.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
I Know All The Presidents in Order
Washington whose VP was John Adams
John Adams whose VP was Jefferson
Jefferson, Madison, James Monroe, John Adams
Not the same John Adams, John Quincy Adams, a different one
Two terms of Jackson, Martin van Buren
William Henry Harrison
Tipacanoe and John Tyler too
Who ran against James K. Polk in '44, I don't know but it wasn't who won
I know all the Presidents, the Presidents in order
Do you know all the Presidents, then sing along with me
I know all the Presidents, the Presidents in order
Up to two thousand and five they number forty-three
Gimme a Z, gimme a A, Gimme a C-H-A
Gimme a R, gimme a Y, Gimme a T-A-Y
Gimme a L, gimme a O, Gimme a R, rah rah
Zachary Taylor, Zachary Taylor, sis boom bah
Milliard Filmore, the last chief executive ever elected from the Whig party
Comes in a lucky number thirteen
Then Franklin Pierce, and next came Buchanon
He was a bachelor man and never got him any
Number sixteen Abraham Lincoln
You'd be right if you were thinkin'
He's the handsome bearded fellow in profile on the penny
Andrew Johnson, U.S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes
Garfield who was shot so Cherster Arthur took his place
Give me two orders of Grover Cleveland with a slice or Harrison in between
Bill McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, the biggest President that's ever been
I know all the Presidents, the Presidents in order
Do you know all the Presidents, then sing along with me
I know all the Presidents, the Presidents in order
Up to two thousand a five they number forty-three
Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover
FDR three times
Truman, Ike, Kennedy, Johnson
Nixon who resigned
Oh Gerald Ford
The man I adored
You of Michigan football MVP in '34
Carter, Reagan and Iran
Bush in battle with Saddam
Clinton's intern made him glad
And W more terms than his dad
CHORUS (original from 1999)
I know all the Presidents, the Presidents in order
Do you know all the Presidents, I don't think you do
I know all the Presidents, the Presidents in order
Back in 1999 they numbered forty-two
Chords are pretty easy. With capo on the seventh fret it's just various combinations of D minor, A minor and E. I suppose it'd be a pretty good study aid for kids if it didn't refer to James Buchanon as not gettin' any......
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
This Is Me
"Happy Fucking Valentine's Day" was something that's been on my mind for 13 years now. It's something I'd tried a lot of different ways to express. I wrote a song about it years ago, one of the first songs I ever wrote. I think I did OK with the subject matter, but I could never bring myself to perform it in front of anybody. You're really out there when you do material like that in front of people. I may have gotten over the nerves associated with playing in front of people, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to expose myself emotionally like that in public. This blog is different, I know some of the people who are reading it, but there's a layer of technology between me and them. I can't see them, they can't see me. I know that's somewhat artificial, but it's really enough for me when writing stuff like this. So I've also learned that I can get things out here that I really can't anyplace else.
Maybe the most important thing I learned is to just be myself. In truth, numbers on a counter don't mean a whole lot to me. But when someone I don't know writes a supportive comment, well, that does something to me. I truely don't think about anybody reading any of this when I write it, mostly it just comes out, and my fingers are just trying to keep up on the keyboard. I really never thought anybody I didn't know would read this, let alone feel complelled to write me something.
So this is me, more than the conversations I have with people I know, definitley more than the songs I write. For the time being, anyway, this is me without the bullshit. This is what my brain is doing, without trying to be clever or impress people. Who knows if that will change? For right now, it's honest and real.
Beer & 43 U.S. Presidents in Song
I'll continue to look forward to it. The hardest part of transfering the beer to the secondary was not drinking the sample I took to take a gravity reading. You only use a small amount for a sample, about a quarter of a cup, and since I can't throw it back in with the rest of the beer, I usually drink it. Besides not being wasteful, it's valuable to taste a beer as it ferments, you get an idea of where it's going and what the finished product will taste like. But down the drain it went with the sludge at the bottom of the primary. Don't tell anyone, but I shed a little tear.......
I finally bought some guitar strings yesterday. I was taking my mic to my dad who was waiting at the orthodontist for my niece. The music store is just a couple of blocks away, so I stopped by and picked up two G strings. Insert stripper joke here. I put one on (that is, on my guitar) as soon as I got home. I noodled around for a little while then had supper.
After supper I was on the computer and listening to Mp3's when a cool song came on. I'd wanted to learn how to play it for a while, so I sat down and figured it out. So now I've chorded out a song that was written in a minor key. I thought I was in over my head for a while, but I eventually got it. It only has three chords in it, and capoing it on the 7th fret allows me to sing it as performed with out having to attempt to play the evil B chord.
The chords were pretty easy compared to the words. The song is called "I Know All the Presidents in Order" and contains the names of all 42 men who had been US President when the song was written in 1999. I had to re-write the last verse to contain GW Bush (and I think I improved the Clinton referrence). I also had to re-write a couple of lines in the chorus since there have now been 43 US Presidents and that is referrenced and rhymed.
Now I'm working on memorizing the lyrics. I had memorized the Presidents for my appearance on Jeopardy!, but less than a year later I had lost it. I suppose it's still in the back of my mind, as memorizing the lyrics hasn't been too tough. I get a little screwed up after "Andrew Johnson U.S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes - Garfield who was shot so Chester Arthur took his place," but I'm getting there. The song is actually really well written and flows easily given the subject matter and obvious forced rhymes due to having to use historical names. That's also helped in my learning this song. Now I only wish I'd have heard the song before I was on Jeopardy! so learning the Presidents would have been more fun. And it would have been cool to have to come up with a piece of information on the show by quietly singing to myself "Bill McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, the biggest President that's ever been......"
Monday, February 14, 2005
Happy Fucking Valentine's Day
Suprisingly, nobody had any reservations about my wife. It's not like we just ran off and got married. We had been dating since the first semester of my freshman year. We took our time and really got to know each other. Neither of us wanted to be married while going to school, so even though we knew pretty early on that we'd probably get married, we took our time.
And things went pretty well, 3 months after getting married I got my first job in TV. The hours were crappy and I had a one hour commute each way, but I had a good woman at home making sure everything got taken care of. When the lease on our apartment in Vermillion ran out, we moved to Sioux Falls to be closer to my work. She was self employed, working out of the home, but spent about one day a week in the office in Vermillion.
We had our little spats like all newly married couples do. I stayed out all night one night, coming home about the time she was getting up. I hadn't been up to no good, just with a friend on his delivery job. She was mad, but I wasn't really used to having to answer to anybody. I learned. I learned to live as a couple, not as an independent person who could do whatever he pleased.
Her job took her on the road for 3 months out of the year, doing architectural survey work around the state. It was difficult for both of us, but we were able to deal with it. It made me appreciate her more the nine months she was around. My mom told me once she was envious of our relationship, the way we talked and did things together. This from a woman who's been married to the same man for over 40 years.
But things are never perfect. Money started to be a problem. We got into a bit of debt due to poor choices on our part and some very bad luck. Then I lost my job. Things fell apart in a hurry after that. By September of 1991, she had had enough. I was told to get out. Since I couldn't pay for our apartment on my own without a job, I really didn't have any choice.
At 26 years old I was living back at home, an emotional wreck. My family was a hugely supportive, and not to sound overly dramatic, pretty much kept me alive when I didn't have any desire to do so for myself. During this time I tried to patch things up with the wife. I got the professional help I needed, got more involved in the church, worked hard at finding a job and improving myself. I talked to her occasionally, just talk, not really too much about the future, but what was going on at that point in our lives.
During one phone call she was on the verge of asking me to come back. She didn't actually say it, she didn't have to, I knew what the next words out of her mouth were going to be. I stopped her and told her that we hadn't fixed anything, that if we got together again, we'd end up in exactly the same situation in six weeks. She got really mad at me, things weren't good up to that point, but we had always tried to be civil. After that she was vicious. I still tried, though. I still wanted to make things work, but I was too emotionally messed up to move back in with her. I talked to her occasionally, but she always ended up angry. She always asked me for money, even though she was the one who still had a job, still had access to our joint accounts.
What happened next really wasn't a suprise except for the timing. A few minutes before midnight on February 14th 1992, I was on the front porch of my parents house being served with papers by a young deputy sheriff who didn't want to be there any more than I did. Poor bastard didn't want to ruin somebody's Valentine's day and I could really feel for him. Here I was signing divorce papers and being read a restraining order. Everything was dated February 12th, it would have taken two days for the mail to travel from one end of the state to the other. As far as I was concerened, it was premeditated.
I'd be lying if I said that the timing didn't make me angry. It did, but what the timing did was made me realize that it was over. There was no way this was going to be patched up, it was plainly obvious now. I didn't have to be nice to this woman anymore, I didn't have to try not to piss her off to the point where she'd never take me back. That was never going to happen. It was done. Nothing was going to fix this, and the only course of action left was to move forward.
She'd tried to hurt me and succeeded. It still hurts today, though it's slightly less pain with each passing year. What she really did, though, was took away all hope. As horrible as that sounds, that's exactly what I needed. With no hope of patching things up, I didn't have to be nice anymore. I wouldn't be taken advantage of.
Sometime in August of 1994 it was finally over. I signed the papers making it official at a law office in Vermillion, just a few blocks away from the apartment we'd shared as newlyweds. We hadn't owned anything of value. The personal belongings had been divided long before. Still she tried to get money out of me, tried to saddle me with debt she had incurred before we were married. I wouldn't have it. If she hadn't shown me so clearly that it was over, I may have submitted. As it was, I fought her on everything I thought unjust. I won some, I lost some. In then end, it turned out as fair as these kind of things can. She hadn't taken advantage of me, I hadn't taken advantage of her. That's all I wanted.
Let Us Have a Fifth..... Song, Not Liquor.......
Shawn looked disapointed when I got the kazoo out in the first place. He asked if we were going to play BTO's "American Woman." Andy and I have actually discussed that, and if I could remember the words, we'd probably do it. With Brian back on American soil, we know a bass player who knows it and is generally in the bar on Sunday nights. A couple more tunes are in the pipeline, I'd like to do the songs we've been working on that Andy sings on, I've been doing a little work on a novelty number about the presdidents (I could have used this song when I was studying for Jeopardy!), there's a relationship song and our first attempt at a country song. We'll definitely ask Bill Brown to join us on that one, but only if he promises not to make it sound like speed metal.
A list of songs we have played on stage as a duo (I'm sure this list is incomplete, help me if I've forgotten any, TSA) in no particular order:
Got My Mojo Workin'
Rollin' & Tumblin'
Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus
Plastic Jesus (we need a third Jesus song so we can do some sort of Jesus medely)
Bob Dylan Version
Patient 957 Version
I Will Survive (there's aren't nearly enough disco tunes being played at open mics)
You Don't Love Me Anymore
Martha Stewart Christmas
Spiraling Shapes (just once, but I'm sure Andy will do it again sometime soon)
Behind Blue Eyes - Instrumental (also just once, we'll be doing it again)
Beer is the Answer
Wyle E. Coyote Blues
Who's Been Talkin'
The Universe Song
Don't Do It
I also added some new photos to my open mic set on the photo site. Click the link "My Photos" on the left side of this page. I didn't intentionally put a picture of Shawn's butt up, but since it was there I only thought it fair to make a positive ID. My apologies to John and Josh for unduley taking attention away from them.
There'd be more photos of the grand-nephew, but I don't think I've seen him since I took the latest pictures that are up. That site is under my folks' name, but they've yet to put a picture of him up. They see him every day and have a camera nicer than mine, but no photos from them. They do have dial-up, so it takes a little longer to upload pictures from their house. Still, it couldn't be much easier. Old people and technology......
I'm still having trouble with the bullet mic. It was crackling like crazy during church yesterday and cutting in and out during set up last night. It's got a loose connection again so I'll have to take it out to dad and see if he can help me with it. Geez, and after I castigate old people and their prowess with technology!
Sunday, February 13, 2005
My Talmud of Beer
The church at Galatia was lucky. In college I took a class on Judaism. Since I took the class at a small midwestern college, most of us students knew very little about the world of Judaism or the intricacies of Jewish law. Since then, I've read the books of Leviticus and Deutoronomy a couple of times since these are the books where Jewish law came from. Ah, but two entire books of the bible weren't enough laws for the Jewish people, they went on to write the Talmud, a compilation and explanation of the law. It's fascinating to look at the developement of laws among these people. For instance, an edict not to eat a calf cooked in its mother's milk became one of the primary kosher laws of not eating meat and milk together.
So not only have they interpreted themselves new laws, they've interpreted ways around them. The command to remember the sabbath day and keep it holy was interpreted into a number of Talmudic laws. One prohibits building a fire during the sabbath. This in turn led to a prohibition of turning on an electric light. Now it has been deemed OK to turn an electric light on before the sabbath and leave it on throughout, however, the same prohibition also prevents an observant Jew from turning off an electric light. Additionaly, it's OK to hire someone to "build a fire" for you on the sabbath, providing the transaction of money doesn't take place on the sabbath. So it is somewhat common for Jewish families to hire a non-Jewish person to come over to their house the evening of the sabbath to turn out all the lights and return to turn them on again in the morning. I won't even get into the discussion of shabbos telephone usage.
So Jewish law has been on my mind a lot lately. That got me thinking about my giving up beer for lent. Yes, I had a shot of bourbon in my coffee while playing at the Chop House on Friday night and a shot of Jagermeister at TSA's last night. Am I interpreting my own "lenten law" to make things easier on myself? I suppose a cynic would argue that. What I promised to give up specifically, though, was beer. I never promised to give up all alcohol. I make the distinction for one reason, I really, really like beer. I enjoy a glass of wine or a shot of bourbon quite a lot, but nowhere near the amount that I love beer. Beer is a lifestyle, I've described homebrewing as almost a religion.
If I drank beer soley to get drunk, then an argument that I had built a loophole into my promise would hold water. I don't. I love the taste of beer, the way it tickles my nose when I drink it, that sting of the carbonated liquid on my tongue, the aroma of the hops, and yes Andy, the sound a bottle of beer makes when you open it. I love everything about beer. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I see TSA get involved in brewing. You have to really love beer to keep homebrewing after the novelty wears off. If you didn't love beer, if you couldn't distinguish the subtle differences between homebrew and mass produced beer, if you didn't truely appreciate all the flavor components in that pint, it would be way too much trouble to keep up with.
Last year in addition to having the occasional shot during lent (probably less than 5) I also had a couple of non-alcoholic beers. This year I've decided not to do that. If I'm going to argue that I drink beer for the taste and not the alcohol, then I shouldn't drink beer that has had the alcohol removed. I could argue that it's also had most of the flavor removed as I've only found one near beer that I've really enjoyed.
In the intrest of fairness, I'm not going to drink to drunkeness this lent either. That didn't happen last year, but I want to go on the record with it, as much as a weblog that nobody reads is the record. And truthfully, getting drunk on anything other than beer has been a rareity over the last couple of years. Yes, there was a time in my life that a bottle of Jim Beam was consumed as if it had the shelf life of fresh fruit, but those days are mostly gone. So if I've left myself a loophole, I'm going to use it for social reasons, not for drunkeness.
"Rabbi ben ali BOJ"
Handwriting, Poker, Drinking & Lent
I just found a note I'd written to myself and I can't make anything out of it. It's about a song we're going to be playing in church tomorrow. Apparently it's in the key of E. That's about all I know about it, I can't make any sense out of a single word in the title that I wrote down. Also, I don't know when in the service this song occurs. Maybe if I could remember anything about the song, I do know it was the last one we practiced today. Unfortunately along with poor handwriting I have a poor memory. That's right, I can't remember anything and taking notes does no good because I won't be able to decyper what I've written. So most things in my life are something of a suprise, it does tend to make every day interesting.
Played poker at Rancho de la TSA tonight and was awfully lucky to stay in the game as long as I did tonight. I didn't get squat for cards, and I played too many bad hands in the early going. One great hand at the right time and in the right position allowed me to knock out two players and take the chip lead over the lone remaining player. I caught a pair of aces while I was on the button. I was fortunate enough to catch the good hand, but even more fortunate because I was betting last. If I'd have been betting earlier I might have scared folks off by betting too much. As it was I was also fortunate that the two players who stayed in until the end of that hand also had decent hands that they were willing to take a chance on.
After one poorly played hand head to head against David, he had an insurmountable lead. I was holding my own with the short stack, but it was just a matter of time before he took me out. As it turned out we sort of agreed to play one hand to see if he could knock me out. I'd pretty much had enough at that point and even though I probably wouldn't have played that hand otherwise got knocked out. Congrats Dave, you win all the fake money.
The homebrew was flowing pretty freely, as was the Jagermeister. TSA was in a state I haven't seen him in too often. Ah, the joys of drinking at home. For my part the beer was tough to stay away from, though I did smell some people's glasses. I did enjoy a shot of Jager, hey, I gave up beer for lent, not alcohol! To quote Barney Gumble, "You mean six weeks with only wine!?!?" I seem to recall last year that I didn't have my first drink until a couple of weeks into lent. This year I had one on the third day. It's going to be a long lent.
Friday, February 11, 2005
I was envious. I always thought that would be the coolest thing to sit in with a band. My friend suggest that I learn one song on trombone, complete with a solo, and when he sat in, I could sit in too. That was nice of him, but I wanted any offer to be for me, not just because I knew a drummer.
In the last year now, I've sat in with bands a couple of times. The first time was after 957 played at my sister's house this past summer. TSA had to head out early, so JB and I hung around and played a couple more tunes before we left. JB wanted to check out Charlie's in Box Elder because friends of ours, "Firewater," were playing there. I grew up in Box Elder, and I knew Charlie's to be a real redneck bar. I had never actually been inside, so I thought it might be fun. Let me tell you, it was every bit the dive I thought it was, but the band noticed us right away.
When the band went on break they hung out with us and asked if we wanted to do a song with them. JB acted like it was his every wet dream come true. I didn't act like that, but I probably felt exactly the same about it. It was the coolest thing ever! So we did a couple of tunes with the band, including their favorite song of ours, "Cobra Commander." When I woke up that morning I would have thought it more likely that I would be elected Pope than be playing "Cobra Commander" in a redneck bar.
All of 957 sat in with "Firewater" a couple of other times. After the breakup of the band, though, I went to a "Firewater" show, expecting to meet TSA there when he got off of work. Eric came up and asked me if I wanted to do a song with the band. I said sure even though all I had was my walkin' around C harp. TSA did show up later and he was able to borrow Bill Brown's twelve string. That with my C harp allowed us to do "Got My Mojo Workin'" with five pieces; electric guitar, twelve string, bass, drums and harp. It did get a little 'countryfied' but the effect was good. Best of all, I got asked to sit in. I'm sure they would have asked Andy if he had been sitting with me at the time, but I was there alone and they asked me.
Tonight I met Mike Reardon at the Canyon Lake Chop House. He was scheduled to play there solo, but he had lined up some help, a former guitar student of his named Eric and me. OK, it wasn't a spur of the moment invite to sit in, but it was still awfully cool. And I played songs I had never heard before. Give a harp player a key, and he'll come up with something. Eric had to work early and left shortly after 10pm, so Mike and I finished out the night. With just Mike and myself, Mike decided to dip into the "Slappy is Jebus" catalogue. We did "Brian Wilson" and "Mojo" to finish out the night. Not only did I get to sit in on harp, but I got to sing.
A year ago none of this would have been possible. First of all I didn't have the skill to do it. Second, even if I would have somehow had the skill, I wouldn't have had the confidence. Playing as much as I have in the last year, I acquired both of those traits. People asked tonight again how long I had been playing. Sure I've been noodling on the harmonica for the last 20 years, but I've only actually played it the last 12 months or so. It's amazing how you pick up skill when you're just trying to keep up with the musicians around you.
Mike Reardon was over at Chateau d'TSA as well last night. We got together to play some tunes. Mike does really solid lead work on a guitar, while Andy is a rock solid rhythm player. Mike and I are both trying to learn how not to step all over each other when time comes for a solo, but we're getting there. Learned some new tunes and just noodled around for the rest of the evening. I even picked up an available 6 string and played a few tunes. I dug out the neck rack for the first time in a while and did a couple of thing. Then Mike had Andy and I play some really simple rhythm stuff while he played leads over the top of it. I still had the rack on, so I added a little harp when I could. For the first time ever I improvised on harmonica while playing guitar. Well, while playing guitar intermittently. I played as much as I could, but dropped guitar for harmonica whenever nescessary. Everything sounded good and it was a really good time.
During some of the exchanging of tunes we started talking about the appropriateness of certain tunes for an all ages show. For the record, after hearing "Vibrator Dependant" & "Two Condoms" Mike assured us that they weren't appropriate, funny as hell, but not appropriate. Since Mike had never seen Andy and I play in a bar before, I think he got an idea of how we're sometimes a little stiffled playing an all ages show. We make do, though, and have a lot of fun anyway.
Mike is playing at the Chop House on the shores of picturesque Canyon Lake tonight. TSA is at work, but he asked if I wanted to stop by and do a tune or two. I'm getting pretty comfortable with the tunes he does now, so I may just pack the harps in the car and stop by.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
SSA was there as well, solo as his buddy couldn't make it. I wish I'd had his talent and desire when I was a sophmore. The guy can really play and he seems awfully comfortable after only three weeks of doing this. I've been doing open mics for over a year now and every now and then I get a case of nerves.
I was a little later than normal due to Ash Wednesday services, but I did get to see a lot of people. Missed Joe, but got to see Nate Dennis who I hadn't seen in a while. Sure, he finally turns 21 and I run into him at an all ages show. Nate had a request and it posed a bit of an ethical problem. Nate wanted to hear "Vibrator Dependant." Now that's one of the first songs I ever did at open mics that made people notice me, partly because of the subject matter, partly because of the kazoo solo. I have no moral problem with the song, and in fact it takes place within the context of marriage. The subject matter, a man's perspective of his wife losing interest in her husband in favor of using a vibrator is a little rough. I have no problem doing this song in a bar where everyone is going to be an adult. In a coffee shop that's a little different. Even though it was late and there weren't any really young kids there, you never know who's going to walk in. Still, I don't swear and there's really no sexual suggestion in the song.
I discussed it with TSA when he arrived. He wasn't comfortable with doing it, and since I wasn't 100% sure, it was best to just not do it. That brought up "Two Condoms." Now that's a similar song, no swearing or sexual suggestion, yet the subject matter isn't really something that you'd perform around young kids. Maybe it's because I used more "clinical" terms like "condom" and "virtue" instead of "rubber" and "slut." Andy was a little more comfortable with doing "Two Condoms."
In the end we ended up doing neither. A long list of performers cut us to just two song and bumped Willy Grigg completely. We ended up doing the Gloria Gaynor disco classic "I Will Survive" and an instrumental version of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes." The bad thing about that song is that everyone expects us to sing. Andy likes it as an instrumental, and I have to agree. Plus I don't know the words, not that I couldn't learn them.
I've added some new open mic musician shots to my flickr site. You can click the "My Photos" link to the left and see some of the people I refer to in this blog. If you then choose the "Open Mic" icon on the left side of that page, you'll see a group of photos that's just open mic performer I've run into in the last year or so. Enjoy.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Louis Pasteur Was Right!
I assure you that fermentation still works. This is a very calming fact to me. Creating beer can be a very spritual experience, you're actually encouraging yeast cells to eat, to multiply, to go through their entire life cycle. It's a process that is fascinating to watch and wonderful to ponder.
"Hoepful und Malz, Gott erhalz...."
Curse of the Versatile
So the last two days have been interesting. Both days I got assignments that were supposed to be just part of the day, but things were changed, assignments were changed and I was physically moved to another location. As I write this, I'm at lunch. After two seperate assignments, I'm availiable for a possible third in another building. I changed my plans today to be avaliable to do this for them, not on short notice, but on no notice.
And how is this rewarded? After spending an hour and a half at the middle school yesterday, I was stopped in the office on my way out. It seems the high school needed subs desperately. I got in my car and drove the short distance to the other building. I was in a classroom less than 10 minutes after leaving my previous assignment. At the end of the day, they tried to dock me 15 minutes because I wasn't in the classroom while I was driving from one building to the other. Well, we got that cleared up, but it's pretty clear how little they think of someone who's willing and able to step into any position.
How am I rewarded? Well, I'm good enough to be called in to do anything they need me to do, particularly at the last minute. Apparently I'm not good enough to even be considered for a full time position. They screwed up my application on one position I applied for. Another somehow went to the daughter of a school board member. Funny how stuff like that happens.
I don't mean to be down on the district I teach in. It's not just them, it's everywhere I've ever worked. Think about every job you've ever had. Try to honestly tell me that there wasn't one absolute idiot who got a promotion completely undesevedly. Hell, one job I had, two people in the same position as me got promotions and the stated reason from my supervisor was that they didn't do their job very well, maybe it was time for a change. Yeah, give 'em more money and responsibility so they can really screw things up. Meanwhile, I'm doing my job well, mastering my duties as well as those of others. What the hell do I get? "You're too valuable, we need you right where you are." Oh yeah, then pay me more money, asshole! Fairness and logic apparently aren't required for someone to be in a supervisory position. Having those qualities is probably what made my one stint as a supervisor so mediocre.
Being able to do everything only assures you'll stay right where you are. I've had to find that out the hard way. Unfortunately, there's really not anything I can do about it. Versatility is the best thing I do. Too bad nobody has any respect for it.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Soon it Will Be Beer.....
Last year I brewed a batch of beer to be enjoyed after lent. I gave up beer for lent last year, not a particularly Lutheran thing to do, but I did it. Trying to put balance into my life, I thought brewing during lent would be pretty cool. The other plus was that I always drink my beer before it has any time to age, forcing myself to wait could be a good thing. It was. I've rarerly enjoyed beer that much.
Lent sort of snuck up on me this year. Last year I brewed a couple of weeks before the start of lent and bottled on the day that Germans call "Fette Dienstag." The French have a term for the same day, but I won't dignify those French folk by dropping into their language.
Today is "Fette Dienstag" and I've just started my brewing. So I'll bottle about two weeks into lent and will enjoy my beer after it's been in the bottle about 4 weeks. That's a good age, not as good as the 6 weeks last year, but it will have to do.
The one minus to waiting so long is that I found out that the local shop that carries brewing supplies stopped carrying liquid yeast. So, for the first time since my second batch of beer back in 1998, I'll be brewing with freeze dried yeast. That doesn't cause any real problems, I just won't have as much control as with liquid yeast, but yeast introduced into a sugar-rich environment will produce alcohol (and CO2) and that, of course is the point of the exercise.
Also, the recipe is a bit of a mish-mash. The local shop doesn't carry the usual malt I use, but the stuff they do carry is of a higher quality. It comes in a different size, so though I started with my class "Red Ass Ale" recipe, it will have an extra pound of malt. I was also sort of cleaning out some of the old supplies, so I had only half of the Crystal malt that the recipe calls for. I did have the roasted barley, and I added a little chocolate malt since I had some around. Couple with the different yeast, I realize I won't come up with "Red Ass," but I may make a pretty decent "Crimson Donkey."
Fementation updates forthcoming......
Monday, February 07, 2005
Seventh Graders, Microphones, Lent & Beer
I should have brought my microphone to school today. It's got a weird crackling thing when I turn the pot while plugged directly into the board while playing at church. I think it's a problem with the set up there as it doesn't happen at the open mics I play at or when I'm plugged into a DI (Direct Input) box at the church. It sounds like an impedence mismatch to me, since it works fine when I'm coming out of an XLR cable. The mic is a 1/4" plug, but is pumping out mic level. There's probably an impedence setting on the board at church that I'll have to check on. In the meantime, the pot on that mic shouldn't crackle, so a cleaning is probably in order. Dad says he has some cleaner that we can try out on it.
Lent starts on Wednesday, and while I'm not the most pious person in the world, last year I decided to give up beer for lent. It was a very rewarding decision in a number of ways, not all of them having to do with religion. I, of course, put my own spin on it. I brewed a batch of beer, and left it in the bottle until Easter. I had tried to make an Oatmeal Stout, though it didn't have the right color and the flavor wasn't quite right. I don't think I roasted my oats properly. In any case, I've decided to try it again, but this year I'll use a tried and true recipe, my flagship brew, Red Ass Ale. I like the idea of brewing something with that name for a quasi-religious reason. And drinking it for the first time on Easter only makes it that much more humorous to me. I like to think God has a sense of humor. If he doesn't, I'm surely destined for eternal damnation. Being Lutheran, I find it quite satisfying that Martin Luther enjoyed a good brew from time to time. He was a German, for heaven's sake, his religion never would have taken off in Germany if he didn't drink beer. If beer was OK with Luther, I'm pretty sure it's OK with God. The name thing is a little different, but the label cleary shows a donkey that is red, hence the Red Ass part of the name. Since it uses a top fermenting yeast, and is fermented at relatively high temps, it's an Ale.
So on the way home today I need to pick up 6 lbs. of Amber malt syrup, 2 oz. of Cascade hops and the appropriate yeast. I don't remember the White Labs numerical designation, but the Wyeast designation is 1056. Why do I remember stuff like that, I haven't used Wyeast in 6 or 7 years! I've got the specialty grains at home from previous brewing. It was a small amount of roasted barley (primarily for color) and 1 lb. of Crystal malt. I'm not sure if I have a whole pound, but I'll use up what I've got.
Ooh! And I also need to pick up a guitar string or two! Well, the brewing supplies are more important......
Sunday, February 06, 2005
If You Gotta Lose, Lose Big
So I watched the end of tonight's game at the open mic at Cheers. I'll admit to being a bit nervous about playing tonight because of the combined stock show and Super Bowl crowds. Neither of those groups is there to listen to amateurs play music. As TSA and I were discussing what to play tonight, a woman at the table next to us mentioned being from northwestern Iowa. I told Andy right then that we had to play "Two Condoms" because the woman it was written about teaches at a college in Orange City, IA. The woman overheard and came over to talk. She was from Alton which is just east of Orange City. What followed was a string of jokes about being Dutch which you would only understand if you've spent a considerable amount of time in that part of the country. They did try to get a name out of me, but I wouldn't let it go.
So "Two Condoms" was definitely on the bill. Deciding what else to play, Andy suggested the we do our Muddy Waters covers because we hadn't played those at Cheers in a while. We also decided to throw in the Weird Al cover "You Don't Love Me Anymore" because we hadn't played that in a while either.
We opened with "Rollin' and Tumblin'" which went over like crazy even if I repeated one of the verses, forgetting exactly what I was doing. For some reason, that song prompted a group of women in the back to demand we play "Man of Constant Sorrow" which was most recently featured in "O Brother, Where Art Thou." I actually know that song, but Andy doesn't. He's got the guitar, so we stick with the prepared material. We followed that up with the Weird Al tune. People either get it or they don't. Since the folks sitting at the bar can hear us really good, they were into it. The rest of the bar thinks it's me trying to be serious and tunes me out. Their loss, it's funny as hell. Next was "Two Condoms." As always, it was a crowd pleaser. Andy's mic wasn't on, so I had to add the "Sometimes Three...." line myself. Other than that, it was received well.
We finished up with "Got My Mojo Workin'." I love Muddy Waters, but we've sort of taken that song in a slightly different direction. It's become a little funky and I try to sing it as sweetly as possible. It works, but it's drastically different than the original. Sometime during the second chorus, my voice, without an concious effort from me, started sounding like I'd been gargling gasoline. That's not a bad thing, it fit the song perfectly. I'm not sure if I've ever felt so cool in my life. Adding the verse of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" between choruses seemed to have a little more effect surrounded by my gravely voice. The third and fourth verses I sang sweet again, adding that gravely thing again on the final chorus.
Willy Grigg said on Wednesday that the coolest part of "Mojo" is this thing Muddy did in the chorus, kind of a growly, head shaking, cheek wobbling pure blues vocalization. Having never even attempted that before, and without really thinking about it, I did it. It'll never be as cool as this time, if I ever chose to actually attempt it again, but for one split second in my life, Muddy was groaning through me. I don't claim to know what it was like to be a sharecropper, to be forced north by a shortage of work. I've lived a pretty easy life by comparison, but Muddy was with me at that moment. Any time you do a song by one of those great masters, you're honoring their memory, keeping a little part of them alive. I try never to do a Muddy Waters tune without mentioning that it's a Muddy Waters tune. I try to do those tunes with a respect, even if I don't do them anything like the original. Simply put, I can't do a Muddy Waters blues like Muddy Waters. I've come from a different upbringing than him. The music I grew up with has a different rhytmic emphasis than the music he grew up with. I try to treat it the same emotionally, because emotion is what the blues is all about.
Stuck around a little while longer. Listened to Brian followed by Josh. I'd like to have stuck around longer, but I've got an early day tomorrow, teaching for Bob Schlotman once again, subbing 7th grade math for my old 7th grade math teacher. I really do need to get to bed as I'll be in a class full of 12 year olds in less than 8 hours now........
Philadelphia has had trouble running the ball. With the exceptions of a 30 yard pass to TO on a blatently illegal pick play and a 40 yard jump ball pass to Todd Pinkston, the Eagles have had a little trouble throwing the ball. New England has been able to run the ball when they felt inclined to.... That's where I've been right.
What to look for in the second half:
Philadelphia will run the ball as much as possible when WR/DB Troy Brown is in the game
New England will continue to run the ball well, look for them to keep it on the ground more
Brady will throw a long TD pass to a WR on play action, probably Branch
Not many other thoughts right now. Although the over seems far out of reach right now, New England will score a lot in the second half. We're 34 points away from the over coming in, that's just 5 TD's. A defensive TD by the Pats will probably happen in this half.
Let's hope it doesn't come down to a Vinatieri field goal late, this town couldn't take it......
I'll Never Be an NFL Scout
I never got to watch Payton play in college. There never have been many Div II games on TV. The NFL draft class of 1983 had six quarterbacks taken in the first round. I had the opportunity to watch all of them play. The standout of that QB class coming out of college was John Elway of Stanford. Elway was big and strong, could move quite well and had a cannon for an arm. It was obvious he was going to be a star. He was.
If I were ranking those QB's, I would have put Tony Eason of Illinois second. Eason didn't have the arm strength of Elway (few have or ever will) but he threw an accurate pass. Alas, it didn't work out for Tony Eason, he did QB the Patriots to a Super Bowl, but he wasn't the major reason they got there. His career was relatively short not because of injury, but because he didn't really have all of the tools to play QB in the NFL.
I didn't really notice Jim Kelly until he played in the USFL. He was a fine college player, but his play against the next level of competition proved how good he could be. His numbers in the rival league were gaudy, playing in the pass happy "run and shoot" offense. He turned into a great NFL QB, leading the Buffalo Bills to 4 consecutive Super Bowls.
Todd Blackledge and Ken O'Brien had nice careers. O'Brien led the Jets to the playoffs numerous times. Blackledge had a couple of good seasons with the Chiefs. Both are evidence of how hard it is to evaluate talent. A first round QB should be a guy who makes a big difference on your team. While both had their moments, in the final analysis neither was worthy of a first round selection.
The final QB taken in the first round in 1983 was Dan Marino. I saw Marino play a number of times at Pitt. They ran a pro style offense, and Marino was quite effective in it. Having seen the other 5 QB's play, the best thing I had to say about Marino going into the draft was that he'd be the first to be ready to play. His skills just weren't that remarkable, average in most areas. Playing in the offense he did in college, it seemed obvious that he'd be able to handle the NFL. If I had made a prediction at the time, I would have said that Marino would have the type of career Ken O'Brien had.
Marino went on to be the most prolific passer in NFL history. In his second season, he set the record for single season passing yardage and TD passes (broken by Peyton manning this year - nearly 20 years later). While he only played in one Super Bowl, he still had a stellar career and every Sunday up to his last was considered one of the most dangerous players in the league. The guy who could beat you all by himself. Today, Marino finds himself in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In my analysis of that years players, I was right on Elway, completely wrong on Marino. Marino is in the Hall. The QB position at the pro level is so much more than physical skills. I can complain about the arm strength of Jets QB Chad Pennington all day long, in the end, he's proven himself to be a winner in the league. Enormous skills and physical talent don't assure anything. Sometimes that big, strong armed quarterback ends up being John Elway, sometimes he ends up being Jeff George. It's difficult to tell.
Raiders fans will tell you that the geatest left handed QB of all time was Ken Stabler. He was great, I saw him dismantle the Broncos enough times to realize that. Now I've got ammunition against that argument. Steve Young, great great grandson of Brigham Young, is now the only leftie quarterback of the modern era in the Hall of Fame. Young's years at Brigham Young University (I wonder how he ever got accepted there,,,,) were stellar. He put up big numbers on a team that liked to throw the ball and won a lot of games.
One could argue, however, that every year he got to play against Air Force and UTEP. BYU's competition wasn't the greatest. Two BYU QB's before him had fine college careers. Jim McMahon won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears and had a really nice if injury plagued career. Robbie Bosco sat on the bench for two years in Green Bay. So great BYU QB's had a spotty past. And in the beginning it began to look as if his career would be more like Bosco's than McMahon's. After playing in the USFL, Young ended up being ineffective on some horrible Tampa Bay teams. A trade to San Fransciso left him nailed to the bench behind Hall of Fame signal caller Joe Montana.
When a Montana injury finally gave Young the opportunity to play, he made the most of it. No one in the Bay area ever forgot about Montana, but Young kept the Niners in the playoffs, kept them winning Super Bowls. Now Steve Young joins Montana in the Hall of Fame as well as Marino.
Two players I had my reservations about are going into the Hall this year. Just goes to show how difficult it can be to evaluate talent.
So be careful with my Super Bowl predictions.......