Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, Bitch!

What weighs 75 lbs, is frequently adorable and malodorous at the same time, and always sleeps under the covers with its feet pressed into my back?

Whatever it is, it turned four years old today.

Happy Birthday, Ginger Ale!!

Read more!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Where's Jimbo?

My dad, Jim, as Homer the Friendly Lion back around 1973. My sister, Sarah, is the redhead (she's still trouble) and I'm wearing the nifty striped pants. I especially appreciate the squashed mosquito on the lion's head that gave her life for this photo scan.

I have recently learned that blogging is contagious, and my father, Jim, has caught the bug. Had I known he was at risk, I would have taken more precautions.

He travels quite a bit for his work as a graphic artist, designing backdrops and oh so much more for high schools and winterguards across the country. (Hmm, seems like all warm locales right now. Coincidence? I think not.) He has started a blog entitled Where's Jimbo for friends and family to track his whereabouts. He always has something up to make you laugh, or wonder if he is, in fact, insane, so it's worth a visit.

Personally, I think he's just looking for a way to rub in the fact that it's not snowing where he is.

The family back in 1974. We all still look this strange.
Read more!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Benazir Bhutto, first female Prime Minister in a Muslim Country (Pakistan, 1988) in modern times

This woman gave her life to try and bring fairness ("democracy" is such a charged and mis-used word, anymore) to Pakistan. She will be missed, and she should always be remembered.

(Reuters TV/Reuters)

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto waves as she leaves a rally in the city of Rawalpindi in this TV grab December 27, 2007, shortly before she was killed in a gun and bomb attack.
Read more!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More Christmas Cheer--Don't you just want to throw up?

It's a romantic full moon, when Pedro said, 'Hey, mamacita, let's do Weeweechu.'

Oh no, not now, let's look at the moon!' said Rosita.

Oh, c'mon baby, let's you and I do Weeweechu. I love you and it's the perfect time,' Pedro begged.

'But I wanna just hold your hand and watch the moon.' replied Rosita.

Please, corazoncito, just once, do Weeweechu with me.'

Rosita looked at Pedro and said, 'OK, one time, we'll do Weeweechu.'

Pedro grabbed his guitar and they both sang.....

'Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.'


Dave says Merry Christmas, too. He's a very jolly fellow.
Read more!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why I choose Escapism over Reality

Because when I try to function in the real world, I find out things like my goddamn exercise bike, which only had a few miles on it when the flood hit in August (assuming a stationary bike can accumulate miles) only looked like it still worked at the time. Turns out the electronics up top are ship-shape, but the mechanics behind the resistance are shot.

But they can fix it! If you count the house calls, new parts and labor, it should come in around $1500. Of course, the bike when new cost about $599. Sure, I got a warrantee, but it only covers the damage if I prove that Second Wind Exercise was somehow responsible for the flooding of Columbus.

Given the facts, arriving at a response to their quote was really quite simple.

Read more!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Merry Freakin' Christmas!

You won't believe it, but I got a few of my new friends to make a
video card with me. L to R it's Chris Cornell, Myles Kennedy, Dave Grohl, and me.

Hope you have as much fun watching it as we did making it!

Nancy's Christmas Card

If you let the window sit there for a second when it's over, Dave adds a nice twist to it. I had to pay him extra for that--but it was worth it.

Read more!

Good Times, Good Times

Dave after the Zep concert in London

Dave Grohl tells it like it is in a letter to rock photographer Ross Halfin after Monday's Led Zeppelin show...

Just wanted to thank you for being so accommodating to me and my cast of nerds the other night. It was an epic night, to say the least. Arriving at 10 am that morning, sleeping for three hours, heading to the bottle shop for refreshments to take with in the van, pissing like a Clydesdale upon arrival to the gig, and then the mighty Zeppelin.


For Your Life. Maybe my favorite song of the night, except for Kashmir, which was beyond spot on.

The dry ice machine.

Black Dog. Like they never stopped playing it.

Asking Marilyn Manson if I can give him a hickey. "No". Asking his girlfriend if I can give her a hickey. "Sure!" To which Marilyn replied "No".
Not understanding one fucking word that Liam Gallagher [Oasis] said to me.

Steve Gorman. A good guy. [The Black Crowes' drummer]

Peter Mench being nice to me. Sign of the apocalypse? Perhaps. [Manager for Metallica]

The entire 2 hours that the band performed.

Without sounding like a
jerk [edited], I had waited to see that my whole life, and it did not disappoint. Of course, I had always dreamed about being behind that drum set, but the sheer thrill of being there overcame any envy that I may have had. Jason was fucking great. Face it, he had people like me, Chad Smith [Chili Peppers' drummer], and Steve Gorman watching his every move, all night long, and afterwards we all agreed that he played great. Just three jealous drummers, drinking away our life long dreams of one day jamming with the greatest rock band of all time. Fucking pathetic, we were.........

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for including us in everything. It meant the world to me.

Congratulate the boys for me. Hope they take this circus on the road. If there's an opening for drum tech, you know my number.


John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jason Bonham and Jimmy Page

The response the rest of us got when we asked for backstage (or even frontstage!) passes:

Read more!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Novel Recovery

Brian, Myles & Mark of Alter Bridge, 12/07/07

I think I have found the way to regain my sense of humor and adventure after sitting for far too many hours in front of a computer writing emotionally draining stories.

Go out and meet more rock musicians.

Last night my sister and I went to our third Alter Bridge and Another Animal concert in three weeks, and it topped them all. Robbie Merrill (Godsmack/Another Animal bassist) was fantastic, chatting with us before the show, giving nods and smiles to us in the front row throughout the set, and then after the show (when I accused him of stalking us since he kept running into us) walking us backstage to meet Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti. It was above and beyond his call of duty, and we were MOST grateful. My sister and I have been trying to meet Myles for years.

Roadie "Meatball" plays air guitar with our main man, Robbie

They say Dave Grohl is the nicest man in rock--and I'm not one to argue with that--but all these guys are amazingly friendly and genuine. Myles was absolutely captivating to talk to--hard not to freeze up while staring at those incredible blue eyes and that unbelievable smile--and not once made us feel like we were keeping him from anything more important. He was shaking hands and movin' in nice and close for pictures--fucking incredible. Just a super nice guy that is indescribably easy on the eyes. Not to mention a smokin' set of pipes. What a voice! His set was amazing, and he sang, played guitar and danced like a man intent on seducing the entire audience. He succeeded.

Before Robbie took us backstage we caught Whit Crane (Lead Singer of Another Animal, formerly of Ugly Kid Joe) outside and he stopped for a picture and a sig. When I told him I loved his voice he got all shy and said, "You're nice." (Well, it's no invitation to the bus, but it's better than nothing.)

Whit and me (It's cold!!!)

He has limitless energy on stage and is a blast to watch. The show got even more electric when a large bat started flying around the stage. Between songs he named it Ozzie. Watching Whit duck repeatedly and Shannon wave his sticks at the bat as it dive-bombed them was extremely amusing.

Lee, Robbie, Whit and Shannon

And kudos to my sister. Sarah may be smaller than me, but she has a great set of lungs because she got Whit's attention on-stage and asked him for a drumstick for me, which he promptly delivered from Shannon. (Did I mention he's the kickass drummer for Godsmack?!) I'm telling you, NOTHING beats getting there early and being front row center.

Nothing, that is, except meeting them face to face after the show. I think Sarah will back me up on this.

Sarah's smile threatens to engulf the Universe as Myles reaches out to give her a hug for the camera.

Sarah then slips into shock as Myles begins to doubt my photographic abilities.

After some polite talk, I asked for a little piece of Myles for myself. (And no, I'm not telling you which piece I asked for.)

From the pictures, you can see that I STILL can't stop talking while having my picture taken with a gorgeous and talented musician. Must learn to relax and just smile!

Myles smiles as I stammer and drool

For more pictures from the show, click "Read More." And I promise I won't flip you off this time.

See? Only nice pictures!
Me, Sarah and Shannon's drum stick

Robbie and Whit

Whit watches his roadies sing the chorus to Jimi Hendrix's "Fire"

Myles melts hearts

Myles smiles

Is it hot in here or is it just Myles?

Sarah with Mark from Alter Bridge

Read more!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Shoveling for Cornell

[Cornell teaching his daughter, Toni, to ski.]

And now it's time to pay the piper. It was pretty easy to sell my 300HP snowblower back in September. It was still pretty warm, then, and I was staring at a concert ticket to see Chris Cornell in Seattle. I just needed to justify the plane ticket.

So I sold the snowblower. Then I consoled myself with the thought that every time I shoveled, I would think of Chris. Today I got to put that theory to test. Turns out, they aren't such pleasant thoughts on this end of the shovel.

Ironically, Chris is headed to South America for a few gigs now, and he won't have to do any shoveling for some time to come--assuming he ever does. When you live in a penthouse in Paris, you probably don't do much shoveling. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It is enough that he shares the gift of his amazing voice with us all.

You know, that would sound a lot less like bullshit if I didn't have another hour of this shoveling to do. (I'm on a break after 90 minutes of the same, trying to dry off and get my heart rate back under 160 bpm.)

On a good note, I won a ticket to use for my next big concert to see Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters. That's a good thing, since I was starting to look at my air conditioners and wonder what they might be worth on Craigslist.

You never learn.

Taylor Hawkins, drummer for the Foos, expresses his opinion on shoveling.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NaNoWriMo Winner Right Here

[Letter From NaNoWroMo's Winners' Page]

You Won!
So it's official.

Our word-counting robots have analyzed your November novel, and they've delivered their final, binding assessment: Winner.

You did it! You did it! You did it!

This was, without a doubt, one of the hardest years on record for NaNoWriMo participants. At some point in the literary marathon, most of your fellow writers fell by the wayside. They lost their books to work, to family, to school, and to the hundreds of other distractions and interruptions that tend to shutter creative undertakings like NaNoWriMo.

But not you. Not this year.

This November, you set out with the ridiculously ambitious goal of bringing an entire world into existence in just 30 days. When the going got tough, you got writing. Now you're one of the few souls who can look back on 2007 as the year you were brave enough to enter the world's largest writing contest, and disciplined enough to emerge a winner.

We salute your imagination and perseverance. The question we ask you now is this: If you were able to write a not-horrible novel in 30 days, what else can you do? The book you wrote this month is just the beginning.

From here on out, the sky's the limit.

We wish you well on your many upcoming adventures, and hope to see you for Script Frenzy in April, and again for NaNoWriMo next November.

On behalf of everyone here at NaNoWriMo headquarters, I offer you my congratulations.

Warm regards,
Chris BatyProgram Director, NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Writers, Dave salutes you all!
Read more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ghost Writer

I know I am supposed to be writing my own story and not reading someone else's, but you can't literally write every second of the day. Unless, of course, you are Earnest Hemingway. So while I ride my broken exercycle, or wait for the water to boil, or try to fall asleep, I read Neil Peart's autobiography, "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road."

Peart is the drummer for the band Rush. He is arguably the best living rock drummer there is. All I know is he is far better than me. There is a video of him playing on my MySpace. Judge for yourself.

He also writes. He now has several books, but this one in particular is very moving because it deals with great personal tragedy he experienced in the late 90's. In the span of one year, he lost his 19 year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife of 22 years, Jackie. This book is his journal of survival, if not recovery (I don't know--I'm not that far into it, yet.)

Early in the book I came across a passage that struck me deeply. I re-read it several times, and finally decided to post it here. If it means nothing to you, that's fine. All I can say is that it said a whole lot to me. And that's the beauty of this blog: It's all about me.

Click the prompt for the passage.

“For some reason, as part of that grief work it also seemed necessary for me to replay every single incident of my own life, and once when I was awake in the middle of the night in a motel, stewing over these things, I tried to write it down.

Notice in these ‘watches of the night,’ or while riding (or anytime), pattern of torment (tormente, Spanish for storm). Not only have to relive and examine every episode of life with Jackie and Selena, but every single episode of my own life. Every embarrassment, act of foolishness, wrong-headedness, error, idiocy, etc. going back to childhood and all the way forward to now.
I physically flinch, say ‘ow’ out loud, or ‘fuck,’ as the case may be, and can hardly bear it. Such stupid things sometimes, but it seems my confidence, or belief in myself, or
something, is so shaken, so undermined, so tenuous, that I have no tolerance, no understanding, no forgiveness: for myself or anyone else.
No forgiveness…

Without knowing it, I had identified a subtle but important part of the healing process. There would be no peace for me, no life for me, until I learned to forgive life for what it had done to me, forgive others for still being alive, and eventually, forgive myself for being alive.”

“Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road,” by Neil Peart

Read more!

Through the wringer

I wasn't sure I could find an illustration that fully captured how it feels to write about the loss of a loved one, but I think I have succeeded.

I didn't start with that subject when I sat down, but I don't always dictate where my writing will take me. Thankfully, I take Kleenex with me on all my journeys.

I was so steamrollered after spitting out 2000+ words that it was all I could do to take the dogs out in the front yard for a second, then crawl into bed. Given that it was only 8 p.m., I woke up fully awake around 2 a.m.

Of course, a truly devoted writer would have gotten up and kept writing. Being only half-devoted, I merely stared at the ceiling for a few hours and thought about writing.

It could have been worse: The urge to hit up the Ben & Jerry's in the freezer downstairs was overwhelming. I didn't do that until after lunch today.

Only 3828 words to go to hit the November goal for NaNoWriMo, but it's going to take a lot more ice cream before all is said and done with Below Sea Level.

Cocoa Bean -- 1993-2003
Read more!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Purging Novelist Disorder

Only six days left to write. Sort of. It's actually a life sentence, but for the purposes of National Novel Writing Month, the deadline looms. I have been making progress in a very uneven fashion: I write 3000 words late one night, then nothing for two days, then another lump of words will come out of nowhere, and so on and so forth.

I love metaphors--good or bad--and this one just came to me when reporting on my progress to my mom. (No, I wasn't procrastinating--just warming up for tonight's session.) This novel I have been working on is like someone moving every item I own (and some I don't) into my house in a completely random manner. There's a sofa upside-down in the attic, a saddle in the downstairs bathroom, a stereo in the refrigerator, and CDs scattered from the dryer in the living room to the baby's crib in the garage. On December 1 (or a little later--I will need to seek some treatment for Purging Novelist Disorder when this is all over) I will walk back into my house and have to find everything again and decide where it should really be. That's when I officially get to untie the Editor who has been bound and gagged in the crawl space under my porch since November 1. She's going to be cold, hungry, and eternally pissed when she sees what I've done while she was gone. And she'll have her work cut out for her!

I am writing. Go find something useful to do.
Read more!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Two normal people and a madwoman

My sister Sarah, Robbie Merrill (left-handed bassist for Godsmack and Another Animal), and some crazy woman who was too busy rattling on about how "awesome" Robbie's bands are to smile in time for the picture.

I always know how to make a lasting impression.
Read more!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This weekend was Another Animal

[Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, Nov 16]

If one were to experience a near-perfect weekend, how would it go? How 'bout something like this:

Head to an Alter Bridge show at Madison's Barrymore Theatre, a venue so small it seats only ten or so. Find out just seconds before the opening band Another Animal comes on that it is a side-project from three of the four members of Godsmack; Shannon Larkin (drummer extraordinaire), guitarist Tony Rombola, and bassist Robbie Merrill. The other guitar player is Lee Richards, an original member of Godsmack. The lead singer is Whitfield Crane, former lead singer of Ugly Kid Joe (where he played with Shannon Larkin until they broke up in 1997).

[L to R: Lee, Tony, Robbie, Shannon, and Whit]

The stage is so small and Another Animal is set up in front of Alter Bridge's equipment, so I am only twenty feet or so in front of drummer Shannon Larkin's set.

I feel faint. [Shannon of Another Animal and Godsmack]

Their set is amazing, and I am thrilled knowing I will be seeing them again in Milwaukee the next night.

Alter Bridge comes on and does not disappoint, despite the lead singer, Myles Kennedy, being sick. The audience--all ten of us--scream our brains out. My sister Sarah spills a very sticky wine cooler all over me. I forgive her.

[Myles in front of Brian]

Afterwards, it is Sarah's goal to meet Myles. It is clear her very life depends upon this encounter. (And it has absolutely nothing to do with how Myles looks in these jeans...) Acting on a tip from Mark Tremonte's guitar tech before the show, we head to the closest bar and wait for a bit. Soon we see Lee Richards and Robbie Merrill from Another Animal stop in. No sign of Alter Bridge.

Heading back to the buses, we find out that Myles is so sick he ran for the bus as soon as he ended the show. Sarah is crushed. We hang out just long enough for me to make a drum joke to Brian Marshall, Alter Bridge's bass player, who takes my idiocy in stride. I am tempted to make a bass comment to drummer Flip when he comes out, but I resist. One of Sarah's friends forces Brian to take Sarah's Riverside passes from 2005 inside the bus for Myles to sign. He is gone for so long we are sure that he has either forgotten us or is busy trying to imitate Myle's signature. Eventually he returns, and we promise to harrass him in Milwaukee.

At the Rave the next night, I am ready for Another Animal. I put one of their new shirts over my Foo Fighter shirt. (Dave would understand.) We stake out a place on the balcony, just a healthy spit down to the stage. Another small venue. I don't know how I'll ever go back to stadium shows. (Only for you, Dave.)

Another Animal comes out and during one of the first songs, lead singer Whit points to me in the balcony and says "Nice shirt." $25 bucks very well spent. At least twice during the show, bassist Robbie points up and nods, either at the shirt or from seeing us at the bar the night before. Or he could have been stretching. Shannon is fucking incredible, as usual, and I am mesmerized by his sticks. My hands throb from drumming on the metal rail in front of us.

The highlight from their set is their cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire," during which seven roadies come out and split themselves between two mics to sing the chorus. It was hilarious, and more fun than I've had since Cornell and Seattle.

Alter Bridge comes on and rocks the room. Myles is still not well, but makes a great effort to keep the show going. I try to bring the balcony down with my dancing, but fail. Sarah and Jeff skip out before the encore ends to try and catch Myles when he runs for the bus, but I decide to stay. As soon as they leave, bassist Brian, whom I called the drummer the night before, points up and smiles big at me. He must have a good mind for idiots he's met before. I'm thrilled to be remembered for any reason at all.

[Brian and Mark, Alter Bridge]

When I meet up with Sarah and Jeff after the show, she is crushed again. Sure enough, Myles literally ran from the stage door to the bus after the lights went down. She called out his name and he never even looked over. He jumped on the bus, killed the lights, and that was it. It was pretty clear that if he had stopped for her, he would have been mobbed by the number of fans already milling around outside the venue. No doubt going from the full sweat of the show to 32 degree snow and sleet and stopping to sign several autographs would have sent the poor guy into pneumonia. I did think for a moment that Sarah was going to lie down on the pavement in front of his bus, but she stayed strong.

As we mourned her situation, Robbie Merrill walked right by us. Some big dude stopped him to shake his hand and I jumped right in.

"You can't just sneak past us, Robbie," I told him. "It won't work." Jeff asked if he had time for a picture with Sarah and me, and we were wrapped around him in record time.

"Just a quick one," he said. As opposed to a sloooow photo? Wait, let me just set up my tripod...

I then set a personal record by using the word "awesome" three times in one sentence. It's not something I'm proud of. It went something like this: "Thanks, Robbie! You were awesome tonight and last night; the band is awesome; and of course Godsmack is completely awesome!" Yeah, sometimes I can't hide the writer in me.

Apparently Robbie likes the word awesome, though, because he broke out in smiles and said to me, "So you heard us playing and said, 'Fuck, yeah!" Well, something like that, Robbie. Flattery works even on veteran rockers, it would appear. Good information to know!

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the thrill I get from live music (and musicians--let's be honest) and I haven't figured it out completely yet. I believe it has something to do with their ability, as total strangers, to melt my granite walls completely with their music. For as long as the amps are pounding, I feel entirely free, at peace, and indescribably exhilarated. After much thought, I could think of only one other situation where I experience this feeling: when galloping my horses.

Accordingly, I went to the barn today to see Julian, who was more wired than hard-partying Shannon before a show. It took 45 minutes of longing to get on his back (Julian's, not Shannon's) and then, we ran. And there it was again.

A lot of smiles for one weekend. My subconscious still managed to throw in a nightmare (Same one: I was still married and had to convince him again I wanted out) but it may have been because we used to see Alter Bridge together. Just working the memories out. If I see them enough on my own, they become mine, not ours. Making friends with the band(s) most certainly helps!

See you boys in Rockford on December 7! [Madison, Nov. 16]
Read more!

Friday, November 16, 2007

If at first you can't decide...

[Dave Grohl]
Anyone who knows me knows I have trouble making decisions. I can spend an hour in the frozen food section of the grocery store trying to figure out which Ben & Jerry's to buy. Most recently I was tested when I had to choose between the first five Foo Fighters concerts scheduled to start in January. None of my choices are within a stone's throw from Madison, so I was relying on the free airline ticket I won at work. My choices were Dallas, Nashville, Worcester, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Tickets for general admission (read: mosh pit) went on sale this morning, and I still hadn't decided between Dallas (Jan 23) and Detroit (Feb 24). So I did what any waffler would do--bought a ticket for both. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Tonight's activity is an easy choice: Alter Bridge is playing at the Barrymore in Madison. If you haven't heard them yet, go take a listen.

I suppose you're wondering about The Book. No, I haven't given up yet. Word count is 28,192.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's About Time

I said it couldn't be done. I said you'd never get me to leave my house and enter a roomful of strangers. And I am certain I said I would never enjoy myself, if I did.

I was wrong.

Tonight at the James Street Dining Co. in downtown Columbus, there was a premiere showing of Discover Wisconsin's episode about our own fair city. I was fortunate enough to be invited by new friend Kim Bates from the Columbus Main Street committee, whom I had never met except through e-mail, even though the West James Gallery where she works is only three blocks from my house. (I told you, I don't get out much.)

By the end of the evening, I had consumed several plates full of sumptious hors d'oeurves, watched a who's who travel episode that elicited laughs and applause as various members of the audience were recognized, and was drawn into a lengthy, Capital Brewery-fueled discussion of the First Annual Columbus Time Fest, a parade of time machines assembled from all over the world to go through our very own Time Portal (How's that coming, Kathy?) on 10/10/10.

Well, it made sense at the time...

Just don't be surprised if you walk by Todd and Cheryl Frey's Colonial Carriage Works showroom one of these days and see a giant time machine sitting in the middle of the room. It may look like a school bus but oh, the places (and times) it will take you!

Is it an antique sleigh, or is it a time machine?!

Read more!