Sunday, November 27, 2005


Today's Giggle

Really, I don't understand why people read the crap I post here. If you want to read something really cool, read THIS from old friend, ewink, now a news photographer for a TV station in Las Vegas.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Nobody will pay me for the stuff I like to do.
Like that makes me different than anybody else.....
Someday I swear I'll make money doing something that I truely enjoy doing. Until then, I'll just continue to bitch about the fact that nobody will. The fun part, of course, is coming up with interesting ways to bitch about it.

The fact that anybody has ever paid me any money to play music still astounds me. I've actually managed to make more money playing music this year then I spent buying harmonicas. And except for a Bb harp with a bad key, I'm actually doing pretty good in the harp department at the present time.

As for blogging and writing, well I guess I really do it because I enjoy it. The $27.50 loss quoted was for the purchase of a new mouse after the old one crapped out this past spring. As I use that mouse for other things besides blogging it's probably not fair to put that whole loss into that category, but it looks cool that way, so what the hell.

Graphics, well, it's become pretty apparent that nobody will ever pay me to do that. Oddly enough, I have absolutely no desire to quit. Getting a copy of Photoshop with my digital camera was more of a life changing event than owning the camera itself. My recent penchant for making USA Today style graphs about my own feelings is sort of freeing, both emotionally and creativly.

As for the last category, well, even if it were legal for me to receive payment for that, I doubt that I'd ever make much money. A string of former girlfriends would most likely confirm that. Of course, the subject is moot as I haven't done that in quite a while. I remember it being pretty cool though. Even better than music.


Thursday, November 24, 2005


The Triumphant Return of Recipe Thursday

That's right folks, it's Recipe Thursday: The Thanksgiving Edition:

Recipe for Thanksgiving

1 (or more) Turkey too large for number of people attending
Enough side dishes to feed neighborhood
Pie (preferably not in chart form) and assorted desserts

Upon sitting at table, loosen belt and unbuckle pants. You'll need the extra room. Eat Turkey and side dishes until absolutely stuffed, only then shall the pie and other desserts be introduced. Decide you should only have a little piece of pie but have two pieces of differing varieties just to make the creators of each happy. Retire to living room to watch football. At some point give thanks that you're not a Detroit Lions fan. Fall asleep as Broncos at Cowboys turns into a rout for the good guys (you decide who the good guys are, it will be divided in our house this afternoon). At some point, honestly give thanks for what you have. My life sucks, but I still have plenty to be thankful for. Don't forget to have a little sandwich later in the afternoon. Be sure to eat as much as you did earlier in the day. Enjoy more pie.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Stories From the Road

I'm well rested, showered and I've put out all of the little fires that were smoldering at home while I was on the road. I should start a load of laundry, but there'll be time for that over the next couple of days, so it can wait. Bread for the Thanksgiving celebration with my family is getting read as I type, so pull up a chair and listen to a few stories from Mike & BOJ's amazing road trip to the shores of Lake Michigan.

First of all, I've always thought I had a great sense of direction. How the state of Wisconsin turned me 180 degrees around is beyond me. North was South, East was West in my mind the whole time we were in Two Rivers.
Our Two Rivers hosts John and Susie
with a complimentary Mike Reardon CD and their Westie,
Zeke, whose escape the day before allowed
us to see more of the neighborhood
than we had anticipated.....
I had to remember that Lake Michigan was to the East of us or I'd get hopelessly lost. Luckily I was in site of the lake on most occasions, so everything worked out OK.

We played a small Catholic college in Manitowoc on Friday night, nuns and friends by far outnumbering students in attendence. Playing for nuns was a new experience, though oddly, it didn't change my outlook at all. "Buddy Christ" was also in attendance (thanks MonyP!) as he's become a regular resident of my funky harp case. I cut out a slot for him in the foam and everything.

Mike and I hit the road on Saturday afternoon and headed for Chicago. Mike is from the Boston area, I've lived in much bigger cites than Rapid City in my life, having spent a good deal of time in LA a few years ago.
You find intereting things when you're lost.
How can light be both infinite and limited?
You'd think that at least one of us would have retained some of our urban survival skills, but neither of us was able to remember driving directions told to us and we were unprepared for tolls on the way into Chicago. That said, we did eventually arrive at Lin and Carol's in Chicago (turn right off of Howard at the Popeye's Chicken), Mike's newly purchased cell phone saving the day.

After a shower and bite to eat, people started arriving at our "sold out" house concert, most even agreeing to the suggested donation.
One of our hosts, Lin.
Our host, Lin started off the festivities, doing a few numbers before Mike and I took the stage. I actually met Lin before Mike did as she played an open mic that P957 attempted to host a couple of summers ago. I liked her then but got to know her a little bit better this past summer. She has a remarkably strong voice and a penchant for singing in other languages (Lesotho, Spanish, Portugese and Punjabi on this particular evening).

Then it was Mike and I. Only one other time, with 957, have I played in a concert type of setting.
Mike and I in an obviously staged photo. "Buddy Christ" is visible
on the mantle. We were amply protected through the evening.
That time I'll admit that it actually freaked me out a bit to have everyone in the room looking at me and paying attention to everything I did. So I jokingly told everyone to stop looking at me or leave. Apparently I didn't offend anyone as they all stayed. We were able to get 8 of Mike's orignals, joined by Barb from local band "The Booze Hags" on Mike's Echoes.
"Booze Hag" Barbara
We had only practiced Echoes a couple of times before playing it in frong of a lot of people. Admittedly, the final rehersal probably sounded better than the performance, but we all settled in and found our space in the new arrangement. I was able to do a lot more on harp since I wasn't burdedned by signing harmony for this performance of the song. Barb has an amazing voice and was able to give the song a completely different sound than when Mike and I play it. It's always fun to play with someone new, particularly when she has such fine tast in Korean/Vegan restaurants, something I found out the next day as the three of us had an enjoyable lunch.

We played a number of covers after the originals were through, starting with some Neal Young and Coldplay (you've never heard Yellow until you've heard it with added harmonica!).
The crowd joining in on the "HEY"'s in the Beatles'
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
Of course we played a few Beatles tunes, our You've Got To Hide Your Love Away/Norwegian Wood medley. Lin singing a verse of the later in Punjabi before Mike and I launched into the traditional English. We finished up our portion of the entertainment with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (Reprise)/A Day in the Life. Again, an interesting acoustic arangement that I've managed to find a little harp room in.

After food was served (and a nice scotch and a few beers for the harmonica player),
Mike and I with Babs and Patti, "The Booze Hags."
a jam broke out. I played things in style that I never thought I was capable of. It was certainly one of the most fun musical experiences that I've ever been lucky enough to be a part of.

The next day, Mike, Babs and I met Lin and Carol at Bill's Blues in Evanston for an open mic that we are apparently invited back to any time we want. All of the performer there are, of course, likewise invited to Dunn Bros. in the RC on any Wednesday night. The most hilarious moment of the trip happened as a stranger came up to Barb and asked, quite seriously, "aren't you a Booze Hag?" I believe I have a new pick-up line. It's no "waltzing with the Kaiser," but it's pretty damn funny. Actually, the "Booze Hag" inquiry was quite complimentary from the man who asked her, but I like to just leave it out of context as it makes me laugh that way.

Monday it was out to a western suburb to facilitate and easier escape from the Windy City on Tuesday morning. We were on the road by 6:45am (mountain time, damnit, we're from the time zone that the rest of the country forgot) and got in shortly after 8pm last night. The trip was completely uneventful, which is to say "perfect."

I hope you enjoy the photos and stories. I haven't ever tried to do a post like this before and it was much more time consuming (adding the photos and whatnot) then I thought it would be. Fun though. I hope it was worth it.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


BOJ is Back

....and tired as hell! Eleven hours on the road today, coming back from the west Chicago suburb of Palatine, Illinois. I was unable to access the web after leaving Wisconsin, and frankly a little too busy. Oh well. I'll try to get some photos up tomorrow. Until then, it's bed time.


Friday, November 18, 2005


Greetings from the Road

As Jack Black sang in the phenomeal acoustic metal band Tenacious D, "the road is fu--king hard." Actually the trip to Wisconsin was quite uneventful other than an expired credit card that wasn't discovered until we tried to buy gas with it. Never fear, we were still in Rapid City at the time and true crisis was averted.

Drove as far as Presho the first night, just to get out of town. Thursday's drive was much more manageable after that, arriving in Two Rivers, Wisconsin shortly before 10pm last night.

Adventures today have included retreiving an escaped westie-mix (I got to see a lot of this town this morning!) and a short walk after lunch to get a gas can. Oh, well, I've had worse adventures in my life.

Playing at a small college tonight in Manitowok, just a few miles up the road. May actually help build a Thanksgiving Day Parade float before the show as doing so would also include a meal.

There's snow on the ground here, about thirty degrees Fahrenheit (aboot 0 degrees Celsius for my Canadian friends) as I sit about eight blocks from Lake Michigan. It's sort of a postcard town, exactly what you'd expect to see if you watched a movie about Wisconsin. Why anyone would watch a movie about Wisconsin is beyond me.....

Tomorrow it's a couple hours south to Chicago to play a house part on Saturday night. I know this sounds sort of odd, but the house party is "sold out." BOJ and Mike Reardon are playing a sold out show. That's definitely a first for me. To keep that sounding somewhat impressive, I'll not tell you what number of humans "sold out" entails.

Should the opportunity present itself, I'll try to include some photos in my next post.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005


BOJ is Outta Here

I'll be out of town until next Tuesday evening. That's not bad news or good news, it's just news. Relatively neutral news at that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Mega-Bitch Tuesday

The wind blew ridiculously hard all afternoon yesterday and all last night. I'm tired of it.

I know that lacks the flair of my usual Tuesday bitches, but I can't do a damn thing about the wind blowing. Just like I can't do a damn thing about the fucked up mess my life and the world is.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Positive Monday

Positive Day is postponed until I find something positive to write about.

OK, how about this. Whenever I feel like shit, I can play music. I can forget what a fucked up mess the world and my life are for just a little while. It doesn't change anything though, and when I'm done I just come crashing back down. But for an hour or so I feel almost normal.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I was Wyle E. Coyote,
Jon Wilson was The Roadrunner

My first job in TV was at KDLT in Sioux Falls, SD. I was in a bar in Vermillion when a college friend told me they were looking for someone to operate master control. I didn't know anyone who worked at KDLT, no one I knew from college had any connection with the station. I was completely on my own when I interviewed for that job. I didn't have any "in," I got the job because I somehow impressed them with who I was and even though I had never done that type of work (though I had a degree in Mass Communications for the University of South Dakota), they offered me a job.

I like to think I did a good job. Management told me I did a good job and they were happy to have me there. They always somehow managed to overlook me for any type of promotion or job related perks though.

In a master control environment, mistakes will be made. No operator can go through a week without doing something wrong. Unlike most jobs, though, we were required to write up errors (our own and those of others) on a discrpency report. I wrote up anything that I did wrong, while others tended to only write up things that someone else might have seen or something that could have resulted in a loss of revenue for the station, like a missed commercial break. I tended to be as honest as possible about my errors, whether they involved the loss of money for the fine folks at Heritage Broadcasting or not.

Jon Wilson, another operator, bragged that he hadn't had a 'DR' in over a month. He was a good operator, but I knew he didn't write up everything that he did wrong. I would see things when I was at home that hadn't run smoothly, but when I checked the 'DR' the next day they would never appear. He wasn't writing things up as required. Worse, I would see things that I knew involved paid spots, that I would see get screwed up, and he still wouldn't write them up.

For a while, Jon and I covered the day part, weekday afternoons. I worked Mondays and Tuesdays, Jon worked Wednesday through Friday. The station had dropped the tabloid TV show A Current Affair, but we were still obligated to run the build in commercial breaks in that show until our contract with the producers of A Current Affair expired. To do this, we would record that break of A Current Affair on tape and then replay it in the next show.

The first day I did that, I took a tape off of the top of the rack and recorded the break. When I previewed it, I noted that it had a bad drop-out in it, the video actually disappeared for a couple of seconds. I grabbed another tape, caught another airing of A Current Affair off of the satellite and everything ran as planned. I made a mistake and left the bad tape on top of the deck that we would record that break in.

Jon Wilson didn't catch the error when he came into work. I happened to be watching from home as the video from the A Current Affair commercial break hit air. The video dropped out just as it had for me. I felt bad that I had cause Jon a problem on his shift. On the other hand, it was his responsibility to preview something like that before he put it on the air. I checked the 'DR' the next day I was in and didn't see any mention of the problem. When I looked in the control room, the bad tape was still sitting on top of the deck.

The next week I watched that break and noticed the video dropped out in the middle of it. It did it every day that Jon worked. Again, I checked the 'DR' and there was no mention of the error. It started to become apparent how Jon Wilson was able to go weeks without reporting a discrepency. Namely, he didn't write himself up.

So I told our supervisor about it. Nothing happened. The next week the same thing happened on Jon's shift, the bad tape was still on top of the deck. So I told the department head. Finally the problem was fixed, the bad tape was thrown away. As far as I know, Jon Wilson was never disciplined for not reporting and error that went on for a couple of weeks. In fact, Jon Wilson was soon after given a different shift. He did have to work mornings, but he had every weekend off.

The mornings apparently didn't agree with Jon Wilson, though. He tended to have trouble getting into work for sign on. Sign on was at 6am, but that was part of the job. During that time, KDLT ran some sort of Ag report show at 6am, NBC News at Sunrise at 6:30 and The Today Show from 7 to 9. The Ag show was on tape, recorded overnight. A number of times, the Ag show didn't run because Jon didn't get into the station until well after 6. Again, there were paid spots during that show that didn't air, costing the station money. Sometimes Jon would write the discrepency up, sometimes he wouldn't.

During that time, I lived about 2 minutes walking distance from KDLT. If Jon didnt show up, the engineer on duty would call me at home. I would throw on some clothes and work the morning until Jon came in. Since the station was paying me for my time, they had to have known that Jon wasn't making it into work. Jon continued to get a pay check, though.

Eventually I got a job directing at KDLT, something that Jon seemingly took great offense at. My old master control position was filled by one of the part-time high school age camera operators who lived at home with his parents. My job was to direct the weekend newscasts, that is until KDLT dropped their weekend newscasts 3 months later.

Through no fault of my own, I was out of a job. A high school kid who was living at home had my old job, the station was unwilling to let him go to keep me. The station also opted to keep Jon Wilson, who falsefied documents and didn't show up to work on time or at all instead of me.

Jon Wilson, who didn't do his job well, who didn't even care enough to fucking show up to work stayed on at KDLT for a few years before moving on to KELO where he now works co-hosts their morning show. He doesn't even list his years at KDLT in his bio on KELO's website.

Jon Wilson and I theoretically operated under the same set of rules while working at KDLT. I did my job well, he did his poorly. He continued to be employed there, I didn't.

I try to be an honest person. I try to be hard working and dependable. When I'm employed by a company, it's my opinion that the very least I can do is be there and ready to work at the appointed time, I have always done my best to do this.

As near as I can tell, I'm a fucking idiot for ever even trying. It as never proven to be to my benefit. All it has ever done is proven to be a frustration as I watch others with no values, no dedication pass me by.

You'd think that I'd have learned in 1991, when Jon Wilson was pulling all of his crap. I still tried, though. I tried and I was the one who got beaten down while others put out half-assed effort and were rewarded.

Wyle E. Coyote

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Friday, November 11, 2005


Too Many Miles, Not Enough Sleep

Since my last post, I have been on the road for 12 hours. Coincidentally, I've also slept about 12 hours. I'm back at home, though, and damn glad to be here. I looked for a place to post last night, but the place I was staying didn't have a computer I could use and I couldn't find a coffee shop that had net service either. Unfortunately I don't know Cheyenne Wyoming all that well, other than how to get to Echostar Communications and Little America, two locations I had visited last time I was in Cheyenne Wyoming.

The last time I was in Cheyenne, I was living in Long Beach, California. Having applied for work at Echostar (you would probably know it as Dish Network) times in the past, some of their folks called me to ask if I was interested in a job. I have ample experience in the Direct Broadcast Satellite field, having worked for the other two major providers, USSB and DirecTV.

So they contacted me. I told them that I was going to be in Rapid City over the time that they wanted to interview me, and I could save them a nice chunk of change by driving down instead of being flown out from LAX. Nobody got back to me. I was instructed that people would be getting in touch with me. They never did. I emailed the only guy had been in contact with and asked him what was up. He gave me the email of the woman who was supposed to contact me. I emailed her. She said she wasn't told to call me. Basically, the whole thing turned into a giant cluster fuck.

Eventually we worked out the whole interview thing, and my driving down was fine with them. I was at my parents house when I got a phone call, they wanted me to show up two hours earlier than I had originally planned. This was less than 10 hours than I was going to leave, but I agreed and adjusted my schedule accordingly.

After arriving in Cheyenne, I interviewed. One of the people I was supposed to meet with weren't there. They told me that they call to let me know what time I could meet with her the next day.

I went off to grab some supper before headng back to my room at Little America. I have no idea how long it took me to eat, but by the time I got back to my room I had a message that the woman I was supposed to meet with the next day wasn't in town. Apparently she had no plans of being in town.

That entire interview process was completely screwed to hell. Everything was done poorly and I was lead to believe that I was just a piece of shit for them to do with as they wished.

So when I applied for a recent job at Echostar (a nearly identical one to the ones I held at USSB and DirecTV), it was more as a joke than anything. Like I do with telemarketers, I was hoping to waste their time as much as anything. When I got home from school on Wednesday I had a message from a supervisor at Echostar who wanted to talk to me about the position. Unlike my previous time, this seemed like a really good guy and it was a pleasure to talk to him. After talking to him for a while, he asked if he could set up a phone interview for later that afternoon. I agreed and went back to doing my laundry.

A little while later I was talking to a bunch of managers and after meeting with them they wanted to know when I could travel to Cheyenne for a face-to-face. I told them that would be difficult since Mike and I are travelling to Chicago next week and I really can't afford to be away from school a lot after that.

Around 4:30 on Wednesday I got a call asking if I could come down to Cheyenne on Friday for a 1:30 interview. Since Mike and I are playing in Spearfish tonight I told them that would be impossible. I suggested Thursday. He was OK with that and we set up a 1:30 interview.

Then I let him know how pissed off I still was about my last interview with his company and made him assure me that everyone who was supposed to be there was there. He made the proper assurances and I went on my way.

Wednesday is Dunn Bros. open mic. I usually head down a little early so Mike and I can start playing at 6:45 or so. I stay the whole time so TSA and I can play at the end after he gets off of work. That means I usually don't get home until after 10pm. But I stopped off at my nephew's to retrieve my GPS unit. I had most of the waypoints loaded for a trip to Cheyenne, actually having deleted the waypoints for the Echostar facility and the I-80 exit to get there just a few weeks earlier. So when I finally got home I had another message on my machine asking if I could show up at 1pm instead of 1:30. Fuck, here we go again.....

I rose at 6am after getting to bed after midnight and was on the road by 7am. The drive was uneventful and I arrived at the Echostar gate 10 minutes early for my appointment. I gave my name and was told they were not expecting me. I gave the name of the person I was supposed to meet with, he was not in. At this point I was livid. It was the same damn thing all over again. I stated my reason for being there and was eventually let into the facility.

After that, it was a very normal job interview and tour of the facility. Since I'd done all of this before there were no surprises for me. At the conclusion I had paperwork to fill out, they wanted an actual application, even though they had a resume with exactly the same information on it.

After the paperwork, I told everyone, in the nicest was I possibly could, how pissed off I was about my previous experience with this particular company. The apologies actually seemd sincere.

They gave me paperwork for a drug screening and I headed downtown to piss into a cup. Performing a drug test is no particular big deal to me, though it made me reflect on my own life. My life is definitely not the greatest, but at no point in my life has my job entailed listening to other people peeing then pouring that urine into little viles. There's worse things than being a substitute teacher it seems.

The drive back today was uneventful except that now my right front brake rotor is probably shot. I'd needed to replace the front pads but hadn't been able to do it. Having less than 20 hours advance notice for a job interview 6 hours away didn't help things any.


Thursday, November 10, 2005


Brief Recipe Thursday

Alright, I'm going to be out of town all day Thursday, out selling my soul as it were. It may turn into a great Mega-Bitch Tuesday topic, stay tuned. To keep up appearances that I'm an actual caring Blog-parent, I'm going to fulfill the Recipe Thursday promise that, in truth, I only made as a joke. So, without further Apu, here's this week's recipe:

"The Can"

1 Empty and clean 2 lb. coffee can
1 handful of ice(cubes are fine)
1 can 7-Up (or lemon-lime soda)
1 can Squirt (or other comperable sour mix)
Gin (I wouldn't go with the good stuff here)

In a clean dry place, add handful of ice to coffee can. When ice has settled (?) pour can of 7-Up and can of Squirt into coffee can. Fill to top with gin. Enjoy with (many) friends.

This is an old family recipe, that got resurected in my parents' neighborhood. While I was in college, good portions of my summer break were spent "passing the can" with the folks from the neighborhood. This was purely an outdoor, summertime activity, though a tradition was started in the neighborhood. Our neighbor, whose garage is cleaner than any part of my house, would fire up the wood stove in his garage on the last Saturday in January. Once the temperature had approached those that are found naturally in summer, the first can of the new year was prepared and enjoyed by the assembled masses.

Can passing is serious business, and you must pass the can. If too many people are around, it may be a while before the can gets back to you. During that time, I like to drink a beer, but do what ever comes naturally.

Also, make sure you have enough people around. Too few can passers can mean the can gets to you way too often. If you should decide you'd like to keep the can a little longer when it is your turn, drink for someone you wish was passing the can with you. Drink for them everytime the can come back around.

I think it's in poor taste to have any more than 3 cans on any given evening. I've been around when it was done, and it got a little messy. Take a tip from me, and just don't do it.

Worried about germs? Any bug that could live in that much gin, well, I'd feel honored to have it in my mouth......


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Bitchin' 'bout Intelligence.

I haven't seen any ratings numbers, but my guess wold be that ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" gets much higher ratings than Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters." You know it has to get higher ratings than anything on PBS or Discovery Science or the Learning Channel or the History Channel or .......

Everything I learned growing up, either in school or from my family, indicated that intelligence was a good thing to have. Our current society seems to indicate otherwise. Do more people watch "America's Funniest Home Videos" than watch "Mythbusters?" I really don't know. The fact that a show in which people get "caught on tape" doing stupid things (or, worse yet, trying to be funny) is even on TV tells me that there is a market for stupidity.

I don't particularly have a problem with stupidity. Stupid can be hilarious, but I prefer my stupidity have some thought behind it. The lyrics of "Weird" Al Yankovich, for example, are pretty damn stupid on the surface, but what he does takes a lot of creativity. Yeah, "Weird" Al really has to use his brain to be as stupid as he seems to be. Riding a skateboard off of the roof of your house into a swimming pool, missing and breaking some appendage? Well, that's just stupid. It can be funny as hell, but it shows an inability to think through the consequences of certain actions. Funny or not, it shows a deficiency of some sort, and when you get down to it, it's more sad than funny.

I try to have a healthy respect for anything that requires the use of the brain, the results of which show intelligence or creativity. Even things I don't like or understand, if they show intelligence or creativity, I respect them. Most country music, for example, isn't something I would normally listen to given my choice. Attempting to write music on my own, however, has shown me just how tough it can be to write a compelling song. It's something that requires intelligence and creativity. Even if I don't like the result, most times I can respect it for what it is. The same goes for most any form of art. Liking any art is almost always a funtion of personal taste. If I decide that all country music sucks just because I don't like some of the country music I've been exposed to, I would be showing a closed mind, decidedly the least intelligent and creative minds. OK, part of this paragraph is because I recently entered a song in a country songwriting contest. TSA and I could end up on a locally produced country album. Guess I gotta buy a hat..... a big cowboy hat......

Unfortunately the rest of the world doesn't seem to operate like that. Dealing with kids, as I do, I see closed mindedness all of the time. All country music sucks, or all movies with sub-titles suck, or all opinions other than my own are wrong. They're kids, and they simply lack the life experience to have been exposed to things and see them for what they are. How many times have you run into adults who think the same way? It's rampant. Just listen to talk radio, either from the right or that one show that has a point of view from the left.

In my personal experience, having an open mind, showing any sort of intelligence has proven to be a detrement. It's sad but true. I'll take an example from something pretty close to my heart. In a sermon at a Lutheran church this past March, the minister expressed that God would "strike dead" the probate judge in the Schiavo case. He also expressed his wish that a smimilar fated fall upon any judge who ruled against certain church doctrine. I thought this was horrible, not just because he was advocating the death of an elected official (Judge George Greer was elected by the people of the state of Florida), but because earlier that week a judge in Atlanta had been shot dead in his courtroom. A horrible coincidence, but a twisted mind could construe an escaping convict as carrying out "God's Will." The next week, a man in North Carolina was arrested for offering a $50,000 bounty for the death of Judge George Greer. This man didn't offer a bounty on Judge Greer because he didn't like the way he looked, he didn't like the way he thought. He didn't like the way the judge thought because he had undoubtedly been indoctrunated to think that way.

So I left that church. I've been back only once for an important family event. For the record, the minister did attempt to apolgize to me, in the most inappropriate environment, but he did attempt to apologize to me. He attempted to apologize to me because I'm the only one who found what he said offensive and dangerous. I appreciate the apology, but that's not the point. What needed to happen was that the minister needed to give a sermon on how it was wrong to think that way, about how the congregation should feel shame for not speaking out against such extremism. None of that has happened. I've been apologized to because I was offended. The other issues remain out there.

I was told by family members (my father is the president of that congregation) that the minister was speaking without notes. In truth he was preaching because the other minister was dealing with a dying member of the congregation. The offending minister wasn't prepared. Fine. That doesn't excuse anything. When I mentioned that a big part of the problem I had was that this type of extremism leads to whackos putting bounties on judges I was told that other people don't think like that.

They should. I feel like my intelligence, my paying attention to the news was invalidated. In short, I was at a disadvantage because I understood issues, because I could draw conclusions on my own. These are all things that I was lead to believe were good things. In this case, according to my church and family, they are a problem, they are something I should simply ignore.

I told a person in an interview this week that I like my brain. I realize that it doesn't hold all of the answers to any problem I run into, but I like my brain. I respect intelligence in others. It's been the rare circumstance where anyone has repected mine.


Monday, November 07, 2005


Ben Folds Isn't as Atrractive as Sue Foley

I realize he's not quite as good to look at,
but I like Ben Folds' music as much as Sue Foley's.
When teaching, I realize that it's sometimes hard not to sound like an idiot. Not because I am an idiot, but because I constantly have to censor the words that come out of my mouth. While I'm not advocating gratuitus swearing in the classroom, nothing I can say hasn't been uttered by at least some of the kids in any classroom I happen to be in. That subject came up on Wednesday as I nearly let fly with a string of profanities, instead telling a kid not to give me any "guff." Man, did I feel like an idiot. Of course, none of the kids had ever heard the term "guff" before, so even though I was the one with extra knowledge, they all thought I was the idiot. Whatever.

I tend to let the explatives fly in my every day life. I know that it's not appropriate to speak like that all of the time, and I am able to keep the swearing in check when I have to. I try not to swear gratuitously when I blog or when I write songs. For the most part, I'm happy with that choice. Sometimes though I think that both suffer because my blogs and songs lack a certain conversational quality.

Ben Folds has never had that problem. I always thought his songs had a conversational quality that is lacking in most songs. That's not to say that his songs are filthy, but he will use the word 'shit' in place of 'stuff' the way one would when talking to friends. I never get the feeling that Ben is talking at me in his songs, it's more of a process of talking with me.

No, I don't only like Ben Folds' music because he swears in his music. In fact, I generally don't like too much swearing in music. It's not that it offends me, it's just that generally there's a better word choice than an explative. In truth, Ben's lyrics aren't all that 'dirty' but he does occasionally use colorful language.

What I really like about Ben's music is what I would term 'low concept.' His songs tend to be about every day life, about the feelings we all have. The first Ben Folds Five song I really noticed was One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, a little fantasy song about a kid who is picked but grows up to be quite powerful in some unspecified way"

Now I'm big and important, one angry dwarf
And 200 solemn faces are you
If you ever want to see me
Check the papers and the TV
Look who's tellin' who what to do
Kiss my ass

The first Ben Folds Five album to make any sort of waves in the US was the band's second effort Whatever and Ever Amen. With songs like One Angry Dwarf and The Battle of Who Could Care Less, I came to appreciate Ben's everyday situation songwriting. The big hit single on that album was Brick, a song about Ben's girlfriend getting an abortion while they were in high school. The song is apolitical, focusing on the emotional aspect of two people too young to have to be dealing with something like that. I've listened to the song hundreds of times and tried to put some political meaning into, to find some kind of pro-life or pro-choice message in the song. There is none, it's simply the story of two people, a decision they made and how it impacted them. It's up to you to decide if it was moral or amoral, right or wrong.

After Whatever and Ever Amen, Ben Folds Five released The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, a huge departure for BFF's first two albums. While previous efforts had been almost exclusively Piano, Bass and Drums, Reinhold Messner was much more ambitious with liberal use of horns and electronica. At times sounding like Pink Floyd, and times sounding like the Beatles. It's an intersting album which lyrically stays with Ben's strength, writing about the insignifica of everyday life.

After a few listens to Reinhold Messner I thought it was pretty apparent that we wouldn't hear any more Ben Folds Five records. It seemed to me like Ben was trying to break out from the Piano/Bass/Drums thing and wanted to explore more ground muscially. Sure enough, Reinhold Messner was BFF's final album. Ben's first solo effort, the fantatic Rockin' the Suburbs isn't quite as ambitious musically as Messner but it does go different ways than BFF had gone before. This will seem weird when talking about a rock and roll act, but Ben's use of guitar on Rockin' the Suburbs was a pleasant surprise. The highlight of the album is Not the Same, a 'true story' about a friend who takes acid, climbs a tree at a party and stays there all night, coming down the next morning as a born again christian. In the same manner as Brick, it's not a pro-religion or anti-religion song on the surface, it's the story of something that happened and how it effected someone's everyday life.

As much as Rockin' the Suburbs broke new ground for Ben, Ben Folds Live was a return to a simpler musical style. Ben Folds Live is simply Ben on piano and vocals, nothing else. Playing songs from the BFF days as well as Rockin' the Suburbs, the songs are familiar and brand new at the same time. Never is a song done exactly the way you expect it to be done. It's one of my favorite live albums of all time, one I listen to time and time again.

Ben's latest effort Songs for Silverman is, for the most part, a return to the Piano/Bass/Drums formula of BFF. I don't use 'formula' in a derogatory way, it's just a blend of sounds that Ben works well in, and here he's done it again.

I've always liked simplicity in music. Orchestras are nice, songs with more than 3 chords in them are great, but someone who can make compelling music with the bare essentials, making you look at yourself with his words is something special indeed.


Sunday, November 06, 2005


In My Hand Update

I know you've seen it before, but since I wrote a song based on it,
this graph is still relevant.
In My Hand is the most recent song I've writen. It's fun to say that it's based on this graph, but in truth, both the graph and the song are based on a conversation with an old girlfriend who I refer to as 5-55. Those who know me well and are good with number puzzles would probably be able to figure out who she is, and it wouldn't bother me if anyone knew who she was, but it's sort of like my own anonymity on this blog, she deserves at least as much of that anonymity as I give myself. Admitedly that's not much but it's the least I can do.

Now I run into 5-55 occasionally at school (oooh, another clue) and other than an early Sunday morning phone call in which she needed something from me, was the first place I'd talked to her in over a year. We've had a couple of nice conversations since she broke the ice with me one time. We were both assigned to the same study hall once and spent the hour talking about my music. She expressed that she didn't have time to see me play being all busy and junk.

I had yet to talk to her during the current school year as I've spent a lot more time at the middle school than the high school (yet another clue!). On Wednesday I ran into her as I was hustling down to study hall to releive a sick teacher. I was pretty focused and more than a little groggy, so I actually didn't notice her, I would have walked right on by her if she hadn't asked me who I'm in for. When I get called in late like that, it screws people up as my name doesn't appear in the announcements as subbing that day, so she was probably somewhat surprised to see me. Having been awake only 1 hour at the time I wasn't as observant or quick witted as I normally am. I simply answered her question and went about my way.

At open mic that night I was telling some folks about a new song I'd written and that I actually ran into the person who inspired the song. They asked if I told her. I had to admit that I didn't. Thinking it over, I regret that, not for any petty jealousy or tail-twisitng reasons, but because it would have been the first time I'd have been able to do that. See the stuff I miss out on by not being a morning person!



Technical Difficulties

Hi everybody! It's great to be back. I've been dealing with Technical Difficulties since I tried to post to the news service on Friday night. For absolutely no reason (i.e., I was doing nothing differently than before) all of the content of any post I made was deleted before the item was posted. That means that I got these blank posts on both sites. Looked pretty stupid too. I changed my browser which seems to have helped, but I really liked the Macintosh Safari browser I was using before. I'm using Firefox to post with, and if I can get it set up as well as the other, well I might be inclined to use this browser on a permanent basis.

Poker was a hoot once again last night with Andrea hobling home with all of the fake money. Actually, we had an actual prize for the winner last night, but since her husband (my nephew) had provided it, the prize was left with TSA since he provided the table and chips and all. Sometimes I forget that he provides all of that, but since he reminds us all of it weekly, I don't know how I manage to forget.

This will be a short one tonight as The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episode is on in a little while. It's the highlight of any TV season, so I'll be settling in for that.


Thursday, November 03, 2005


Recipe Thursday Maybe?

So I get a call at 7:31am yesterday asking if I can come in and relieve an ill teacher. Classes start at 8am, so it's pretty obvious that there's no possible way I'll get into school before then. I said "yes" of course, and when they asked how long it would take me to get in I told them it would be an hour.

Now keep in mind that in the past I've made it in to work in less than 40 minutes, that includes a 20 minute drive. In the past, I've gone from warm and cozy in my bed to being completely unprepared and in front of a classroom full of kids in less than 40 minutes. Maybe I think a little too much of this, but I think it's pretty damn impressive. Being a substitute teacher isn't an easy job under the best of situations. In a case like that, just keeping the kids from running wild is nearly impossible. But I've done it, damn it, and because they only pay me for the time I'm actually there, I actually make less money on a day like that then I would for a day when I'm called in with adequete time to prepare. Once I actually made it into work in a ridiculously short amount of time, was in class before the kids, taught a whole day of classes and received a half hour less pay because, through no fault of my own, I was called in to work more than an hour later than normal.

So I told them it would take me an hour. I knew I could make it in to school in less than an hour, but why bust my hump. How have I been rewarded for breaking my ass to get in and teach a whole day on such short notice? Last time I wasnt called to sub again for over a week. Thanks for coming in on ridiculously short notice, your reward is we'll give you no opportunity to work here for over a week.

People are appreiative. The people who's asses I'm saving, the administrators in the buildings I work in, the teachers I sub for an their associates. That's all nice, and in turn I appreciate their appreciation (in an totally and completely , redundant and repetive way) but it don't pay the bills. Then again I do a lot of stuff that don't pay the bills, so what the hell am I complaining about?

Last night's open mic was fun. The teacher I subbed for planned to take a bunch of kids down to Dunn Bros. to hear some poetry and perhaps read some. Quite a few made it and I'm sure quite a few students saw a different side of 'Mr. BOJ' as I make them call me in class (actually I generally get 'Mr. Dude' 'Mr. Teacher-Dude' or ocassionally 'Mr. Jeopardy!'). Two girl's who I'd taught that day read poetry, nice stuff. The first, a confident, talented young lady in class, was noticeably nervous in front of a pretty good sized Dunn Bros. crowd. I don't relay that information to put her down in any way. Her poem was nice and she held it together despite the nerves. It's hard to do, especially the first time. My first time on stage alone was at Knight's Cellar in Spearfish, playing a song I wrote about ex-Governor and US Representative Bill Janklow. I was out of my mind with fear. I'd played harmonica and sung in front of people before, I'd never played guitaror performed original material in front of a crowd, I'd definitely never tried to do all four at once under those circumstances. It's hard, but I belive it's made me a better person. It's true, I'm basically a shy person and I take it as a compliment when peole tell me that they don't believe that. Being able to handle myself under those circumstances has helped me more comfortable in all kinds of social situations.

TSA made an early appearance and instead of closing down the show, we took the stage at 8:30 (exactly 12 hours after I arrived for work at the high school that morning). We started off with Plastic Jesus and the on-stage debut of my Kevin Smith signed "Buddy Christ" statue. We followed that up with Tull's Locomotive Breath, a song that somehow garners more notice than I ever think it should. A couple came up to me as they were leaving and asked about it. That anyone notices that song still amazes me. I can't explain it. Finished up with the Mojo, my voice shot at that point and I just didn't have the power behind it that the song requires. Nobody seemed to mind.

I'm thinking that Recipe Wednesday will become Recipe Thursday. Wednesdays can be a little hard for me to post with open mic taking up a good portion of my evening. If I teach that day it's easier to have supper with the folks who live in the neighborhood of the school and then head straight to open mic. That means I tend to wake up, have a full day, get home and go to bed. Not a lot of time to post, especially with helping dad putting a new deck on the house. So Recipe Thursday it is. Special thanks to That 1 Gal for offering her own recipe in the comments of the previous post. I love rum, don't ever omit it from anything! I post the folloing recipe the same place yesterday, but consider this the first official Recipe Thursday post.

Chicken Feta Pizza

1 Foccacia Crust (I make my own)
Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups Mozzerella Cheese
Grilled Boneless Chicken Breast, diced (or two)
1 Tomato sliced or diced
8 oz. Feta Cheese
(or is that 4 oz.? Whatever the package size is.)

Brush Olive Oil onto foccacia. Top with 3/4 cup mozzerella cheese. Add grilled chicken, tomato and feta. Cover with remaining cheese. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven 20-25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.


Substitute grilled eggplant for grilled chicken
Add marinated artichoke hearts (mmmmmm)
Add fresh basil to top of pizza before baking
Add fresh grated parmasean cheese to crust before spreading on oil

I love this, everyone I've served it to seems to enjoy it. It's a nice change from a tomato sauce based pizza. As a single guy, I can say that it's really good reheated. Or, as a hangover remedy, serve cold with warm beer as per song by Safire - The Uppity Blues Women.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Damn It, I Hate Fox Sports

Forget 666, this is the Mark of the Beast!
Normally I'm able to avoid sports on the Fox Network. The last couple of weeks have been tough, though with the World Series, watching Vikings games for new Tice material and the Broncos playing Philadelphia at home. Yeah, after two weeks, I realize why I avoid sports on Fox, it gives me a headache.

I'll start with the World Series and baseball in general. I'll start off by making a very non-Mega-Bitch Tuesday comment, I love Fox's primary baseball team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. I probably like ESPN's Sunday night team of Joe Morgan and John Miller more, but Buck and McCarver approach the game with a sense of humor that reminds us that it is just a game. In an era of multi-million dollar contracts we sometimes seem to forget that. And for real fun, catch them on ESPN's PTI sometime.

A fine announce team can't make up for the complete CF that Fox has turned their baseball games into. First of all, it's the hype. OK, it's hard to overhype a World Series game, but in July for instance, I believe it's impossible to have a "Battle for the ages" between two third place teams. You've got talking baseballs and graphics everywhere. The graphics wouldn't be so bad, they provide information that allows the announcer not have to note the count on a batter, but every graphic has it's own sound effect. Never mind that you've got a walk off home run (and I hate that term - maybe next week...) and the crowd is going nuts, we have to hear the Bling-Bling-Bloop as the score of the game changes in Fox's graphic in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

It's turned into a video game. Someone, more likely a committee of idiots, at Fox Sports decided that baseball would attract a younger, hipper, more affluent demographic if baseball looked and sounded more like a damn video game, and Fox Sports has done everything in their power to make that happen. You still hear the "crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd" promos for games on Fox, unfortunately when you watch a game you can hear neither because of all the damn sound effects. In my opinion, Fox is ruining baseball and that would be cause for alarm except that baseball with over-expansion and it's lax attitude toward steroids is ruining itself.

Now football lends itself a little more to this type of nonsense. I don't like it any better, though. Football has always been the perfect game for television. There's action for about 10 seconds then there's 30 seconds for replays and analysis. It's worked pretty well on TV for the entire Super Bowl era. Fox got an NFL television contract in the early 90's and promised to deliver "Football with a Fox Attitude." Unfortunately for us, they followed through on that threat. All the sound effects and all the graphics and all the hype, I just hate it.

The biggest sin of Fox Sports' Football coverage is their use of the "Game Break." It's a long standing tradition in TV Football coverage to show a highlight from another game that's going on, "Denver's ahead here, but let's take a look at what's going on in San Diego, where the Kansas City Chiefs are trying to keep pace with the Broncos in the AFC West." These "Game Breaks" used to actually have a meaning, now we see end zone celebrations, we see plays from games that mean nothing to anybody. Worse yet, we see highlights, not from games in progress, oh no, we see highlights from games that have been completed for an hour or more. Look, you've only got 30 seconds or so before the next play in our game, talk about our game or something that's happening now. Don't show me something that happened two hours ago. I saw that two hours ago, or at the very least, during halftime of the previous game.

The very worst example of this was last Thanksgiving when Fox, who had the early game, broke into their game to show highlights of games that had occured FOUR DAYS BEFORE!!!!!!! We live in a highlight crazy culture, Fox is not to blame for that, ESPN is, anything you show from four days earlier, well, we've already seen it - about 40 times. Why would you bother? Why would you take me away from a game in progress to show me something I've already seen ad nauseum? You've got 30 seconds until the next play, show me something I haven't seen. Maybe something from the game I'm watching now. Maybe the last play, from a different angle. At the very least, give me some analysis, why did or didn't that play work?

I pick on Fox Sports here. They aren't the only ones pulling this crap, but they pretty much started it and they are by far the worst at it.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

The Bert Convey
Friends' Blogs
My Photo
Location: United States

I'm not telling you anything...