Friday Five: Vroom Vroom

Have to take my little car to the shop today.

It's no surprise. She's twelve years old, gets 38 miles to the gallon, and has given exactly three problems (all related to the teeny tiny battery). She's due for a little R&R.

It has been a long tine since I was in a auto repair shop (Oil changes, part recalls, and smog checks not included) So when the guy behind the counter started talking about all the things that could set off the "Check Engine" light, I realized, I had almost no idea what he was talking about.

See, this is the only car I've ever owned that I haven't taken apart and put back together, in one way or another. My general automotive knowledge has stagnated since 2001when I bought her off the lot.

(Thank you Mom and Jeff, for I never would have gotten through that experience on my own)

Then it occurred to me that its Friday and I better start composing my list.

Then it occurred to me that I have been the proud owner of Five cars (Not including my wife's) which makes perfect sense since this is a Friday Five.

So here they are in chronological order,

The Five Cars I've had:

1980 Volkswagon Vanagan.
Twas 1993, a gift from my dear old Uncle Matt (Professor Hubbard to the blogosphere). She was quickly dubbed "The Party Van" and become our home away from home my entire senior year. highlights include the time I fit 20 teenagers in the back (seat belt laws were lil bit more lax back then), then there was the time the entire wheel fell off on the freeway (not flat, FELL OFF!). We skidded for a hundred feet, sparks flying. No one was hurt, but we instituted a mandatory lug nut check for all drives of 20 minutes or more. Top of the line German Blaupunkt stereo plugged into two 10" speakers and I would rock Sgt. Peppers louder than anyone. I eventually blew up the engine. There were flames.

1983 Mercury LN7
After a year of designated driving, it was nice to have a little sporty two door. It was also a two seater and I accidentally taught myself how to drift on the windy curves up to Lake Berryessa. Had it a few good years before I, once again, blew up the engine.

1963 Ford Galaxie
What can I say, but that this car was like driving a cloud. And it was a chick magnet. And it spent more time in the garage than on the road. I rebuilt the top of that engine twice. (Thanks again to both sets of parents for dumping the money that would have gone to fund my college education) And everyone asks me why I haven't gotten Taylor a car yet. Highlights include all of them (I did mention it was a chick magnet, right?) Had I spent some time rebuilding the bottom of the engine, eh, well, I might not have blown this one up too. But I did.

1989 Acura Integra
Ahhh. My first experience with little front wheel drive, slightly sporty, Japanese, commuter car. What can I say? Change the oil, replace a few filters, and you've got 100,000 miles before that sweet little engine blows up. Only thing this car was missing, Air Conditioning. Which wasn't a problem in the Bay Area, but in the Central Valley, if I didn't find a shady spot to park, then I could actually feel the black plastic interior melting during my commute home.

But then, one day, I found myself with a grown up's life, with a grown up's job, and a grown up's Fiancé. It was time for a real car.

2002 Toyota Echo
There has never been, nor will there ever be, a more perfect car than the Toyota Echo. We've considered upgrading over the years, but she's just worth so much more to me than the Kelley Blue Book is willing to admit. Granted, her exterior was designed by the artistic director of "Back to the Future II" all bulbous and quasi space aged. And granted, the powder blue color scheme, is, well, you know, more than just a little gay, but the engine sitting on that front wheel drive transmission, was designed so well, it's still the engine powering the Prius today. Small it may seem, but the interior is vast. It's got room for five manly sized men and five set of golf clubs. Three cup holders, pockets everywhere, two secret storage spaces. It's carried an entire band and their equipment (Drums included), countless christmas trees,  it knows the Grapevine like it's own back yard, and my favorite feature (not including the gas mileage and high speed torque) is the instrument panel set in the middle of the dashboard. Seems like a weird feature, but once you get used to it, well, it's kinda like going black.

No one loves her like I love her, but that's just fine by me.

I hope she's okay.

Of course she's okay.

She's the echo that never dies.

echo, echo, echo, echo.

ThrowBackThursDay: Go Long

I just finished a new Bill Bryson book.

Summer 1927.

It was the summer Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs, the first "Talkie" killed the silent film star and the Central Bank put into place the polices that would lead to the crash and the depression.


If you're a Bill Bryson fan you'll enjoy the book.

If you're not, become one.

This picture is right around 1927. Give or take. Probably more take than give. These two look just a little too happy to have had kids yet.

Which they would in 1927.

These are my mom's dad's parents.

He's got an incredible head of hair and about thirty years left to live.

Her, the only time I've ever seen her smile, and another sixty.

The funny story I have of her is that she always called my father "John" because both my mother's sisters married men named "John." I'm sure she learned a lot of names during her time on this earth, but by the seventies she was done.

Last time I saw her, I too was called "John"

So I've decided, if I live to 2065, I'm going to start smoking again and calling everyone John. Cause who's gonna correct me?

This was before MySpace so I don't know what their favorite songs were or what movies they were fans of and the only recipe of hers I think we've got left is a german strudel which we get to enjoy on Christmas Day.

My mom makes it. My brother makes it. I don't, cause, you know, carbs.

Rumor has it the only recipe of his was a mean martini.

Hence the relatively early death.

I don't know how men wore such high waisted pants. But we definitely lost a little bit when we started wearing watches on our wrists.

And no, hipster, there ain't no going back.

Dresses could make a comeback though.

Which would be awesome.

Whoever convinced girls that pants were more comfortable than skirts was a jerk.

And possibly a communist.

I like this picture most cause of the smiles. People looked so grim in early photographs because they had to sit perfectly for a long time in order to have a clear picture, but right around the turn of the century shutter speeds improved and could give us the "Snap Shot"

Say cheese.

He said "Cheese"

I think she said "Hmmph"

Which is girl speak for "Take the gosh darn picture! I've got strudel in the oven."

Shower Time

Took a perfect shower this morning.

And yet, are there any bad showers?

I suppose wedding showers and baby showers are god's punishment for sex, but they don't necessarily count, considering there's no actual hot water being used to baptize your pre-expired corpse.

And they probably have to call them "showers" just to add some positive spin on what would otherwise be a pretty dismal use of your time from 11:00am to 2:00pm., which if you're not at work, and there's no football on, legally, you should be napping.

I guess baby showers and wedding showers aren't all that bad. I mean, it's just another excuse for eating, drinking and opening up presents.

I think what I hate worst about those events, and this is terrible, but because I'm so terrible at meeting new people, I find that I feel really uncomfortable spending time with my friends' friends' friends.

Now I love my friends. Like, step in front of a bullet to save, kind of love. And for the most part, my friends' friends are my friends too, which is what we call a win-win. And, I must say, that I have pretty impeccable taste in friends, who also have impeccable taste in friends, so the odds are actually pretty good that my friends' friends are gonna be just as delightful as my friends are, and can slide into the Trivial Pursuit Game with relative ease. Eat, drink, open presents.

But gatherings like baby showers and office barbecues tend to invite the kind of secondary and tertiary friend crowd that completely ruin the intimate nature of spending time with your friends and turn the party into a casual Thunderdome, where everyone enters and everyone leaves, but someone is going to exiled from Bartertown for acting like Mel Gibson at a DUI checkpoint.

And it's a shame. There is nothing more awkward than meeting new people, so one would think that there would be a mutually agreed upon level of forgiveness, but no, someone is going to say something, or do something that is going to totally ruin the evening for you and you're gonna stew about it the entire way home.

You're a lucky man if your wife agrees with you, and you both decide never to go to that Memorial Day Pot Luck at your brother-in-law's condo ever again.

Then you take a shower.

Speaking of showers, I took a perfect shower today.

The kind of shower that reminds you that life isn't all that bad.

Showers are kind of like food in the fact that the further away you've been from them, the better they are.

Or something like that.

Let's just say I was getting pretty ripe.

Not, like, French ripe, but it had been a few days.

And I'd been sick.

Not cold or flu sick.

Backache sick.

The worst kind of sick.

I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. (My wife always wakes up and asks me where I'm going, as if there is more than one answer to that question, "Look to the east at the dawn of the third day" I tell her.) So as I eased back down into the bed, with one little twist, and every muscle from my diaphragm to my butt crack seized up like I was bracing for impact.

I was fine as long as I lay on my side and didn't move.

A full night's sleep and I should be good to go.

And nope.

Got up the next morning, or more precisely, meant to get up the next morning and I was frustratingly still in agony.

Being ill sucks, but there is nothing quite like chronic back pain.

Gotta broken arm, here let me fix that. Give it a month and you'll be right as rain.

Gotta bad back, here is a list of agonizing exercises, muscle relaxers, anti-infammatories, antidepressants, and a pamphlet on alcoholism. Some days you'll be in agony, but that will be better than the days where you're terrified and borderline suicidal. And please consider taking this group course on chronic pain, cause we can't fix you, but we can certainly introduce you to other people.

But those are my problems, I was talking about showers.

So after a long time of not moving, not changing cloths, not being able to properly wipe my butt, I was able to move about the cabin this morning and the first thing I wanted to do was to shower.

The water, the heat, the steam, the smell of soap and the scrape of the razor.

You step out of the cubicle of bliss and into the new world, fresh as a daisy

Maybe that's the key to meeting new people.

Maybe the romans had it almost right.

Instead of bath houses, we should have showers in showers. Eat, drink, open presents, with loofahs and shaving cream. Meet people at their best and pinkest.

There is no facade when your dirties are dangling.

But that's a dream for another generation. All I'm saying is that showers are little Utopias and a little Utopia goes a long way.

Ella Shuffle Five

I haven’t done a music shuffle five in a bit, and I was reminded to do it, as I’m halfway through editing a Friday Five collection. That and it’s late and everyone is asleep, so lets slide those studio phones over our ears and hit the play button and see what we get:

Miss Otis Regrets (Ella Fitzgerald)
Now, there aren’t many better things better than a Cole Porter song sung by Ella, but this one, one of the few non broadway Porter tunes, is something special. There are many songs written about love gone wrong, and more still about love gone mad crazy, but this is 1930’s, so it’s not like Joe is going down to shoot his old lady, but instead Miss Otis Regrets she’s unable to lunch today, madam.

G4L - Explicit (Rihanna)
NO hiding how I feel about Ree-Ree. I can’t blame anyone, anything they do for the kind of career they can land, so, serious, God bless, but please, just, please, stop letting her improv.

Carry On (Fun.)
I give them props for everything in this song except this one odd lyric where he says “This I know” I understand it's important to carry the verse to the end of the rhyme, but who says “This I know”? Nobody, nobody, that’s who, you know what they say? They say “Yeah, I know” But I love this whole album with a good pair of headphones and nothing else to do for 45 minutes.

Pop Life (Prince)
I always seem to have to rediscover Prince. I don’t know why I can’t just stick with him like the good little fan I am, but he never makes my Top lists, and then he shuffles up, and I’m like, damn, that shit’s awesome. First he was this weird little dude on MTV, and I didn’t get it. Then there was this girl who invited me over to her house and cranked up Purple Rain on her Daddy’s Hi-Fi, mind blown. Then my wife made me down load a Best Of CD and OMG did that just happen? Then I saw him perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I’m like, “How did he just do that with a guitar?” Then there was the Superbowl Half time show, same thing. Then I read Mo-Meta Blues and Questlove spends chapters talking about Prince.

Jackie’s Strength (Tori Amos)
This album came out the year I played Jesus in Jesus Christ Super Star. I went into day one of rehearsals knowing the show in my sleep, and since I didn’t dance, I spent every rehearsal on the side of the stage with a bottle of water and this on repeat in my DiscMan. Her first five albums were just beyond reproach. And I would have almost preferred to have left her legacy left at the end of this album. Except for the fact that I absolutely need to see her again in concert someday. I feel the same way about Tori Amos that I do about her former lover, Trent Reznor, they were just too perfect out of the gate. History was written with “Boys for Pele” and “Downward Spiral” Time to move on.

Honorable Mention:
Rape Me (Nirvana), this came up right after, and now I have to take back everything I just said about going out while you’re ahead. Tori, Trent, please keep trucking.

Throwback Thursday: Snow Day

Ain't gonna be no trips to the mountain this winter.

All of our snow equipment (mittens, sleds, boots) will gather yet another year of dust.

We're not avid skiers, so the inconvenient truth is minor, but it's kind of a bummer.

Snow is cool.

And I won't climb on my liberal high horse except to say that draught has the ability to change the trajectory of entire civilizations and I was really hoping for a good crop of tomatoes this year.

But I grabbed this picture, specifically, because it's one of the few times in their lives that my boys actually played with one another.

I mean, they are growing up with twelve years between them, so there isn't a lot of overlapping interests and past times. Waxing poetic would be silly, but a few little Norman Rockwell moments sprinkled here and there is awfully tender.

Now, with the big guy away at college, even the rarest of moments have vanished. A trip to the beach, a day at the snow, a game of Monopoly and that one time at Disneyland.

A decade at least will pass before they start to speak the same language again. Only this time it will be beer and golf and how crazy their mother is and how embarrassing dad has become. They'll be long into their own lives by then, maybe with their own children to take photos of.

I hope they call their crazy, embarrassing parents, and invite them along.

They'll be old, but that doesn't matter.

Everyone's ten years old at the top of the hill.

The Super Oscar Bowl

Well, the Niners will not be going to the Super Bowl.

If you doubt me, then spend three minutes surfing your Facebook feed.

So the Super Bowl will be played by the Denver Broncos and the Seatle Seahawks.

Which is great and all, but leaves me no one to root for. Cause even though I absolutely love visiting both cities, they'd be my top five in the nation, I don't like either football team. Screw Papa John's and the 12th Man.

Which sucks cause the Super Bowl to me is like the second coming of Thanksgiving. Food, Family, Football.

What equally sucks is that the Oscar nominations just came out with nine, count 'em, nine flicks in the best movie category, Joann and I haven't seen a single one. Not one.

Which is ridiculous.

We're pop culture junkies, yet we have to scroll all the way down to the best sound editing category before we even have a favorite.


The Super Bowl and the Oscars are like my favorite American holidays. Nachos, and sliders, and fried cheese sticks and beer, and no one has to bring presents or pay special attention to the children.

But 2014 is going to be just a Meh year for both.


Yet, I've decided to take this as a good sign.

The universe is specifically telling Me (cause somehow I consider myself that important) it's telling me that the time for frivolity is not right this second. I need to take every ounce of energy and focus on my goals. I need to draft S.M.A.R.T. plans and consider all entrepreneurial angles, I need to be more dedicated to my body and my self esteem, I need to concentrate, be serious, be pragmatic, productive and profitable.

There is no room for hot wings when you've got an empire to build.

This isn't the time for friends and family and farting about.

This is about hustle, and no pain no gain, maximizing income, minimizing costs, I need to be more machine now than man.

I need to be Darth Vader.

Well, wait.

Maybe a guy who gets hacked to pieces by his best friend and then gets hacked to pieces again by his own son thirty years later shouldn't be considered my spirit animal.

And, lets kinda face it, the Super Bowl is really about the commercials, and the Oscars, well, they're really all about the dresses, and if the Universe tells you things, then it will only go so far as to tell you eat and to procreate.

This stage I'm at right now, with this grand experiment, this chasing of the proverbial dream, itsn't terribly hard, but it can be horribly depressing, and if there's anything I need right now, it's a little frivolity, a little food, a little procreation, a little nonsense to balance out the ridiculous.

In fact, I think I'm gonna skip tomorrow's email campaign and take my girl out to a movie.

Fun With Global Warming Five

So it's January 17th, 2014

And the mercury is just about touching 80 degrees.

Biknini weather.

Now my liberal friends are throwing a Global Warming barbecue to celebrate man's destruction of the atmosphere by lighting food on fire using a solar cooker. I'd feel oddly hypocritical driving up there in my SUV, but you can take my V-6 when you can pry my cold dead hands off the steering wheel.

My conservative friends are concerned about what this drought is going to do to their lawns but excited for all the extra golfing they get to do in February.

I'm just pissed that there isn't enough snow to go sledding this year. 

This will not contain a lecture on Global Warming, except to say that renewable energy is going to have to happen anyway at some point in humanity's history. Let's just get on with it shall we?

It doesn't matter to me how you feel about the subject, but for the sake of a good time, lets just imagine that Global Warming is real and consider some of the advantages that come with the rising tides.

Beach Front Property:
I live in the Sierra Foothills just above the state capitol of California. So, if the Pacific Ocean ever does spill into the Central Valley, my little half plex could be smack dab in the middle of the new Marin county and, ironicaly, won't be underwater any longer.

Polar Bears:
Sure they look all cuddily, but Polar Bears are extremely dangerous, pathological liars, and it's kind of time for Coca Cola to get a new mascot anyway, right?

Underground Cities:
Insurance companies will soon no longer cover any home built above ground in the hurricane zones, which will be just about everywhere. Think about it. And start imagining a new life of artificial lighting, spray tans and airport style people movers. Didn't you always want an indoor pool?

Mellow Noma:
Sick of the color pink? Me too. In fact I thinks it's about time that skin cancer awareness pushes boobies off their pedestal. (This is terribly unfunny, since melanoma runs rampant in my own genetic line, and will most likely be exactly how the universe shuffles off my mortal coil, but I just couldn't pass up the chance to say boobies. There, I've said it. Boobies.)

More Canada:
With all the ice melting, our great sister state will soon quadruple the land available to suburban sprawl. As America's greatest source of foreign oil, comedic actors, and IHOP condiments, the great nation of Canada will, within just a few genterations, be able to deliver ten times the wholesome goodness it's known for. And maybe, just maybe this quiet world power will be able to compete in the Summer Olympics and take home as many silver medals as China or the Russians.

Throwback Thursday: The Best of Days

So Orwell wasn't so good with dates.

This being 1986 and Big Brother is nowhere to be found.

We're getting a little closer, what with 24 hour surveillance, having your cell phone track your location in real time and the simplification of language, LOL, but in 1986, there was virtually none of that.

Although, if I do remember anything, it's the size of the cell phone, that big Motorola hand job that weighed a good 73 pounds, used by one of the project engineers on this construction site. It would be the closest I'd get to cellular technology until 1995 when I got my first and only pager.

Now this day, this day was as fine as days get.

I always felt sorry for the other children. When they had to go to work with their parents, they had to sit in offices. They were handed printer paper and crayons and told to be quiet.

But when I got to go to work with my mom, I got to drive a fucking tractor.

I didn't say ride in a tractor, I said drive.

On a construction site.

(For the record, this was the site of the Concord Airport Plaza, Phase 2, which looked almost identical to Phase 1, except that the interior had to be designed differently because it was to house the credit division of Wells Fargo, and if you remember anything about corporate computers at that time, they needed a lot of space and a lot of air conditioning. In perspective, your cell phone now has more computing power than this entire building was designed to house. Google it.)

Littered with I-Beams and broken pieces of wood, and nails of every shape and size. There were pneumatic tools and porta-potties and unlimited cokes from the vending machines. The vehicles were American built and the men were made up of equal parts dirt and sweat and beer and calluses.

I love this picture cause you can see prissy little me at ten years old with my socks pulled up to my knees and my velcro shoes and my collared shirt sitting next to my mom in jeans and a T-Shirt and flip flops.

Flip-flops at a construction site.

She wasn't a rube, she just took not giving a shit to a whole 'nother level.

Sorry if your mom was boring and couldn't teach you how to drive a Bobcat, them's the breaks I guess.

Speaking of "breaks" the reason I grabbed this picture is because I've been thinking about the likelihood of inevitability.

Like, was it inevitable that I ended up chasing art instead of construction?

I absolutely adore building things and I hate bars for the most part, so how come that little boy there, who was so proud, that for twenty five years he could point out a building and tell people that his mom built that, how come he is now, at 37, plugging songs at open mic nights at the local dives and not sitting at a drafting table imagining entire cities?

The full tale would be silly, but there was a pivotal moment:

Among the classes I took my first semester in college was an elective called "Introduction to Engineering"

I wanted to be an engineer, but I didn't know exactly what kind, except that I knew to shy away from chemical engineering. Chemistry was not my cup of tea, but Physics sang lullabies to my soul.

So I got the text book as soon as the bookstore was open and plowed through it, intent on becoming top of the class before the class even began.

By the end of that weekend, I was pretty dismayed by how remedial it was. It was like the "Dick and Jane" book of engineering. "See Spot calculate angles. Triangulate, Spot, Triangulate."

I assumed, this being college and all, that the class would be more invigorating, or at least more hands on, or at least not a complete waste of my time.

And nope.

For four weeks, we got an introduction to the library and the Dewey Decimal System. Two weeks later we were being given instructions on how to write an introductory paragraph using the college format, which, I shit you not, required group work.

I can't stand group work.

At first, I had assumed I'd walked into the wrong class, happens all the time, but nope, this was introduction to engineering, I know cause I eventually asked, and each homework assignment was to read the next chapter in "Dick and Jane builds a kiddie pool"

Had there been just something. Anything. An interesting teacher, a guest lecture, a field trip, a pretty girl, anything, and I might have suffered throughout it long enough to keep that dream alive. I so wanted to be able to point to things and say "I build that"

But nope.

I dropped the class and never considered the field again. Especially once I met the chorus girls on the theatre side of campus.

There's more to it than that, of course, but not much.

Whatever twists and turns our lives take, whoever, whatever we become, is still pretty much beyond the power of our parents and way beyond the computing power of our cell phones (so far), so remember to lighten up a bit.

I'm not saying you should let your ten year old wander through a construction site or drive a Bobcat or take a sip off your beer, but if you did,

those would be the best of days.

Elves, Idols, and Seattle Football

Wait . . . Dad?


Does is hurt to get stoned?

Certainly not.

No, I mean, do you think it would hurt if you were turned to stone?

You can't turn to stone. You can freeze and turn to ice. You could burn and turn to ash, but you can't turn to stone. It's impossible to turn to stone.

But would it hurt?

Yes. No, wait, I mean no.

Why not.

Well, pain is just an electrical impulse from your nerves to your brain. And since you can't send electricity through stone, you wouldn't feel any pain.

Wait . . . Dad?


Can you make me a smoothie?

Sure. Gimme a minute.

It may seem silly, in fact I know it's silly, but I love considering fantasy within the confines of reality. Little things like could elves really fire arrows that fast, but there aren't any elves, but if there were, then they'd be magical and could do anything, but could they really? And the answer of course, is yes and no.

Yes, elves could certainly shoot that fast. Humans can shoot that fast, look it up on YouTube, so of course elves could shoot that fast.

Can Evangaline Lilly shoot that fast? No. Then Tauriel shouldn't be able to and neither should Legolas, if you're into boys. And yet, and yet, I totally buy into the fact that Jennifer Lawrence can shoot that fast.


Better editing? Less intrusive CGI? No wigs. I mean, c'mon, how could you make an eight foot dragon look touchable and yet make Orlando Bloom look like a poorly rendered cartoon?

I don't know what it is about wigs that drive me crazy, but an actor in a wig, looks to me like an "actor" in a "wig". All I can think about is how itchy and uncomfortable that actor must have been all day long, and my suspended disbelief drops like a pain free stone.

And CGI just looks terrible. Go ahead and augment, but lighten the load. Less is more.

If you're gonna lie to me, make it a good lie, make it reasonable, ground it in reality, make it fair.

That's the word I've been thinking about. Fairness.

I've been thinking about it cause the Niners are going up against the Seahawks this upcoming weekend. I won't bore you with a lot of football speak, but even though I love Seattle, I really dislike their football team. And it's not because they're division rivals, though there's that, it's because I really hate the 12th Man.

Let me explain:

You see, the crowd at their home stadium is so loud that it makes it nearly impossible for the opposing team to call plays. I mean, unless you're the Eagles, the home field advantage is always a plus, but the Seahawks are something ridiculous like 26-1 in the last few seasons. It's an advantage so powerful that the crowd is referred to as the 12th Man (A football team has 11 players on the field, if you absolutely needed that reference, and the crowd makes twelve). They're also referred to as "The Legion of Boom", but calling the stadium "ThunderDome would be taking it too far.

Now, I'm not Pollyanna. Every team cheats and lies and steals and when it comes to competition with billions of dollars at stake, it would be downright stupid not to maximize every conceivable advantage. But, to me, it just doesn't feel right that their excellence is predicated not on how good they play, but how poorly the other team plays.

Getting in your opponents head is one thing. Using cryptography to decode your opponents play calling system, fine. Go ahead and rough the kicker a little bit, but hammering them with 126 decibels just doesn't feel right. It just doesn't feel fair.

I'm crazy, right?

Maybe just the very idea of that much screaming gives me the heebeegeebees. I don't like noise almost as much as I don't like wigs.

Truth is, the Seattle Seahawks are a good team, but are they better than the Niners? Most likely in Seattle, but anywhere else, who knows. If it's a lie, make it a good lie.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to an American Idol commercial I saw as the Legion of Boom was terrorizing the Saints.

Harry Connick Jr. said something about Idol being the place where superstars are born.

Which is about as unreasonable as an unpalatable lie can get.

First of all, Kelley Clarkson is pretty much the only Idol to move mountains. (Okay, I'll give you Jennifer Hudson for crossover appeal too.) But everyone else? Thousands of hours of air time, millions of eyes and ears reached, water cooler subjects for months, and the best Clay Aiken can do is hosting gigs that Ryan Seacrest turns down.

Now, granted, I can't watch it, cause I know first hand the pain of the anonymity of cattle calls and the agony of being ridiculed alone on an empty stage, but, you know, to each his own.

And a ton of my family and friends love those shows. Which is probably why I don't get invited to dinner very often.

But what boils my blood about the show and all of the shows like it, is that the truth behind those shows is actually pretty amazing, almost beautiful.

You see, no one in those shows are "Discovered"

They're sourced.

A&R people are sent across the country searching for solo artists who haven't broken yet. Private auditions are set up, contracts are signed,  photo shoots, video shoots, hair and make-up, all done away from public view.

(Those cattle calls, along with the call backs are part of the marketing campaign selling the American Dream, and for the comic relief factor)

The discovered artists then get the best management and development that money can buy. They're handed a real career, boosted by massive exposure. Win or lose, they're sent touring across the globe, and if they're relatively smart with their cash, they'll never have to worry about health benefits again.

It's exactly the kind of business that the music industry should strive to be.

Finding good artists and using the machine to take them to the next level.

I would totally watch that show.

Cause I like my elves without spray tans, and my football on the field, and I'd like to believe that the journey of an artist has far more entertainment value than the hustling of lottery tickets.

And if I were to turn to stone, I don't need the pain, in fact,
I'd like to go out thinking how pretty Uma Thurman is tonight.

Breaking Friday Five Bad

I'm pretty much hating my best friends right now.

See, a week before Christmas, we had dinner. And during that dinner the four of us began discussing addictive television shows. The two of them were pretty amazed that the two of us had not even started "Breaking Bad"

"You see," She said, "It's one of those shows that starts this high, and you think to yourself it can't possibly go any higher, and then episode after episode it just keeps getting higher."

Now the reason we've stayed away is because we switched it on one evening and got introduced to the show with a very uncomfortable scene, which we tried to watch and then changed to something a little less icky. Life is icky enough when you actually think about it, so there's no real need to invite more.

But the stupid show has been pretty much universally acclaimed, especially by the people whose taste we trust most, and how can I possibly write a pop culture blog and not be able to make Pinkman jokes?

So as Fantasy Football wound down to its devastating conclusion, I decided queue it up.

Of course I blasted through four and a half seasons like they were warm butter and I was a hot knife, anyone who has seen the first episode wouldn't blink at such a colossal waste of time, but here's where I go a little insane:

Netflix doesn't stream the last eight episodes.

(Yet, and I say yet because by the time you read this it's very possible that monumental pressure would have been applied to make it happen, so you'll just have to imagine my frustration rather than actually feeling it.)

But, oh my god, what cruel fate has been laid upon my lap?

Could Blockbuster have not held out for just three more months?

But wait!

They're available on disk!

And I have movies still waiting to be sent back.

Which solves all of my problems except for one. And that problem is time.

I have two performances next week that I need to be prepared for and nothing booked for the next few months. If I want to make this grand experiment happen, I've got some serious rehearsing and promoting to do, along with quadrupling my efforts to get gigs. In fact, just about every step of my primary plan is months behind schedule. (Don't panic, that's how this work goes, I've got several tiers of planning because of it.) But I don't exactly have eight hours to blow.

So, today, there are eight episodes of Breaking Bad sitting in my mailbox. And like the junkie I am, I have no intention of letting them just sit there. So what if I'm drunk, might as well finish the bottle. But like a good intentioned junkie, I want to at least be relatively productive before popping the popcorn, fluffing the pillow and dimming the lights. So here are five things that absolutely must get done before I walk the green mile to the mailbox:

I got two completely different style gigs. That means solid set lists and at least three hours of rehearsal for each.

I plan to mangle an entire dish of hot wings, cause if you're gonna binge man, binge. That's fourteen hundred calories or just about three one hour bike rides. Giddy up.

Mass Emails:
I've got a list of forty different venues on my desk right now just crying out for primary contact. I need forty more to meet my quota for the month. Ctrl C, Ctrl V, Ctrl C, Ctrl V.

Pitch a Song:
If ever I needed a piece of good luck, it would be a fair wind on the music licensing sea. It makes me nervous because the returning critiques always break my heart a bit (a lot), but it's a percentage game, and baby needs a new pair of shoes. Big money, no whammies!

Finish this blog:
aaaaaaaaaand DONE!

Throwback Thursday Bandwagon

Heard an interview with the new owner of MySpace talking about the relaunch of the largely shelved social network. There were a lot of high hopes involved. Best of luck.

Anyway, he was talking about this weird anomaly where their usage quadrupled on Thursdays and it took a month before they realized that there's this fad called "Throwback Thursdays" where people will post old photos of themselves and their friends on Instagram/Facebook/Tumblr, and where else to mine old photos than the forgotten storage bin that is Myspace?

And, of course, I thought if everyone else can do it, well, so can I.

I told my wife about it and she already knew. (This from a girl who hasn't been active on Facebook for even a year yet.)

Note: Key to a man's success in life, is a wife who is way ahead of him.

Note II: Even more key is if he listens to her the first time.

So, in a cunning display of foresight, the universe instructed me to clean out an old briefcase where fell out this photo.

That's not a filter, children, that's analogue.

Date stamped on the back, "Dec 1988" which makes me twelve years old and my father almost exactly the same age as I am now. He's thinner than I am, but I have a better haircut.

I have no recollection of ever seeing this photo, nor do I even remember it being taken. I'm sure Dad will correct me at some point, but I can only assume for the time being, that this is a wedding, considering the Baby's Breath on both of our lapels and the grey pinstriped Brooks Brothers suit that I'm pretty sure is the only suit my father ever owned.

I still have the vest, but the jacket and the pants fell apart a decade ago.

I'm pretty sure it's the only suit I ever owned as well, even if it was stolen out of my father's closet.

The guitar, an Ovation 12-String, too, was stolen, in the fall of 1990, out of the back of my father's truck in a movie theater parking lot. We were seeing Godfather III, so suffice it to say, it was a very disappointing evening.

The rainbow guitar strap must have been in the guitar case when it was stolen. Pity. I totally would have stolen and rocked that.

Twelve. That was a terrible time to be in my head. That little dude right there was a mess, and he was a mess really, for no other reason than that he was twelve. Happened to me, happened to my big guy, will most likely happen to my little guy. Pity.

It'll be another five years before that little dude in the picture feels right again.

But MTV still played videos.

So he's got that going for him.

Dad Savage

Wait . . . Dad?


Have you ever killed anyone?

Not this week.

How 'bout ever?

No, dude, I've never actually killed anyone.

Have you ever hurt a real bad guy real bad?

Not in the last twenty minutes.

I'm serious. Have you ever hurt a real bad guy?


Well, then how do you know you can?

Just do.

Just do.

Men know what I'm talking about. Fathers even more so. Our particular brand of badassery knows virtually no bounds.

I mean, yeah, I don't look like much. My hands are supple, my height nothing to brag about, no tattoos or facial scars or NRA stickers, I don't own a gun or drive a truck, and I haven't been able to bench my own weight in almost twenty years, but, and you have to know this, you come between me and my family and you're going to die. And you're going to die horribly.

There will be no restraining until the police arrive.

I will simply not stop pummeling your meat until every ounce of blood has leaked back into the gutter.

The reason this came up, is because a day or two ago, a young girl was abducted just outside of her family home.

Spoiler Alert: She was found and the suspect taken into custody. And by 'suspect' I mean the guilty mother****er, who gets to spend the rest of his years being molested by very large, very angry men.

Praise the Lord Jesus for the vengeance afforded by an underfunded penitentiary.

So there we were, watching a movie, Calvin in his elf costume, sword in hand, when the Amber Alert came on.

It was clear that it was not a test, since it didn't say "This is only a test" but what came out of the speakers was 97% static and 3% what sounded like Charlie Brown's math teacher:


or something like that.

"What the hell was that?" Joann said.

"A vietnamese girl has been abducted in the Contra Costa area and to be on the look out for a gold Honda or Toyota." I said.

"How the **** did you hear all that? It was nonsense!"

Side story: This is exactly why I'm going to send my poor wife to an early grave. She could tell me that the house was on fire and I will have no idea what she's talking about nor will I be likely to get my ass off the couch, and yet, and yet, I can hear the ticking of a wrist watch four doors down and it will keep me up at night.

I don't know how I heard it, I just did.

And we had a good laugh about my ridiculousness while simultaneously sharing our deep concern and fear about child abduction, Calvin came screaming into the room wanting to know what all the fuss was about.

"A girl was kidnapped."

"Around here?"

"No, far away in Contra Costa."

"Is she okay?"

"We don't know."


And soeth begat a two day concern over the power of real bad guys versus a pasty faced homebody who only claims to be dangerous.

How do you know?

Just do.

How do you know?

Just do.

But how do you KNOW?

I've known it since the first day I held you in my arms. I mean, I've always suspected, cause that rage has always been there sitting quietly beneath the truest facade of congeniality. It's bubbles up to the surface when some one cuts me off, or you don't put your shoes on when I tell you to, but as long as I'm around, there's nothing out there that would dare hurt you.


But it did get me thinking. How do I really know, you know? It's true that I just do, but how do I really, really know?

Cause I do.

Cause this one time, and although you can't stop me if you've heard it, you can skip to the end if you like. There was this one time that the switch fully flipped. I went from being me, to crazy killer super me, and it all starts with my fear of dogs.

That's right.

I am terrified of dogs.

Ridiculously terrified.

Now, I don't like heights very much, and I would prefer to enjoy my life free from roller coasters and slasher movies and slightly cracked open closet doors in the middle of the night, but man's best friend could send me screaming into the rafters. And there are lots of little childhood dog traumas that I could point to, but in the end suppression seems a better deal than therapy.

Threaten me with knives or guns or fire or raging bulls or Jack Nicholson with a fire ax and I will only feel one tenth of the fear I feel when a Shi-Tzu barks.

If only I was kidding.

I can get acclimated to them over time, but never comfortable, if they flinch, I flinch.

Two for flinching.

But there was this one time, a few years back, a little after four in the morning; There was very little light and a wispy fog has settled on my street.

I got up, I showered, I grabbed a little lunch, I went outside, locked the door behind me and headed out to my car.

From across the street I heard a deep growl and looked up to see what was probably a chocolate lab looking at me and snarling.

And then, it just tore after me barking like mad, and I'm not sure if I screamed and ran, but I definitely ran, straight back to my front door.

I was only inches from the welcome mat when it dawned on me that my keys were dangling from my car door and because of my tunnel like entryway, I had no where to run.

Nowhere to hide.

And then,


I just turned around and started running back toward the dog, the metallic taste of blood in my mouth as the adrenaline pushed my heart into my throat.

But I wasn't turning to protect myself.

I was going to rip it's head off and stomp it's body into the pavement.

The dog skidded to a halt as I bared down on it, almost as if my entire smell changed, and it's barks turning to yelps as it cartoonishly scuttled backward and ran off into the darkness.

The creepy part was, I didn't make a sound.

I went from some very unladylike squealing to psychopathic bloodlust between two heartbeats.


I mean there have been other moments throughout my life that suggest a certain amount of capability when it comes to self preservation, but nothing that fierce, nothing that cold. It was both very weird, and kinda liberating.

I mean, I'm not crazy, I'm not gonna pick a fight, and if you want my wallet, just ask and then go about your merry way, but it's nice to know, to know know, to really really know, that Dad can be dangerous.

Yet I can't explain this all to an eight year old who has just discovered that there are real bad guys in the world. So he knows to keep his distance from strangers and strange cars and to never be alone and  what his address is and what his parents numbers are and exactly where to bite when it comes right down to it.

So it's enough to teach him to be safe.

And to stay away from Chihuahuas.

Those f**kers are savage.

Friday "I done told you So!" Five

So my step son turned 21 today.

Happy 21st, I say, happy 21st.

I remember my own 21st birthday. I'd just finished a very long weekend, five shows in three days, and I wanted to go home and go to bed. My girl friend wanted to do something fun and exciting. We fought about it. I think I remember winning. Or losing. Doesn't matter. It was a non-event.

My step son is a lot more fun than I am. My girlfriend would have liked him a lot.

So he's out hitting the town, birthday money in pocket, surrounded, most likely, by the dissapointed girlfriends of premature curmudgeons, and about to make, what will hopefully be, a long line of bad decisions.

And, as his mature curmudgeon of a step-dad, it's essentially my god given duty to offer the kind of advice that he is most likely going to ignore:

Friday Five: I Told You So's:

Always plan an exit strategy. Designated drivers are hard to come-by, and you should never trust a disappointed girlfriend, not when tequila is involved, so make sure you know where you are and how you are going to get to where you want to end up. Keep the number of a taxi service in several different pockets, and add it to you favorite contacts list. 

Until you've been around the block a few times stay away from these three: Tequila, Gin, and Rum. Unless, of course, you would like to spend the next three days holding onto the carpet to keep from falling off the face of the earth.

You've never had a best friend like water. Drink lots and often.

You've never had a best friend like water. Drink lots and often.

Call your mother. She won't be mad, or disappointed, or put off, or even mildly irrittated. Not only will she be none of those things, she will be freakishly excited to come to the rescue, and will brag to all her friends and family how proud she is of having raised such a responsible adult. Nothing, and I mean it, nothing will make her happier than knowing you're safe.

You could call me too, but, well, you know, tequila.