Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Open Mics Turn Me Into A Creep

We just got back from the open mic at Brocach downtown. It was packed. Mikey broke two strings, Fry played with his usual subtle weird grace, and I gnarled and twanged the crap out of that hacked cheap Les Paul copy my old band mate Doug left here when he split for the west coast of England.
Open mics are weird. They turn me into more of an asshole than I usually am. I get bored and restless and a little bit fascist watching the performers.
It's hard to be patient and forgiving when you know what dynamics and tone could be. More often than not it's people playing too many chords and not leaving any air in the music. I got spoiled playing with Bess and with Michael, both of them understand music and that the spaces you don't fill are as important as the ones you fill up with your playing.
It's not a cheap bar to drink in. Tap beers go for five bucks or more, but they do give you one free beer if you play. It could be worse.
And sometime in the last year downtown Madison filled up with homeless people, a lot of them with brain parts missing or damaged. Tonight I saw people sleeping in front of office buildings on cardboard
All those empty buildings and houses foreclosed and we still can't find a place for the botched, bungled or just plain down and out.
So much for the myth that we're the greatest and best country in the world.

Reiki Evil! Dead Guy On A Stick God Good!

"A declaration by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine that Reiki is based on superstition and incompatible with Christian faith could force scores of U.S. congregations of women religious who run Catholic retreat centers to reevaluate programs that teach or use Reiki therapy.
It says that “a Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition, the no-man’s-land that is neither faith nor science.”
The statement says that on the medical level, Reiki is “a technique that has no scientific support — or even plausibility.”
Many women in Catholic religious orders have become Reiki masters or practitioners and regularly teach or practice Reiki therapy at their orders’ retreat facilities or spiritual centers around the country. A Web search showed scores of such U.S. centers as well as several retreat centers run by women religious in Canada offering similar programs. (National Catholic Reporter)
Shorter Version:
Your spiritual practice- evil and suspect!
Our woman hating, young -boy loving -closeted -control freak -dead guy on a stick worshiping mumbo-jumbo- is the same as science!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Black Swan Proofing The World

Nassim Taleb suggests ways to make economic life closer to our biological environment: smaller companies, richer ecology, no leverage. The risk takers of the economy should be entrepreneurs, not bankers; Companies shouls be born and die every day, without making the news.
Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world
1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail.
2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains. Whatever may need to be bailed out should be nationalised; whatever does not need a bail-out should be free, small and risk-bearing. We have managed to combine the worst of capitalism and socialism.
3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus. The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system.
4. Do not let someone making an “incentive” bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks. Odds are he would cut every corner on safety to show “profits” while claiming to be “conservative”.
5. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity. The complex economy is already a form of leverage: the leverage of efficiency.
6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning.
7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”. Be robust in the face of them.
8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains. Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is denial.
9. Economic life should be definancialised. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement.
10. Make an omelette with the broken eggs. We need to rebuild the hull with new (stronger) materials; we will have to remake the system before it does so itself.
Stolen from The Big Picture blog. Go there. Read him if you want a more realistic view of our meltdown.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blast from the Past: Old Band Poster

My old bandmate, transformed a few years back.
We had dinner the other night at Dexter's, a place on the corner of North and Johnson streets you should check out. Their beer selection rocks.
He even picked up the tab for Kori and I. And we didn't even get in fight like we used to.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not so different from us. Me, anyway

Shot in india by RedEyeRex , via BoingBoing
Slouched over, contemplative, naked, funny how much I feel like this folicle free primate sometimes.
Today I made another downpayment on the future. I planted lettuce, spinach, chard, marigolds, four kinds of sunflowers, cosmos, nastursuims and mesclun lettuce, whatever the hell that is. One row of the garden done, a whole hell of a lot more to do.
And I played music with Michael and had the first gin and tonic of the season on the deck with Ellyn.
A fine day, all in all.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

In the wind

There's some big set of changes in the wind, I can feel it coming. Not huge changes like TEOTWAWKI, otherwise known as The End Of The World As We Know It, but this really feels like one of those years where the cosmos decides to rearrange my life.
I've had a few like that. 1975, when I went off to college, leaving that tiny little township where I grew up a mile off the road, when I gave up smoking dope and went to school to learn upholstery.
In 1983 the same thing happened, my dad died and I moved to Oshkosh with an old sweetheart and got a few photography jobs.
Things stayed pretty stable for another ten years, then in one year I found myself getting the boot from my whole damn life, losing my job, partner, house, band and a bunch of friends and even my sense of who I was, and I wound up a few thousand miles away in Seattle, where I found myself cleaning houses.
I met Kori there, we had a fine first five years, but in 1999 everything changed again and we wound up moving here to Madison after another big change year.
I'm not sure what is in the wind this time, although the oncoming economic and ecological storm does color it.
I know that Micheal leaving is part of it, and last night the other trio I'm in shifted around with Tim bowing out leaves me wondering where to go.
But I also feel like there's other stuff coming, although only my monkey brain seems to have a clue what or where things are going, and it's not being too verbal.
I do know I feel like going for a long trip into the woods or out east to visit folks I haven't seen in a long time. I feel adrift and unsure for the first time in a long time about what to do or chase after. I'm never sure what to do with that feeling. Doubt and indecision are not usually something I have to deal with. I've been lucky that way in my life.

Quote of the Day: Confucius

“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember.
Involve me and I will understand.”-Confucius

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Iowa Gets It Right

Me and sweetie, not long after we met. We're the kind of people this law makes almost equal in Iowa.
This is not an abstract concept. It's our lives, and at least some folks in Iowa have the sense to realize us being married is no threat to hetero marriage.
And to my brother who claimed that the anti gay marriage amendment wouldn't effect Kori and I when it passed, I have to offer the immortal words of the guy he voted for, Dick Cheney:
You, the entire Fox Valley who votes for thugs, and all those good Christian folks who want us either back in the closet or worse, dead or in jail.
And now, a fine quote via my pal Bill:
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, from his speech, declining to attempt to reverse the Iowa Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage:
"One of my daughters was in the workplace one day, and her particular workplace at that moment in time, there were a whole bunch of conservative, older men. And those guys were talking about gay marriage. They were talking about discussions going on across the country.

And my daughter Kate, after listening for about 20 minutes, said to them: 'You guys don't understand. You've already lost. My generation doesn't care.' I think I learned something from my daughter that day, when she said that.
And I've talked with other people about it and that's what I see, Senator McKinley. I see a bunch of people that merely want to profess their love for each other, and want state law to recognize that. Is that so wrong? I don't think that's so wrong. As a matter of fact, last Friday night, I hugged my wife.
You know I've been married for 37 years. I hugged my wife. I felt like our love was just a little more meaningful last Friday night because thousands of other Iowa citizens could hug each other and have the state recognize their love for each other. No, Senator McKinley, I will not co-sponsor a leadership bill with you

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Grandpa and Grandma

Grandma's fat
grandpa's drunk
probably got bodies
in his trunk
grandma cheats at soltiare
gramps says nothing
stares into the air
smoke drifts up
through his silver grey hair
looking out at things
that just aren't there

gramps drove his car
into the lake
grandma was home bakin' a cake
skeeter and woodtick
pulled gramps out
he didn't say nothing
as he drove away

Grandma sits in the kitchen
all afternoon
drinking pabst blue ribbon
cheatin' at cards
playing solitare
won't admit her life was hard

Gramps is so distant
never says much
but he'll
burn you with a ciggarette
just a touch
never been the same
since world war one
always grumpy as hell
likes a mean sort of fun

Grandma's fat
grandpa's drunk
probably got bodies in his trunk
grandma cheats at soltiare
says nothing
stares into the air
smoke drifts up
through his silver grey hair
looking at things
that just aren't there....
Got to thinking about my grandparents tonight while playing the banjo. These lyrics popped out. And every word is true.
My grandmother loved to play Solitare. And she did it while drinking most of a six pack alot of the afternoons of the last decade of her life, often swearing at the cards and cheating while baking a pineapple upside down cake.
Gramps was a very quiet guy who really would burn you with one of the Camel unfiltered smokes he had in his hand. He'd say things like "watch me blow smoke through my eyes", then when he had your complete 9 year old attention, he'd touch his smoke to your hand. I remember going and telling mom he burned me. She said something like "you leave him alone, quit bothering him.
He was a quiet drunk, although he did now and again pick on Grandma for being too fat. He died of stroke in the early 70's. I never once missed his company.
Grandma Gert lasted till about 1974, and I still think of her often. She and I had breakfast or lunch almost every day the last few years, she lived across from the High School and Grade School I and my mother went to, and was the cook there for over 20 years. I still miss her, although I wonder how she'd feel about me being a big old dyke if she was alive today. I hope she'd be cool with it.
It wouldn't matter to Grandpa. He never seemed to notice me unless I was bothering him.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Quote of the Day: Ian Welsh

Ian's a great writer with whip smart observations. He blogs at Firedoglake and there's a link at the bottom to his own site.
He's one of the folks I wish I could write like. He rocks, go read his stuff.
"Short of the Soviet Union I wonder if there has ever been a population as saturated with propaganda and lies as the American one. Wonder how long it’ll be before such things happen in the US. Wonder if it does happen, if the SWAT teams will go in and start killing people.
Bankers lost trillions of dollars over the last 8 years due in large part to outright fraud, paying themselves billions in bonuses. Under both Bush and Obama, the response to their theft has been to give them trillions of dollars worth of money. Trillions have not been spent on helping people destroyed by the bankers greed, corruption, incompetence and theft.
If Americans continue to put up with this, they aren’t just sheep, they’re serfs."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Our Rotting Rolling Nightmare Party Barge

Here's some photos of our midlife crisis chariot.
We bought it from a nice guy who chain smoked over on the south west side of Madison for a couple thousand bucks.
It's a1987 Toyota based Seabreeze RV. It's only got 60 thousand miles on it, not much for a Toyota, but damn, I pulled at one soft spot and found an ogry of rot.
The Bob we bought it from also had imbued it with a giant ashtray atmosphere. So I started tearing out everything that seemed rotten or that I didn't like, including all the hideous particle board cabinets and the carpet where ever I could.
We left the bathroom intact, but almost everything from the windows down to the floor was delaminated.
The floor was fine, but we tore out the AC and everything but the hot water heater and are going to rebuild, put in new paneling and some hardwood flooring and very thin pine wainscotting.
We also tore out part of the cieling where the AC unit had leaked, and after a few weeks of venting it almost doesn't smell like smoke.
Now I'm mostly waiting for warmer weather to start rebuilding it.
I'll need temperatures above 50 for the adhesives to set up in the rebuilt walls.
These things are supposed to get 16 miles to the gallon, and have quite a cult following, with even a Toyota Motorhomes Forum.
Then again, in the age of the internet a lot of funky things have a cult following. After all, you're reading my lame but oddly compelling blog.

Friday, April 03, 2009

An Army of Personal Savoirs and The Guantanamo Virgin Mary

More trip photos. I found the sheer number of Mary and Jesus items down there in New Mexico rather creepifying.
I thought this statue looked like it had gotten locked up by a bunch of anti-Virgin Mary thugs.
What a fucked up concept, that Mary was a virgin, and the baby Jesus broke her hymen on the way out. Sooooo Catholic, do the time, but don't get to do the crime, and the only person good enough to push out the Holy Jesus was somebody who never got laid.

I had no idea that Jesus was such a tiny little man!

I swear, they modeled the "buddy Jesus" figure in Dogma after this version of the three nail Messiah.

Oops, I better watch what I say, there's an army of this dude who can kick my buttocks!
Thus endeth the holy photo spasam.
Praise Jebus in all his cement forms!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Too old and too late for their parent's basement

Random thought of the day:

I wonder what all the mid 20's to mid 30 year olds are going to do when they find out that not only can they not move back into mom's basement when they lose their jobs and house, but that Mom and Dad are fucked out of a pension and 401 K and they're all going to have to all live together in that single wide trailer grandma left behind? The one with the mouse problem and the rotten floor nobody's lived in for a decade?
The same folks who've always had their own apartments, never had to share a place with somebody and who've never seen a bad recession?
I've spent a summer camping in a tent and a truck camper.
I've shared a tiny house with four people and all of us are still alive. more than once.
I could to either again, or even build my own shack, one much nicer than the unabombers.
But a lot of people are going to be having some fun adjustment times to come.

Repo Man Sequel: Repo Chick

Miller: A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.
Otto: You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?

FYI, Alex Cox, director of Repo Man is filimg a sequel to Repo Man called Repo Chick, only this time he's including houses and lots of other items in his new movie.
Repo Man was one of my favorite 80's movies. Go rent it, punk.

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson