6.28.2016

A Bit o' Bikin'


I rode my bike 15 miles this evening, down to the  Union Terrace on the UW campus and back. It was much needed as I have not been getting enough exercise lately and I was in a foul mood today. Exercise always improves my mood, probably through a combination of a sense of accomplishment and the spike in endogenous endorphins that moderate to high physical activity brings.

6.26.2016

Guppification


I rounded out the weekend down at Funks Pub, rocking a solid set with my band GUPPY EFFECT. Ever since our marathon of rock a week ago Tuesday at MAKE MUSIC MADISON, we've been busting out some solid jams, really tight and potent with crisp vocal harmonies. Since we play mostly original music that is unfamiliar to 99.9999% of the populace, it is contingent upon us to rock our songs amazingly hard so that they can stand on their own merits. And we do. Our motto is "thrice the rocking power of other name bands," and that is the minimum level of rocking power we guarantee at our shows or your next show is free. Usually it is far higher than that. They are good songs, but presentation is everything when you are playing original material. Cover songs please audiences easily because they are recognizable and don't require as much thought from people who are not very musically discerning. Many audiences will prefer a cover song played sh!ttily over an original played awesomely. That puts GUPPY EFFECT at a disadvantage since we don't take the easy path to pleasing audiences by playing popular covers that someone else wrote. We write our own stuff - a lot of it I daresay superior to a lot of the well known songs out there - and we frost it with our rock sauce (the unique and tasteful mojo that each member of the band adds to the performance of the music).

6.23.2016

I Like These Sorts of Days


I guess it's the second full day of summer today. It's a bit anticlimactic though, because it's a grey day, with a misty on-and-off rain and temperatures in the middle 60s. I actually enjoy days like this in the summer because it is a nice respite from the usual heat. To tell you the truth, I enjoy these kinds of days in winter too because they are also a respite from the brutal cold. That being said, a day like today in, say, February would be unusual and probably would inspire and inflame some debates on social media about global warming, repleat with a lot of TL;DR comments from armchair climate scientists.

I just finished reading "The Golden Compass," downloaded as a free eBook from the library. The download had expired, but I turned off my tablet's wifi connection before it did to prolong the loan by tricking the online eBook system. It was a strange tale. I mostly read it as reference material for the sci fi book I am working on. It's well written, so I was studying the author's writing style, and the story involves portals between universes, which is directly relevant to my story.

The Golden Compass is the first book in a series and my understanding is that it was written as a secular counterpoint to CS Lewis' Christian themed "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."

6.22.2016

Make Music Madison

I woke up on Tuesday morning with giddy anticipation, long before the alarm clock was due to go off, like I used to do on Christmas morning as a child. Only there were no presents under a fir tree and it was the dawn of a summer day - in fact, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.*

It being Tuesday, Deborah had the day off and remained in bed as I got up and prepared for the marathon day of fun ahead. It was MAKE MUSIC MADISON, a city wide music fest in Madison WI, that I was so excited about. My band GUPPY EFFECT had been preparing for it for weeks and we had an action packed day of shows booked.

I drank coffee, ate some breakfast, and loaded my music gear into my car before driving over to my guitarist Stefan's house to carpool downtown for the first gig. At 10 AM, we performed as an acoustic duo outside in front of the Veteran's Museum on the Capitol Square. The weather was beautiful and sunny, and we were playing early enough to not be cooked by the sun. Though the museum staff had a small PA system to offer us, it wasn't quite sufficient for our needs. We had loaded our band PA in Stefan's SUV as a backup and used that instead. During our performance, a chaperoned group of first graders stopped by with egg shakers and rain sticks to accompany us.

"Your rhythm was excellent," I told the kids from the stage near the end of our set. "I want you all to go home and tell your parents you want to become a drummer."

After we finished the first gig and packed up, we had about an hour to cruise over to Festival Foods on E. Washington Ave to perform a noon set inside in their mezzanine bar. We had to use our own PA there because they didn't have one, although they were supposed to. Deborah met us for that gig and we were also joined by my friend and fellow rocker Kelsey Miles, who had some shows of her own that day. Our drummer Verge arrived in time to play the Festival show with us as a trio. A guy at the bar introduced himself to me after our set and asked if we ever did house concerts. I said we did and he took our contact information, because he hosts house concerts. The store Director Paul also gave me his card and said he wanted to have us back to perform in the bar on a Friday or Saturday night. Nice!

At 2 PM, we performed as our full band power trio (with drums) on the outdoor patio at Graze restaurant on the Capitol Square, under the shade of a big tree. They also had an insufficient PA system for our rock and the same was true for the band that performed there after us, The Begowatts, so we let them use our system as we dined at Graze after our set and listened to them. They are a great band that plays straightahead rock-n-roll. It had a vibe kind of like Alice Cooper.

We didn't have to perform our next set until 4:30 PM, and it was nearby, so we had ample time to load and travel after The Begowatts finished rocking on our gear a little before 4. The next gig was on the patio behind Zoma Cafe, a coffee shoppe, and they did have a decent PA for our needs. The stage area was partly shaded by an awning, but the sun did cook our legs and feet a little bit, so when I wasn't singing, I would step back under the awning for shade. We were back to the acoustic trio for that show as well as our last one of the day at 6:30 PM at the Goodman Community Center, which also had a decent PA. My friend Sherry showed up after she got done with work and joined Deborah to take in the Goodman set. A couple people in the audience at Goodman were really blown away by our rocking and Deborah said they were really enjoying our music. After we finished rocking and packed up Stefan's SUV with our gear, we walked over to Next Door Brewing nearby to decompress over dinner and drinks. Sherry joined us there too, though Deborah went home after Goodman because she was tired.

We had pulled in about $84 in tips performing over the course of the day and I used a chunk of that to cover the band's dinner tab. We had $30 remaining to put in the band fund toward merchandise we plan to have made (tee shirts probably) soon. The couple who had liked our Goodman set were also at Next Door and they gave us more high praise. That always feels good to hear.

I got home about 10 PM, concluding a fulfilling 13 hour day of solid rocking. It took me a while to wind down from the day's fun and excitement. That was yesterday. Today felt a little anticlimactic since GUPPY EFFECT doesn't really have any official gigs lined up in the near future, nor in the distant future for that matter. But we'll probably perform at the weekly Sunday open jam at Funks Pub fairly soon.

* Note: Actually, the day with the longest amount of daylight hours, since all days of the year have 24 hours.

6.20.2016

Winner

Last night, I represented punk rock band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE - for which I play rhythm guitar - at the Madison Area Music Association Awards. EDDIE was nominated for a couple of categories, and we received the award for UNIQUE SONG OF THE YEAR for the song "I Like Your Hat." The other nomination was for VIDEO OF THE YEAR for the same song, but someone else took home the award for that.

The songwriting credit for this catchy 12 second earbug goes entirely to band leader and songwriter Tim Budzisiewski (aka Eddie), who could not attend the ceremonies, so I went in his stead. It was a gala affair at the Overture Center Capitol Theater in Madison and very fun. I wore suitably extravagant attire. After the event, Deborah - my "date" - and I went across the street to Paul's Club to socialize with other local musicians, thus staying up way past our bedtime for a school night.

I had to get up at 6:30 AM this morning to take my car in for an oil change and a couple new tires. Once it's done later this morning, I'll probably head out for some Uber driving the rest of the day. Tomorrow is the all day music fest called MAKE MUSIC MADISON, at which my rock-n-roll band GUPPY EFFECT is playing about 5 shows over the course of the day. That should be a blast.

6.18.2016

Anti-Dramatarian

I have begun to treat drama the way vegans treat meat and animal byproducts...avoidance. If you bring drama into my house, I will respectfully ask you to take it elsewhere. If I go somewhere and encounter other peoples' drama, I graciously decline to partake. If people deceive or force me into their drama, I get mad and think they are a-holes. It's quite refreshing. I might become a vegan.

6 Word Novel

I fell...into ten angry ninjas.

6.15.2016

Local Music Rocks!

GUPPY EFFECT, my band, had a fun time on the Jimmy K Show last night. Everyone who came down to the Frequency had a blast and I can only assume so did those people who tuned into the live stream online, because generally speaking one should be having a good time ALL THE TIME.

ONE LAST RUN, another local hard rock band also performed on the show and I was mesmerized by their sheer rock-n-roll awesomeness.

Stefan and I carpooled to the gig, doing our small part to save the @#$%ing Earth.

6.10.2016

Fast Actin' Chillaxin

I wrote a bit today and submitted a short piece to my writers' group ahead of our Sunday critique meeting. It was under two pages, but I was submitting close to the wire, so I didn't want to submit anything too lengthy. Deborah read it and thought it was pretty good, save a couple typos. Here's a link if you want to read it. Leave a constructive comment for me here if you like.

https://1drv.ms/w/s!Am0jSsJZqGi_iyyAW7kVWsuJ58Fq

Deborah's arrival home from work today marked the start of our dietary free day that runs for 24 hours from Friday evening to Saturday evening. We ordered pizza and cheese bread from Falbo's Bros and gorged ourselves silly. After we ate, Deborah fell into a deep food coma on the couch downstairs and I went to my study to correct the typos in the aforementioned piece of writing and submit it to my group.

Deborah's out cold now and I'm writing this on the couch with a sleeping dog on either side of me. I read a bit of the Golden Compass that I got as an ebook from the library. Now I'll probably get ready for bed and read a little of Bill Bryson's Australia book before I fall asleep.

6.09.2016

06-09-2016 - The Uberman

Today was an interesting Uber day. A passenger said I look like Vince Vaughn. I also came upon the aftermath of some kind of gang related shooting where a million cops (ok, slight exaggeration) were blocking the road and a SWAT officer with an M16 rifle told me I had to turn around, which I expediently did. My passenger at the time was understanding about the slight detour to the airport, his destination.

I found out later that some businesses were locked down during the manhunt for the shooters and all the assailants were caught. I am always amused that when minorities shoot each other, it's gang violence ("nothing to see here"), but when white people shoot up a place, it's domestic terrorism and everyone craps their pantaloons.

6.07.2016

06-07-2016 - Return Delivery

Deborah and I just ate burrito bowls for dinner from Salsarita's Mexican joint (best value meal) at the airport in Charlotte NC where we are laying over this evening ahead of the final leg of our trip back to Wisconsin.

The restrooms at this airport have a bizarre combination of retro and nouveau. In most respects, they are modern airport restrooms, repleat with autoflush toilets and motion sensing faucets and paper towel dispensers. They also have well dressed servants who greet you and offer you mints or mouthwash, or dispense the autodispensing paper towels so you don't have to. It's a nice relic of deep south hospitality, but a bit awkward if you are used to handling your own ablutions in the men's room. There is also a tip jar at the restroom exit so you can show your appreciation for the uninvited servitude.

So far, our trip home has been smooth, though I know I risk jinxing it just by saying so. So I will also add the proverbial "knock on wood." Our layover here in CLT (the airport code for Charlotte) is nearly three hours. Due to a combination of historically bad airline efficiency and Deborah's occasional need for assisted transit in airports, I usually incorporate long layover windows into trips when I book them. It's better to have extra time on your hands than not enough. As a writer, I can use the time to write posts like this or chat with Deborah about what we call our "hypothetical future." We had such a chat just prior to my writing of this post. It was a discussion of our quasi-serious plan to vacation in Australia at the end of 2016 so that if Donald Trump really does become President, we can exercise PLAN B, an actual plan to expatriate ourselves from the US for a few years while America crumbles and burns.

06-06-2016 - Hall of Rock

The date Deborah, my folks, and I chose to visit Cleveland's Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame was passably close to appropos (6/6/16). \m/

The excursion was a veritable marathon of interactive rock history that took us the better part of all day to accomplish, and we still felt like we hadn't seen much more than the tip of the iceberg by the time we called it a day and spent far too much money in the gift shop before heading back to my folks' house.

The current exhibit on rock-n-roll and politics was compelling and inspirational for me, both musically and literarally (if that's not a real word, it should be). Rock music can be a powerful force for good and persuasion, which is why the status quo establishment has often sought to quell it, historically. It can make people think and ask questions, both of which are very threatening to those in power. My sci fi book has a major music/politics theme, so I got a lot of good ideas from the exhibit.

In the evening, we took my folks out for an earthy dinner at the Mustard Seed Cafe, which resides inside the hippy trippy health food grocery store of the same name.

As a result of the action packed day, I didn't have much time or energy for writing in the evening, so I am authoring this post as Deborah and I sit in the Akron/Canton airport on Tuesday, waiting to begin the first leg of our trip back to Wisconsin. I'm looking forward to getting back. A local radio station in Madison has requested a couple songs from my band GUPPY EFFECT by Friday because they are covering the city wide MAKE MUSIC MADISON festival we are playing on June 21. We have a new song that is almost fully recorded, so I want to put the finishing touches on it and submit it before the deadline, along with another pre-existing song.

That's about it for now. Leave a comment.

Ciao.

6.05.2016

06-05-2016 Part 2 - Winking Lizard

Deborah and I got up fairly late this morning and my parents already had breakfast well under way by the time we emerged from the guest room of their Akron OH home.

"Is there coffee?" I asked Deborah while I was still in bed.

"How should I know?" Deborah replied. She was already up and dressed. It was a fair question. She couldn't know. The caffeine dependent part of my brain just irrationally hoped she knew, and further, that the answer was yes.

Deborah asked my dad if there was coffee.

"There's instant," I heard my dad reply from downstairs, only to be repeated by Deborah.

"There's instant," Deborah said.

"That will suffice," I said, rolling out of the guest bed and pulling on my shorts.

After breakfast, we discussed options for the day and settled upon giving Deborah a driving tour of the city. We drove downtown, but being as it was Sunday, nothing was open, including the Quaker Square boutique mall we tried to get into. We made our way out to Peninsula OH by way of some country roads and ate lunch at the Winking Lizard bar and grill along the Cuyahoga River, which I give high marks.

In the afternoon, my parents went to a classical music show while Deborah opted for a power nap and I did a bit of reading. A thunderstorm rolled through, after which I too succumbed to a brief power nap. When we awoke, my parents were home, eating rhubarb pie with a couple of their friends. Deborah resisted the urge to eat pie. Instead she made a salad and I reheated some leftovers from my dad's 80th birthday feast the previous day. We sat around chatting until my parents' friends left. Now we are just chilling before we watch a little TV maybe...

It's been a relaxing getaway thus far. Tomorrow we'll hit the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, our only mandatory agenda item.

06-05-2016 Part 1 - 17 Year Cicadas

I read once that there are several species of cicadas that emerge in multi-year intervals. The 17 year cicadas may be the most well known, but there are some that have a 13 year reproductive cycle, for example. The interesting thing about all the species that have this is that the cycle is always a prime number of years (SOURCE).

The 17 year cicadas have hatched in Akron OH, where Deborah and I are now visiting my parents. When you go outside, there is this constant post-apocalyptic droning sound coming from the tree tops. It's actually quite loud.
Why prime numbers? The link above explains it pretty well, so go read it.

6.04.2016

06-04-2016 Part 2 - Veggie Bowl

Getting quality food for a decent price at an airport while traveling is challenging.

A best value I discovered is to look for a Mexican cantina of some type and then order a "burrito bowl," which is all the innards of a burrito in a bowl, without the exterior corn tortilla wrap (sometimes called a "naked" burrito).

Unfettered from the finite volume limitation of the tortilla, you can request extra beans and vegetables in your bowl for no extra charge. You'll still pay $8 bucks, but get a lot more useful food that way.

Often if you get a veggie burrito, added guacamole may be free, depending on the vendor. Don't be afraid to ask and preamble your question with a universally persuasive phrase like: "Is it cool to ask you for extra black beans?" This kind of wording is respectful of the server and gives them the decision making authority. Naturally, no one wants to be perceived as "uncool," so usually a server will accommodate such a request and pile on the black beans.

"Is that cool" is a remarkably persuasive phrase, for reasons I don't quite understand. Almost every time I have begun a request with "is it cool if...", I get compliance from the other person. Try using it and see what kind of results you get, then leave a comment here with your observations.