Saturday, April 30, 2005


This Week's Song

With Ken away on his honeymoon and the Songwriters Invitational in full swing, I don't have any mp3's of this past week's performance. That's two weeks now. I really liked last week's selection, DVDA's Now You're a Man, if I could figure out some way to make it sound cool on 12 string and harmonica, it would be worthwhile for us to do. I don't think it would ever work, though.

So this week I've added a song from a couple of weeks ago at Dunn Bros. We hadn't played this in a really long time (if ever, together), but TSA walked in to the coffee shop and asked how it went. We worked on it in the back room until it was time for us to play. I think we got through it OK. I blew the third verse, TSA forgot the stupid little ending I've put on it, but it turned out OK. We did it again this last week for the Invitational and it went much better. Please imagine this song without errors and you'll have a pretty good idea of what we sounded like this week.

I'm trying to get TSA down to Borders tonight. It's a smoke free environment that he could take Erica to. She still hasn't seen us really play, his house or my sister's basement don't really count. We're a little different when we get in front of people we don't know, we tend to get a little goofier than we would otherwise. Believe me, that works with the music we do. So hopefully Borders tonight, followed by Cheers tomorrow night.

We may sit in with Mike Reardon at the Chophouse on Friday. TSA gets off work late, but I can show up a little earlier. Maybe the three of us can do a couple of tunes together at the end. There are a couple of tunes that are really improved by adding Mike's lead work and vocals. In fact, I'm listening to one of them right now.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happened Today

Quite a day. First of all I get to school and they've changed my assignment. It's not really a big deal except that my whole day had turned into a half day. I would think that maybe I'd heard the assignment wrong, but since this happend twice last week as well, my guess is that I'm not the one to blame. I'm signed up for a full day tomorrow, I know I'm signed up for a full day because when I was given three options, two were half days. I said "I'll take the full day." If it somehow turns out to be a half day again, I'm walking. I'll let them find some sucker who can be there in less than half an hour. Said sucker will feel really proud of themselves, having gotten to work in less than 30 minutes, but soon they'll realized that nobody really gives a shit if they show up and will screw them at every opportunity.

As it turned out, though, it was OK to work half a day as TSA and I really needed to get together to practice for our Songwriter's Invitational performance later that evening. It's a good thing we practiced, too. TSA had to learn a new song, Treat Me Like a Dog. Also, he improved it greatly. Since we were also doing Wyle E. Coyote Blues, a song that he's played one other time, that was going to need some work as well. Beer is the Answer has also sort of fallen out of our set list and it had been quite a while since we played it. That left one tune, the popular Two Condoms as the only song in our set that didn't need work. We did get a lot of work done, and I was happy with the tunes by the time we left for Dunn Bros.

After arriving and grabbing a seat in the back room, I decided to grab a cup of tea. While standing in line, Pastor Beaverson walked into the shop. If you don't know who Pastor Beaverson is, read the previous post. He wanted to discuss my "situation." Yeah, he got the letter today and apparently is trying to put out the fire. No dice. I got pretty angry when I talked about what Pastor Beaverson had done, but was able to contain myself.

The best part of the night was while I was talking to Pastor Beaverson. Gloria, who I met at the Flatiron in Hot Springs when Mike and I played there a few weeks ago, came up and started discussing the song Two Condoms with me, actually interrupting Pastor Beaverson to tell me how she had heard the song on the internet and thought it was hilarious. What a wonderful moment. A woman is talking to me about a dirty song I wrote while a Pastor is trying to ask my forgiveness for him asking God to strike a judge dead for doing his job. You're not going to get many surreal moments like that in your life, folks, enjoy 'em when they come around!

After getting rid of the good pastor, not budging from my convictions, I grabbed the release form for the Songwriter's Invitational and TSA and I took to filling it out. I grew up in a beaurocracy, my Dad was in the Air Force and I never much cared for all of the forms involed in being in a military family. This was differnt, though. I have never imagined fillng out a form could be fun. First, we had to decide if we should use our real names. We went pseudonyms, baby, and I couldn't be prouder! Then we had to fill out some information about the band. Apparently I chose harmonica because it's the cheapest instrument I could find and Andy isn't into the BDSM scene. Hey, it's true, he's not! At least I think he's not. He is supposed to have a flogger coming in the mail.....

Oh yeah, at some point we played some music. We lead off with Beer is the Answer and followed that up with Wyle E. Coyote Blues. Then it was time to play Two Condoms. One of the things about this years Songwriter's Invitational is that some songs will be played on a local radio station. Both Mike and Steve Thorpe said that this song was the one, and we hadn't even played it yet. Hey, TSA and I knew it too. It was third in the set list so that we would be warmed up by the time we got to our crowd pleaser.

Two Condoms went well, we've played it better, but I'm happy with what we ended up with. The great thing about it was that the coffee shop was full of people who hadn't heard it before. I'll never forget the big grin on SMB's face the first time we played it at Cheers. It was the same thing tonight, the younger folks in the front, people turned around in their booth to see us, smiling faces all around. I usually play and sing with my eyes closed. I'm glad they were open long enough to see that.

But we weren't done yet, we hadn't used our alloted time up. Luckily I had the lyrics and chords to Home Sweet Home in my harp bag. TSA had never played it with me in front of people. I haven't played it in over a month even on my own. We made it work, and it seemed to go over pretty well.

We still weren't done, though. Folks wanted another song, so we gave 'em Got My Mojo Workin'. I've been a lot better on that song before, but I was good enough. Andy was rock solid as ever. He was complimented on his rhythm tonight, and he truely does have a fantastic rhythmic sense. I'm glad one of us does. Six songs, you think that'd be enough, you think we'd be allowed to tear down, but no, Cody wanted to hear Brian Wilson. Geez, Ken wasn't even there to be tormented by it, off on his honeymoon and all. Well, hell, Cody is the guy cleaning up, so what're you gonna do. Mike wanted to play with us too, so he joined in. Even with my voice trashed by Mojo it turned out pretty good.

After the show we talked to a few people. Gloria had some questions about the name of the band and then had one fantastic comment about Two Condoms. The song is from a male's point of view, wearing two condoms in his every day life so that he'll have greater sensation when he takes one off to have sex with his girlfriend. Gloria contended that we don't know if the male is wearing two condoms because his girlfriend may be diseased or because he himself is diseased. Hmmm, well, I have it on good authority that he's wearing two condems because his girlfriend is skanky, though I am admittedly intrigued by possible verses about the alternative.....



Exactly What I Wrote So There Won't Be Any Wild Accusations

Thomas Beaverson
4550 South Highway 16
Rapid City, South Dakota 57701

Pastor Beaverson

I will attend Zion Lutheran Church this Sunday, 1 May 2005 solely to attend the confirmation of my niece during the 11:00 am service. I will not be back on subsequent Sundays, as I have not attended church at Zion since Palm Sunday, 20 March 2005.

During the sermon on that date, the Pastor preached his desire that God would strike dead Judge George Greer. The Pastor did not use Judge Greer’s name, as I am sure he did not know it. He also did not name the numerous additional judges he wished God would strike dead, judges who legally oppose two specific LCMS teachings.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been so shocked had a judge not been gunned down in his courtroom in Atlanta that very week. Perhaps I wouldn’t be so shocked if a man had not been arrested for offering $50,000 the next week to anyone who would kill Judge Greer.

Most shocking, however, is the fact that no one else in the congregation seemed upset when the Pastor expressed his wishes. Preaching such hatred is absolutely horrible. Having it accepted by the congregation is much worse. I am still a Christian and more specifically a Lutheran. I cannot, in good conscience, continue to attend a church where such vile hatred is preached by the clergy and accepted by the congregation.

Judge Greer rendered a decision based on the laws of the state of Florida. Clergy at Zion wished Judge Greer dead for that decision. I can only assume that the same fate is wished upon the unnamed judges at the state and Federal levels who upheld that decision. And to the citizens who agreed with the legality of that decision. Citizens like me.

Douglas Jungemann

cc: Rev. Duane Duley

Monday, April 25, 2005


Anger & Shame

I'm about to stir up some trouble. The sad part is, that for once I'm not actually trying to, I'm actually trying to avoid trouble here. I've decided that I have to attend my niece's confirmation. I'd hate to miss something like that just because of the horrible insensivity of others. I can't let others get in the way of things I should do with my family. The thought of a clergy member at that church being nice to me, acting like nothing happened makes me sick.

They'll soon realize what I think of what happened. I've written letters to the offending Pastor and the senior Pastor, letting them know my feelings. I let them know that I am attending church for that one time, for one special occasion. I will not be back.

I realize that most of the trouble being stirred up will end up back on me. People generally don't much care for being called hate mongers, even when it is true. My own father is president of the congregation. I'll have to deal with that as well since I place as much blame as those accepting the hatred as those who are preaching it.

I was left with no choice, though. I had to go back, at least this one time, but I couldn't go back without saying something. I don't want a person being pleasant to me when I am this kind of angry. And I don't want to be this kind of angry without the people I'm angry at knowing why I'm angry.

I've often though of what it would take to make things better, for me not to be angry anymore. The offending Pastor could apologize, and promise never to spew hatred again, that wouldn't be enough. He could be fired, run out of the clergy, that wouldn't be enough. It would take every member of that congregation making a public apology in front of the rest of the congregation to begin to make things right. If a whacko preaches hatred, it's bad, but it doesn't really cause trouble until people start to agree with it. That's what needs to change. And, realistically, I never expect that to happen.

No, I'll just continue to be angry. I'll have to leave that in my past, and forget the time I wasted there. I'm ashamed that I ever did anything to help that church out, that I offered my talent and money. Maybe over time I'll be able to forget my anger and shame.

But this week I'll have to deal with it one more time.


Sunday, April 24, 2005


Fighting On

My convictions have once again placed me in a tough position. My nephew's wife decided to take classes and become confirmed in our family's church. That my nephew doesn't attend church and hasn't for years isn't of consequence to her, but I applaud her for her efforts. She's a nice girl and I'm glad she made this choice. The church is important to my folks and sister, I hope she hasn't made this choice simply to curry favor with the in-laws.

Soon my other niece, an eighth-grader, will be confirmed. That's the normal age for that to happen, not that I'm saying anything bad about the other situation. To a certain degree, I respect my nephew's wife more for making her decision. In all honesty, my niece doesn't have a choice, it's something that's simply expected of her. And yet, she's 14, there's certain things that she just isn't capable of making a choice on yet. I truely think it's better for her to do this now, she can make the decision later how she will pursue her faith.

And now I have a problem. As uncle to both of these young women, I should be there on what I hope they both consider an important day. But no matter how hard I make myself try, I can't go back into that church. Clergy there is preaching hatred, death has been wished upon judges for not agreeing with their beliefs. Since I tend to side more with the judges, I'm assuming that death is being wished upon me as well. If it were just whacko clergy, that could be dealt with. When those statements are made and I'm the only one who is shocked, well, it's gone on too long, nothing I can do or say is going to change anything. While ashamed of the clergy, I'm every bit as ashamed of the congregation for not challenging them for spewing hatred from the pulpit. I'm ashamed of myself for not at least trying to do something about it. Then again, if they care that little for human life, I can't see why they would listen to me.

So I can't do it. Right now I should be getting ready to attend church, to be there when my nephew's wife is confirmed. I generally try to avoid places in my life where I'm not wanted. When my beliefs cause a member of the clergy to want people who think like me dead, well, there's a pretty good indication that I'm not wanted there. So I won't be there. I am baking bread right now. I'll be at my sister's for lunch this afternoon. I'll try to be part of the family and forget about all of the other things.

Last night my sister held a surprise bithday part for a friend of ours. Surprise, her birthday was a couple of weeks ago! Anyway, it was nice. My sister is the organizer, she's good at all of that stuff. She invited TSA and I to play. She invited a bunch of Sandy's friends, a lot of them from the church. TSA and I played for close to an hour. Another surprise, American Woman was a hit, we had to do it twice. I't s a 50 cent piece of plastic people! TSA is doing something really hard on the 12 string, comment on that, will ya!

Anyway, people seemed to enjoy us, but I couldn't help but remember that a bunch of these people heard the same sermon I had. They weren't shocked. My guess is that most of them weren't listening, which is sad in it's own way. Thinking all of those things while playing didn't ruin things for me, but it did put a damper on it for me. Usually playing music makes me forget all of the bad things going on in my life. Playing music helped, but the thoughts going through my head, talking to some of those people afterward really brought me down.

As some of you know I'm prone to depression. It's stuff like this that sometimes will set me off, that will drive me into bed for a week. The irony of playing Brian Wilson is not lost on me. It's not happening this time, but I'm feeling really fragile at the moment. I really have to pay attention to my mood today or I'll drop off again. I'm playing music tonight, so that should help.

I've got another decision to make. My niece is getting confirmed in the same church. I need to be there, but I don't know if I can bring myself to do it. She gave me an invitation last night. I can't even bring myself ot look at it.


Saturday, April 23, 2005


This Week's Song

A couple of weeks ago I said I wouldn't put other people's songs onThis Week's Song very often. I went against that because I didn't have any new Slappy is Jebus songs to post and also because Ken Jones got a good recording of Brian doing Staring at My Ceiling. Once again there's no new SIJ song due to a little tech difficulty at acrossroads. Actually there's no new songs from anybody from the Dunn Bros. open mic this week.

So instead, I've linked to a song from one of my favorite movies, the Trey Parker and Matt Stone classic(?) Orgazmo. I just love this movie, the song Now You're a Man from the title sequence really setting the tone for what you're going to see in the rest of the movie. The band is DVDA, Trey and Matt's band. I think they're pretty good. The name comes from..... well, I'm not going to post that here because it's disgusting. It is explained in the movie, though, but you have to be paying attention to the movie to get it. "Hey lady! We're ready for the DVDA shot!"

I left my place shortly after 7am yesterday and didn't get home until well after 10pm. I got to see Julian at lunch and also his folks came out to play some cards after supper. My nephew and his wife came out a little later and stayed for a while. I may have turned my family on to poker. My nephew has a pretty good feel for the game, the niece's husband is pretty good and my dad seems to really enjoy the game. I've played with the family twice now and still haven't won a hand, so I'm not sure quite how I feel about playing with them. Still it's a good time. I will not be posting winners here as I do with the Saturday night game. The Saturday game is still the official poker game of The Globex Corporation Newsletter.


Thursday, April 21, 2005


Anatomy of a Joke.... I Mean Song.....

If all goes well, by this time tomorrow, well probably a little later, there will be a new This Week's Song and it will be something only a few of my friends have ever heard. As much as the guys tried to tell me differently, I always thought that the sound of Patient 957 was driven by TSA's guitar. Yeah, my harp made us sound different than every other band in the area, and JB's songwrting gave us a unique, shall we say outlook as a band. To me, paticularly early, it was all about the full sound we got from TSA's twelve string. We used that on songs like Hey Sandy and Lenny Kravitz's Fly Away. Those songs in particular, and lots of others were really driven by that full 12 string sound.

TSA and JB will know better exactly how we decided to do the Guess Who's American Woman in the first place. All I know is that I was at TSA's one day and he played the opening riff. It was fantastic, not sounding like we were copying the original because he was playing it acoustic, but being easily identified as what it was supposed to be. It really was the alterna-folk/acousti-punk sound that we had developed in the band. They asked me if I could play that screaming lead guitar part on harmonica. I gave it a shot, but a guitar has more notes available than a harmonica, and while I could get close for a measure or two, ultimately it was never going to sound right no matter what I did, short of buying a chromatic.

I went to the kazoo next. A kazoo is going to have all the available notes, and be easy to play as well. I played that guitar solo on the kazoo, and while I was able to recreate the notes, it didn't have the right sound. TSA joked about wax paper and a comb. JB had never heard of that, so TSA started searching the house for those items. I had heard of George Clinton playing wax paper and comb through a Leslie amp with Parliment/Funkadelic and was anxious to give it a try. We tried the song again but the sound still wasn't quite right. I jokingly, and I stress jokingly because most of the cool stuff in 957 started out as a joke, I jokingly suggest that I play the kazoo through the wax paper. We gave it a shot and that was it. It was the approximation of the Guess Who's original sound that we were looking for.

We opened with American Woman at Cheers that night. The crowd was floored. Screaming kazoo solo, JB doing a great job on vocals with me basically screaming harmonies, TSA and Brian laying down the groove on 12 string and bass, it was an immediate hit. It was the first (and only) time that 957 was ever asked to do an encore. Doc Waller walked into Cheers just as we were packing up our gear after our set. Shawn made us do American Woman one more time for Doc. To see the smile on Doc's face as I launched into the kazoo solo made my evening.

We had always considered the song a joke. When Shawn asked us if we'd play it at an ASO show at the Firehouse we agreed. That performance, though only one song, may have been the best in the short life of 957. As TSA launched into the beginning of the song, folks rushed the stage and started dancing. They looked at me oddly when I opened with the kazoo, but kept on dancing. TSA told me later that he wanted to tell people to just sit down, to not dance to our jokes. American Woman became our one dance number. Wherever we played it, people came up and danced as TSA just shook his head.

When TSA and I started scrambling for material when we started performing as a duo, American Woman would get brought up occasionally. We tried it a few times while practicing, but never really went any further. The main problem was that I couldn't remember the words. Last night at Dunn Bros., I decided I really wanted to play it again. I went to an internet terminal and found the lyrics. Not having acces to a printer, I had to take notes, key words in each verse to lead me to the correct lyrics. I went over it in my head a bunch of times while listening to the other acts and waiting for TSA to get off of work.

When Andy arrived, the first thing I said was, "I want to do American Woman." Actually the first thing I said after he arrived was, "I'm lying in bed, just like Ken Jones did," as Mike and I were playing Brian Wilson until Andy arrived. That may be the first time he's ever heard the song when he wasn't playing it. Anyway, Andy definitely wanted to give American Woman a try. We did, and notes in hand, I still managed to screw up the lyrics. Still, that song is the one thing that people commented on about our performance. There's just something about it, a juxtaposition of the serious and the just plain goofy, that makes people take notice. I'm glad to be a part of it. It was recorded by the acrossroads gang and should be on their website tomorrow and right here as soon as I notice it. Enjoy the mangled lyrics, oh yeah, there's some guy playing kazoo on it too......

The rest of the night was great, Afferent borrowed Mike's drum machine for an interesting affect. Six Mile Road showed off some of the technical skill that it takes to play bluegrass, I hope to see them someplace where they can add in their vocals. I have a real affinity for bluegrass and I hope to see them play around some more. They're going to try to do an open bluegrass jam this summer, maybe I'll practice up (a lot!) and try to sit in.

I played I Shall Be Released with Mike and Eric ( a former guitar student of Mike's) at the beginning of the night and after TSA arrived we all played Hotel California Gypsy Kings style. Mike is pretty demanding on harmonies, and I've learned a whole lot singing those two songs in particular. Someday I may be a passable vocalist. TSA and I then did that one Kazoo song, Plastic Jesus and finished it up with Got My Mojo Workin'. I always feel like I have to do a song where I play harmonica after playing American Woman, I'd hate for people to think that all I can do is play kazoo....


Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Poker Champions

Hey dining room table poker fans! I've added Saturday Night Poker Champs to the menu bar thingy that's to your left, it's below all of the links. I've only got two winners listed as the back to back winning streaks of TSA and myself take us so far into the past as to be beyond the limits of my Jeopardy-esque memory. I'll gladly post winners previous to myself, I'll just need them. I will also need that winners name to be expressed as a 3-letter nickname as that will keep everything looking neat and clean on this blog. Yeah, I'm kind of anal about stuff like that.

Hoping to hear from everyone soon!

Author's note - I checked through some of my old blogs and found 3 more previous champions. I've added them to the list of honor, but said list is still incomplete.



It's a Family Thing

So I've been accused lately, not so much of not writing about others when they win the fake money, but about writing too much about myself when I am THE ULTIMATE TEXAS HOLD 'EM POKER CHAMPION OF THE SATURDAY NIGHT POKER EXTRAVAGANZA. OK, so maybe I did play up my flawless play a little bit, but I was champion for two whole weeks. That's right, nobody could beat me at poker for 14 days, nearly one 25th of a year. Undefeated. Unbeaten, untied. Easily the equal of Doyle Brunson or Phil Ivey or that other poker guy, you know that asian dude who's good at cards.

I'm actually quite pleased that TSA was the winner this week, he's having nearly as much fon on his blog as I did on mine during my unprecidented, unequaled, unbelieveable string of poker successes. Check his out, you get to pick what he's going to spend the fake money on. I voted to help "Probe Victims." I guess Slappy is Jebus has more fake money than any band in music today. Maybe we should pool our winnings and buy a fake PA.

I was in at the high school today at 7am, kids waiting at my door to serve detention. Any kid willing to be there before me is OK with me. They were extremely well behaved too. And yet, not nearly as well behaved at 10 of the 11 students who had to spend the whole day with me in In School Suspension, or ISS. I couldn't have more pleased with the 10, so much so that I'm not going to dwell on what a complete ass the 11th was. One girl showed up and worked hard even though no teachers had sent any assignments for her. No assignments were sent because the guy in charge screwed up the paperwork and scheduled her for today even though he had told all of her teachers she would be serving on the 25th. We found stuff for her to do, got assignments from her teacher which she pleasently completed. What more could I ask for. Everyone else was good as well. And it had nothing to do with me, it was all the kids.

Yet, I do have to commend my sister for the work she does. When you have a class that is good it's half the kids and it's half their regular teacher. I was actually a little late for detention this morning because I saw the teacher of the class I had subbed for the day before and told him to pass on my compliments to his kids. He said they were good kids. I said he was a good teacher. Apparently my sister, who runs ISS normally, is good at what she does as well.

Interestingly, my mother held the same position for a number of years and had the kids in pretty good shape. Her years of hard work were nearly destroyed by the lackluster performer who followed her. My sister took over for my mother's replacement after a little more than a year. She hasn't been doing it for too long but apparently things are back to our family's high standards. Hey, I just spent half a day in there, but I'm proud to have been part of the dynasty. I guess my niece knows exactly what job she'll be holding down at the school in 20 years......


Monday, April 18, 2005


Multiple Educator Disorder

I was four people today, how many were you? So I signed up for a couple of days at the middle school this week. I was under the impression that they were full days, but apparently not. Never fear, I got called to sub for three different people at the high school before I was even done with the middle school. As far as that goes, when I got to the high school I was asked if I could sub the next day for a math teacher in the high school. So now my two half days that were supposed to by full days have, through the magic of poor planning, become full days again. Not that I'm complaining, I would complain but it's never done any good.

I had to show my dad how to put the names on tracks on his iTunes program today. First I showed him the hard way, entering the track name, artist and album name using the keyboard. He seemed to thing that was OK and wanted to do the next CD we put into the drive. That's when I showed him CDDB, the track name database. A click of the mouse and all of that information is entered automatically. It's not too often that I see him actually impressed by technology, but when something that took us about 15 minutes to do by hand was accomplished in just a couple of seconds through the magic of the internet, he was quite pleased. My folks think I'm some sort of computer wiz, but after spending the morning in a 7th grade computer class, I'm going to look like my dad to these kids when I'm my dad's age. That's the way it goes I guess. By then there'll be some sort of brain wave recognition program that will be able to pull CD track names out of my head or something. I'll think it's the most amazing thing ever, but these kids will sneer at me and think I'm an idiot. Then the same thing will happen to them when the next generation comes along, think their mp3's are no comparisson to the new direct to the cranium streaming video. The one thing I do know is that all new interntet technology will be ultimately driven by our need to download porn faster.

And you know I'm really getting mad about that. I'm not getting my porn fast enough. I remember when Coor's started selling their beer in the wide mouth bottles, I guess I wasn't getting the beer into my body fast enough. And when I watch a baseball game, it's good that the score is up there constantly, God forbid that I watch the game for long enough to see any of the action while I'm surfing by. Hey, I can't wait until the middle of the inning to get the score, I've got 118 other channels to watch. Who knows, there might be something good on.

Which reminds me, in the bar last night the Sunday night ESPN baseball game was 0-0 after 9 innings. See what happens when you take steroids out of the game? Is everybody happy? Bloody do-gooders in congress! On the other hand, Sammy Sosa's head can now turn more than eight degrees left or right.

Which again reminds me, GW Bush was owner of the Texas Rangers when they traded Sosa and pitcher Wilson Alverez to the White Sox for Harold Baines. At first he blamed the deal on "Bad Intelligence," if we ever find out that Sosa is using steroids, as unbelievable as that may seem, I'm sure W's spin will change to he got rid of Sosa because he knew he was on the 'roids.

Hey, this rambling business is fun. I should sit down not knowing what to write more often....



Tenacious D & A

When P957 broke up, TSA and I continued playing music together. The reasons for this are numerous, primarily that we both had gotten used to playing music and didn't want to give that up for any reason. For me, anyway, another reason was that I didn't know what else to do with my life on Sunday nights. I know that seems silly, but that's the truth. It was no vanity thing for me, I didn't see my chance to finally sieze the spotlight. We used to joke in 957 that we weren't comfortable with people liking us. Over time, that became more of a joke, but there was always a little bit of truth there. And me, well, I was much more comfortable just being able to stand in the wings, playing harmonica, adding backing vocals when I saw fit. We all had a hand in the sound of the band, but TSA, Brian and I weren't hanging it out there every week. That's just the way I liked it. We didn't seek any glory, we just wanted to play music and have fun.

So in September, TSA and I were playing music minus Brian (deployed to an undisclosed location) and JB (personal reasons). The first order of business was to add some tunes. We had talked of doing Brian Wison with 957, but for whatever reason we had never gotten around to it. It took me about 10 minutes to teach it to Andy and it became a staple of our stage act. That, coupled with some songs we played together in 957 and a few other new songs became the basis of what we do on stage.

So after you've got a few tunes, enough at least not to do the same four every week, people start asking you what you call yourselves. So we went through a lot of name ideas. One of Andy's first suggestions was First Cause. I kind of liked it, but it seemed a little boastful even if it wasn't meant to be. You start considering lots of things in a situation like that: BOJTSA and TSABOJ (a combination of our nicknames, plus they look really eastern european), DNA (I like it just because Andy's grandparents thought of it), Involuntary Commitment (a term used at the hospital, I loved it, but I didn't like the insinuation that we were "Involuntary Commited" to playing together because of choices made by other members of 957). We finally came up with Slappy is Jebus. The story of that name is long, it sort of contains two stages and when you get right down to it is really only funny to Andy and I. Ultimately it's practically a joke, something we thought would be fun to get Shawn to say. If he hadn't said the "is" exactly the way we wanted him to, we most likely be calling ourselves something else right now.

Still, making up band names is actually a lot of fun. A guy I used to work with at USSB made up names of bands for fun. They can come from anywhere. He came up with Funk Nebraska, because that's the name of the town his wife's grandmother was from. Me, a lot of my stuff comes from The Simpsons, during that time the favorite band name I came up with was Shame Spiral, from an early Simpsons episode. TSA and I have continued to talk band names, recently I thought Project Arcturus would be a cool name, if only because it's from the best Simpsons episode ever. From the same episode you could also get, The Hammock District or even Globex Corporation. Also cool names, but I think we'll stick with Slappy is Jebus for the time being.

That said, while leaving Cheers last night, I heard a name suggestion that I absolutely loved. John, a bass player and friend of Josh's had once told me that Andy and I remind him of Tenacious D. Now I don't think we really sound much like the D, but I see where he was going, two guys playing goofy acoustic music. And I love the D, truth is, I'd like to add a D song or two to our set list. I'd like to do Sasquatch because it wasn't on the album, but only occured in the TV series. So I like Tenacious D as a name. While leaving the bar last night, John, while standing at the bar just blurted out "Goodnight Tenacious D & A." That's fantastic! It almost makes me want to be a Tenacious D tribute band, playing Tribute every time we play. We probably couldn't get away with that name, but I love it.

It was a really slow night at the open mic last night. Andy and I went up first just to get it out of the way. Even though it was dead, we somehow managed to garner a little attention. In a twisted way I enjoy dead nights, it makes any response you get from the crowd that much sweeter. We opened up with Vibrator Dependent. That never fails to get some reaction, particularly from women. With laziness that is a hallmark of of the SIJ boys, we followed that up with Brian Wilson simply because TSA didn't have to change the capo on his guitar. I had to reach all the way down to my feet to get the correct harmonica. My laziness was evident with the next selection Two Condoms, I didn't have to change harps. Then it was the Muddy Waters tunes Rollin' & Tumblin' and Got My Mojo Workin'. They're both in the same key, so while I did have to grab the C harp for R&T I didn't have to change to play Mojo.

And a drunk at the bar was so impressed he wants us to play a hole in the wall dive bar in Box Elder. OK, I know the folks at the bar always love us, but this is ridiculous......


Saturday, April 16, 2005


This Just In: Kings-Six Beats Kings-Five

After a week off, the Saturday night poker game met again. I did so well early that there were threats that I wouldn't be allowed to play any more. Apparently I was insufferable during my TWO WEEK REIGN AS ULTIMATE POKER CHAMPION. I don't know where anyone got that idea, I only blogged about it a couple of times. Maybe more than a couple. OK, not more than five. Well, probably not more than five.

TSA was somehow the big winner tonight. I complemented him often on not playing any hands that he couldn't win, and he was exceptional at that tonight. Yet when it came down to the big showdown hand, he squeezed it out against Dave, Kings-
Six beathing Kings-Five. A tight margin, but any margrin is enough to win by. Congrats, TSA, I hand the keys to my pimp-ass Benzel over to you. Let me know how good it feels to be a gangsta........

I swear some time that Tim is actually going to go home with all of the fake money. He plays too well not to have won by now. He'll probably never be the ULTIMATE TWO WEEK POKER CHAMPION like someone else has been. But I'm sure he'll take home all of the fake money some night.

The beer of choice tonight for me was Red Hook Amber. It was an ESB, but not overyly bitter and it really had a nice sweetness to it. Andy was drinking a couple of different things. The homebrewed Oatmeal Stout was a thing of beaurty, smoother even than any comercial stouts I've tasted. That was good, yo.

Music was a mixed bag, MC Chris getting the most giggles out of the group, though the Spinal Tap always gets a laugh out of me. TSA and I both though doing Polaris' Hey Sandy would be a good idea. It was a P957 staple, but I'd have to learn the words since I did something else on it. Actually, right now, I can't remember what I did on that song. I think it may have been harp (E?) or possibly kazoo. I know I tried to do the "Aye yi yi"'s a couple of times but I dont' think I ever really got it down. Does your dog bite?



Advice I Have No Business Offering

The World Famous Rapid Sign
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
It's a beautiful spring day in Rapid City, South Dakota, and even if I did get my first taste of outside today at the city dump, at least I was unloading yard waste instead of garbage. It was tree branches, not decomposing vegetable matter swiming in a liquid that defies description.

Hey, what lovely images to start my day with! Worked at the high school again yesterday. Again if was for a planned absence by the teacher. Those are the easiest days for me because the teacher has something planned that they think a moron could handle. Enter the moron! Anyway, I showed a movie on the Great Barrier Reef to 5 different classes. Actually, the movie was great, even on my fifth viewing. The students weren't nearly as impressed as me. Hey that's OK, I remember what it was like to be that age. I held conversation to a minimum and basically kept everyone out of trouble. If they get in trouble they actually get sent to my sister. I love my sister, but I don't wish that on anyone.....

Julian was out at my folks house, so I went out there after work. He's almost seven months old now, and seems to be getting bigger every day. I swear he'll be walking any day, too. He doesn't crawl, not because he isn't strong enough, but because every time he gets into a crawling position, he tries to get his feet flat on the floor. He doesn't see us crawling around, so I think he has any interest in doing that. Good for him, but boy is he going to be a handful when he can walk anywhere he wants to. It's time like this when I'm glad I'm just the uncle. I get to spend all the time I want with him, but when he starts to get into trouble, I can just leave and there's plenty of people left to take care of him.

I'd like to write something to TSA, offering support and encouragement. I've been exactly where he is, but I don't have any answers. Things happen or they don't. The only advice I would have is not to try to make things happen, but to let them happen. The inverse is true as well, don't do anything to prevent things from happening.

Belive me, I'm the last person who should be offering advice in situations like this. I've got a failed marriage and a string of two month or less relationships scattered about in the 14 years since. All I know is that after my divorce, I was still interested in women, but I sure wasn't interested in a relationship for about two years. When I was, I smothered the woman I was involved with, not literally, but it might as well have been. I can't believe how clingy I was. After that I went to the opposite extreme. Apathy doesn't work in a relationship, it's pretty much the antithesis of being in a relationship. I eventually mellowed out, found a happy medium and had a relatively normal relationship with a skanky girl. If you've heard my music, you know who I'm talking about.


Friday, April 15, 2005


Keep Your Eye on the Baltic States.....

So I'm up early, getting ready for yet another exciting day in the fast-paced life of being a substitute teacher. I head into the room that holds my computer to check my email and what not. How surprised was I to find the room filled with streamers and balloons? Well, you could have knocked me over with a stick!

The Globex Corporation Newsletter topped 1,000 visitors overnight. Being in existence for about 100 days, having no advertising and being about, esentially, nothing, I've gotta say that I'm really happy with that number. Yeah, I know, it also means I'm only averaging about 10 visitors a day, but that's 10 more people every day who get to hear my pointless rambling. And really, isn't that what it's all about? I like to think it is.

I'd like to thank everyone who's stopped by. When you start something like this you never know what you're going to get. I've gotten a lot of visitors I expected, folks from around town, friends in California. But I also get the occasional visitor that's baffling. About a month ago I got a visitor from the Latvian Defense Ministry. Last week I got one from the US Air Force Academy. I get the odd visitor from Universities in England and Australia. I can't really explain any of this other than folks find me through Blogger. Some stay a while, most move on. That's OK, if there's nothing here for you, I expect you to move on. If you like it, then read and comment, I'm happy to have it. I just hope I haven't inadvertently given any state secrets to our nation's arch enemies, the Latvians......


Thursday, April 14, 2005


Two Condoms at an All Ages Show?

So last night's Dunn Bros. open mic was a blast as usual. All open mics have their own vibe, Dunn Bros. seems to be that just when you think nobody's going to show that it just explodes. The last two weeks it looked like Mike and I were going to be playing all night, interrupted only by the odd straggler off of the street and TSA when he finally arrived after work. Then all of a sudden the sign-up sheet is full and Mike is wondering how he's ever going to fit everybody in. My folks talked about coming out, but I told them that they'd better get there early if they wanted a place to sit. It's seriously getting like that people.

The great thing about open mics in this area is that if you start a new one it'll grow. And another thing I like is that you'll see different folks at all of them. Some people can't make it certain nights of the week. Others don't like establishments that allow smoing or drinking. Some people are just more comfortable one place or another. I'm sure there's more reasons (Dunn Bros. has the hotest chicks who just show up to listen), but each has it's group of regular performers. Sure there's cross-pollination, it's a relatively small musician community, after all. I am starting to think that this town could support another open mic. Hey folks, Monday and Friday are open.....

TSA came down to Dunn Bros. last night trying to remember how a song I wrote went. The horrible thing is that it took me a little while even though I had played it at Borders a few weeks ago. See, the problem with my songs is that I'm not very good on the guitar and I keep using the same chords and chord patterns over and over again. Wyle E. Coyote Blues and Beer is the Answer sound a lot alike simply because I wrote them a long time ago when I had no clue what I was doing. That's not to say that I've grown much as a songwriter since I wrote them, but I've been known to put as many as six, count 'em, six chords in my more recent tunes. I guess that would make Two Condoms twice as good as Beer is the Answer.

TSA and I figured out how Wyle E. Coyote Blues went and decided to play it. Since we spent so much time trying to remember that one song, we had even discussed anything else we wanted to play before we found ourselves on stage. So we kicked off with Wyle E. Coyote Blues which went surprisingly well considering. Trying to decide what to do next, Andy suggested Brian Wilson. His reasons were two fold. Willy Grigg had brought me a copy of Brian Wilson's Smile, the project he was working on when he, well when he went a little nuts as is portrayed in the song. Also's Ken has admitted to waking up hearing that song in his head. Anything to add to anyone's dementia is as good a motto as any, I suppose. We hadn't really decided on a finisher, and since Mojo is a little long and it was pretty late, that was out. A quick scan of Dunn Bros. revealed that no one under 18 was in the joint. So I just said "Two Condoms" to Andy. He gave me an odd look. "I'm serious, Two Condoms!" So we gave it a go. It's a simple song about a skanky former girlfriend. I'm sure it's a theme that's been repeated by amateur songwriters the world over in a myriad of syles and languages. No real insight here, I suppose, but it usually gets a giggle out of people. As I've stated many times before, that's mostly what I'm going for in anything I write.

I was so excited at how well it went that I blurted out the name of the woman I wrote it about. Maybe that will get on the web site, maybe it won't. Then again, since that woman's son is a psychic I'm sure she knows that I've written a song about her.....


Wednesday, April 13, 2005


This is not the XYZ School District Bitch Blog

So I almost spilled the beans today. A student who I've had in several classes wanted to show me some cartoons that he'd downloaded for a project. Funny stuff. He also told me a really cool joke that I need to use on stage some time. Back to the cartoons, I was about to tell him that I did some digital cartooning and was going to tell him about the good old Globex Corporation Newsletter. That probably would have been a bad idea. I'm not ashamed of anything I post here and while I don't make a concious effort to keep it clean, I'm not spewing filth. This blog tends to be just slightly less colorful in it's language than I am in my actual speech. None of that is the problem. What is a problem is that I tend to write about things having to do with my work. I don't always refer to faculty, staff or administration in the most admirable terms. I've been known to slam the occasional student for acting like an idiot. Hey, it's my blog, I can do whatever I want. On the other hand, this blog isn't for specifically doing those kinds of things. Like I said in my last post, a lot of times this is just a place that I bitch. Like anyone in the world of work, I sometimes bitch about my job.

I guess my point is that I don't need to tell students, faculty or staff about my blog. If someone stumbles across it, fine. In case you haven't figured it out by now, my parents did not give me the name "Blind Orange" Julius. That gives me a level of plausible deniability. If someone stumble across the site, they most likely won't put two and two together anyway.

On the other hand, it is pretty well known by friends and family that I sometimes refer to myself as BOJ. I use the name on a political blog as well, where my digital cartoons often end up. There's the possibility that some of my cartoons may end up in the local paper. If that happens, I'll try to keep BOJ as my signature there as well. It's not a secret that I'm "Blind Orange" Julius, it's just that sometimes I prefer to keep a level of anonymity. It would never hold up to very deep digging, but it's not really intended to. If you really want to find out my real name (those of you who don't know) it's not to tough to do. I did it on accident one time.

So back to spilling the beans. If that same student were surfing the net one evening and found the Globex Corporation Newsletter, he'd most likely surf by. Failing that, if he found something that interested him, a digital cartoon or the like, he most likely wouldn't figure out who I am. If he were to read this post, he most likely wouldn't know that it was him I was referring to in this very sentence. Since this blog isn't called the XYZ School District Bitch Blog he, another student, staff or administration isn't going to know it's about the XYZ School District.

And that's the way it should be. I'm not trying to change the administration of the school district I work in, I'm just an employee, generally gruntled, though sometimes disgruntled, who is venting into cyber-space. Bitching about my job isn't the primary aim of this blog, though some weeks it may seem that is. No, this is mainly about bitching about my life, the job is just a small part of that.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I Want To Be Mike Reid, But Not Because He Played Football

So I'm well over 100 posts now. It's hard to believe that I can write so many words and still manage to say nearly absolutely nothing. I'm just trying to write a little something every day. Ocasionally it's going to be good. Most of the time it's going to be crap. Most of the time it's just going to be me bitching about something or chronicling the mundane occurances in my life. Sometimes I'm going to have real insight. I guess this blog will continue to be hit and miss, just like real life.

Also I'm nearing the 1000 visitors mark. That amazes me. A lot of those 1000 are people I know, but a good portion are people I don't. A bitchy Valentine's Day post got me the most visitors and a couple of responses. When I started this, I didn't ever think that anyone would read it. I still write it as if nobody's reading it. I guess if I were trying to get readers I'd make up better stuff than the crap I post here. No, this is what it is. When I figure out exactaly what it is, I'll be sure to let you know.

Another uneventful day as a sub. I had a computer class at the high school today. The students were working on a Power Point presentation. Most of the students were quite happy to work on the project. Some weren't, and it's hard to tell when a student is looking for pictures or music for a legitimate project, or just looking at pictures for something to do. I gave 'em a lot of lattitude. I was able to help a few students with some Photoshop stuff. I have a feeling I have a better grasp of that particular application than anyone else at that school. I guess you could say I actually made some money with my Photoshop skills today then. I guess that would be a first.

There was an assembly at the end of the day. The speaker was a former NFL football player now associated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. After finding out that he played for the Bengals and the approximate years he played, I wanted to talk to him about a former teammate of his, linebacker Mike Reid. Mike Reid was a good, if not great, linebacker for the Bengals in the '70's. He quit football at his peak to move to Nashville and pursue a career as a songwriter. I remember when he did that, but never heard from him again until years later. He wrote a couple of songs for some Bonnie Raitt albums in the early '90's. One of them, a ballad called Too Soon to Tell is one of my favorite Bonnie Raitt songs.

Once I hit junior high, I was absolutely crazy about football. I'd shown no interest in it before. I remember the 7th grade middle weight football coach trying to get me to go out for the team. I just wasn't intersted. In eighth grade I showed a little interest, but once again didn't go out for the team. I had knee trouble during my freshman year and didn't go out for the team. As a sophomore, I finally gave organized football a shot. I won't kid you or myself, I wasn't very good. Yet, I was good enough to earn a starting spot as a defensive tackle on the JV squad. Maybe if I'd played before that, I'd have been a little better by that time. I tore up my knee during two-a-day drills as a junior, and a doctor convinced me not to go back to it. He was right, even if I'd have been playing for a number of years at that point, I was just never going to be a great football player. I knew that then and I know that now. Still, through my college and early professional years if you'd have asked me what I wanted to be, if God would immediately give me the talent to pursue any career at the highest level, I'd have picked professional football player over anything else.

By the time I got married and subsequently divorced, my goals had changed. I had started to play harp a little, had picked up the guitar some, had written a couple of songs. If God would have immediately given me the talen to pursue any career at it's highest point at that point in my life, I'd have picked musician.

Mike Reid was both. He was a good enough football player to start for a pro team for a number of years. He ended up being a good enough musician to write songs that appeared on two wildly successful albums. I guess because he had succeded at both of my dreams, I always found him fascinating.

I never made it as a football player. In retrospect, I'm pretty happy about that. I'm glad I attempted to play the game, I still love it and have a better understanding of it by having played it at even a low level. The people I played football with, though, are in their 40's now. None of them played at a very high level, my guess is that few, if any, are playing tackle football today at any level.

I just turned 40, I started playing music with a little seriousness a little more than a year ago. I'm no professional, but I just got back from an open mic, a guy stopped me in the parking lot to tell me that he enjoyed what I did. I play a couple of times a week, occasionally playing with professionals who seem to think I'm good enough to play with them. I'm not getting big headed about this, I've been around enough real musicians to know that I'm not one. I'm having a great time playing music though, and I'll continue to be able to do so for the rest of my life. Had I decided I needed to be a football player, I'd be at the end now, looking regretfully back at missed opportunities. As it is, I'm looking forward, every time I pick up a harp, I play a little better than I did the last time. My skills haven't dropped off the radar yet.


Monday, April 11, 2005


This Just In: The Wind is Blowing in Rapid City

Buffalo Herd
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
No particular reason for the photo other than I took it recently and I like it. It would have actually worked better with the previous post as I actually reference this buffalo herd I ran across while driving back from Hot Springs yesterday. And before I get any hate mail, I realize that they are actually called American Bison. The Buffalo is actually an old world animal. The Bison was called a Buffalo by eary explorers and the name just sort of stuck. Yes I know the difference, but you'll never hear anyone around here call them bison.

Last night's open mic went well. Gotta welcome back Eric from Detroit, and we were all treated to a Firewater performance last night. TSA and I even convinced them to play the Black Sabbath classic "War Pigs." It's a great song and they do it exceptionally well, but my reasons for liking it tend more towards comedy.

The Slappy is Jebus boys got a whole 5 songs last night. As usual, the guys at the bar loved us, just what is my connection with drunks? I beg you, don't answer that! TSA was on a borrowed 12 string last night as he busted a string on Miss Taylor (the younger, more attractive model). Thanks to Uncle Bill for the loaner. "Got My Mojo Workin'" has turned into a real crowd pleaser. If we actually ever got called for encores, we'd have to save it for that. As it is we finish with it as my voice always ends up trashed when we're finished with it. Actually last night I felt better at the end than normal. Had things turned out different, I would have been able to go up and do another set. As it was, musicians showed up and our services were no longer required.

Worked a half day today. This was the easiest duty I've ever had, I showed up at 11:30 to work a half day for a Language Arts teacher. When I arrived she she wasn't leaving until the last two periods of the day. So while she taught a class, I offered my services to other members in the team (keep it clean folks - correcting papers or stuff) but had no takers. I read for that period, went to lunch at my parents house. Returned to school just in time for a planning period, then had one class period where the kids were just reading. The day ended with a study hall, this study hall seemed to be smaller than most, so they were really easy to handle. Read a little while later and picked up my time card. I noticed that they made a half hour error on my card in my favor. I'll correct that out of guilt over getting paid too many hours for doing absolutely nothing today. I'd probably do that even if they worked me like a dog.

The wind has been blowing here like crazy the last couple of days. Living in western South Dakota that's hardly worth mentioning, akin to reporting that the sun came up that morning. I mention it because I had something intersting happen after open mic last night. As I headed for the door after putting my car in the garage, a gust of wind took my Jeopardy! cap off of my head and blew it up onto the roof of the garage. I figured it was gone, that it would be somewhere around Scottsbluff, NE by morning. It was caught in the rain gutter, though, and seemingly wedged in their pretty good. I've still got pretty good "ups" but I was unable to jump high enough to get the cap off of the roof. I didn't know how long it would stay there in the high wind, so I ran up to my apartment (third floor) as fast as I could, dropped off my stuff and grabbed a broom and a mop. I knew that if I just poked at the hat, the wind would take it once it was loose and it would be in Robbinsdale before I could run around to the other side of the garage. By having two long handled items, I was able to grab the cap, using the implements like a large pair of chopsticks. Hey it worked, and I still have my favorite baseball cap. Quick thinking saves the day!


Sunday, April 10, 2005


Music, Coffee, Buffalo and John Coltrane

A good time was had at the Flatiron by all last night. It had been a long time since I'd spent any time at all in Hot Springs other than driving thourgh (on the truck bypass, no less) on my way to and from California. Having not spent any time there in so long, I was absolutely amazed by the architecture of the town as a whole. They are blessed to be near a source of sandstone which is used quite liberally in the downtown area. It's certainly beautiful and if you haven't been to the southern hills in a while, it's worth the trip.

The Flatiron is right downtown, a beautiful little coffee bar with guest suites upstairs. The room where Mike and I played was small but intimate. Though I don't think we ever had more than 20 people in the room at one time, they did have to bring in some extra chairs for us. Mike played quite a bit solo, I helped him out on quite a few tunes that we'd worked on during the week and Amy from Casper, Wyoming joined us on bass for quite a few numbers. The room was small enough that Amy's voice could be heard without a microphone (at least I hope it could be heard) and the third vocal part on the songs we all did together was sure welcome. I actually got to drop into a baritone on a couple of tunes, something I've never done on stage before. Amy is a great bass player, too, able to dovetail nicely with everything Mike was doing.

There was a little gathering in the suite after the performance. Since the grill was closed by the time we finished playing, there were no eats for the hungry musicians. Gloria was our savior, running home and getting some pesto, alfredo sauce, spaghetti and salad for us to enjoy with the wine and homebrew that flowed pretty freely. Bellies full of pasta and alcohol, everything broke up at about 3am.

I was up by 9am and headed downstairs for a cup of coffee. I considered blogging on the internet terminal provided in the coffee bar, but just updated the poll instead of trying to organize my thoughts. Soon after I was on the road.

Instead of heading back up SD79, I decided to drive US385 through Wind Cave National Park, Pringle, Custer and Hill City. Again a part of the country that I haven't been to in quite a long time, and again, well worth the effort. I ran into a buffalo herd in the park, took a few photos and generally enjoyed the drive listening to John Coltrane in the tape deck. I can't really think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning. I should have grabbed a cup of coffee on my way out the door to make my experience complete, but it was pretty good as it was.

All in all, I've had worse weekends in my life.


Friday, April 08, 2005


Confessions of a Beer Snob

I try my damndest, but I have to admit I'm a beer snob. I read once that beer is the most democratic of alcoholic beverages, until the last couple of hundred years brewed in homes as much in commercial breweries or ale houses. As breweries sprung up, they were regional. Beer, unlike wine or distilled spirits, has a relatively short shelf life. In the days before refridgeration, beer tended to brewed from local commodities and distributed in a very small region. Some regions undoubtedly brewed better beer than others (still do), but rivalries couldn't really exist outside of adjacent regions because of the difficulty in transporting the product.

Improved bottling techniques, refridgeration, and improved transportation changed brewing forever. Brewing was no longer done regionally, but nationally. A huge brewer could produce huge amounts of beer at less cost per unit volume and thus have a larger profit margin. To do this, they had to create brews that had huge market appeal. American brewers chose a style of beer that came from Bohemia and Bavaria, the Pilsner. A Pilsner is light, malty and not usually overly bitter. And as brewers tried to create a larger market share, they realized that a Pilsner would appeal more to women, a market sector that had been neglected by brewers.

Regional brewers still survived, though. A lot of people didn't like the beer the national brewers were making or wanted the choice to drink something other than a Pilsner. Regional breweries probably would have continued in the United States were it not for the totally backward thinking people who forced Prohibition on this country. Suddenly the smaller regional breweries couldn't make their product anymore. The large national breweries survived by contnuing to make malt for the food industry as well as getting into other things. Coors, for example created soft drinks and glassware. It wasn't so easy for the smaller breweries. Unable to adapt to a world without beer, most folded. A glorious age in our country ended with Prohibition, an age when any town of consequence had its own brewery, creating a product unique to the ingredients available and the tastes of its customers.

There's nothing wrong with a Pilsner, even the American bastardization of the style. Good americnan Pilsners exist today, Leinenkugle Lager would be a fine example. And if you don't like Leine's, that's fine, it was originally brewed from ingredients found near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, for local residents, there are other Pilsners out there, brewed by small old breweries like Yngling in Pennsylvania.

I for one seek out those small breweries. I know there's been something of a revolution in brewing in this country in the last 20 years. Lots of small breweries have sprung up, microbreweries and brew-pubs. A chef and beer afficianado once told me that he believes more different styles of beer are brewed in America than in any other country on earth. He went so far as to say we're the best brewing country in the world. I wouldn't go that far, but the state of brewing in our nation is pretty good right now.

When I moved to California from Minnesota I was afraid my local beer choices would be limited. I shouldn't have been. Dozens of small breweries exist on the west coast, some of my favorite beers come from small California breweries. The best Oktoberfest I've ever had, other than an imported one from Bavaria, is Gordon Biersch Brewery's Marzen. When I moved back to South Dakota I feared the same thing. Never fear, small breweies have sprung up in Colorado and Montana. Good ales and lagers, Belgian styles from New Belgium Brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The state of brewing in this country is strong.

But as a beer snob, I must admit that I enjoy the occasional mass produced Pilsner. Yes, I have the occasional Coors Light or gasp! even a Malt Liquor. Beer is democratic. Everyone has the right to make it, even in their own homes. I'm just happy that beer is no longer a two party system........

I probably won't do this too often, but This Week's Song to your immeiate left (well, somewhere on that bar) isn't a Slappy is Jebus song. This week I've linked to Starin' at My Ceiling by Brian Sharp. He's getting a hand on guitar from Joe Bukholz. Brian has sat in with SIJ a couple of times, and as the former bass player for P957, he's someone who's music I know pretty well. This is a songs that I aboslutely loved the first time I heard it. When Brian played it Dunn Bros. one Wednesday night, everyone who had ever heard it before started singing along. Give it a listen, you'll find yourself singing along too.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Andy Kaufman's Not Dead! It's Just Part of His Act

Today was one of those good days. It was a full day of work, and even though it was a day before a three day weekend, the kids weren't too antsy. At least not in any way that I wasn't able to difficult to handle. I was subbing the same place I did yesterday, for a teacher that left part way through the day, who is apparently going to be out a few more days. I don't know what's up and I'd rather not know as the students are all asking. If it's something I'm not supposed to tell them (which it seems like) it's better that I don't know.

So I started off with 9th grade English. They had just taken a test on George Orwell's Animal Farm yesterday, so today we watched a movie based on the book. We got to see the best production of Animal Farm that I've ever seen, the Hallmark/Turner production from a few years back with Peter Ustinov as "Old Major," Kelsey Grammer as "Snowball" and Julia Ormond as the dog who's name escapes me for the moment. OK, only getting to see the first half of it and having to watch it 4 times was a little annoying, but I've spent my day worse ways before.

During Study Hall in 4th period I received a lesson plan from the missing teacher. The great thing about that is that it was everything I was already doing or had planned to do. Additionally, the things she asked me to do extra I had already done. Good lord, have I actually turned into a teacher? Anyway, it's validating to know that my instincts were right on everything.

One thing that constantly amazes me having taught grades 6 - 12 in the last couple months is the maturity differences between grades. The difference between a sixth and seventh grader, for example, is absolutley huge. The differences are smaller as the kids get older, but they're still there. I prefer the more mature kids, I have a harder time with the younger ones, not that I don't enjoy younger kids, but I feel more comfortable the more mature the kids are. So the day started with 9th graders, not bad, but there's still some middle school immaturity in them at that age. Nothing I can't handle. One of the kids I get along with best at the high school is a ninth grader, primarily because we had a long and meaningful discussion about the films of Kevin Smith. He calls me Dante. People who know me will find that hilarious.

So after beginning the day with ninth graders I got to finish with a 10th grade honors English class. OK, so not only are they a year older, they're more serious students and have a little more going on intellectually. It's a group I could relate to a little more. In that class they were doing on final student's demonstrative speech (graded by another teacher, thanks to the state who decided that a certified teacher needed to grade such a thing) and taking a vocabulary quiz. While I'm reading off the words I mentioned something about a first season Simpson's episode. That spun off into Itchy & Scratchy which we all agreed that we would watch if it were a real cartoon. I mentioned that The Roadrunner really was every bit as violent as I & S just minus the squirting guts. That spun off into Andy Kaufman and his alter ego Tony Clifton. After settling down on the extraneous comments and finishing up the quiz, we had cupcakes. There was a reason for the cupcakes but it's sort of involved, so I'll just say that I enjoyed my cupcake.

The bell rang, everyone left except for one extremely shy girl who hadn't said much during our previous discussions except to come up with the name of Tony Clifton when nobody else could. She asked me if I knew that Bob Zmuda occasionally played Tony Clifton to further screw with Andy Kaufman's audience. I did know that, having seen Tony and Andy together on TV once. This girl and I proceeded to have this animated discussion about Kaufman's career. She was a huge Kaufman fan and talked about all of his odd antics with a real excitement. We had a really nice talk, I told her how a lot of the stuff from "Man on the Moon" played out in real life as I was about her age when most of the stuff portrayed in that movie actually happened.

I had a good day at work, the choices I'd made on what to do with the kids were validated by their teacher, the ninth graders gave me little trouble, even study hall was pretty mellow. When I get to spend the last hour of my day at work talking about cartoons and Andy Kaufman with a group of intelligent 10th graders, well, I'm pretty happy. Then again, it doesn't take much to make me happy.



....And I'm Never Gonna Be Dylan.....

Just a short one before a day at work.

I don't know why I haven't blogged at all this week. I've been busy, but not that busy. Maybe I haven't been inspired. I usually just decide I want to write something then just sit down and start. Most of the time I don't have an idea when I start writing, I'm just filling space. Like right now......

Missed Joe's open mic on Tuesday. Here they were a little light. He assures me that it's not going anywhere which is good to hear. I was over at Mike's playing with him a little bit. We worked out some tunes as I'm playing with him in Hot Springs on Saturday night. Two bedroom suite comes with the gig, so it's an overnighter. Should be a lot of fun. When we started playing, the first thing we worked out was a Willy Grigg tune, "After All We've Done." Playing a Willy Grigg tune makes me feel so cool! Playing covers is one thing, playing covers by someone I know is even cooler.

Last night's open mic was fun. I showed up early to play a little with Mike. We did a few tunes, I'll show up anywhere to play a Bob Dylan tune with mic. Playing harp on a Dylan song is so cool, because, and this is no offense to Mr. Dylan, the bar isn't set to high. It's all about feeling, not technical skill. I love Bob Dylan, but to quote Willy Grigg "but I'm not Bob Dylan and I'm never going to be Dylan....". I enjoy playing Springsteen songs on harp for the same reason. Both are known for their harp playing, but it's not really their strength. There music just lends itself to a little harp line here and there. I play differently than both of them, they both tend to blow chords and play in a choppy style, I try to blow single notes and be a little smoother. When I play a Dylan tune, I try to end every solo with a big fat chord out of respect for the way he does things.

So we did Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," Toad the Wet Sprocket's "Walk on the Ocean," the Eagles' "Hotel California," more in a Gypsy Kings style and finished it up with creator of Ken's all-time favorite, BNL's "Brian Wilson." It ended up being a really busy night. TSA didn't show, I had a phone message when I got home that he wasn't feeling well, but if he did there wasn't an actual guarantee that we'd play. Well, there probably was because of who we are, but not playing gave some other people a little more time.

I finished the nght playing with Angel. That was interesting because she's a relatively new guitar player and really plays to her own rhythm anyway. Sometimes hard to follow, but that's really good for me, as I sometimes assume too much when I play. Having to acutally listen is never bad for me.

Quite a few students from the school I sub at were in attendence. At least one girl said, "Hey, that's that guy who subbed for us in......." Not that I'll have to deal with that, but now kids will be asking me about it. Luckily, not too many students at the high school know about my appearance on Jeopardy!.....


Monday, April 04, 2005


Gotta Love Him..... Or He'll Sue You......

Boy do I wish I could tell you where that comes from, but then, I might get sued too.......

So how have I been enjoying all of the fake money? Yo, I been drivin' around in my faux pimp-ass Benzle, wearing all that pretend Bling - Damn, it feels good to be a Gangsta......

Open mic was a hoot last night. Brian joined TSA and I on stage last night for what can only be called Patient 717.75. Actually I'm sure it could be called lots of other things, but that uses mathematics, and to me, nothing is funnier than math related humor. We played 4 songs Brian had never played before, TSA taught him Brian Wilson while SMB was setting me up, then he learned Who's Been Talkin', Got My Mojo Workin' and Vibrator Dependent on the fly. Not that those last 3 are very difficult to add bass to, but Brian did a fantastic job on them. So last week it was Mojo with drums, this week it's Mojo with bass. What's that leave, Mojo with harpsichord? Actually, I'll give my car to anyone who shows up to open mic with a harpsichord. Parody - Offer will not be honored.

It's off to school this morning. I've got the same group of kids I had last Friday. Funny how I only seem to get called in the morning when the normal woman who does the calling isn't there. Gotta love her.... or - well, you know the rest.

McKinley Morganfield
a.k.a. "Muddy Waters"
April 4, 1915 - April 30, 1983


Saturday, April 02, 2005


Fake Money is Almost as Good as Real Money

So how do I plan to spend all of the fake money? Well, I'll spend half of it on make believe booze and pretend women, and the rest I'll just waste......

That's right folks, all of the fake money is mine! Proving once again that I can't make predictions, Tim was knocked out early, so now he's the only one who hasn't won. Erica was out soon after Tim,both of them getting beaten out on hands that I sucked out on the river, leaving just TSA Corrine and me. I really should have taken it easy on TSA since without him I really sound like crap, but he kept betting with me when I actually had decent hands. Sorry man. I finally got him out on a medum sized pair (like every woman I've ever dated, well there was that one girl from the small town in Nebraska.......). Corrine was a different story (I mean cards-wise, not the medium sized pair). She had gained a decent chip lead on me in the three handed play so I was really baffled at what to do in heads up action. She played pretty tight, so I knew I was actually going to have to have an actual good hand to beat her. I chased a few decent hands, but folded when she didn't back down to my half-hearted raise attempts. She went all in a couple of times after I reestablished a small chip lead, and I let her have the pots. The third time, though I called her. I didn't have much, but it was more than she had. Made me wonder if I should have called her on the other big bets, but that's the way the game is played.

And Andy called it "Betting Fuel," apparently alcohol has some effect on how well you play the game. Yes, it was my first night playing poker and drinking. I guess that's what was missing from the equation all along. Who new that when they brough me free drinks while playing poker in Vegas that they were actually doing me a favor? OK, maybe it didn't work quite so well there, but it did work tonight. Beer is the answer. And as we learned a couple of weeks ago, Slappy is Jebus. So what was the question? And by the way, which one's Slappy?

And just what was I drinking tonight? I saw some "Black Hook" from the Red Hook brewery at the liquor store on the way over to T.S.A. Friday's. It was a London style porter that was not without its charm. I've never attempted a porter, but every time I have one I resolve to try one at home. Maybe soon. Had one of Tim's cream stouts as well. Actually, the two were quite similar, though the cream stout was much smoother.

The night started with the finishing brewing touches on an Oktoberfest style. TSA had his own name for it since he didn't get the brewing started during the month of March, but may I also suggest Moktoberfest? Just a thought.



Thanks, Saudis!

Gas Prices
Originally uploaded by Blind Orange Julius.
I drove from Long Beach back to Rapid City a couple of years ago. I didn't have a full tank of gas when I left, but prices were pretty high in my area, so I figured I could pick up gas a little cheaper on the drive out. Garden Grove, Anaheim, San Bernadino, they were all pretty high. I new that once I climbed out of the LA basin and drove across the mojave that prices would get higher, but I hadn't used much gas on this early part of my trip and figured I could get as far as Vegas. At that time, anyway, gas was usually a little cheaper in Vegas. So I hit Barstow, gas was pretty high, luckily there were a few places to stop between there and Vegas and I thought I could make it all the way. As I came down the big hill and crossed the state line into Nevada, it was pretty clear that I wasn't going to make it into Vegas on one tank of gas so I pulled into a Chevron station in the border gaming town of Primm.

At this point I had never paid more than $2 for a gallon of gas. I'd seen prices that high, but had been able to avoid paying that much. That was something I was pretty proud of. Well, my little stop in Primm set my personal record for price paid for a gallon of gas, $2.369. I guess if you're gonna break a record, you might as well smash it.

I realize that other parts of the country are paying a lot more for gas than we are here in Rapid City. People are regularly paying more than the border gouging I received in Primm, but this is Rapid City, SD. We had never seen over $2 a gallon here until a couple of weeks ago, and it's been climbing steadily since. Last I checked, it was $2.219 at most every station. Since all of the gas in this town is supplied by a handful of crooks, the prices are always in line at the major retailers.

I know it's higher other places, so I'm not complaining about the price I'm paying for gas, but the price that we all are. I was gouged in Primm, NV a couple of years ago, Rapid City is regularly gouged by a crook named Gil Moyle (among others, I used to work for Moyle, so I know what an ass he is). But now we're all being systematically gouged by OPEC.

It was my understanding that one of the justifications for the first Gulf War was a fear that Hussein, after conquering Kuwait, would move into Saudi Arabia. Geez, if today's gas prices are the way the Saudis thank us when we save their asses from an insane dictator, I'd hate to see what happens if we ever piss them off! Face it, they owe us. The Bush family has helped prop up this corrupt dictatorship, don't fool yourself, that's what the Saudis are. Are the Bushes that poor at business that they aren't getting anything in return? I mean, it's pretty obvious that W is, but his dad seemed to be a little more on the ball than that.


Friday, April 01, 2005



It was seventh graders today. Actually seventh graders weren't nearly as horrible as I remembered. Actually, there's two groups of seventh graders where I sub, I think today I got the better half of them. Still had a problem kid or two, but as a guy who seldom raises his voice, when I do, the kids usually take notice and do what they're told. That is unless they're unbelievably stupid, and believe me, there's a few of them out there. George Carlin once said "Imagine how stupid the average person is, then realize that half of the people are stupider than that!" Words to live by folks, words to live by.....

Just checked out the Acrossroads site. The new music is up. Only two Slappy is Jebus songs made the cut, but we were pushed pretty late once again. Hey it happens, and Ken recorded a lot of stuff that night. Finally got a good recording of Rollin' & Tumblin' so the night was more than worth while. As always it was a fun time down at the old Dunn Bros. open mic.

So, the Songwriter's Invitational is coming up. TSA and I have decided to do our bit at Dunn Bros. We get 3 songs, and a shot at some local radio time. We haven't decided what to play yet, haven't even really even talked about it. I suppose Two Condoms is a must since I wrote it after last years event. After that, I just don't know. I like the new one Home Sweet Home but I might need to tweek it a little before something like this. The other ones I've written that we do or have done are Wyle E. Coyote Blues and Beer is the Answer. Martha Stewart Christmas would be cool, but it's not the season and since Martha is out of prison it's not really topical. Why did I write a Christmas song in the middle of December that was only going to be topical for about two weeks and only relevant for one year? We could do I Wanna Marry a Stupid Woman or another one I'm working on if I ever get it finished. We may have to ask for an official ruling if we wanted to do Plastic Jesus. It's public domain, but we've got 3 original verses we do in it. I'm probably forgetting some, but that's sort of a list of what we have to pick from.

After that, we'll have to start thinking about Heritage Festival. That will be a different thing all together as we'll really have to clean it up for that show. SIJ staple Two Condoms and Vibrator Dependent are out, probably Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus?, too. We have discussed a couple of new tunes to add, notably Jethro Tull's Aqualung (happy Derek?) and the old Guess Who via Patient 957 song American Woman. Andy and I were sort of able to do that as a duo, actually I'm the problem as I kept forgetting the words. Luckily, I still remember that intricate kazoo through wax paper solo that seemed to make everybody giggle. Or not, man people loved when we did that song, getting up and dancing to what we all thought was a joke. Hey, the audience is always right. I also did a little work this week on BNL's Be My Yoko Ono. Did work, yeah, I downloaded the chords from the internet and made sure they sounded OK. Nearly wore me out. I think Tenacious D's Sasquatch would be a cool tune for us to do, a guy told me this week that we remind him of the D. High praise as far as I'm concerned, so I'll take it.

But after the Heritage Festival it's all about fun again. Not that it's not all about fun now, and not that music on our level is ever really work. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it. And even when everything around it was bad as it was at the end with 957, or when everything else in my life is crap, music is the one thing that always makes me feel good. Next time I'm not feeling up to it, I'll play that open mic and see if it improves my outlook.

....and that's it sir.....


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The Bert Convey
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