TBT: Summer of '79

You know what this picture says?

It says I spent my third birthday in Tijuana with my best friend, Superman.

or . . .

Superman Piñata has seen some shit.

or . . .

"Cake now."

or . . .

"What? We was just talking. Ain't that right Clarky?"

I could probably go on all day.

All day.

But I would be very remiss if I didn't at least mention how supremely creepy a Superman Piñata is.

And, I don't know how my mother managed it, but how was she able to tuck my shirt into my belt?

The belt isn't holding up anything.

It's literally just wrapped around my belly.

At least I know where my son gets his cowlicks from.

Week in Review: End of the Birthday Month

Making a list. Checking it twice.

Turns out, I actually embibed stuff this week.

No, I don't mean all the birthday scotch, though . . . thanks for that too . . . no I mean I read things and listened to things and watched things worth actually reviewing.

So lets just fire away:

Week in TV:
Joann found our DVD copy of Planet Earth (Yes, of course the David Attenborough version, I love Sigorney Weaver just as much as any red blooded American should, but voice overs and Jane Austen adaptations should always remain in the hands of the English). Morgan Freeman is the exception to the rule. Which . . . I think is something that follows his name more often than any of us would suppose.

If you haven't seen Panet Earth, I feel sad for you. It's like never having been to Disneyland or experiencing a foot-rub. It is awesome in the true sense of the word, as in, awe inspiring, will leave you in awe, like totally. If you don't have either the DVDs yourself or, god forbid, a high definition television on which to watch it, you are welcome to come over.

Bring beer and nachos.

This Week in Music:
A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a little bit Sarah Mclachlan. I had a show where I was asked to play some country. I didn't know any country, so I played Beatles instead. The United Kingdom is a coutry too, right? Anyway, I wanted to add something to the rep. (short for repertoire) and put out a call for suggestions.

None of you were helpful. ('cept Shelia, Thank-You)

I may learn Folsom Prison Blues just because I live so close.

I may also do a smash-up of Billy Ray Cyrus and Leonard Cohen. "She tied you to her kitchen chair, she broke your thrown, she cut your hair, but she won't break your heart, your achey breaky heart.

I still haven't decided.

Anyway, I was reminded that I actually knew a country cover song, Racall Flatts' Broken Road that I performed for a friend's wedding last year, so I got that going for me.

I was also asked to do a Ryan Adam's cover, but he's most famous for doing a cover of 'Wonderwall' the version of which is almost as taboo in singer/songwriter circles as 'Hallelujah'. I did find a very nice country-esque song of his that was very simple, so two birds, one stone.

Then we get to Sarah. Oh Sarah. Her new album "Shine On" is very pretty. She has a sound, that I'd want to say is so impossible to get away from, I actually found myself a little irritated at the fuzz tone 'Avril Lavigne-Light' song that popped up near the end, but there is no such thing as a sound that is impossible to get away from. I want her to do the whole thing again, but this time accompanied by a guy with a Fender Mustang, a tube amp with a blown speaker, and a drummer who hasn't changed his heads since the Clinton administration, and I want her to chain smoke through the whole session.

Just cause.

I would pay retail price for that.

Lets make it happen.

This Week in Books:
I got a text from my wife asking me to send her a list of books I might want. I sent her the list and hour later and she did not disappoint. I knew she was at our favorite used bookstore so I sent her a list of old books that I hadn't ever found or stuff that I had loaned out and/or given away.

Vonnegut's Slapstick: Its an older one of his, very short, less than two hunderd pages. I finished it in an afternoon. There's a lot of stuff in it, but there is a thru line where every human gets a new middle name, randomly generated and the idea is that people with the same middle name are now part of an extended clan, in an effort to bring humanity closer together.

It's poignant because there's a recent push to get everyone to update their geneology online in order to have a Great Big Family Reunion in NY next summer. Same premise, same language, Vonnegut just hadn't experienced the internet yet.

Bill Bryson's "English and How it Got that Way."
I'm fascinated with etymology. This book is in-depth, funny, and for geeks only.


ALL THE SONGS: The Complete Guide to Every Beatles' Recording.
This breaks down the genisis of each song, how it was produced and how it was recorded. It is a two inch thick, coffee table book, weighing almost as much as my son does. I finished it this morning. And now I have to go back through it again and pick out all the recordings an out takes that I don't currently have in my library.

So much for next week.

How to Chinese Food

I don't know how, or exactly why, but I've noticed that chinese food has been getting very complicated. Part of that, I'm sure, is just having children who are constantly redefining what it is they like and don't like. There is a crazy new fight between my son and I about who is the person responsible for picking the cabbage slices out of the chow mein. I will win that particular fight, but not without a metric ton of screaming and crying and name calling and a possible restraining order.

Menus have gotten a little out of hand as well.

There are lunch deals and dinner deals, two items from Column A but only one item from Column B. There is a little picture of a pepper if the item is hot, a picture of broccoli if it's vegetarian, and a picture monk setting himself on fire if the item is gluten free.

There is also brown rice to choose from.

I have an opinion on that.

If you want to eat brown rice then please go hate yourself somewhere where there aren't so many sharp things to poke you in the face with.

There are also varying degrees of restaurants to choose from. There are the fast food places with zippy lines and styrofoam bowls. There are the upper scale fusion places where the wait staff makes your sauce right there at the table, and then there are the mom and pop shops from my childhood memories. I failed to mention the mongolian barbecue places because, although I have had some tasty meals at those places, I've never been a fan of paying to load my own plate. If I'm gonna go out, I'm gonna go out.

The fast foot places are great for lunch and for a quick grab when your running late. Easy menu, crunchy egg rolls, and hot mustard in packets.

The upscale places have been kinda terrible lately (everyone's cutting costs) and the food has that freshly microwaved gloppy texture to it. If you want the fresh stuff  and the best service, my advice is to hit those places right before 5:00pm on a Friday. The evening crew is just getting in and getting situated the food is fresh off the burner and the beer you ordered arrives before desert.

That's advice for all restauranting, not just the hoity toity chinese food places.

That leaves the Mom and Pop places.

Or as I like to call them "Hit or MISS!"

My mom's got a good rule to weed out the misses. Check the chicken. If it's pressed (like the stuff in a chicken nugget) then stay away.

Joann always goes by the quality of the chow mein. Leave it to an italian to judge a chinese food place by it's noodles.

I usually go by the quantity of filler (celery and cabbage) and the crispness of the broccoli in the beef and broccoli dish.

Finding a good chinese food place can be as complicated as picking out wine or finding a good mechanic.

Rule One for how to Chinese Food:
Ask a friend. Avoid Yelp! and any online rating social network. Those communities are made up of douche bags and compulsive liars and marketing directors. Friends will usually not let you down, unless you were unclear on what you were looking for or it has been more than a year since they went to a particular place. Changes in management/recipes happen all the time. If your friend's information is out of date, it's a coin toss.

Coin Toss. Flip a coin for the nearest shops and work your way out in concentric circles. Never forget, never surrender.

Other things to look for is a good distribution of lazy susans, a lot of old people (they know what's up), and place mats with the chinese zodiac signs. Without those placemats how are you ever going to know if your dragon is compatible with you wife's rat (they are), and find that geeky kid that was born in January and likes to make a big deal of the fact that his year is off?

Once you have found the place. Make it your place. Put it as a contact in your phone and mark your territory with unacceptable amounts of urine.

Pro Tip: Because Chinese Food is like the ultimate "I don't feel like cooking food." Make sure that you find an acceptable place between your office and your home. If you work from home, then you just need to find a place between your wife's office and your home.

Rule Two:
Learn to chopistick. You yutz. There are many YouTube videos for this and yes, it does in fact make you look like a provincial if you use a fork.

Rule Three:
Know your dish. Like I said, Joann's is chow mein, mine is beef and brocolli, every place has a version of those two things and knowing exactly what you want makes rule four that much easier to abide by.

Rule Four:
When ordering in a group, pick the leader. The leader is resposible for gathering the orders and communicating them to the waitstaff. Each person gets to choose one dish, plus an order of fried rice, an order of chow mein and one egg roll per person unless you're eating with Joann and then make sure that there is at least two egg rolls for her. Know your dish, but feel free to get adventurous if something catches your eye or someone else in your party has already chosen beef and broccoli. If you do not pick a leader, or if you don't know what you want, chaos will ensue and god won't help you.

Rule Five:
The clear stuff is vinegar, the brown stuff is soy sauce. Use both sparingly, and tap, don't shake.

Rules Six through Eighteen: The Left Overs.

There will be left overs. Oh yes, there will be left overs. Beautiful, bountiful, left overs.

Left overs always go to the poorest nation.

College students first, parents with infant children, parents with college students, single people and finally grand parents.

If you are selected as the poorest nation, you have one obligation and one obligation only. To eat all the leftovers. You have two days, so tuck in. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks for 48 hours. Failure to meet this obligation sends you to the back of the line.

Pro Tip: Keep the left-overs on the top shelf in front of everything else. The second they get pushed back behind something, they will be forgotten until Thanksgiving.

If, like me, your family is unable to eat the same food in consecutive fortnights, then you got to take it on solo. Sorry dude, thems the breaks.

Reheating left-overs: Single bowl microwave method (Only sanctioned method)
Noodles first, gooey stuff in the middle, rice on top. 1:45 on high, stir, repeat. Let sit in microwave for a few minutes so the bowl can heat up food. I don't know how the bowl gets so hot when the food stays cold, but then I don't understand wine coolers either. 

On a plate, food stuff seperated, = crazy.

In the paper box with the metal handle removed. = Insanity.

Cold, right out of the fridge = Zen Master.

Pro Tip: If Joann hasn't eaten all the egg rolls, then reheat them in a toaster oven. She taught me that and I don't think she has ever been more right about anything.

You are allowed to add any sauce you want (Tabasco, Sriraccha, and spicy mustard are my faves, but if ranch dressing is your thing, well . . . go on girl, those arteries aren't gonna clog themselves.)

If you live with other people, there is no sin greater than eating all the good stuff and leaving a paper box filled with cabbage and bok choy. (Looking right at you Taylor)

Punishments for such a sin can and will include a removal of car privileges and I swear to god if you do it again I will replace your toothpaste with denture cream.

Once the 48 hours is up, throw it all away regardless of your fortitudinal failures. It won't ever get eaten at that point and will only grow hair.

Better luck next time.

Other Rules of note: It is only acceptable to tweet your fortune cookie results if you are a virgin, same applies to making jokes about how hungry you'll be in thirty minutes.

Also, never, don't ever, purchase a chinese cookbook. It will cost you three hundred dollars worth of ingrediants you will never use again for anything and you really don't want to know what that spongy slimey stuff in the Hot and Sour Soup is. You really, really don't.

(It's Tofu, and doesn't sound scary, but wait until you see how it's packaged.)

As with all other things, good night and don't order the brown rice.

You've been warned.

A Curious Case of the Mondays

Even when I was working a forty hour work week, I didn't get touched by 'The Mondays' very often. Mostly because I wroked Tuesday thru Saturday, so my actual Mondays were spent sleeping in and puttering about the house.

Tuesday mornings were sometimes draggy, but I always walked through the doors with big plans if not a totally shiny attitude, and as soon as the coffee started kicking in, I was good to go.

It helped too that all my clientelle had been through their Mondays already, so there was no struggle through osmosis. No communal sharing of negativity.

Yes, that was, in fact, planned.

I just got through two super huge weeks. Not only the celebration of everything that is my birthday, but I did six shows in twelve days, and to be honest, that kicked my butt. Which is funny, cause I remember a time when I would do six shows in three days and still feel perky come Monday morning (Insider Pool: Theaters are closed on Mondays, so that's usually an actor's only day off).

Pushin 40 is no joke and I don't recommend it.

I know that you're only as old as you feel, but I'll believe that when the social security checks start rolling in.

Funny part too is that my voice is just fine, it's my fingers that are all tore up. Apparently I've been stringing my guitars with razor wire. Which is a terrible thing to string your guitars with.

Actually, I've just been playing too hard.

I've got a John Denver sound, but I play like Johnny Ramone.

Gotta work on that this week. Gotta work on a lot of things. Gotta work on a lot of things that are seriously unexciting and have pretty much given me the case of the Mondays.

I have to learn a Ryan Adams song, plus something country. Always gotta have some country in your repertoire. I don't know why it's taken me this long to figure that out. Just stupid I guess.

I've got to update a few websites I've been neglecting, and I'm exactly one essay away from sharing my new book with other people. Sounds like homework. It's a week full of long division and I have to show my work.

I think it might be the heat too.

It's frigging hot out here.

Mayhaps a change in the weather will bring a change in the overall mood.

I was thinking of going all Garfield and making some lasagna tonight just as an ode to a tired tired joke, but my brother dropped off a basket filled with fresh produce from his garden and so instead it's going to be 'pasta al tono' tonight and stuffed zucchini tomorrow, and maybe something with fresh garden salsa. Mmmmm.

Ever made red sauce with homegrown tomatoes?

If not, go do it. Do it now.

It will change your life.

Or, if you're a pesimist slowly dragging yourself through your own case of the Mondays, it will ruin everything else in life.

Which is cool.

Once you've ruined your ability to eat spaghetti sauce from a can, you'll start to discover that there is a whole nother universe of pleasurable things that never even occurred to you. You might start drinking fresh coffee. You might start turning off the A/C in your car and just roll the windows down. You might stop wearing a belt. I know, for me, there is a bike ride in my future, and a hair cut, and a trip to Guitar Center for finger picks and a speaker stand. 

Grilled salmon steaks, good books, four days till my next show, some fantastic wine, some seriously fantastic scotch, fantasy football less than a month away and the little one starts school in two weeks, which means a whole new routine for all of us.

If you could take a pill for a case of the Monday's, I'd say take it, but if you can't, then go ahead and plan a meal. Food makes everything better.

And take care of your fingers.

They're important.

Week In Review: So you say it's your birthday

Don't know about you, but it seems like this has been and will continue to be a very busy time of the year.

It's not all about me.

Mostly, but not all.

I will say this, I didn't listen to a single piece of music worth mentioning, didn't read a book, no TV or movies, got lots of chores done (which are boring) and went to the water slide park (Not boring, but I wrote about that yesterday, didn't I?)

Anyway, here are a few notables:

Week in Performances:
I did a nice two hour set at a local club for happy hour. Not a huge crowd, but everyone seems to have fun. I was followed by a local weekend warrior group (The Brazen Hussies) and I was thinking of staying, but two hours straight and I was too tired to hang and drink beer. I hope they had a good show.

I also played at a Jim Boy's Tacos. Seems like an odd gig, but it was delightful and the crowd was made up of executives and they seemed to enjoy the show. The best part is that I think I might have some additional phone numbers just in case I need to get a real job one of these days.

Then there was the four hour gig up in wine country. That was a blast. It was hot, but I lost seventeen pounds and at all the carbs I could fill my tummy with. The best part about the show was when I got my first request, "Anything Paul Simon",  I rolled with The Boxer and nailed it. Then I got another request for something country, but I don't know any country songs. Ooops. Gonna have to fix that, but I wouldn't even know where to begin.

If you're reading this, and you're country fan, send me a list of your favorite songs and I'll see what I can do for next time.

I also broke the nail on my left index finger, which sounds like a girlish complaint, but it does mean no plucking for a week, which means the two shows I've got booked for tonight and tomorrow will be strummed. Got a pretty gnarly blister too, but that's manly.

Tonights show, at the Powerhouse Pub in Folsom is a biggie. If I nail it, it could lead to some larger gigs down the stretch, but I'm pretty pumped. The set list will be all twelve string and the show is gonna rock. If you don't have plans after sending me your list of country songs, you should totally come out. Like totally.

Week in Birthday:
My wife introduced me to the concept of the Birthday Month, which I think is wonderful. That means that post July 4th it's all me me me me. There will be parties, and food, and presents, and scotch, and foot rubs, and golf, and cake, and scotch. You should come.

Week in Sports:
No I didn't play any sports, but a few years back my brother introduced me to Fantasy Football, and I'm terrible at it, but it's an addiction to rival heroin eight months out of the year. I couldn't wait any longer for my brother's league to get going, so I joined an open league and took part in a draft last night. I didn't do terrible, but my wifi kicked me off just as I was about to make my third pick and I had stupidly filled my queue with defensive players for the later rounds and I ended up with a line backer instead of a top shelf wide receiver. Ooops. 

But it was free, and there was a ton of smack talk going on, so it will be fun.

Week in Religion:
An audience member at the winery gig asked me if I was a Christian musician. I said that I wasn't, but that I have acquaintances that are. She told me that a lot of my original songs sound like christian songs. I took the compliment. Cause . . . you know . . . fans.

And it was a nice thing to say cause how many times have you been flipping radio stations only to land on a song that sounds really good and then you realize you've been listening to a christian rock station for twenty or so miles? Christian rock is very cleanly produced with solid melodic structure and extremely honest heartfelt performances. Nothing wrong with that category, and in fact two weeks ago I just sent out some of my earlier recordings to a christian label looking for the kinds of songs I just described.

I don't think I'd make it as a christian rock star, cause . . . well . . . reasons, but I'd happily trade my songwriting skills for a turkey sandwich and a devoted fan base. So who knows? I would have to tone down the sarcasm a bit. I don't think I could sell a song like;

"Gee, Thanks for the Birthday Present Jesus. Look Everyone . . . Bread!"


"Hell is for sinners, so how did you wind up in Winnamucca?"

But you know, there may be an indie-punk-christian-rock side genre that I could fit into quite nicely.

Anyway, that's my week.

Just like any other week, but this one's mine.

How to Water Park

We have been living about half a mile from a water slide park for the better part of a decade. I have two kids who can swim and like doing things and yet I've never taken them. That seemed kinda wierd to me.

My little guy mentioned awhile back that he really wanted to go. That may or may not have been two years ago. I told him that when he could dive to the bottom of grandma's pool then I would take him. That also I'm pretty sure was two years ago.

This year he decided to take the plunge.

Like literally.

And I'm a man of my word.

Like colloquially.

So we picked a nice quiet Monday (yesterday) grabbed one of his friends and off we went.

I cannot remember the last time I went to a waterslide park.

We went every year for my birthday.

Summer birthday's are the best.

But I think that last time we did that, Kurt Cobain was still alive.

So it's been twenty years.

Like mathematically.

And we had a great time, cause we planned ahead, and used some common sense. So today's How to Tuesday is all about the WaterSlide Park, some do's, some don't's, and some strategies to make it a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

First, planning ahead. The nice thing about the WaterSlide Park as opposed to other theme parks is that it does not require any 401K adustments. It's not cheap, but it is reasonable.

Things you will need to bring:

Towel. You're gonna get wet. Please just asume that's part of the fun. If you are the kind of person who goes to a water park and expects not to get wet, then you're stupid and deserve just about everything that ever happens to you ever.

Sun Screen: SPF 50 and look for the stuff that says both UVA and UVB. I don't know why, but that's what it says in the dermatology section at About.com. I lathered myself and the boy up before we left, and felt pretty good about it, but, as it turns out, a post lunch second coating would have relieved me of this slight burn I'm suffering through this morning. It's not bad, just itchy and sore. Oh, and it's lethal. Sun burns can be lethal. Forget the lotion and you might as well take up drunk driving as your new hobby and stop brushing your teeth.

Flip flops, cheap breakable sunglasses, and an extra $6.00 incase you forget your sunscreen, are also good things to have on hand.

Dress Code:
For Boys: Swimming trunks, tshirts.
For Girls: You're on your own. But please consider that someone's grandparents can see you.

Things you're gonna have to buy:
Entry fee, locker, and food. (We lucked out cause our park shares the lot with an In And Out Burger) A locker is a must, because you're gonna need a safe place to put your stuff (Wallet, Cell Phone, Towels, flipflops, Sunscreen)

Sucker Purchases:
Inner Tubes: They have them for free already and in fact, the best way to tell which line is the shortest is by seeing how many of the free tubes are waiting. More Tubes=Less Line. No Tubes=Big Line. Plus, there are many slides that don't require a tube, and since the tube won't fit in your locker, someone is going to have to make the waiting sacrifice. Or you're going to have to get a personal cabana.

Yeah. You heard right.

A Cabana. The water park rents out three different sizes of shaded cabanas for weary parents and rental tube storage. Now I can totally see the appeal. Quiet place to rest, relax, get out of the blistering sun, maybe read a book or listen to a pocast of Fresh Air. Maybe it's a birthday party and you want a nice place for the women to gossip and share recipes so that the dads can go run around and gawk at all the girls who didn't take my clothing advice. Maybe you've got the baby and he's cranky. Whatever.

But, I guess, I guess I'm either just super cheap or super pragmatic. I've already paid the entry fee, why in god's name would I pay to have a little place away from the place that I just paid to get into?

And on top of that, if you would like to sit in the shade and read, why not send everyone else to the water park and enjoy a quiet house for six hours?

I understand that we parents do not have the luxury of boundless energy, six hours running, climbing, jumping, gawking, is a lot to do. But the water park understands you need a break, and it has invented one of the greatest inventions ever.

The Endless River.

Grab one of the free tubes and you can float for hours around the park. It's refreshing, quiet, peaceful, and there is never a line. There are waterfalls throughout, just incase you need to dowse yourself, and yes, sometimes the older kids splash past you, but again, if you go to a water park not wanting to get wet, well . . . 

Once you're in, before you do anything else, pick a safety spot where everyone can go when you are seperated. Pick a place that can be seen from just about anywhere in the park. A spot right by the entrance to the Endless River is ideal because instead of waiting in the sun, I just go round and around until the boys return from whatever back breaking super shotgun slide was on their "Must" list.

I trust that you already know to use the Buddy System.

Just about every surface of your skin and most of your orifices are gonna be bleached and enema'ed. The only thing I do suggest is that you go to your locker and grab your flip flops for visits to the bathroom. You may feel confident that those are puddles of water you're standing in, but it gives me the heebeejeebees to think what they might be.

Rated PG13 for Brief Nudity:
There are a lot of different body types in the world. And at the water park, you're gonna see most of them. In great detail.

Like visually.

But we don't live in the Victorian Era, mercifully, and we don't live in a partiarchal nor specifically god fearing society either. There are a few inconsistancies (ie Boy Nipples=Okay, Girl Nipples=Not Okay, Girl Bikini Bottoms=Normal, Male Speedos=Outlawed).

But it's a water park. Everyone, including my chubby pasty self, is going to err on the side of too little clothing. There are going to be bodies that you certainly don't want to see, and bodies that you certainly don't want your wife to see you seeing. I honestly was more impressed by the places that people put tattoos and the various places that hair seems to grow on foreign men than I was by the scantily clads.

I actually felt kinda sorry that there really wasn't anything of perverse interest for the girls to look at. Teenage boys are pasty, awkward, and dopey and for the most part either all knees and elbows, or in a weight class all their own. And the rest of the men were all like me (splump shouldered, puckering manboobs, past their prime, dancing on the edge of a midlife crisis) or much older and much less groomed. I didn't see more than maybe three guys out of three thousand that would have made the call-back for a WB television show.

I guess all the chiseled man/boys are stuck at the gym, or out doing some kind of good deeds, or lining up as extras for the next Avengers movie.

However, if you think I'm describing come kind of Peeping Tom Paradise, then please do yourself, your mother, and the rest of humanity a favor and seek some help. If your fantasy machine is that limited there are groups and drugs and internet sites for that. And when you see someone with that wolfish, lip-licking look on their faces, it's socially acceptable to spit into their open mouths.

Final Tips on How to Water Park:
Check out how long the lines are and how fast they are moving. I stood in a puddle for twenty minutes until I realized the slide I was waiting for had been shut down. Also, find the shorter, less maniacal rides: They are fun and the wait is always nill. You can slide those like fifty times for every supertwisty shotgun blaster.

Don't run. Don't gawk. Check your body and your children's body for signs of redness and dehydration, and if your son is all skin and skeleton, hypothermia.

Read the signs: If it says it's bad for your back, it will be

Pay attention to the life guards: They may be teeagers, but they are there to keep you alive.

And lastly, and again, if you're over 35,

The Endless River.

It's awesome.

Like totally.

Mid Summer Nights Five

Reaching the mid summer point.

Pretty soon my birthday month will be over and I'll have to figure out how to start getting up early enough to take Calvin to school.

So since we have reached the midsummer point I thought I'd Five Out with some of the cool goings on.

First: Lots of Shows
I had three shows in June, I'll have done six in July, and another four already booked for August.Man, it's kinda like I was planning on doing this for a living. 

Second: Killed a Black Widow
Das rite. Since we canceled the ridiculously expensive pest control dudes we've been finding a few little bugs here and there. Found this monster black spider with two marble sized egg sacs not more than a foot away from my rosemary plant. One thing I'd like to point out is those things are fast. And if you want to end their tyranny quick, you're gonna need at least a half a can of spider spray. Calvin got to watch and I told him never to tell his mom what he saw and like a trouper he stayed close lipped. I broke the news to her after she found the can of spray under the sink.

Third: Finally washed my car.
Now you wouldn't think that would be a big deal, but there is a strict water conservation policy in my home town and they want us all to take our cars through the car washes instead of apply our own handiwork. But this means I have to wait until the Echo runs out of gas so I can take it through one of those gas station car washed for $6 bucks instead of the $20 dallar ones. The problem: The Echo never runs out of gas.

Four: My lawn is overrun by crab grass.
Gosh I feel terrible about this. But it's green at least. It had been brown for so long. It's gonna take a hellava lot of effort to fix. Maybe I'll make that my next summer project.

Five: "Honey, Now that you're meatier you can finally fit into this linen shirt."
Yeah. She actually said that. "Now that you're meatier." And it's true. I'm totally meatier. I meant to get my ass into shape with all kinds of excercise and good eating, but it's been so hot outside and carbs are so delicious.

And, in her oddly put defense, she does insist that she likes me meatier.

Who am I to argue with her or a plate of potato salad?

TBT: Innocent until proven Kilty

This is a picture of me, my father, and my baby brother taken at my brother's wedding a few years ago. I guess it's kind of obvious, but for those of you who have never been to the Scottish Games, those are kilts we are wearing and not fatboy skirts.

We wore those in celebration of our scottish heritage.

Cause that's where the name Macrae comes from. Scotland.

I was thinking about this picture, and 'Heritage' more specifically, because Calvin had been asked recently, where he was from.

Like . . . not where he was born . . . or where he lives . . . but what nationality gets to claim such nice skin, long eyelashes, perfectly rounded eyebrows, and the kind of shiny blond highlights that are the dream of every Californian soccer mom who ever sat in a hairdresser's chair.

He ran home and asked me that question.

"Wait . . . Dad?"


"Where am I from?"

and in true dad fashion (with a little help from his namesake Calvin&Hobbes), I pulled the tag out from his T-Shirt and replied;

"This says you were 'Made in Mexico'

He didn't find that answer either interesting or clever and continued to push the issue. There were many secondary answers I could have given him that were just as annoying like "There was a sale at Walmart" or "We found you in an industrial sized CrackerJack box" but he was having none of it.

The real answer was boring.

I mean he already gets to claim that he's half Italian. Pretty badass when you think about it. His mother is ALL Italian. ALL italian.

That can mean whatever you think it means.

What it does mean, is that she could go to Italy and say she's italian. Unfotunately, by procreating with me, it means when her brood goes to Italy, they're/we're, just Americans.

Cause on his father's side, my side, kind of a chop suey of accidental leftover genetics.

Since I am quite the Geneology Geek I can tell you for certain that some of his ancesters came over on the Mayflower. Some fought in the Revolution, the war of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American war, the War to End all Wars, WWII (Cause we lied the first time), and the Korean War (The war which made a star of Alan Alda).

He's got nothing from the Vietnam War.

Actually, did anyone get anything from the Vietnam War?

Anyway, it's boring because he has one great-great-grandfather who was Scottish, and one great-great-grandmother who was Austrian, but the rest, a hodgepodge of English, Germon, Dutch, French, and my mom thinks there is some Native American in there, but I never found it.

If you do a little cheap math, (I say cheap because genetics don't play by my rules), if you do a little cheap math, that makes him 1/2 Italian, 1/16th Scottsih, 1/16th Austrian, and 7/8s other.

By the same rules, I am 1/8th Scottish, 1/8th Austrian, and 3/4s non-hispanic caucasian.

So why do I get to proudly don a kilt at a wedding instead of leiderhosen, or if my mother is right, an indian headress?

Because of my last name, silly.

I'm Californian in my bone marrow, American on my passport, and a member of Clan Macrae just because my father took his biological father's last name back in the seventies. Till then he'd been a 'Hubbard' after his actual father. I'm only a Macrae because it makes a better stage name than Hubbard.

And allows me to wear a kilt at formal gatherings.

I wonder if there will ever come a time when American is it's own heritage. I also wonder if that's why every other country in the world likes soccer so much. They don't get to import the players we do, so it's a real matter of the national testicle for them.

A couple of hours after this photo was taken, my wife snuck a few crude shots of the things hiding under that kilt while I lay passed out on the hotel bed.

You couldn't tell then if I was 1/8 Scottish, or 1/8 Austrian, or 3/4s non-hispanic caucasian.

But I was clearly a boy.

Week in Review: Sheena is

Kinda more like a Week in Preparation*

I've got five possibly six shows in twleve days and each with different requirements/times and set lists.

Suffice it to say, Imma gone be busy.

But it hasn't been all about making Jack a dull boy. When it comes to rehearsals, there is a point where you don't get any better, you just start to tear callouses off your fingertips. And then you have to boil blood off the strings.


Anyway, here's the Week in Review*

Week in Book(S): Galapagos
I'm a Vonnegut fan. No getting around it. I just love how he'll spend and entire chapter setting you up for one single lazy pun. It must be the Dad in me. This week I reread Galapagos, his quirky tale about characters on the edge of the end of mankind, and the evolution that follows. It's my wife's favorite (cause it's that good) because Vonnegut uses this convention where he adds an asterix at the end of a character's name letting you know that that character is going to die soon. A cruel man might sneak into all of his George RR Martin paperabacks and do the same. I don't have time for that this week.

Week in Movies:
First up: Moonlight Kingdom, another Wes Anderson movie. I might be on a kick. It's about a boy and a girl, both troubled, who decide to run away from their respective homes and go all Blue Lagoon on a hidden stretch of beach. Again, perfectly written/filmed/acted, interesting and delightful. Although, I must say, I know she's really very pretty, but there is something about Tilda Swinton that I find lightly terrifying. Kinda like I upset her at some point and she's just waiting to get back at me.

Second: Oblivion starring Tom Cruise. That was one of those late night, how could it be that bad, I'm not tired yet and I've already watched Luise CK's comedy special twice this month, sort of viewings. The worst part about not expecting anything, is actually getting it. Joann warned me to miss it entirely, and she was probably right. Damn it.

Week in Music: Mania
Tommy Ramone* (Not his real name) died this week. He was the last remaining original member of the punk band the Ramones. He was their drummer by default, and this is a great story, he was originally their manager, and would sit in on rehearsals and auditions, but there wasn't anyone that could keep up with their break neck speed except him and eventually they decided he was the guy.

I was first introduced to the Ramones back in the late eighties. My Uncle took me to a SF Giant's game at Candlestick Park and told me the story of 'Bonzo goes to Bitburgh' a Ramone's song about Ronald Reagan's visit to a German WWII cemetery where he praised the soldiers. Kinda sorta in a perfectly Reaganesque way, not realizing it was a cemetary for the SS.

Up until then, I did not know you could do that with a song.

Like . . . actually say something.

In corporate speak that was an "Aha!" moment.

Later, might have been the same trip, my uncle took me to a used record shop and we found Mania, Combat Rock (The Clash) and Apollo 18 (They Might Be Giants). All three of which remain in heavy rotation on my iPod, and was my first introduction to music that wasn't on MTV.

That was when Music Television played videos.

Anyway, now my audiophile friends will disagree with just about everything I'm to say next, but it is my firm belief that the Ramones were, by a wide margin, one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th Century. See, rock was born out of the blues, and blues was born out of simplicity. Up until they cut an album with Phil Spector, you could pretty much produce a Ramone's album on a basic four track by just turning all the knobs on an amplifier to 10.

There is no 11.

Get over it.

What it means is that rock can and should be a democratic art form. Anyone can do it if they're careless and crazy enough to try. And if you don't have any real talent then you have to be bold enough to redefine what talent is. And without the Ramones or The Clash or The Pixies, you don't have  an entire generation of the bands that follow. Hell, you might not even have an indie music scene at all.

And that would be sad.

Unless you're Justin Beiber.

Which is a whole different kind of sad.

But thanks to their careless insanity, Sheena is, and will remain, a punk rocker.

And so will I.

HTT: How to Happiness

If you're anything like me, you get sad a lot.

You get really angry and frustrated too, but mostly sad.

And, if you're anything like me, you can see sadness coming the way animals can hear an earthquake on the way. You have a list of things that start happening, sleeping too much, eating too much, barking at your loved ones, procrastinating, television, tossing and turning because of something stupid you did in your mid-twenties, you know, all those kinds of things. Some of it is chemical, both biological and, well, alcohol. Some of it is situational, broken heart, broken dreams, bad things happen, good things fail to happen. All of it is life.

And if you're anything like me, you've been told a hundred, possibly a million times to think of things that make you happy and then do those things. Or, for the glass-is-half-empty crowd, think of the things that make you sad, and don't do those things.

Sounds like super simple stuff when written out like that, huh?

But in practice, and I've had a lot, not typically all that easy is it?

You know there are really good drugs available, just a psychiatrist's phone call away, but that's a life long commitment and requires good health insurance.

There's also sex. Super quick fix. But that requires either a willing partner or a well paid one. Both of which are expensive and unavailable on weekends and holidays.

There's escapism. For me it's rereading old books, but it can just as easily be trolling the internet or a midnight run to Disneyland. Escapism is actually pretty effective, but just like Penn&Teller will tell you, it's not magic, it's an illusion.

So anyway, I thought I'd rock today's "How to Tuesday" with a little guide session on "How to Happiness" This is in fact a joint effort, considering it's a list of things that Joann tells me to do when she starts to notice I've been pacing in circles around the coffee table while she's trying to concentrate on another season if CSI.

First and Foremost; Clean stuff.
Not just dishes and laundry. I'm talking bathrooms, garages, floor mats in your car. If you have a particular space where you do things, organize the hell out of it and then paint the walls. Throw shit out. I learned this because I always seem to get crazy irritable around the holidays which I used to attribute to retail stress, but I've discovered it's because when there is shit everywhere, I can't think straight. Clean stuff. Step one.

Step Two:
Fix things. It's amazing how fresh and alive you feel when you spend that ten minutes tightening the screw on that wobbly cabinet door. It's like the world is alive and you've actually accomplished something. For ten minutes, your life mattered, and that's a feeling that can last all week. The list I've got going now includes replacing the air filters on all the vents in the house and organizing all of my internet ID's and passcodes so that I'm not constantly having to wait for the site to email me. A simple solution that will save me hours every week. Hours.

Step Three: Make someone else happy.
If you can't fix you, then try and fix someone else. I used to tell my retail staff that when you get the absolute worst, meanest, unrelenting retarded customers, instead of balling up that hate, try and see if you could get them to laugh, or get them to smile, or learn their name, or connect with them on any human level you can think of. Find out what car they drive, or where they got those shoes, or find the thing they're most proud of. Don't pander, don't kiss ass, don't give them free shit just to hustle them out the door, just identify them as frail inadequate humans (kinda like you and me) and see what kind of difference you can make. Pro Tip: You can do the same in the reverse to the people behind the counter.  We don't have a caste system in the US, but we try really hard to treat servers like inferiors. See what happens when you treat your watress like someone special. That's not illusion, that's bonafide magic.

Now the last step I'm going challenge you with requires a master class in human development, because there are some dangerous steps that can spiral you down back to or even below the point you were at previously, but if you walk tall and know the pitfalls ahead of time, you might just get through this alive.

Step Four: Learn something new.
It's dangerous because the unknown is terrifying, yet maybe you can get past that particular point and just muscle yourself into the unknown. But there are stages you HAVE to be conscience of. The first stage of learning something new is the Stupid/Excited stage. You know nothing but are just jazzed to be dreaming again. This stage does not last long. Soon you will find yourself in Stage Two. The "I know nothing and I suck at everything" stage. This is where you want to give up so badly that you almost consider moving back in with your parents and avoid human contact until your heart gives out. This is the stage where we all quit because it's too hard, and we were so stupid to dream in the first place.

Man up at this point. It will not last forever.

Stage three is dependant on how quickly you recognized that the only way to be good at something is to absolutely suck at it first. Stage three is when you actually learned something but you have zero, I repeat, zero confidence in yourself.

Keep going man, you got this.

Stage four; You wake up one day, and you realize, you got this. You are now better. You are now good. you are now capable of something. You are now a shining example of success and are ready to spread the word.

You are now happy.

Fleeting though it may be.

You are now a better and more capable human being than you were at the other end of this spiral.

If after all that, you feel the earthquake of sadness again,

Just rinse and repeat.

Alway repeat.

What's in Your Burger?

Wait . . . Dad?


Didn't you know that McDonald's puts plastic in their bread?

I didn't. Who told you that?



Yeah. Joey's dad says that they make their hamburger buns out of plastic.



[Dad sprinkles something in his hand and closes his fist]

Check this out.


Well Dude, in my hand I have two poisons.


Uh huh. Two poisons that could kill you a million times quicker than a little plastic.


Uh huh. Do you dare me to eat them?

Wait . . . what?

Dare me to eat these two poisons?

Will you die?

Someday. [Dad licks palm, son sits frozen]  Salt dude. I just ate salt.

Salt's not poison.

Chlorine is though, right? The stuff that burns your eyes in the pool?


And sodium is a metal that is so caustic it will blow up when it touches too much air.


Uh huh. But you mix them together, you get salt.

Kay. But do you think there is plastic in chicken nuggets?

No idea.

Azodicarbonamide. That's the name of the chemical that goes into hundreds of commercial bread products as a dough conditioner and whitener. It is, colorfully enough, also used in the manufacture of Yoga mats.

Which is the first thing you read when the news hits the headlines.

By the same logic, Calcium Sulfate, a chief chemical in the production of drywall, is also used to make Tofu.

I could totally play this game all day.

I used to work for a company that made a slushie drink using a chemical called silcon-dioxide as an anticaking agent. That's glass, if any of you paid attention in chemistry class.

Now did I abstain from drinking that slushie?

Sure did.

Did I do it because I didn't want to drink glass?


I didn't drink those things cause they were gross.

When people would ask me if they were any good, I wouldn't lie. I wouldn't even bother telling them they were drinking glass. I would just tell them that they were gross. Did that stop anyone?


People wanted a nice cold slushie with a least five different types of sugar. I didn't judge. Mostly. I just smiled because they were paying me a bunch of money to embibe gross glass sugar bombs. More power to 'em, man, your leathery tastbuds just bought me a 50" flat screen TV.

Now you may think that I'm sitting on the side of big chemical, that the industrial use of man-made compounds is something that I feel is a good thing . . . 

well . . . I don't.

Not even a little.

Well . . . maybe a little.

Okay, maybe like half.

My 50" plasma screen isn't exactly made out of organic kale chips. And neither is your cell phone or about 93% percent of everything you touch every day, even if you're a kale farmer.

Industrial chemicals are killing us. Killing us. And we gotta yell at the top of our lungs for better more efficient ecologically friendly way of life. If we don't have the technology now, we may within our lifetimes, and the sooner the better. 

The wild Alaskan salmon steaks in my freezer were caught in American waters, shipped to Asia for processing, then shipped back. That's ridiculous.

Clean water, clean air, a nice place to grow tomatoes, and a more vital local economy is NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK. Super simple stuff.

But . . . it is possible to eat a double quarter pounder for lunch, and then follow that up with 5oz of grilled salmon and a spicy arugula from the garden with sliced vine ripened tomatos and a dash of pear infused balsamic vinegar.

It's possible to live a life that is both aware and indulgent.

In fact, it's the only way to have a life worth living. 

Choices, everyone. You've got em, I've got em. And I do agree that I would feel better knowing that there wasn't any azodicarbonamide in all three layers of a Bic Mac, but not because I fear the 45 parts per million doing any damage like at all, but because if you force a company to remove those particular agents, then they would have to come up a with a distribution system to get fresher buns to more places faster. I just think fresher buns would taste better. And the only way to get fresher buns faster is to create lots more localized manufacturing centers which would be good for the economy and cost the wary consumer maybe an extra nickel for every delicious bite. That's like win, win, win, sorta lose, win right there.

Where my real beef is (lol) is in using information like a wrecking ball.

Tell an anxious eight year old that his cheese burger is made of plastic and he freaks out a little, just as if you told him that you were licking poison out of your hand.

Can his life still be glorious with an ingrained fear of two all beef patties, special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun?

Sure . . . I guess.

But then you close a mind by turning a rational prejudice into an irrational fear.

Yet on the flip side;

Tell him that it's not the most healthy meal he could be eating, and that most foods are okay in moderation, and that fruits and vegitables can taste really super good when you cook 'em right, and then teach him how to do that somewhere along the line.

Do that, and you end up with something different on your hands. You end up with a well informed person with an ingrained understanding of balance and someone who is capable of making well thought out personal decisions.

That is how it's done here. In my household anyway.


I Got Nothing Five


I got nothing.

First, I was going to do a five about things I need to do to start prepping for Fantasy Football, but it's only the beginning of July so we're still a good eight weeks from the draft, and really, who besides myself and the fourteen other fantasy geeks in the league, would care? It's a fool's errand at this point anyway.

Second, I was going to do a Headline News Five, but that got both really sad, and really political, really quickly. The Israelis and Palestinians are launching rockets at each other, it's still no fun to be a girl anywhere east of Greece, no one wants to live south of Tijuana, the German's are winning at soccer, and Taylor Swift has written an OpEd on the future of the music industry. She should know, she is the music industry. I knew she was trouble when she walked in.

Trouble, Trouble.

Third, well, I wanted to get back to the roots of my Friday Five list and do another Friday Shuffle. But then I realized I wanted to do this to shamelessly plug my NEW FRIDAY FIVE Collection on sale now on iTunes for only $2.99, but that would be self serving and my mom has already bought a copy.

Thanks Mom.

Fourth was going to be a celebration of all the shows I've got going this month. It's going to be a busy one, Thank You Baby Jesus, but I shouldn't be writing about them, I should be rehearsing for them, which is exactly what I'm going to be doing in about twenty minutes.

Last, I was going to write about all the tasks I've got left on my weekly list to finish by this afternoon, but there aren't just five, there are seventeen. But thankfully, after this and a few hours of rehearsal there will only be fifteen.

Fifteen sounds like it's still a lot, but we're having dinner at mom's house tonight, which means I don't have to worry about cooking or cleaning or personal hygiene, so don't worry, I got this.

I totally got this.

TBT: 1978

Well . . .

It's birthday month here at 'Wait . . .Dad?' and you know what that means.

Thirty one days of scotch and foot-rubs.

Actually I expect none of that.


There in fact was this one birthday that everyone (on their own) decided that they were to get me something other than scotch, so I ended up with a full bar of others things. That was the year I lost faith in humanity and 3/4's of my friends.

Anyway, since there are four Throwback Thursday's left in Waitdad's birthday month, he's decided, I've decided (I gotta stop talking about myself in the third person, it's making sex awkward), I've decided to bring a bunch of throwback birthday shots.

First of all, lemme tell you, there is a lot of things going on in this picture. In fact, there's so many things I'm gonna gloss over the semi perm my father is sporting along with the glossy white shirt with the oversized collar and plunging neck line.

He, my friends, was "Stayin' Alive."

You're welcome for that.

I might spend time being a little concerned that Dorothy Hamil is on my left, but that's my mom, and since my little brother is only five months away, she can sport any goddam look she wants.

Now if the sixties were dominated by Avacado Green, then the seventies were all about that Mellow Yellow. It's the color of the fridge, the counter, the electric frier by the fridge, the pad of the high chair, and the plastic table top surface. I honestly don't know if Mellow Yellow is the right word for that grouping of colors, but it is now. I'm putting my foot down. Every yellow from the seventies can now be called Mellow Yellow.

Also, can't you just feel that material on the pads of the high chair? That plastic covering, with it's faint 'New Car' smell and it's perpetual stickiness. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to peel my fat sweaty thighs up and out of that spot. And speaking of fat and sweaty; look at the roll of baby chub around my forearm and wrist. I must have weighed more when I was two than my own son weighs at nearly nine.

Look at those chubby cheeks and the expression of sheer glee that is on that round little kid's face. All he know is that that cherry pie is all his.

All his.

And he's going to eat most of it, and the rest he's going to throw all over that Mellow Yellow kitchen and it's gonna look like a crime scene and he's going to be so happy.

So happy.

Lastly, at the bottom of that high chair, just below the table surface you can see the little white ejection button. I wonder how long it took before that fat little kid became lithe enough to reach under the table surface, pull that button, and toss everything on that table, be it art supplies or spaghetti, right onto the floor. I do know that this is the last series of pictures with it, so it couldn't have been long.

I hope those two young parents weren't wearing so much white at the time.

Week in Review: Languid

The new blog format has received some nice positive responses.


Funny circle moment; I was thinking how columing daily would improve my chances of being ready for when the San Francisco Chronicle calls and needs a new OpEd writer, and just as I was thinking that, I heard someone quoting Herb Caan. 

Then, just as I was lamenting my being literarily stuck, I got two new show offers for this month. Now I've got shows to prep for the 12th, 15th, 19th and 23rd.


The word 'Languid' came up a lot too. It means a sort of lazy, unhurried movement. It's a good summer time word. It reminds me of cigars and good scotch with a single cube of ice.

I only mention that because my birthday is coming up.

And I have all the ice I could ever need.

Anyway, here's my Wednesday Week in Review:

Week in Travel:
Went to The City on one of those spur of the moment trips to drop off my neice. It was cold. Had a blast. Ate New England Clam chowder out of a sourdough bowl. Invented a new catch phrase: "Drop it in lava, Aspenlighter" (Lookin at you Felicia)

Week in TV:
I wanted to take back last week's positive review of "Falling Skies" cause it was clearly turning into one of those Big Speech/Save the Baby, Michael Bay meets the guy who directed Independence Day, but they pulled out some cooler naratives heading into the new season so it gets a pass. Basically, it started to get languid, but isn't anymore.

I did, however, binge watch Showtime's Penny Dreadful, which was super languid. Plus naked people. I want to pause to note that I'm a little concerned that there are all these people who don't have combs or brushes and are shaving their faces with Bowie knives and yet all of them seem to have perfectly manicured pubic hair. There's no cure for consumption, but that doesn't stop the whores from getting their Brazillions.

Good shorn perfromances, lots of rememberable monsters, and naked people, especially at Dorian Gray's house.

Week in Books:
It just so happened that I realized I'd never read The Portrait of Dorian Gray. An Oscar Wilde classic. I knew the story, of course, but hadn't sat my ass down to read it. So I did.

I've only got one word:


In fact, good ole Oscar uses the word 'languid' three times per page.

I don't mind it, but I find that reading classics sometimes requires a different reading style than what I'm used to with Harry Potter.

You have to stop and think about what was said a lot.

Thankfully, Oscar Wilde gives you lots of stuff to stop and think about. And it's kind of funny how many quotes I recognized. Lots and lots of languid recognizable quotes.

Week in Movies:
Again, only one this week. Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Very funny, very clean, very Wes Anderson meets a Mr. Rogers' diorama. Flawless and in no way languid.

In fact, it might have been the exact oposite of languid.

Anderson should totally do a movie version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Just cause.

And everytime the word languid is used, everyone in the room has to take a long lazy drink of scotch.

Drop it in lava, Aspenlighter.

HTT: How to San Francisco

If you grow up anywhere near the Bay Area of Northern California, you've most likely been trained to refer to San Francisco as "The City"

I still call it that even though I have to traverse at least seventeen different cities before I get to "The City"

The biggest metropolis near my house is Sacramento. Which no one refers to as "The City."

We don't say "I'm heading into The City."

We say "I'm heading into Sack." 

Which is unfortunate, but I don't make the rules.

"The City" -for me- is really hit and miss. I've had some amazing times there, but I also have had some really terrible experiences (mostly to do with transportation). but I've been there enough to know there are some hard and fast rules to visiting 'The City' which I feel need to be shared.

Rule One, bring a Sherpa. 

We were at Pier 39, one of the most touristy places on the planet - and it's pier - with numbers. We bought tickets for a bay cruise. There were three boats behind the ticket office. Dock 1, Dock 2, Dock 3. But none of those were our boat.

No, the directions to get to our boat were - I kid you not - "Walk two blocks that way, and stand in the line next to the big green sign over by the Ben and Jerry's"

The City cannot, I repeat, cannot be navigated alone. The entire public transportation system is made up of four BART (subway) stations, six bus stops, and Omar the Taxi driver (don't forget to tip Omar, he's had a long day).

Now because the public system is so awful, everyone drives. But the street grid was drawn out in crayon by a four year old with Parkinson's. Lombard St. actually holds the world record for the least straight road ever.


There's a gay joke in there somewhere, but I'll save those for later.

The streets, not only crooked, but narrow, and there are certain parts that are only for busses, certain parts where you have to share with cyclists, pedestrians have the right of way and will just jump out in front of you, and 90% of the drivers have no idea where they're going and the other 10% are very angry about that. Set aside at least $50 and three hours a day for parking.

The hills make walking impermissable without climbing gear and a lithe 20-something physique.

And I'm pretty sure most of the famous landmarks swivel like they were on a great big lazy susan. I was using the Coit Tower to navigate a zig zag of five city blocks and ended up in Daly City, 23 nautical miles from my intended destination.

The food is another reason why you'll need a guide. San Francisco is a port city, which always means great seafood, but . . . and there's a big but, it also is the epicenter where Mexican and Asian cuisines collide. With no one to point you in the right direction there's a good chance you might spend $72.50 on a curry clam taco based on a Yelp review that used the word 'fabulous' nine times.

Do not order the curry clam taco.

Your bohemian friends will always know the best places with good prices. If you do not have bohemian friends you can find them one on Craig's List under 'Musicians' They will show you around for the price of a burrito and it's always polite to purchase their new EP.

San Francisco is actually a beautiful world class city. Theater, restaurants, tourist attractions, hidden gems (especially the hidden gems) concert halls everywhere, and I almost hate to say it, but Golden Gate Park wins my vote for most awesome. The beaches are wonderful to stroll, but the water is too cold. I almost lost a toe to frost bite in early June. Stupid me.

I was thinking of more rules, but honestly, if you want to have an excellent time in The City, you need a guide. It's non-negotiable.

In Manhatten, you can turn to anyone on the street and ask for the closest place to get a pastrami sandwich and they will know. They will know how to get there from wherever you are and they will most likey have a cousin who you can ask for by name. There is no greater moment in a New Yorker's life than when they get to prove how amazing their city is. And they're right.

San Franciscan's are much more leary of strangers. And not all of them eat meat. If the Bay Area has a pulse it's what happens when disenfranchised hippies live next door to ex-proponents of Reaganomics.  Add into the mix a slurry of socially anxious techies, and you basically need to have performed in summer stock with someone before they stop treating you like you were about to steal their iPhone.

San Francisco is amazing though.

If you have the right guide.

And you brought a jacket.

And you don't order the Currry Clam Sourdough Taco.

Cuddles, Callouses, and Compact Discs

My wife did 'a thing' that has been making us laugh for three or four days now.

It's not shareable.

Don't ask.

But while we were giggling about it this morning, she said that if 'the thing' ends up on a blog then she was "Going to start separating our CD's."

I won't betray her trust. But I will steal the line. And three thoughts popped up. One, how I was going to introduce the line, two, how does one split an iTunes acount, and three, I better start digitizing our music to my hard drive before the roofies wear off and she realizes I'm not Batman.

I get to be part of the one and only generation that lived off of vinyl, casset tapes, and compact discs. I might never have a reason to buy any of those again. Makes me sad that when my own boy is an awkward teenager with a crush on a pretty girl(boy) he will have no idea how to craft a mix tape.

A 'Playlist' is not the same thing!

Don't even think it!

It also hit me pretty hard that nobody buys CD's anymore. Five years ago I would sell ten discs every show. Now, nothing, nada, zilcho.

But I'm playing a lot more shows.

And I finally have the fingertip callouses to prove it.

Although - and I never would have guessed this - the iPad doesn't respond well when you have thick callouses on your finger tips.

Live, my friends, live and learn.

Yet, here's a cool little tidbit, calloused finger tips give the best back scratches.

Sounds a little gross typed out like that, but it gets the job done so much better than those soft girly fingers tips or those long gnarly fingernails I use for plucking guitar strings.

I'm like a Swiss Army knife when it comes to back scratches.

I have to keep today shorterish cause we're heading out to San Francisco for a little day trip. It was supposed to be 106 outside, but we get muggy overcast instead, and the plan was originially Netflix and A/C and massive cuddling. Now it's going to be fast cars, screaming kids, and sourdough bowls filed with clam chowder.


Maybe there will be a car chase involved and I finally get to see if my toyota flies just as good as Mcqueen's mustang.

Oh yeah. There's gonna be a car chase. And shots fired. And in between bowls of soup, crime will be solved. And when the people gather with their awe and their applause, I will pass out copies of my new album and tell them not to listen to it in their cars, but with a good set of headphones or their dad's hi-fi, and then a child wil come up to me, tug on my pant leg and say "Who are you?"

I will smille at that boy.

Then I will smile at my wife.

Then I will scratch the top of his head with my calloused finger tips.

"I'm Batman, son.

I'm Batman."

TBT: Best Laid Plans

I love doing the Throwback Thursday. I'll spend an hour or two searching through hundreds of digital files and then when something hits me as being precious or currently relevant I'll spend another hour or two writing about it.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that there were rules to ThrowBack Thursday, but those rules basically stated that you can't post something from yesterday, and if you missed the window, you are a jerk for trying to make 'Flashback Friday' happen.

It's not gonna happen.

Now this . . . this is a total forward pass to throw out a throwback.

Just about a year ago, I decided to leave my cool coffee job and see what I could make of myself as some kind of artist. Before actually quitting, I spent all of my spare time in July honing my live sound, writing daily, and planning the whole of 2014 so that I could have a good template for success.

That's what a good business does. It plans for the year and then executes that plan.

My plan was aggressive, but conservative, yet by the time we got to the execution stage, it turned out to be a ridiculous underestimation of everything I've ever wanted to do ever.

See, it takes time to do things.

Lots of time.

And when you're doing things for the first time, it takes a lot more time than that.

This short book: A collection of my Friday Fives, was slated to be released in the beginning of February.

But that's not how art works.

Like ever.

If you ever get the chance to peruse my planning calendar, you might be surprised to find out by July 2014 I would have released this book, a memoir of the latest album, a collection of Monday essays, and a live album. Right now I was supposed to be on a little summer festival tour.




But this collection has now been released.

And there are some things that I couldn't fix. One, it's only available for the iPad (for now), Two, it can only be read in 'Portrait' mode, and three, a studious person might think that it's kinda gauche to try and sell a collection of posts that can easily be found for free with a little digging.

Well, to answer that question, I've included a lot of post post commentary and lots and lots of cool pictures never before seen. And the reason I'm selling it for the low low price of $2.99 is because I plan to use the proceeds from this venture to fund the next one. (and maybe get myself some new shoes.)

This week, I'm planning the rest of this year and some of 2015.

I have no confidence in any of these plans, but they're good to have.

I can't say I'll walk into this next year solvent. And I can't say what new ideas will lead me in different directions. I can't say what kind of Throw Back Thursday Post I'll be writing in July of 2015.

I can say this . . . the book is funny.

You will laugh.

And you will feel like it was $2.99 well spent.

And when you slide through it, I want you to remind yourself, that nothing ever goes the way it's supposed to, but that's the way it's meant to go.

Week In Review: Perry to Plato

July has begun.

I like July. There are three cool things about July. The Fourth, my sister's birthday, and of course, my birthday.

I'll be 38 this year. Just in case you were keeping track. I won't tell you how old my sister's gonna be. I don't care what you're tracking.

Other than that though, there is nothing cool about July. Especially not up here in the devil's tanning salon. We keep the windows blocked, the A/C blasting, and the fridge stocked with Otter Pops. As is the way of things.

Anyway, since there will be no going outside, there are all kinds of time for static entertainment, and this heatwave just happens to coincide with my new Wednesday format.

Wednesday's Week in Review: 
A review blog of last week's things (mostly TV, Movies, Music, Books) but other things too, I haven't decided nor will I strike up the limitations while I'm experimenting.

Anyway, lets gather round a see what I've embibed:

Week in TV: 
This week, possibly most of the month, has been dedicated to shoveling three seasons of Falling Skies, a TNT show (Alien invasion, human rebellion, Think Red Dawn with monsters instead of commies, and Noah Wiley in the Patrick Swayze role). We kinda sorta always wanted to watch it, but couldn't find it streamable. The discs were available, but we hadn't pulled the trigger, cause, well, things. But the fourth season started last week and we figured it might be fun to see if we could catch up and start it like real people do. It's good. We like it. It's no Firefly, so put your credit card back in your wallet, but when it does become streamable, its worth the time.

Week in Music:
My step-son burned me Katy Perry's 'New' album. I say 'New' because that's how he described it, but we're talking like, October of 2013, so even though I'm not as fully up to date in the Pop world as I used to be, I'm still half a decade ahead of the rest of you almost thirty eighters. And since she'd been releasing singles from this album for ten months, I'd already heard a good chunk of it.
I must say, as a general rule, I don't find popstars to be as dissapointing as the rest of my musicologist friends. Frankly, I know what goes into writing and producing a pop song, and I can promise you, there is a craft to it. And Katy Perry is just as much a Pop music craftsman(person?) as Steve Vai is a guitar player. She has a killer voice with ridiculous tonal range. She has an alien instinct for a catchy melody, and if you listen close, she's got a knack for inserting mid-verse rhyming schemes that are Cole Porter-esque. She also is fearless when it comes to stressing odd syllables in her lyric line, which some might think is sloppy, but allows her to say what she wants to say outside of the moon-june pattern. I do that a lot myself.
If I were to say anything negative it would be that this album is missing some of the thematic complexity of her earlier stuff, her producers are a bit lazy (been-there-done-that) and the recent single "Dark Horse" is not only seriously in need of an actual chorus, but also kind of a lame attempt at reproducing Lorde's EDM sound.
However, could I do better? Probably not.

Week in Movies:
I watched The Lego movie at dad's house over the weekend. But that was it. Well done, funny stuff.

Week in Books:
This week, I grabbed Plato's Republic off of my shelves, because I was in a hurry looking for something to read during Calvin's tennis lessons, and I noticed that the spine of the paperback was 'like-new' I can't abide a paperback in my collection that isn't well worn. Makes me look like a dilettante. Anyway, I don't remember why it was there, if I bought it or if it was a gift, but I thought I should probably dive in seeing as how it's one of those books smart people have to read in college.
I got through the introduction and a quarter of the way through Book I and then put it down. Plato's main character, Socrates, is a bore. If you would like a better philosophy of leadership, go back a few thousand years to Lao Tzu's 'Tao Te Ching' and if you would like to read real life examples of leadership in action, read Kearne's 'Team of Rivals' 
I'm not saying there aren't kernals if insight in Plato's Republic, but the characters are no fun to spend time with, and if you don't want to spend time someone, best not to invite them to cuddle with you on the couch under the A/C vent in the beginning of July.

Again, this is a new format, so thank-you for reading. Please feel free to comment, or voice a hostile opinion.

How to Tuesday: Finding the Remote.

Arthur Dent.

If you don't know who that is, you're forgiven.


Arthur Dent is the main character of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker series.


And the series is a good read. I promise. And one of his more quoted quotes is that he realized he could never really get the hang of Tuesdays.

Tuesdays are hard.

And the reason why I bring this up is because I've decided to do a little revamping of the blog to include more daily essays. I've always done essays on Mondays and usually something long for the Friday Fives and most recently the Throwback Thursday, which leaves Tuesdays and Wednesdays a bit of a catch all.

Yet . . . as it turns out . . . there are apects to more popular blogs that I've skipped entirely, that is of course, the 'How To' blogs and the 'Review' blogs.

So the new format will include "How to Tuesday" where I teach methods to solve some of life's greater challenges, and "Wednesday in Review" where I'll submit my own warped impressions on the books/movies/musics/TVshows and Penny Saver Ads.

Don't fret, however, Camelot will indeed remain a silly place.

So to launch the new format, the "How to Tuesday", I will begin with last week's greatest challenge and success story:

How to find the TV remote that has been missing for over a month now.

A whole month? How is that even possible? You ask.

Well, I'm kind of a stickler when it comes to pairing components. The reason is that from a visual standpoint, components that are designed by the same people usually look nicer together than ones from different companies. The other reason is, and I may be kidding myself, but it also feels like they work together better. (Hence the reason I am a devotee of Apple products, I just like it when things work, call me crazy)

So, luckily, my TV is made by the same company that made my DVD player, and as it were, the DVD remote has a lot of the same basic funtionailty. Some . . . but not all.

So we were able to turn the TV on, raise and lower the volume, and switch the inputs from DVD to xbox to cable without much fuss.

The one thing we couldn't do was to change the aspect ratio of the wide screen, which, is freakishly irritating when you're flipping between movies and television shows. You either settle for using only a quarter of your big screen's surface area, or heads are cut off.

So a missing TV remote wasn't exactly a sign of the end of civilization, but it really ruined the emersive quality of a good round of Call of Duty.

Hence, the search is on.

Now, searching for the remote might seem ridiculously easy, but we all know that that isn't true at all is it?

There are steps that must be taken, one after the other, there are rules that you must abide by or you will find yourself going over the same areas a hundred times.

First, it's important to remember that the TV remote has only one functionality; To operate the TV. This is good news. You aren't likely to have left it in the car, or have lent it to a friend, so it's a best bet that it's in the same general area where you last used it; Within less than twenty feet of your television. So start there.

Next, the best place for the remote to hide is between the cushions of your couch. Couches are designed to eat remotes, loose change, dorito crumbs and popsicle sticks. Same goes for easy chairs.

If your hand is too chubby to wedge between the cushions then use a child. Any child will do.

If there are no children in your immediate area, consider joining a 'Big Brother' or 'Big Sister' program. It's tax deductable.

Once you have determined that the remote is not hiding in the furnature it's time to look at the potential   surrounding areas where TV can be viewed albeit in a maybe less than ideal location. For instance, my wife likes to have the TV on when she cooks. The TV can be viewed from our kitchen island which makes it ideal to multi task. I, in realtion to that, like to clear all the stuff that piles on the island, so there is a good chance that I accidentily put the remote in the tupperware drawer while tidying up. Drawers are fond of eating things too.

Don't forget to check the fridge. Game of Thrones always seems to make me peckish.

If not in the secondary area, then consider basic surfaces around the house. Remotes can find themselves in lots of places that are non-TV related. Most specifically, check the bathrooms. How many times have you been standing in front of the TV searching for something to watch before you decide to sit down and then realize you have to pee?

If you knew exactly what I was just talking about, it also might be a good idea to strategically leave sanitary wipes in every room of the house you filthy bastard.

Next, check your media shelves. The tops of your DVD collection make a perfect place for your remote to hide along with your Wii games and that utility shelf where you keep extra NS64 controllers, just because. In my house, you also have to check the book shelves because that's where I usuallly go when there is nothing on TV.

You do not have to go look outside. If you went outside at some point, then you wouldn't be watching TV now would you?

Lastly, it's time to go deeper into the matrix.

This step may require you to lift furniture, so if you don't have a willing or helpful roomate, the kind that never does his own dishes, then it's probably time to call a family member with a truck to come help you move.

Our missing remote was only located when I tilted our couch on it's face and found it caught within the recliner springs. To wedge it out required the use of barbecue tongs, mild profanity and adult nudity.

Follow these simple steps and you will find your remote in no time.

And if you still can't find the remote then it's probably a sign from god that you need to go for a walk.

That's how god works.