Wednesday, March 30, 2005


The Thanks I Get

You try to do the right thing, you try not to get pissed off, but where the hell does it get you? Nowhere, that's where. So yesterday I get a call to do some subbing. It's going to be for my sister who works with the at risk students. Now normally that wouldn't be something I would want to do, but since they sort of stopped calling me to sub I decided to take it. They called me and told me it would be from 7:45 to 11:45. OK, no problem. Later in the day I talked to a friend of my sister's and mentioned that I'd be subbing for her on Wednesday. The friend thought my sister's appointment was on Thursday, so when I eventually called my sister about this, she assured me that I was right, that she was taking Wednesday off and in passing mentioned that I'd need to be there for 7:00am detention.

Seven am?!? That's not what they told me when they asked me to sub. Yeah, that's when I needed to be in. Now I had two choices. The first was to show up at 7:45 like they asked. I wouldn't want to be accused of not following directions. But no, I decided to do the responsible thing and show up at seven like my sister said I would need to.

Not that it mattered. Since in the office at the high school they were under the assumption that nobody would be around until 7:45, they turned kids away from detention. I was there like I was supposed to be, but they sent people away anyway. I did end up with 3 students, so I saved them having to make up a day.

In the past, I may have given the impression that no one is grateful for my going above and beyond to do jobs that aren't actually mine. In truth, the office staff at the high school is quite impressed when I show up to work in 47 minutes from a dead sleep. Unfortunately it never gets any further than that. That day I showed up to work in 47 minutes let me tell you how they thanked me. They didn't call me for an entire week. And I thank you too.

So why even try? Why try to give your best, to do more than is expected of you when nobody ever notices? Well, for me, I don't know any other way. And what good has it ever done me? None. Absolutely none.

Believe me, if I could allow myself to do stuff half-assed, I would but that's just not what I believe.

But what do I know, I believe it's wrong for a minister shouldn't preach that he wants God to strike a judge dead.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Do What You Do

Some day I'm sure I'll go to an open mic and have absolutely no fun at all. I mean, it's bound to happen, law of averages and what not. But it ain't happened yet and tonight's Borders show was no exception. Ran into Steve Thorpe first thing. He had the mini disk recorder with him that he'll be using to record the Songwriter's Invitational, he wanted to practice with it a little before the recording of this event starts in earnest. He'd apparently had some trouble with it before, but I helped him out a little and it sounds like he got some good stuff tonight.

Playing on my own is always different. I enjoy it, but I'd much rather make music with someone else. If I hadn't hooked up with the Andys at Cheers last February I probably wouldn't be playing nearly as much as I do now. I'd still do the occasional open mic if I only played by myself, but most likely not with the frequency I do now.

On the other hand, I really look at playing solo as a way to try out new material. While I had done Two Condoms with TSA a time or two, it really took off when I did it solo. So tonight I worked out Home Sweet Home, last week I played I Wanna Marry a Stupid Woman. I do some other stuff solo that I've never done with Mr. Welvrig (see Dramatis Personae if you don't know who that is), a couple of Randy Newman tunes, Guilty and Political Science, a bunch of Bruce Springsteen songs, some originals like Treat Me Like a Dog, and the fun sing along (though no one has yet sung along, even though I invite them to in the song) I Know All The Presidents in Order. That last one gets the most amazing array of responses. When I played it tonight, an older woman in the bookstore let out a big "Wooo!" when I was done. I'm not sure the subject matter warrented that, but what the hell I'll take a "Wooo!" from a woman, any woman, any time I can! My favorite responses to that song are the blank stares, as if I've been speaking a foreign language. Sometimes I'll just get a smirk out of someone with it, since it's about the silliest thing someone could write a song about, I'll take it.

Steve Thorpe played Washboard Road tonight, and when he was done I let him know that I had blogged about it. He seemed baffled until I explained what a blog is. Then I explained the story of why I was thinking of the song and the insight it brought into some of my own limitations. We talked about music and "giggle factor" some. He noted that when he plays open mics with some of these younger folks (but I don't think he was talking about me.....) that he sees guitar chords he has never seen before, tries them out and can't make them sound worth a damn. Then again, none of the younger folks can finger pick like Steve. There was a time in my life when I had to be the best at anything I did. I suppose it's admirable to put in the effort to be the best at something, but being the best isn't important. Steve told me once not to apologize before I played guitar. I said I'm not very good but he told me I do what I do. Whatever that is, it seems to reach people. All in all, that's pretty cool. Steve helped me to realize that I don't need to be the best guitar player to be entertaining. It made me realize that even though I'm a pretty good harmonica player, singer and songwriter, I'll never be the best at any of those. That dosen't mean I can't entertain people. It also dosen't mean I can't get better at any of those things, but if I keep doing what I do, I'll be OK.


Monday, March 28, 2005


Studies Show Slappy May in Fact Not Be Jebus....

Last night's open mic was intersting for many reasons, not the least of which was that I was drinking beer. I didn't drink before playing, that's something I've tried to slow down a little bit on. Still, it makes the rest of the night sort of fly by, so I guess it has it's value anyway. I did have waitresses trying to bring me beer all night, though. I guess now I know how a recovering crack adict feels. Actually, I probably don't, and I'm quite glad for that.

So the whole Slappy is Jebus thing went off with a hitch or two. I was forgetting more lyrics than usual last night, that's never good, especially when trying to extoll the virtues of some sort of Plastic Jesus. It wasn't anything I couldn't get through, though. The big problem came on the third tune (after Are You Drinkin' with Me Jesus?, that's right, a rare two Jesus night, it was Easter after all). We had planned to do Vibrator Dependent, but as much as a dug in the big black bag o' harps, I couldn't find my kazoo. That's OK, we can always move onto a different tune quickly. How about Two Condoms? Same sort of song, kind of fit in with what we were trying to do. There was a little mix up on the key, though. The voice works regardless of the key, the harps don't however. I unfortunately didn't notice the different key until I got to the harp solo. Nothing sounds worse than trying to do something a half step off. Still, we overcame that with a little JB style harmonica solo. After the breakup of 957, JB would do some of our own material solo. The first time he played Anti Love Song he said "...and the harmonica goes..." and sang a really dorky and unimaginative harmonica-esque vocalization. I really dug him doing that because I got to turn to anyone sitting near me and say, "You know, I remember the harmonica solo being better than this." I found that even more fun when the person I told it to had no idea what I was talking about. Anyway, we salvaged Two Condoms to some degree and went on to the final tune I Got My Mojo Workin'. Talk about salvaging something, that song probably salvaged the whole set. Joined by Josh on drums, we really tore it up. Again, Josh sort of took off on drums and dared us to keep up, but the song needs to be driving, so as long as he doesn't go completely nuts, that works. My voice trashed, we headed back to our table. Of course, I immediately found the missing kazoo from our failed attempt at Vibrator Dependent.

Ran into some folks I hadn't seen in quite a while. TSA's brother (not SSA) showed up and talked scotch with me for a while. That's scotch the whiskey, not the ethnicity or tape. Susie did a couple of tunes and stopped by the table to say hey. Always good to see her and she may start attending the Dunn Bros. show.

Also while sitting at our table after playing, I overheard a conversation between GF1 and Bruce about ASO. Now normally I would feel bad about evesdropping, but GF1 was pretty loud, obviously not caring who heard. Since he also made reference to some of the issues on the mic, I feel comfortable discussing it here. And since there is a posting under 'News' on ASO's web site entitled Doc Leaves Band, I'm not breaking any news here. All I have to say is that having been through the breakup of 957 was tough enough on me, and we had no radio airplay, only one scheduled gig and no definite long-term prospects. Doc leaving ASO doesn't break them up, but it changes things considerably. With Doc's son being the guitarist that really could make things akward. Add to that some of the stuff I heard about drummer Brad last night, and, well, maybe ASO is down to two guys very soon. The core of ASO has always been Shawn and Gary, with all of the lineup changes this band has been through the two of them have hung together. ASO will continue, I have no doubt. And I am not saying Chambers or Brad are leaving, but both of them make playing out of town gigs tough because of Brad's work and Chambers' schooling. Them playing Rapid City a lot is great for me, but not the best thing for a band that would really like to hit the big time. Whatever comes, ASO will plug on. Best of luck to my favorite local band, the only one that matters.


Sunday, March 27, 2005


Giggle Factor

I used to post on a photoshop contest site called "Worth 1000" which, while it took a lot of time, was mostly a fullfilling experience. On this site, there would be a theme that contestents would have 48 hours to make something out of. I liked the time element, I have photoshop skills but a short attention span. Long, involved photo projects are a bit beyone me, 48 hours to accomplish something was just right for me. One particular contest was called "Where Are My Pants?" The aim was to create a photo of a famous person without any pants on. OK, this is the kind of thing I can do. While it seems like an "in your face" project, the key to something like this is going to be the subtleties, shading and the like. That's right into my wheelhouse. I decided to do a photo of Oprah, it was so long ago that I don't remember why, exactly, I chose Oprah, but I did. You can find my photo of Oprah here.

After the 48 hours have passed, the photos are voted on by members of the site. There's also a jury award, but the aim is to get the members to like your photo. I would always vote, even on contests that I hadn't entered anything in. When I came upon this photo of Superman, I had to giggle. One of my criteria for voting was what I referred to as "giggle factor." If, on first glance, the photo made me giggle or smile, it generally got a pretty high rating from me. This photo had that.

When voting was completed, the Superman photo finished in the top 3, my Oprah photo, while placing respectably, was well behind Superman. I must stress that I wasn't upset by this, but I got to thinking, my Oprah photo took me hours to make, I had to find suitable photos of Oprah, of a lingerie model standing at similar angle. I had to merge the two photos and do touchups to make the whole thing look believable. While there's always more than one way to do a project, the Superman photo would have taken me about five minutes, two Photoshop tools and very little skill to do. At first it somehow seemed unfair, that something I worked so hard on would be beaten by something that took its creator so little time to complete.

It had "giggle factor," though, and the simple fact is that the creator had the idea and I didn't. He shouldn't be penalized for having a great idea even if it is really simple. So I learned something.

I thought of "giggle factor" this morning while listening to a collection of mp3's from the Dunn Bros. open mic. I heard a cut by Steve Thorpe called "Washboard Road." I've heard Steve do this song many times. I think it's a nice song, but never really gave it a second thought. This morning I actually listened:

Washboard Road
by Steve Thorpe

Well Once I saw a highway shining in the sun
Cars and trucks and motorcycles, liftimes on the run
And I turned and I drove up to these mountains from the sea
Now it's a gravel washboard road I'm on
That highway would have had my sanity

So if I had an island, I would not be a duck
I'd sail across the summer shores, drive this pickup truck
It's a rough ride and it's shakin' out the songs inside my mind
Think I had some troubles once
Today I must've left them far behind

These old washboard roads, so many wheels have come this way before
These washboard gravel roads
I heard the echoes of long ago far away outside my door

Now washboard roads lead everywhere past the city lights
Cappucino, lots of friends, music every night
Down at the coffee house I play this old guitar for just a bit
And if I play it well enough
I just might make my gas in tips

These old washboard roads, so many wheels have come this way before
These washboard gravel roads
I heard the echoes of long ago far away outside my door

Now I go down these washboard roads fast as I can drive
Never had a true love here singing by my side
But I drive through the winter snows into the spring
Ask me what I want here
I'll tell you I don't want for anything

These old washboard roads, so many wheels have come this way before
These washboard gravel roads
I heard the echoes of long ago far away outside my door

This is pretty typical of Steve's songs. He's a great songwriter with a real gift for painting a picture of a feeling, if such a thing is actually possible to do with mere words. Add that he's a fine guitar player, fingerpicking on this song, doing things that I'd never be able to accomplish even if I practiced 15 hours a day. And though we play in completely different styles, he's a great harmonica player, too. He impresses me on harp, and I've never seen him just play harp, I've only seen him play while he's playing guitar.

I used to play at Steve's old Sacora Station open mic on Tuesday nights. I played Two Condoms there one Tuesday night, having not played it in quite a while. People loved it, asking me to play it every time I showed up there. I'd put the lyrics here like I did with Washboard Road, but frankly, it doesn't deserve the same treatment. It's just the tale of a skanky old girlfriend, written off the top of my head while actually trying to write something else. It's not a finely crafted lyric, and my guitar and harmonica playing when I'm solo are definitely not anything that anyone would notice. What Two Condoms has is "giggle factor." It makes people smile or laugh out loud. Since that's pretty much what I was going for when I wrote it, I'm happy with it.

But it got me thinking about the Superman photo again. Now I'm the one relying on "giggle factor" instead of actual talent. Then again, making someone laugh is a talent, I suppose I have to remember that.

So what did the talented Steve Thorpe think when he heard the reaction to Two Condoms? Was he upset that my little "giggle factor" ditty got more attention than a well written song, played exceptionally well? No, Steve asked me if he could cover it. He had more respect for "giggle factor" than I did. I guess I learned something again.



First One

First One
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
OK, maybe it wasn't my first beer after lent, but I thought I should post a photo of my enjoying a glass of the new brew since I photo-documented every aspect of the brewing process. Good news! Beer is every bit as tastey as I remember.......

The honor of the first beer after lent, though, was another homebrew, a cream stout brewed by TSA for Tim. Thanks to both of them, one for buying the ingredients, the other for combining said ingredients and allowing a place for the yeast to work it's magic.

That first brew was enjoyed over conversation, as the best beers are. TSA and I discussed religion and those who work under the guise of religion. Heady stuff, then again, the beer had a good head on it, so it was quite fitting. We didn't solve all of the world's problems, but we enjoyed a good brew and gained a better understanding of where we stand on this planet. I've hardly accomplished more in an evening.

Oh yeah, we played poker again. Damn it if I wasn't the first one out again. Pocket 10's aren't much good, even in a six handed game, and that was the best hand I had all night. TSA also failed to win a hand. Dave was out shortly after him, Tim hung in for a little while longer. But no, once again it was ladies' night at Casino TSA. I was busy playing music while the final hands went down, but apparently Corrinne (I really need to learn how to spell her name if I'm gonna blog about her) took out Erica in the end. So in our little Saturday night game, Tim and I are the only ones who have failed to win. Since I can't seem to avoid being the first one out, I'd have to bet that Tim will get to take home all of the fake money long before me. Then again, I'm horrible at predictions.


Saturday, March 26, 2005


Get to Know George Greer Before You Wish Him Dead

George Greer is a husband and father of twins, now adults. As a twelve-year-old, he pitched the first no-hitter in the history of Dunedin, Florida's Little League. While in college he shared a house with, among other people, Jim Morrison of The Doors. Don't let that fool you, though, he was and is a Republican, supporting conservative Barry Goldwater's presidential run in 1964. Greer is a Southern Baptist who offered a kidney to a friend in need of one, something he doesn't like to talk about. He's also received hundreds of emails calling him a 'murderer.' Yesterday, a man in North Carolina was arrested for offering a $50,000 bounty for the death of George Greer. The pastor in the church I used to attend preached last Sunday that he wished God would strike George Greer dead.

That's Judge George Greer, the Pinnelas Pasco circuit court judge who works in the probate division handling wills, estates and guardianships. If you've finally put two and two together, you probably realize that Judge George Greer is the judge who allowed the feeding tube to be removed from Terri Schiavo. He didn't physically remove it, or even order it removed as some have reported. He allowed the husband of Terri Schiavo, her legal guardian, to remove the feeding tube. He is a probate judge, after all, and guardianship is one of his areas of expertise. For those who want to continue to believe the man is a monster, when the appelate court ruled that Michael Schiavo could remove the tube, Greer stayed that ruling until last Friday, allowing the family more time to consider their options.

People want to believe Judge George Greer is a monster. He's simply following the law, and considering that this case has been going on since 1994, it's pretty clear that the part of Terri's family that wants to continue to keep her alive has been adequetly represented. They got the Governor of Florida to step in, they got the state legislature to pass legislation that was ruled unconstituional by the Florida supreme court. The got the congress to pass a law moving the case into the federal court system. They've had ample opportunity.

The family keeps coming up with stuff, though. Yesterday they claimed Terri tried to speak, tried to say, "I want to live." I'm not going to say anything bad about the family or their hope. I wish what they were saying was true, but they're seeing and hearing what they want to believe.

I will say bad things about those who are using this case for their own political ends. Tom DeLay, who could be president some day, stated yesterday that Terri was a gift from God for conservatives to show their desire to protect life. That on Good Friday, the commemoration of God actually sending all of his people the gift of life through his Son. Seeing this case used for political gain is the most callous thing I've ever heard of. I wish nothing good for the Tom DeLay. Don't mistake me, I do not wish any ill on Tom DeLay, I am not wishing that God or some whack-job from North Carolina strike Tom DeLay dead. I wish that Tom DeLay lose any election he may find himself in in the future, particularly if that election should be for President of the United States.


Friday, March 25, 2005



Homer Map
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
Homer Map
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
What the hell do polls tell us?

So you're sitting at home, maybe settling in to watch a little TV or spend time with your family. Maybe you're just sitting down for supper after a long day at work. The phone rings. No, it's not a telemarketer, it's a pollster. Truthfully I don't see a whole lot of difference. I got called by a number of pollsters this week, taking a survey on fast food restaurants. Since I can't remember the last time I ate at a fast food restaurant I just hung up. It didn't stop them from trying again later.

So I'll usually just hang up. Sometimes I'll give them bogus information. That can be a lot of fun if I've got the time. And that's my point about polls, nobody is obligated to tell the truth and by the nature of the polling, I can really get away with some serious fibbing. I've told pollsters I'm black, asian and eskimo. What do I care? And what does it really matter if I lie? A poll is in no way legally binding. And the fact of the matter is that nobody really pays attention anyway.

Take the current Schiavo case. A majority of people polled don't want the government involved in this case. Interestingly, the numbers are pretty consistent across the board, Democrats, Republicans, Church-goers, etc. People don't want the government involved. The Government got involved though, regardless of what the people think.

An early ABC poll on this matter was, in my opinion, flawed. The poll referred to a "Brain Dead" person, and asked if people would remove life support. Neither is the case in the Schiavo matter, but the press reported on the results of this poll as if they were. A more recent CBS poll has adressed these issues and the results are similar to those in the ABC poll.

But bad polling is rampant. Also, people seem to think that just asking a question will give insight to a situation. While working in TV, a competing station ran the following poll/crawl during local programming: "Are You in Favor of Nude Basketball? To Vote 'Yes' call ###-####, 'No' call ###-####" Confused? I wasn't at the time, but recognized a faulty poll when I saw one.

First, a good piece of polling must allow for any potential response. That's why in polls you will see responses like "No Opinion" or "None of the Above."

More importantly, respondents have to understand the issue that they're being polled on. Confused by my "Nude Basketball" example? You should be. The question was ridiculously vague. The poll question was referring to a local high school basketball team that ended their practices with a free throw shooting drill. In a variation of 'strip poker,' players had to remove an item of clothing when they missed a shot. I'm sure the coach figured it was the end of practice, the boys were heading to the showers anyway, what's the harm in getting naked a little early? It turned into a minor scandle as some parents caught wind and made a fuss.

So the good folks at KELO-TV decided to run a little poll. Without any explanation of the issue, KELO asked "Are You in Favor of Nude Basketball?" A friend of mine later said she wanted to call and say "yes" and ask if they were forming leagues.

The point is that it was a bad poll, it didn't explain the issue, was too broad and didn't allow for all responses. I like to think it was thought up by an intern and put on the air by a rogue master control operator, but the fact is that it was poor news judgement. Since this happened well over 10 years ago, I'm sure the offending people are all gone.

I like to think we're more poll savy now, but then ABC uses a faulty poll in the Schiavo case. My advice, just don't answer

Does this look infected to you?


Thursday, March 24, 2005


Get Out and Play!

The open mic scene in Rapid City is getting awfully good. I never fail to be amazed by the depth of talent in this area. On top of that, there's plenty of places for someone who enjoys playing a little bit. The week starts with the Cheers Sunday night open mic hosted by Shawn Bitz and Gary Rose of Abby Someone. This open mic has been my home base for quite a while and Shawn and Gary have been really great at supporting local musicians. For a long time this was the only show I played (I've won so many t-shirts and hats in their drawings that I can go a whole week withouth wearing a shirt I've bought). For a long time, it was the big dog show in town, but the success of this show has brought quite a few others about.

Currently in RCSD, there isn't any place to play on Monday or Friday nights, but every other night of the week, a musician can find a place to play in front of a crowd that may or may not be receptive. Tuesday's is Border's book store hosted by Joe. This is a new show hosted by a fellow open micer. This past week, only the show's third, had a full set of musicians and some fantastic performances. I certainly hop this show can keep going.

Wednesday is the day for Mike Reardon's open mic at Dunn Bros. Coffee. From relatively humble beginnings, relegated to the back room, this show has grown to be a big show, the best all ages show in the area. This past week, Mike had everyone sign up for a time slot to prevent open mic anarchy. Don't let any images of a rigid nature enter your head though, this is a fun show, the crowd is lively and as Mike pointed out last night, attractive women seem to keep showing up. Hey, what else am I gonna do with my Wednesday nights? Additionally, you can check out photos and audio from the show at

If you want to play on Thursdays, it's a short drive to Knight's Cellar in Spearfish. Hosted by one of my favorite area musicians, Steve Thorpe, this show is worth the trip. Some will enjoy owner David Potter's turely amazing beer selection, some will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. I like the show itself, an amazing mix of talent in nearly every style. The most varied selection of music at any open mic in the area.

Steve also hosts a new open mic at the Sacora Station in Piedmont on Saturday nights. This show has only been going a couple of weeks now, but we had a full slate of musicians this week. If I can drag TSA away from his Saturday night poker game, maybe Slappy is Jebus will start playing 3 nights a week. There was a nice non-musician crowd there as well this week. It's always nice to play for folks you don't know.

There're other shows in the area as well, folks at any of these open mics can clue you in to other places to play. I've just listed 5 places an aspiring musician can play. Very seldom does anyone incurr any emotional or physical scars from their 15 minutes or so on stage. There's nothing stopping you from playing someplace. Lack of talent? Hell, I played 5 nights last week.......


Wednesday, March 23, 2005


The List Grows Longer

Now three judges from the Eleventh US Cicuit Court of Appeals have refused to hear the Schiavo case. Hold on, Pastor Beaverson, the list of people that you want God to strike dead may grow as the family is now petitioning that court for a full hearing by the entire court of 12 judges. Anyway, that's 3 more on the list for sure, and possibly 12. Do you want God to strike the original 3 dead twice?



Open Mics, Bill Collectors & God's Wrath

Joe's open mic on Tuesday's is turning into a pretty cool scene. We had a nice crowd last night, a lot of the same folks, but when Steve Thorpe drops in to show his support, yoou know you're on your way to a successful venture. The one suprise was local band Courderoy Vinyl who stopped in to do some tunes, a couple of them brand new which is always a treat. Actually Willy Grigg showed up as well and did a new song that he wrote this weekend while driving. Writing songs while driving is cool! I guess I added to that theme as I performed the new song "I Wanna Marry a Stupid Woman" for the first time. TSA has heard it, but we haven't played it anywhere yet. Sorry TSA, you're mentioned so much that you don't get a hyperlink. OK, TSA, maybe just this once......

So I got a call from a credit collection service a few minutes ago. It really pisses me off because it's something I cleared up about a year ago, actually it was a misunderstanding, no money was actually owed. Since we get a free credit report in South Dakota now, I had checked my credit a few days ago and nothing was on it, save a credit card bill that I had just sent off the day before. Nothing from this credit company that is now harassing me appeared. So, first I get this computerized call that absolutely mangles my last name (no, not Julius......) which puts me in a surly mood right off. Then the voice says I owe them $70.11. Like I say, this is a misunderstanding, I never owed $70.11. So I call the company. Admittedly, I'm mad and I let the expletives fly. The operator is OK with me, but I belittle her for not being able to pronounce my name correctly. Eventually she just hangs up. Hangs up on me!?!? I call right back, this woman nearly immediately hangs up on me! Now I'm livid! I call back A THIRD TIME and just lay into the operator. Finally, on this third call, the operator tells me that this statement is in dispute. Great, that's all I wanted to hear. We could have avoided a lot of yelling if the first operator had said that instead of hanging up on me. I ask to speak to her supervisor. I expect, I even hope, that I'll be hung up on again. No such luck as "Beverly Smith" (I'm sure it's her real name....) comes on the line. She tries to tell me that my statement is in dispute. Fine lady, your third flunky finally told me that, I want to discuss why I had call 3 times to get someone to tell me that. "Beverly" is toting the company line, she's not offering me anything. OK, this is typical, but I figure I'll just waste as much of her time as possible. That's actually fun with telmarketers if you have the time. In any case, I demanded that the second operator be fired ("what was her name?" "I don't know, she hung up on me before I got a name out of her...."). Ain't gonna happen, but I told Beverly that I'll be getting in touch with her later this week to see what's going on. I'll probably give her a call on Friday.

Read some stuff on the Schiavo case this morning. One blog made the case that the poll taken showing that most americans are in favor removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is flawed. Looking at his discussion makes me agree with him. And I almost never agree with this guy, he's a little too far to the right for my tastes, but good insight can come from anywhere. Check out Sibby's take at:

Sibby once ripped off one of my cartoons without my permission and posted it on his blog. Don't worry, there won't be a lawsuit, and it's kind of cool that someone pretty far from me politically can find the humor in something I do. On the other hand, Sibby once accused me of "gay bashing" with this cartoon. I guess his insights aren't 100%.

Fair is fair, though. If Sibby can point out the inherent unfairness in an ABC poll, I can point out the inherent unfairness in the quarter frames used by Fox News when reporting on the Schiavo case. A "quarter frame" is the little graphic over the anchor's shoulder when they report on a story. The photo used of Terri Schiavo is that of a vibrant woman before the tragedy that has brought us to this point, a photo that was obviously taken over 14 years ago. Try using a 14 year old photo when reporting on any other story. I think a more accurate photo would be one of a woman who hasn't been out of bed in 14 years, but what do I know, I left the TV business over 3 years ago. I would make this comment on Sibby's blog, but he doesn't allow comments. Draw your own conclusions......

New on Pastor Beaverson's list of people he wishes God would strike dead, the editors of the Rapid City Journal for the editorial they ran in today's paper. OK, Pastor Beaverson isn't a monster, I only heard him say he wanted a judge struck dead by God, I never heard him say he wanted me or the editors of the Journal struck dead, I'm just following his logic to my own conclusions. I admit the possibility that the editors of the Journal and myself could be safe from Pastor Tom's, and by extension, God's wrath.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005



So I wonder if Pastor Beaverson wants God to strike the Federal Judge dead who refused to reinsert the feeding tube into Terri Schiavo? He did want the judge who removed it on Friday struck dead, along with all the judges who allow gay marriages and abortions.

Judges in cases like this are only interpreting the law, law that was created by legislative bodies, bodies that were elected and representing the population. Judges then look at a law when conflict arises. Sometimes it's found that the law itself is illegal, being in conflict with the state or federal constitution. In any case, the judge isn't working with his personal feelings, he's looking at that conflict, deciding if the law is valid or not. Any judge who agreed that a law was constitutional but struck it down anyway because of his personal beliefs shouldn't be a judge anymore. That's not the way the judicial system is supposed to work in this country.

In the same manner, Pastor Beaverson believes pornography is wrong. The courts have continually allowed pornographic material under First Amendment protection. If Pastor Beaverson didn't fight against it, just because it's legal, he shouldn't be an LCMS pastor anymore.

The difference is that I've never heard a judge say that they wish Pastor Beaverson would be struck dead.

I happen to agree with the judge in the Florida case. Terri Schiavo's husband says she wanted to die. Even if that is complete hogwash, he is her legal guardian. Unless Terri can tell a doctor that she wants to continue to be kept alive, it is up to her husband to make those decisions. That's it. It's over. It's pretty cut and dried.

Or at least it would be if the Governor of the state this is all happening in wasn't the President's brother. It would be over if the attention drawn to this case by that fact hadn't turned it into a political circus. What the hell was congress doing rushing back into session on a Sunday night to create and pass legislation aimed at just one person? Political grandstanding at the highest level.

So I wonder if Pastor Beaverson wants God to strike me dead because I don't agree with him. That's the thing about hate. It's a whole lot easier to wish something horrible on someone you don't know.......


Sunday, March 20, 2005


Judged By Man

Judge Rowland Barnes protected the Constitution of the United States of America. I'm sure he let men go free who he knew in his heart were guilty, but there was not enough evidence to convict them. I'm sure many of his rulings didn't completely agree with his personal beliefs, but judges aren't supposed to be about personal beliefs, they're supposed to be about upholding and interpreting the law.

I don't know much about Judge Rowland Barnes other than he was a judge in the Superior Court in Atlanta, Georgia. He was gunned down in the courthouse this past week by a prisoner who overpowered his guard, took the guard's gun, killed a court reporter and Judge Barnes, wounded others and then escaped on foot. A tough day for all of those involved I'm sure and I certainly hope a troubling day for us all.

Judges defend our rights, the rights guarenteed us by the Constitution. Sometimes their decisions don't agree with what we think we'd do in their shoes, but Judges don't make law, they interpret it. Their decisions are, ideally, not their own, but simply a carrying out of laws that already exist. I don't know much about Judge Rowland Barnes, I don't know if he was considered a liberal or a conservative on the bench, I don't know if he was in any way controversial. I don't know how or if he had ruled on some of the more controversial subjects of the day. The one thing I do know about Judge Rowland Barnes is that he didn't deserve to die.

Perhaps if I did resarch on Judge Rowland Barnes I would find out that he interpreted laws in a way that I didn't agree with. Maybe I'd find out that he was one of those judges who overstepped his bounds, who tried to wield more power than his office deserved. I simply don't know. I do know that if a judge is a bad judge, there are ways that the judicial system can deal with him. I know the system isn't perfect, but the system is designed to get rid of bad judges. Given time, it will eventually rid itself of those who don't belong there. I believe in the system.

This week in Florida, another judge interpreting the laws of this country ordered a feeding tube removed from a brain-damaged woman, a decision that, if allowed to stand, will eventually kill Teri Schiavo. I know even less about the judge or judges who made this decision than I do about Judge Barnes. I can tell you with the utmost confidence though, that those who made this decision are human. Being human, they are not celebrating a decision that causes the death of another human. Also, this was not a single person's decision, rather a judge's interpretation of existing laws. It is an example of a judge doing his or her job, a job that I'm sure isn't easy on the best of days. One thing I can tell you about the judge that made this decision is that, just like Judge Rowland Barnes, he or she does not deserve to die.

Shortly after 11am this morning in a Palm Sunday sermon at Zion Lutheran Church in Rapid City, South Dakota, Pastor Tom Beaverson, a former non-commisioned officer in the United States Air Force stated that when he heard the news that a judge in Forida had ordered the feeding tube removed from Teri Schiavo, that Pastor Bearverson wished that God would strike that judge dead. He went on to state that, at that point, he wished that judges who allowed abortions and gay marriages be struck dead by God as well. He was making the point that Jesus came to earth as King on Godly terms, not earthly terms and that God had a much more lasting plan for his Son, one beyond the confines of our earthly existence. I understand completely the point Pastor Beaverson was making, God acts on this earth on his terms, not ours. Yet in a week where a judge was murdered in a courthouse, where the family of another judge in Chicago was killed because of rulings that judge had made, this was the most shocking thing I have ever heard in a church.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has every right to be opposed to gay marriage and abortion. The LCMS should celebrate and protect the sanctitiy of life. That is, among other things, their duty. When an ordained member of this religious body reveals that he wants God to visit death upon duly appointed members of the government who don't agree with his church's teachings, a line has been crossed. I'm not comfortable being anywhere near this line. I'm certainly not comfortable with this as a topic in sermon celebrating the triumphant entry of Jesus into the city of Jersusalem the week of his death and resurrection.

This is the type of attitude that has lead misguided people to bomb abortion clinics, to kill doctors who perform abortions, to kill a young gay man just a few hours away from Rapid City in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The most shocking thing about this morning for me, is that I seem to be the only person who was shocked by this. I truely hope not. I hope at least one other person out there was as upset by this as I was and continue to be. Under this type of leadership, I'm affraid of what the congregation at Zion is capable of. I'm not sure I want to continue to be a part of this congregation.




I spent the beginning of last evening getting slap around by the poker bunch at the TSA compound. I didn't know it was possible to get knocked out of a game of hold 'em that quickly. I really took it on the chin, played some hands I shouldn't have, threw away that 5-9 that would have been a winner (made trip 5's on the river) and wasn't the most intelligent wagerer. But I did not take a dive to get to the Piedmont open mic any sooner. I want that to be completely clear. Card is cards. Open mics is open mics. Slappy is Jebus.

Headed off to the Piedmont after being a good sport and dealing a few hands for the remaining poker masters. Erica was short stacked and if I were a betting man, I was playing poker you know, I'd have bet that she got to be the dealer soon after I left.

Author's update - 3/21/05 - Erica actually won somehow! So I now I've proven that I can't play the game or predict it's outcome. Maybe its just time to give it up.......

We had a pretty good turnout in Piedmont for a relatively new open mic. I got there and it was just Steve Thorpe, Glen and Victor, but people started showing up while I was playing, Joe, Aaron and Uncle Bill. I was playing "Home Sweet Home" when Joe walked in the door, he seemed pleased. He requested "Beer is the Answer," though I already had a request of "Plastic Jesus" from Victor and the unstated, but very real request of "Two Condoms" by just being in the Sacora Station. Gotta love requests, since left to my own I will always make the wrong choice, requests take the pressure off of me. You'll have at least one person in the audience who's into what you're playing.

We had a bit of a non musician crowd, which will hopefully keep this show alive. People seemed to enjoy what was going on and I had one exchange with a gentleman playing pool about the song "Beer is the Answer." The highlight of the evening, though, was Uncle Bill. He told everyone to get their guitars out (though I think he was happy that I actually put mine in the case while he was saying that) and play along. I ended up in the co-pilot seat next to Bill as we all played an old Mamas and the Papas song adding harp on something I'd never played on before. Bill's whole set went like that, everyone playing the rest of the bar singing along. I never realized how much fun it could be to play a Johnny Horton song with a bunch of folks in a setting like that. And, of course, I got to just play harmonica and singing backup like I want to do anyway. A good night.

As I was driving home, I realized that including last Sunday, I played 5 nights this week, only missing Monday when there's no open mic and Thursday because I would have had to make it all the way up Spearfish. A far cry from the previous week when I skipped out on both of the shows I normally play. I guess I'm over what I was going through.


Saturday, March 19, 2005



I spent $25 dollars this morning. It was on something that has affected my life greatly since I bought. Last night the mouse for my computer died as I was trying to download some Steve Thorpe songs off of the acrossroads site. So I had supper, tried to revive the mouse a few times but decided it would be best to just by a new one. I headed out to Office Depot or Office Max, I honestly can't tell them apart, to buy a new one. Whichever store I went to (you know, the one in "The Gap") was closed because I live in Rapid City. So I just kept driving and ended up at the Canyon Lake Chop House and thought I'd drop in on Mike Reardon. I honestly didn't go there to play, but the first thing Mike asked was if I had my harps. I did, so I ended up doing a couple of songs with him.

But back to the mouse. I never realized how much I depend on the stupid thing. A big portion of my communication with other folks is with my computer, either email or IM. Well, that was out, as well as surfing the net or listening to music since my whole CD collection is encoded to mp3. This morning I couldn't read the paper on-line like I do most mornings. In short my life was sort of turned on its ear. So first thing this morning I headed out to the Mac shop to buy a new mouse. Turns out I didn't need to head out first thing in the morning since the store didn't open until 10am because I live in Rapid City. In any case, I bought the new mouse, plugged it in first thing when I got home and my life has been back to normal ever since. Whew!

It got me to thinking what would happen if my computer ever got destroyed/lost/stolen. My life is in there. I don't keep a paper address book any more because all of that is on the computer. I have thousands of photos that only exist on my hard drive as well as video and text files of songs I've written or are working on. For 14 hours I couldn't access any of that. What would I do if I could never access any of that information again? Face it, I'm mousetrapped.

I suppose I ought to do something to change the situation, but the computer is just so damn convenient for keeping my information. And there's just so much information that printing/copying it would be a daunting task. I gotta do something, though, and soon. I suppose that's a task for the next couple of weeks.

Steve Thorpe is hosting a new open mic in Piedmont. It's tonight (Saturday) at the Sacora Station. He used to host an open mic at the same location on Tuesday nights. I played that show solo as TSA works on Tuesday nights which is good for me. I think it makes me appreciate Andy that much more when I try to play guitar for myself. Damn, I'm really not that good! For what ever reason, the locals who attended that show loved me. First off it was a bar, and all the patrons tended to sit at the bar. Right there I've got a leg up. People who sit at the bar love me. Then, because it is a bar, I was able to play the material I can't play at Dunn Bros. Hey, I'm all in favor of an all ages show, but sometimes I just want to get filthy. That's what I did at Sacora Station. My efforts were appreciated. I have no idea what kind of crowd will be there tonight, but I hope it's like the ones that were there last time I played there. Well, I hope there's more people as the lack of customers was the reason the Tuesday night show shut down.


Friday, March 18, 2005


What's in a Name?

So I'm teaching sixth grade art today and I realize that one of the female students has the same name as a pornstar. I'm sure this says more about me than any of you wanted to know, but it struck me as odd. There're a few possibilities here, of course. First off, I suppose it could all just be innocent, her parents have no idea what they did. Second, her parents could really be into porn and thought it would be "neat" to name their kid after someone famous. Third, the girl was absent so I never got a look at her, but since most pornstars have the brains of a sixth grader anyway, it could have been the actual pornstar just finishing up her schooling.

And that's the thing about women in porn, they just don't last that long. Even if her parents did name her after a pornstar on purpose, most porn girls will be "used up" by the time the girl is old enough to be teased by other kids at school about her name.

Then again, does a name have any bearing on a potential career? Jerry Seinfeld used to do a bit about naming your kid "Jeeves." If you do that, he's probably going to end up being a butler. Not much chance that he'll be a mafia hitman. I suppose it would be the same thing if you named your daughter "Seka," or "So-Horney Weaver." OK, the second one was just silly, and besides, she'd probably end up being a stripper.

On the way to my folks house after work, I drove on Swallow Drive. Yeah, I know it's probably named after the species of bird, but imagine being a high school girl, you want to give directions to your new boyfriend, you tell him you live on Swallow Drive. Hey, I was once a high school boy, I'd have had wood the whole way over to her house. Don't even get me started about a girl who lives on Easy Street.


Thursday, March 17, 2005


Speedy Trial?

I don't know a lot about the publishing field, but I do know that it's impossible to publish a book overnight. People I know who've tried to or actually have gotten something published have told me about all the work, all the delays, every little thing that can go wrong to slow things down along the way. And that's just the publishing process, let's not forget about the time it takes to write a book of any sort. The author really has to pour themselves into it. Even treating it like a real job, writing and researching eight hours a day, it will take a substantial amount of time to come up with a manuscript that's even fit to begin the publishing process.

I was driving home from work today, listening to Sean Hannity (pompus blow-hard that he is), and he was interviewing 3 people; a juror from the Scott Petersen trial, Petersen's sister who recently wrote a book about him and why he's guilty, and Amber Frey, Petersen's skanky love interest who, coincidentally, has also written a book about Scott Petersen. The two books have both been #1 on the New York Times' best seller list. Now let's remember that Pertersen killed his wife on Christmas Eve 2002. Already two books about him have been #1 best sellers. Best sellers before his trial was even completed! Yesterday Petersen was sentenced to death, I believe the Vegas over/under on the execution date is September 17, 2020. If you think the trial took a long time, wait until we go through all of the death penalty appeals.

Sometime in July or August of 2003, former South Dakota Governor and then Representative, Bill Janklow, was involved in a traffic accident that took the life of Randy Scott, a Minnesota motorcyleist. The accident occured in Janklow's home county, complicating the jury selection for so public a figure. Still, a jury was selected and the case went to trial in November. That's November of 2003, just a couple of months after the accident. The actual trial lasted six days. That's days, not weeks or months, but six days. They even had a day of the trial on a Saturday to get it over that much quicker. Janklow was found guilty after a couple of hours of jury deliberation and sentenced to 100 days. A man commited a crime that took another man's life, was tried, convicted and served his sentence in the time frame of about half a year.

Sometime in July or August of 2003, police raided Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch, apparently found evidence to bring Jackson to trial on child molestation charges. Jury selection began late in 2004. The trial began a couple of weeks ago.

So Janklow's situation was settled before Michael Jackson's jury was even selected. Look at some other high profile court cases; Martha Stewart (a personal favorite of mine), Scott Petersen, Robert Blake. Petersen was sentenced yesterday, Blake was acquited yesterday, Stewart got out of prison last week. These cases all came about around the same time as the Janklow case, yet Janklow was convicted and has been out of jail for about a year now. His appeals have already been heard. This case is done, history. Anyone think we've heard the last of these other cases?

What happened to a speedy trial? Sure Janklow wasn't a public figure on the level of Jackson or Stewart, but he was a public figure. There was trouble with his appeal since Janklow had appointed a number of the judges on the state court of appeals. This problem was simply overcome. What's going to happen if we find out the judge in the Jackson trial has ever been to a Michael Jackson concert or, God forbid, owns a copy of Thriller? Controversy! Delays! Mistrial!

If I'm ever going to commit a high profile crime, I'm going to do it right here in South Dakota. I got better things to do with my time than spend a couple of years in court. I'll need to get started on my tell all book........



Just Another Day

Happy March 17th to you! Some of you will no doubt be referring to this day by a different name, I will too, it's the catholic feast day of the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. I am not catholic, I am not Irish, I recognize the gravity of this day to those who are Irish, catholic or both, good for them. What I don't recognize is the need for all of us to celebrate. If you want to go to mass or sing a celtic song, great. If you want to use this day as a excuse to drink until you puke and act like a total ass then you've only bought into the marketing produced by the beer companies.

I love Irish beer, Guiness in particular, but any good stout like Murphy's or Boddington's. Did you ever notice that it's not green? There is no way to make beer green save adding food coloring to a keg. The weak-ass mass produced american beers really take color well and people will be swilling it down later on tonight. I can proudly say that I've never drunk a green beer and, short of the use of deadly force, never will. By the way, Killian's Irish Red isn't made in Ireland, it's produced by the Coors corporation in Golden, Colorado. You go ahead and pay that import price for it tonight if it makes your drunken irish experience more "authentic." Just remember to take your passport along next time you go to Colorado.

I don't want to be pinched because I'm not wearing green today. I don't much care for green. Maybe if I were Irish or catholic I would, but I'm not so I won't. I won't be saying "Top of the mornin' to ye!" either, though I can actually speak with a passable irish accent. I certainly won't be singing Danny Boy. I may listen to some U2, but because I like U2, not because it's March 17th.

I'm German and Lutheran. While I was in grade school the teacher never put up a bulletin board decorated with scenes from Oktoberfest. But every year I had to come into a classroom filled with green, shamrocks everywhere. I certainly didn't want the teacher to nail 95 Thesis to the front door of the classroom, that's part of my religion, it's personal. So why did I have to mention the man who brought Christianity Ireland and (fictionally) drove out all the snakes? The irish have leprechauns, we Germans have Lorelei. Both are myths. Why do you know what a leprechaun is? Why don't you know who Lorelei is? Why are we teaching irish myths in schools but not those of other cultures?

I live in a part of the country that was settled by europeans from the continent, Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, Bohemians, Czechs, etc. Yeah, there were some Irish, English, Scots, etc., but they were the minority. The state I live in doesn't have Columbus day, rather we have Native American day. I applaud that for a number of reasons. I'm not going to get into the revisionist history of how Columbus was an evil man, I applaud it because we have a lot more Native Americans in South Dakota than we do Italian Americans.

I'm not against ethnic celebrations. Our country was built by people of lots of different ethnicities, they should all be celebrated. Let's not over do it with the irish though.

.....and by the way, Oktoberfest starts in September, someone inform the beer companies......


Wednesday, March 16, 2005


SNAFU (and I Hope You Know What it Stands For)

No call to sub again this morning. Apparently if you tell them no, they stop calling you. Also they don't seem to reward people who say yes under the worst of conditions. Well, I can't win, so I won't try. But I did get a call at about 8am, they wanted someone for a half day. They gave me three choices, high school math, middle school math and high school computers. As it turns out, the computers was actually computer graphics, something I know a little bit about, but they didn't actually tell me that. No I chose high school math, simply because I'll be teaching high school math tomorrow.

It only goes to reinforce my belief that given a choice, even a blind choice, I will chose the path that's absolutely wrong. Let me tell you about my day. I show up on time (but not a second before, screw them, if getting to work in 47 minutes from a dead sleep isn't good enough, being 5 minutes early isn't going to impress them) and pick up my keys, head down to the room I'm subbing for. He's still there which isn't too suprising, he's taking a half day after all. But he's not taking a half day, he's not taking any time off, he's staying and doesn't need a sub. So I head back to the office. They walk me down to another class room that needs a sub, his sub has already arrived. So I go back to the office again and let them figure out what to do with me. They're going to pay me, oh, I've completely decided that. I'm not going home, but if I do, they're going to pay me anyway.

So the first thing I do is the front security desk, the same thing I did a couple of weeks ago. You remember, the job opening they screwed up my application on. The job they had already picked who they were going to give it to because the person wasn't doing the job she held at the time well enough. Remember that? Anyway, I relieved her for lunch. She actually took some extra time for lunch, not that I complained, what the hell else was I going to do?

After that they decided I should spend the rest of the afternoon in study hall. Oh joy! None of the kids want to be there and neither do I, this should be fun. So I've got three periods of that and then I'm done with my day. Fifth period was a breeze, the kids were good and there weren't any problems. The bell rang and the kids and other teacher left.

I had taught for 5-55 a couple of weeks before. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered that she had study hall sixth period. You guessed it. Another teacher, 5-55 and me, oh yeah, and a bunch of kids that didn't want to be there. So the other teacher leaves, now it's just me and 5-55. Actually things were quite civil, we had a nice talk about just odd stuff, about how the wireless router I bought her still isn't working into her son's room. Some "experts" couldn't get it working either, so I don't feel so bad.

It wasn't too strange, she was just an old friend. It wasn't until much later that I thought, "Oh yeah, I used to sleep with her!" That's probably the thing I was always worried about most with old girlfriends, but I guess I'm becoming an adult!

Finished out the day then caught a ride to the middle school with my sister to see my niece's play. Hey, it was a musical ghost chasing comedy thing. It was alright, I really enjoyed myself.

Then it was off to my folks for a bit to eat (pizza) and a little quality time with Julian. After that it was the open mic at Dunn Bros. Mike was back from his trip to Arizona, New Mexico and California. I opened the show with him. Enjoyed the rest of the performers, was dissapointed that Allison form Tuesday night wasn't there, but people have lives outside of the open mic scene. TSA and I did a few tunes late, very late as it turned out, pretty much just Mike, Steve Thorpe, Willy Grigg and Uncle Bill. OK, if I'm only going to play for 4 people, those 4 are pretty close to the top of the list.

Now it's off to bed. I'm in at school tomorrow morning teaching math. Joy! I had ninth grade algebra in that same room, though that's basically a good memory as it was the last math class that I ever really had a good grasp on the material. Hopefully I won't make too much of a fool out of myself tomorrow.

For those interested in these kinds of things, I've created a listed of people I've mentioned in the blog, with a short description of them and/or explanation of their nickname. I call it Dramatis Personae, something I picked up from a bad book I read once. Use that hyperlink or the "Dramatis Personae" link in the links section. From there you'll also be able to link to photos of most of the subjects on my Flickr photo sharing site. This page is a work in progress, and I'll try to keep it updated as people are added to this blog.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005


A New Open Mic

OK, first off, my apologies to Joe for not making the inagural Border's open mic. Of course, last week I missed my two 'regular' open mics, Cheers and Dunn Bros. so I hope that makes things a little better.

Border's has a little coffee bar area in the front of the store, and it's a nice little venue to play in. Plus the walk in traffic allows you to reach a completely different audience than any other place I normally play. OK, maybe that woman and her six year old daughter looking for a hardcover Dr. Seuss book aren't my core audience, but if they stop and listen for a moment, and leave with a smile (or just shaking their heads) I'm happy.

I tried out some new stuff tonight. I've been playing a Springsteen song, Sherry Darling for quite a while now, I'm not sure if it's a Slappy is Jebus kind of song, but I like playing it. I also debuted I Know All the Presidents in Order, the high school kids in the crowd didn't know what to think, but Brian enjoyed it and accused me of showing off. Knowledge is a good thing. Speaking of 'Good Things,' I also debuted Home Sweet Home, the Martha Stewart homecoming song. I did have to whisper the "she was someone else's bitch" line, but that became somewhat of a running joke through the night for all the performers. It also elicited a response of "It's a Good Thing" from Joe and a suggestion that I should do an album of songs about Martha Stewart. I can see it now, It's a Martha Stewart St. Patty's Day.

It was good to see Brian play again. Every time I see him he's a little more confident as a singer. We talked a little bit about comfort in music, he'd be happy to just play bass, I'd be happy to just sing backup vocals and play harp. Seems we used to be in a band where that's what both of us got to do, but that just didn't work out. But he did play bass for me on I Will Survive and I played harmonica for him on Conservative Man, so we got to help each other out a little in that department. His songs Staring at the Ceiling and Let's Get Hammered Again are really turning into great songs. I hope I see Brian at more open mics, not just because he's a good bass player (an open mic can never have enough unselfish bass players), but because he's a heck of a songwriter. Hey Brian, the Songwriter's Invitational is coming up soon.....

A young lady named Allison showed up tonight. All I can say is fantastic. I've never gone to a new open mic and not run into someone who impressed me who I'd never seen before. So at Border's it's Allison. We told her about Dunn Bros. and I hope we see her there tomorrow night. It's amazing how the talent just shows up when you start one of these open mic things. Sometimes I think there's more good musicians in this town then there are places for them to play.




Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
Is this what we're going to see on Thursday?


Monday, March 14, 2005


If Balco Bought Wheaties

If Balco Bought Wheaties
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
A lot of people want to trivialize the steroids in baseball scandal. As far as I'm concerned, it's an important issue. Why on earth would we want to teach kids that the way to get ahead is by cheating, or, at the very least, to work around the existing rules? I just don't get it.



Give Me a Grin

So I played music in front of people for the first time in two weeks last night. I hadn't gone that long in over a year, and I was frankly a little worried before TSA and I took the stage. We got together in the afternoon to practice a little. We worked on the two new tunes and "I Know All the Presidents" for a little while before things broke down and we ended up watching "Napolean Dynamite" and then going to get something to eat. Distractions aside, the practice was good, just having played together is always a big help.

Cheers was practically deserted when we arrived last night. The open mic has been moved up an hour to 7pm, but the place doesn't really get hopping until after 8 on a Sunday night. Shawn was sick, so GF1 was alone in his hosting duties though he did receive a big assist, as always, from Uncle Bill. Gary, Bill and Josh (on his new drum kit) kicked off the evening with a few tunes, gave away a few prizes and then vacated the stage for "Slappy is Jebus." I say vacated, though Bill and Josh hung around and played with us. Bill has joined us (and P957 before that) a number of times, bass adds so much to our sound. Josh on the drums was interesting not that I have anything against Josh, but that I've avoided drummers as much as possible in my musical forays. I'm getting more and more used to playing with drummers though and, gasp, would welcome a drummer to play with us again.

First up was Are You Drinkin' with Me Jesus, which we're always sure to introduce as a song of mistaken identity. I love this song, but crowd reaction is often mixed. Some people (not too many, but some) take it the wrong way, as blasphemy. Too bad for them, no blashemy is intended. Some people just don't pay attention. Then there's the folks at the bar. Damn, I could probably make a career of music if every place I played didn't have tables but only allowed people to sit at the bar. And this tune does particularly well with the folks sitting at the bar.

We followed that up with Two Condoms. For a song I kind of wrote accidentally and then shelved for a long time, I'm suprised at how well it's received. I only started playing it again because I was playing an open mic in Piedmont and needed some more originals. It got a good response there, got added into what Andy and I do and it's become a staple. Andy's adding really nice backups on the "fourteen items or less" line. It's a simple song (for Christ's sake, I wrote it.....) but it's little touches like that that really make it a gem.

Rollin' & Tumblin' was next. For once I had more verses in my head than I was going to use in the song and had to pick some and discard others on the fly. TSA and I have been playing this song together for a long time now, playing it with 957 when JB had to take bathroom breaks. We came to an understanding a long time ago that his wrist can only handle 6 verses of this song, I've never violated that. Last night I was tempted. Part of the reason I was tempted was that time really seemed to fly during the song. We flew through the song, of course, because Josh sort of took of on drums and sort of dared the rest of us to keep up. Not to get down on Josh, we were all having trouble hearing each other, so tempos were sort of all over the place. Other musicians complained about the same thing, even though everyone sounded great out front. TSA let me do my little harp intro and I was glad to see some of the real musicians in the crowd seem to be enjoying it.

We kept the Muddy Waters thing going with Got My Mojo Workin'. We assumed that this was going to be our last song, so I really let loose, starting the growl earlier than ususal. Uncle Bill was really working the bass, Josh laid down a nasty groove and TSA was, well, TSA - rock solid as ever. In the past when we've played with other folks, I've taken the lead, sort of leading the other musicians, adding instructions where necessary. Andy took over those duties last night which is the way it should be, it's sort of hard for me to give instructions while I'm singing or have a harp in my mouth. He broke everyone down for the Who Do You Love section, Josh's drumming particularly tasty during that part of the song.

We're already to pack it in when GF1 told us to do one more. My voice was pretty trashed after the last song, but short discussions began. Andy and I have been pretty good about deciding/knowing what we're going to play before we go on stage. This is a far cry from the 957 days when there was a long discussion before every song. We decided on the Mojo Nixon classic Vibrator Dependent, as far as I'm concerned, it's always good to start and end a set with a Mojo Nixon song. This is another one of those songs that if people aren't paying attention they won't really think anything of it, well, until the kazoo solo. I love watching women while we play this song, as the slowly realize what I'm singing about. Sometimes you get a scream, usually just a grin, which is good enough for me.

And it is. I'd rather make somebody smile or laugh than applaud. I'm never going to dazzle anyone with my instrumental prowess. I'm never going to offer profound insight, particualry in a bar. No, I'll take a smile anyday.


Saturday, March 12, 2005


Home Sweet Home

It's funny where you'll find inspiration. I constantly come up with song ideas, though it's seldom I can ever get anything down on paper. Having an idea is one thing, fleshing it out is something completely different.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I got to thinking about Martha Stewart, how her upcoming Christmas was going to be drastically different than her last one, what with being in prison and all. I saw something on the news about her, and all of a sudden was struck with a song idea. "A Martha Stewart Christmas" was written in under an hour, more like copying it out of my brain than actually writing, it came so easy. It's an amazing feeling when something like that happens.

Today I was at the computer putting the finishing touches on another song, "I Wanna Marry a Stupid Woman," when, for some reason, Martha Stewart popped into my head again. She's home now, under house arrest. I thought of a homecoming song, from the point of view of a man waiting for her to return from a grueling five months in a minimum security prison. So, in under an hour I was able to come up with this.


Home sweet home
Home sweet home
She's been away
Now she's home sweet home

I missed her cooking
Her style and grace
I missed the way
She kept up the place

The house has seemed so empty
I've got no decorating flair
No scented candles in our bedroom
Just my dirty underwear

Home sweet home
Home sweet home
She's been away
Now she's home sweet home

Home sweet home
Is where she'll have to stay
Under house arrest
A small price to pay

'Cuz that new reality show
I'm sure it'll make us rich
Still she spent five months away
Being someone else's bitch

Home sweet home
Home sweet home
She's been away
Now she's home sweet home

It's our first night back together
And I promised I'd be nice
But I can't help but be distracted
By that bulky tracking device

Home sweet home
Home sweet home
The cops will keep my baby
Home sweet home


Friday, March 11, 2005


Let's Not Miss The Point

Fictional Characters
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
This is already up on Mt. Blogmore, but I find it somewhat tasteless to discuss my own graphics there, so I'll do it here, in a forum that nobody reads.......

As a society we sure seem overly concerned with what people are doing in the bedroom. It's gotten to the point that the christian right is complaining about the possible sexual orientation of a cartoon character that lives in a pineapple under the sea. Exactly how ridiculous is this? The thought that a sex organ might actually be concealed by those square pants never occured to me, let alone who (or what) he might be using his completely fictional sex organ on.

No, the real issue here is that Spongebob is an idiot. If I had kids, I wouldn't forbid them from watching Spongebob because of some perceived "perversion," rather I'd be likely to not allow that crap in my house because it's idiotic.

Then there's the whole Gannon/Guckert thing. So his photos showed up on a site avertising male escorts. I find that interesting, but not the issue. The issue is that this guy had no credentials and used a fake name to secure White House Press credentials. Why? Apparently so he could lob softball questions during press conferences.

Let's not miss the point here, people. Unless we make homosexuality illegal it's not really necessary to discuss it in these matters. Guckert was a Republican shill. Spongebob is an idiot. Leave it at that.


Thursday, March 10, 2005


What about Don Majkowski?!?

I get to watch Brett Favre play football for at least one more season. I'm not particulalry a Packer fan, but I am a Favre fan. He's one of my favorite players to watch, not primarily for his skills, but for the way he approaches the game. Oddly enough, I'm impressed that he treats it like a game. Favre is one of the few players playing today who could have been transported right out of the 1950's, when players like Raymond Berry of the Colts would actually made less money in the football season than in their off-season jobs. Berry was a plumber in the off-season, and made much more money at that than he did at his "hobby" of professional football.

It's tunred into a business, all in all, probably for the better. The best of today's pro athletes realize that while they may only play their chosen sport for six months, that it's a year round occupation. If they want to play at a high level, they need to stay in shape during the off-season. Players like Favre don't need to take other jobs to make ends meet when they're not playing football, though I think a guy like Favre would be a really cool plumber, he sort of looks and acts like one.

Favre treats the game like a game. He actually looks like he's having fun. You could imagine he would play ball if he only made enough money to survive on. He's such a throwback. I realize that the game has progressed beyond drawing up plays in the dirt and executing them on the fly, but Favre could undoubtedly do that. He plays like he would enjoy that more than playing in a structured offense. That's definitely something I'd like to see.

I'd like to thing the Packers are loading up, to give Favre a last run at a title, but in this salary cap era, that's pretty unlikely. The Pack is in terrible cap shape, having trouble resigning veteran talent. They've got a top flight QB and a top flight veteran running back in Ahman Green. They both make a lot of money, leaving little money to sway high profile free agents to the little stadium in the league's smallest market. I hope they make it happen somehow. I'd hate to see Favre go out the way Len Dawson of the Chiefs went out, with a loser.

So who's the greatest QB in Packers history? Well it's obviously David Whitehurst who led the Pack to an 8-7-1 record in 1978, substituting for an injured Lynn Dickey...... Oh, who am I kidding, only two players enter into the argument: Favre and Hall of Famer Bart Starr. They're the only QB's to lead the Pack to Super Bowl victories. It's hard to compare numbers, Starr's simply don't stack up against Favre's, who played in a different era, when passing was so much more a part of the game. Starr has one more championship, though he was surrounded by some of the best teams in league history. Favre has been a winner during his entire run with Green Bay (let's forget that rookie season in Atlanta....). Starr, well he had some rough seasons at the end.

In the final analysis, I'd have to name Favre the greatest QB in Packers history. Frankly, he did more with less. Starr belongs in the hall, but if Favre doesn't make it on the first ballot, there's something wrong with the voting procedure.

The important thing is that I get the joy of watching him play for at least one more season.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005


But It's Cheaper Than Actual Therapy.....

So, where've you been? Oh, I forgot, I'm the one who's been missing. Seems I've been not doing a number of things lately that I'd been doing with great regularity (I'm not talking about bathroom stuff here). Missed my first Cheers Sunday night open mic in well over a year. That was indirectly linked by Shawn to a fire that could potentially destroyed quite a bit of Abby Someone's gear. SMB, if you're looking for a good luck charm, fine, but I wouldn't pick me as your first choice.

I haven't actually picked up a musical instrument since Saturday except to violently throw a harmonica at a wall. Oops! Gotta have a little more respect than that. I'll never make a living with music, but I gotta remember it's all about the fun. 957 was still fun, on stage, at least, up to the very end. If the way that all ended up didn't make me hate music, then nothing should.

Stopped doing the political cartooning too. That may have indirectly lead to a freelance job opportunity, but I'll keep that under my hat for the time being. Sounds like it would be better as a fun gig and a portfolio builder than a money making enterprise. At least I potentially would get something out of it.

And that was the whole problem. Personal satisfaction is cool, but you have to look at things at the right angle to see it sometimes. It's pretty hard to do that when you're hanging your head in self pity. So I'm trying to change my perspective a little bit, hold my head up, and see things in a different light.

It's pretty fitting that one of the things I'm known for is playing the BNL song "Brian Wilson." It's a song about deep depression, the type that the Beach Boy's Brian Wilson went through at different periods in his life. He was pretty incapacitated by his depression, I just didn't want to play music, or make silly photos, or get out of bed, or eat......

But that's the past. Nothing's really changed, I just have to look at things differently. I also have a lot of things I need to change in my life, but that will all come in time. I have to deal with what's happening right now and worry about the others when I come to them.

I have to thank a couple of people for just being there. MonyP smacked me around a little bit, wouldn't put up with my bullshit, told me when I was wrong, supported me when I was right. TSA knew when to leave me alone, when not to push, but made it clear that he cared. At the time that's exactly what I needed. Hopefully these two people will get to meet each other soon, that'll be a really good day, you know, like how a nice cold beer is great on it's own, but that shot of bourbon makes it all that much better. Most people would go the ice cream and sprinkles analogy or some other such nonsense, but damn it, I like beer.

I don't suppose any of that answers what I've been doing the last couple of days, but what are you gonna do? That's as good as it's gonna get.


Saturday, March 05, 2005


This Is a Waste of My Time

Friday, March 04, 2005


Zero to "Brian Wilson" in 47 Minutes

A personal best this morning! My phone rang at 6:03am this morning. They wanted me to work the security desk again. At 6:45am. Well, I didn't quite make 6:45, but I was at my desk at 6:50. Thats's a mere 47 minutes from dead sleep to work at a job that isn't really mine. It beat my previous best by two minutes (see post Zero to Eighth Grade in 49 Minutes). If it actually counted for something, that would be really cool.......

It seems like a month since I was last a work. That's probably because I got a lot accomplished after I got off work last night, primarily baking 3 loaves of bread. I guess if it has grain and yeast in it, I can make it. I baked an Italian flatbread known as a Focaccia with rosemary, tomato and basil. It looked and smelled great when I took it out of the oven and it's taking every ounce of restraint I have to not run out to the car and eat it right now. I also made an oatmeal bread (a real favorite) and for the third loaf I kind of got creative. I had made multi grain buns for a chicken sandwich about a week ago. I just modified a wheat bread recipe by adding rye flour and oatmeal as well. Now I've made it in loaf form, but instead of water, I used some of the beer from bottling, so if has a really nice, dark color and also smelled fantastic. I hope it tastes as good as it smells!

The new tunes are up on the Across Roads site (link - Dunn Bros. Open Mic - you'll find it to your left). Cool stuff as always. Please check out tune #3 by Willy Grigg, its one of my favorite songs written by one of my favorite songwriters who is, coincidentally, named Willy Grigg. TSA and I also have a song or 7 on the site, some done with host Mike Reardon. "For What it's Worth" turned out sounding pretty good, something that could be a good song for the three of us to do in the future. I actually haven't heard that song in quite a while so I'm doing my own thing on it. Then again, TSA has never heard "Brian Wilson" other than when he's playing it with me.

Music is great that way, open ended and you can always do your own thing. I've never heard a song and said "I want to sound exactly like that!" What would the point be? Particularly when I play solo, I don't have the skill on guitar to do even the simplest things. I do what I can do, though, and make it fit. Andy is that kind of good on guitar and could immitate if he chose to. I'm happy to say that he normally chooses not to. I was asked a few weeks ago if I wrote "Brian Wilson." I didn't, but I take it as a compliment that someone thinks I may have. Ultimately, it's a song about being depressed, which is something I can identify with. There've been times in my life that I didn't feel like getting out of bed (just like Brian Wilson did), and I don't just mean this morning. I mean didn't feel like getting out of bed for days. I'll never be able to make that song my own, but people must get that I can identify with it.


Thursday, March 03, 2005


"No, Man, a 'Harp' Case......."

So, here I am, 8:08 in the morning, I've been at work for a little over an hour and fifteen minutes, and the most difficult part of my day is over. It sort of reminds me of the time I worked for a satellite uplink in Iowa. Our busiest day of the year was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when most agencies had their ads done and ready to ship for Christmas. Normally on our shift, we had 3 people, plus our supervisor, a hard worker despite the title. That night we were one man short and the supervisor left a couple of ours early. He did leave Rawls and me a bottle of champagne, though. Rawls and I got through the night, we had both worked in real television and were used to working much harder than the normal uplink employee. The night compared to a normal evening for a master control operator, not the horror story the other techs had told us about. And we each enjoyed a glass or two of champagne as the night went on.

It was a fun open mic last night. TSA took a half day off from work and we were able to go up a little earlier than usual. And with the relatively light bill of performers, we got to play a whole lot. We started by doing a song with Mike, Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" then started a Slappy is Jebus blues set, "Who's Been Talkin'," "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and "Mojo." At the end of the night we played again with Mike, playing some of his tunes, notably "For What it's Worth" originally done by The Buffalo Springfield. I love it when something just comes together. Show TSA a couple of chords, give me the proper key and the three of us will always put something good together. Give me some cool harmonies to sing and a little leeway on the harp and I couldn't be happier.

Like I said, it was sort of a light night for performers. We had some new faces, most notably what we decided was only our second female performer (not that Erin didn't count, but she only sang backup with Josh on a song or two). I guess female "feature" nperformer would be more appropriate. Anyway, I hope she comes back, also she was a pretty good guitarist......

Willy Grigg put on a fun set. He did my favorite song of his. For heaven's sake (literally) check out his set at, just use the "Dunn Bros. Open Mic" link provided. Willy is a great songwriter and a fun performer. For me, the best thing about Wednesday nights is that I know I'll get to see Willy play. Puts a smile on my face the next day every time.

Slappy is Jebus is looking at adding some new tunes. I thought of one while sitting at this very desk yesterday, inspired by a single line from theh Sci-Fi cartoon "Futurama." OK, all I have is a chorus and an idea, which probably just means I'll write half of a verse and the song will sit on the shelf for six months or more. Andy wants to add yet another Buffalo Springfield, and there's a couple of Mojo Nixon songs I'd like to do. Oooh, and they're Mojo Nixon songs that are somewhat appropriate for all ages audiences! I really need to get down and write something just absolutely filthy again......

I tried to make it an early night, but I had a message from the old roomie when I got home last night. I gave him a call back and we talked until about midnight. He had sent me a photo of "the boys" from his camera phone, but my email had sent it to "junk." After retrieving it from junk I couldn't open the photo. Looks like it stripped the attachment off of the email. Tried to work on it again this morning, but no luck.

That didn't stop us from talking, though. He's moving again, this time to Inglewood. Now Inglewood has some pretty rough sections, but he assures me his neighborhood is nice. Not too far from the scary areas, but we weren't too far from scary areas when we lived in the LBC. Hey, he'll be closer to the Fabulous Forum where the Lakers no longer play.

We discussed music, of course, and what TSA and I have been up to. Also discussed my plans to turn my guitar case into a harmonica case. He came up with an even better idea, find an old harp case, you know that orchestra instrument and turn that into a "harp" case. While I truly love the idea, the problems with it would be finding an old harp case and, having found a harp case and converting it to carrying harmonicas, fitting it into my car. Then again, I've been known to go a long way for a bad joke.......



Hey! I Did End Up Deleting the Previous Post!

.....for those of you who read it, told ya......

The only piece of relevent knowledge contained in the now deceased post is the re-nicknaming of she who was known as "3V." From this time forward she shall be known as "5-55." It means nothing to anybody else, except TSA who I told at the coffee shop tonight, but I think it's funny as hell.

Actually, ran into 5-55 yesterday (oooh! I love using brand new material!), but really only had the opportunity to say hi. Worked the security desk at the high school yesterday, which was the easiest, but most boring job I've ever done. And to think, if my application hadn't been screwed up, I could be doing that every day. As if! They knew who they were hiring all along, it's more convenient having me able to sub. Man, being versatile and dependable really suck! I wish I was incapable, incompetent and a jerk. Then of course I'd still be working at DirecTV or SDPTV. And maybe I am just a little bit of a jerk.......

Why the early hour? I get to do it again today! Yeah, I'll be in a great mood by the end of the day. Maybe I'll rant on and write a really mean-spirited blog that I'll delete after a few hours sleep.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Bottling & Capping

Bottling & Capping
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
I'm a little closer to finished beer today. Actually, the beer itself is done, it would even be pretty good if you drank it right now. It would be uncarbonated and the sharp bite of the alcohol would be present, but the beer itself would be fresh and tasty. You leave it in the bottle a couple of weeks now, first to allow it to carbonate - a small amount of additional sugar has been added that the surviving yeast will consume, producing carbon dioxide - and to let the alcohol flavor mellow a little bit. This batch came in at just under 5% alcohol, so it won't need much time to mellow. TSA's barleywine will come in considerably higher than that which is why we won't be drinking that until new year's eve. Wines and distilled spirits are higher yet, which is why the aging time on them is measured in months and years. Nope, I'll take beer, generally about 4 weeks from conception to consumption.

TSA has brewed himself into a corner, brewing so much beer that he's out of fermenters to transfer to for a two-stage fermentation. I picked up a 6 gallon carboy for him today, and my 5 gallon is now empty. That's two more for him. If that ain't enough, I don't know what to do......


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