Thursday, December 29, 2005


Dirtiest Open Mic Ever!

While chances are good that I'll make it to at least one more Dunn Bros. Wednesday night open mic, if I never make it to another, last night's show would definitely be a good one to end on. The crowd was large, the musicians were diverse and there were certainly plenty of them. As an added bonus (to me, anyway) things sort of degenerated into people playing the type of 'questionable' material that usually doesn't get played on Wednesday nights.

I suppose all of that started with Willy Grigg, playing his song Want to be a Pagan in honor of the winter solstice. That was quickly followed by a young lady singing a song about a former boyfriend, wishing him luck with his new love and hoping he gets VD. Alright, this is the type of music I can get behind! Larry followed her with another song about social diseases and a song about his mother flashing her boobs. I've never been so proud to be associated with an open mic. TSA showed up to hear most of the fun, we had tentatively planned out a set, but plans were put aside as it was pretty obvious what we'd be playing.

We opened up, of course, with Two Condoms. We've played that song at Dunn Bros. less than 5 times in the past year, but if it was ever going to be played, last night was the night. As an added bonus, a student I've had in class was there to hear it. It's probably a good thing that I most likely won't be doing any more subbing next year. I introduced the song by saying I was offended by the song about the former boyfriend getting VD, not that the song bothered me, but that VD could be avoided by following my advice. We played Got My Mojo Workin' after that, putting Who Do You Love and Magic Bus in the middle. I do need to remember when doing Magic Bus that I'm the Inspector, not the Conductor. I doubt that anyone but TSA noticed. Still, you always wanna get it right. I'm not sure why Mojo works the way it does, but it just does. Putting stuff in the middle has just always worked to. A partial list of stuff that we've put, or tried to put in the middle of Mojo:

Who Do You Love - Bo Diddley
Magic Bus - The Who
The Story of One Chord - Mojo Nixon
Tiptoe Through the Tulips - Tiny Tim
It's Not Unusual - Tom Jones

Geez, not as many as I thought. Well I'm sure I left some out.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005


I Realize I Missed Mega-Bitch Tuesday

....and Positive Monday for that matter, though this will be more of the former....

....But what the hell is it with people? I'm at Dunn Bros. After a fine cup of green tea, I had the need to use the restroom. I had to wait though, not because some guy was occupying the men's room, but because a woman was. She wasn't using the room for it's intended purpose though, she was in there for quiet so she could use her fucking cell phone.

....and the woman next to me right now has been on the other terminal for about 90 minutes even though there's a 15 minute limit here.....

Some people....



Bagpipes for Christ's Sake!

This was no ordinary jam!
OK, there's a lot of reasons for me not to want to leave the RC. I've got a lot of good friends here and I've found myself in some quite unique situations. Keep your minds out of the gutter, people! Last night as I was shampooing carpet (just a few days after The Simpsons episode where Bart gets a fake ID and when trying to decide what to do with it, Nelson replies, "We could rent a carpet shampooer!") when Mike called. He asked me if I wanted to attend a Jam at the Firehouse. I was almost out of energy when he called, but the possibility of playing music really put a little life back into me. When I got there I found out it was a Celtic jam. So I was playing the part of that great Irish harmonica player, Little Seamus O'Walter. OK, there's nobody by such a name as far as I know, but I have always been able to fit in what I do to most types of music. I found myself playing off of the pennywhistle player which made for some interesting sounds.

Anyway, I was enjoying a beer when I started looking around at the musicians and what they played. There was one of those Irish drum thingies that I can't remember the name of, a bazooki, a fiddle, two pennywhistles, 3 bagpipers (bagpipes, in RCSD! Whoda thunk it!), Mike was playing bass. Never before have I played somewhere when there wasn't a guitar. How cool is that? No guitars! If I ever host an open mic, I'm going to stipulate a couple of times a year that we do a show with no guitars.

It was one of the things I always liked about Ben Folds Five (besides that they were a trio). No guitar. They recorded some early tracks with electric guitar, but decided having no guitars would make them unique. Good choice. It's not that I have anything against guitars, there's two back at my place, but go to any open mic and the guitar players think they own the place.

Me, I'd rather be the oddball, that harp player. Oddly, though, I seem to have more impact on people when I play guitar alone. That's when I'm solo, of course. If I'm duoing it up, I like having a good guitarist around, and I'm lucky enough to be associated with two of them right now. For a little while more, anyway.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005


There's Light at the End of the Tunnel

When I re-read the previous post, I get the feeling that I'm conveying that I didn't have an enjoyable Christmas. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I got to spend time with my family. The whole family was there, my parents and every known off-spring (I found out the woman I wrote Two Condoms about has one more kid than when I knew her - I didn't always wear two....) for four generations. Pretty special if you ask me.

Plus I got to kick everybodys' collective asses in a knew Trivial Pursuit game. We got the 90's Edition last year, and it's been played twice, last Christmas my youngest niece and I beat a couple of other teams, this Thanksgiving I played against the entire family and beat them. Then again, an old girlfriend of mine and I beat my entire dorm floor when I was a sophmore, so I have a history of doing that kind of thing. A guy I worked with at SDPTV beat me in a game when we were both working one evening and this bulemic girl who lived with my family one summer beat me once. We played two or three games every day after supper and she beat me once.

But I lost on Jeopardy! so I should really just keep my trap shut.

Got most everything cleaned up in the old apartment (not the BNL song) today. Bathroom and kitchen are done. One last pass with the carpet shampooer and a good sink cleaning and I'll be done, damn it! Big thanks to the one I used to call "Scooter" when he was 4 and his wife for a big assist. Having someone around who actually knows how to clean a bathroom is quite useful at times like this.

Off to a jam at the Firehouse tonight. Free munchies start in a couple of minutes, but I should probably clean myself up a little bit before all is said and done.


Monday, December 26, 2005


Melancholy Christmas

I didn't handle Christmas so well this year. First of all, because of the folks at Echostar, I only had $13 dollars in my pocket until the week before Christmas. It put quite the damper on Christmas shopping, but being a creative guy, I found a little something for everyone. I did photo calendars last year for a good portion of the family. I ended up spending around $100 printing them last year and simply couldn't afford to do that this year. I did one for my mom, but only because she expressed a desire to get another one, and only under the stipulation that she had to print it herself. Besides being a spendy proposition, my printer is on the fritz, not printing color at all, though suitable for B&W.

The creativity went a long way, though, and there were quite a few homemade gifts. That proved to be difficult as well as I'm also in the process of moving. Actually I'm in the process of moving twice. Everything is coming out of the apartment and to the trailer, then from the trailer to somewhere (I have no idea yet) in Cheyenne Wyoming. With all of that activity, it took a long time to do anything for anyone, though I did manage to bake some bread and do some homemade gifts. I did the best I could.

I did the best I could at keeping it all together, too. I found myself crying more often than I'm comfortable talking about. My life is about to change drastically and I'm not positive that it's all for the better. Yeah, I'll be gainfully employed for the first time in quite a while, but I'm going back to a business that I was absolutely disgusted with, the wonderful world of satellite/TV operations. I had always thought that finding something you were good at was supposed to be a good thing. It's always been exactly the opposite for me. It's a 24/7/365 business, and somehow I always ended up being the guy doing the 12/25's, 1/1's and 7/4's along with most of the 1600-0000's. And, as good as I was, I've never had a promotion. You see, the people that hand out promotios never work 1600-0000's or 12/25's, so they never realize that you're doing a good job. Never mind that most of the customers are watching in the evenings and that's the most crucial time to get everything right. No, the pomotions go to the folks working M-F and 0800-1600. Management sees them everyday and knows who they are. They only hear about the other folks when they screw up.

I found myself crying because I like it here. I don't want to leave. My life has never been exactly like it is right now, and for the most part, that's a really good thing. Besides being broke, the last two years have been really good for me. I had never really played music in front of people two years ago, and suprise, I've found myself really enjoying it. Bigger suprise, other people seem to enjoy what I do. I never guessed that would happen.

I found myself crying because I attended church on Christmas, the same church that all the bad stuff went on early this year. When the pastor proclaimed the wonderful Christmas message that we're all God's children I wanted to shout out, "Remember that when you wish one of God's children dead when he doesn't agree with you." I didn't, of course, but I should have.

I cried because after getting to spend a good amount of time with my guy, Julian, over the last 15 months, I won't get to do that quite so much any more.
New Hat?
My main man, Julian, with his new 'hat' for
Christmas. His parents also appear in the frame.
Yeah, I'm only moving a little more than 300 miles away, but it won't be the same. I worry that he'll forget that I'm "Uncle Grrrrrrrrr!" when I no longer growl at him when I see him. I spent a good protion of my day today teaching people how to update Julian's Photo Site, something I started so his grandfather could see pictures of him, but I now hope gets maintained for my benefit.

I cried because I'll be away from my family. They don't always understand me, but they love me and they are my family. Yes, I've lived quite far from them in the past, but I came quite used to having everyone just a short drive away over the past two years. I have a nice place to live if I continued to stay here, which makes leaving that much more difficult. I got some gifts for someone moving into a new place, and it makes me just hate to leave that much more.

I'm sure there will be good things ahead in the 27th residence of my life, wherever that happens to be in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I remember thinking as I drove into Forest City, Iowa with a U-Haul, towing a 1988 Mercury Tracer that I hadn't met the next woman I was going to sleep with yet. It was probably the last truely positive thought I had about my future, though said acivity didn't happen until two additional moves. Even when I hope for the best, it never really seems to work out that way. There will be more crying in the future, I'm sure, but I've got to make the best of this. I've got a pretty good feeling this will all work out fine. Then again, Echostar could be purchased by some bigger fish, just like USSB and DirecTV were......


Saturday, December 24, 2005


Happy Holidays! That's Right, I Went There!

Merry Christmas! That's right, politically incorrect or not, I say "Merry Christmas." I understand that others may celebrate a different seasonal holiday this time of year, and good for them. "I say Merry Christmas." I invite you to say whatever you would like, "Happy Holidays" is just fine with me and I've been known to say that, particularly when the cultural/religious background of the recipient is in question. It doesn't make me a bad person, it doesn't mean that I've declared some sort of left-wing intellectual "War on Christmas" that Fox News and the religious right seems to think is going on. Interestingly, tree ornaments that you could buy at the Fox News website were, until recently, referred to as "Holiday Ornaments." Those left-wing intellectual Christmas haters at Fox, bowing to the pressure of the religious right (right, of course, referring to their position on the political spectrum, not their correctness on any issue, be sure to remember that).

There are very few organized religions that actively preach hatred when you get right down to it. The things that terrorists are doing around the world in the name of Islam go against the teachings of the Koran every bit as much as the putrid hate-filled speech of Pat Robertson and others goes against the teachings of the Bible. Name your major religion, and they will fundamentally be against that kind of hatred. Ironic then, that the so-called fundamentalists of the major religions are the ones who cause all of the problems.

I invite everyone to celebrate something this time of the year. Celebrate a funny little fat man in a red suit delivering toys to all of the children of the world (at nearly-fantastic speed). Celebrate a carpenter born in a stable because the inn was full (his family wasn't turned away because they were jewish). Celebrate lights in the temple that had no logical reason to continue burning for eight days. Celebrate the holiest month of the Moslem year. Celebrate whatever the hell Kwanzaa is. Just celebrate something. And be good to each other. Don't be swayed by the fundamentalists of any religion, because the basis of their religions are not to kill or be intolerant of others who don't believe as they do, no matter what they preach.

Don't buy into the "War on Christmas." Last year nobody had heard that term, this year it's all over right-wing talk radio (yeah, I listen, got to keep up with what the whack jobs are thinking). If anything, this is a "War on Tolerance." Forcing retailers to say "Merry Christmas" is exclusionary. It excludes those who don't believe in Christmas. That's their right. It's not the job of corporations to evangelize. That's the job of churches and individuals. As I said before, if someone says "Happy Holidays" to you, that's their right. Christmas isn't the only holiday going on this time of the year. If you feel the need, reply with "Merry Christmas," or "Happy Hanukkah" or "A Joyous Kwanzaa to you - and I don't even no what that means." Don't get upset. Don't be offended that an individual couldn't see into your soul and know what you're celebrating. The only reason you should be offended by "Happy Holidays" is if your not celebrating anything this time of the year. There's no way for a cashier to know that either, but at least you would have some beef.


Friday, December 23, 2005


I've Gotta Learn to Not Hold Grudges

Mega-Bitch Tuesdays aside, I'm pissed off most of the time. At least in my mind it's for a good reason, but sometimes I'll talk to somebody else about something I'm pissed about and they don't react the same way as me. I just hang on to the crap way too long, often to my detriment.

When DirecTV purchased USSB, I got a job in California. DirecTV ran the USSB plant for about a month before shutting it down. During that time we got paid by the good folks in California. My last paycheck didn't arrive in the mail I was promised it would. That wouldn't be anything to get worked up about, but I was starting my move to Long Beach the next day. When the check didn't arrive the next day, I was pretty pissed, but I was checked out of my apartment and on the road. I had forwarded mail to my parents and hoped it would get there when I did.

I was given something like 7 days to make the trip so I spent a few days at my parents'. When my check didn't arrive in a couple of days, I called my superviser in California and asked him what was up. I got his machine and left a message outlining my situation and a number at which I could be reached. Nothing. I called again, left another message. Again nothing. I'm getting pretty mad now. I call one more time, get the machine again and I just go through the roof. I call the Vice President of the company formerly known as USSB and ask him if he could do anything. He said he would. In less than 24 hours I had a check in my hand and I was on the road.

When I arrived in Long Beach, there was the matter of a lump sum settlement that all former USSB employees received. When I got mine, it was about $6,000 short. So before I've worked on minute in this facility, they're already dicking me around on pretty substantial sums of cash. I'm really PO'd know, but I have to go to work.

Did it effect my job performance? Never. Did it effect my attitude toward DirecTV? You're damn right it did. I was an attitude problem from day one, even before I found out that Jimmy Kusyk is a miserable worthless piece of shit (damn, I hope he Googles his name some time and finds this). I was completely justified in having the attitude I had, but then again, in the end it probably cost me my job. When a company is cutting 50% of a department, they're probably not going to keep the guy who acts like (and doesn't) want to be there. They gave me a pretty nice sum of cash (they actually got the amount right this time) and I went on with my life.

This past Palm Sunday, Pastor Thomas Beaverson expressed his wish that God would strike Judge George Greer dead along with any judge who ruled in favor of abortion or homosexual marriage. That was it for me at Zion Lutheran Church in Rapid City South Dakota (it's that one on HWY 16 by the water tower). I expressed my disgust in a letter and made it pretty clear that I would never attend that church again.

Pastor Tom came to Dunn Bros. the Wednesday he received the letter and apologized. That's fine, I forgive the man, had already forgiven him at that time. What I haven't forgiven is the church for not letting me know that things have changed. Apparently they have, and I heard it second hand. That's not the way something like that should be handled.

When Pat Robertson said he wanted the US Government to kill democratically elect President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, he tried first to say he was misinterpreted. There was no room for misinterpretation in his statement, so the next day he issued an apology, saying he was speaking out of anger and didn't really advocate the assassination of a foreign head of state. Great, that's what I wanted to hear. Even nut-balls make rash statements when they're angry. The problem is that he advocated the death of Hugo Chavez on The 700 Club TV program, but he issued the apology on his web site. Who he essentially apologized to was the media and concerned citizens who were pissed at him. He did not apologize to his regular viewers.

Pastor Tom apologized to me, and I accept that apology. What needed to happen, though, was that a sermon the very next week needed to be delivered that it is not morally or scripturally correct to preach that you want God to strike anyone dead. I make a big deal about this because some nut-case, probably acting on something he heard in his church, offered a sum of money to anyone who would kill Judge George Greer. If you preach that kid of stuff, sometimes people take you up on it, seeing themselves as "instruments of God."

But my point here is that I haven't been to church since my niece's confirmation, I've missed out on things my family does as a group and only because I'm holding a grudge. I held a grudge against DirecTV and eventually they got rid of me over it. I'm currently pretty pissed off at Echostar Communications because of the way the totally screwed up my recent application to their company.

Make no bones about it, Echostar could give less than a damn if I ever work for them. They're a big company, they don't specifically need me, they need a body to fill a slot. At least that's the way their HR looks at it.

Since I took the job in Cheyenne, I'd better learn to not hold a grudge against the company for my shoddy pre-hiring treatment, or I'm going to find myself in the same shitty situation I've been in for the past two years.



Rove Implicated in Santa Identity Leak

Once again, The Onion comes through with pure journalistic dynamite!

On Nov. 3, Rove told reporters, "People shouldn't take too seriously the opinions of someone who still thinks a fat man slides down the chimney into her living room every December 25."

It's the only real news out there, people. For the sake of all that is holy, check out The Onion!!!



Thursday, December 22, 2005


Just Some of What I've Been Up To

I know, I know, I haven't posted in a while, and I feel just horrible about it. Then again, I haven't been near the computer too much.

The initial plan was to transfer my internet and phone to the new place since the same cable company provides service to both places. Monday's phone call from the fine folks at Echostar Communications put a crimp into that plan. In short, I don't see the logic of paying to transfer service and paying for the month of January when I may not be there past the first week of January. So all internet and phone communication is done in a location other than that in which I'm sleeping. Makes creating the odd post a little more difficult than usual.

Still haven't made any decision on what the hell I'm doing. I was quite surprised to find a number of compelling financial reasons to stay in, what Shawn Bitz refers to as "God's Favorite Vacation Spot." Pales in comparision to what I'd be making in Wyoming, but I'm starting to doubt how happy I could be there.

Despite all of that, I've been trying to hit as many open mics as I can around loads of crap being transported from one location to the other. I made a rare Cheers appearance on Sunday night. The same thing happened last year, writing a Christmas song so late in the season sort of forces you out to play it as many times as possible, to get your money's worth, so to speak. Another Martha Stewart Christmas was on the playlist, of course, with a lot of the more questionable originals that I try not to do at Dunn Bros. You know, songs like Two Condoms. I've got two stories (yes, T1G, two stories) about that song from Sunday night. First, when I walked in, a guy I don't even know asked to hear Two Condoms, though he didn't know what it was called. It's weird that something I wrote on accident had any kind of impact on anybody. The second story was that Josh Marquis of ASO was at an open mic in Lead. He played there for a while, doing some covers and some originals. Somebody asked if he could play any covers of originals, so he played a punk version of Two Condoms! I've been covered by an actual working musician! Who woulda thunk it?

Tuesday I hit the show at Bully Blends. They were giving everbody three songs, so I did Springsteen's Atlantic City, some band from Michigan's I Know All The Presidents in Order (I've been trying to find out the name of the band so I can credit them - I NEVER take credit for that song myself and it goes over really well) and planned to finish up with Another Martha Stewart Christmas. I've added the original harp break back into the song, the first two songs didn't require harmonica, so I strapped on the orthodontia with D harp and played. The only problem is that I forgot to take the harp break. I was sure to point it out afterward to everyone, and I think everyone realized it. So I got to do one more song and finished up with Weird Al's You Don't Love Me Anymore. I was planning to hit an ASO acoustic show at Philly's, but I got roped into a Jam with some folks at Bully Blends, doing 957 standards Bitch and Anti-Love Song with Joe Bucholz. By that time I was to beat to hit a bar and went back to the trailer.

Moved crap all day yesterday as well and attended my nephew's 24th birthday (.....mmmmmmmm, Chili....). Got two Dunn Bros. kind of late and apparently it was another big night there. TSA and I got to do two songs at the very end. Only having two songs, we had to deny the request of Mojo, which makes me feel bad, because if someone requests something that I think we do pretty well, it sucks to not be able ot do it. But what we had planned was pretty cool, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show's On the Cover of the Rolling Stone. TSA has the uncanny ability of picking songs that will sound really cool when we do them. Like Tull's Locomotive Breath, it's a song I never would have even considered having an inkling of a though about maybe doing. But it worked. Joined by Mike Reardon on vocals and tamborine (just like the 957 days) it went over quite well. Did that Martha Stewart song to close things out.

I'm back at the apartment today, taking more loads to the trailer. I'd like to think I can finish it up today and get started on cleaning, but I doubt that will happen. It's amazing the amount of crap you can accumulate in just over two years. I'm trying to be very judicious in just plain throwing crap out. I've already moved a lot of clothes that I'll probably never wear, so I'm going to try to be better about that with some of the other items.

Merry Christmas (or whatever you're celebrating this time of the year) to you all.


Monday, December 19, 2005


Positive About Mike Tice

I've been a little rough on the guy.....
Forget the other thing, it's still Positive Monday.

First off, I really want to apologize for the timing of this whole thing. The Minnesota Vikings, left for dead with a 1-4 record a couple of weeks ago went on an amazing win streak, mired in scandal and minus one of the best QB's in the league. They're still in the playoff hunt, even after a loss to a superior Pittsburgh Steelers team this past week. Why is this team even in the position to contend for post-season play? Two words: Mike Tice.

I have been tough on Mike Tice for a couple of years now, questioning how he continues to have a job, comparing him to former FEMA director Mike Brown (particularly nasty). Do I think Mike Tice should lose his job at the end of this season? Yeah, he probably should, but that doesn't discount the amazing job he's done turning around a team that so easily could have faded into oblivion.

What did Tice do? He focused on football. He's a football coach, after all, that would seem like a no brainer. But he was constantly asked about the team's scandal, something that could have distracted a different coach. Tice made it all about football. He kept his players thinking about football.

I don't want to discount what happened on Lake Minnetonka, but Mike Tice is a football coach. His job is to manage players on the field, to come up with a plan for play and to get his players to buy into it, to carry it out. Since the scandal, he has been masterful at this.

If he had managed his players the same way at the beginning of this season, well, we'd probably be seeing a team coasting into the playoffs. He didn't, and that was his mistake. It would have been easy to give up, though, to step down or to write the season off. He didn't, and it is 100% to Mike Tice's credit. Yes, it has a lot to do with the players. It has a lot to do with a backup quarterback with loads of experience (a Super Bowl champion, even), playing within himself, making the other players believe he could get it done. It has a lot to do with a bunch of players, knowing their reputations are tarnished, playing anyway, playing to win.

And they're playing to win because Mike Tice motivated them to play to win. I don't like Mike Tice as a coach, never have. He as much as anything is the reason Randy Moss turned out the way he did. Randy Moss is an asshole who was allowed to behave any way he wanted by coach Tice because Moss produced on the field. Tice came up with the "Randy Ratio," allowing a player to dictate to a coach how much a part of the offense he would be. That's not the way it's supposed to work. The coach is supposed to make those decisions. It was a failure. A talent like Randy Moss comes along maybe once in a coach's career, and Mike Tice screwed it up, only backing into the playoffs once with one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game.

I don't like Mike Tice, most likely never will. I can see when a man does a great job, though, and that's what Tice has done this year. Maybe he's turning his career around, maybe he's just trying to save his own skin. Whatever the case, Mike Tice has done a masterful coaching job under the worst of circumstances.



What the Hell Do I Do Now?

I've been spending all day moving my crap into a trailer. I'm out of my apartment at the end of this month, my folks bought a trailer a while back and I'm moving into it. I hurt my back somehow on the first load of stuff and am in agony right now. Since the good folks at Echostar Communications were good enough to finally reimburse me for expenses incured during my interview last month, I finally have some money in my pocket and braved the wilds of Wal-Mart to do a little Christmas shopping before heading home.

There were two messages on my machine when I finally got home. The first was from the old roomie, he has a fun graphic project for me. I'd tell you what it is, but you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you. Should be fun, though, and I'm looking forward to giving it a whirl.

The second call was from Echostar Communications asking me to call back. Now I had learned from the old roomie that the HR person handling my potential hiring was replaced by someone else, which, considering the treatment I've received up to this point, is absolutely fine with me. The message was to call the new person, which I did. The new person wasn't in, but the call was about them offering me a position with their company.

So here I sit, a company that has treated me completely like crap before I've actually done any work for them now wants to pay me. The cynic in me says that if they treated me the way they did when they were trying to get me to work for them, it'll be even worse after they start paying me.

On top of it all, the start date they quoted me is 3 January, but there is an incentive if I start before the first of the year. Now I look at this as just one more way that they're mistreating me. This job would involve a move. Contemplating a move in the middle of my current move is a little mind boggling. Starting before the first of the year would mean starting sometime between Christmas and New Year's day. Hell, even starting shortly after the first of the year would involve trying to find a place to live during the period between Christmas and New Year's. I was forced to move at that time of the year before, it's impossible to get ahold of anyone, absolutely impossible. I would have to find a place to live within the next couple of days, most likely sight unseen.

It's starting to seem like more trouble than it's actually worth. And I've carved out an interesting little life for myself in Rapid City. The music has been a lot of fun, something I'd never done with any seriousness anyplace else I've ever lived. I'm having a good time doing it. I'm substitute teaching, and though I bitch about it a lot, I do enjoy it or I wouldn't continue to do it. Add the graphics that I do and the good folks I've met here, it would be hard to move on.

Yet none of the stuff I'm doing in RC are really gainful. I'm living hand to mouth, I do a lot of stuff, but most of it I don't get paid for. The one thing I do get paid for isn't steady enough to make a living doing.

I've looked into doing similar things to what I'd be doing at Echostar here in Rapid City. No TV job I've applied for in this town has even had the courtesy to acknowledge receipt of my resume, let alone been so good as to give me an interview. The son of 5-55, with no experience and one semester of school got an interview for a job at an agency. I applied for the same job and never heard back from them. A station I used to work for, used to direct newscasts for was looking for a newscast director no experience necessary but looking primarily for someone with a good knowledge of Adobe Photoshop. I applied. No reply.

I'd pretty much given up on television. The reason I applied to Echostar was because I was lying in bed one night, unable to sleep because I had no idea how I was going to pay the rent next month. I got up, went online and looked into employment opportunities at Echostar. It was a desperate move.

People have told me to just take the job, to do it for six months and bolt if that's the way I feel. I have never taken any full-time job that I didn't truely believe was going to be the last job I would ever have. Unfortunately, no employer has looked at it the same way. One job didn't provide insurance or vacation time, they worked me upwards of 60 hours a week because I was on salary. That company is right here in Rapid City, people there are still pissed because I left, so pissed that they won't even call back a person with experience directing newscasts and a pretty good understanding of Adobe Photoshop.

I don't want to leave here, but on the other hand, people who've had ample opportunity to hire me in this town simply won't. The first job offer I've had in four years is from a company from out of town. In a way I'm in no position to tell them no. Then again, they've gotten away with treating me like crap up to this point. Why the hell should they stop now?

What the hell am I to do?


Sunday, December 18, 2005


Merry Christmas

The important thing is that you say something civil.....
It's a Christian holiday (contraction of holy-day) that due to crass commercialism has become a national phenomenon, a retailer's bonanza as people feel the need to buy each other gifts and spend lots of money on decorations. Hey, I'm not against commercialism, I'm sure it's worth lots of jobs. I'm sure it's good for the economy. It's supposed to be a holy day, celebrating the birth of the world's most famous carpenter, a carpenter who went on to do some amazing things for humanity.

Then again, if you read the biblical account of the birth of Jesus, there are indications that the actual birthday of Christ was probably not on December 25th. Why celbrate on that day? Because the church decided to celebrate on that day. Why did the church choose that day? Probably because it coincided with the pagan festival of the winter solstice. The early church co-opted a lot of pagan stuff in an attempt to draw people to their religion.

I'm not putting down Christmas. It simply doesn't matter when Jesus was born, or what we do to celbrate. I think the important thing is that we celebrate. Another important thing is that we know what we're celebrating.

I'm not anti Santa Claus or any of the commercialism that is associated with Christmas, but I always had a bit of a problem with non-Christians co-opting the Christmas celebration. If Christmas is a Christian holiday, then why do Moslems and Jews get the day off from work as well?

There's a value to all of us celebrating at the same time. Jews celebrate Hannukah, actually a somewhat minor Jewish holiday that has gained importance do to it's temporal proximity to Christmas. Ramadan is at roughly the same time as Christmas. Some professor at Long Beach State University came up with the idea of Kwanzaa, cobbling together Aftican harvest traditions into a celebration specifically for African Americans. Regardless of what the religious right wants you to believe, this time of year is the holiday season.

I celebrate Christmas because I'm a Christian. I realize that not everyone is a Christian and there's really not any value to forcing my particular holiday down anyone's throat. Do I say "Merry Christmas" to people? Of course I do. I've also been known to put up Christmas lights, bring a living tree into my living room and send cards proclaiming my best wishes to the recipient. If someone commits the 'sin' (according to the Christian right) of saying "Happy Holidays" to me, I may respond in kind or I may reply with "Merry Christmas." It just depends on situation.

The Christian right is trying to persuade/force retailers to celebrate Christmas instead of a seasonal holiday. I understand why a company would try to stay nondenomenational as possible this time of year. Namely there are plenty of retail outlets in existance, if they proclaim a "Merry Christmas" they are potentially alienating customers who don't celebrate Christmas. I don't care what store you care to name, this time of year they are more worried about their bottom line than proclaiming their celebration of any specific holiday.

I don't see the value of forcing a Wal-Mart to tell people Merry Christmas. If the Christian right wants to force Wal-Mart to do something, force them to buy American goods, force them to treat their employees fairly and pay them a living wage. Instead of forcing them to put up a Christian facade, force them to act in a Christian manner.

To those on the Christian right, if a clerk at Wal-Mart or Target says "Happy Holidays" to you, don't be offended. They have no idea of your religious beliefs, they can't possibly know and are better off not assuming that you're Christian. As a Christian, though, you can reply with "Merry Christmas." That's your right and there's nothing they're going to do to try to make you say otherwise. Extend them the same courtesy.


Saturday, December 17, 2005


More Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson once caught a fish this big.
The cool thing about Pat Robertson is that even if you make up the most ridiculous quote and attribute it to him, you have to think to yourself, "well, he is insane, maybe he did say this."

If the following weren't from The Onion, I might actually be inclined to believe it as a factual news story:

Pat Robertson Says Pie Not Delicious

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA—Televangelist Pat Robertson, who recently condemned the town of Dover, PA for accepting evolution and called for the assassination of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said during a Sunday broadcast of The 700 Club that pie is not delicious. "Pie is a corrupt and foul-tasting pastry-covered baked-fruit abomination that shall turn to ashes in the mouth of the misled eater," Robertson said during his 11-minute anti-pie tirade. "The pious eat not the pie, knowing it an unclean thing, nor the crust, nor the filling. Get thee behind me, pie!" Stunned 700 Club viewer Melody Blaker of Houston told reporters that that the evangelist had "abandoned common sense."

Seriously folks, instead of reading the crap I post here, you should really all be checking out The Onion.



Another Martha Stewart Christmas

Last year in early December I wrote the first Christmas song I'd ever written. Like most of the stuff I do, it turned out far from traditional. I was inspired by a news story about Martha Stewart, at prison at some country club prison in West Virginia, entering some decorating contest and coming in second. It got me thinking about Martha and how that Christmas, serving time was different than any other Christmas she'd ever experienced. I thought how differnt it was from her Christmas special I'd seen on Food TV the previous year.

So I sat down and banged out a somewhat mean-spirited Christmas song, perhaps the first mean-spirited Christmas song ever written (then again, I wrote a sappy love song based on a pie chart). My only experience with prison life is stuff I've seen in movies like The Shawshank Redemption. So armed with those types of images and some knowledge of the stuff that Martha Stewart has made a fortune doing, I wrote a song.

I learned a couple of things about songwriting last year. First is if you write a Christmas song, don't make it specific to one year. A Martha Stewart Christmas was really only funny last year. Christmas songs are supposed to be for the ages, and that one obviously wasn't. The second this I learned was that if you do write a Christmas song that's only good for one year, write it before the first week of December so you can play it in front of people more than eight times.

So it seems that the second lesson didn't stick. I was working on another Christmas song this year but it never went anywhere. A number of people asked me last year if I'd be playing A Martha Stewart Christmas this year. It honestly hadn't occured to me as I thought it had passed its shelf life. But I started thinking that maybe I could update it some. My original idea was that her Christmas in prison was different than every other Christmas she'd ever had. But this years Christmas will be different for Martha too. It'll definitely be different than last year.

So armed with more images from prison movies, more specifically the bad late night women in prison movies on Cinemax, I wrote three more verses, dropped out the verse I never really liked from last year's incarnation, added a couple of choruses and I had a new (sort of) Christmas song. Classic? Hardly, but I think I was able to breath some new life into a song that I originally wrote to be played for only one season.

Another Martha Stewart Christmas

Snow falls lightly on the hills of West Virginia
And the season makes us all just want to give
So she’s smuggled in some pies
But her plans were left in a lurch
When that can of yams was found
During last night’s cell block search

Well it’s cold and damp and dank down in the cell block
Minimum security just ain’t no way to live
The color scheme’s all wrong
And the furniture’s no fun
And it’s hard to spruce things up
When they confiscate your hot glue gun

It’s a Martha Stewart Christmas
This year it’s different
Than the one I saw last year on Food TV
Right after Emeril

Screws don’t allow no shanks or knives in the cell block
So she had to carve the turkey with a shiv
She’d been saving up all year
And the feast just made her broke
‘cuz the non-dairy whipped topping
cost her last 3 packs of smokes

But now she’s out in time to enjoy this year’s Christmas
With friends and family instead of all the cons
So this year’s Jingle Bells
And this year’s Silent Night
Won’t be disturbed by the screams
Of another naked shower fight

…..Or Will They…..

It’s a Martha Stewart Christmas
This year it’s different
Than the one I saw last year at Two AM
On Cinemax

They all said her life would be different on the outside
No one ever gives a con an even break
Her investments are way down
Her magazine is just so-so
And since they cancelled The Apprentice
She’s only got one TV show

This year’s Christmas dinner had to be at Martha’s
Still on parole and under house arrest
Trapped in her home of thirty rooms
She can’t even go to town
If she strays to far the cops will know
They’ll mobilize and track her down

Another Martha Stewart Christmas
This year it’s different
Than the one she had last year at that resort
In West Virginia


Friday, December 16, 2005



"The Weather Control Project" is way ahead
of the Death Ray and Germ Warfare projects.....
If I said I didn't know what I was in for, weather-wise, when I moved back to the RC a little over two years ago I'd be lying. Life hasn't been really peachy since moving back here, stuff has just come out of nowhere to beat the crap out of me emotionally, but I knew about the weather.

Actually, I often brag about our weather. Considering our lattitude, we actually enjoy very mild winters here. I can drive an hour or less, gain 3000 feet in elevation and see snow for most of the winter. Sure we get snow down here at 3200 feet, sometimes pretty big snows, but they never stick around like they do in the Twin Cities. That was freaking depressing, it just sucked the life out of you by the time February rolled around. No, our climate is pretty cool. That six inches of snow that falls on a Monday will most likely be gone by that Wednesday.

I forgot about the wind. Damn that wind! I was coming home from work yesterday and I couldn't get the Subaru up to 65mph on I-90 because I was travelling straight into the wind. I've lost a pound or two recently and the wind has threatened to knock me off of my feet more than once this week. My harps nearly blew away! They were in that guitar case thingy, I put them down while putting the car in the garage and when I check on them they'd moved about 3 feet!

A day or two of this I could take, but it's been doing this all week. I know I'll be tempting fated by saying this, but given the choice of 6 inches of snow on the ground for a week or the winds we've had this week, damn it, I'd take the wind! I'm tempting fate because we'd never get the snow without the wind, of course. Six inches of snow and this wind would play havoc with everything going on in this town, it'd make it impossible to get around. Still, if I could have just one, I'd take the snow over the wind any day.

And while our temperatures have been relatively mild this week, those temperatures coupled with 30mph winds that have been blowing pretty much constantly can make being outside simply miserable. Wind Chill. I tried to explain it to people on the west coast, but they just didn't seem to get it. "But Dude, it's not really colder, it just feels colder. Why would I bullshit you about this?"

What can I say. Somewhere, deep in my brain, I knew this is what I was getting myself into when I moved back here. I guess it was simple denial. In truth, you learn to deal with it. I've learned to deal with it again. It's annoying, but to quote Gloria Gaynor (and Patient 957 and Slappy is Jebus and Bruce's Haircut and The Doug and Andy Experience featuring Andy and Doug and Friends[?]) I Will Survive.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Just When You Think It's Gonna Slow Down....

Like all open mics, I'm sure the Wednesday night show at Dunn Bros. in the RC will slow down eventually, but as of right now, it's still a growing concern. The bad part, of course, is that so many players limits the amount of time a person gets to play. With some people, that's a real shame. Of course there is the inverse to that, and I'd go into it, but I missed Mega-Bitch Tuesday by a day, so it will have to wait for another time.

No TSA tonight, so after kicking off the show a little before 7 with Mike, I finished up the show solo at about 10. I was going to try out a rarely played original, but started off with I Know All The Presidents in Order, followed that up with In My Hand (a Dunn Bros. debut!) and as an encore (I was only supposed to do two....) gave the crowd what they wanted, though most of them didn't know it, Two Condoms. A good time was had by all, very few folks went home offended which is always a good sign. Then again, I didn't let anyone know that way my green Subaru in the parking lot.



Be Gentle, I've Never Done This Before

Live from the Dunn Bros. open mic - It's Blind Orange Julius ladies and gentlemen. That's right, blogging in public, my secret identity will be secret for no longer. Also, I gotta keep this short because this terminal kicks you off in a mere 15 minutes. Damn! I barely get rolling until I've been at the keyboard for like 30 minutes or so. Oh well, gotta invest in a laptop, then I could blog the entire time I'm here.

Big question tonight are the gentlemen formerly known as Slappy is Jebus playing Martha Stewart Christmas this year? I'd consider it tonight, but I know I don't remember the words and I'm nearly certain TSA won't remember the chords. Maybe next week. Maybe with a new verse or two.....


Monday, December 12, 2005


Positive About Icepick James

"Ain't mad about somethin' you know, you're
mad about somethin' you heard....."
What, you've never heard of "Icepick James" Harman? Obviously you haven't had nearly enough conversations with me!

When I started playing harmonica, I was blown away by some of the great blues players I'd heard. Listening to classic blues recordings of artists like "Little Walter" Jacobs and Junior Wells or contemporary blues recordings by the likes of Kim Wilson or Rod Piazza, I began to realize that I had a whole lot to learn about technique. The greats were all fast (don't even get me started on guys like Sugar Blue or John Popper), and try as I might I could never play that many notes in that short of an amount of time.

I was living in Forest City, Iowa, when John Rawls turned me onto a harp player named James Harman. Harman is a prodigiously tourning bluesman, and played lots of blues clubs in Lisa Rawls' hometown of Omaha, Nebraska (yes, Omaha is a great blues town). John and Lisa saw Harman there a number of times and obviously liked what they heard. They introduced me to his music and I was quite impressed.

Harman is a technically fine harmonica player. There are many playing today who are technically better, who play faster, but he's my favorite for one reason, his tone. The sound Harman gets out of a harp is the nastiest I've ever heard from a bluesman. When I started playing I knew the filthy tone I wanted to come out of my harp but just couldn't get it. Harman had it. He played exactly the way I wanted to. He plays exactly the way I still want to today. Someday I'll get it. Until then it's just a lot of trial and error.

Listening to more and more Harman, I started realizing what a great songwriter he is. So not only is the Icepick my favorite harp player, he's become my favorite blues songwriter as well. The subject matter of Harman's songs can seemingly come from anywhere. He writes the standard, almost cliche' blues songs (cheating women, drinking, fighting, etc.), but he can also write about the most unexpected things. Hollywood Girls is a collection lines from late night TV phone sex ads. Modern Numbers Game compares government run lotteries to "numbers games" run by mobsters. Lock Doctor was gleaned from an ad on the side of a locksmith's van while stuck in traffic. A Harman song can seemingly come from anywhere. His use of the unexpected and fantastic verbal imagry make for many humorous songs.

While living in the Twin Cities, I had the good fortune of seeing Harman a couple of times. I saw him on a steamy night at St. Paul's "Blues Saloon" where he put on an inspired show in the oppressive heat, his exertion causing him to change shirts a number of times.

His band filled in admirably during his absences to find dry clothes. One thing about a James Harman Band is that they are one of the best blues outfits you will ever see, no matter what incarnation of the band you see. Harman seems to be able to nurture talent like no other band leader I've ever seen. Line-ups from his bands are a veritable who's who of contemporary West Coast blues. I saw his band back Kim Wilson at the "Blue Cafe" in Long Beach, California, and it was one of the coolest musical experiences of my life. His band was great, but people just kept jumping in from the crowd, contemporary greats and former Harman band members Junior Watson and Kid Ramos to name two.

Living in Long Beach was something of a dream situation for me. With "Blue Cafe" as something of a regional hub, everyone in the vibrant local blues scene stopped in from time to time. Bands I had listened to since my college days would drop in, national greats as well (it's where I saw Sue Foley, for heaven's sake!). Best for me, though was Harman, who lived in nearby Huntington Beach. Though on the road most of the year, Harman and band would stick close to home in January and February, playing lots of local dates to make ends meet. Two straight years while I was living in the area, Harman played "Blue Cafe" once a week during the month of February. The bar was on my way home from work, and though I worked late into the evening, I knew I could stop by and catch Icepick's last set before going to bed.

It was great for me to get to see one of my heroes so close up and so often. As good as his albums are, they can't compare to the good time you'll have at a James Harman show. The Swing/Jump style of blues from the west coast is much more infectious in person than mere recording media could ever capture. Should you ever get a chance to catch a Harman show, drop whatever you're doing, drive as many miles as it takes. You won't regret it.


Sunday, December 11, 2005


Human Resources

I remember when it used to be called Personnel. You know, that group of people in an organization who made sure the employees got paid, insurance information was up to date, helped manage retirement accounts and the like. In truth, I've had very little contact with the personnel folks at any job I've had. I've always been something of a low maintenance employee. Sure, I complain about stuff, but as long as any company I work for pays me as promised, I have very little need to talk to personnel folks.

Somewhere along the line, it turned into Human Resources. I don't know when it happened, I don't know why it happened, all I know is that if I'm working for a company, I find the idea of being treated like a resource to be somewhat troubling. Resources are the computers and printer paper, the purchased items, property of a company that allows said company to do whatever business it is that they do. And that's the problem, I have never allowed any company I've worked for to treat me like a piece of property.

An employee is vastly different than a resource. That computer that allows a company to bill clients won't just up and walk out the door if you mistreat it. In a better economic environment than we enjoy in our country today, an employee just might do that. Hell, some still will, and good for them. Those are the employees who don't allow themselves to be treated as a resource.

But the problem is that we don't enjoy a great economic environment right now. Employees are trapped, sometimes due to their own bad choices, sometimes due to the shity economy, but they need that steady paycheck and will put up with anything to keep it coming in. Company Personnel have turned into Human Resources, completly at the mercy of their employers. And don't think for a second that companies don't take advantage of this.

Now if the workers controlled the means of production....... Sorry, I thought I was Karl Marx for a second....

I'm currently having problems with the HR department of a company that I don't even work for. They'd like me to work for them, but they're treating me like a mere resource. When a company wants to acquire a new computer because the old one crapped out from mistreatment, they just go out and buy a new one, I suppose they have to be somewhat civil with the person they're actually making that computer purchase from, but the treatment of the computer itself is the bare minimum of care required for the computer to arrive at it's new destination in working order.

That's what this company is doing to me, treating me with a bare minimum of care. They've screwed up in some way in contacting every one of my references. They've lost paperwork that I filled out at their facility. They've disregarded phone messages. They failed to acknowledge receipt of my expenses and thought it unimportant that I know when my reimbursement will occur. Plus, they're a national company making lots of money. They don't repay expenses for a minimum of 3 weeks. Now they set me up in a hotel, the likes of which I never would have stayed in had I been choosing myself, had I known they wouldn't be paying me back for a minimum of 3 weeks. I'm just a resource to them, like that computer that they're in the process of purchasing requiring a bare minimum of care to arrive at it's new destination in working order.

I found a lot of interesting information in the movie Schindler's List. One of the most interesting was that Jewish labor in the German Reich was allocated through a Ministry of Natural Resources. Jewish labor was simply a resource to be used by German corporations in conducting their business. Yes, the very idea offends me to this day, but the arrogance of those in power in Germany at that time, that they referred to living human beings as a resource to be used in business was really telling to me.

Are American corporations fascist regimes set up to exploit the labor force? No, I don't believe that. When companies start referring to their employees as a human resource though, I think it gives a little insight into how corporations view the labor that allows them to conduct business.



Two Card Games

I'm not sure if I'm ready to make an official announcement yet, but I may be giving up the whole poker thing and concentrate on cribage as my main card game. I'll be off on the professional cribage circuit any day now. Yes, even four opponents (5 handed cribage?) couldn't stop me, they could only hope to contain me. Playing the bastardized 5 player rules and keeping score on paper due to a cribage board that was hopelessly overmatched by the sheer number of people playing, I managed to skunk 3 of my competitors, the fourth managing to avoid being skunked by a mere 3 points, or something like that. I was on fire baby! I'm king of the cribage world, or at least west side Rapid City.

That would all be well and good, but we got together to play poker tonight. Actually, I made a decent showing, managing to outlast 3 other players, my ouster setting up the gut wrenching finale' between TSA and our favorite Public Accountant whose status remains non-Certified. The battle of cousins went down pretty quickly with Corrin making short work of TSA, but my guess is she doesn't handle the 12 string nearly as well as the runner up.

The drink of choice for me this evening was some bizare Leinenkugel's brew with apple and cinamon. Very odd, but given the chance it could grow on me. A little hard to switch back to regular beer afterward, and I still have this funky apple aftertaste in my mouth, but all in all a pleasurable drinking experience. And from my poor spelling in this post, the brew seems to have acheived its desired effect......


Thursday, December 08, 2005


Two Choices

So, it seems like I'm going to have to make a choice soon. I've never been good with choices, as I've stated many times before, given a choice between two seemingly equal options, I will ALWAYS choose the one that turns out worse for me in the end. I could go into great detail, bitching at great length (which, as we all know, is what I do best) about the way my decisions have turned out, but that really won't get me anywhere.

So, soon I'll be choosing between two options. Option 1 changed the rules in the middle of their silly game. Ironically, they changed the rules to a way more in line with my personal beliefs, well sort of. But Option 1 chose to change the rules in a way that was most disadvantageous to me personally at the time. Folks, my morals and convictions only go so far. I see the world operating on a set of rules that are contrary to the way I try to live my life, but I try to do things the right way. But, in despriation, I change and play their stupid fucking game. Option 1 gets a sudden change of heart and tries to be all moral, fucking me in the process.

I have a poor history with Option 2. Option 2 has screwed me over in the past. I have a rule in my life: I like everyone until they fuck me over. I know that sounds pretty heartless, but finding myself continually screwed over by the same people earlier in my life taught me that this is the best course of action. I very rarely give anyone a second chance. That's not to say that I don't understand that people will occasionally make mistakes and that I shouldn't forgive them for that. I do. Probably too much. But I've found that some people and organizations are completely in it for themselves, you can usually tell pretty soon upon meeting them, too. Still, I give them a chance until they do something malicious, then the gloves are off. So the gloves have been off with Option 2 for quite some time now. And through the whole process, I've been quite clear with Option 2 that I am very displeased with past treatment. Option 2 assures me that they have changed, but I see a lot of the same shit happening this time that I've seen before and, frankly, it's hard to believe that any stated change is genuine.

Still, whichever option I choose, I'm pretty sure it will be the wrong one. That's my history.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005


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The Bert Convey
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