Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pop!

Today (December 6th) was my father's birthday. He left this world a little over a year ago and I still miss him greatly...especially on days like today.
In honor of my dad, and because I happen to have had a few unused iTunes gift cards, I decided to download some of his favorite music.
When I was much younger, he and I never saw eye to eye on music...what was good; what was bad; what was cool, etc.  Today, I downloaded some Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and a couple of records done by Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed...some of his most favorite recordings.
I'm not sure if it is that I'm older, or if I'm feeling particularly nostalgic, or if I just miss him so immensely, but now that I've downloaded some of his favorite music to listen to...what I thought was awful to listen to as a child now seems really hip in so many ways. I guess I was unable to appreciate it all when I was a child. However, in spite of whether I still hate it or not (I don't by the way), as I'm writing this blog and listening to the songs that he insisted on playing over the 8-track in the car during any and every family outing, I'm taken back to a different time in my life when my old man wasn't old, possessed super-human powers, was the last great American cowboy, the Marlboro Man (though he smoked Kool Filter Kings), and was my hero...not that there was ever a time when he wasn't my hero. Funny how the sounds of an old recording can bring so many of my childhood memories back to life instantly. I had never realized until now that the music we listen to as children can make an indelible mark in our hearts and minds. The music of our parents somehow gets woven into the fabric of our memories and becomes part of the soundtrack of our lives.

As these songs are playing through the small speakers in my headphones, the sounds of my childhood are somehow revived and I can remember almost each every family vacation we went on. Countless trips to South Carolina to visit my grandparents. A few trips to the beach. A long trip to Texas and back. A trip to Silver Dollar City. I can remember how he used to light cigarettes with the car lighter. I can remember how he never wore sneakers, and always wore cowboy boots and a Stetson hat. He always carried his guitar with us on those trips...and his pistol. I can remember his favorite beer, his favorite hot sauce, and I can remember my dad's love for McDonald's egg McMuffins, which we would always stop for as the sun came up during those long drives, and how he was always so particular about how he sprinkled black pepper from paper packets onto them. I can also remember how he always washed down those McMuffins with orange juice in the plastic containers covered in foil.
He was a funny, peculiar man. Part James Dean, part Johnny Cash, part cowboy, part chess nerd. Bright, witty, and wise beyond his years...even when he was being an unbelievable dumb-ass. He was almost always personable and lovable. However, he was not without faults. He was far from perfect...especially when he was in a bad mood, really drunk, or both. However, he was as good of an example of being a man, a father, and a husband as he knew how to be. I am blessed to have had him as my father, and blessed to be able to have the memories of him that I keep so closely held in my heart. my dad would be proud of me. If for nothing else, at least for the fact that I finally developed a love and appreciation for those tunes that as a child I thought were "yucky" and "not fun". my dad became my hero all over again for having unbelievably hip taste in music. The kind of music people just don't make any more. The kind of music that only my dad would love so intensely.

Happy Birthday, Pop. I miss you. I love you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

dreadful?...maybe not

A completely dreadful day...

It's cold and rainy today. I'm feeling like warmed over death...the result of a sinus infection trying to rear its ugly head. To top it all off I have tons of stress mounting up upon me...finances, a lawsuit, business responsibilities to live up to...

The silver lining to the proverbial cloud hanging above me today is that I will be spending this weekend with my wonderful family...something we don't get to do very often. We don't always have opportunity to spend time together as a family, so the fact that we are making time thrills me to no end. I will also be going to visit my father's final resting place...for some, that would be a potentially stressful situation, and maybe it is for me too, but I really feel the need to "visit" my dad. It will be good for my soul to go there.
Another silver lining in my life right beautiful wife and I are trying to have a baby. Ok...maybe not trying to "have" it just yet, but trying to get preggers. We're both a little older than most who are looking to make that leap, which presents certain obstacles, however, we have been discussing our different options and are going to do all that we can to make it happen. This, also thrills me beyond words, in spite of all the potentially stressful aspects of such a thing.

Yes, it is a entirely dreadful day on the surface. But I am truly blessed beyond description, something I am making sure to be thankful for...even on such a seemingly bleak and bleary day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where did my time off go?!?


My beautiful wife asked me this evening what time I will need to be leaving to meet the bus tomorrow...

What?!? What day is this? Crap!! I have to leave again already?!? Didn't I just get here?!?

This, my friends, is the toughest part of my life to grapple with...the disappearance of time off.
It always seems that just when I feel like things have calmed down, when all the dust has settled for a day, my time off is over and I have to pack my suitcase once again and board the bus for a destination which always seems to escape me until I actually arrive there.

Don't get me wrong...I LOVE my job. I always have. There is nothing that I would ever want to be doing as much as playing drums and making one thing...spending time with my family at home. spite of feeling as if my few days at home have just sped by in the proverbial blink of an eye, I am happy to report that I did get one big thing accomplished this week. It took me almost an entire day to do it by myself, however I did get it done. I replaced the garage door opener where Holly parks.
The old one was at least ten years fact, it looked as if it were a lot older. To tell the truth, it may have been the best and most innovative thing in the realm of garage door openers...when it was new! Let's put it this way...there were absolutely NO plastic parts on this thing except for the thingy that covered the light bulb. But, it had served its usefulness and had finally begun to have some of its parts wear out.
Tried, I did, to find the right replacement part as so to not have to remove the entire thing...but, as it turns out 1) the replacement part cannot be purchased alone; and 2) if I had been able to find just the one part I needed to make the repair, I would have had to dismantle the entire thing anyway. Taking it all into consideration, I opted to get a brand new garage door opener and install it myself.
I must admit, it was easier than I had expected, and I was able to do it all by myself...but i sincerely believe I would have had an easier go of it had I gotten some help. I probably would have been able to get it completed in less than six hours too. (I am of the belief that you always measure least. I like to take my time and do it right...and only once.)

One more thing scratched off the "honey-do" list, though...and for that, I am thankful to have been able to spend some of my off time taking care of things at home.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trials and Tribulations

Trials and tribulations...we all have 'em from time to time...sometimes literally.
I know that I certainly do.

But, as the old sayings go, "When life hands you lemons...make lemonade", and "What doesn't kill us only serves to make us stronger."

Sometimes finding that silver lining to the cloud hanging over our heads is quite difficult, but it's always possible, regardless of the fact that it's easier said than done.

My silver lining these days is that there will be finality to certain things, and that these certain events and their particular timing are all part of a larger cosmic plan. Everything happens for a reason.

More than that, I have come to believe that the timing in which everything happens is for a reason.

All I can do is have faith... that God will provide for me, and guide me. that there are lessons to be learned and that somehow I will become a better person because of it all. that everything will work out exactly as it is supposed to.

...and faith that can find that damn lemonade recipe.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Ok...since the term "Debbie Cakes" is in the name of my blog, I figured it might be time to write about them.

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but here in the South there is a thing known as Little Debbie. Little Debbie is a family owned bakery that creates snack cakes. Over 75 varieties of them to be more precise. You can find them in grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, truck stops, drug stores...basically anywhere you can find a King Size package of Peanut M&Ms, you'll more than likely find Little Debbie cakes somewhere close by.

Now...having said that, I have a theory about the more successful varieties. The ones that seem to be the most popular -at least in my mind- employ what I like to call the "Peel-Apart Component".
Most every variety from Little Debbie has it...and anyone who has enjoyed the scrumptrulesence of a Little Debbie cake has more than likely taken advantage of it.

For example:
Nutty Bars...You can separate the layers of wafers exposing the delicious peanut butter filling inside. If you are a seasoned Little Debbie pro, you can peel them apart leaving all of the peanut butter intact.
Fudge Rounds...You can rotate the top and bottom layers of this inviting treat and break it apart like a really soft Oreo cookie. If you are really good you can achieve perfect separation with the exact same amount of chocolate filling on each side.
Swiss Cake Rolls...You can peel off the chocolate shell on the outside and then unroll the cake to expose the creamy filling.
I could go on, but there I think you get the idea.

Now that I'm really thinking about it all...there are a lot of candies, cookies, and cakes that are generally more fun to eat because you can peel them apart, break 'em open, or one-at-a-time them. Maybe that's what makes 'em so fun to eat...and so quick to wreck my diet. Maybe carrots and celery would be much more appealing if they had a "Peel-Apart Component"...probably not.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My wife, the excel genius...

So my beautiful little wife spent an unusually large amount of time behind the computer the other night...I thought she was typing away furiously at a new blog entry, but she was using the wonders of Excel to make a spread sheet that would become my shopping list. read that correctly...Excel spread sheet shopping list.

A novel enough be quite honest, I was very proud of my amazing bride. Quite ingenious actually. I thought it would work like a charm...

until I got to the store.

That is, when I actually got to the store. I was initially about a block away when I realized I had left the damn thing at home.

Turned around; went home; ran inside; grabbed the list; back in truck; hauled ass back to the store; pulled into grocery store parking lot: total of 27mins. (with daughter, Ashley, mildly amused at my absent-mindedness)

Looked at my wife's incredible creation and realized that the whole could be streamlined by having clearer definitions...e.g. 1lb. tomatoes=16oz. can of tomatoes; 1 lrg Canned Onions=French's French Fried Onions; corn starch=??(who knew there were so many varieties of cornstarch?); canned coconut=bagged, shredded coconut.
I'm sure you can understand my confusion over terminology...we've since worked that part out.

The other, more important, area of streamlining that could benefit the list is to have the categories on the spread sheet correlate with the different aisles of the store. This may not seem to be a good idea because of the many different stores and their respective layouts, however since Holly and I almost always shop at the same store, I think it could benefit the spread sheet shopping list. I mean...if you're going to be anal about making a shopping list, you might as well be as OCD about it as you can!!!
However, our list was not cross-referenced by aisle contents, and I spent more time than I wanted, trying to figure out where stuff was and jumping from one column to the next keeping up with what was on the list, and going from aisle to aisle trying not to forget anything on the list.

Anyhoo...we finished shopping. Got most of the stuff on the list, save a few items that weren't available at that particular store. And to be honest...the official spread sheet shopping list (T.O.S.S.S.L. for short) worked pretty well.

btw...upon finishing our shopping spree, I had Ashley use the list and a marker to double check everything that was not we can make an amended list for the next trip!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The 39th Annual Band Jamboree

Ok…so tonight Holly and I went to the 39th Annual Band Jamboree.

Basically it’s an exhibition put on by the county board of education that features most, if not all, of the local high school bands. Every band gets their chance to shine on the field. There are judges who grade the performances and offer objective advice on how and where to make improvements before competition season, which will begin in a few weeks.

There were plenty of bands…some were good…some not as good…some were pretty amazing!

Holly and I had an incredible time. Being there brought back so many fond memories for both of us…memories of being in marching band ourselves. At one point she mentioned that she was cold, and I (as I always did so many years ago) unzipped my jacket and let her warm her hands inside…kind of like hugging me under my jacket. It used to excite me beyond words back then, and again tonight, I felt the same level of excitement as I did all those years ago.

My first time marching in the band jamboree was at the 12th annual…Holly’s was the 13th. Funny how all of those memories (even the ones we had lost track of) all came rushing back as if it were just yesterday. Seeing it all again made me feel so blessed to have experienced it in the first place, and put into perspective just how precious some of those memories are.

I can only hope that the kids in these marching bands are building the same type of timeless memories that Holly and I did during our time together in high school marching band.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"X" must stand for delusional...

Ok America!! It's time for another one of those "Vote For Your Favorite Pop-Star Wannabe" shows.
This time it's called "The X Factor", and somehow, some way, some one is about to Forrest Gump their way to stardom. Hopefully the winner will at least have talent...perhaps, "X" will have a better track record of actually finding and making stars than "Idol"(which, by the way, is only batting about .500 or less by my calculations).'s my beef with all of it always has been with "Idol" and any other bullshit show like it:(can you tell that these shows offend me somewhat?)
First of all...what ever happened to working your ass off to become great at something, and then working your ass off to become successful at it?
Second...what ever happened to finding a true passion in life and pursuing that passion at all costs, concerning yourself only with becoming good at it because you love it?
Third...while there is certainly the oddball chance that someone like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood will come along and get discovered, why, for the love of all that is holy, does everyone under the sun think that they have talent like the aforementioned women?

Why do so many tone-deaf, monotonic people think they can become famous singers instantly overnight? True, overnight success has happened to a few talented folks...but come on...the few that it has happened to(the true amazing superstars like Kelly or Carrie) actually are gifted singers who are passionate about their craft and have worked really hard to hone their talents. Most of these "audition idiots" seem to be passionate enough when they audition, but they all seem to share the same delusion they are great because they think of themselves as being so. Self confidence is a wonderful quality to possess, but not when it leads to delusional thinking.
So they start crying uncontrollably when they get told "no". They sometimes argue with the judges (usually only one of which is actually qualified to discover new talent) about the fact that they are a good singer in spite of what the judges might think. I guess someone lied to them along the way and didn't act like a real friend and slap them with a dose of reality. Then they pitch a big 'ol fit and start blaming Simon for shattering their dreams of becoming rich and famous.
Exactly the problem...their dreams are to be rich and famous...not being a great singer and doing whatever it takes to become one. Do these idiots cry every time they buy a lottery ticket and then don't hit the winning numbers? Are these idiots even remotely passionate about singing?

For the handful of gifted individuals who make the cut and have been given an opportunity to advance their careers...well done! You've obviously worked hard at becoming good at what you do and you clearly possess an intangible quality that will serve you well.

For the handful of potential contestants who audition, get declined, and say "Thank you" and move on...better luck next time. You gave it one hell of a try. I'm sure you will do what it takes to one day realize your dreams.

For the rest of you ungrateful overnight-success-wannabes...grow up. Find your true passion in life. Figure out how to make a living at it. True happiness will be yours one day. If all you are interested in is being rich and famous for the sake of being rich and famous...go tag along with some overly well-to-do debutante tart and maybe she'll let you borrow her silver spoon for a minute. Otherwise, pack up your toys and stay out of the way of those who are working so hard to truly achieve something. You should be thankful that a t.v. producer thought you would be amusing to make fun of and decided to give you your proverbial "fifteen minutes".

In the words of Forrest Gump...
"And that's all I have to say about that."

The truly messed up part of it all is that I will more than likely become morbidly curious like the majority of America and watch almost every episode! UGH!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Miracle League...

If I were to tell you about an organized youth baseball league, you might call it ordinary.
If I were to tell you the athletes are physically and mentally challenged, you might call it touching.
If you were to see them play you would call it a MIRACLE.

That's the slogan of the Miracle League. And does say it all. They are a non-profit organization that believes that every child should have the chance to play baseball.

I first discovered the Miracle League about this time last year when a friend told me about it. I was intrigued by the idea and wanted to go see it all first hand. My friend thought it would be fun for some of the kids there because so many of them like my band's music.

Unfortunately, my touring schedule prevented me from seeing any of the spring season games, but I plan on attending as many of the fall season games that I can this year.

They may have special needs, but these are some of the most amazing kids I have ever seen. So filled with life. Hesitant to judge and so quick to love. They are a true inspiration.

The strange thing is see them play baseball would make you immediately think the word "miracle", but the truth is they are so deeply touching and inspiring, and somehow change the way you look at the world. The transformation of what happens in your heart and soul as you watch them play ball, that's the true MIRACLE.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How appropriate...

Is exactly what I thought when I read a particular quote(s) from a book that I've been reading lately.

The book is called "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road" by Neil Peart. It's quite the read. It is the memoirs of a man whose life was shattered by loss, not once, but twice in about fourteen months. His choice of dealing with his life altering aimless motorcycle ride that carried him across Canada, the western United States, Mexico, and Belize.
Oddly enough, his journeys took him through some of the same areas that I have travelled through over the years, and even more oddly, his documented healing process has helped me to understand a lot of my own actions that occurred during my own grieving of the loss of my father. For me, there was no prescribed process that was obtained by way of a self-help book(no Idiot's Guide to Grieving and Loss for me!)...there was only an inexplicable set of actions which somehow helped me. I, for a while, was going through my grieving doing certain things without necessarily knowing the why behind them. Neil's book helped me understand the why behind my own personal process.
Please pardon the short digression...the loss of my father and my grieving shall have to be another entry altogether.

The quote that moved me was this:
"Truman Capote once wrote that he believed that anybody who loved somebody else and pursued them ardently enough would eventually get them, for no one can resist being loved that much."

I instantly thought of my girl, Holly. I had never pursued her ardently in our younger years, however, when I did lay everything on the line, and professed my long-time, never-ending love for her, she didn't make me chase her for long before relenting and deciding to give in to the idea of the possibility of there being an "us"(that is to say, there being an "us" that was more than being just "best-est friends").
Sometimes, as rare and scattered as those times may be, I hear a line from a song or a movie, or perhaps read it in a book...a line that somehow embodies an emotion or event in my life, or better yet, simply seems to somehow apply to me.

"How appropriate," I always think to myself.

Another line that struck me as quite befitting to my relationship with Holly was this one:
"...'principle of serendipitous confluence.' Or more simply, finding the right person at the right time."
I found this one to immediately remind me of Holly because she has always been through the years, regardless of how or when our lives happened to occasionally intersect along the way, the right person at the right time. To me, our entire relationship throughout the years somehow is the embodiment of the "principle of serendipitous confluence", for we always happened to find and rediscover each other at those times when we needed each other the most, and no one else would have filled that need any better.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Honey-do" list...

Yep...every married man has one. Today, I was no different.

Yessir, I had my marching orders for today. A list of errands and small chores to get least for today.

Here's the list for today:
Take wife to work...check.
Purchase/install a new car battery for/in my wife's car...check, check.
Fix cabinet door in kitchen...check.
Go to water department to have bill adjusted...check.
Purchase used baby furniture...check.
Pick up wife from work...on time...check and check.
Put a special gift on layaway...check(with wife present).
Deliver baby furniture...check(again, with wife present).

Yep, I got 'em all done. I even managed to get in some reading while having my late morning coffee.

Don't ask me why I feel such a sense of accomplishment...I just do. Perhaps it's because I rarely get all of the items on my daily "honey-do" list crossed off. Today's minor accomplishments may not seem like that big of a deal, but trust me when I tell you it is!! All I know is no point this evening did my wife slump her shoulders, fling her arms to her sides, furrow her brow and exclaim,
"Oh man!...Dammit!!...I needed that done today!".
At least, not in my presence and certainly not on my account. Nope...not today.

Note- My "honey-do" list is ever expansive. There's no possible way I can get done everything that I need to get done...for some items to be completed it's a careful balance of time, money, energy, and motivation. And, it seems, I rarely possess all four of those simultaneously.

Home sweet home...

Sunday, Sept.18, 2011

Ahhh...Finished the show last night (incidentally in one of the most picturesque settings I have ever played), got a good night's sleep on the bus, and spent the majority of my day in the air flying home.

Commercial air travel is exhausting for it probably is for everyone. I can take a trans-Atlantic flight, or a twenty-seven minute business commuter flight and the result is exactly the same for me...I feel like I've been forced to be awake for several days with no sleep, and I feel as if I have been run over by a steamroller...twice.

Today's journey was no different.

I did find out that because I have never "cashed in" my frequent flyer miles, Delta decided to "upgrade" me to Silver Medallion Status, which, according to my calculations, doesn't get me shit except for free checked bags. My new "status" doesn't allow me to board the plane any earlier, which would never factor into the equation anyway because I usually wait until most everyone has boarded to even get in line with my boarding pass. My new "status" doesn't get me into the fancy lounges...or at least, I don't think it does...however, I'm never in an airport any longer than is necessary anyway. If I were to be in an airport for an unusually long amount of time during a lay-over, I wouldn't need to go in to those lounges anyway because I don't drink, and I don't require the use of a business kiosk (Incidentally, I would have no problem finding the local airport pub if I did want to imbibe before flying!). So what exactly does this new status get me?...I guess I will have to wait to read the "complimentary upgrade materials" that are apparently on their way via the U.S. Mail. Getting to check a bag or two for free is pretty cool...I'm a cheap bastard and always enjoy being able to save a few bucks.

Still, I can't help feeling ripped off in a way. I didn't request the upgrade. They gave it to me automatically. And what if it affects my unused miles? Perhaps I was saving up to take myself and my gorgeous wife on a weekend trip to Tahiti or Prague...what if their "complimentary upgrade" just threw a big monkey-wrench into my future vacation plans? I'm not complaining mind you...just perplexed by the idea that one's "status" can be upgraded without knowledge or consent.
I have digressed...

The first of my two flights today possessed some comedic value...after all passengers had boarded and settled in, it became clearly apparent that just a few rows behind me was a rather loud and boisterous man who was enjoying the prospect of making a new friend during the flight. His voice rang out across the cabin for almost all to hear. Either this jackhole was really lonely, or he really tries hard to make new friends everywhere he goes. I personally am of the opinion that he might have just recently been rescued from a uncharted island where his only form of enjoyable conversation was with the rotting dead carcass of a long dead manatee. If this guy had been sitting next to me, chatting nine million miles an hour, I would have promptly pulled out my headphones and put them on as to give the illusion that I was listening intently to anything but him. Clearly the lady sitting next to him was not as savvy a traveller. Or perhaps she just got off an island herself. So this guy's gums get to flappin' and he's talking up a storm, and his new friend was clearly being polite and was entertaining the conversation by replying every few seconds in a most monotonic way with, "yeah...yeah...yeah...". It didn't take long to realize that this lady was as interested in what this dude was saying as an ex-con is in being shipped back to prison. I quickly became bored with eavesdropping and nodded off once we reached ten thousand feet.

Later when I awoke from my less-than-restful, neck-wrenching nap, I heard "Captain Chatty" and his faithful and monotonic sidekick, "Miss Affirmative", still going at it. Only the boisterousness had gained several decibels of volume as well as the monotonic responses, which had changed from "Yeah..." to "Right...right...right...okay...right..."
I looked over to my right at the nice older lady sitting beside me (who incidentally looked as sweet as could be...the kind of person who would never say a cross word...ever) and inquired if they had been like that for the entire flight, to which she quietly and calmly asked, "You don't happen to have any duct tape do you?"
" Why?"
"Because I really need to tape that m*****-f*****'s mouth shut!"
I almost peed myself.

After it was all said and done, and I had touched down at my final destination, I exited the plane, went down to baggage claim, realized it would be a few minutes, went outside to have a smoke, went back inside to fetch the bag(which was checked for free!), and then went to stand on the curb to wait for my wife who was on her way to pick me up.

Have I mentioned that I have the most wonderful wife in the world?(I jealous!) She never hesitates to come pick me up at the airport...or drop me off for that matter. After a short wait, there she was...waving cutely and smiling joyfully as she stopped to pick me up and take me back to my wonderful place of refuge and recharging. In spite of it not being made of ice and crystals, my house is the Fortress of Solitude. (I realized just as I typed that, it must be noted that my home often times possesses very little solitude as well as isn't very fortress-like.)

Late dinner drive-thru style on the way home. A short squat in a chair on the back porch...catching up on what I've missed while being away. Time to put the bags away...

It is here that I find myself standing in the bedroom, not knowing whether to laugh, cry, or just simply say "Awwwe!", though somehow I manage to do a little of all three at the same time. I looked down at our bed and notice that my amazing wife, who possesses more strength and fortitude than anyone I've ever known, had constructed some type of pillow fort to snuggle up to during my absence. I think it's safe to say that she missed me.

She never ceases to take my breath away and make my heart skip a beat!

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today I'm in Portland. Oregon, that is.

I been here several times before and it is exactly how I remember it to be...slightly overcast. Beautiful...but cloudy. It kind of reminds me of the weather in London. The sun might poke out of the skies later to remind me that it's there, however, with my luck it will make its presence known while I'm inside the venue.

A few of the guys went riding today on their motorcycles...something I also love to do. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten over the apprehension of riding on a show day. I would hate to have even a minor accident and end up being solely responsible for postponing or (worse) canceling a show. Hopefully I will get over my fears and in the future be able to enjoy more of the scenery around the venues that we play.

A few more guys went to pay a visit at Nike. I'm sure it would be fun to go and see it all, however, I resigned myself to the venue in order to catch up on some blogging, some reading, and most importantly, some much needed napping.

Even though I won't get to see much of this beautiful city today, I have been here before and have seen just how beautiful it truly is. I rarely venture outside the confines of the venues spite of the notion that I possibly could be missing out on some great little adventures, I would prefer to share my adventures with and in the company of my wife, Holly. It seems unfair to me that I would be able to go, see, and experience some things and she not be able to be there right by my side. However, let it be said that because she is always in the forefront of my mind and heart, in a sense she is always there. Kind of like when Forrest is describing to Jenny some of the beautiful things he had seen in his travels, she says to him, "I wish I could have been there with you", to which he simply replies, " were."
Holly is always with me...whether in physical actuality, or simply while in the forefront of my heart and mind.

my view...

A lot of folks think that I get to see a lot of things during my travels. I always reply when asked about it with, "Yeah I see a lot...a lot of the insides of arenas." I tend to jokingly add, "The backstage areas are always so picturesque."

I would say that I get to see a lot of the countryside during my travels, for we so often travel right through some beautiful and scenic areas, but alas, I would be lying if I said I do. Most of my traveling is done in the dark of night and while asleep in the lonesome confines of my bunk.

What little bit of the country I see these days is usually viewed from thirty thousand feet while peering out of the window of a commercial airliner. Which, I have noticed, in some ways give one the appreciation of just how vast, diverse, and truly beautiful our land really is. Sometimes I look down upon it all and can't help but think that the enormous tracts of land somehow resemble a patch-work quilt.

When flying during the night, I have seen different cities, large and small, and they seem to resemble little smatterings of light against a black canvas, sometimes taking on the appearance of a Jackson Pollock rendering of anything...that is if JP had ever painted with yellowish lights against a pitch black relief. From the night skies, high above the ground, you can make out the little scattered "occurances"(if that's even a word) of civilization by their spiderweb-ish designs that stand out in the dark.

The other day as I was flying through the sky at an altitude of over thirty-three thousand feet, I happened to look out the window and noticed the dusk sky colors that could only be seen above the clouds. The clouds below me had a billowy quality about them, almost as if they were an enormous bed of cottony fluff that would entice even the most well behaved youngster to jump on it. The clouds looked as though they possessed a spongy quality like memory know where you poke at it, and right before your eyes it springs back to its original shape. The colors of the late afternoon sky seemed to dance across the tops of the clouds creating little shadows of grey on one side and indescribable hues of pink, purple, and orange on the other. It seemed so picturesque and so much to the point that I imagined what it must be like to hold something like that in my hands. Would it feel as soft and plush as it appeared to be? Or would it just slowly sift through my hands like sand at the beach?

My new mistress and her travels

If you've been following along, you know that I have a new mistress. Since I will be so closely accompanied by her in my travels, I thought it might be appropriate to post the occasional picture of the surroundings that are a bit more picturesque.

Here's my mistress at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

the breaking heart

Yep...I've been duped again. Lied to after I so blindly trusted with my heart when my brain was telling me different.

The really twisted part is that I know I wasn't lied to on purpose. I actually wasn't really lied to. Maybe I was. I don't really know. There was certainly the inference that mistruths and misrepresentations were being given to me rather than the actual truth. And when I say I wasn't lied to on purpose, I mean to say that it wasn't the person, or the circumstances, it was what some would call a character flaw(and the fear of being judged for it) that was the driving force behind it all. I'm heartbroken because I know that deep down inside, there is heartfelt regret over the whole situation from the other side. It wasn't intentional, even if it was the result of not doing or saying the right thing due to fear of being judged. I'm heartbroken because I know I can't change the fundamental root of the problem, no matter how badly I wish I could(it's not my battle to fight). I'm heartbroken because the person misrepresenting the whole truth is someone whom I know(or at the very least, I greatly wish) would always be straight shooter, no matter how difficult the actual truth may always be. heart is breaking. No stopping it. It simply has to happen under the circumstances. All I can do is buckle up for the bumpy ride and weather the storm.

(If you've read my earlier entry about "oncoming trucks"...same person. However, perhaps in this instance, I was the one who was too stupid to step out of the existential flow of oncoming traffic.)

BTW...the person I'm so vaguely referring to in this entry is not my wife. Just wanted to clear that up in case you might be wondering.


There's an old adage that states, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." I think that it's safe to say that we all can relate to that one...

How about when you are lucky enough to appreciate what you have without it having to go completely missing from your life altogether?

Appreciation is what I'm feeling right now. It's times like right now("now" being in the solitude of my bunk with weary eyes that desperately need sleep), that I find myself reflecting on the beauty and splendor that is waiting on me at home...two wonderful daughters, and a surprisingly enthusiastic and resilient wife who never ceases to amaze me. Believe me when I say that there are certainly times at home when I want to throttle them all about the neck and say, "Stop talking...I need silence." However, more often than not, when I am away from them I find myself longing and wishing to be kept in a state of ever-present verbage. When I am away from my three precious ladies, I find that there is an emptiness beside me that I cannot escape...a black hole of sorts that can only be filled by the presence of my girls. I guess it's because of that emptiness that the things that I may find irritating at times, can all too quickly become so endearing...and so greatly missed.

I miss my girls when I have to be away from them...they are my teachers at this point in my life, teaching me the ways of love, patience, kindness, understanding, and the occasional estrogen-driven crisis. I can't imagine my life without them in it. Actually I could...I just simply don't.

To my precious girls...Holly, Ashley, and Allison...please know that I love you and miss you greatly when I'm away and without you by me. And that it's the knowledge of you being there for me at the end of my short journeys that drives me to come home.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Do we really have all the facts?

The other night I witnessed two very close friends have an in-depth and almost heated conversation about what happened on this fateful day ten years ago.

The event, forever etched in our hearts and minds, is, of course, the tragedy simply known as 9/11. It was the day that a group of Islamic Muslim fundamentalists who were involved in a terrorist organization decided to crash commercial airliners into the World Trade Center for the sake of destroying what they had deemed to be "Capitalist infidels" who had committed countless acts of injustice against them. We all know where we were and what we were doing that day...most of us watched the tragedy unfold live on television. I did.

Back to the conversation that I witnessed...
My two good friends had very opposing viewpoints of the events of 9/11. One, having seen several conspiracy theory documentaries, was convinced that there was(and still is) more than meets the eye to whole 9/11 thing. The other, feeling that our news agencies and networks are completely forthcoming with every piece of evidence they have, is convinced that what we know to be true is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They both felt as though the other was full of shit, and couldn't believe that the other could believe their own opinion so blindly.

Perhaps they both are right. Perhaps the news agencies have reported everything they know to report. Perhaps there is more to all of it than meets the eye.

Now...I have taken the time to watch a handful of these documentaries..."Zeitgeist, the movie", "Loose Change", and "In Plane Sight" just to name a few. While I don't necessarily believe every tidbit of information contained therein, they do present some interesting facts and viewpoints that can't help but make one curious as to whether or not our government is telling us the whole truth about the 9/11 tragedy. There are definitely provocative facts provided that are enough to make one say, "Hmmmmm...I smell a rat!" Granted, no one wants to think that our government could be so callous as to allow thousands of innocent people to die just to promote some ideology or agenda that would benefit a small few...however, our government has been guilty of much more than that at times.

Do I believe everything I see and hear in these documentaries?...No.
Do I believe that there is information out there that could have been withheld from the public?...Absolutely.

Again, perhaps both of my friends are right...Perhaps the news agencies have reported all the verifiable information they have been given. Perhaps the government has not willfully given all of the verifiable information that they have.

This is what I ask of you...doubt everything until you feel that you have enough facts with which to substantiate your opinion. Don't just blindly accept as the whole truth that which our government and our news agencies allow us to hear. Keep in mind that while we may have been given all of the facts, there always exists the possibility that there actually might be more facts out there that we have not been allowed to be made aware of. Having said that, I ask of you to check out those aforementioned documentaries and then come back and tell me what you think.

A new girlfriend...

So...I have a new, ummm...mistress...uh...lover.
True, I am married. I deeply love my wife in so many ways that are indescribable because they are beyond mere words. Holly is an exceptional woman, and I am shocked every day that I wake up and realize she has decided to continue to be my wife and best friend for at least one more day. She's smarter than me, much better looking, much more thoughtful, and from what I've been told, a far better kisser than me...I will go on record right here and now by saying that I am truly blessed beyond what I deserve, and I consider myself to be the luckiest man alive to have actually convinced such a fine woman to be my wife.

Now having said that...I have taken a new, ummmm...mistress...whatever. She was actually sent to me by someone with whom I have business dealings with. It was quite unexpected, but she showed up in my life and I was smitten immediately. In fact, I kissed her the very moment I first saw her...I had to. She had such a sparkling quality about her...I couldn't resist her charms. It's the kind of thing where you just know deep inside that you will be together for a very, very long time...
I had a good friend capture the moment with a camera. I was so taken aback by the entire scenario that I sent the picture to Holly and asked her if she was okay with me kissing another woman. Her reply was simply this, "She's short and round so I'm not that jealous!"

Me and my new mistress...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Oncoming trucks...

Ever been in one of those situations in which you see someone you love making bad choices in life?
...where all you want to do is yell, "Stop!! Truck!! There's a big truck coming!! Get out of the road!!"
... and all they do is keep standing out there in the middle of the road with a disgruntled grin on their face?
...where all you want to do is push them out of the way and yell, "Move you idiot!! Can't you see there's a truck coming?!?"
...and all they do is push back and say, "Shut up...I got this! I know what I'm doing!!" too.

And then after they get run over, they look at you and ask, "Dude, why in the hell did you let me walk out in the road like that? Why didn't you warn me about that truck?"
...and you don't want to say to them, "Dude, I told you that truck was coming" but you feel that you need to say something but all you can say as you help them pick themselves up is, "Uh...I dunno. What truck?" too.

Maybe I should just quit waving my arms and shouting and instead grab a comfy lawnchair, a hot dog, and a refreshing beverage and sit back to watch the show. Then, after the truck comes by I can sit back and laugh as if I'm watching some twisted episode of "Jackass" and exclaim to my freshly flattened loved one, "Holy crap!! That was awesome!! That truck really ran you over!! I can't believe you just stood there and took it!! You're a dumbass!!"

I really should invest in that lawnchair. However...I guess I'll just help my loved one get up and dust off. Hopefully I won't seem like too much of an idiot when I ask, "Truck? Dude...What truck?"

It's all about how you look at things...

Recently, I had lunch with a very dear friend, who, for lack of a better set of terms, is at a crossroads in his life as a musician. He is young, not long out of college, and freshly home from a lengthy stay in NYC where he apparently realized that, as a musician, he was a very small fish in a very big pond.

He wants to be a successful musician and does not want to find himself at 40 years of age playing crap gigs and struggling just to pay the bills. A reasonable thing to wish for in the life of a working musician...
He also conveyed to me that he knows where it is that he wants to end up, but has no idea as to how to get there. He wants to work and wants to play as much as possible, but doesn’t want to have to play the same old songs over and over again because he feels that it is creatively stifling. He would prefer to only play gigs that are musically appealing to him. However, those kinds of gigs are few and far in between these days.

Ahhh…the classic conundrum…on the brink of becoming another jaded and disillusioned used-to-be musician.
I think every working musician finds himself or herself grappling with this one at some point. "Is this for me?" "Is this what I truly should be doing?" "Why am I not getting anywhere?" Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Having gone through this similar situation myself many years ago, I served up what little bit of “wisdom” I have to offer on the matter.
Here’s what I told him…

It’s not enough to know where you think your end destination should be…you also need to know the path to get there. It’s kind of like standing in the middle of Nebraska knowing you want to go to Yellowstone National Park but don’t which direction to drive in(northwest, incidentally, for those who are geographically challenged). I suggested that he take the end destination and trace the steps backwards to find the path. Kind of like how you did when you were a kid tracing your way through a picture maze in a coloring book…start at the end and work your way backwards to the beginning. Why? Because you find fewer false turns going backwards and the once seemingly indecipherable maze then begins to look more like a map. When we look at maps do we look first at where we are? No...we first look at where we want to go and then figure out where we are in relation to that point, and then figure out how to get from point A to point B. It’s easier that way…
I also suggested that he needed to clearly define what successful means for him. For me, being a successful musician has always been defined as never having to keep a day job. From time to time in my life, I have had several part time jobs that were necessary to keep the bills paid, but they were only temporary. For me, it was enough to be able to play music and pay the bills...that was the mark of success for me. The struggle of living that way created a drive for me that propelled me to work as much as possible as a musician. True, that doesn’t work for everyone, but the point is I knew what my definition of successful was for me and knew the path I needed to take to get there. Of all the places I could have gone to pursue a career in music, I chose Birmingham…the logic being that (due to my definition of success for me) being a bigger fish in a smaller pond was far more appealing than being a tiny fish in huge ocean. Lately in my life I have been enjoying the fruits of said hard work and struggle…not because it was what I intended though. It’s just how things have worked out.
As far as keeping things fresh and creative, I pointed out to my young friend that his perspective could be changed a bit. Why does he feel stifled and bored on a rock gig in which he’s playing the same old stuff when he doesn’t feel stifled on a be-bop gig in which he’s playing a standard collection of material that is the same from gig to gig?...perspective. I merely pointed out that from genre to genre there are going to be a list of standard tunes that will be played and that it is his perspective of the music being boring or too simple that creates that stifling feeling. All styles and genres of music are equally as challenging, just for a different set of reasons, and once you figure this out, you find that freelancing as a musician is a very good thing.
I suggested the idea that even the most successful touring musicians are playing the same material, the exact same way, every single night they play it. Talk about stifling…that has potential to make someone with the wrong mindset want to take a hostage. Besides, playing music that you are not so fond of, and taking gigs that are less fun is still way better than sitting at home not pursuing your chosen path…you are still getting to play music for a living, right? You are still getting to do what you love and get paid for it even if the situation and circumstances are not ideal. Playing a crap gig performing covers you hate, in a place you would never be in otherwise, is far better than working a day job you hate in which all you can think about is when you’ll get to play another gig. Feel blessed that you are doing what you love to do. That is what has always worked for me.

After lunch, as I was driving home, I began to realize that what I had told my friend could apply to almost any chosen vocation…

Find your passion, and pursue it. Sure, it may be hard to make ends meet from time to time, but the rewards, which are sometimes less tangible, are far greater.
Define specifically what it is that you want to do in the field that you are so passionate about.
Define success for yourself. (...this, friends, is the end point on your map!)
Trace the maze backwards from success to where you are now to find a suitable path to take.
Open up your perspective so you can recognize that doing what you love to do under less than optimal circumstances is far better than doing something that you would rather not be doing.
Start your journey!

That’s my opinion…I could be wrong.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Have you ever been part of something that was fun during the moment and then that little voice inside your head says, "You know you're pay for that..."? too. Only that little voice was my sweet wife pointing out the obvious truth about the situation.

The situation...

During our last show on the road with a huge country music super-star, my bandmates and I pulled a bit of a practical joke.
It was the last night of the tour, and said star has a reputation for pulling practical jokes on his opening acts. We once witnessed his entire crew dismantle a side-by-side ATV and drag it out onto the stage during another performer's set. That day we saw his crew dismantle an act's gear while they were playing their last song! We felt sure that we were going to fall victim to this regular methodology during our set, so much so that our fearless leader said right before we walked out onstage, "Well we go! One big sitting target!!"
Oddly enough, there were no practical jokes pulled on us. Apparently, the headliner was wrapped up in some pre-show business and ran out of time to play havoc with us during our set. Too bad for him and his crew...
During the encore, while we were all on stage together in one big jam session, the guys dowsed said country star Super Bowl style by dumping a very large Gatorade cooler filled with ice water onto him. Immediately after the dowsing, my bandleader said over the microphone for all to hear, "There you go, Coach!"

Poor guy...that water was REALLY COLD!!!

Everyone had a laugh...even the big superstar. It was taken for what it was...good clean fun. Said star even hugged us all afterwards and showered us with words of love and water-logged hugs.

Later, my lovely wife says to me...and I quote...
"You know you boys are going to have to watch your backs for a long time, right? I mean...he's gonna get EVEN. You DO know this, don't you?" (Leave it up to my wife to scare the shit out of me!)

(Gulp!) I can only imagine what twisted fate this gentleman has started dreaming up for us...

My day in the land of Wonka

In 1929, a man named Aram Zildjian passed the family business down to his nephew, Avedis III. The family business was cymbals. It had been highly successful and lucrative for over 300 years, and had been passed down from father to first son for many generations. Not having any sons of his own, Aram wanted to pass it down to the closest thing to a first born son that he had...his nephew.
Avedis had built a successful candy business in Quincy, MA and agreed to take on the family business so long as the business could move to America. Aram agreed and the Zildjian Cymbal factory moved to the USA.

Here's a picture of Avedis III in 1929...

The business almost immediately became a fixture in American music from that point onward, shaping the sounds of American music for generations to come. In fact, they are still making innovations today.

Recently, I had an opportunity to go and visit the factory. I had equated the whole thing(in an earlier blog) to feeling like Charlie Bucket having a golden ticket to visit Wonka's magical factory. My visit was all that I had dreamed of and more. Funny that I should equate my visit to a child getting to peer into his favorite candy maker's factory, when the first American proprietor was indeed, a candy maker himself before taking on the family business.

I met lots of folks there and even the current owner Craigie Zildjian...whose father passed the business down to her several years back. I find it very interesting and intriguing that a family business that had been passed down from father to son for so many generations has been, and will be for a while, passed down from mother to daughter.

The tour was, well...incredible! I got to see lots of cymbals. I got to see and touch drumkits that were owned by the great Gene Krupa, and the incredible Buddy Rich. I got to see almost the entire process of how cymbal comes into being...I say almost because there are some things there that have to remain secretive. To be honest, I don't want to know those would be like seeing exactly how David Copperfield levitates over an audience or makes the Statue of Liberty disappear. I did get to see a lot though, and it was an experience that I will not soon forget. The phrase "kid in a candy store" doesn't even begin to come close to the level of excitement I experienced. My lovely wife was sooooo patient about it all. She patiently waited while I had pictures taken of me, while I ogled over every detail, and while I tried out several cymbals. Seeing her be so enthusiastic about something that should seem so foreign to her, serves as a reminder as to how truly blessed I am. Yes...I have the coolest wife EVER!!(she even loves muscle cars!)

Inside the factory offices, the folks there at Zildjian recreated the famous factory door from 1929. Here's me standing in front of it...

Holly was kind enough to humor me by taking my picture! I love her so much!!

Hopefully I can make a regular pilgrimage to the factory...