4.30.2008

I wrote one of my notorious "silly songs" a couple of days ago, thought I'd share it with you.

THE FINGER

Well, I told my woman I loved her...and I did
From the bottom of my heart (my bleedin' heart)
I gave her hundred dollar gift cards
To Walgreens, Target & Wal-Mart (the local Wal-Mart)

But all she gave me was the finger

She could have give me a promise
She could have give me her word
She could have told me she loved me
Three words I've never heard
She could have give me her hopes and dreams
But all she ever gave me was the bird

Well I told my woman "This has got to stop"
It's got to stop!
So I found me a butcher knife...it only took one chop
(one little chop)

And all she gave me was the finger
All she gave me was the finger

She could have give me a promise
She could have give me her word
She could have told me she loved me
Three words I never heard
She could have give me her hopes and dreams
But all she ever gave me was the bird

Well, my woman divorced me...she took everything
(Every little thing)
All I've got to remember her by
Is her wedding ring (her wedding ring)

Cause all she gave me was her finger
All she left me was her finger
All she ever gave me was the finger

Music Video of the Week: Alice Cooper

You'll need to disable the music player at the top of this page before enjoying th macabre musical and lyrical stylings of Mr. Cooper
"Devil's Food"
Alice Cooper

Mozilla Firefox RULES!

I don't know what took me so long to switch to Mozilla Firefox.

I guess it was the comfort of familiarity, as I've used Internet Explorer ever since we got our forst computer in 1999. Everything was hunky dory until they "upgraded" to IE 7. It's not as if I had a choice, either, as it automatically installed itself.

Internet Explorer 7 gave me nothing but grief the entire time I used it. Not being used to tabs, it took me a little while to familiarize myself with them. I even came to like them better than opening a new window. But then I'd click on sites that automatically opened into new windows...which would have been fine, but the browser wouldn't let me close them. If I tried it would shut down everything and I'd have to restart. Whenever I'd upload a photo here I'd get the Upload window and it worked fine (usually) but I had to leave it in the control panel because if I closed it the whole she-bang would go.

Then there were the times (and there were NOT few) when I'd get error messages out of nowhere and the program would crash. It's very frustrating to lose work simply because your browser does shit like this. Or to worry about if it's going to do it.

My wife had switched to Firefox a few months back. She told me countless times that it was much better than IE. I was not convinced. I'd see Firefox load a page and it looked so different from IE's loading that I guess I convinced myself it was too different for me to mess with.

What a fool I was.

Mozilla Firefox is infinitely superior to Internet Explorer 7. Pages load faster, there are no unexpected crashes, new windows are not a problem for it. Even better, there are a bevy of add-ons you can install that make the appearance and functionality of the browser a very individual thing. For instance, I've got a toolbar that searches artists, albums, songs etc at AllMusic.com and automatically re-directs me to othe corresponding page on the website. That is as cool as it gets, IMO!

I don't know if the IE7 issues were on my end. I do know that we've heard several similar complaints from many people. It doesn't matter. I'll never use IE again.

changes

You may notice a couple of changes here at the ole blog.

I've changed the name to "()"...it's another Sigur Ros reference, this time to their 3rd album (the previous blog name was 'a good start', which is the translation of "Aegeatis Byrjun", the band's second record).

The other major change is the location of the Project Playlist music player, which is now on top of the page instead of the bottom. I didn't want to do it, but I noticed that, when using Firefox, the music didn't start playing until you got down to the area of the page where the player is. I always wanted the music to play for the duration of my reader's visits, and this was the only way I could think of to do it. If I weren't so happy with how it added to the overall Sigur Ros theme I would have just gotten rid of it.

No new changes in the foreseeable future.

4.29.2008

Not a whole lot of time to post this evening. I'm looking forward to a piano concert from my son.

I've been recording in the "one track method" the last couple of days. The results are varied, but at least there are results. I've put a couple of them on MySpace and more on Soundclick...the links are in the "I ME MINE" section to the left on this page.

4.28.2008

Well, here we go...another day to screw around with the acid program. But things are a little different now. I have given up on usking it as if it were a really nice multi-track studio (which is sad, because that's exactly what it's meant to be). It is too frustrating when the tracks won't slign proerly.

That's okay, though. It'll have to be. Now I'm using it as if it were a digital cassette recorder. Just like I used to record song ideas in the old days, only instead of work tapes I'll have "work mp3s".

Actually it will be much better than the ancient cassette method. I'll be able to use moderate effects, like reverb and just enough digital delay to get an "echo" sound. I can equalize the track, balance out the highs and lows. I can multi-track, using ather effects and panning, to give the song a more "full" aspect. It's easier to click and delete screw-ups than it is to rewind a cassette player to just the right spot to and record over them. One of the best advantages it has is that I can record for a long time, letting the ideas come to me, and afterwards I can sift for the good ones, cut them out and make an mp3 of them, then delete all the crap.

It won't be quite as fun as doubling vocals, overdubbing, inserting harmony vocals and doing extra guitar parts, but it will be enjoyable nevertheless. It will yield more actual songs, in a rough demo form, than the other method. Actually the people who asked me to record and post my songs wanted simple guitar/vocal arrangements, anyway. I guess that's part of my "style". At least that's how it's perceived.

In other news, I began reading Dean Koontz's "Intensity" a couple of days ago. I've not liked what I've read by him in the past, but there have only been a couple. My mother-in-law gave us a huge box of books and there were 5 or 6 Koontz novels in the lot. I figured it would be a good time to give the guy another chance. After all, he is one of the most popular authors in the country. Maybe there's something about him that I'm missing.

I am only about 80 pages into it, but I can already tell you I'm not going to change my low opinion of the man's work. It's like a B grade movie where the action comes from out of nowhere much too soon. You hardly know any of the characters at all when the psychopathic fly-eating killer begins his twisted, perverted handiwork. Sometimes it seems like Koontz is treading on territory that he's crossed countless times and is very likely bored with. "Let's see, how can we make a murder victim stand out from the rest? Oh, I know! Let's have the killer sew his eyes and mouth shut with a needle and some thread! That'll creep 'em out!" But it doesn't. It just comes off like he's just seen the movie "Seven".

As I said, I've only barely started reading the book, so there is the chance that it will pick up steam at some point. I'll see it through to the end. It wouldn't be the first shitty book I've read just because I wanted to see if an author appealed to my tastes the way they do the mass reading public (James Patterson's loathesome "Cross").

4.27.2008

I don't know why I haven't listened to all the rare archival concert recordings on Wolfgang's Vault...but that has changed now as it has finally dawned upon me that I can record them onto CD with my component burner. If I weren't quickly approaching senility I would have made that realization a long time ago.

As a result I have embarked upon amassing a voluminous collection of high quality concert discs. Last night I burned an AWESOME Psychedelic Furs show from 1981. Nothing but material from the first two albums. Duncan Kilburn's sax work is so good, surely he quit the group and was not kicked out. Those guys would have bee utter fools to have fired him, as he was so integral to their sound at the time,

Right now I am burning a concert from 1978 by Peter Gabriel. He was promoting his second album at the time. Still doing his own take on progressive rock, he had not yet delved into the world music styling that would turn him into an internationally recognized superstar. This show is is loaded with tracks from the first album which, surprisingly, fit in very nicely with the more stripped-down material from the second.

There is one problem I've encountered burning the Gabriel concert. It's my CD burner that is the culprit. It's got this stupid feature where it makes it's own track separation based on sound levels. In other words, if there is a silence (or a even a very, very low level of sound) that lasts longer than 6 or 7 seconds, a new track will begin, so if your silence or low sound continues for another 6-7 seconds it will do it again...and again...and again until the sound level becomes constant again. When there are gaps between songs in concert recordings, when the crowd settle in and quietens down, you get useless tracks. For example, on this recording I'm doing right now there have been 16 songs so far. But there are...get this...FORTY-SIX TRACKS!!! It's no big deal if you want to hear the concert from start to finish. However, it is a major pain-in-the-ass if you want to hear individual tracks, and making track lists is EXTREMELY difficult.

It's one of the most useless features there could be on a component burner. Honestly, I cannot fathom a reason for it. There is no way to disable it, either. I can't complain about anything else about this burner (the Sony RCD-W1). I have owned it for 7 years. It has burned at least 3000 CDs and is still kicking (knock wood). I've always had luck with Sony products and this is no exception. But I didn't know about this "automatic track separator" when I bought it. I very well may have purchased a different model and maybe even another brand.

4.26.2008

:(

I am discouraged. Mightily so.

Of course, I wasn't able to tear myself away from the Acid studio, like I said I would. I was so happy with how things were turning out. I wasn't sure how I'd done it, but the kinks in the program seemed to be worked out. I spent way too much time playing with it, but I was getting results.

So I had big plans for today. I'd done about as much as I wanted to do on "The Wait". Even the take that I thought was unusable turned out sounding halfway decent. I had another song I wanted to record this afternoon, called "Your Letter". It's another one that a couple of my friends enjoy.

I even bought a new set of strings and changed out the old ones. I was determined that the next few projects I started would sound as good as possible, and new strings would definitely contribute to that. I once read, in "Musician" magazine, that you should never record anything without new strings. I am sure that's good advice, but it's not as if I can afford to drop eight bucks every time my strings get dirty. But the ones I had on there were certainly in need of replacements.

I set everything up and settled in for a fun day in the studio.

At first things seemed to be fine as far as the recording program went. The screw-ups were my own. I couldn't nail the song and was dissatisfied with every single take. After a few hours with no luck, I took a break, hoping to come back to it with a fresh perspective.

I decided to put "Your Letter" on the back-burner temporarily. I might have come back to it later this evening. Then again, I might not, as I started another one, "Zen Song", and I may well have worked it up decently. But then the program started giving me problems. The same synchronization issues as I had a couple of days ago. I tried rendering 3 tracks into a new wav file and using it as a foundation. This seemed to work Thursday. Not today, though. I made several attempts with absolutely no luck whatsoever.

6 hours into the session and I gave up. It makes me mad that I can't fix the problem. It makes me mad that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Most of all, it makes me mad that all the songs I wanted to record over the next several weeks will have to wait until the issues are all resolved. Who knows when that will be? I don't have a clue what to do and I don't know anyone who could help me.

Maybe I'll check to see if there is a tech support number I can call. But it won't be any time soon. I am disgusted with the whole thing. I'm ready to take a long break. I know, I know. I said I was ready a couple of days ago. This time I mean it.

At least I got a new set of strings...

4.25.2008

become a vegetarian: you won't miss these

When our Pomeranian was so sick a couple of months ago we were told that he could not have any more "people food". Of course, I realize that the general consensus amongst veterinarians is that animals should not eat "people food" regardless of their medical condition. And yet, who can resist tossing a tasty morsel from your plate to a begging canine? Doesn't the Bible say something about dogs eating the crumbs that fall from their masters tables? Does the vet know better than God Almighty what's fine and proper for beasties to eat? (ha!)

But what could we do? The little bugger simply would not eat dog food of any kind. We tried 'em all with no luck. So we figured it might be okay to let him eat regular meat. We couldn''t afford to spend too much, though. We came up with the idea of giving him Vienna Sausages.

He loved them. They were his basic sustenance until his health improved and he started eating dog food again. Now he gets one as a treat whenever he does something especially deserving.

Which is the long way of arriving to my very succinct point:

These morsels are vile. I can't believe I actually ate them when I was a kid. Texture, flavor, odor...they all make me want to vomit.

Yet, as gross as Vienna Sausages are, the pure nastiness of Potted Meat Food Product is on such a grand scale that mere words fail to describe it. No doubt it is a necessity that the makers of this wretched can of "product" must include the word "FOOD" in it's name.

We were going to supplement our dog's Vienna Sausage diet with this stuff, to give a little variety to his diet. It's cheap...like 25 cents a can (which should tip you off as to the "supply and demand" of Potted Meat Food Product).

But get this! He took one whiff of it and backed away as fast as he could! He wouldn't touch it! Everyone who owns a dog can tell you that they are not above eating some pretty disgusting things. Ours is no exception. But he won't eat this shit!

I don't even want to dredge up any potential memories of eating this Meat Food in my youth. The mere thought that I might have fills me with nausea. I probably did. I deny it. I HAVE TO.

It's a safe bet that most people who have ever heard of Potted Meat Food Product are also familiar with it's mouth-watering concoction of ingredients. Just to remind you, and to warn any potential lucky soul who is ignorant of the "poor man's Spam Spread", here they are:

Mechanically Separated Chicken, Beef Tripe, Partially Defatted Cooked Pork Fatty Tissue, Beef Hearts, Partially Defatted Cooked Beef Fatty Tissue, Water, Salt, Less Than 2 Percent Mustard, Natural Flavorings, Dried Garlic, Vinegar, Dextrose, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

Yummy!

More recording

Yesterday's recording session...

First off, I converted the version of "The Wait" from Wednesday into mp3 and wav files. Soon I'll delete all the other files that were used in the making of it. Clear up some hard drive so I can do other stuff.

I tried to resolve the metronome and pick issues. As for the metronome, there must be something wrong with my program (or maybe I just don't know what I'm doing), but if you record a track with the metronome, any other track you may add to it will not be in sync with it. Even if you take the metronome out and just play with the bare track, it's still off kilter. I tried moving the envelopes. No luck. So that takes care of that.

Then there's the problem of learning how to play better with a guitar pick. I found that I am able to play nice adornment parts quite well using a pick. But I can't strum for shit. Never could. To be honest, I think this may be a case of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks. It wouldn't be a problem if I had an electric acoustic where I could tweak the EQ before it even goes into the board. That, and a nice, shiny, new set of strings. That would do the trick.

Anyway, I tried doing it the conventional way for a couple of hours before I realized I was getting nowhere. So I scrapped the idea of working up the song the way a "real" producer would have done it. I decided that I would just record the song straight into one track and if that was all that came out of it I would be satisfied. I figured that I'm only really doing this to get these songs onto a CD, to make mp3 files out of them to share with friends who aren't looking for sonic perfection. It's the song, I decided, and surely I could make this one microphone sound as good as the cheap-ass cassette recorders I used when I originally wrote them. So what if this method is limiting in many ways. I ain't turning it in to any record labels for distribution (not that I would be adverse to such a situation, but I'm realistic about what I do).

I recorded the song in the manner which I have described. I was actually quite pleased with the performance. Both the vocal part AND the guitar line were significantly better than the prior attempt. Though I tried to put some ornamental guitar work on the thing, I wasn't happy with it. I wound up only recording back-up vocals. They sound good, though. I took a lot of time adjusting levels on those tracks, but it was necessary, and well worth it. I also recorded some backing vocal "padding" for choruses. I spent a couple of hours on these, and thought they were going to be great. But the levels didn't sound right to me. I rendered them to a new track and tried to adjust the over-all volume. Still, I wasn't happy. So I buried them down very low into the mix. You can still hear them, and it does sound pretty good, but for the amount of work I invested in them...well, it should have been a lot better.

I uploaded the song to both MySpace and Soundclick. I was glad it wasn't so long that MySpace wouldn't let it through (the last few projects I've done are too lengthy to upload there). So, all who read this are welcome to listen. I think it's a good song, as far as lyrics and music go. I don't mind the vocal performance, though I admit I'm not too much of a singer. Whatever. Judge for yourselves. I'm pretty sure it will be the last you'll hear from me, in mp3 format, at least, in a long time.

Thanks!


"THE WAIT"

I have waited patiently, of patience I am made
Many years have washed away the bitterness and hate
But I don't understand it yet
I can't forgive and just forget
Now nothing you can say or do could make up for the wait

The world has kept on turning since you burned mine to the ground
And I have stopped pretending what I've lost will ever be found
But I can't comprehend the fact
You are never coming back
It's something I've accepted but the wait still brings me down

You took away my sunny day and left me here
With the little things that kill
A paper bag of broken promise,
Some photographs
And a bottle of your pills

So I will wait patiently, of patience I am made
And if I never hear your voice again
I'll call it a fair trade
For the dreams I stole away from you
I squandered in a day or two
And wasted on a memory that's left me here to wait
Wasted on a memory that's left me here to wait
I'm wasted on a memory that's left me now to the wait




©2008 James Arthur Casey All Rights Reserved.

4.24.2008

yesterday's recording session ("The Wait")

It was only yesterday when I said I was going to take a break from recording on the Acid Studio. Yesterday morning, wasn't it?

Alas, I was not able to resist. I decided to try to commit one of my "old standards" to digital audio. "The Wait" is a song that a couple of my friends really like, so part of the reason I want to record it is to let them have a copy. They've wanted one for a long time, and my goal is to put together at least a CDs worth of these songs that they've enjoyed over the years. I guess it's sort of a "legacy" kind of thing.

I thought it might be helpful to me if I did an analysis of what's good with the progress I made yesterday. And what's bad, too, of course, as I don't think I'll be keeping the version I finished with. Instead, I think I'll render yesterday's work into mp3 and wav files, just so I can look back and say "here's the 'Anthology' stuff!" (ha).

First of all, one of my main problems is equipment. The microphone I'm using is the kind that is for Playstation 2 games and communicating online. It's a good little mic for those things, and it's really not all that bad for this kind of amateur recording. But what I need is a studio microphone. Even a cheap model would suffice.

Next, I'm using that mic to record an acoustic guitar that has no electric pick-ups. I'm sure there are many musicians out there who prefer to go straight to mic, but I'm not one of them. I don't like to worry about staying in exactly the same place from the time the "record" button is pushed till the end of the song. It seems so restricting to me. Plus, I think you get a better sound when the signal is run directly into the board.

The only other thing that I really had going against me was the fact that I was doing it alone (though there are definitely benefits to this, as well). I had to reach over, click the mouse to stop, delete the track and click start again to begin recording. This may not sound like such a big deal, but I generally need a lot of takes to get a track "right" (to my own standards), so all that clicking and moving out of the position I've got to be in is a hassle. If only I had someone to do just that. I'd save a good 5 minutes per hour.

The mixing process with the Acid program is a lot of fun. You can fix just about anything that goes wrong, if you have the time. Say, for instance, you bump the microphone while doing a guitar part.You can enlarge the track view so much that you can actually see where the glitch is, then you can go in and erase it, with fades on both sides, to the point where it is completely erased. Of course, there will be a very, very , very tiny drop-out, but you are likely going to record a second guitar part anyway, which will completely mask it. The purpose, to get rid of the intrusive "pop", is accomplished.

You can also adjust the volume level of individual pieces of sound. For example, let's say I've got a vocal track but some of the lines are a little bit louder than the others. Maybe too loud for what you have in mind. Just isolate the problematic line, adjust the volume of that line (it doesn't affect the over-all volume of the track), and VOILA! I only wish I could throw in separate effects on these "lines". Who knows, maybe you can. I have no doubt that there are a lot of things I have yet to learn on this program.

So, yesterday's track overview:

TRACK 1: Original guitar line. Used a pick. No metronome ( the tempo is a bit jerky, though not as bad as I usually am. I don't like metronomes. I can't seem to find the right groove using backing rhythm tracks. This is not a problem when I play bass guitar, but I've always had trouble with rhythm on acoustic guitar. I used minimal EQ, hoping I'd be able to flesh it out with double tracking. Panned mid-left.

TRACK 2: Original guitar line doubled, using different EQ and an effect. I can't even recall, at the moment, what effect it was. I think it might have been a stereo chorus. I don't like to use too much of that particular effect because I think it sounds cheesy if you go overboard. If it makes your guitar sound like a 12-string, that's as much as it needs to do. Panned about 75% left.

TRACK 3: Second guitar part. Used fingers instead of pick, which turns out not to be such a great idea. First off, there's no way I can use this style without my hand hitting the pick-guard several times. Even the lightest tap comes through loud and clear in the recording. I spent a good hour (at least) erasing these annoying "pops". Plus, the sound, as compared to what you get when you use a pick, is extremely muddled. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I had new strings on the guitar (I should have bought new strings a long time ago). It's hard to EQ. This part turned out pretty well, considering the rhythmic eccentricities. I panned it about mid-right.

TRACK 4: Second guitar part doubled with different EQ and effects. I think this one used a reverb. I do this double-tracking in hopes that it will beef up my cheap-ass guitar sound, and it seems to do the trick---at least until you start piling on other stuff. Then it just sounds like too much. When I re-do the song today I will depend entirely upon equalization to achieve a good guitar sound. I will do more than one guitar part, and I'll use different effects on these, but I NOT going to double track. Panned about 75% to the right (do you detect a pattern there? ha!)

TRACK 5: I don't know the exact word for what it is...the closest I can come up with is "guitar adornment". Not a lead line, just some pretty fills. I had the most fun recording this part. It sounded very good within the song itself, but unfortunately, when the vocals were recorded, a lot of it got buried beneath them. I didn't think about this until after I was pretty much through with it. The sections where it can be heard before or after a singing line are quite beautiful. But next time I do it I will be sure and wait until the vocal line is on there. I couldn't tell you. without looking, where this track is panned.

TRACK 6: Vocals. This is one of the reasons I don't want to keep this version. I don't want to go in and record a whole second vocal track then pick and choose what I can use, then mix the two tracks together. I would do that if I weren't so disappointed with tracks 1-4 (and the main problem with those is rhythm, so maybe that's the root cause, in a roundabout way. for all these issues). I don't want to give the impression that the vocals here were no good. In fact, some of them were excellent. But the first two lines, especially, are off key just a hair. Spoils the whole thing for me.

Okay, I suppose I should get to it. Two big changes, and I don't know which is going to be harder for me.

Number 1...I've GOT to use a pick. I have always used my fingers. For me there is a lot more that can be done with fingers. I have developed my own finger picking style over the years (not consciously, I might add), so it's not easy to switch from that to a pick. I'm gonna have to learn, though, if I ever want to see progress with these recordings.

Number 2...METRONOME. Even if it takes me weeks to get comfortable with one of these suckers, I have got to do it. I have absolutely no choice in the matter. One of my friends tells me that me erratic sense of rhythm is an endearing aspect of my performance. So well it may be, but it makes recording so difficult, I don't see how I can continue without some sort of backing track.

Okay. Lessons learned. More to come. Here goes nothin'!

4.23.2008

Music Video of the Week: Gojira

Be sure to disable the music player at the bottom of the page before attempting to enjoy this video.
"To Sirius"
Gojira

4.22.2008

I tried to start recording another song this morning. I've had absolutely no luck with it whatsoever. I'm not happy with the foundational guitar line. I'm having all kinds of synchronizational problems with the other tracks. It's very discouraging. Perhaps it's time to go on an extended sabbatical from the Acid studio. Come back to it with renewed vigour in a month or two. Find some other things to keep me occupied. That shouldn't be too hard, should it?

I think I'll start by watching one of the mindless movies I rented yesterday. "Charlie's Angels", can you believe it? I saw a bit of it on the TV a couple of days ago and I said to myself, "My oh my, but that Drew Barrymore is fine. I think I want to see some more of this. I'll have to rent it soon."

And that's exactly what I did.

Drew, I'm coming, baby. Don't go nowhere, I'll be there directly.

We drove from Shawnee, Oklahoma to Denver Colorado for no other reason than to see Sigur Ros live. That's ten hours on the road.

If I could, I would do it again. It was, by far, the best concert I've ever been to.

New song: "Shaman's Offering"

Well, progress on the new song is coming along relatively nicely. Yesterday afternoon I listened to it and felt like I was probably wasting my time. You know, you work hard for a few hours and you think you've got something that you wouldn't mind other people hearing...then you play it back and realize just how much more you need to do with it.

I spent several hours recording and mixing throughout the evening...now I can say that I don't mind showing it to anyone who might want to listen. I would, however, want that person to know that it is still in it's infancy. I'll no doubt add a lot more to it. But I think it's best to give it a little time to germinate before diving back in...or at least before uploading a newer version.

Whatever the case may, I would be honored if you listened to it.

Well, I've looked through all the records anf the books upon your shelves
And I have decided that you and no one else could understand me
Could understand the things that make me who I am
And I wonder what you'd do if you knew what I was thinking
That I've been sinking in a liquid sea of love
Since I first saw you
You're the one I'm dreaming of
Sacred woman, shamed and beaten
Shaman's offering refused
And it all comes back to you
It always comes right back to you girl
As if my whole world's revolving around you
And all I'd do to make you happy
Maybe in this life could I wish for such a balance
Ah, you simply take my breath away
And I won't miss it
Sacred woman, shamed and beaten
Shaman's offering refused
Graven image, blamed and beaten
Like a shaman's offering



©2008 James Arthur Casey All rights reserved.

4.21.2008

"To Dance With Mary"

Without going into any damning details, I must confess that I spent most of yesterday with Mary. I do well without her most of the time. I don't feel like I need her. Certainly not the way I needed her before. She doesn't have me wrapped around her finger anymore. I've come to a place in my life where I can just take her or leave her, and it's all my doing this time around. I won't be her slave.

And yet, when I see her...when I just happen to run into her...I can't help myself. Those old feelings rise within me. I can't help but say "yes" when she asks if I want to dance. Nothing in the world, that I know of, is as blissful as the way Mary dances when she's in the mood. No. she's not always in that mood. But even then she dances like an angel.

All the talk of freedom and independence from Mary's grasp, but yesterday I made it a point to run into her. I arranged it, as I knew exactly where she would be. She always waits for me there and I think she's happy to see me every 3-4 weeks. That's about how long I can make it without her. That might sound like she still holds some sway in my life, but the difference is that I'M the one calling the shots now.

I called 'em at about 2:30 pm. She was hesitant, probably a little upset that my visits have been less frequent lately. I was not worried. She was just as glad to see me as I was her. Maybe even more so. She offered me her hand as the music began to play soft, low and psychedelic.

Her dance had begun.

All the clutter in my mind melted away like snow in the sunlight. The stuffing in my brain plucked like tiny wads of cotton candy in a child's hand. She loaned me the key to my soul's cell door and let me frolic outside for a couple of hours in the fresh, sweet, herb-scented air. She saw me in ecstasy. She watched my inhibitions shed as if they were an old, dirty coat. She saw me running towards a cliff, too wasted to see it coming, and she caught hold of me. She saved my life.

Then she reminded me of how many times she'd saved my life in our days together. Of course, I could not argue with that. She'd pulled me up from abysmal depths of despair so many times I wouldn't want to try and count them. She'd opened a window to the world that proved to me, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that my understanding of reality was flawed and without purpose.

I owed her a lot, it's true.

But it took me a long time to see the truth. Her love was depraved. Behind every beautiful experience we had together she was sucking the life out of me. She was turning a knife that she'd stuck into my heart. I didn't even know it was there. She was borrowing my thoughts, taking them out of my head, fucking with them, then cramming them back in. I didn't mind, but the morning after was a haze of exhaustion and headaches.

Her love was selfish. In the end, after all the flattery's euphoria dwindled to an ember, she simply did not give a shit about me. It wasn't even about dominance or submission. She needed nothing of me. Her gifts, as well as her curses, were bestowed upon me without the slightest regard for any power they might give her. She didn't care about power. She didn't seem to care about anything at all. That didn't stop her, though, from giving away a mixture of pain and pleasure, a strange alchemy she was proficient with.

All that. All that and more. And there we were, dancing again, in a smoke filled room on a warm April afternoon. All those life-changing memories...Every slice of enlightenment...The curve of her body nestled in mine, arms entwined, holding on to each other for dear life...Her musky perfume intoxicating me...Her eyes a window not to her's, but to my own soul...

Twisting the knife, sucking the life, she asked, "More?"

I wanted to say "no". I NEEDED to say "no".

But it was no good. I knew I would never refuse her completely.

"Someday," I replied.

"Soon?"

"Maybe. Probably." I said, with a slight bit of resignation. "I don't think I'll ever be able to avoid you for long."

She grinned, an impish grin. "So it is, my darling. So it has been and so it shall be. Until the day you have no more left to give. Until the day you will be unable to take any more from me. A long time from today, though. So tell me you love me. Don't let me see you walking out the door, or I'll follow. I won't be able to help myself."

"I do, darling Maria. I do love you. Turn away now. Turn away."

This morning I woke up feeling like someone had bludgeoned me with steel pipes the night before.

4.20.2008

recording session

Just came back from Tecumseh. Another recording session with Jeff. Although the recording rarely gets done, since we have a tendency to shoot the shit as soon as I get there. Today was a little different...we did try to record a couple of songs. The first one was accidentally erased. I never went back to that one ("Lord of the Flies"). Instead I decided to try an oldie written in the late 90s when I was jamming around with Baldi. It's called "You and Me". It has a subtle Nick Drake sound to it. But luck be not with us, and I was never satisfied with what we put down. So we scratched that one, too.

Basically I came home with abslolutely nothing to show for 4 hours of recording. Thank God I'm using a home studio...I would never be able to afford a professional one, what with all the screw-ups and the (often mistaken) assurance that "I can do that one better."

Nevertheless, I did have a good time.

I was late getting around, though, because my attention had become diverted by a song I was mixing on the Acid Music program. No matter how I try, once I get started there's just no getting me off. It's too much fun. I experiment with vocal samples and I never know what it's going to sound like till I play it back. Sometimes it yields strikingly nice results.

I'll post a link to it when I get it done and uploaded to SoundClick.

4.19.2008

I can't get enough of this shit

Yet another survey, the publication of which is indicative of my inability to write something worth a shit this morning.

Have you ever licked the back of a CD to try to get it to work?
Does that work? I'll have to try that sometime. I've licked other things to get them to work, but never a CD.

What's the largest age difference between yourself and someone you’ve dated?
17 years...but there was no such thing as "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" back then.
I'M KIDDING, PEOPLE.

Ever been in a car wreck?
Yes I have. It's a fucking wonder I'm still alive. I vowed afterwards that I would change my ways and make a new start. So I found a connection and that was the start of my 15 year addiction to cocaine.

Were you popular in high school?
Yes, I was popular. I was very popular with the kids who liked to throw rocks at other classmates. I was popular with teachers who enjoyed belittling their students.

Have you ever been on a blind date?
Yes, and her impaired vision worked greatly to my advantage.

Are looks important?
They seem to be very important to 95% of the girls with whom I've wanted to establish a relationship with. Every single one of them politely declined, and I don't think it was because of my charming personality.

Do you have any friends that you've known for 10 years or more??
Yes. I even know where some of them are buried.

By what age would you like to be married?
The Messianic Age.

Does the number of people a person's slept with affect your view of them?
Yes and no. Yes, I like a gal with a lot of experience under her belt (so to say). No, it does not affect my view of them. If they're butt-ugly I do not care how much nookie they've had over the years. Ha.

Have you ever made a mistake?
Every time I fill out one of these surveys I feel like I'm making a mistake.

Are you a good tipper?
All the advice I give is good.

What's the most you have spent for a haircut?
75 cents.

Have you ever had a crush on a teacher?
Only if you replace the words "crush on" with "passionate, steamy sexual relations with"...

Have you ever peed in public?
It all depends on how one defines the word "public". I would never piss in the church sanctuary, but I'll let 'er fly at City Hall .

What song do you want played at your funeral?
I'll be serious with this one. I will make a CD compilation of Sigur Ros songs that I will request be played at my funeral. Told ya how much I love 'em. didn't I?

Would you tell your parents if you were gay?
Why wouldn't I? I still want Christmas presents and a place at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

What would your last meal be before getting executed?
Probably something exotic so I could say I've eaten it once in my life.

Beatles or Stones?
Ah...the age old choice. The hardest decision some people ever have to make in their lives. For sheer cultural impact as well as festive music you'd have to be a fool not to go with the Beatles. That said, I think I'd rather listen to "Sticky Fingers" and "Exile on Main Street" than any Beatles album.

If you had to pick one person on earth to die, who?
What the fuck kind of question is that?
Bugs Bunny, how about that?

Beer, wine or hard liquor?
Yes.

Do you have any phobias?
I have a terrible fear of someone beaning me in the noggin with a pickaxe. I try not to think about it too much, though.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope to procure food and drink to meet my nutritional needs. I plan on being a pretty good guy (and I plan on forgiving myself immediately if that turns out to be an impossibility). I plan on putting together a Sigur Ros compilation for my funeral. I plan on having a funeral. I plan on reading a lot of inconsequential Dragonlance books that will not expand my knowledge one iota. I plan on hooking up and getting down. I plan on being socially active, insomuch as it benefits me and is not too difficult a proposition. I plan on kicking the ass of anyone who gets in my way. I plan on being the one to end each and every shit-talking session and I plan on ending it in a violent manner. I plan on outrunning John Law. I plan on destroying every shred of moral integrity that I've amassed in the last 45 years. I plan on attending a Bon Jovi concert and pelting him with rotten tomatoes. I also plan on shooting Richie Sambora with a poison dart while I'm there (make it worth the price of the ticket, babee). I plan on spontaneously combusting just to prove that it really happens. I plan on inventing a conspiracy theory that will cause the downfall of the Ming dynasty. I plan on breeding a strain of rattlesnake whose venom will cure cancer and AIDS (or at the very least will get you real, real high). I plan on spending 2 or 3 minutes reflecting upon all the positive, helpful things I've done in my life. I plan on spending a couple of days reflecting on all the pain and misery I've caused myself and others in my life. I plan on instigating a new hobby that will test the limits of my capacity to survive numerous battles with several illegal narcotics. I plan on losing one of those battles (after which I plan to hear some sweet Sigur Ros tuneage from the comfort of a cheaply made coffin).

Do you walk around the house naked?
Yes. But not in my own house.

If you were an animal what would you be?
I like Hippos. And ferrets.

Hair color you like on someone you're dating?
Piss yellow with stripes of shit brown.

Would you rather be blind or deaf?
Neither. I have to choose? I'm an "all or nothing at all" kind of guy.

Do you have any special talents?
Many of my peers tell me I'm a boring individual. I consider that to be a talent, even if it's not a rare one.

What do you do as soon as you walk in the house?
Take off my clothes and yell, "Hi-Ho Silver, away!!!" Then I shoot up all the mirrors with a 6 gun.

Do you like horror or comedy?
My life is an equal combination of both. I wouldn't want to choose.

Are you missing anyone?
I miss every single one of the people who ever gave me free drugs over the years. I'm hoping they'll come back soon, generosity intact.

If you weren't straight, what person of the same sex would you do?
I'm crooked. I don't want to "DO" anyone. That wouldn't be nice, would it?

Where do you want to live when you are old?
On the other side of time and space.

Who is the person you can count on the most?
That vampire on Sesame Street. I think his name is The Count. That son-of-a-bitch knows his numbers, lemme tell ya.

If you could date any celebrity past or present, who would it be?
The cast of "Army Brat" (on a double date with the cast from "Brat Force").

What did you dream last night?
An extremely disturbing vision of resurrection and spaghetti.

What is your favorite sport to watch?
The sport I like to watch the most is the hare/turtle race.

Are you named after anyone?
I think I got my last name from my mom and dad...but I'm not sure.

What is your favorite alcoholic drink?
70% Isopropyl. Scope mouthwash comes in a close second.

Non alcoholic drink?
Anything that mixes well with alcohol.

Have you ever been in love?
Never.

Do you sing in the shower?
You bet I do. My favorite song to sing in the shower is called "My God, My Penis Is Shrinking".

Have you ever been arrested?
Only once. Take my advice, kids...I don't care how much a certain teacher gets on your nerves or gives you failing grades...don't kill their kitties.

What is your favorite Holiday?
I like Ground Hog Day a lot.

Would you ever get plastic surgery?
I am of the unswerving opinion that unwarranted plastic surgery is an offense to the living God.

Have you ever caught a fish?
Once.

That's it? What a strange way to end such a wildly amusing survey.

No surprises: the XXX survey

Time to kill again... Here it is, ladies and gentlemen:

THE XXX SURVEY!

Are you wearing underwear?
Actually I am. I found a clean pair and said, "Holy Moly let's DO THIS!"


If so, what style and color?
White boxers with two or three stains of unidentifiable color on the back side.

Is breast size truly important to you?
You're talking about mine, right? No? Good. So, is breast size important to me? It all depends on the breast size of the gal who's offering them to me, if you get what I'm sayin'. I ain't particular in a real-life situation, you know?

Is penis size truly important to you?
It is important to me that the size of my penis not hurt anyone. Sometimes that just cannot be helped, as there are a lot of women in the world who simply cannot accommodate the incredible length and massive girth of my reproductive limb. It's also very important to me that I not be responsible for size-related complexes that develop in men who accidentally catch a glimpse of my armadillo while using the urinals at the theater.

How long did your 1st time last?
When you take into consideration all the time I spent seducing my long-term girlfriend, the intense foreplay session and the bitter regret expressed by both parties at my refusal to wear a condom...oh, my best guess would be...about one minute.


Have you ever had sex (including oral) with someone out of pity?
No, though there were a few girls I had sex with who were pitiful. There was at least one who, I'm positive, had sex with ME out of pity. However, she was singing a different tune after the deal went down.


Where is the oddest place you've had sex?
In the parking lot of a Sonic drive-in. The shit really hit the fan when the car-hop brought my food to me. I was alone, after all.


Where would you like to have sex that you never have?
On the set of a big-time porn movie production, in the scene where the male lead accidentally walks into the girls dressing room and the whole women's basketball team...well, you get the idea.

Have you ever had a 3some?
Does "me" "myself" and "I" count as a threesome? No? Well, in that case I've only been involved in one 3some. It was awesome, but it paled in comparison to the 24some I was part of in the early 80s.

Would you ever consider a 3some?
I would consider a 3some...and yet, to "consider" is a long way from a 3some actually coming down the pike, isn't it?

Have you had sex in the living room?
They don't call it a "living room" for nothing, eh? HARDY HAR HAAR HARDY HAR HAR HAR HARDY HARDY HAR HARDY HAR...no, never in the living room. At least not since we had our son.

Have you had sex in the bathroom?
I LOVE having sex in bathrooms. Especially dirty, smelly bathrooms like the ones you find in 3rd rate truck stops. There's something I think is very erotic about the smell of molding shit festering in a toilet bowl that has been used for at least a month after it has stopped working. Furthermore, those condom machines on the wall are SO convenient.

Have you had sex in the kitchen?
Oh, yes, and I'll never forget it. Neither will the cooks at Pizza Hut.


Have you had sex in the dining room?
Sure. The waitresses said, "Why should the cooks have all the fun?" Not only the waitresses but also the majority of the people who were there for the lunch buffet gave me a standing ovation (although a few did find it offensive and left).

Have you had sex in someone Else's bed?
Sure. Grandma was pissed off that I didn't clean up afterwards.

Have you had sex in a vehicle?
Cars...trains...planes...helicopters...trolleys...the subway...Army tanks...sailboats...warships...submarines...hovercraft...flying saucers...snowmobiles...lunar landing modules...you name it, I've had sex in it.

What kind of music do you like to listen to during sex?
Anything that distracts me just enough to improve my endurance but not so intrusive as to take my mind off of the task at hand. Contemporary Christan Praise and Worship music seems to do the trick.

What is the most times you've had sex in 1 day?
In my younger days I could masturbate 6 or 7 times a day for many days in a row, until the pain of soreness ended the spree. Recovery time was always speedy in those days (as irritated skin has a tendency to heal faster at an early age). As for how many times I have been able to throw a hump at a bird in one day...if memory serves, I once took it to the limit 4 times in one 24 hour period of time. I barely escaped a divorce when my wife found out about the 4th one.

Hot and passionate or fun and goofy?
Why not hot and fun? Why not passionate and goofy? Why not just one and none of the others? Or maybe some other combinations...Passionate and grateful-to-be-geitting-any, maybe? Goofy and soon-to-be-rejected? Hot and bitching about the broke down air conditioner? Fun and lucky?

4.18.2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

WHOOPEE!

"Beowulf"

FINALLY got around to watching "Beowulf" last night.

Everyone who told me anything about it said that once you got into the film you would forget that it was CGI. And that's exactly how it was. It was really quite astonishing. "Final Fantasy" is the only other all-CGI movie I've ever watched, and "Beowulf" flat out kicks it's ass.

In 1985 I had a premonition that computers would do these kinds of things. I also thought that certain creations would become fan favorites, gaining something like "star status". Back then I thought that would be cool, because there were things these graphic animated characters could do that real actors couldn't. But now, with CGI used in regular movies I see that it can do everything with a real actor than could be done with an animation.

Regardless, it's amazing how far film-making has progressed even in the last 25 years.

4.17.2008

Reflecting on the 45th, preparing for the 46th

Today is the last day of my 45th year. A good time to reflect upon the last 364 days.

The first thing to be said is that it was in no way as bad as the preceeding year. Shit happened in my 44th year that rank in the top 5 of "worst experiences of my life". So, even if the last one may have had it's share of low points, it could not get a whole lot lower than that year. So, with that in mind, I continue.

It started out very good. In June I received a favorable decision in regards to the appeal I had with the Social Security Disabilities Division. Things were looking up. Our lawyer told us we could expect benefits to begin within the next 60-90 days.

That did not happen. As a result, the rest of the year was tainted with disappointment. Especially in March, when we lost our house to foreclosure. A direct result of Social Security STILL not coming through by that time. We moved into another house, hoping that the checks will start coming before too long. If they don't, you can expect my 46th year on this planet to be even worse than the one that's ending.

Still, there were some good times. For a few months I played in a band with my brother and a couple of friends. We gigged fairly regularly, but more importantly, we did justice to the songs we performed. Audience response was positive from the start, and that's always good. I wound up having to step down and leave. It wasn't that I necessarilly wanted to, but my hearing was suffering and so were my sleep patterns (which I have to keep in check). I was able to stay in touch with the guys, though. We did a bit of recording. I'm sure we'll continue that.

One of my best friends, Mike Hardwick, who had moved to Texas a couple of years ago, came up for a visit. There were scads of people at the party. I got a chance to perform my acoustic songs for several people whose opinions I respect.

I figured out how to circumvent the "New Blogger" and had a blast re-designing this blog. My HTML skills are limited, but I learn more as I edit this page. It's the first time I've been really happy with the look and feel of my blog. As a result, I am inspired to write more. Which is just another way of saying that I had a good time with this hobby in the last few months.

Bryan continued to do well in school, and Stacie worked hard to keep an excellent grade point average. It was good to see them doing so well.

On the negative side, our dog got extremely sick, to the point where we thought he would die. But on the positive...he surprised us all by recovering. Back to the negative...he has something wrong with his vision right now. I'm hoping that things swing back to the positive for him very soon.

I realize I've blogged about much of this, and not so very long ago, either. But, hey, it's reflection time, remember?

SURELY this upcoming 46th year will hold many good things for us. Stacie will be graduating college next month. Her salary will get a good boost. And there's no way that Social Security can put things off for another year...then again, as I think I already said, if they put it off for even 3 more months the "good things" that the year may hold for us could effectively be shut down, or at the very least dumbed down.

That's all I've got to say about my 45th year. As for the remainder of the day, I plan to spend it OFF of the computer. :)

4.16.2008

Just came back from a bit of blog surfing. The VAST majority of Blogger blogs I came across were in a language other than English. Now, I've already had my say on this a month or two ago, and I don't feel like going into it again. I guess it's cool to look at all the photos from faraway lands...but I would rather read someone's thoughts and opinions.

Our dog has got problems again. A little over a month ago he was so sick that we really didn't think he was going to pull through. That lasted for at least a week. But he bounced back remarkably.

But recently I noticed that he seemed to be unaware of his surroundings. We thought it might just be that we've moved into another house and he hadn't acclimated himself to it. Then he seemed to have difficulty getting down the porch steps when I'd take him out to "do his duty". Within a couple of days he was very nearly running into things directly in front of him.

His eyes had been cloudy for some time, I had noticed. Lately, though, milkiness looked a bit darker. My wife looked some stuff up on the Internet and found an article which suggested that it could be an issue related to his thyroid. He's a diabetic and already takes medicine for his thyroid, so we thought it was a safe bet to assume that this was the case. We wanted to be so, at least, because if the article was right, the malady was curable. I hate that his vision is as impaired as it seems to be.

We took him to our vet. Immediately he said the problem was cataracts. He barely looked at the dog...either his suspicion was strong or he was too lazy to actually examine him. That was his verdict. Now, this is the guy who basically said it would be a miracle if our dog lived through the last illness. So I don't know. I'm really not sure that I trust him on this one. We're going to take him to the vet in Chandler for a second opinion. I HOPE HOPE HOPE he gives us encouraging news. If that turns out to be the case, we will never go to the other vet again.

It breaks my heart to see him like this, especially after what he went through a couple of months ago. I don't know what we will have to do if he goes totally blind. That is what will happen if it actually is cataracts. I can't imagine how we'd take care of him in such a situation, and we certainly can't afford to have surgery done...

Music Video of the Week: A Certain Ratio

You'll need to disable the music player at the bottom of the page before enjoying this, the ever popular Music Video of the Week.

"Forced Laugh"
A Certain Ratio

new art

Some new stuff...



The books make the man

It's been said, and I believe it to be true, that you can tell a lot about a man by the books on his shelves. If I see a copy of "Mein Kempf" placed prominently in the top row of a person's bookshelf...well, you get the idea.

So, with that in mind, here are the contents of the two main bookcases in our house. All of the titles are mine, as my wife doesn't do much reading outside of the textbooks required for her college classes. There are other bookshelves in the house, but these are the ones that are displayed.

Top shelf in bedroom...

~~~ "The American Story"
~~~ "Literature of the Western World (Volume 2)"
~~~ "The Heath Anthology of American Literature (Volume 2)"
~~~ "The Science Fiction Century"
~~~ "The Book of Bebb" by Frederick Buechner
~~~ "The Oxford Book of Short Stories"
~~~ "The Fantasy Hall of Fame"
~~~ "Isis Unveiled (Part One: Science)" by H.P. Blavatsky
~~~ "Isis Unveiled (Part Two: Theology)" by H.P. Blavatsky
~~~ "The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul"
~~~ Webster's New World College Dictionary

Middle shelf in bedroom...

~~~ "Western Civilization" (Volumes 1 & 2)
~~~ "Asimov's Guide to Science and Discovery" by Isaac Asimov
~~~ "Philosophy: The Power of Ideas"
~~~ "The Old Testament Story"
~~~ "A Survey of the New Testament"
~~~ "The Religion Book" by Jim Willis
~~~ "The New 'Evidence That Demands a Verdict'" by Josh MacDowell
~~~ "The Secret Teachings of Jesus: Four Gnostic Gospels"
~~~ New American Bible (Official Catholic Version)
~~~ "Messy Spirituality" by Michael Yaconelli
~~~ "Christianity For Modern Pagans: Pascal's Pensees" by Peter Kreeft
~~~ The Upanishads
~~~ The Urantia Book
~~~ ...a CD case filled with CDs recorded from XM77 "Audio Visions"

Bottom shelf of bedroom...

~~~ Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series, volumes 1-10
~~~ Bullfinch's Mythology

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


Top shelf in office...

~~~ "Adventures in Appeciation"
~~~ "Adventures in American Literature"
~~~ "Adventures in English Literature' (Heritage and Laureate editions)
~~~ The Iliad of Homer
~~~ "Elements of Literature 5"
~~~ "American Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing"
~~~ "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo
~~~ "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran
~~~ The Complete Novels of Jane Austin
~~~ "Jazz: The Rough Guide"
~~~ "Classical Music: The Rough Guide"
~~~ "The World of Twentieth Century Music" by David Ewen

Second shelf in office...

~~~ "Springsteen: Point Blank" by Christopher Sanford
~~~ "Revolution in the Head: The Beatles Records and the Sixties" by Ian McDonald
~~~ "The DeCapo Book of Rock and Roll Writing"
~~~ "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" by Carl Jung
~~~ "The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" by Alan Watts
~~~ "The Enjoyment of Music" by Joseph Machlis
~~~ Alternative Rock (Third Ear Essential Listening Companion)
~~~ "The Only Dance There Is" by Ram Dass
~~~ "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass
~~~ "Journals" by Kurt Cobain
~~~ "Backstreets (Springsteen: the Man and His Music)" by Charles Cross

3rd shelf in office...

~~~ "Operation Shylock" by Philip Roth
~~~ "The Counterlife" by Philip Roth
~~~ "Zuckerman Unbound" by Philip Roth
~~~ "Bech is Back" by John Updike
~~~ "Licks of Love" by John Updike
~~~ "Couples" by John Updike
~~~ "S" by John Updike
~~~ "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman
~~~ Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
~~~ "The Viking Portable Library: James Joyce"
~~~ "The Norton Scores" (volumes 1 & 2)
~~~ "Images of the Human: The Philosophy of the Human Person in a Religious Context"
~~~ "Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy"
~~~ "Man Ray: the Rigour of Imagination" by Arturo Schwarz

Bottom shelf in office...

a selection of various yearbooks from the schools attended by family, and a couple of scrapbooks that belong to my wife

4.15.2008



HEAD


Probably the first of the really great bands I was part of was HEAD. My brother, Charles, was our drummer. Gregg Dobbs played guitar. I was the bassist, the vocalist and the man primarilly responsible for the songwriting.

I'd wanted to call the project "Head Found Under a Bed". I got that from a work of art by Man Ray. I liked it's surreal quality and I also thought that a band name of that length would set us apart from all the typical one and two word names. The other guys weren't quite as enthusiastic about that idea, but they did like the "Head" part. It worked well on many different levels, not the least of which was a tip of the hat to the cult classic Monkees movie of the same name.

HEAD was a re-union of sorts. The three of us had played together in the early 80's. Back then we called ourselves Nine Stories. Later we changed it to Little America (after I became entirely fixated with R.E.M.), but we broke up not too long after. This was the first group I'd ever been in that concentrated on originals just as much as cover versions.

We took the same approach with HEAD. The main difference was that we only did a scant few covers. The songs we wrote ourselves were the ones that our audiences seemed to like best. With maybe one exception...they always seemed to go bananas when we played the old Kiss song, "Cold Gin". Other than that, I can only remember doing one other rendition of someone else's song...Nick Drake's "Place To Be".

HEAD played out quite a bit, mainly at Kelly's in Norman. Once we played a fundraiser for NORML. I didn't even use marijuana at the time. It was a lot of fun, though. Those NORML folks are a hoot.

The apex of our short career came when we were asked to open for the legendary British band Echo & the Bunnymen. We were first on a three band bill along with former Chainsaw Kittens frontman Tyson Meade, who was doing an all acoustic set.

The two things I remember the most about that night were:

Tyson's set didn't go over all that well. I'm not sure why, unless it was a matter of the audience gathered for the Bunnymen were clueless as to his status in the local music scene. Or it could have been that they simply weren't impressed with the lacklustre tone of his performance. These people were there to hear electric music. A guy sitting down playing acoustic guitar in between two full-on rock bands just doesn't cut it (trust me, I know this from experience).

The other thing I fondly recall was the appreciation our band recieved from the crowd. There were people lined up on the floor directly in front of us. They were really getting into the music, I could see it in the look on their faces. And the applause, of course. It seemed that the majority of those in attendance were impressed with us. Which was no small accomplishment for an opening act.

At some point, after we'd been together for about a year, I decided that we needed a drummer with a more "alternative sensibility". My brother was a fantastic drummer, but at the time I felt that he was more from the "classic rock/John Bonham school. Looking back on it now I can see what a fool I was...not only did he have more of an "alternative sensibility" than I gave him credit for, it turned out that his style was integral to HEAD's sound. It became painfully evident very shortly after we brought in the new drummer.

Gregg, though he kept it to himself, was pissed at this development. I don't know if he was more angry with me for dumping Charles or for the bullying manner in which I did it. It wasn't exactly a democratic move. Likely it was both of these things that irritated him. With good cause, I might add. I've been an asshole on many occasions in my life, but I don't think I've ever been such a big one as I was back then.

And so, HEAD was history. What a bummer.

Charles wouldn't speak to me for a long time. I couldn't blame him. I can't remember what Dobbs wound up doing after we broke up. I breezed through a succession of shitty bands, making a little money every now and then.

But eventually we all gravitated back together. First in a country cover band, WinterFire, and then back to the original 3 piece line-up for King Tongue (photos of which were posted here a few days ago). King Tongue was much more of a money-making cover act than HEAD ever was. But we did write a few more songs in that incarnation. A couple of them are as good as the old stuff...


HEAD know a bargain when they see one.
Left to Right: James Arthur Casey (vocals, bass), Charles Casey (drums), Gregg Dobbs (guitar)

It's BLAIR TIME again...



My Linda Blair obsession has been temporarilly revitalized by spending not a small amount of time admiring the awesome film stills at the Starman Archive. See for yourself. It's time for all of us old-school Blair-heads to fall in love all over again. :)

LINDA BLAIR on "Night Patrol"

LINDA BLAIR in "Roller Boogie"

LINDA BLAIR on the Wayne Brady Show

LINDA BLAIR photographic biography


4.14.2008

Mr. Rogers prank call

Everyone loves a good prank call now and then, I don't care HOW old you are. My 13 year old son is particullarly enamored of them, and he showed me this one yesterday. You have to admit it's funny...

(Be sure and turn off the music player at the bottom of this page before clicking on the video)

Days of JOHNNY BRAVO

November, 1993, and I had just been unceremoniously kicked out of a band that I thought was going on to great things. Gregg Dobbs, our guitar player, who wouldn't have even had the gig were it not for my efforts, called me on Thanksgiving eve and told me that I was history. Moreover, he was staying with them. It was sort of a double whammy, and I'm not sure which upset me more...that they'd given me the boot after I'd spent a year with them promoting a CD I wasn't even on, or that Gregg wanted to continue with them, as opposed to further collaborations with yours truly. In the end, none of it mattered, because the band broke up and were quietly ushered into the halls of obscurity by an apathetic public.

It was a harsh blow for me, but fortunately luck was on it's way.

Two guys who I barely knew, Mike Christian and Mike Hardwick, approached me about the possibility of forming a band (I can even remember where I was at the time...at a Subway restaurant). They had already recruited drummer Randy Hayes (who had just vacated his slot in the locally popular cover band Warren Peace). Now they were in the market for a bass player/songwriter. They'd seen me perform with my old band, Head, and I guess they were sufficiently impressed to seek me out and offer me the gig.

I had nothing to lose. Regardless of how good or bad the project might turn out, it had to be better than moping around feeling sorry for myself, pissed off at a bunch of guys who, if they cared anything at all about me, would have told me to my face, "Hey, you're fired."

So I enthusiastically accepted the offer. Within a week we were writing new material and polishing it. This band was not going to be like the dime-a-dozen all-cover bands that infested the state. We weren't in it to make money (necessarilly), so we didn't have to do that. We set out to produce and perform unique, original music...with maybe one or two covers thrown in the mix.

It didn't take very long until we had a good 10-12 songs written. GOOD songs. Certainly not what you'd expect from 4 guys who had only been in a band together for about a month. In fact, I'd say that the compositions I worked on with Mike, Mike and Randy were some of the very best I've ever been involved in.

Choosing a name was a trial. It's been like that in every band I've ever been a part of. It's really stupid, if you sit down and think about it. Everyone thinks they have a perfect name, but none of the other bandmembers like it. Round and round it goes, names suggested, names rejected. But though I say it was "a trial", it wasn't nearly as bad as it was with the other bands I've been in. When we decided on our name we were all 100% on the same page. We loved it:

JOHNNY BRAVO.


What the name meant was supposed to be kept secret. Most of the younger folks who came to our shows had no idea that Johnny Bravo was the name Greg Brady assumed when he left all of the other Brady kids to embark upon his (short lived) solo music career. But the secret was not kept for too long, as Mike Christian, who was our singer, informed entire crowds of it's epitomology during performances. But so what? We didn't care. Back then we were all too stoned to care about much of anything outside of the band (and getting stoned again).

Our band developed a small cult following in the area, but we didn't go as far with it as we would have liked to (or as far as we were, no doubt, capable of taking it). My bipolar kicked in and I wound up in the hospital. When I got out I was so rattled that I could barely play my bass guitar. We tried to get the groove back, but it was no use. I have to give those guys credit...I probably would have given up hope if I'd been in their shoes. Soon I was avoiding rehearsals. The inevitable finally arrived and Randy made the decision to leave. He'd had an offer to hook up with Warren Peace again, and he took them up on it. I would have done the same thing, had I been in his shoes.

So, with that, Johnny Bravo took the long road home.


Until about a year later, just before Mike and Mike were to move back to Texas (from which they originally hailed). They didn't want to leave Oklahoma without a decent document of the material we had written as a band.

So funds were raised and calls were made. Next thing you know the four of us are together in a nice studio, laying down tracks for about twelve of our songs. By that time I had been able to fully recover from the aftershocks of my episode, so I was back in fine form.

The sessions went amazingly well, as we all missed playing together. We came at it with an extremely fresh approach, a result of the year of inactivity. The resulting album's worth of songs was stellar. We were all happy with it.

But alas, Mike and Mike (they were always referred to in that manner: Mike and Mike) were on their way to Texas. No turning back now even if they wanted to. So we parted company once again.

Who knows why, but eventually they gravitated back up to Oklahoma. I was overjoyed at this, even though there was no way the band could reform (too much going on with Randy, too much distance between me and them, etc.) . All that mattered was that these guys, who had become the best friends I've ever had in my life, were close enough to visit and, on occassion, jam with.

Randy eventually graduated from a Sound Engineering class at Rose State. His final project, the one that would determine his grade, was to re-master and produce the material from the Johnny Bravo sessions. He did a great job and we all have a CD to remember it all by. Who knows why, but we changed our name at some point between all of that. And so we are now fondly remembered as Jimbo & the Festives. Back in the early Johnny Bravo days we used to use the word "Festive" a lot. If something was very good, it was "festive". If the times were high, then it was "festive". The word was used so much that I thought it would be a funny inside joke to use it as the band's new name.

I would love to write, record and perform some more with these guys. But it doesn't look like that will be happening any time in the near future. Hardwick has moved back to Texas (again), Hayes is married and settled down, Christian is involved in two or three bands, and me...oh, I'm just getting old. The old fire has ebbed somewhat and I'm content to bask in the pleasant memories.

Johnny Bravo 1994, Left to Right: Mike Hardwick (guitar)...James Arthur Casey (bass)...Mike Christian (vocals)...Randy Hayes (drums)


You can hear some of Johnny Bravo's music (and a lot of my other crap as well) at SOUNDCLICK.

4.13.2008

Mighty #63



Ah, the seventh grade football team of 1975 (that's me, four from the right on the second row). The only reason I was on the team was because a couple of my good friends had decided to join that year. I wasn't so sure I had what it took to play, but I figured if Richard Shreves could do it, anyone could (he left the team after that first season, just like I did). Plus, I got tired of being called a "dud".

You see, the coaches were a cruel lot. Those of us in their P.E. class who didn't play football were tagged with the less-than-respectable moniker of "dud". Can you imagine that? If a P.E. teacher did something like that today he would be fired and likely sued by the student's parents. But this was the mid 70's and a LOT of stuff went on back then that would never fly in this day and age.

I played defensive tackle, and I did not play it very well. Football was not a sport my dad encouraged me to participate in. I never watched it on TV (never really watched ANY sports, for that matter). So, as a result, I had no idea what I was doing. I barely knew the rules of the game. Hit the guy in front of me and get hit back, that was my understanding of the position in it's totality. Who knows, maybe that IS all there is to it...I still don't know.

The strongest memory I have of the whole experience was also the worst.

You see, the coach practically never put me in the line-up at the games. He had better defensive tackles. That was just fine with me. I was happy to hang out with my buddies (who never seemed to get put in, either). Then, during the last game of the season, he decided to let me play. Apparently he called for me to get out on the field. I say "apparently" because I sure never heard him. Which means that I DID NOT join my teammates on the field, leaving a huge gap for the offensive tackle on the other team to exploit to his advantage. Which he did, and our opponents won the game.



I got bitched out by the coach, of course. But that wasn't NEARLY as bad as the bus ride home, with everyone on the team pissed at me.

I was glad it was the last game of the season. The last game of my aborted career in football, as well.

4.12.2008

"The Carnival"

"The Carnival" (words and music by J Arthur Casey)

The carnival's in town and all the carnys, like parasites, infest this little town 'round this time every year
And they ride their dirty bicycles on sidewalks and menace senior citizens with their guitars and their acoustic punk rock songs

And every little town they see as a freak show
Of ordinary simple-minded folks
Who discard them with looks from down their noses
Knowing well their sons could be the next to go

The carnival's in town and all the high school boys have got their high school sweethearts on their arms
And their hoping for a miracle but they're settling for a "goodnight kiss"
As they turn away and walk home in the dark

The silence is deafening and the darkness is blinding
And it's sprawled across the fairgrounds like a corpse
And the children have all gone home
And the carnys sleep alone
All sprawled across the fairgrounds like a corpse

In every little town there is a tavern
Where the people congregate to hear the news
Tonight the conversation's of the carnys
And the problems they's been having with a few

So the owners told the carnys they could sleep in all day Sunday
If they'd get that fucker tore down in the middle of the night
They said the mayor's done come 'round, don't want this bastard in his town
He says this carnival gets ugly when you see it in the light

And the barkers are silent now
And the spotlights have all gone out
And it's sprawled across the fairground like a corpse
Now the children have all gone home
And the carnys all sleep alone...

The carnival's in town.
Life is a freak show.
The carnival's in town.

May 11, 1997

Warning: Monthly Sigur Ros adoration located within this post

I have GOT to get away from this computer. That's all there is to it.

I received a comment from a kind soul who has also been doing the MySpace Karaoke thing...this anonymous poster let me know that there is a key change option on the recorder. You may recall that I was bitching and moaning about so many of the songs being out of my range. I looked and looked and still could not find a key changer. Finally I spotted it. I had been under the impression that the slide bar on the far right was a music level fader. But lo and behold, it was the ever elusive key changer. So, thank you to whoever it was that clued me in.

Using that handy function I was able to throw down a nice version of the Stone's "Brown Sugar". That one was a lot of fun to do and it doesn't sound half bad...at least in regards to the music/vocal mix. I put in a little quip about how the song is not the most "politically correct" number that Mick Jagger ever wrote. And then, at the end, there's a part about how Jagger is a "chick magnet", and how I can't figure that out, seeing as how "he's not exactly one of the most attractive people in the world." The website is a ton of fun, but it's unbelievable how fast the hours pass when you're on it.

The rest of this day has been spent doing a re-mix of Sigur Ros' "Glosoli" on the Acid 7.0 Music Studio. I had the idea a few months back to merge some of their songs into one...that concept flopped, as it should have been apparent that the time signatures and keys would likely not fit together. The project I'm working on now utilyzes my voice to add slight harmony aspects and ambience to the song. I know that a lot of what the band does is a variation of the same thing, ie. Jonsi's voice is used as an instrument not only in the way you'd expect from a singer, but also in other unorthodox styles, using loops, sequencing, pitch shifting and other methods. I thought perhaps I could work up something that would add to the over-all ethereal quality of the song. So far I'm really happy with it, though it looks like it will turn into a long-term project. It wouldn't be the first time a random idea grew into a time-eating monster.

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a way I could let the band hear it? Maybe see what they think? Oh, I know...that's much too much to wish for. But I'll say this...I would be proud to show it to them. I think I do a good job on it because their music has become a part of me. Just yesterday I was watching the performance of "Untitled 8" from the "Heima" disc. I've heard that song at least a hundred times, and yet it still blows me away. The live version is simply incredible, with the string quartet's sustained notes providing a gorgeous backdrop to the electricity of the band.

Having spent so much time with "Heima" I must say that I am truly impressed with Amiina, the string quartet who have been playing with Sigur Ros for the past few years. They have a couple of albums available, and they are both in prominent postitions on my "wish list".

And I also realized, hearing the seamless merging of strings and electric instruments that these guys have produced sonething that can truly be likened to classical music in all it's grace and subtlety. I have always been a fan of prog-rock and what has always been known as "classical rock"...but when you put all that stuff up against what Sigur Ros is doing you quickly realize that the most it has ever done is try to fuse some generally accepted understanding of what classical music is with the trappings of a rock sound. The result rarely sounds anything like classical music OR rock. Sigur Ros, on the other hand, aren't trying to combine anything. Yet the music they make succeeds in conjuring a classical sensiblility. I could cite several examples here, but I'd rather let you buy the albums and see for yourself (if, that is, you care for such things).

In short, they make the most beautiful music I have ever heard in my 45 years (46 here in about a week).

Okay, that's my monthly Sigur Ros adoration rant.

I wound up not going to OKC last night. The reason I gave Redd was that I couldn't afford the gas to get there. And that is the truth. But I just didn't feel up to the journey. I was tired. I got up too early and by the time 5:00 o'clock came around I didn't have it in me to make the trip. Then he told me that Bobo had cancelled, too. Lisle probably wouldn't be there, either, because he was nursing a banged-up knee. Big D had already renigged, and it was a good bet that the Big Man wouldn't show. I guess we all bailed...and I do feel bad about that...it seems like every time we plan to congregate a few from the old Festive crew, something comes up and the whole thing goes straight down the toilet.

I would really enjoy a full-on Festives reunion. Warty, Redd, Capital, Big D, the Big Man, T-Bone, Gunner, Jack...aww, man, that would be one helluva party, let me assure you of that. But the odds of that happening in any of our lifetimes are as slim as they get. But, oh, the memories. What a phenomenally cool bunch of guys to call friends (did you notice that they all have nicknames? Just like some kind of grade school boys club. Mine, by the way, is Jimbo).

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: "All of This and Nothing" by the Psychedelic Furs. It's one of the best career retrospectives that has ever been released. Of course, they only had a couple of big hits, but whoever assembled this album had a good understanding of what they were about and what songs best conveyed it. I've loved the Furs since the first album...actually, since the first single, which I bought as an import. It came out before the American release of their self-titled debut. "We Love You" b/w "Pulse". I thought both of those songs were awesome. I immediately bought the album when it came out. Every song is great. I liked the way vocalist Richard Butler sounded like a cross between David Bowie and Johnny Rotten. And I also loved the way Duncan Kilburn's alto saxophone set it apart from just about any other band doing this sort of music. I was so disappointed when Kilburn left the band...I really didn't think they had much of a future after that. But they wound up making a couple more excellent albums. For months after "Talk Talk Talk" came out you could see me driving around town in my dad's yellow Ford Maverick singing along to that record from start to finish (then over again). That car didn't even have a stereo in it. I toted a boombox around for the sole purpose of listening to music on the road. There wasn't a single song on that whole album that I didn't love. Especially the side closers, "She Is Mine" and "All of This and Nothing". Those songs alone made it worth all the time and trouble it took to record the vinyl LP onto a TDK cassette tape so I could cruise with it.