10.31.2015

Happy Halloween and Congrats to You!

I have to congratulate you. You made it to Halloween 2015, surviving some 4+ billion years of pretty brutal evolution by natural selection.

It's a sure thing that many of your ancestors had some close calls with death before they were able to "get the girl" and transmit their genes (some of which are now your genes) into the future.

So actually, I should be congratulating your genes. Without these microscopic symbionts that inhabit every cell in your body (except blood cells), there would be no you...no fun.

In fact, though, there actually is no you. You are just a fully (or mostly) functional "cyborg" infrastructure for your genes. You're a Gene Borg, fully assimilated and all the parts coordinating your collective awesomeness.

Your genes should be congratulating you, and themselves, because you are you because of their effing teamwork. Granted, team playing is one of the things selected for by natural selection. The organisms whose genes were too selfish and uncooperative weren't able to leap to safety. They didn't make it, taken down by a hoarde of better team players.

But even if there is no you, per se, only your well oiled genetic housing complex, congratulations and Happy Halloween!

Keep up the good work.

10.30.2015

A Car Free Milestone

I realized recently that I have inadvertently reached a milestone in my passive ongoing quest for automobile independence.

As a result of merging households with my GF, I now live just 1.6 miles from work, as does my GF, who just got a job in the same building as me. This distance is walkable or bikable in all but the most inclement weather, and even when said weather forces me to drive my car to work, it is only 1.6 miles on low trafficked, residential roads. No more suffering heinous Madison WI commuter traffic (some of the worst drivers I have ever encountered, and I have lived in some highly trafficked places, like Chicago) and gridlock.

I didn't purposefully try to become this automobile independent, but I think it is a result of the power of positive thinking, having a vision for this for a long time and then letting my subconscious mind work in mysterious ways to achieve it behind the scenes.

I still have to drive sometimes, like when I have music practices and gigs elsewhere, but this is something infrastructural that would be so no matter where I lived. One down side of merging households is that I am losing the alternative music venue space (house concerts) in my house that I am selling. I had a nice and spacious finished basement for full band house concert shows. My GF's house is not as conducive to house concerts, although I determined yesterday that small, solo acoustic performances would work in one location. This sacrifice is a small price to pay, me thinks, to avoid the misery and torment I feel when driving during busy times in Madison.

Most of my musical endeavors take place after busy times, usually later evenings and on weekends, so I don't usually experience driving angst in my music pursuits. I have had to can a few musical projects that had too much angsty driving in relation to the return on investment. I won't drive far for band practices or low paying gigs. Those need to stay local. I'll drive farther for prestigious or high paying gigs, on a case by case basis.

Last night I played a solo acoustic happy hour gig and had to drive across town during a busy time to get there. But I had given myself ample time to get there and wasn't in any rush. After the gig, the roads were bereft of the most egregious drivers and my drive home from the gig was a breeze.

The next milestone for moving closer to car freedom would be to merge cars with my GF, virtually halving our gas, maintenance, and insurance costs. This seems ridiculously unobtainable right now because we are diametrically opposed on our car tastes. Her Audi is sporty and cool and powerful, but lacks practical utility for hauling music gear. My Prius is not cool and gives her back aches, but it is pragmatic for a working musician and gets great gas mileage. We also sometimes need two cars, though I think we could work around those contingencies with a little brain power. My GF and I are both highly creative and smart.

10.29.2015

I Like This Shirt I am Wearing

I am going to wear the shirt I wore to work today to my show tonight.

I am not the kind of person who associates items of clothing with the bad mojo of the environment in which they are worn.

My “work shirt” is not a bad shirt just because it accompanied me to work.

It’s a good looking shirt no matter where I wear it. It’s kind of a maroon color, I think. I am color blind, so it is hard to tell, but the color is pleasing to mine eye, casting a rich and dark hue into the back of my retina.

It’s also newly dry cleaned and pressed, so it looks sharp. Provided I don’t spill food or drink on it beforehand, it will make a great shirt for my classy show tonight playing solo acoustic songs at the Bos Meadery in Madison (6-8 PM).

However, I am going to change my pants for a couple of reasons. These pants are slacks that pretty much only work in the work environment, but not in the rock environment. I’d wear them to band practice, because that doesn’t matter. But not to a show.


They are classy pants, don’t get me wrong. They are comfortable and have a nice cut. They just aren’t rock-n-roll pants.

But this shirt is a rock-n-roll shirt. I have worn it to my punk rock shows with EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, although that’s a different animal entirely, since all the members of EAD “suit up” for shows, regardless of the nature of the venue.

Also, I have been wearing these pants to work every day for almost a month. That’s a hard thing to admit publicly, but it’s true. Another redeeming feature of these pants is their resistance to “road stank,” a phrase I use to describe the build up of bodily humors that certain items of clothing take on when worn too long, such as bicycle jerseys, which acquire the stank quite readily, within minutes sometimes when riding conditions are warm and moist (there it is…). The "road stank" moniker actually derives from the many road bike rides I have done in my day.

So I will change into some nice black jeans before I head to the show tonight. I’ll compliment these with some slick black loafers that my GF got me a couple months ago. They are lightweight and more comfy than the slippers I have traditionally worn to shows like this in the past.


10.28.2015

The Hump

It's Hump Day.

I woke up this morning to faux news that the Pope had endorsed Bernie Sanders for President.

It was a phony meme. I Snopes-ed that sh!t, kids. Fake. I wanted it to be true. It wasn't. Some conservative news site created the meme, hoping to punk some wishfully thinking liberals (or "libtards" as the conservatives like to call them).

Then I looked outside and it was grey and cold and raining.

Poop on Hump Day! And Pope on it.

10.27.2015

Halloween 2015

Did I ever blog about the one year I decided not to wear a Halloween costume and then got super sick on Chinese food?

I am not a superstitious person, but as the legend goes, on Halloween, the dead roam the Earth looking to possess the living and cause generalized mayhem. The reason people don Halloween costumes, historically, is to "trick" the dead into mistaking them for ghouls and ghosts so they ignore them and seek out the people who forewent costumes…like me that one year!

The rationalist in me knows the Chinese immigrant working in the kitchen at the Chinese restaurant probably took a crap and didn’t wash his hands, resulting in me eating microscopic particles of his fecal matter (trust me, it’s happened to you too…). Plus the whole Halloween legend outlined above is totally undermined by the Sexy Nurse (Pirate, Cop, School Girl, etc.) costumes, since these are not technically ghouls and ghosts and would actually tend to ATTRACT the walking dead ("treat"), not repel them.

Still, the coincidence was uncanny. The one year I don’t wear a Halloween costume, I get “possessed” by the 24 hour stomach flu.

Ever since then, I have attempted to join the fray and wear the traditional garb of Halloween revelers. And I have since not been stricken with illness on Halloween.


This year, Deborah and I (mostly I) are constructing a duo Halloween costume based on an idea a friend of mine came up with a few years ago. So it’s not original, but it will be fun. Most of the hard work is done on the costume and we’ll put the finishing touches on it this week so that we can costume ourselves on Halloween this Saturday. We are going to pop into my friend Sherry’s Halloween party and then I have to go play a Halloween show at Funks Pub.

In theory, the show is a way to test and hopefully disprove the superstition I hold as a result of that bad stir fry dinner years ago. Because, when I am performing, I will have to "break" the duo costume, because it totally doesn’t work individually. So both Deborah and I will be exposed to the hypothetical wandering dead that night, albeit briefly. If it is nothing more than pagan mysticism, we’ll be totes fine. But if one or both of us is overwhelmed by unexplained Cosmic mischief, I’ll continue to wear Halloween costumes going forward.

10.26.2015

Funday

Today was fun.

I played a show at Cardinal Bar this evening, which was preambled by a brief appearance at the Madtown Horror Fest this afternoon and postambled by my appearance at the Funks Pub open jam, where we revisited the Dark Side of the Moon album by Pink Floyd, after MG's HENCHMEN did a set of fairly rocking rockers.

That was a run on sentence.

But it worked.

10.23.2015

Guess Who Has a Show This Sunday...

…me baby. ME!

That’s right. I have my first solo acoustic show since rekindling my Cactus Joe musical stage persona at the Cardinal Bar on Sunday 10/25/15 at about 4:20 PM.

I'll be playing my repertoire of funny/angsty acoustic guitar and vocal numbers for about 40 minutes as the first performer at the Autumn Art Nest (an art show with musical guests).

If you're familiar with my material and have nothing better to do late on a Sunday afternoon in Rocktober, I can almost guarantee you will be there, assuming you are in the vicinity.

If you're not familiar, then I invite you with all the warmth in my cynical heart to come and check it out. Are you familiar with beer and booze? Because those things will be there in essentially limitless supply, for all intents and purposes. There will also be some sort of burlesque dance troupe there (boobies!), something I am sure everyone can get behind, literally and figuratively, unless you're a Puritan or something.



If you miss it but still want to see me play some time soon, I am following up the Art Nest show with a show at the Bos Meadery for Happy Hour (6-7 PM) on Thursday Rocktober 29. I will probably play as late as 8 PM if there's a crowd, and there usually is. The Bos will give you  tour and a tasting of their mead factory, if you ask nicely.

Ciao!

LINKS

My Cactus Joe web site: http://cactusjoeonline.com

Weekend Preamble

As of today, all of the plot lines of all of the Back to the Future movies took place IN THE PAST. I am disappointed that no one had the foresight to release a BttF IV yesterday. Weak.

Most of the weekend ahead consists of attending the Madtown Horror Film Fest. However, I have a solo acoustic gig on Sunday evening at the Cardinal Bar in Madison.

Saturday and Sunday mornings will be focused on rehearsing for the gig a bit. Deborah and I are also constructing a duo Halloween costume. We don't need it this weekend, but the paint needs time to dry. Intrigued?

Tonight, Deborah and I are having dinner with her parents, since they are migrating south to Florida for the winter this weekend and won't be back until the spring (although we will likely cross paths with the snowbirds when we go to Florida in early February to escape the ridiculous Wisconsin winter...our own mini snowbirding). After that we are heading downtown for a Back to the Future themed rock-n-roll show.

Ciao.

10.20.2015

Madison WI Drivers Are the Worst Drivers

Madison WI must be a haven for a disproportionate number of douchewagons. That is the most parsimonious explanation for the high number of extraordinarily shitty drivers in this town, the main reason I try to avoid driving here, especially during rush hour.

Sunday Was A Fun Day

Sunday marked the final day of a successful fortnight of fitness. In the interest of losing weight, I had abstained from beer (and alcohol in general). I didn't consciously change any other lifestyle habits, but I may have subconsciously exercised a little bit more, walking the 5k round trip to work a few times, for example. My diet was largely unchanged. I generally eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, low in grains and refined carbs, but I am not a nazi about it. I know for a fact that I ate three small Almond Joy candy bars during the fortnight fitness challenge. I also ate more cereal than usual, because Copps grocery store had a sale on large boxes of Cheerios (four for $10). But I kept the bowls small and only ate one serving, usually with a generous amount of fruit and non-caloric Stevia sweetener added.

In any case, my weight dropped from 231 pounds to 227 pounds as of the Monday morning after the conclusion of the challenge on Sunday. It might have been more of a weight loss had I not celebrated my successful challenge completion on Sunday evening with a calf stomach sized calzone from Glass Nickel Pizza and two glasses of red wine at the Funks Pub open jam (I intended to only drink one but accidentally drank part of my buddy Phil's glass and bought him a new glass when I discovered this...and it would have been a shame to waste the remaining wine in his first glass, am I right?).
I am in my second fortnight of beer abstinence now. This morning (Tuesday), I weighed in at 226.

The moral of the story is you can pretty much do anything for two weeks...diet, quit smoking, exercise. It's just two weeks. After the two weeks is up, you can go back to your old ways. But if you're successful, it almost feels wrong to undo all that effort and the positive results. So then you set a new two week challenge, modifying the old one as needed. At the end, reward yourself briefly, but then commit to the next phase of the challenge and be brutally honest with yourself. It is not just for your benefit. Fitness is contagious. My GF Deborah has even been stricter about her nutrition (which says a lot because she has always been admirably diligent about good nutrition) as a result of seeing me do it and observing my desired results.

Ciao.

10.19.2015

Waiting Room

As Foster and I chill in a veterinary ophthamology exam room at the UW Vet School, I am reminded of the Fugazi song "Waiting Room." In fact, we did not have to wait long.

Foster is having his left eye out due to blinding and painful glaucoma. You can give to his surgery fund if you are feeling kind. You can find the link by scrolling down to the prior blog posts.

Keeping an Eye Out for Foster

Dear Friends...

Sad news...Foster is going to lose his left eye as a result of a prolapsed lens and subsequent blinding glaucoma, which is causing him a lot of pain and low quality of life. The pain is being managed by meds right now, but the eye needs to be surgically removed ASAP. Can you help with a small donation? As little as $1 would be helpful. Click below for more details.



The genetics of Boston terriers being what it is, eye troubles are commonplace. Their lenses pop out as a result of weak ligaments in the eye. The lens can eventually block the flow of ocular fluid, causing glaucoma. Sometimes the dog outlives this consequence, but unfortunately Foster has not.

On Sunday morning, Foster was trembling and didn't want to get up or eat or do anything. He was squinting his left eye pretty severely and Deborah and I could see that the lens had popped forward through the iris into the cornea. This has happened before without causing excessive eye pressure, so we gave it some time to see if it resolved on its own. However, by the afternoon, he was still not feeling well, so we went to the UW Emergency Veterinarian to have his eye checked out.

Bad news. The pressure in his left eye was extremely high (aka acute glaucoma), resulting in his suffering (think of the worst headache you ever had and multiply by 10 million).

Fosters pain is being managed with drugs right now and we are giving him atropine to dilate the iris, in hopes the lens will fall back into the eye, perhaps relieving the pressure temporarily.

However, the retina in that left eye is most likely dead now, because of the high ocular pressure, so the only long term solution is surgery and removal of the eye.

It's a fairly straightforward surgery (although the vet described it as "bloody" because there are a lot of blood vessels servicing the eye), though the recovery might be rough as Foster adapts to monocular vision. The surgeon will put a "glass eye" in the empty eye socket so that it doesn't look too weird, but the eyelids will be sewn together (very Halloween appropriate...), giving Foster a permanent "wink." He'll recover in a couple weeks and then we'll get him used to being half blind. Foster is already pretty blind, so this shouldn't be too troubling.

Anyway, if you are feeling charitable and want to help Foster out with this necessary surgery, please do. He will love you and it's just good karma.

10.18.2015

Funky

I am at Funks Pub, as I usually am on Sunday nights. It's an open jam, and one of the few opportunities I have to play live music these days, on a real stage, with decent lights, occasionally average sound, a full backline, free drink and a spread of food (most times). All things considered it's not a bad gig. Since it's weekly, I get to hone my live playing chops frequently. Since it's plug and play, I don't have to haul any gear, just my instruments. I bring my laptop and a decent microphone and camera though, because I volunteered to run a live stream of the thing on the Internet, which requires minimal gear and effort. Management lets us do what we want. Awesome. A couple of the jam attendees and I have formed an impromptu group that only performs at the jam and we are building a repertoire of tunes, albeit covers. Would I like to be playing gigs and original songs with my "real" bands? Sure. But those are not to be had at present for a number of reasons beyond my control, and even if they were, they would be infrequent. So fuck it. I'd say a regular weekly gig where I get to lay down phat bass grooves with musically talented strangers is a great thing. I'll take it.

Lately I have taken to MC-ing the thing too. In between performers, I play some solo acoustic numbers to keep the (small) crowd entertained (and from leaving...). This has led in turn to me rekindling my repertoire of solo acoustic numbers, which has in turn led to me booking a couple solo acoustic shows for late Rocktober. On the 25th I am playing at the Cardinal Bar in Madison in support of Art Nest (a quarterly art fair) and on the 29th I am playing a Thursday night happy hour show at Bos Meadery in Madison. I have played both these venues before, but not solo acoustic.

Fun times.

10.17.2015

A Saturday of Rocking

Today was a good day. I slept in until I felt like getting up, about 9:45 AM. Then I had a leisurely breakfast of fruit and cereal, and plotted out my day with Deborah. I wanted to do a fair bit of music practice right away, so Deborah decided to go work out while I did some. I worked on solo acoustic songs for my two upcoming solo shows (Rocktober 25 at Cardinal Bar for ART NEST and Rocktober 29 @ Bos Meadery for HAPPY HOUR).

When Deborah got back from working out and finished showering and and stuff, we had a spot of lunch. I grilled her a turkey burger and myself a sirloin burger, and we accompanied this with some salad and a homemade dressing I made using a vinagrette we had scored when we were up in door county a few weeks ago.

Now I am about to get back to rocking.

10.16.2015

A New Phone

I got a new phone and provider yesterday. Although I won’t break even on breaking my contract with my prior provider for 5 months or so, in the long run it will be a savings.

It’s a Samsung Note 5. It has a stylus so I can write things on it old school like.

Now, if I can just sell my house, my living costs will basically cut in half.

Joe

6 Word Novel

I saved the planet. Bike commuted.

10.15.2015

Deep Questions of the Cosmos

What ever happened to Oral A ?

Highlights of My Yesterday and My Day Before Yesterday

As an exercise in creative writing, I have been trying to each day pick one or two highlights and write about it/them.

Yesterday, I thought the highlight of my day was going to be the salad I had at lunch, because the rest of the day had been so mind numbingly boring by comparison up to that point. I also knew that in the evening, I had chores to do which were not particularly highlight worthy. So I was fully prepared to write about my healthy, tasty lunch salad and write off the rest of the day.

As fate would have it though, I had greatly over exaggerated the impact of said evening chores, the major one of which was moving some furniture in my music room because Deborah is having new windows installed there and in several other locations throughout the house.

When I got home from work, I grilled a quick dinner, comprising a black bean burger, a sirloin hamburger, and a turkey burger. (Author’s note: Grammatically, that is the correct usage of the verb "to comprise," just FYI). The expediency of the meal gave me a solid head start on the furniture moving, which turned out to be less intimidating than anticipated. Access to the window being replaced (today) in my music room was obstructed by my entertainment center, a 12” PA speaker, and one of my acoustic guitars. The latter two items, I relocated to Deborah’s much larger room, and I simply slid the entertainment center out of the way, without even disconnecting the stereo speakers. I also did the same with my music workstation, knocking over a fancy condenser microphone in the process (I hope I didn’t damage it…). A clear path to the window secured, the chore was complete, far ahead of schedule.


“I think I might do some music practice, Baby Cakes,” I told Deborah when I went back downstairs and into the kitchen.

“That’s fine, honey,” she responded.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I am making some dinner,” she said.

“Oh, well I already ate,” I said. “But I’ll sit with you while you eat so you can tell me about your day.”

“Cool,” she said. “Oh, FYI…it’s garbage night tonight.”

Crud Buckets, I thought to myself, making a mental note to take the cans to the curb before going to bed. Another chore!

By the time Deborah finished eating, we had both totally spaced taking the garbage out. Luckily, we had to get up butt early this morning in anticipation of the arrival of the window installation team, so I left for work considerably earlier than usual. I was reminded it was garbage day as I rolled my cruiser bike out of the garage about 8 AM and saw the neighbors’ cans on the curb, ineffectually arranged, I might add. I went back into the house and pulled the full bag of recycling out of its can in the kitchen, letting Deborah put a new fresh bag in as I hustled to get the cans out to the curb and fix the neighbors' messy sprawl ahead of the arrival of garbage men.

But I get ahead of myself.


Back to last night’s highlight… After Deborah finished eating and telling me about her day, I retired to my music room and, notwithstanding the awkward repositioning of my workstation to accommodate the anticipated window team, was able to do over 90 minutes of practice on my solo acoustic guitar and vocal numbers. If you have been following the blog, you may know I have a couple of gigs coming up in late Rocktober. On Sunday the 25th, I play a set at the Cardinal Bar in Madison for the Art Nest event there, starting around 4:20 PM. It’s basically an indoor art fair with music and performing arts. Great time. The following Thursday, Rocktober 29, I am at the Bos Meadery in Madison to play a happy hour show starting at 6 PM. Stop down after work. I play for two hours, but happy hour ends at 7 PM, so if you come, come early. Bos makes mead, a honey based alcoholic beverage that is like a fruity cross between beer and wine. If you want to know more about it, you’ll have to attend. They’ll give you a tour and tasting for free! My music is pretty good, but it is really good under the influence of mead. That's been clinically proven.*

So the music practicing ended up being the actual main highlight of my day. I also read some of a book before bed that Deborah had shared with me on her Nook, Stephen King's 2012 novel "11/22/63." I am only a little ways into it, but so far it is a great read. It involves time travel and a plot to prevent the assassination of JFK. I think I like Stephen King's sci fi work even better than his horror stuff. I haven't read much by him in a while. I thought this book was old, but I guess it came out in 2012. Anyway, I digress. Again.


The highlight of my day before yesterday, which was Tuesday, was going to see the film “The Martian,” which was pretty good. Notwithstanding the bending of a few Laws of Physics, the science was relatively sound and the plot believable. The main thing that struck me besides the adventure action was how much computer power can now be applied to space travel as compared with the early years of NASA’s space program in the 60s and 70s. Advances in engineering and materials technology also allow humans to do things in space that were unthinkable even a few years ago. I feel optimistic that humans could colonize Mars in the next 100 years, or maybe sooner. The main limitation seems to be lack of political will, something that was also nicely touched on in the film, without overdoing it.

* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Cactus Joe's music is not a substitute for the administration of food and drugs.

10.13.2015

A Vicarious Martian Experience


Tonight, Deborah and I are going to a $5 Tuesday showing of The Martian. We wanted to go last week, but it was sold out. We were able to get seats for tonight, perhaps because so many people are staying home to watch the much more thrilling Democratic Debates. Yeah, I know. I can’t say that with a straight face.

Truth be told, I do want to see how Bernie Sanders fares in the debates. I am already decided that I am voting for him, but I want to see if the corporate mainstream media tries to skewer him in favor of corporatist shill Hillary Clinton. Little do the media gatekeepers know, that will only strengthen my support for Bernie Sanders.

Enough on the subject of the Democratic Debates though. The very notion of it makes me a candidate for anti-depressants.

While the Dems are regurgitating their pre-digested road kill (talking points), I will be watching a fun sci fi flick in pleasant company whilst eating overly salty popcorn.

10.12.2015

Crazy Weather

While I was indoors at work all day today, apparently I missed a “wind storm.” Dammit. I hate missing out on nature.

The mid-Rocktober weather is uncharacteristically mild. I walked to work today, and in a little while, I am going to walk home. It’s about 1.6 miles one way, so about a 5k round trip.

I don’t like running, but power walking is nice, and less impactful on my joints. This past Saturday I biked about 13 miles, and on Sunday I biked 20 miles. I lost a couple pounds.

Tonight, after I get home, Deborah and I are going to swing by my house to take care of a branch that fell down in my yard as a result of said wind storm, en route to dinner with Deborah’s folks.


After that, the world is our oyster.

Weekend Report

The weekend is behind me, so it is time to capture what I remember of it for eternal permanence on the Intarwebz.

I actually remember quite a lot of it as a consequence of being in the middle of a thus-far-successful two week fitness challenge to not drink beer (or any alcohol whatsoever).

As a result, I am much more alert and have a lot more brain energy to re-direct to activities and contemplation.

On Friday, Deborah and I went to a pub in Waunakee WI called Lucky’s, where my buddy Clay was performing a show with his semi-acoustic duo incarnation of BABY ROCKET (with drummer Ken on cocktail drums).

Clay had opened it up in advance to guest musicians, such as myself, to jump up and jam on a few tunes with them. So I brought my bass guitar. I thought I would maybe guest on 3 to 5 songs and then just spectate, but I should have known I would play a lot more than that. I probably played at least 80% of the show, including my signature song (and dance), “I’m Too Sexy.”

I probably should have gotten paid a little for my show stealing performance, but whatever…I didn’t prep or anything and I didn’t have to do any work hauling or setting up/tearing down gear. Plus, since I wasn’t drinking, I didn’t spend much money. I bought Clay a beer because it was his birthday, but I just had a couple of NA ginger beers.

My ulterior motive in attending the show was to meet a couple of musicians, friends of a friend, whose band 5 MINUTE RULE recently broke up and they are exploring options for a new project, such as maybe having me play guitar and sing with them. With EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE on a six month hiatus, I am aggressively pursuing more projects to keep me occupied. I was on stage with Clay and Ken when drummer Jason and bassist Shawn of 5MR arrived at Lucky’s a little while after I did. They got to see me perform, albeit on bass, and got a taste of my extroverted stage presence. We chatted about music when I took a break from rocking with Clay and Ken. Jason and Shawn knew a handful of songs also performed by BABY ROCKET, so they jumped up and played a few numbers as well, backing me up on the Social D version of “Ring of Fire,” which I just sang, while Shawn played bass.

If I end up rocking with these guys, I’ll be playing my secondary instrument, rhythm guitar, which is totally fine. That’s what I play in EDDIEE ATE DYNAMITE. It pushes me out of my comfort zone a bit, which makes me a better musician. Also, the music they want to do is mostly 90s rock covers and not uber challenging, for the most part, just fun and crowd pleasing.

The BABY ROCKET show was fairly well attended and a few people danced and carried on. Before Jason and Shawn left, we discussed getting together to jam a few songs in the next couple of weeks. We each agreed to select a song we might like to do and then we will have three songs to try out when we play together. I mentioned that my buddy Phil from the Funks Open Jam, who plays guitar and sings pretty well, might also be interested in joining forces with them. There’s quite a lot of musical overlap, so it might work.

On Saturday morning, I planned to get up about 9 AM, but I got up about 10 AM instead, because I was tired from the night before. I ate a quick breakfast and then I biked the 6.5 or so miles over to my old house that I am selling so I could mow the lawn before a noon showing. I got done just as the potential buyers showed up (they were early). I biked back to my current residence in Middleton (Deborah’s house) and spent most of the afternoon and evening practicing music, mostly solo acoustic songs for my CACTUS JOE music act that I am also ramping up in the absence of EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE.

Now’s probably a good time to throw out the news that I have two CACTUS JOE shows coming up this month. On Sunday Rocktober 25, I’ll be rocking from roughly 4-5 PM at the Cardinal Bar in Madison, as part of Art Nest (a quarterly art fair hosted there). On Thursday Rocktober 29, I return to the Bos Meadery on the east side of Madison to play my second show there. Last time I was at the Bos (they make an alcoholic beverage called mead), it was as GUPPY EFFECT semi-acoustic duo, with Stefan on guitar and me on bass. This time it will just be me solo on guitar and singing some clever and quasi-funny songs, a few of them originals I wrote. Maybe you can catch one or both of those shows?

On Sunday morning, Deborah and I loaded bikes on my car and drove down to the Verona Park and Ride, where we met my buddy Verge and rode our bikes out along the Military Ridge bike trail from Verona to Riley, for the Sunday morning pancake breakfast at Riley Tap. It was a beautiful cool, sunny fall day, perfect for biking the flat rails to trails path. My friend Sherry was going to join us as well, but she texted me in the morning to say she had partied far too hard the night before and was not coming.

When we got to Riley we all ordered plates of pancakes, which came with sides of three sausage links apiece. I ended up eating nine sausage links as a result of the fact that Deborah doesn’t like pork products and Verge is a vegetarian.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said the waitress. “If I woulda known, I coulda brought you plates without. Do you want me to take them back?”

“No!” I exclaimed, already in the middle of extracting Deborah’s sausages from her plate. “I’ll eat them.”

After the Riley stop, Verge had to head back home, but Deborah and I opted to ride a bit farther, possibly all the way to Mt. Horeb, about 6 miles further down the trail. A couple of miles on though, Deborah started to lose steam and we decided to turn back. As we rode back to the Park and Ride, Deborah started getting a bad migraine headache. So I made her stop biking at the next intersection we came to, while I rode back and got the car to pick her up. Deborah spent most of the afternoon napping on the couch as a consequence of the drowsiness-inducing migraine medicine she took as soon as we got home. I grilled a late lunch and then did some more music practice while she was out cold.

My buddy Phil, aforementioned, and keyboard player Chris from the Funks Jam had planned to audition a drummer at 5 PM for a cover band concept we are developing. However, the drummer had messaged Phil that he was up north and would not be back until after 7 PM. Weak. The drummer said he would stop down to the jam and so Phil, Chris, and I decided we would regroup then.

“If the drummer shows up and learned all the audition songs, and rocks them with us live, I will forgive his flakiness on the audition,” I told Phil on the phone. “But I am too old to have patience for hacks like this.”

“Oh, dude, I totally agree,” Phil said. “We will find a good drummer, I am totally optimistic.” Phil is always wildly optimistic, but it is not contagious. I am wildly jaded about slacker musicians who think they can just wing it. It’s the difference between and OK band and an awesome band. But I let it go. I had bigger fish to fry.

The drummer also didn’t even show up at the jam either, so Phil and I agreed he was a hack and we should move on. Phil had invited a second drummer to the jam who was also a no show. Drummers! I tell you, it is not an unfounded stereotype…

I played some solo acoustic numbers at the Funks Jam and was also the house bass player for the night, since the usual bass player with the host band MUDROOM was not available. It was great at times and not so great at other times (like when Phil had me play on “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, a songs I had only listened to a couple of times that afternoon at his behest. It was brutal. But I will have it down the next time we do it.).

One of the highlights was rocking out “Calling Dr. Love” by Kiss, not only because we killed it (in a good way) but also because it was a tribute of sorts to the host of the jam, Tyler, who also happens to be an actual doctor (D.O.).

Due to the migraine aftermath, Deborah had not been able to attend the jam, but she watched via the internet live stream of the event that I run on my computer most weeks. Here’s a clip.

It was a very satisfying weekend.


Ciao!

Doomsday (Flash Fiction)

The end of the world really did come on Wednesday.

Scientists were baffled. 

All their theories could not explain the world's end.

10.11.2015

Things I Do

There's a thing I do where I write a Facebook post, then delete it before posting. Hehehe.

10.09.2015

Freedom From Fear (Flash Fiction)


He didn’t want to go bungee jumping. He had to.

It was more than just tethering himself to an oversized rubber band and plunging from the High Bridge ramparts to dip fleetingly in the cold river water, then be flung upwards by the rebound. Why was he thinking about the bungee cord’s Coefficient of Restitution on his way down?

As he was lowered into the retrieval boat and untethered by the attraction’s staff, he smiled.

“Looks like you want to do that again,” the woman staffer said.

“No,” he replied.

“Why not? Didn’t you enjoy it?”

“Actually, it was exactly as I expected it would be. But now…I can do anything.”

6 Word Novel

In all directions, sea. He drowned.

Crossroads (Flash Fiction - Topic = Breakfast)

Breakfast Monday morning was a crossroads. She stared hard at the toast, poached eggs, and small glass of orange juice. Standard American fare. It's what everyone ate, on paper. 

What she really wanted was a salad, and perhaps a juicy ribeye steak. She'd eat the fat rind everyone else cut off and enjoy it. Why did everyone cut that off and discard it, yet happily eat the fat on bacon slices?

Was it going to be conventional like this forever? The thought of that made her heart sink, like a beach ball kicked it off the precarious cliff edge where it rested, arching parabolically in a slow descent.

No. She would not let her hopes and dreams be dashed on the rocky, surf blasted crags below. In her mind's metaphor, a blast of windy sea spray lifted the beachball of her heart and carried it out over the open sea.

She picked up her smart phone where it lay beside her fork and dialed.

"Hi. It's Sally," she said. "I quit."

She hung up and set about making a grilled steak salad.

Guns

I cannot stand all the bickering about guns. Everyone has it wrong. There is no quick fix, or as I like to pun, "no magic bullet."

Gun violence is a consequence of an unhealthy society filled with fear and hate that celebrates anti-intellectualism and rewards greed. It's a massive problem that can only be solved with a visionary societal revolution that rebuilds America's greatness in infrastructure, education, health care (especially mental), welfare, economics, politics, and other areas.

Reactionary simple solutions won't work. We need a collective vision for a better society and then we have to pay for it. Yes, this means asking billionaires to contribute their fair share. You can argue what that fair share should be, but your first step is to envision the value society you want and determine what it will cost to get there, then generate revenue to fit that budget. It really is that simple.

You can look to western Europe and Scandinavia for some examples of a value society. They are not cheap societies, but they are good ones.

But it will take a visionary leader to unite us in this vision. Most politicians and the corporate mainstream media focus on dividing us, so we bicker amongst ourselves while the billionaires fleece us and keep the politicians in line with graft supplied by said fleecing.

I think Bernie Sanders is as close to a visionary leader as we have right now. He wants what we all want and he wants us united.

He has my vote, hands down.

10.08.2015

Half Day

I got up before everyone this morning, as I usually do, following 3 or 4 snooze cycles of Deborah's phone alarm. I brewed coffee and prepared a breakfast of rice gruel. Actually, it wasn't gruel. I am not really sure what to call a bowl of brown rice and sauteed grass fed beef burger.

Foster was up second, slowly descending the stairs and shuffling into the kitchen, his nails clicking on the wood floor of the dining room.

"Are you a good boy?" I asked, hoisting him under one arm so I could administer his glaucoma drops in both eyes. He barely resisted the medication, having learned it is best to just get it over with and take the treat that comes as a reward afterwards.

I filled a bowl with his dog chow and he set about eating it. I finished my rice gruel and poured myself some coffee with cashew milk to "take the edge off." I let Foster outside and then went upstairs to prep for work. Basically this comprised filling my backpack with work clothes and donning bike commuting wear.

The forecast had called for drizzle today with big clouds to the north on the Weather Bug map, but seeing sunshine in the morning, and living only a half mile from work, I biked commuted. A stiff southerly headwind assured me the rain would likely stay far to the north for the time being.

I decided about mid-morning at the office to take a half day in the afternoon. I had a writing group workshop in the evening and my plan had been to do some writing ahead of the meeting. My submissions for group critique were already uploaded to the group file site, but I had a hankering to do some creative writing of my own, perhaps on the subject of my next (and first ever) book.

As it turned out, I bit off a bit more than I could chew in the limited time window. Deborah and I had decided to open a joint checking account together to serve as a kind of "piggy bank" for any random cash we came into, like the $50 we made acting as murder victims in a low budget slasher horror flick a week ago (although we had already spent that windfall on a fancy dinner out at Granite City). But we had $200 bones left over from the sale of Deborah's drum kit and decided to open the account with that as the baseline amount we would always leave in the account.

Opening the account took way longer than anticipated, after which we collected my CSA box at work and on the way home foolishly stopped to check out the Carr Cheese shoppe near Deborah's house. So many cheeses...so little time. We tasted a few, then bought a few. By the time we got home, I still had over an hour before I had to leave for the writing workshop. That wasn't really enough time to do any quality writing (I try to write in 3-4 hour blocks to be more productive). Instead I worked on acoustic guitar and vocals for a setlist of songs I am putting together for some upcoming solo CACTUS JOE shows. I am playing at the Cardinal Bar in Madison for Art Nest on Sunday Rocktober 25 at 4 PM (during a lull in the Mad City Horror Film Fest I am attending for most of that weekend). I am also performing for happy hour at the Bos Meadery in Madison on Rocktober 29 from 6-8 PM. I enjoy performing these somewhat unconventional venues. I am really sick of competing with a million other musicians for limited access to the few quality music venues in Madison. I prefer quality over quantity these days. Plus, I have the whole Internet at my fingertips as a music venue. I can perform in my music room in front of my computer with a nice microphone and camera and broadcast it to basically EVERYONE (assuming everyone can find it).

But I digress. The writing workshop was pretty good. They liked my flash fiction submissions. We also did some exercises, writing impromptu on the spot with some cues from the meeting leader, Adrienne. These turned out OK too. I will probably publish them right here on this blog eventually. That's another great thing about the web and having a blog. I can publish whatever I want, whenever I want, beholden to no one.

Also paid by no one, which is why I get underwriting via my day job employer. It's kind of sad actually. I have so much potential as a writer and musician and so much of it is squandered away laboring to make someone else rich. But plans are in motion to eventually bring to fruition my vision of artistic free agency, the only missing element in an otherwise pretty awesome life.

After I got home from the workshop, I sat down and wrote this post. In a minute, I am going to work on solo acoustic songs some more before I go to bed. Tomorrow is Friday and after I slog through a few grueling hours at the office, my weekend is pretty much wide open and I plan to maximally exploit it for artistic growth...that is after I mow the lawn at my old house, which is still on the market (but has some interest at present), and take care of any other chores, though they should be nominal.

A bike ride or two is definitely in my vision for this weekend. I think a Riley pancake ride on Sunday morning is most definitely "in the cards." Stay tuned, dear readers.

6 Word Novel

Ignition key misplaced. Nuclear war averted.

Defying Reason

How in the hell did I get on the email list of MTV Insider? I have never interacted with this site on the web. I never gave my email to them. If I had it would not be my Yahoo email, but probably my wrte.io email, which requires any corporate entity to pay a small fee for the privilege of soliciting me.
Needless to say, I unsubscribed from their email list immediately, and if I get another email from them, I will report it as spam and get their sh!t shut down.

Wake Up Call

In the morning, I write best. My mind is fresh. I don't have ideas, but my writing is freer. After a day at work, the gears get twerked. My energy is drained, and this affects my brain. I'll write anything in the morning, even if I am yawning. A night of rest is always best, to empty the cup that yesterday filled up.

10.07.2015

Niche

It is rare to find something on which I differ from all of humanity.

This appears to be my penchant to drink warm water, while the rest of humanity prefers cold or ice water, even when it is cold outside.

I almost always warm up water before I drink it, even if it is from the tap. I have never known anyone else to do this. I have even been called out on it by people who said it was weird and "wrong." I wonder why there is so much resistance to warm water.

I hate feeling cold, and cold water chills your body. Cold water also uses more energy in chilling it or in making the ice to go in it. Cold water drinkers are therefore harming the planet more than I am.

So there.

Sometimes I Think of a Good Title


This was not one of those times.

I had a nice talk with Deborah on the back porch tonight. It is getting chilly in the evenings now that it's fall. I had on my fleece lined red hoody but I still got chilly legs because I was wearing shorts and slippers with no socks.

Someone looked at my house that is for sale today. No offers yet. Madison is a dumb town when it comes to housing. Super dumb.

People at work today were talking about the new water bottle filler that was installed on the water fountain a few weeks back. One woman was complimenting how cold the water was and how she should dump her "warm" (room temperature) water and get some chilled water. I still don't get how people can drink ice cold water when it's not a hot summer day. Water is not like beer. You can drink water warm - there is no effect on taste. Cold water will cool your core temperature and make you feel cold.

I hate feeling cold. When I fill my water bottle from the dispenser, I always give it a minute or two in the microwave. I want to be warmed by water. I am a warmth lover. That's why I am going to Florida and taking a Caribbean cruise for two weeks in February. To heck with cold.

Steak Randomness

I had a steak for lunch. Why does this matter? It doesn’t, at least not for the purposes of this post, which is simply to free write about things at random. That was pretty random wasn’t it? It all started last night when I got home from work and decided I wanted to make a Thai coconut curry for dinner. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. In truth, it all started last Sunday when I scored a container of cubed butternut squash at Costco and it reminded me of a squash curry I had at a Thai restaurant, what would have been several years ago now, I guess. But my intent was made manifest when I got home from work last night with a hunger in my belly and some time on my hands. I needed some coconut milk though.

“I am going to walk down to Copps and get some coconut milk, so I can make Thai curry for dinner tonight,” I told Deborah, who was just finishing a late lunch of salad and fish by the time I got home from work. “I’m guessing you probably won’t eat it, since you will have already eaten.”

“Could you do me a favor?” Deborah asked, by way of reply. “Could you buy me some more of the Greek yogurt? Not the Chobani…the other kind. And can you get the caramel mocchiato flavor? Oh, and I also need some more Veggie Wash. It’s in the cleaning supplies section.”

“Sure,” I confirmed.

“If it’s no trouble, could you also get a cucumber?” 

I said I could.

Walking the couple of blocks to Copps, I thought about diet and nutrition. I am on a bit of a fitness kick right now (hence the walking, not driving to the store), trying to eat healthier and avoid beer, to lose a few pounds. I wasn’t going to buy a steak, but the New York strips looked really good as I walked past the meat section from the produce section (a cucumber and some waffle cut carrots) to the dairy aisle (yogurt and Colby cheese), by way of the ethnic foods aisle (coconut milk and red bean paste). One should never go to the grocery store when hungry. I knew this. My mistake.

Anyway, I returned home and made the curry, which was good, and which Deborah did in fact eat some of. I did not eat the steak. I saved that and grilled it outside today when I biked (fitness again) home for lunch. It was a beautiful day for steak grilling, though it reminded me I need to clean the grill. It’s so filthy that the heating elements catch on fire while I am cooking things on it.

I Got a Flu Shot This Morning and You Won't Believe What Happened Next!

Working in a hospital has its perks. When it comes to flu shots, they have their sh!t down and it flows like a well oiled machine.

Today's flu shot clinic was on the first floor of my building, so when I had a lull in work this morning, I strolled down for a walk in only appointment. I had to fill out a real quick form and I was in and out of the room in probably under two minutes. It was free of charge, as all preventive medicines should be (and maybe even must be by law, under Obamacare).

And then nothing happened. I felt exactly the same after the shot as before. The nurse who gave me the shot didn't hit any nerves in my upper arm, so I didn't even feel any pain or a lingering ache.

That's the goal, I guess. Preventive medicine's result should be NOTHING. If all goes well, I won't get the flu this winter, or at least only a mild case of it. I should note at this point that notwithstanding last year's flu shot, I still got a horrible cold in the early spring. But that might not have been flu, just a bad cold and maybe allergies too.

I actually think nutritional supplements and some herbal medicines are effective in prevention. It is harder to study such things scientifically, because what do you look for? The desired result is NO CHANGE in your health, and if something doesn't change in an experiment, modern science says it has NO EFFECT. But the effect is health maintenance (no change in good health). That's why herbal and nutritional supplement manufacturers cannot make health claims about their products treating or curing diseases and conditions, but the FDA does let them say things like: "Echinacea supports immune health." If you take Echinacea and don't get a cold, was the Echinacea responsible? To test such questions you need a lot of data from a lot of people, some of whom took Echinacea and some who didn't. You also need to control for when they took it. It might only work to prevent or attenuate cold symptoms. But if you take it when you are already sick, maybe that's too late.

Anyway you get the jist.

I used to take a supplement called Rhodiola that is an adaptogen, an herbal supplement that helps decrease the negative effects of stress. I am certain it worked, giving me more energy and focus throughout the day, and I handled stress better. Maybe it was placebo effect, but so what? It worked for me. I used to describe it as feeling "more healthy than healthy," or sometimes as "working on 12% of brain cells instead of 10%." But how can science measure "more healthy than healthy." Scientific studies use metrics like blood pressure and cholesterol and blood tests to measure health. There is usually a range of measurements within which you are "normal" for that measure. So how do you measure "more normal?" You really have to come at it from a different paradigm. Maybe with Rhodiola, you could look at various psychological stress tests and see if 10 people on Rhodiola do better than 10 people not on it, after controlling for other confounding variables (for example, supplement takers in general tend to be more health conscious and might handle stress better because they eat less sugar).

As you can see, studying preventive medicine can be complicated. But there must be something to it because companies often incentivize preventive health in their employees to save money on health costs and increase productivity. One of my old health insurance companies used to rebate $100 off a community supported agriculture (CSA) share, which indicates they believe customers eating more fruits and vegetables improve their bottom line by at least $100. So that is sort of a real world metric of the health benefits of good diet, I suppose. You know a company isn't going to throw money at something if there is not a good return on investment. You don't need a scientific study to prove that.

10.06.2015

Hell o' Ween

I need to start thinking about a Halloween costume. Optimally, I'd go as a dead or half dead rock star and front a rock show with one of my bands, as said ghoul. Sadly, no shows Halloween weekend.

Sleep of the Dead

I slept like the dead last night. That's not even including the power nap I took after work yesterday. The weekend was action packed, with Stefan's wedding and associated socializing, and the Funks Pub open jam. I think I was a bit sleep deprived. I am also on a two week fitness kick, so I ate quite heathily yesterday. That may have something to do with better sleep. Deborah and I got a thing of cubed butternut squash at Costco on Sunday. I might try making a coconut curry tonight.

Drug Ads

Prescription drug ads on TV are terrifying. They start out by giving you hope of a cure for some usually non-life threatening thing, like, say, rheumatoid arthritis. Then they spend about half the time telling you all the horrific ways the drug's side effects may actually kill you. What?

10.05.2015

Blank

Some days, his mind went blank. He could think of nothing to write about, but he still wrote. He went through the motions. The mechanics of writing. Honing the tools of the craft was just as important as writing something of substance. An athlete exercises in between competitions to stay in shape. So it is with the writer.

He wrote.

10.04.2015

Jammin'

Tonight, we rock.

I'll be MC-ing the live jam stage at Funk's Pub, performing solo acoustic numbers between sets.

I'll also perform with one or more groups. Stefan of GUPPY EFFECT, newly married, will be there and we will likely play a few numbers.

There will be a live stream of the thing at http://ustream.tv/channel/cactus-joe-productions.

Last night I DJ-ed at Stefan's wedding. I double teamed it with Wendy of SUNSPOT. It was my first time DJ-ing and it was pretty fun. I simply emulated the kinds of things I have heard other DJs say and do and it was fine. I did the same thing when Deborah and I did our bit parts in the horror flick the other day. I recalled all the low budget slasher flicks I have seen and played it the same way.

Sunday Funday

Asteroids. Strange things. Stars. Fiery gas. The Sun. Telescopes. Vastness.

It's Sunday 10/4/15 on a small blue world in a quiet corner of the Milky Way galaxy.

A sentient organism prepares to create art known as live music.

10.02.2015

Weekend Preamble

I have a busy weekend ahead. I’ll be a groomsman in my buddy Stefan’s wedding for most of the day Saturday. That means tonight after work is the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Sunday, I guess I am supposed to attend the gift opening, by convention. I was not aware of this, since it is my first wedding as an actual participant, but I don’t think it is supposed to cut into my usual Sunday music practice too much. I have to prep a couple of songs for this Sunday night’s jam at Funks Pub and work on some solo acoustic material as well. I should be able to do a bit of practice tonight, after the rehearsal dinner, and on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I am also behind on my writing class homework and some online courses I signed up for. I am going to go watch online lectures now for a spell. Then I will feel better about accomplishing something this weekend.

Solid B Minus - Music and the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule describes the non-linear relationship between effort (input) and results (output). I've done the calculations, so trust me when I tell you it basically boils down to the following:

20% effort = 80% results
40% effort = 96% results
60% effort = 99.2% results

Above 60% effort, you begin to experience a much stronger effect of the Law of Diminishing Returns, where it takes disproportionately greater effort to eek out small gains in your results. So I won't even give you the results percentages for that. But if you ever need more than 99.2% output (a solid A+), you can use the 80/20 non-linear function to figure out what you need to put in.

When I do music, I tend to aim for somewhere between 96-99% results, which means giving it about 50% effort, ballpark. This usually manifests itself as solid, relatively biff free performances when I play live music. I could get by with 80% results (20% effort), a solid B minus, the baseline threshold of acceptability for most things in America.

But I like to go the extra mile (or extra 20% effort). Thus, I put in more time and effort to achieve at least 96% results. I have that luxury due to an awesomely supportive girlfriend who loves my music and recognizes what a defining and important thing it is for me, and also I have no kids. 40% to 50% effort on music is compatible with my work schedule (underwriting for music, requiring about 20% effort) and social life (30% to 40% effort), which account for the remaining 50% to 60% of my equally productive and satisfying waking life.

My punk rock band, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, is my favorite group to play with because all the members strive for at least 96% to 99% quality results. They challenge me to work hard and the music and performances show it. I've realized I can't really settle for less than A work (96%) in my musical pursuits, so I seek opportunities that encourage that. Sadly, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE is taking a quasi-hiatus, so I am seeking additional opportunities to fill the void. My guitarist buddy Derek wants to put together a super band and I am totally behind the idea, but thus far we have not put in the needed effort to make it a reality. I am hoping to remedy that once the EDDIE quasi-hiatus is in full effect, starting this Sunday October 4, when drummer Frank (aka Dano) leaves for a thrilling six month travel adventure supporting another touring musician as the sound guy. I think EDDIE is still going to perform here and there with a sub drummer, but not sure. We are definitely going to work hard on finishing our studio album while Dano is jetsetting about the globe.

10.01.2015

Kicking Off Rocktober With a (Fake) Double Murder

Happy Rocktober.

Most people view this particular month as all just a preamble for Halloween on Rocktober 31. Yes, I am going to keep annoyingly calling it Rocktober, so there!

(Side Note: Anyone know why Oktoberfest is traditionally celebrated in September? Me neither…)

This morning, Deborah and I kicked off Rocktober in style by being double murder victims in a low budget “slasher” horror film. Last fall, I had been an unpaid “extra” in a different low budget horror flick, called “Hag,” produced by a film crew called Screaming Like Banshees, headed up by writer/director Rob Michels. That’s how I found out about the casting call for this yet unnamed flick. They wanted some additional actors to film a few scenes to increase the film’s “body count,” as Rob put it.

I was surprised when Deborah agreed to join me in this endeavor. She has expressed a certain luke warmness to horror movies and Halloween, but I was overjoyed when she said it sounded fun and agreed. We met Rob and his crew of two at Barriques in Middleton and then they followed us over to the Pheasant Branch nature area for filming. They had us cast as a couple of campers. As our characters, we sat in front of a prop tent and had a little conversation, then decided to go on a walk, not aware of a mass murderer wandering in the woods. We found a secluded woodsy spot where the rest of the action was captured. Basically, my character pretended to almost ask Deborah’s character to get married (don’t worry…it was FICTIONAL!), but just as I get down on one knee to ask…well, I can’t tell you any more, because that would ruin the surprise.

Suffice to say, the fake blood was made from diluted cherry cake mix and I tasted a lot of it this morning. It was very realistic and even felt sticky when it dried. We had to do laundry when we got home (we had worn old clothes we did not care about getting messy).

Deborah said she had a fantastic time and even started to warm up to the whole Halloween thing (now we know how fake blood is made!). We even made $50 for our acting, which was unexpected and cool. Rob said we did a great job and he had a lot of stuff filmed he could use.

Before we headed out to get killed this morning, I also ordered Deborah and I a pair of tickets to the first annual Madtown Horror Film Fest on Rocktober 24-25, having acquired a discount code for online ordering (it's Early15, FYI). So that’s in the works. I am going to attempt a horror movie challenge of watching one horror movie per day for the whole month of Rocktober. I am almost certain to fail at this, due to other commitments and responsibilities. But maybe if I miss a day or two, I can double up on other days.

There was no Oshkosh Horror Film Fest this year, so the Madtown one could not have come along at a better time.