Finger on the Friday Five Button

Slept in late this morning.

It was raining, and I can.

Joann made coffee and turkey pot pies and put a romantic comedy in the blue ray. We listened to the rain and watched Julia Luis Dreyfus fall in love with James Gandolfini.

But then the phone rang, and it really doesn't matter who was calling, neither of us were going to answer it.

Yet, when the land line rings, its not like you can just look down, press a button and be done with it.

Land lines haven't caught up to cell phones in that way.

Land lines keep ringing until the answering machine picks up. And then you have to listen to your own distorted voice from 2006 telling some stranger that we'll call them back which is most assuredly a lie, and then we have to listen to the person leaving the message.

The are fifteen buttons on my home phone.

None of them are a "Shush" button.

My cell phone has a "Shush" button.

In fact, every button on my cell phone is a "Shush" button. You don't even have to try and dig it out from the pocket of your jeans, you just squeeze your pant leg until it stops chirping, or vibrating, or you can just let it vibrate and be happy that something's tickling your squishy parts.

But not the land line.

Whole universes have banged, expanded and collapsed by the time the marketer has finished talking about introductory APR's.

My land line really needs a "Shush" button.

Which lead me to start thinking about other kinds of buttons that other things need.

Here's what came to mind during the awkward romcom moment (You know that moment, where you knew exactly what was going to happen and it starts happening and you kind of have to get up and clear the turkey pot pie bowls from the coffee table):

Five Buttons:

Number One:
The "I Need You to Focus on What I'm Saying" Button.
This button needs to be installed on every child from the age 4 to 18 and every husband ever. Although, as civilization might collapse from over use, the button must cease to work if the conversation turns to either religion or clothes shopping.

Number Two:
The "I Didn't Mean to Hit that Button" Button.
You know when you're trying to check the weather on your smart phone to see if there's going to be rain in Amador county tomorrow and all you want to do is enter the name of the city, but instead you get sent to the internet and Yahoo is insisting that you change your primary browser? And you know you should have hit the Plus button instead of the Yahoo button, but now you have to wait for the internet to load up which takes forever because you forgot to switch the wifi part of your phone back on and it's still trying to run off the 3G network? This will be primarily for all technological gadgets and leaders of countries with nuclear arsenals. It could be voice activated too, like, "Shit . . . Stop . . . Go back!"

Number Three:
The "I Really Need it Not to Rain in Amador County Tomorrow" Button.
I toyed with a general weather button, but there would be too many people fighting over it. Rain, sunny, rain, sunny, there would be no consensus. However, there's a big outdoor winery festival that I'm booked at which will be canceled due to rain. And nobody wants that at all. It's a bit selfish, but it's my list.

Number Four:
The "Would Somebody Just Pick a Place to Eat!?" Button.
Sounds trivial, but you know, and I know, that this would be the most important button ever invented. I could sell a single one of these for 17 million dollars.

Number Five:
The Universal "Pause" Button.
It would kind of be like a Stop Time button, but it works exclusively for video games that are being played anytime up to the moment that dinner is ready or we have to leave right now. Joann and I are the first generation of parents who truly understand the need to find a saving point on the game before it could be turned off. So, of course I feel guilty just shutting off the TV and yelling to go put some shoes on. I too have been in the middle of a very important battle when it came time to go to work or check and make sure the baby hasn't drowned in the pool. Continuity is the problem. Your adrenaline is up and you have this plan mapped out in your head as to how your going to tackle the situation and if you simply hit Pause you lose all your momentum. The Universal Pause button would pause everything else, except you,
and the Fire Demon in the Water Temple.

There could also be an exception that includes the moment when you and your wife are cuddling on the couch listening to the rain, drinking coffee and eating pot pies and sharing a funny moment with Julia Luis Dreyfus. And you can pretend that James Gandolfini is still alive and well and that your gig is still on for tomorrow and nobody has to be picked up.

And the phone never rings.

TBT: Gimme something to write on


Orwellian dystopia?

Or, the last Van Halen album with David Lee Roth?

The NSA still hasn't gone full Big Brother on us, but I can tell you right now that the dude in this picture certainly wasn't Hot for Teacher.

In fact, he didn't like her at all.

The feeling was mutual, of course, he wasn't the outgoing type and she was still mourning her love beads and Jefferson Airplane, who were too busy building cities out of rock and roll to care much about white rabbits.

She was old and creepy by 1984, so I can only hope to assume she's pretty dead now, but I can say that she had a terrible name for a third grade teacher, which I won't reveal just incase she is still alive and lucid enough to Google herself from time to time.

Calvin's third grade teacher is much cooler.

At first I thought she was a bit nuts, but after being a parent volunteer every other week, I now see why she has to radiate the kind of energy she radiates. We all want to blame the parents, we all kinda want to blame the teachers, but let's face it, third graders are unresponsive freak show animals. All of them.

I used to worry that mine was too nuts, too shy, too weird to socialize with the rest of them, but other than the fact that I can't get him to eat enough food or put his shoes on, he really is as remarkable as I could possibly want him to be.

The other kids, wow, really not so much.

The reason I thought about this picture is because I got to drop off Calvin to school this morning and was trying to remember if my parents dropped me off still at this point or if I walked to school. We lived right around the corner, so it's not like there was much of a journey to talk about, but I don't remember getting in the car even when it was raining.

I'm sure we did, but it's important later in life to lie a little bit about how hard you had it.

And then, as I watched him make that turn from the sidewalk to the play ground, I wondered if the eight year old me would have gotten along with the eight year old him.

I had Star Wars.

He's got YouTube.

I was into guns and swords.

Calvin's into swords and guns.

We're both athletic, but not athletes.

Yeah, we totally would have ruled the neighborhood.

I guess.

I don't know. As the lists start rolling around my head, it stops being an intellectual exercise and more of a liars jump down the rabbit hole.

It's safe to assume that if all eight year olds are unresponsive freak show animals, then most likely, so was the kid in the picture, despite the gleaming smile.

But, I guess in the context of entertainment for the sheer sake of entertainment, it's perfectly okay to bend the truth a bit. To romanticize the intellectual superiority of your eight year old self in order to project the pride you have in your eight year old son.

And hey, if you're gonna tell stories,

might as well JUMP!

First Takes - Lie To You

About six months ago I had this cool idea to shoot a video for the commercial version of "Lie To You" where I would take several different people and have them show note cards with the lyrics.

The concept being that the song could function both as a universal piece and something that is uniquely personal.

My niece was kind enough to be my first guinea pig and then I continued shooting with the little guy and myself. I wanted to get more people, but after the jumbling of the cards that you see in the final cut, I sorta gave up and decided to just keep it to the two kids.

Yet, when cutting it, it looked strangely like a love dispute between a 20 year old and an 8 year old, so I recut it using my niece only.

The final product was pretty cool, but not the super cool I was going for (The transitions were just too sloppy, something I'm gonna have to learn how to do better as I go along, I guess) so I shelved the project till I had the time to go back and re-edit it.

Now, when putting First Takes together, I had originally wanted to do the song on the piano, but as I got nearer and nearer the shoot date, I realized I was going to need a lot more practice, so I shelved that idea and then just shot the footage you now see with me and a guitar. (The guitar didn't make the shot, so I'm going to assume that you trust me enough to know I was playing live.)

So there I was with this decent footage, an okay audio take, and this very white blank spot filling most of the screen.

My intention was to fill that void with lyrics like last week, cause that would've only taken me an hour, whereas repurposing the old footage would take me a lot more than that.

The moral of the story is that nothing ever goes right, and the only way I'm ever going to get anything done is to do it the hard way.

The other moral of the story is that the internet likes cute kids.

Next week: Quiet Amy, featuring kittens and Pokemon footage.

Click the picture to take you directly to YouTube.

And, as always, please leave me some feedback when you have the inclination, and please, feel free to share it.


Watch This

Joann and I are in a bit of a spring cleaning mode.

I mean we're not messy people, she's a bit of a pack rat, Calvin can't get the food to his face, and I, apparently, can't seem to find the bowl with a single stream of pee, but all in all, our house is sanitary enough for small children and in-laws.

But there comes a time when you just have to start knocking a few things off your laundry list.

For instance, whenever Calvin gets a cold, our enitre kitchen island becomes a pharmacy of cough, cold, flu, and diphtheria remedies, both homeopathic and gentetically modified. All of which finds a home, for some reason, in a shoe box next to the wine rack.

Maybe just as a reminder that alcohol consumption while using some of these medications is awesome.

I got the idea yesterday that it could be just the time to find a place for our medicines in an actual medicine cabinet.

Of which we have two.

Not exactly one of those "Ah Ha!" moments you read about in the self help books, but I thought it was a pretty niftly little piece of actualization.

On the other side of the bed, Joann decidied it was time to get a battery for her watch.

Which made me think that I too have a watch that needs a battery.

A very pretty watch I got way back in 2005 to celebrate five years in the coffee business.

It's a nice silver affair with a teeny tiny company logo and the number five.

Which I absolutely never wore.

Not because I didn't like the thing, but because I'm the kind of person that might move a little to the left and get my watch caught on a tiny little piece of escalator, which in turn, would rip off the rest of my arm.

That, and it needed to be adjusted, and somewhere in 2008, it also needed a battery.

But as I said, it's a very pretty watch and I'm actually kind of proud of it.

I had gone years without even thinking about it and then one night on stage I realized how nice it would be to have a watch so I didn't have to keep looking at the bar tender and asking how much time I had left on my set. Not because I was bored, mind you, but because I am usually the opening act, and I like to make sure I'm off and out of the way in a timely manner.

It's just politeness.

And I like the fact that it has the number five as the only number on the face. I have a friend of a friend of a friend who is a pretty famous rock star and it took her five years of serious pavement pounding before getting off the ground, so not only does the watch remind me of some wonderful times of the past, it also says that I've got a lot of furture ahead before I even dare get discouraged.

Sometimes we need those kinds of things.

Anyway, Joann had to get her watch fixed and I made her take mine too.

And now I'm wearing a watch.

Which, goodness now that I think about it, is something I haven't worn since the spring of 1997. Any babies born during that year could legally drive now. Yet it seems odd to me, that I haven't worn one  because I actually like watches. Off the top of my head I could probably think of a ton of watches I've owned.

I had a bunch of those little plastic digital watches. Cause, you know, The 80's.

I had several Swatch Watches. (Google it)

I had a calculater watch. (Google that too)

I even went through this phase of wearing suit vests and a gold pocket watch.

That's right, I was Hipster before it was cool.

Then for Christmas 1996 I got a Mervin's gift card. (Go ahead and Google Mervin's too) And since it was Christmas and I had all the socks and jeans a twenty something fashion disaster could want, I used the card to buy myself a nice silver watch. Almost exactly like the one I'm wearing now except that I think it had a little button that made the face glow green. Which in the pre-iPhone 90's, was the only way to annoy people sitting next to you in a movie theater.

That watch was stolen out of a cubby hole at the theater I was working at while I was tearing apart some scenery. Again, even at twenty, I knew that me, jewlery, and power tools were not to be in the same room together.

But I was like super poor by then and never bothered to replace it.

Which was fine because for the next four years I was either building a stage or hamming it up on one and couldn't flash it anyway.

Then for the next thirteen years I was stationed behind an espresso machine, which is both the temperature of lava and would've caught a loose piece of jewlery like a great white going after barely legal bikini clad 70's chick.

But I haven't been behind an espresso machine in six months, so now I get to wear a watch.

A rather nifty watch.

And oh, look at that, its time to finish this post and do something else.

Three Day Jean Rule Five

Okay, so I discovered something that without the aid of my self employment, I never ever would have discovered on my own.

Blue jeans feel freaking amazing on the third day of wear!

I know.

Who would have guessed?

Back when I was a responsible adult, blue jeans were worn for maybe half a day, a day and a half tops. I worked hard. I sweat a lot.

But now that my commute is down the hall and my office is kept at near freezing temperatures, I can totally get away with wearing the same pants long past the expiration date.

This does not hold true for t-shirts, socks and or underwear. I'm not an animal.

But blue jeans on the third day, OMG, it's like wrapping your legs in kitten fur and good intentions.

Fourth day and dampness starts to set in. I didn't bother going for day five.

So jeans have a new three day rule. In fact, if Joann doesn't mind me walking around in my underwear on Sunday, I'll never have to own more than two pairs of pants again. Think of all the room for storage.

Which leads me to think of creating a new business where you pay people to wear your jeans for two days, so that when you slip them on on the third it's like you're suddenly bohemian without all the hassle.

Which leads me to thinking about all the new rules I've learned since I stopped wearing khakis and started getting real:

Rule Number One:
You Can Never Clock Out. Sure, it looks a lot like you haven't moved from the couch since Christmas, but you have filled out three yellow note pads full of ideas and lists and to-dos. Nothing may happen between 9 and 5 but at 2:30am you suddenly realize the perfect camera angle for Monday's video shoot. Phillip Seymour Hoffman dies of a heroine overdose and all you can think of is that it might be a good idea to work on your interview voice.

Rule Two:
Control Your Spam. At last count, and try not to vomit, I am currently active on more than 20 social media sites, because who knows, who knows? But it does mean my email address is a virtual melting pot of online advertisements. Cleaning out my inbox (A task with which I am an official Jedi knight) has taken over a large portion of my administrative blocks.

Rule Three:
Tea is Lovely. Nothing like a cup of tea.

Rule Four:
Wednesdays Are Really Hard. I block off my week with a list of things I would like to accomplish. I do allow for some fluidity, but it helps me to focus on one task at a time. Mondays, I blow through my schedule. So much that I usually break into tasks for Tuesday (or video games). Tuesdays, I slow down a bit, but if I've got eight things to do, I'll usually get about six done. Wednesdays, it's more like two. It's not laziness, I just run into all kinds of problems both work related and social that I only seem to get the bare minimum checked off. That and laziness. I'm seriously considering just taking Wednesdays off and working half of Saturday.

Rule Five:
Don't Forget What You Believe In. I have always felt very strongly about where you draw the line between the product you produce and customer demand. I have never believed that the customer was right, in fact, I've always believed that the customer was wrong, like, super wrong, and if they don't like your product, well, gee, then they're not your customer. Concessions, of course have to be made, quality and service are essential factors, life in a vacuum is no life at all, but there's a tipping point where you, as the producer no longer produce what you want to produce and the customer is still never fully satisfied, because, and I'm sorry to break your marketing degree's heart, the customer is NEVER fully satisfied. The model I preach is very simple. Produce a product that you believe in, find opportunities to sell it.

Any other way is just crazy to me. No, crazy is the wrong word. Uninteresting. Uninspiring. Not my cup of tea. And very easy to dismiss when it wasn't my own butt on the line.

But now my butt's on the line, and I get fifty song listings a day, 99.99% of them are looking for something I'm not. What freaks me out is that a lot of them are so similar, I start to get myself a little crazy thinking I need to relearn everything I know about songwriting.  But there are over 7 billion people in the world and I need to find just a few thousand. And it's not my butt that's on the line, it's my heart. And if I can't find a few thousand people who love my stuff like I love my stuff, it'll break.

But better a broken heart than a broken spirit.

I guess.

TBT: Closed Systems

That's a very young me in the background.

A very young Wendy in pink.

An ageless Rich in the red apron.

And, I'm pretty sure that's Evangeline Lilly chewing her thumbnail and waiting for a call-back for LOST.

March, maybe April, 2000.

We were all lucky to be alive then after the Y2K disaster. Lucky to be alive, and lucky to have jobs.

Wendy sent me this picture a few years back and I had kept it in my office in-box since. After I left the coffee shop, I put the picture in my iPad cover, which is where it sat until it fell out today while I was enjoying my morning tea and playing Scrabble.

I picked this picture because I haven't had a cup of coffee in about a week now.


It'll be okay.

Now, for those of you that didn't get to know me in real life, I'm pretty much a coffee junkie. I haven't gone 24 hours without a cup of coffee since I was fourteen years old.

That's nearly a quarter century for those unwilling to do the math.

My love of coffee took me from junkie status to a full blown career. Everything I own, everything I've been able to do, the roof over my head, and the socks that I should go put on cause its getting cold in the studio, I owe to coffee.

But my new life is filled with a completely different kind of stress. Oddly enough, the coffee that gave me the multitasking powers of Shiva, was now contributing to this really unproductive shiny object frenzy.

I've spent a decade being in three places at the same time, but now I need to be super present and concentrating on the task at hand, and I can't.

So I've been sipping tea instead.

And I can't say it has made a world of difference.

But just enough to prove me right.

So back to the picture, I don't remember a lot of the 25,000 hours I spent working in an apron, but I absolutely remember this one.

Rich was a company trainer and he was teaching us the various methods of home espresso brewing.

Closed systems versus open systems.

You see, in a closed system, you have a tank that boils water and creates an astounding amount of pressure for pulling your espresso, but you can't continue filling the tank. You have just enough pressure to steam some milk and pull a couple of doubles and then you have to wait for it to cool down a bit before you add more water.

An open system allows you to continually add water to the tank, but doesn't create the same level of pressure, so you can't steam as good a pitcher of milk nor pull as good a shot.

We stopped carrying the closed system machines five years after this picture was taken cause they were really hard to use and very expensive and a tough sell to anyone but the geekiest of aficionados.

Them's the breaks.

Volume versus quality.

So yes, I remember this training. In fact, I remember every training I ever went to. Every lesson learned. Every trainer who taught me something new. It was, by an outstanding margin, the best part of the job.

After the training program was dismantled, because it was hard to use and terribly expensive,  I was very sad for a very long time.

Everyone knew it was a mistake, but no one who knew better had the power to change it.

Volume versus quality.

Go ahead and mourn the buggy whip maker, because he was really good at it.

Anyway, had it continued, I would not be doing what I am doing now, I guarantee it. And I don't regret a minute of anything. Wins, losses, erosions, loves, hates, and both feet in mouth awkwardness.

The point is this: Do what you can to reduce your stress, don't mourn a life that was never really yours, and enjoy learning new things, cause even though it may amount to nothing, at least you'll have something to blog about in your old age.

First Takes - When Will the World Explode

"Drives me crazy. I had it all mapped out and nothing went like I planned." He said.

"Happens that way sometimes." She said consolingly.

"No, it happens that way every time. Drives me crazy." he sighs.

And it does. And you would think, my being a relatively smart person, that I would know that by now learned to just go with it, but nope, life is always such a supreme surprise in crisis management.

Every damn time.

Good thing is is that I learned a lot. This shoot looks cooler. Sound is a bit better. Song has a bit more pace and I was able to add lyrics (Although I couldn't seem to put them where I wanted them. Eh, next time)

I added just a slice of harmonies to the chorus, so I cheated out a bit, I couldn't help myself.

And I've got about an hours worth of extra outdoor footage that I couldn't sync up, so less work in weeks to come.

This song was a request from Joann, it's one of her favorites off the new album.

The song is about Calvin discovering mortality for the first time. He was terrified of "Warning" and "Danger" signs. He was also obsessed about the relative strength of things, wood versus metal, swords versus spears, and what could break what, and when I told him that everything breaks, he paused, and I shit you not, he said this:

"You can't break water"

It also happens to be about the time where I was really beginning to master parenting/therapist at this level by teaching him how to swim, so the Breaking Water metaphor has two meanings.

He was also constantly needing me to repeat things. The conversation would go like this:

What's that sign say?

Its say's Yield.

What's it say?


Is that really what it says?

So the lyric is one side of a conversation, which is a poet's conceit that forces a reader to insert the other half of the conversation. It's never used in lyrics because the listener doesn't have the time for that kind of frippery. I used it a lot throughout the entire album, because I'm an obnoxious dick head.

For the casual listener, I wanted the anxious feeling of the frenetic guitar coupled with the melody being slightly behind the beat to give it an out of breath quality and to really drive home the "When is it MY day?, do these hands feel cold?"

The last conceit was the double negative on "No, you can't not know"

He was furious whenever there was a question I couldn't answer.

I wished it came out better when sung, it sounds like "No you cannot know." but to hit the plosive too hard sounded terrible, so just consider the written portion a little easter egg for you and I to enjoy.

As always, your feedback is much appreciated, here, there and everywhere.

If this link doesn't work on your mobile device, hit "This Button" and it should take you right to YouTube. You're the best, Thank you.

Slow Leak

Yes sports fans, it is once again, time to clean out the garage.

I don't know when, if, how, I'll have the time to do it, maybe if it fits somewhere between cycling and staring at the clock, but it must needs be done.


Well, cause it took me longer to find the tools to repair my wife's bike's tire, than it took to do the actual repairing. Which, you know, should feel like a shame, but really feels like a chore.

We're never sure how our garage turns in to Hell's Storage Unit, but it likely it has something to do with the giving holidays, of which there seems to be another on every few weeks or so.

Then things break. But are too big to fit in the bin, so we'll deal with them later.

Then one room gets reorganized, then another, then shoes.

Shoes everywhere.

Then music stuff. Cases, cords, stands, lights, PA's, assorted picks and coaxial cable.

Coaxial cable everywhere.

The longest it ever remained organized was way back when I had it sectioned off for a music studio, which became mostly my Netflix binging station. That was a nice space, if only it wasn't unusable from May until November due to the heat.

But I was really thinking about my wife's bicycle tire. Which has developed a slow leak.

One of those "You kind of hope it'll be just fine, but you're worried it will get you all the way across town and then die on you and you might actually have to walk the entire way home which would be a nightmare" kind of slow leak.

But our favorite local bike shop moved. And the drug store didn't have the right size tire. And there was no way I was going to go to Toy-R-Us on a Holiday Sunday, so I did something I hadn't done in a very long time, I bought a patch kit.

And I know this sounds really awful, but we've been cycling off and on for a few years now, and even though I am entirely capable of patching a bicycle tube, I just figured, why bother when I can get a whole new one?

See, to have the bike shop fix it would be, oh, $30. To replace the tube myself would be, oh, $15. To patch the tube would be, oh, $3 for a pack of 10. (That's thirty cents a tire, in case you didn't feel like getting your iPhone calculater whipped out)

Now here's the terrible terrible thing: The reason I didn't have the repair shop take care of it wasn't financial, it was ego.

I honestly don't like being out testosteroned.

Asking for a favor is one thing. Seeking professional guidence is one thing too. Admiting defeat and I might as well shear off my testicles with a bread knife and join a book club.

I'd rather sit down with my wife and talk about my feelings.

It was also about time.

Take it to the shop, wait for the reapir guy to have time. Drive back and forth for what is almost, but not quite, a seven minute job.

Unless you have to look for your tools.

And I have patched a thousand tires.

Easily, uh, thousand.

I've had tubes so patched that I had to patch the patches.

And now that I'm on a budget, it only makes sense to spend thirty cents and add five minutes to my home repair time, instead of $15 and forego a pastrami sandwich down the line. Answer is pretty simple.

But I only told you that story so I could tell you this one:

See, Joann's bike had a slow leak.

The kind of leak that you can't hear or feel when you inflate the tube up.

But as I said before, not fixing it, was not an option.

So I had to find the slow leak.

Which I know how to do. Cause I've done it almost, but not quite, uh thousand times.

So my question is, do you know how to find a slow leak? Cause it's not hard. In fact, once someone shows you how to do it, it seems ridiculously obvious, but if you haven't been shown, it might never cross your mind.

So I had a Daddy conundrum at that moment. The little one is eight, but that's not far from ten.

And from ten 'til your daddy gets you a car, you will be riding that bike just everywhere. And you will get a thousand flats. And a lot of those flats will be slow leaks. So do I drag him off YouTube Long enough to show him how to find and repair a slow leak?

The answer I came up with, was no.

Not yet.

In the grand scheme of the universe I have only minutes left where I am the indespenslible king of minor repairs and cardboard weapons manufacture.

And when I show him how to fill a salad bowl with water and then hold the tube under the water and search for bubbles, I want it to be a grand moment in father/son relations and not just me dragging him away from the place he wants to be, to show him something he doesn't need to know just yet.

I did however, leave the bowl on the counter and waited for my wife to ask what it was doing there, so I could at least tell someone how awesome I am.

The unobserved life is, of course, not worth living. Or something like that.

But for now, the hot air in my ego tube is leaking only slowly, for there are no patches to our children growing up, and if I'm lucky, I can stave off an eternity in an unkempt garage for a little longer.

Be Mine Five

It's awful rare that a Friday Five falls on a holiday, since most holidays are day and not date specific. Essentially the chance possibilities are Christmas, Fourth of July, St. Patrick's and of course, Valentine's Day.

So it would be pretty callus of me not to at least prepare some kind of tribute to the event, even if it is a nod to a really lame celebration like V-Day.

Me and the wife aren't big V-Day supporters.

In fact I don't know anyone who really is. Though, since ten percent of all marriage proposals happen on Valentine's Day, chances are pretty good that there are people who take this shit seriously.

It seems just a bit sad to me that a holiday to celebrate love (which would be kinda sweet) has degenerated into a week long frenzy of emotional blackmail.

What should be nice, turns out to be just messy and tasteless.

But there are some simple Do's and Don'ts, not to make this holiday great, but to save yourself time and energy and explaining and apologizing and drinking past your bedtime.

Do and Don't Number One:
Don't do nothing. Rage against the machine all you like, buy local where you can, but Do something. Even something small. In fact, especially something small.  Roses and Chocolates and Fancy Dinners are boring and unremarkable. Replace her bookmark with a Post-It Note that says "Be Mine" and that will be all she'll talk about 'til Cinco Day Mayo.

D&D Two:
Don't expect a damn thing. Like I said, that's emotional blackmail and will lead to absolutely nothing but bad feelings all around. Don't hope. Don't say to yourself "Gee, it would be nice if . . . " You know what kind of romantic bone your partner has by now, in fact, it should be directly proportional to how much time he or she spent with you during the Super Bowl party. Do, however, make it easy for your catch. Say "Hey, Friday is Valentine's Day and you're taking me out to Red Lobster, I've already made the reservations."

D&D 3
Don't spend any money at Hallmark. It's their fault you're in this pickle. Do pay your eight year old niece $3 to make your lady friend a card out of crayons and construction paper. That shit'll stay on the fridge fo-eva

Don't get a tattoo today. Just don't.

Don't feel bad that you're all alone. Netflix just released Season 2 of House of Cards and since everyone else will be busy, it'll serve them right if you tweet spoilers all weekend long.

And if any of you have some Do's and Don'ts you'd like to share with the rest of us, please do.

ThrowBack Thursday: Terrible Dad

"Please tell me you didn't leave him like that!" She immediately said after seeing the picture for the first time.

"Of course not! What kind of a monster do you think I am?" I replied in abject horror.

Although, honestly, I don't remember how long I left him sitting like that.

Definitely long enough to get up, find the camera, and wait for it to load up, only to discover that the batteries were dead. Search every drawer for new batteries, fail, steal AA's out of every remote control in the apartment, take picture, laugh at picture, reset baby posture.

Which is why my wife doesn't believe me anymore about anything.

But I chose this picture because Calvin has a cold.

And a ridiculous cough.

So I've been watching him fall asleep on the couch while I do some internet work, or play video games.

Mostly video games.

And after three nights of sitting up with him, me until midnight, Joann until god knows when (SuperMoms everywhere are too modest for the kind of credit they deserve), we're all starting to get a little punchy and need a little laugh.

This picture makes me laugh.

First, remember how exhausting those first few years were?

Without digital photography I would have virtually no memory of 2005, 2006, and most of 2007.

I could have fallen asleep just like that. Probably did, but Joann didn't think to steal the batteries out of the remotes.

Second, remember that couch?

I loved that couch.

You couldn't tell where the pattern ended and the vomit and wine stains began.

It was made for old ladies, sloppy eaters, and an infinite supply of two year olds.

And lastly, OMG, look at those tiny feet and fat baby cheeks!

Somehow, somewhere along the way, that fat little buddha of love, turned into a mouthy little paper clip of a boy.

With lots of hair.

And such massive front teeth I'm tempted to ask him to try opening up cans, or at least beer bottles.

Cause that's how terrible dads think.

First Takes: Sidewalk

I just saw that this will be my 400th post.

I don't know if that's much of a milestone, but it feels nifty enough to note.

So here is the second song in the series I'm calling First Takes, where I sit down with a mic and a guitar and a Canon Powershot and hit the record button.

Last week I posted my first trial and asked for feedback, which was very helpful, thank you all who chose to write in. I made some solid changes this time, and please continue to shoot out some ideas. I'm no videographer, so you're perception is much needed.

Anyway, this week I chose an older song of mine (due to the nice sprig of spring weather) and actually incorporated a few more bits of footage.

The song has been recorded in as many different ways as there are instruments in my studio. It's one of the few songs that I love so much that I'll never get it right. A super slow dreamy version of it is available on iTunes from my first album Falling Fast Awake and I'm sure I'll do about 20 more before my children finally up the dosage just enough to put dear old dad to sleep, but low enough to avoid questions of impropriety.

So here it is, and again, feedback is actually appreciated and incorporated and for the die hard fans, please send requests of any song you'd like me to do next.

Also, there was some problem viewing on portables, so click this link First Takes-Sidewalk to take you directly to YouTube.

Thanks all. Happy 400th

The answer is, of course, I guess . . .

To wedding, or not to wedding?

That's quite a big question.

You see, I really didn't really think that particular question through, cause, well, I had no intention, at all of even considering it.

The answer is No.

Absolutely not.


Bad form.

I'm not against marriage. Far be it. I myself am twice the man I used to be, back when I was half a man.

Or something like that.

But first off, I don't know any wedding songs.

There's not a single song I do, originals, covers, that is in any way wedding appropriate.

Maybe "Sit By Me" That's kind of a lovely tune, but it's short, and the first verse already repeats itself twice, there is no stretching to be done.

Yes, of course, the money can be good. Better than any nightclub gig, and ten times what I've been scraping by at showcases.

And I have nothing against prostitution as a valid form of professionalism.

I have dreams, not high moral standards.

But weddings are like one horror story after another. And I just don't think I would ever want to be in a situation where I've played a part in ruining someone's magical day.

That, and I just don't know any love songs.

I just don't.

And I don't know any dance tunes.

And I'm not a DJ.

And I don't like disco.

Or old people dancing to disco.

Or old people.

But even though it doesn't look like it, summer is just right around the corner, and I am trying to book heavy on the outdoor winery venues where I can peddle my wares to people who don't mind spending money on things and who are just a little drunk.

I'd love to play a show where I could wear a tie and not have it look ironic.

But if I'm going to be playing in that particular ball park, I'm gonna be asked if I can do weddings.

Cause, well, those are the kinds of gigs that happen in those places during that season.

So now I have to ask myself:

Do I?

Could I?

Should I?

Would it hurt if I did?

Would I do it if it sustained me another six months?

Would I do it if it kept me out of retail for at least one more holiday season?

I obviously don't have any street cred to lose.

And how many songs would I have to learn? 20? 30?

I could conceivably do that before June.

And I could learn special songs for that special couple.

And, I'm not a band or a DJ, so the kinds of weddings that would have old people dancing to disco wouldn't call me back anyway.

What do you say when the answer is unequivocally "No"?

But every reason for saying no is, well, no reason at all.

And the reasons for saying yes include both food and money.

And food.

Now last week's absurd becomes this weeks "To-Do"

So the answer, of course, I guess, is "I Do"

The No Wifi Five Survival Guide

One day, and it could be any day, one day, your Wifi will drop out.

At first, of course, no big deal. Tap a few buttons, you're good to go.

Didn't work?

Maybe a restart? Unplug something, count to ten, plug it back in. 60% of the time it works every time.

But one day, one day, none of that will work.

And your whole existence will come crashing down like a Russian space station.

But there is hope. Before you start filling your bathtub with water and gathering all the half empty first aid kits in and around your house, if you just remember a few simple rules, we'll get through this together, you and I.

First Rule Don't Panic.
I know it sounds crazy, but there was a time not too long ago (I'm looking at you, 2005) where the high speed connection had to come through an ethernet cable. In fact, I'll bet there is a box in the garage loaded with coaxial cables, telephone chords, ethernet cables and so many various pluggy inny things that it looks like Chewbacca was trying to put C3PO back together. Find that box and keep it secret, keep it safe.

Of course, this is only the beginning. You may possibly have much bigger problems. Like, your whole modem might be down, and that ethernet cable isn't going to save your day. You may have to call Comcast at some point and get ready for at least 20 to 30 minutes of fighting with the coaxial cable. (it just keeps spinning and spinning and never getting on the damn connector)

But the biggest problem you are gonna have to face is your family.

Second Rule: Occupy your family
Remember that peaceful garden of Eden the moment your Wifi first went up and everyone drifted quietly away? They had Facebook and Netflix and Halo 4 and Words With Friends and the Huffington Post. They didn't need you. They didn't want you. You were nothing to them from the time you got home 'till it was time for the little one's bath. Sure you may have to check some homework, and you may have to get a bowl down from the top shelf, but otherwise you were just a ghost in the machine and could take out the trash whenever you felt like it.

But all that has changed now. YouTube is broken and your wife can't remember if the marinara sauce is going to need fresh basil and she can't look it up because AllRecipes is broken and the little one, who was once so self occupied now tries to get on line, but can't, so he comes to you and asks if the internet is working and you say no, he then goes back to the computer and tries to log on, but it doesn't work, so he gets up, and he walks back down the hall in to you room and asks if the internet is working. This time he adds the word "Yet!" and this repeats itself every three minutes for an hour and a half, each "Yet" coming with louder and louder exclamation points. He doesn't have a 2005 to look back on and the digital kitty on his iPod is going to die soon if he doesn't feed it and you can hear her pathetic meowing from the other side of the house because your wife insisted on hardwood floors and those mother f**kers telegraph sound at the speed of light.

So do yourself a favor. Proclaim Thursday night "Pizza Night" and since the land line isn't working they're gonna have to make a trip to the pizza place (Do not remind them that the cell phones still work) and give your wife an extra $20 and tell her that we can splurge on some garlic knots. And if the little one refuses to go then bet him another $20 that he can't build build a Death Star out of Legos because he's nowhere near as good as his old man. This will buy you a quiet 20 minutes until he figures out that he doesn't know what a Death Star is, in which case you will pop Star Wars into the DVD player. Do not be the cruel Dad that makes your son start with The Phantom Menace.

Rule Three: Your understanding of the problem and vast experience in basic trouble shooting will do you absolutely no good when you are on the phone with an IT Professional.
Almost every problem (97%) is solved by turning things off and then back on again. Then, another 2% is solved by replacing the connecting wires with different ones. You know this. You've got this. You do this. But you, my friend, are the 1%. It is either a programming glitch which you cannot solve, or your eight year old modem is dead.

This however, means nothing to the six Comcast Operators you will be on hold for. They have a protocol. They want to help you, but the little old lady they were just talking to for 90 minutes turned out to be having a problem with her toaster oven, and they've kind of had enough.

I know you've already done it seven times, but would you please just unplug it and plug it back in sir, please.

(Note: There will be a moment during this process where the IT person will say out loud that they don't know why it's not working. You'll be tempted to kick your dog. Don't.)

Rule Four: In a pinch, remember the Peet's Coffee and Tea has free Wifi at all of it's store locations. They also now have sandwiches. You like sandwiches.

Rule Five: Know when it's a "Tomorrow" problem.
Wanting to throw your cat out the window is the first sign that maybe it's time to give up for the night. If the first three operators keep sending you to someone else, then you know it's a hardware problem and the office doesn't open until 8am. Wait until they put you on hold and then let the line go dead. Don't hassle them about it. Don't hang up in their face. They're human beings and they really want to help, and you're not a monster. The good news, is that going to the Comcast office is actually pretty pleasant. You bring in your broken modem, they give you a new one. They might try to up-sell you a new service, but they don't try too hard. My only word of advice is to try and get there before the lady with the toaster oven problem.

Throwback Thursday: HAIR!

Gimme a head with hair.

Long Beautiful Hair

Shining, gleaming, steaming flaxen waxen.

Gimme down to there hair

Shoulder length or longer

Here baby, there momma

Everywhere, Daddy, Daddy.

Now this, my friends, is quite a little piece of history.

Despite the time stamp of 4/8/94, this picture was taken in the summer of 1999.

However, April 8th 1994 was three days after Kurt Cobain died. I don't know how much sense that makes, or why I would even bring it up, but since these two are clearly not mourning, its important to note it's not out of a lack of compassion, but because five years had gone past and it was time to let it go.

And the reason the time stamp is so off is because this camera was not connected to the internet, and it required an instruction manual the thickness of an old bible to figure out how to program it.

Meditate on that for a bit.

Consider that every photo taken between 1994 and around 2008 is most likely gonna be time stamped incorrectly. Won't matter now, but if we're still alive in 1,000 years, archeologists are gonna have a hellava time with the Clinton and Bush Administrations.

But that's us.

Right there.

Me and my girl.

Younger, thinner, impossibly good looking, and with so much more hair than I remember ever having.

Back stage, San Jose City Lights, probably before curtain, which I know only because after the show I was drenched in so much sweat Joann would never dare to get that close to me. I had to bring two pairs of underwear to every performance.

There's a cast picture behind us, but we're not in that one.

When I think about it, this picture should have been impossible.

A year before this picture, I was doing the same show up in Santa Rosa, an experience so terrible, that I should have given up acting right then and there.

Ten months before this picture, I got bored sitting at my desk in the theater office and I went downstairs to see how the load-in for a new set was coming along and the set designer froze when he saw me.

There was a long pause.

And then he said "Grow out the beard" and that's all he said. And I, not having a angle show lined up, did.

Had I gotten any of the thirty or so roles I auditioned for that spring, none of this life would have happened.

Six months before this picture I got a call to come audition for HAIR in San Jose. Which was just about a four hundred mile round trip from my house. There was no way I could do a show that far for virtually nothing.

So of course I said "Sure".

And guess who was the director, yup, the prosaic set designer.

My audition was so bad, I never should have been offered a janitor position, let alone a lead role.

But it's always about who you know.

And you're never supposed to date cast members. You do, but you're not supposed to. And though I was in love, cause, well, jeeze, look at her, there is no earthly reason to think a single mother would have anything to do with the arrogant, jobless, ass-hat pictured above.

But she did.

Cause it's not always about who you know.

But it was the summer of 1999. Prince was on every radio station, The Phantom Menace was disappointing fan-clubs throughout the nation, and that pretty girl up there has no idea how much underwear of mine she's going to be washing for the rest of her life.

Beta Test for Wait Dad YouTube Series

Hey All Y'all,

I had an idea a while back where I could produce a short acoustic video performance of some of my songs. The series would go up weekly and start off with songs from my new album, but eventually include older songs and possibly even fan requested covers. Eventually the recordings could make their way to a collection that I could give out to fans at shows or other marketing campaigns.

Anyway, not being much of a videographer, and way too cheap to pay one, the only way to realistically do it would be fixed camera angles overlaid and a combination of room microphones and direct-in plugs. And then spend a little time EQing the sound and cutting the film together.

(That was for the tech geeks)

I made a little test run last week with "Follow Me" to make sure the equipment all worked and that I could remember how to use all the editing programs and get an idea of how long each performance would take to produce in full. If I could do it under four hours, then it's conceivable to produce at least one a week which is pretty much the minimum to create a subscriber base.

So here's my concern:

I'm just not sure if I should bother.

I love the concept, but this is a low budget affair, and although I'm sure you're not expecting Katie Perry production values, I just don't want it to be embarrassing.

So I'm gonna need some honest feedback, and there's no one more honest than the internet. :)

Here is the Beta Test for "Follow Me" (The intro is a bit cheesy and during one of the renders the vocals redlined creating distortion, but those problems are future fixable, but just not in time for this post)

And here is what I need to know:

Should I bother?

Would you watch something like this?

Would you SHARE something like this?

Is it too cheesy/embarrassing/low budget?

Any suggestions for improving it?

Any requests for future songs?

I'd love a Facebook discussion if we can get one going, but if you'd like to keep your comments private, you can email me at

Please enjoy and thanks for watching.

If it doesn't show up on you're mobil Hit This

Carriage Return

Lots of stuff just happened.

Football is officially over for the year in the most lopsided Super Bowl, like ever.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of an alleged heroine overdose.

And, I solved (sorta, not really, cheated actually) a Rubik's Cube on the insistence of my son.

The 2013 Denver Broncos had the most explosive offense in the history of the NFL. They were kinda supposed to, like, you know, win. But I guess when you walk onto the field with more assumption than preparation, you're gonna get your clock cleaned.

Mull that for the next seven months.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was supposed to finish filming the Hunger Games movies and then continue a long line of critically acclaimed dramas, a few of which I might actually watch. Not that I wasn't a great admirer of his work, but he was so damned good, his work so real, that it made it almost uncomfortable to watch.

I never had a taste for drama. Ibsen to Tony Kushner, I know it sounds weird coming from a trained actor, and it's not that I find plays to be boring, it's just that I like to like the people I spend time with.

Probably why I always find Tennessee Williams' work to be breathtakingly lame.

I once saw a version of The Glass Menagerie where the director tacked on a good twenty minutes of scene chewing filler, the worst was a bit where the main character sat at the typewriter banging on the keys for what I'm pretty sure is the same amount of time it took Sisyphus to finish pushing the boulder up the hill.

Only thing he forgot to do was teach the actor how to use a typewriter. Typewriters type along a line and when they near the end little bell goes off. Then the typist hits the carriage return and starts a new line.

The whole process sounds like this:

Clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, ding, clickety, foooowhump.
Clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, ding, clickety, foooowhump.

It's got great rhythm it does. It's addictive too. Get into a good pace and the ideas flow like wine at my house when the clock strikes five.

But the actor was in his mid twenties and had never used a typewriter before. He had no idea that the carriage needed to be returned.

So for the entire five minutes, while the stage cigarette burned, the audience heard  nothing but clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety.

There is nothing worse than a Tennessee Williams play.

I get and respect the genius of it, but it's like spending two and a half hours in a low rent apartment listening to the neighbors fight.

Which, now that I think about it, might make a creepy cool art project.

Invite the audience to come out to the ghetto, usher them into a shabbily decorated studio apartment and perform "A Street Car Named Desire" next door.

Hand them all plastic cups and urge them against the wall so that they might be able to hear the quieter dialogue.

Smoking should be permitted. Air conditioning not.

Luke warm Kool Aid should be served during intermission.

Doors and windows should be left open so you can hear the cat calls of the prostitutes and the ring of the sirens.

If you're gonna make something real and uncomfortable, why not go all the way?


It's a terrible shame Phillip is dead. A lot of good people die for stupid reasons. Chasing a decent high isn't the least of them.

Solving a Rubik's Cube however, that's a terrible way to die.

Which is why I cheated.

But Al Gore invented the internet for several reasons, one of which includes me being the hero to my eight year old son.

See, if you were to lock me into a room and told me that I couldn't eat until I had solved the cube, I would most assuredly die, but not until I'd taken the thing apart and eaten the pieces.

I'm not dumb, I just go insane when you take away my food.

And I can solve the first two steps to solving the cube, which is solving a single side and the first row. I can do that all on my own.

But the center row gets a little trickier cause you can't solve it without un-solving the first part.

Except that you can. A series of twists and turns will allow you to move one piece to the correct position while returning the solved potion back to its original state.

There are a series of the these moves, like algorithms, if you need to move here, do this, if you need to move there, do that.

The first time took me about an hour.

The second time about ten minutes.

Felt pretty good even though I didn't actually SOLVE it. It's kinda like iKea furniture. I didn't actually build it, but it took some skill to put it together. And if there is sweat and blood involved then there's no testicular diminishment.

And those guys on YouTube never actually solve it, they just have memorized the if/then moves, and, as I found out from one of my geeky friends, they've added a little grease to the insides to make them spin faster.

But the end result I wanted, I got.

It's not important that I solved the stupid thing, but it is important that my son still believes I can do anything.

Which gives me lots of time to teach him a few important lessons. Things such as, how pride comes before a fall, and drugs are always a terrible idea, and when solving problem, it's okay to cheat as long as you blog about it.

And last but not least, if you're ever going to star in a college production of a Tennessee Williams play, then try to remember that a typewriter sounds like this:

Clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, ding, clickety, foooowhump.