Archive for May, 2006

May 29, 2006

A Loser Out of Me

I don’t usually watch television on Saturday nights as I’m out in my cab. I took a break around 10:30 this past week to restring my guitar and turned on Austin City Limits. I watched twenty minutes of some band I took to be Franz Ferdinand (as the listings said and who I wouldn’t recognize as I know nothing about what twentysomethings listen to) but instead turned out to be this band called What Made Milwaukee Famous. I’m assuming they took their name from that awesome Jerry Lee Lewis song (and took off the “‘s”). I was kind of surprised that a band with that kind of name would be anything but a honky-tonk bar band but these guys were very much the indie pop band. Their closer song had a nice catchy chorus and dueling keyboards and I was rather impressed with the band’s energy and rabid fans. The name still puzzles me, though. Couldn’t they have just called themselves “Beer?”

May 25, 2006

This Space is Your Space

I often wonder, when I log onto MySpace, about the “Cool New People” feature. I’ve never clicked on any of these faces as I imagine doing so would take me to some anonymous, hastily assembled page. When my page was new, I had nothing on it, no pictures, no personal information and no friend links. Are these new people really “new” in the sense that they’re unfamiliar to me but are already hip to the vast cosmos that is MySpace–or are they the wide-eyed uninitiated folks who are unaware of the consequences of their new computer-based-lifestyle? And that only leads me to this burning question: was I ever featured as one of the “Cool New People?”

May 22, 2006


On Saturday night we put our beloved dog Scully down. She’d been sick all week and had been nursed back to the point that we were going to try to see if she could recover without more costly medical attention. We brought her home from the hospital and she lay outside in the sunshine while Soren and Deanna pulled weeds. That night she ate food but could not keep it down and we had decided that the emotional roller coaster needed to end. Our vet arrived and took care of her and it broke all of our hearts in a way that I cannot describe.
I’ve had much experience with death: my mother died when I was four; one of my best friends when I was twelve; on of my cousins was killed by a drunk driver; most of my grandparents are also gone. Those experiences left me very stoic but ending Scully’s life was difficult and extremely emotional. She’d been with us for most of the eight years Deanna and I have known each other and was around for my transformation from an angry depressed loner to a family man with friends and hope for the future. She was fierce in her protection and gentleness with Soren. The hardest part beyond my own feelings of emptiness is how to work it with Soren. He’s three years old and I don’t know how much he understands. He’s been very angry and defiant this week so I know he is going through the steps that all of us deal with yet he doesn’t realize what is happening. As I said in the email to our friends: we will all remember Scully but Soren may not, so I am creating a book of her life and compiling pictures of her so that he may remember the gentle creature who was around at the beginning of his life.

May 17, 2006

Leave your heart behind

San Francisco was a lot of fun. Here are some of the highlights:

–Walked through Chinatown and indeed it is like being in some city in a foreign land, albeit one with that understands its tourist aspect. We bought Soren a kite at a place that had a decent mix of authentic kites as well as lots of Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer types.
–Ate several great meals and a couple of fantastic ones. The best places were the smallest, one being the Nob Hill Cafe which is about as big as my living room. If you weren’t looking for it you would walk right past it as there is no sign but the food and neighborhood feel were authentic. A pair of identical twins who must have been in their late 70’s in matching wigs and makeup and outfits showed up to enjoy a meal at their favorite table. On the sidewalk in front of the cafe they were accosted by many locals who wanted to kibitz or have a picture snapped with them.
–Checked out Amoeba records near Haight Ashbury and resisted snapping up many many records. I didn’t really feel like buying another suitcase just to feed my vinyl cravings
–Found several b & w photo booths and used one to capture 4 snaps in the way that only a photostrip is capable of.
–Waded in the Pacific which was beer-cooler cold.
–Walked around onFisherman’s Wharf but did not make it to Alcatraz. The old buildings along the wharf are cool and the outdoor kill-and-cook-right-in-front-of-you crab places are neat but the surrounding streets are overrun with junky tourist shops and Starbucks’s and the like (I noticed a GAP was about to open on one corner). I did notice that the local IN-AND-OUT BURGER was located right next to a Hooters.
–Missed the largest fireworks display ever in California (it was happening over the bay while we were downtown blissfully eating Indian food, wondering where the crowd was on a Saturday night)
–Watched local news coverage of the fireworks and laughed out loud when the reporter said the display was “unlike no other.”
–Went to see the really tall trees in Muir Woods which is literally a 30 minute drive from SF.
–Went to Sonoma and did my first wine tasting which was charming at one place (where our friends joined a wine club) and dismal and disappointing at another (where the servers were busy flirting with the drunk young hotties) but overall very cool. Sonoma Valley looks like paradise and I kept reminding myself that SF is only an hour south.
–Chilled in Berkeley with our friends and ate Ethiopian.
–Checked out the University of California at Berkekely and saw many folks wearing shirts that just said “CAL” on them. Are all the Universities out there just referred to as “CAL” or is that a local thing? I forgot to ask of course…
–Did the very touristy riding of a trolley (very cool) and riding a cable car (not as cool but probably necessary as those hills are murder).

We were surprised at how nice everyone we met was. The only stuffy response we got was during a mix-up with our hotel (our stay was a gift and so our reservations didn’t have our names attached) and we realized that we might have been taken a bit more seriously had we been wearing business suits. As we were wandering around admiring the views and the buildings Deanna said “apart from the fact that we could never afford to buy a house or own our horse, I’d love to live in San Francisco.” I felt much the same way–I love cities and how so much goes on in such a little space. Chicago is where most of my family is from and through my many visits I’ve never gotten tired of exploring anywhere we could go. I’ve been to Kansas City a couple of times and found SF had the same feel. We crammed an awful lot into our four days and the whole time I kept wishing we could stay on and soak everything up.

May 8, 2006

All I ever wanted

Once a month I have the vacation dream, where time stands still (or seems to stand still) and a week goes by in my dream but actually its only been a day or two. Anyone else have this phenomenon? Years ago when I’d stay with my grandparents this happened all the time–a week turned into a month and vacation became a slow narcotic rush. My dreams aren’t really about being on vacation per se but about the sensation of time dragging on in the best possible manner.

May 7, 2006

Goin' to Cali

This week Deanna and I are going to San Francisco. She won a recipe contest back in 2005 and the grand prize was round trip tix and two nights in a swanky hotel. I’ve never been to California which strikes many folks as strange. I’ve been to plenty of places but got to most of them in my car and Cali was always a bit too far away. One of my best friends from high school went to college in Claremont at Harvey Mudd but I could never afford to go see her as I was a college rich in time but poor in money. Former Madisonians Brady Potts and his charming wife Mary are out there but they live in LA and while I’d thrill to see Hollywood and all the wackiness I am at the mercy of the almighty budget. SF works out great anyway as my college pal Mary is in school at Berkeley (or “Berzerkeley” as she calls it) so we’ll get to see her. We’ve got some guide books and are taking suggestions as to what to see in our 3 days or so out there. I’m definitely going to Rhino records to pay tribute. Soren is staying with his Grandma and Grandpa while we are gone. This will be the longest we’ve been away from him in his whole life and the longest I’ve been away (Deanna went to a conference in DC last year for 5 days while I stayed home) so this is a big deal for the whole family. We all need a vacation and I know we’ll all miss each other but feel great to do something different. Being a parent is a great job but having a few days off from it will undoubtedly make things even sweeter when we all get back to our lives.

May 3, 2006


I’ve been slacking on keeping the blog up. The last two weeks were so busy: doing stuff for my record, practicing for the Forever Changes show (which went splendid and filled Mickey’s on a Sunday which rarely happens unless there’s a national holiday on Monday), recording some Matt Joyce stuff, going to work, dealing with Soren’s mystery illness (low grade virus apparently) and trying to also find time to spend with anyone who is not immediately involved in those endeavors (like Deanna). But, the blog must go on. I’m taking the week off from most things and trying to psych myself up for some recording on what would be a practice day for my and the boys.

I have a nice list of blogs that I read all the time and I should get that up here on the front page sometime soon. Folks have linked up to me and I appreciate that so over the next few days I’m gonna have the webmistress go to work and then get some actual content up here. Doing a rock opera has stirred my brain and damnit I might be putting one of my own together. Yeah yeah I don’t even have my damn other record finished and here I am already thinking to the next project or perhaps deciding to make it my current one. Anyway, more sooner rather than later!