It was a chilly ride in. Although it will get up into the 60s today, it was only in the high 30s when I left the house on my cruiser bike. On the bright side, my later than usual departure meant I did not have much car traffic to contend with. There is only a brief stretch of my commute that is annoying due to oblivious and/or entitled automobile commuters, but it is still nice when it is bereft of cars.
I listened to my iPod biking in. I have a good mix of tunes on it for bike commuting – uptempo, energetic songs.
Other than a cup of coffee with almond milk, I didn’t eat any breakfast this morning, but I did get a protein rich salad at the salad bar at work. Hopefully that will tide me over until I bike commute home this evening. Tonight, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE is going to do a bit of recording in my basement home studio, mainly laying down a click and some scratch instrument tracks.
I am in the "comfort room" at work, reclining in the easy chair that's in here. They offer this little room to employees so they can decompress or destress or even pump breast milk (yes, some people don't mark their Outlook room reservations "private").
I'm using it to stretch my legs a bit before I head home from work, which is right...MEOW!
Sunday came awfully fast this weekend.
On Saturday night, I went to the Madison Area Music Awards finalists party where my punk rock band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE made the finals for category of Best Punk Rock Performer. Yea! I was surprised our song, "I Like Your Hat," did not make the finals for Best Song category, but whatcha gonna do?
Today (Sunday) from noon to 4 I hosted a cult film chill n grill at my house. It was a chilly day and we grilled, then we watched "A Mighty Wind."
After that, I had band practice with Rita Witter Band and then we migrated to Funk's Pub in Fitchburg for the open jam. That's where I am now.
Friday night I mainly chilled but I helped my friend Wendy move a couch out of her condo and had a couple of beers with my buddy Stefan "down the pub." The pub was the Flying Hound near Wendy's condo. Not a bad place but the scenery was not that great. It resides in a mini mall and looks out over the parking lot of a Target store. Blah.
The first is MONEY. I have the money right now, thanks to a fairly phat tax refund this year. The money is in my savings account where it will remain earmarked for the $1,300 round trip ticket to Dublin and probably that much again for lodging and meals, plus that much again for "cushion." So, if all goes well, and I do not incur any unforeseen major expenses in my life between now and mid-August, I should be well within budget.
The second is my JOB. This is a bit of a wild card, but not one that would significantly threaten my probability of cycling through Ireland on a bike in August (the 0.1% remainder on the probable certainty indicated above). If nothing at all changes with my current employment status as a contract technical writer, I am all systems go. My free agent status as a contractor has the perk of allowing me to take time off from work, albeit unpaid, to do things like that. My boss is always super cool about that kind of thing, like when I spent 2.5 weeks in Australia with my extended family last fall. Most of the costs of the trip will already have been paid by the time I suffer the immense hardship* of one week of unpaid vacation in mid-August (*Note: In no way is this a hardship...I was being facetious). This is the second best case scenario.
A slight permutation of this scenario is that I will most likely be offered full time employment status (with paid vacation and benefits, etc.) by my current employer between now and then. If this alteration of my employment status happens soon, I may start off with, or accrue, enough paid vacation (five business days) to have underwriting from THE MAN whilst I cycle tour Ireland (best case scenario). If it doesn't happen until close to my departure date, I will simply have to negotiate some pro-rated vacation against salary as part of my accepting the full time role (third best case scenario). Based on how awesome and flexible my current employer and boss have been about such things thus far, any doubts and fears about the latter job option undermining my trip to Ireland are purely irrational. In any case, I wouldn't want to work for an employer that would heartlessly deny such a character building travel experience to one of it's ranks. There is perhaps no other educational experience that empowers and self actualizes a person like international travel.
One other minor factor is my passport. I have not researched it at all, but it seems to me my Australian passport ought to work, since Ireland is a Commonwealth country. However, I need to look into that. I am sure my American passport with a visa will work too, but if I can avoid the cost associated with a visa application, all the better.
Being the borderline type A personality that I am, I naturally find myself thinking of totally irrational and unlikely "worst case scenarios." I suppose it's possible I could lose my job. That is, it is not impossible that I would. But the probability seems to lie somewhere between zero (0) and epsilon (a number slightly larger than zero), notwithstanding the current trend in Wisconsin to defund health care (my professional sector of the economy) and labor standards. It's actually kind of nice to be a private contractor in this labor-hostile, free-market friendly political climate Wisconsin is in, I am chagrined to admit. Don't get me wrong, I am totally pro-labor and economic regulation, because it's the ethically right thing to do and my job status isn't threatened by a more socialistic ideology with regard to employment and labor. But I don't ignore reality just because I don't like it (I leave that to the politicians). Suffice to say, I am geeked for this trip. I have never been to Ireland, much less biked through it, and it will be a great opportunity to exercise my amateur travel writing ambitions.
So to summarize and conclude: Yes, I am going biking in Ireland in August, as of now.
I had a decent salad for lunch at work, my only meal of the day thus far. It was all healthy fruit (mandarin orange slices) and veggies (spinach, green pepper, mushroom, cherry tomatoes), with some protein in the form of hard-boiled eggs, chick peas, and black beans.
Tonight, my punk rock band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE is going to do some pre-production studio work on some new song recordings. On my way home from work, I may score some Brussels sprouts at CostCo and boil these up for a quick meal before the band project work starts.
Here’s a backlink to a post I wrote about natural sleep aids (insomnia cures).
I am making an effort to minimize my consumption of and reaction to political rhetoric. Every individual person has a responsibility to themselves to be educated and informed about politics, cutting through the manipulative corporate mainstream media soundbites that are willfully designed to use emotion (often fear and hatred) to cloud rational judgment.
My only advice to everyone is to spend 30 to 60 seconds thinking rationally about any issue.
For example, when Jeb Bush says publicly to the corporate mainstream media that "people have a right to discriminate against gays," ask yourself, "what if I replace the word 'gays' with the word 'blacks'?"
Because it was not too long ago when in fact people did say it was OK to discriminate against black people. So consider the historical context. What will people 50 years from now think about how silly it was to discriminate based on something so stupid as your sexual orientation?
I got my new smart phone today. It was free with a two year contract from my phone service provider. It's a gmail based Samsung Galaxy S4, an upgrade from my previous phone, an S3. Thanks to Google, most of my contacts and apps automatically transferred over. That's the magic of the Internet. All I had to do was make a few tweaks to the factory presets on my phone that are annoying, like autocorrect of my typing.
I am writing this blog post on the new phone.
We got a bunch of thick wet snow in the night. At least six inches. I worked from home today, telecommuting via Internets to UW Health. I shoveled my driveway and sidewalks over lunch. I received my new Galaxy S4 phone in the afternoon and activated it. I'm typing on it now. In a few minutes, some musical colleagues will arrive at my house and we'll work on song arrangements. That's about it for my Monday.
9 AM. Wake up. Dress myself. Feed dogs and let them out. Drink coffee.
9:45 AM. Load bass guitar in my car. Pick up Stefan and carpool to GUPPY EFFECT band practice at Jon's.
10 AM - 12 PM. Rock GUPPY EFFECT tunes for Cardinal Bar set (see 4 PM) and new material.
12 - 1:30 PM. Chillax. Maybe eat.
1:30 PM. Cruise over to Capital Brewery in Middleton WI.
2 - 3 PM. Socialize with friends at Capital.
3 PM. Depart Capital Brewery for Cardinal Bar in downtown Madison.
3:30 PM. Set up small PA for show.
4 - 5 PM. GUPPY EFFECT rocks an all original semi-acoustic set of tunes for Art Nest.
5 PM. Tear down and load gear in car(s). Perhaps go get something to eat.
6 - 8 PM. Free period.
8 - 10 PM. Work on music in my basement jam space since Funk's jam is canceled for a lame reason.
The open jam at Funk's Pub is canceled tomorrow night because the Badger's college basketball team has a game that overlaps with the time frame.
Score 1 for anti-intellectualism.
Hunter S. Thompson warned us about the sports-industrial complex but no one heeded him. Now look at us...
Unbeknownst to Funk's, they may not even be able to receive the Badger game broadcast, because for whatever reason it is only being shown on TRU-TV, a cable or satellite operation, and not network TV.
Chances are good that Funk's has TRU-TV, since most credible generic sports bars do, but I kind of hope they don't as karmic retribution for canceling the jam. An irregular jam schedule at Funk's hurts long term attendance at the jam because people who come to expect a jam every week lose confidence and don't come.
So Funk's has not only advanced anti-intellectualism but also hurt their own bottom line.
If they don't have TRU-TV, they are also going to have a riot on their hands when people turn up to watch the game and can't.
Good luck, Funk's Pub, and may God have mercy upon your soul.
My punk rock band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE played our 8th and best show ever last night. My performance on rhythm guitar and backing vocals was impeccable and I had zero biffs, that I knew of. The stage mix was well balanced and clear so I could hear what my bandmates were playing. The audience was energized and appreciative and they danced and cheered, respectively. I even got rockstar parking near the venue we played at - The Frequency. It was the first show we have played where everything flowed and felt second nature so that the band could focus a bit more energy on stage presence and crowd interaction. My suit jacket was freshly laundered, dry cleaned, and pressed as well.
Before the show, I had sushi for dinner with a friend who is also a fan of EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE and associated bands in Madison. She had planned not to come to our show, citing fatigue and artistic pursuits of her own, but after dinner we got a drink at Genna's Pub a block from the Frequency and she reconsidered, probably mostly due to my class and charm (I kid...on the square). She ended up coming to the show and staying until the end.
I am remarkably tired this morning. But it is a satisfied kind of tired - the kind that comes from a tough but enjoyable job done well.
"It's pretty laid back," Sherry reassured me. "Don't sweat it."
I nodded. "I know. This is just one more way to expose myself to more people...wait, I should rephrase that...well, you know what I mean."
Lately I have had the idea to take some of my female friends out on dinner dates, not romantically, but just for fun to enjoy some good food and good company. So far it's been quite enjoyable. I took a friend out last Sunday and learned a bunch of things about her I didn't know. She even did RAGBRAI a couple years ago. Small world. I like the lack of expectation of it being anything more than a play date. I am even thinking about starting some kind of Platonic Dinner Date Club (Plate-onic...hahahaha...I slay myself!) where other friends can pare off and get to know each other one on one. I probably wouldn't be able to preclude romances happening via this club, but whatever.
But to be honest with you, my passion and motivation is in music and writing these days, so I'm not going to be able to prioritize this club any time soon. For right now, I'm just doing it on my own, but I encourage my friends to just ask someone out as a friend. Get outside the box.
I have such a date tomorrow night. We are getting sushi.
This past Sunday night, before I went to the open jam at Funk’s Pub, I sat down to rehearse some songs on bass and it was then that I realized how exhausted I was from the fantastic week I had last week.
At the prior Sunday’s Funk’s Jam, I had found a lucky penny on the floor. As you know, I am not superstitious, but I believe lucky pennies work for a lot of rational reasons. They put your mind in a positive frame of reference so you can recognize good opportunities and be more motivated to take action that improves your good fortune. Arbitrarily, I tell myself a lucky penny works for seven days.
I pocketed the lucky penny. The next day (last Monday), I received in the mail a $10 off coupon for UNO’s Pizzeria in Madison. That was unexpected. I was probably going to receive it anyway, but I attributed it to the lucky penny, since I was within the window of its beneficial effects I had defined for myself. I also took the restaurant coupon as a sign to ask a woman I recently met out for dinner, to get to know her better. She accepted, another perpetration of said penny, no doubt, and we settled on the following Sunday to meet at UNO’s. Monday night is when I also started doing a daily (actually nightly) Mini House Concert in my jam room, where I film myself playing a song on guitar, solo acoustically. That kept me up pretty late as I ironed out a few kinks in the process.
On Tuesday of last week, my rather phat Federal tax refund was direct deposited in my bank account. Again, this was going to happen anyway, but the timing could not have been better. This event covered Day 2 of the week of good fortune granted by the penny. I also had Eddie Ate Dynamite band practice on Tuesday night, which is always a positive thing. I did another Mini House Concert late on Tuesday night as well.
Wednesday through Friday of last week were unseasonably warm spring days, the first of such after a cold winter, and I was able to bike commute to work all three days. That was unexpected coincidence. Wednesday was also recycling and garbage pickup in my neighborhood, as it is every other Wednesday. Wednesday night there was a Creative Writer’s group critique session at a nearby library that I attended, even though I was pretty tired out from my two previous nights of doing Mini House Concerts. The group critiqued a very short piece I had written for my writing class. When I got home from that, I cranked out another Mini House Concert video.
Thursday I bike commuted again and had Guppy Effect band practice that night. We worked on a handful of new songs, including Roundhouse, Two Minutes or Less, The T’Baccy Song, and Peace Frog (the only non-original song of the bunch). I was pleased with the progress made on Roundhouse, a challenging original song. Drummer Jon had the smart idea to slow the tempo while we learned and mastered the various parts. Another late night Mini House Concert video rounded out Thursday night.
I bike commuted on Friday too, the best weather day of the week. That night I fired up my gas grill for the first time since fall, even though it was still partially embedded in a snow bank, and grilled some steaks for dinner. Then I took it easy Friday night after a fulfilling but exhausting week (eustress, not distress), though I did pound out another Mini House Concert.
On Saturday morning, I met my good friend Sherry for brunch at the HyVee Café near my house, before returning home to meet Tim (aka Eddie) of Eddie Ate Dynamite for our road trip up to Oshkosh WI for a gig. We loaded my Prius and carpooled up to my buddy Todd's place in Oshvegas. I won’t rehash the Oshkosh fun here, but you can read about it in this other post: http://joescoffeefix.blogspot.com/2015/03/oshkosh-road-gig.html.
In summary, Oshkosh involved Legos, a brew pub, a punk rock show, and an all you can eat pizza bar.
Tim and I cruised home in the early afternoon on Sunday. I did a few things around the house before meeting my date at UNO’s. We had a very classy date and enjoyable conversation over dinner. She’s a woman of high calibre and great taste. Definitely on my top 10 list of all time fun dates, even though it was platonic (and I have been on a lot of good dates!). I am thinking seriously about starting a Dinner Date Club where friends of the opposite sex take each other out on fun platonic dates to get better acquainted with each other and local eateries, with no expectation of romance (although romance wouldn’t be prohibited at all, if it happens...).
It was after the date, when I was practicing songs at home, that I realized how tired out I was from the week of awesome fun (and partly food coma from the pizza too, I guess). I was actually dozing off as I was playing bass riffs (but I kept playing them, even subconsciously).
My attendance at the Sunday night open jam brought the lucky penny week full circle and I slept really hard on Sunday night. Even today (Tuesday…and lucky St. Patrick’s Day, funnily enough), I am still only about 80% recovered.
Thanks for a great seven days of good fortune, lucky penny!
I got up about 9 AM today when my dog Buddy decided it was time for him to eat and go out, so he came to the side of my bed and whined a bit.
I had hoped to sleep in until 9:30 due to the fact that I stayed up pretty late last night recording a mini house concert. But I slept soundly thanks to the two herbal sleep aid pills I took before bed, so it was fine.
After I fed both dogs and let them out, I cooked myself a bison egg fritter. While that was on the stove, I shaved and showered in preparation for tonight's EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE show at the Reptile Palace in Oshkosh WI.
I dressed and gobbled down the fritter before heading over to the HyVee Cafe near my house where I met Sherry for brunch. Since I had already eaten, I just had coffee and a small bagel sandwich.
Sherry told me a horror story about a recent online dating experience and we chewed the fat for a spell. Then I had to get home to meet Eddie (aka Time) at my house for our carpool up to Oshkosh.
The road trip was uneventful and we arrived at my buddy Todd's about 2 PM. We deposited our overnight stuff at Todd's, then Tim and I headed over to the Oshkosh Public Museum (in suits) to meet the band entourage for a Lego exhibit. This was followed by dinner at Fratello's Italian Brewhaus.
We returned to Todd's and chilled out before the show. Todd, Dan, and Matt the bass player went to a nearby grocery store and scored a 30 cube of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and some of us had one before we headed to the Reptile Palace in as few cars as possible.
The show was entertaining and well received. We actually made a decent amount of money for playing at such a small venue with no cover charge.
After the show, we hit Cranky Pat's in Oshkosh for a late night pizza buffet before retiring to Todd's to sleep.
In the morning, Todd and I made a steak and egg scramble. Todd had just bought a whole bunch of new bowls and plates, so he gave me his old ones. Nice score on my part because I need new plates.
Cactus Joe performs "She Left Me for Jesus" by Hayes Carll.
I hate winter the most just after it is over, in early spring, when we get the first hints of warmth and life returning to Wisconsin.
November and December are tolerable. The really cold weather hasn't hit yet and the holidays keep me entertained and active, socializing, making food, and playing shows with my band for holiday events between Halloween and New Years. But then the holidays end...
January is only half bad. My birthday is in early January. The afterglow of the holidays carries me a couple of weeks into January, but then it gets much colder. Intolerably cold. The oppressiveness of winter starts to sink in as I realize I still have to suffer through February, the only respite from which is February Album Writing Month (FAWM), a song writing challenge that keeps me in my warm basement music studio writing songs to escape having to go outside.
By the end of February, the coldest month in Wisconsin, winter has been going on for so long that I just start to accept it in a kind of learned helplessness, almost even embracing the brutality of the cold, snow, and ice. I rationalize that shoveling snow is a workout and I am burning calories. Yea!
Then March arrives and brings a few teasing warm days. The hope that has almost faded from my heart of ever experiencing warmth again gets rekindled in the sun on those clear days in mid-March that get up into the 50s and 60s. I get outside and bike commute to work, sometimes even in shorts. I grill steaks on my back patio, even though the grill is still partly buried in a melting snow bank. I can stay outside for more than five minutes with no discomfort.
It's then that my hatred for winter and the cold rushes back, obliterating the complacent acceptance of winter I had felt in January and February. Spring will come again and I am filled with absolute glee at this realization.
I hate you winter and I can't wait until you are gone. I know you are going to linger a while and this short visit from spring is transient. But soon you won't be able to fight the warmth and sun anymore, and you'll be gone for at least six months. Six months when I will not miss you. I will rarely even think of you, except with angst and resentment.
The aroma of bar food reminded me that I had not eaten dinner and needed to remedy that.
Phil was sitting at a low table close to stage left.
“What’s up, baller?” Phil greeted me with one of his standard lines when I came over.
“Not much, good sir,” I replied. “How’s life with you?”
“Yeah, really good,” Phil said. He wore a wide-eyed deer-in-headlights expression, like he wasn’t quite sure what was going on. This was his second time to the jam, often a rather impromptu affair. “You want a drink or something, dude?” Phil put his hand on my bicep and pushed gently in the direction of the bar.
“Sure,” I said. I didn’t tell Phil that I usually drank for free at the Sunday open jams, on the tab of Mudroom’s band leader, Tyler, who was also the jam organizer. Tyler liked to reward me for hosting the Internet live stream of the jam that I ran on my laptop most weeks. “I might get a burger or something though too. I’m kinda hungry.”
We started toward the bar.
The zombies attacked with almost no warning. We were about half way across the room. I had just noticed my friend Ruby sitting at the bar waving to get my attention when I saw her smile dissolve into abject terror. Simultaneously, the large glass windows that lined the exterior of Funk’s Pub all seemed to explode inwards at the same time, and dozens of undead began spilling through the window frames, moaning as they got their bearings and began targeting their human victims.
Instinctively, I placed my right hand to my lower back. Though I knew my Colt revolver was there, the familiar lump under my shirt was reassuring as I sprang into action.
“Over the bar!” I yelled at Phil. Ruby was already scrambling over. She seemed to know the drill.
I looked at Mitch the bartender and he gave me the nod as he reached under the bar and pulled out an aluminum baseball bat and a couple of ice picks. Phil and I ran up to the bar and hurdled it, landing beside Ruby and Mitch on the far side. Zombies were poor at navigating barriers and usually too weak to climb over, depending on how fresh they were. Eyeballing the room, it looked like a couple dozen walkers at least.
Luckily, the Sunday night jam was not a particularly well attended event. A man and a woman who had been sitting at a table near one of the windows when the hoarde crashed through had fallen to the floor and were scrambling away on hands and knees as the zombies surrounded them. One of the zombies grabbed the man by an ankle and was chomping on his shoe. It looked like a decent quality leather shoe, so I didn’t think he had been bitten, but the zombie was working its way up toward his exposed ankle. His girlfriend, if that’s what she was, still on hands and knees, was frantically pulling on the man’s forearm, trying to get him away from the beast.
As compelled as I was to see how that scene unfolded, I had to pay attention to my own surroundings and the task at hand.
Most of the zombies were drawn to the bright stage lights at the far end of the room where the members of Mudroom were putting down their instruments and scrambling to pull out weapons of their own from their gig bags. Tyler withdrew a machete from his and twirled it fancily, which seemed a bit excessive at the moment, but he was always a showman.
Matty, the bass player, had pulled a shotgun from his bag. I flailed my arms trying to get his attention, but he didn’t see me.
“No guns, Matty!” I yelled across the room. He looked over, eyebrows raised. “We don’t know how big the hoarde is outside yet.” Zombies were attracted to loud noises.
Unfortunately, my yelling was a loud noise, and this attracted six or seven of the zombies in the direction of the bar, their moans transitioning to growls as they spied prey through their grey, cloudy and lifeless eyes.
“Everyone prepped?” I inquired, taking an ice pick from Mitch and handing it to Ruby. Phil took the other one and Mitch used the aluminum baseball bat. I cracked a broom stick in half and wielded its jagged edge toward the approaching corpses.
As the zombies impacted the outside edge of the bar and extended their clutching, putrid hands toward us in hunger driven desperation, we relieved them of their brains with our handheld tools fairly expediently. Mudroom handled the dozen or so that had been stopped by the edge of the elevated stage.
Once the first wave had been taken down, we cleared the rest of the room. The man whose shoe had been the target of a zombie had managed to escape getting bitten, but unfortunately, his girlfriend had been taken by three zombies as she tried to ward off additional ones from eating her man. He was using the leg of a chair to brain the zombies devouring his girlfriend’s intestines, but his effort was half-hearted, for he knew she was dead already and would soon join the cadaverous ranks of ghouls.
We divided and conquered on the remaining ghouls.
It was one of the smelliest jams we ever had at Funk’s, with gore splattered just about everywhere and corpses all over the floor. But no apocalypse can stop rock-n-roll. The show must go on.
"What song do you want to play?" I asked Phil when it was our turn to take the stage.
"I learned Dr. Love," Phil said, referring to the song by the rock band Kiss.
"Alright, let's hit it," I said. I looked back at MG on the drums. "You all good on Dr. Love?"
The song was a disastrous train wreck. Biff central.
After we got off stage, Phil said, "Yeah man, I don't know what happened there. I thought I had that shit down, bro'!"
"Oh, no, Phil, that's cool," I said, smiling at him. "It was my fault. Because when you said you had learned the song...I thought that meant...you had actually learned the song. Haha."
I gave Phil a joshing punch in the shoulder. It was an open jam and biffs were par for the course. One might even consider the disastrous performances as part of the entertainment.
I am on a 5 day fitness kick right now, consuming low carbs, so I used will power to resist eating pie. This is not a huge accomplishment actually. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and usually if I eat sweets, my body rebels – I get head sweats and my sympathetic nervous systems kicks into overdrive, making sweet eating a not tremendously fun experience. I do like occasional sweets though, and last night I failed in my challenge by eating some Girl Scout Cookies at the writers’ workshop I attended. Thus I am redeeming myself today.
I bike commuted yesterday and today, and plan to tomorrow, since the weather is nice. In addition to my eating healthy this week, I feel like I am burning away calories at a decent pace. At the end of my challenge, tomorrow night, I will weigh myself and see how I am doing. If the results are not as promising as hoped, I will penalize myself with an extra 2 days of fitness challenge, which will include EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE’s road trip up to Oshkosh to rock a show at the Reptile Palace. Normally, I would probably have a couple of beers at such a show, but if my fitness goals do not permit it, ginger ale it will be.
I keep them short and sweet, limited to one song per night, because that doesn’t take very long to throw together in iMovie on my Mac. On the weekends, I may do longer 3-5 song mini house concerts, maybe even get my full bands involved.
Why not? I have the technology. They aren’t fancy but they are decently entertaining.
If you want to see more mini house concerts, check out cjhouseconcert.blogspot.com.
Biff move there, Joe.
Interestingly, when I brought in the mail after lunch, what should I discover but a $10 off card for Uno's Pizzeria. Now, obviously, I was probably going to receive that discount card anyway, so the two things are most probably completely independent occurrences.
Still, I can say that Day 1 of my seven days of good fortune has been a success. So let's see what tomorrow brings. Actually, I know what tomorrow will bring. My kickass punk rock band, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, is guest appearing live on the Jimmy K Radio Show. The scheduling of that pre-dates finding the lucky penny, but it still qualifies as good fortune, meeting the requirements of the lucky penny's daily good karma quota.
Last night at the Funk's Pub (Fitchburg WI) open jam, I found a lucky penny on the floor. It was a shiny one. Superstitiously speaking, a lucky penny grants one seven days of good luck. I am not superstitious, but I can make a rational case for why lucky pennies actually do work to bring a week of good luck to whoever finds one.
The short explanation is that it is a bit like the placebo effect in medicine - mind over matter. When patients are given a placebo they think is actual medicine, some report feeling better and more amazingly they even show improvement in emprically measurable clinical metrics. This is why studies of new drugs include a control group of people who receive placebo, because even if the drug itself is useless, some people will have positive effects from it and that "placebo effect" needs to be adjusted for. If the drug and placebo have the same results, the drug is no good.
This is related also to the power of positive thinking. Some say that positive thinking about things like love and money can bring you good fortune in those departments. If there is any truth to this, then it is a bit like the placebo effect. People feel more positive about their current lot in life and thus gauge their fortune to have improved, even if it really hasn't in empirical terms. It also could restructure a person's thinking to be more open and receptive to fortune-producing opportunities. For example, wishful thinking about starting a small business could become wishful DOING when the person translates their thinking into doing something pragmatic about it through positivity.
Lucky pennies can even work bi-directionally as far as cause and effect. This week, I am due to receive my fairly substantial tax refund. I was due to receive the refund irrespective of finding that shiny penny last night. But perhaps my pending good fortune restructured my thinking to be more observant for telltale signs of good fortune, such as noticing a penny on the floor of a fairly popular sports bar in town. Not at all a surprising place to find some discarded loose change. It should be noted, I actually thought it was a dime when it first caught my eye, because of its blazing shininess.
So I am certain to be observant for good fortune this week. One thing that falls in this arbitrary seven day window of luckiness is my punk rock band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE's first EVER out of town show this coming Saturday. We are heading up to Oshkosh WI to perform with a couple of other bands at the Reptile Palace, a cool rock club. I am sure it will be a fun time regardless, but due to lucky penny placebo effect, I will be having significantly more fun than usual.
In my mind at least...
EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE set for tonight
Rita Witter's band new songs
GUPPY EFFECT new songs
BABY ROCKET new songs
I fully do not expect to get to the GUPPY EFFECT or BABY ROCKET songs tonight. But that's OK, because I plan to do another 5 hour marathon starting at noon tomorrow. Rita et al will be coming over around 6 PM on Sunday to rehearse for a couple of hours and then we will head over to the Funk's Pub Sunday night open jam around 8 PM to perform a few tunes there.
Between now and noon today, I am going to finish writing this post and eat some non-traditional breakfast, a bowl of leftover vegetable stir fry and brown rice.
Music and writing are like my secondary occupations, collectively called "my art." If money were no object, my art would be my principle pursuit and I'd work 12 to 14 hours a day at it, most days. I'd start my "work" day around noon and go until midnight or 2 AM depending on if I had a late band gig or not. Calling it a work day is kind of a misnomer though, because it's not really work if you enjoy it and are good at it. It does take a lot of mental energy though. I'd spend my mornings mentally preparing for the daily artistic marathons by exercising and reading. The noon to midnight work schedule fits my diurnal rhythm a lot better than the 8 AM to 5 PM schedule at the corporate workplace, where I currently generate the "underwriting" for my art, in the form of a paycheck. I am pretty useless at my day job between 8 AM and noon, because that is my mental relaxation period, naturally.
Some people who are not serious artists and musicians have a hard time accepting artistic pursuit as real work. If you tell someone you cannot socialize with them because you have to go into work at your day job, people pretty much embrace this without question. But if you tell someone you can't socialize because you are working on music or writing, some people don't embrace that as easily. They think music is a hobby and can be set aside for other priorities.
But for me, music and writing are the main priorities. Songs don't learn themselves. Books don't write themselves. I am not a painter, but I imagine paintings don't paint themselves either. Wishful thinking isn't good enough when it comes to art, or really any passion. Only wishful doing will do.
Indeed, my day job is not even a priority. It is more of a necessary evil to provide a funding source for my art. I am lucky to have a day job that is somewhat flexible on hours, so I can work it around my music and writing priorities.
To be successful, artists need to prioritize art over just about everything, and by successful, I mean producing value art, regardless of money. If they don't prioritize art, then other things will take precedence in their lives and the art will never get done. Once you give in to procrastination, it's all over. So you must be ever vigilant against the telltale signs of procrastination.
Don't get me wrong, socializing is important and necessary. So is rest and relaxation. But these things must be used sparingly, willfully inserted into the artist's life. Spontaneity is often touted as a virtue, but for the artist, discipline is better. If an artist spontaneously gave in to every opportunity for socializing, the art would never get done. That would be a hobby. Art is not a hobby for me though. It's a second job, albeit one that pays less than the wage of a Chinese sweat shop worker (equally exhausting, but way more fun, and less chance of maiming or disfigurement...).
Some art synergizes well with socializing too, so these things do not need to be mutually exclusive. For example, when my band plays a live show for a large audience of friends and fans, it is very social. We are providing social glue to the audience with our music and after we are done playing, we can mingle and schmooze socially, often making new friends.
Well, this free flow of thoughts has been brought to you by me. It's 20 minutes until the music marathon begins at noon, so I will bid thee farewell for now, so I have time to eat.
But first, I have to take Foster to the vet for a test in the morning and then pay the exorbitant vet bill for all of Buddy's veterinary needs the past couple of weeks. It shouldn't be more than $500 or so, by my calculations. Buddy seems to be much better. The pills he is taking for Cushing's Syndrome appear to be having the desired effect. He is not eating or drinking nearly as much now.
Hey, this post was kind of like a free write. Maybe I should turn it in.
The band has released a new monthly single for March called “My Wife the Corpse” (hear it below!)
They were asked to be guests on the Jimmy K Radio Show in Madison WI on Tuesday March 10 (8:30 PM).
They have shows on March 7 (Mr. Roberts in Madison WI), March 14 (Reptile Palace in Oshkosh WI), and March 20 (Bomblastica Fest in Madison WI).
They were nominated for a Madison Area Music Award for their 12-second hit single “I Like Your Hat” (vote for it!).
The band also got “Right to Rock” legislation passed in the Wisconsin legislature.
Behind the scenes, they are working on a trifecta of new songs to perform at their upcoming shows.
So things are going great for Eddie, Teddy, Spots, and Frank!
This is the sixth and final week of my writing class. The focus is on mechanics, mainly grammar and how to format a manuscript. As such, the writing assignment is open ended – a free write. We can write whatever we want. That’s right up my alley, mainly what I do when I blog.
I plan to start my writing marathon on Friday night after work and finish it on Saturday some time. I have no idea what to write about, but I will probably brainstorm scenes for the novel or novella I have in mind about a rock-n-roll band from out space that tries to take over the world with brain numbing bland pop music, that turns its listeners into soulless zombies. Sound familiar?
My dog Buddy seems to be on the mend. The medicine he is taking for his diagnosed Cushing’s Syndrome must be working. The main thing I have noticed is that his appetite is reduced. He has always been a voracious eater, but the past few months it seemed like he could never get enough to eat. Now, he eats his food slowly, sometimes walks away from it, and often doesn’t finish it all. It may be that the medicine makes him a little queasy. He is still drinking a lot, but less than he was a week ago, and no accidents in the house (knock on wood). He also hasn’t collapsed in the last couple of days, at least not in my presence. He seems in a better mood too, more active and alert.
EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE is playing this weekend. Saturday night we are opening up for a friend’s band from Beaver Dam WI called Chances Thrown, at Mr. Roberts Bar. We have band practice tonight, in fact, to freshen up for that gig. After I finish my writing homework on Saturday, I will most likely refresh the songs once more on my own before the gig. The rest of the weekend I will focus on prepping songs for my other bands: GUPPY EFFECT, BABY ROCKET, and Rita Witter’s as-yet-unnamed band. This will probably transpire mostly on Sunday, prior to the open jam at Funk’s Pub on Sunday night.
Well, that’s about it for today. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to this blog, if you haven’t already. Just enter your email in the box up there on the right hand side. It’s free. But if you can’t SUBSCRIBE right now, feel free to make a small donation of any amount to my coffee fund. All of that funding helps to underwrite my creative writing and rock-n-roll music endeavors, the autobiographical accounts of which I will post on this blog almost daily. So it’s kind of like naming your own price for a subscription. No obligation, but if you value it, then throw a buck or two into the tip jar. It’s like when NPR has a fund drive. You don’t have to pay. You can listen and let other people do the underwriting. But if it has value, the right thing to do is throw NPR a bone. Same goes for this blog. It’s no NPR, but my writing is definitely informed by NPR, so it is therefore intelligent at the very least, and entertaining if I am doing it right.
Last night, I got to watch my country band, DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS, from the audience perspective, since our alternate bass player was on deck for the happy hour set at the High Noon Saloon from 6 to 8 PM. But at the end, they graciously let me jump up and play a couple of songs. Here is my rendition of "She Left Me for Jesus" by Hayes Carll. I like this song because it is actually kind of a true story...
At the end of this post is another video of my rendition of "Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by Kenny Rogers and First Edition.
As promised, here is the other video...
Seriously, though, and by seriously, I mean not seriously at all, I have been willfully weening myself off such posts, whose main purpose is to generate "clicks," or junk Internet traffic, to improve the site's ratings in Google and other search engines. Most of these posts, while not completely uninteresting, are quite believable and usually do not live up to the awe inspiring claims of the title.
Eventually, I think more and more people will catch onto this web scam and stop clicking through to cats that talk and dresses of some ambiguous color, when they discover they are less than satisfied by the content of the posts they find there.
But the interesting thing is how well this phenomenon illustrates operant conditioning and how humans are really driven by the same behavioral cues as every other animal. While 90% of click bait posts might be kind of mediocre at best, it only takes that 10th one to be pretty good (or at least controversial) for people to maintain the behavior of checking out EVERY click bait post they encounter. The biological basis of this is well established. In rats and dogs, and pretty much every higher animal, giving a reward for a behavior every Nth time the behavior occurs, where N is some smallish integer between 2 and 9, say, strengthens future repetition of the behavior, especially when the reward comes not every time, but rather after some random occurrence of the behavior. The animal (clicker) doesn't know when the reward will come, so they do the behavior whenever they are able to in hopes of getting a reward. The same exact behavioral cues are at work with click bait posts, and that is why advertisers use them to generate traffic to sites (notice the conspicuous and related ads on all of these sites).
So, while I know that I will be missing out on that dog that says "I love you," I am now forcing myself to ignore posts that are not explicit about their content in the title caption. I am even taking a moment to block such content from my Facebook feed when I encounter it so I don't have to see it constantly showing up there.
Anyway, I promised you revelations about "this guy" and the unbelievable things that transpired after he woke up this morning, so I won't leave you hanging.
This guy is ME!
I urinated. Then I fed the dogs, Buddy and Foster, and let them out in the yard to relieve themselves too. I gave Buddy his medicine for Cushing's Disease, which he apparently has, according to my vet. He said "thank you" to me in his special doggie way of licking the peanut butter I use to hide the pill off the spoon. If you listen closely, his slobbering tongue really does kind of sound like "thank you."
I made myself a four egg and black eyed pea frittata for breakfast and watched an episode of Blacklist on Netflix, all before noon, the time I had set to begin working on my writing homework (for which this blog post is my warm up exercise). For the next five hours or so, I will be furiously working on my homework. I have buffered in a couple extra hours if needed, but I am hoping I will be focused and efficient. That way, after dinner, I will run a few songs on bass in anticipation of the open jam at Funk's Pub tonight, and around 8 PM I will head over to Funk's and set up my laptop to run the live stream of said jam.
I should caption the live stream something like: "These random musicians got up on stage together for the first time and what happens next is AMAZING."
Actually, I think I saw that very caption on Facebook a few days ago. Weird.
Anyway, I hope my unbelievable morning was the most compelling thing you ever read, but I am pretty sure it's not. That's OK though. You'll still click on the next enthralling meme caption you see to try to find that elusive deep satisfaction that only social media surfing can bring!
P.S. The thumbnail images of a scantily clad Kim Kardashian that appear in this post are no accident. Nay! I am exploiting her glorious visage for monetary gain. Hey, I mean, isn't it about time KK did something USEFUL? Always like to facilitate empowering women...