Monday, April 20, 2009

Obnoxiously Long Meme (Oscars)

Here's a list of all the films ever nominated for best picture. I've seen 97 of 'em.

1928- The Racket, 7th Heaven, Wings

1929- Alibi, In Old Arizona, The Broadway Melody, Hollywood Revue, The Patriot

1930- All Quiet on the Western Front, The Big House, Disraeli, The Divorcee, The Love Parade

1931- Cimarron, East Lynne, The Front Page, Skippy, Trader Horn

1932- Arrowsmith, Bad Girl, The Champ, Five Star Final, Grand Hotel, One Hour with You, Shanghai Express, The Smiling Lieutenant

1933- Cavalcade, A Farewell to Arms, 42nd Street, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Lady for a Day, Little Women, The Private Life of Henry VIII, She Done Him Wrong, Smilin' Through, State Fair

1934- The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Cleopatra, Flirtation Walk, The Gay Divorcee, Here Comes the Navy, The House of Rothschild, Imitation of Life, It Happened One Night, One Night of Love, The Thin Man, Viva Villa!, The White Parade

1935- Alice Adams, Broadway Melody of 1936, Captain Blood, David Copperfield, The Informer, Les Miserables, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mutiny on the Bounty, Naughty Marietta, Ruggles of Red Gap, Top Hat

1936- Anthony Adverse, Dodsworth, The Great Ziegfeld, Libeled Lady, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco, The Story of Louis Pasteur, A Tale of Two Cities, Three Smart Girls

1937- The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, The Life of Emile Zola, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door, A Star Is Born

1938- The Adventures of Robin Hood, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Boys Town, The Citadel, Four Daughters, Grand Illusion, Jezebel, Pygmalion, Test Pilot, You Can't Take It with You

1939- Gone With The Wind, Dark Victory, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights

1940- Rebecca, All This and Heaven Too, The Foreign Correspondent, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Dictator, Kitty Foyle, The Letter, The Long Voyage Home, Our Town, The Philadelphia Story

1941- How Green Was My Valley, Blossom in the Dust, Citizen Kane, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion

1942- Mrs. Miniver , 49th Parallel, Kings Row, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pied Piper, The Pride of the Yankees, Random Harvest, The Talk of the Town, Wake Island, Yankee Doodle Dandy

1943- Casablanca, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, In Which We Serve, Madame Curie, The More the Merrier, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Song of Bernadette, Watch on the Rhine

1944- Going My Way, Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Since You Went Away, Wilson

1945- The Lost Weekend, Anchors Aweigh, The Bells of St. Mary's, Mildred Pierce, Spellbound

1946- The Best Years of Our Lives, The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (Henry V), It's a Wonderful Life, The Razor's Edge, The Yearling

1947- Gentleman's Agreement, The Bishop's Wife, Crossfire, Great Expectations, Miracle on 34th Street

1948- Hamlet, Johnny Belinda, The Red Shoes, The Snake Pit, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949- All the King's Men, Battleground, The Heiress, A Letter to Three Wives, Twelve O'Clock High

1950- All About Eve, Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, King Solomon's Mines,
Sunset Blvd

1951- An American in Paris, Decision Before Dawn, A Place in the Sun*, Quo Vadis, A Streetcar Named Desire

1952- The Greatest Show on Earth, High Noon, Ivanhoe, Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man

1953- From Here to Eternity, Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday, Shane

1954- On the Waterfront, The Caine Mutiny, The Country Girl, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain

1955- Marty, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, Mister Roberts, Picnic, The Rose Tattoo

1956- Around the World in Eighty Days, Friendly Persuasion, Giant, The King and I, The Ten Commandments

1957- The Bridge on the River Kwai, 12 Angry Men, Peyton Place, Sayonara, Witness for the Prosecution

1958- Gigi, Auntie Mame, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones, Separate Tables

1959- Ben-Hur, Anatomy of a Murder, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nun's Story, Room at the Top

1960- The Apartment, The Alamo, Elmer Gantry, Sons and Lovers, The Sundowners

1961- West Side Story, Fanny, The Guns of Navarone, The Hustler, Judgment at Nuremberg

1962- Lawrence of Arabia, The Longest Day, The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty, To Kill a Mockingbird

1963- Tom Jones, America, America, Cleopatra, How the West Was Won, Lilies of the Field

1964- My Fair Lady, Alexis Zorbas, Becket, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Mary Poppins

1965- The Sound of Music, Darling, Doctor Zhivago , Ship of Fools, A Thousand Clowns

1966- A Man for All Seasons, Alfie, The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, The Sand Pebbles, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967- In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

1968- Oliver!, Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel, Rachel, Romeo and Juliet

1969- Midnight Cowboy, Anne of the Thousand Days, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hello, Dolly! , Z

1970- Patton, Airport, Five Easy Pieces, Love Story, MASH

1971- The French Connection, A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof, The Last Picture Show, Nicholas and Alexandra

1972- The Godfather, Cabaret, Deliverance, Sounder, The Emigrants

1973- The Sting, American Graffiti, The Exorcist, A Touch of Class, Cries and Whispers

1974- The Godfather: Part II, Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno

1975- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Nashville

1976- Rocky, All The President's Men, Bound for Glory, Network, Taxi Driver

1977- Annie Hall, The Goodbye Girl, Julia, Star Wars, The Turning Point

1978- The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Heaven Can Wait, Midnight, An Unmarried Woman

1979- Kramer vs. Kramer, All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away, Norma Rae

1980. Ordinary People, Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, Tess

1981. Chariots of Fire, Reds, Atlantic City, On Golden Pond, Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982. Gandhi, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Missing, Tootsie, The Verdict

1983. Terms of Endearment, The Big Chill, The Dresser, The Right Stuff, Tender Mercies

1984. Amadeus, The Killing Fields, A Passage to India, Places in the Heart, A Soldier’s Story

1985. Out of Africa, The Color Purple, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Prizzi’s Honor, Witness

1986. Platoon, Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Mission, A Room with a View

1987. The Last Emperor, Broadcast News, Fatal Attraction, Hope and Glory, Moonstruck

1988. Rain Man, The Accidental Tourist, Dangerous Liaisons, Mississippi Burning, Working Girl

1989. Driving Miss Daisy, Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, My Left Foot

1990. Dances with Wolves, Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, Goodfellas

1991. The Silence of the Lambs, Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides

1992. Unforgiven, The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howards End, Scent of a Woman

1993. Schindler’s List, The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day

1994. Forrest Gump, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption

1995. Braveheart, Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino (The Postman), Sense and Sensibility

1996. The English Patient, Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine

1997. Titanic, As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, L.A. Confidential

1998. Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Life Is Beautiful (La vita รจ bella), Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line

1999. American Beauty, The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense

2000. Gladiator, Chocolat, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

2001. A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!

2002. Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

2003. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit

2004. Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways

2005. Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich

2006. The Departed, Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen

2007. No Country for Old Men, Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood

2008. Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

So That Happened

This weekend was a real pisser. A lot of good stuff happened too but mostly it was just one kick in the pants after another. I realized something while I was home today recovering. Three friends of mine stuck it out at a very long, drawn out event that they didn't really have to be at. And not only that but they went way out of their way to help me out.

These guys drove all over the North Country to pick stuff up for me. They worked like dogs to get my sound system set up. They prayed for me when I was about to throw up from the stress of working a big, fupped duck gig and having my newborn baby in the hospital at the same time. They worked the kinks out of my neck. They poured me drinks and sat up late with me. They refused to let me pay for dinner.

Mack, Anth, Amanda... You guys are the real deal. There aren't words to describe it. I'd walk on razor blades for you. Because church events are nice, and theology is all good, but people who love God and their neighbor for real burn so brightly that they make everything else look like a dingy photograph.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Changin' It Up Again

Things at work are starting to look a little dire. Management is... well... let's not talk about management. The thing that worries me is that yet another rat is about to jump ship and I'll likely be the one to get his duties dumped on me. I'm not the least bit interested in that. But, there's no better time to look for a job than when you're still employed. I'm just biding my time to see what comes down the pike.

I've been peeking around the pro audio scene to see what might come up. Nothing has been offered yet but it looks like a short tour and a pretty sweet festival stage could possibly be in the works. From there it's just a matter of networking. Not that I'm super excited about becoming self employed again, but if those types of gigs start coming along it could be a pretty sweet existence.

Mostly though I'm just praying and waiting. Anybody who was reading me back toward the end of the summer will remember how I was desperately praying for a new job in August and got hired at my current position on September 16. Yay God! It's that kind of thing that is making me go into this with very little worry about the mortgage, health insurance and all that other stuff. God knows my family needs to eat and go to the doctor and whatnot. He also knows I'd be a much happier guy if I was mixing for a living.

I haven't been thinking about this seriously for very long. I've been praying seriously about it for an even shorter time. The thing that keeps popping into my head is "July". You heard it here first. Stay tuned and see what shakes out.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Old Timers

I read a post over at Irish Gumbo by cIII from Goat and Tater today about an old timer he remembered from his childhood. It got me to remembering one from my own. Not my Grandfather, who is far and away the most prominent in the pantheon of old timers in my book. And not our old plumber George who is responsible for about 90% of the geezer-isms that I collect. My thoughts turn tonight toward an old farmer I worked a couple summers for. A man affectionately referred to as, "The Boss".

The Boss was a wizened old farmer type, as twisted and dried up as an old corn stalk and twice as tough. He held a particular charm in that he had lost an arm at the elbow in a corn picker years back and wore a prosthetic in its place. My best friend at the time and I were too old to be freaked out, even when he wore the one that had a hay hook on the end. Most of the time he wore the one with pincers and every so often you'd see him in his best coat with his Sunday Go To Meetin' hand on, the one that really looked like a hand. (He gave me his old Sunday Go To Meetin hand, we used to slam it in the hatch back of my Chevette and one guy would work the cables while the rest peed their pants at the looks on passing motorists faces.)

There really wasn't that much that was charming about him though. He worked us like dogs. We'd hay for him after school until the sun went down and when the hay was all in there was plenty else to do. I learned how to drive a tractor and how to fix one. I learned how stupid and skittish cows really are and how to get them in and out of a barn. Mostly what I remember learning was was tough really was. (Funny side note: he had a silo that was continuously on fire. It was one of the air tight glass lined jobs and it caught from too much moisture making the silage self ignite in the bottom. Everything they did just made it worse so they sealed it back up and just let it simmer. The outside of it was a constant 200 degrees Fahrenheit for years.)

When we took a break he'd sit us down at the picnic table in the shade of an ancient maple tree and bring us instant coffee in plastic mugs. We'd sit and he'd start in on spinning yarns whether we wanted him to or not. He'd tell us about how he used to run a garage when he was young. I never saw a photo but I can clearly picture him as a young man with a head of hair, slick with grease in a blue coverall, grinning in front of a lift with a wrench in his hand.

Mostly though he'd talk about farm life. A few good times but mostly hard times. Simple logic would make one think that the people who grow our food would do all right, but that's far from the case. He talked about failed crops, broken machinery, sick cows, sick kids, bad loans, lost land, lightning strikes, fires, and a million other tragedies.

I won't bore you with all the details. They're just details. They're probably totally meaningless to anyone and really not all that meaningful to me. But those stories are just one more of the things that make me feel tied to this place. Every time my mind roams over the hills to the South they linger on a little farm. A little forty head dairy barn whose old beams watched a man live and toil and die, working the land and scraping by. People talk about Americana. Chevy commercials churn it out in stylized thirty second chunks. I actually worked there for two summers. I heard the stories of that little parcel that every once in a while will creep up from the depths of my mind like August heat rising from a field of Timothy hay.

Some kids grow up in the city and the concrete and steel become a part of who they are. Some kids grow up in the country and spend all their time trying to be like the city kids, slick and hard. There's absolutely no escape, no real departure from the location that made you. That's how you end up with Black No. 1 goths with studded faces that unconsciously lip synch to Sweet Home Alabama (they still know all the words, of course). And that's how you end up with me, the ever running, ever technical sound guy slash electrician who still stops once in a while and thinks back to what an old timer taught him about Jersey cows and alfalfa and hard work.

God rest ya, Boss. And thanks.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Why Must I Be In Charge?

Ugh. Why is it that no matter where I go I get nominated to be in charge? Can't I just go to work, do some work and go home? WTF?!

Mere moments after completing a remodeling project that took five of the six months of my current employment as a maintenance mechanic at the hospital I got made the liaison between the hospital and (at last count) five companies taking care of various elements of a whopping great project on our other building.

Back in 2000 the two hospitals in town merged and started operating mostly at our North St facility. The Bank St building had a big do-up to house a lot of out patient stuff, and there's a drug rehabilitation facility on the second floor, but the other five floors are basically a shit mess. Soooooooo, in comes the cavalry to abate all the asbestos, turn the top four floors into senior living apartments and rehab the second floor. Without disturbing (too much) the current inhabitants.

This is my headache for at least the next six months. And that's just the first two floors! That's just to get all the asbestos out, patch, paint, get the druggies re-situated and leave the first floor still a hulking wreck. The developer for the top four floors hasn't even gotten started yet. That'll be another architect firm, another general contractor, and half a dozen trades companies.

At least I'm far away from my bosses and only have to speak to them occasionally. The only discernable benefit of working with all these companies is that they're really good at what they do. I like working with people who are good at what they do.

And I'm very nearly over (probably not) the fact that the hospital has secured for themselves a full blown (I have my own company cell phone!) project manager at mechanic's rate. Yeah, the guy juggling all this crap is making the exact same as the dude changing light bulbs. At least it's a resume builder. I may not even make out an actual resume (because my ass is definately in the market for a new job) I may just submit a piece of paper that says this on it:

Hire me, because everywhere else I've worked they have decided to put me in charge of stuff after the first twenty minutes.

I'm really going to try and bite my tongue about all this. I could easily fill a page with bile on a nightly basis. I was ready to punch my one boss in his fat, stupid mouth the other day. Oh! Funny story about that. I was walking down the deserted first floor hall at Bank St (the one about to be torn apart), bitching to a couple guys about punching my boss in the mouth. This floor is deserted. Not even the ghost goes there. And after shooting my big fat mouth off the whole length of the hallway and punching the elevator button who should come strolling out of a room at the other end? The CEO. That is seriously fupped duck. He likes me though so I'm pretty sure it won't mean my job or anything. There is cause to worry slightly though. The other day said boss encouraged a guy to say what was bothering him and when the guy exploded about what a shit mess our department is the boss wrote him up for bad attitude.

Done writing. Picture your humble host with a very Ward Cleaver expression on his face as he says to you, "I'm going to get intoxicated now."

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Solar Project

We do a lot of things the Crunchy Granola way at our house. It's not so much that we're a bunch of tree hugging hippies but that we're professional cheapskates. As it turns out, buying local produce and meat is super affordable and the fact that it's way healthier for your is a nice bonus. So we've got freezers full of free range, organic meat; bags and bags of locally grown, organic produce; and a host of other goodies that save the planet and the pocket book.

All of this is in pursuit of lowering the bottom line. With The Missus staying home with the Short People bringing home the bacon falls on me. We're still a two income family, I just happen to be both of those incomes. So we've done a lot of things like replace most of our lights with compact fluorescent bulbs, significantly lowered our thermostat, and even gone as far as to make the majority of our food on site. Now we're looking for additional ways to cut back.

Getting "off the grid" is often associated with the type of folks you find living in desert compounds with large stocks of automatic weapons and possibly an affinity for Kool Aid. That's not us, we're just pinching pennies. We're definitely not at the point of trying to power the whole house with wind or solar, it's just not economical. But with a few windfalls and the available (cheap) technology I'm thinking I might be able to get a partial solution going.

Working at the hospital I come across all sorts of gear that's getting thrown out because the law mandates it. Of particular interest are the UPS systems that back up critical gear in the event of a power outage. Most are tiny little things that are just meant to run a computer for a few minutes until the generator kicks in but some of them run machines that are the size of a Volkswagon. So now I'm at the point of saving $300 to $500 on an expensive controller and inverter because I'm actually doing the hospital a favor and saving them the disposal fee.

The problem with most alternative energy solutions for homes is that they just cost too darn much. It's an economy of scale issue as well. Taking one small load off the grid can easily cost hundreds of dollars. Dollars that you will never make back in savings before the equipment ages out. Doing a larger project makes the ratios more favorable but you're still just a hobbyist playing around with batteries and expensive electronics and not a frugal homeowner saving money. Free stuff put me ahead in the game, scrounging is what it takes at this point in the evolution of alternative energy.

So... now that I've got a self contained box that is ready, willing and able to run the entire second floor of my house all I need is a method to charge the batteries and some switching and monitoring equipment. Anyone looking for the technical jargon has probably already clicked on to something else by now but here I go anyway. The following is not something that you want to undertake unless you have a very good understanding of both AC and DC power. If you don't and you still feel like tinkering you should invite an electrician and an auto mechanic over for a barbecue and get the free advice going that way.

I'm going to start by disabling the circuit that charges the battery bank from utility power. I'm going to substitute a small solar panel and charging circuit. That will have to be purchased and it looks like about $150. With the UPS installed in the basement and the charger hooked up I can then route the AC output to the circuit that runs my second floor.

Side note: most modern homes would have a separate circuit for each room and likely a general lighting circuit for a similar area. My home was re-wired in the 1970s when there wasn't so much electrical draw, a light and a couple outlets to run very light loads were all that was expected. A single twenty amp circuit covers three bedrooms, a hallway and a bathroom and never trips because the load for that area is still very low. (Unless someone is running the hair dryer) This makes it an easy way to take a large area of my house off the grid as an experiment, one circuit, one wire, small load.

Back to the action. With just those three things done I'll be ready to manually switch over to making AC power from the batteries and feeding it to all my second floor lights and outlets. The UPS is designed for a large load over a short time. Using it for a small load over a long time will make much better use of the batteries. A few lights and alarm clocks, the odd humidifier or music device, that's it. I'll have to do some load testing to find out how long I can go and that will involve simply spending some time switching and watching.

The next step will be to make it automatic. If the batteries finally get tired in the middle of the night and our alarm clocks all go dead it's going to close down the operation in a hurry. Same goes if The Missus plugs in the hair dryer and draws down the batteries quickly. The solution is automatic switching back to utility power. A simple three-way switch is all it will take for manual change over so to automate things will take a relay.

The UPS already has a battery monitoring circuit. If I'm able to tap in to that, I can use it to signal the relay to trip when the batteries are tired and the solar charger can do it's thing. When the batteries are full, it can automatically switch back. If that's not possible I can build a circuit very cheaply that will do the job. Total cost for this part I estimate to be under $50 including the relay. There are a lot of variables involved here though. How fast will the batteries run down and how fast can they be recharged.

It may be that I can run all night and charge all day and have that load disappear completely from my electric bill. It could also easily be that it will take a week of sunny days to keep the bedrooms lit for a single evening. If that's the case then more batteries and larger chargers will be in order. If that's the case then the challenge will be to look for other crafty ways to recharge.

A small wind turbine would work day and night, but they're even more expensive per watt than solar chargers. I'll likely be looking into DIY versions though. Water flow meters generate a small current from water passing through pipes. One of those just after the water meter would make a small amount of current every time we ran a faucet or a load of wash. Again though, it's a case of wanting to be a frugal homeowner and not a hobbyist playing with expensive gadgets.

This has gotten pretty wordy but it was mostly to help me map out the project. Once I start to actually get this stuff installed I'll be posting more articles, hopefully more concise, as I iron out the kinks and hopefully pinch some pennies.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

This Is Only A Test

Yesterday at lunch the Big Boss asked myself and the other electrician if we would head over and support the drug rehabilitation clinic folks during an emergency preparedness drill. Sure, we said... whatever the hell that means.

We went over there and watched the nurses line them all up and evacuate them. Six minutes till the all clear, not bad. Then I got an interesting phone call. It was the Big Big Boss telling me to go meet with the Disaster Assessment Team and tell them what the situation was. He then related to me how the imaginary situation included a floor collapse, burst waterlines, severed electrical lines, but no fire at that time.

So we met up with the lady in the area where the pretend incident had taken place and began relaying the "situation" over our radios. It started getting really good when we were asked about investigating the possibility of shutting off a water main. My cohort asked the disaster lady if he could throw a wrench in the works to which she just grinned and nodded.

We could hear the irritation coming back in the radio responses as we told them that the utilities area in the basement was inaccessible. We were also having radio reception problems (just like a real emergency!). For every new twist and turn that we thought up we'd pause and sort out how we, ourselves, would deal with it and toss that information into the mix. This was intensely amusing for me in particular because while I have been through two actual emergencies at the hospital, this was my first drill.

We wound up pretending to partially shut down the electrical system from an auxiliary switching station and getting a pretend DPW crew to turn off the water at the street. This lead to more theorizing about how to keep the steam boilers from exploding due to a lack of supply. After most of the afternoon went by in a post game wrap-up meeting the maintenance crew realized that even those who have been there for two decades don't really have a good understanding of all the stuff that in some cases has been going into these buildings for nearly one hundred hears.

Anyway, said all that to say this: If you ever wind up living through an emergency, have patience for the people dealing with it. Because no matter how many drills have been done, no matter how many manuals have been written, it's still just men and women on the ground figuring it out as they go along.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pro Audio Here I Come?

I've been furtively wishing for about a month for some way to pursue a career in pro audio and yet not have my family starve to death in the street. Most guys that do it spend their mid-twenties honing their skills and developing contacts that lead to tours and the like. I spent that era of my life doing little shows in my home town and making babies. Not that I'm the least bit dissatisfied with how that played out, but I'm a little bit off the beaten path as far as advancing my career.

If I were to get a touring career going it could easily keep the family afloat. It has the sizable downside though of the feast-or-famine element. It's not so bad to think about being gone for six weeks at a stretch, but being gone for 300 days out of the year is probably a bit much for the Short People. Be home and starve or be gone and pay off the mortgage. It's a tough one.

After a little prayer a couple things (in typical fashion) have dropped into my lap. One is the Cornerstone festival. Last year I got an offer to work on one of the better independent stages there. It's pretty much the who's who of Christian music and a guy who gave away 1000 business cards could conceivably quit his day job shortly thereafter.

The other thing started off innocently enough, with a band asking me to guest engineer at a club. I made a favorable impression and the owner shortly asked me to cover a date for the house guy. That didn't work out, but after a second time mixing there and the house guy getting an unexpected promotion at his day job, I've suddenly been offered about as much work as I care to take. Small pay, but much easier in that I don't have to haul all my gear in. I just show up and mix. Despite being a small club they host national acts fairly regularly. This could be real good for a certain small town sound guy. It's already lead to one really good industry contact.

The thought of being on the road most of the time would be a lot easier to deal with if I was still twenty-five and living with my folks. The current situation with the mortgage and the Shorties who need lots of daddy-type attention makes things a little trickier. I'm not hanging my hopes on anything yet, but the daydream of getting phone calls to go do big bucks one offs for famous people is starting to take shape in the ol' noggin.

As with anything, God provides. He knows the deepest desires of my heart and has provided for their satisfaction in ways far better than I could ever imagine. If there's a way to do sound for a living and keep my peeps happy, I'm sure to find it.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Check Out This Crew

Here we are. All piled on to the big bed. Worn out from the Spring weather and all the activitiy. People keep telling me I'm nuts for adding another kid to the equation. They ask how could I deal with it.

How could I not?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Once More Into The Breach

And that would not be breach birth for anyone who's curious. I'm just sitting around at my ordinary, average bedtime, thinking about tomorrow. I've got a week's worth of hospital work behind me, a gig in the morning, and quite likely... the birth of my fourth child.

Freaking out? Nah. We don't do that here. There's a distinct possibility that I will pile my contracting Missus into the truck at 5 am, drop her off at the hospital and go load in a show. Or I may have to leave in the middle or just miss it completely. That's kinda fupped duck. But whatever.

God's big enough for all of it and I've never found myself in a situation where everything wasn't provided for. So tomorrow's like any other day. There's nothing for it but to rub my eyes, slam a coffee, jam a hat on my head and charge.

See you on the other end.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Holy crap were the good ever forthcoming over at the Goat and Tater. I've only got a second so I'm going to direct you to the post that ends with:
I will protect you. Always. Tomorrow is a New day. And if you need, I’ll sleep under you bed. And I will be Armed. To the fucking Teeth.


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Here They Come

I was home sick with the Short People during church today. I got out my old sketch book to doodle around a bit during the second showing of Hoodwinked. The topic was zombies, of course. Apparently ChurchPunkMom has so thoroughly inundated me with zombie imagery that it's all I can think of. Here's the result.

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More Tales From The Punchbowl

Yes, I'm still inserting Primus lyrics into the status line on Effbook. And my friends are still responding, so the beatings will continue until morale improves. Here's the latest crop of calls and responses. And if you're lucky, I'll be sharing my zombie collection with you later tonight.

March 12 at 1:01am

Jon Dayton is incredibly hot in here today
Matt at 1:25am March 12
If you've studied your Floyd properly, you'd know that pigs could fly

March 14 at 1:10am
Jon Dayton got himself a big brown beaver and he stuck 'im up in the air...
Sean at 10:30pm March 13 via Facebook Mobile
Did you say I sure do love this big brown beaver and I wish I did have a pair?
Jon Dayton at 11:42pm March 13
Yes! And did I mention that he once slept for seven days and he gave us all an awful fright?
Matt at 1:49am March 14
Did you prick your finger one day and did it occurred to you that you might have a porcupine?
Jon Dayton at 9:17am March 14
Dude! How you gonna skip right tithe end like that?

Thu 11:58pm
Jon Dayton is going to make. You. All. Just a bit. Like. Me!
Matthew at 9:15pm March 19
what if we already like you?
Robb at 10:22pm March 19
you. sliiiip. iiiiiiiiiiit! in..........
Jon Dayton at 10:35pm March 19
You're sweet Matt. It's Primus lyrics again.
Robb at 10:39pm March 19
oh thank god. i thought we had moved on to dixie chicks.
Jon Dayton at 10:41pm March 19
I said RIGHT... LEFT... RIGHT... LEFT... Foreward HAAaaaaarch!!!
Michael at 11:21pm March 19
Dude I need a favor. Someone told me you could teach me how to play the game of warfare.
Brett at 10:08am March 20
i more than like you. I think I am a little in love with you
Jon Dayton at 2:57pm March 20

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Token Of Our Appreciation

As a token of my appreciation of the downtrodden (read this post about a big dose of suck for a reward that ChurchPunkMom wrote) I would like to offer up my own similar story. It's a story of going the extra mile, putting others first, and keeping your word. It's also a story kind of like Office Space where there are too many bosses, and kind of like The Office where the big cheese is just totally effing a trifle out of touch.

The whole crew at work has been killing themselves for the last five months. Big remodeling project, lots of extra hours, not much time with the family. But at least there was the overtime pay. That is, until a month ago when that got yanked out from under us. Then it was the same routine of flogging us to go faster while constantly making revisions and moving up the deadline.

That made things a little harder to swallow. Small paycheck. Meh. But to make things all better we got a couple really nice perks. The first was that were were invited to attend (off the clock of course) the opening celebration of the completed project. All the cheese and crackers you want boys. Yeah, except that it wasn't really, totally done, so we were back in there the next day.

The crowning glory of it all though, the thing that really makes it all worth it was the grand gesture on the part of my big boss to really let us guys know that we were appreciated. We all got hand signed gift certificates... to the hospital snack shop... for three dollars.




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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Medical Records

So the Big Boss of America wants the health care industry to get into the nineties already and do their record keeping on computers. That leads to my own big boss drafting me to lead the charge at our own local health care outpost. Don't send any congratulatory notes just yet though. I didn't get promoted to the IT department to implement vast subterranean data silos and super slick wrist watch data input devices for the docs.

I'm just the guy who has to build the shelves.

Shelves? Yeah. The plan for our hospital is to just try and get all the paper records all in one place and then slowly send the oldest ones out to get scanned until the pile is all gone. Brilliant.

So just how many shelves is that going to take?

My morning's work with a tape and calculator in the dusty archives produced the answer.

3,465 running feet of shelf space.

My task is to convert half an old auditorium in an off site building into a records room and figure out how to cram that much shelf space in there. The three foot wide, six shelf high units that we have some of already were my starting point. After a bit of scratching around I figured out how to cram 194 of them into a 32' by 50' space and still have the required three foot aisles in between. That's eight more than the target. Gold star for the electrician!

My only hope is that I'm the guy that gets to build the storage space for all the CD-ROMs when they're done. I'm thinking about a three foot long walnut shelf with hand carved scroll-work and brass hobnails. Maybe I'll commission a local artist to create a couple hobbit book ends for a finishing touch.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Pandora and Primus

OK, so I've got Primus on the brain lately. I can understand getting a little fed up with hearing about the same old thing all the time. But seriously, it's PRIMUS! If you don't know what I'm talking about then you need to go spend $3 on iTunes and download the top three songs. Listen to them till you know the words. Listen to them till you love them. Listen to them till you hate them. Naaaah. Won't happen.

So anyway, my Primus tapes from days of yore have long ago passed on into the greedy maw of some afflicted tape machine that clearly has no love of art or life. My Primus CDs are either so scratched as to be beyond rescue of modern technology, or stolen by friends of mine. And last but not least the iTunes gift card that I got for Christmas is almost gone. I'm seriously hurtin' for some Primus.

Not to worry.

Enter Pandora. My friend Tom turned me on to the website a couple years ago. You type in the name of an artist, it plays one of their tunes, a few from the same genre, then you get one from then again. You can skip ahead, vote thumbs up or down, and eventually it learns your preferences. Now you can get it on your iPod. Pretty frickin' sweet dude!

So when I really, really need to hear something I turn to Pandora and tonight I asked her for Primus. Apparently she hasn't got much in the way of teammates for Les and the boys. The first six tracks I got were either Primus or Claypool side projects. I say again, "Pretty FRICKIN' sweet dude!" She eventually came up with a couple R.A.T.M. tracks and one from Tool (eeeuch). Apparently I've reached the point in my jones-ing that I'm of the opinion that anybody who isn't Primus is an asshole and get's the big Thumbs Down. (I swear to God if I get Tool-ed again I'm switching over to YouTube)

If this goes on much longer I'm going to have to quit smoking so I can have a couple bucks free now and then to pick up the albums again. iTunes isn't going to do the trick. I'm going to need the complete just-bought-the-record experience with the liner notes and everything. I'm probably going to need the live DVDs. I'm writing out my Fathers' Day wish list already.

Likely next week I'll be over it and think that some other band is the coolest thing since individually wrapped slices of American cheese. Maybe not though. These guys are like the Mozart of my generation. A group that brought crunchy granola pot smoking hippies together with leather clad long haired headbangers in the same mosh pit to share the love. The shit is deep man.

Alright, alright. I'll stop accosting you with this. Blue Collar Tweakers just came on and I'm feeling like I need to mosh with the garden implements and shout, "HAI-yuh!" at all the proper places.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

In This Economy

We had the TV on in the break room at lunch today on one of the news stations. Mostly because Gary Made-off-with-our-money was getting the book thrown at him and that was worth watching. Then the newscaster went on to spew about this industry and that business and how they were going to cope with this economy.

It got me to thinking that someday I may find myself looking back at news clips or articles from now and be able to identify them by the extreme overuse of the phrase: in this economy. Except that it's always the economy and the news is never good. There was the recession when I was in high school, the recession when I was in college, the dot-com bubble, junk bonds, the housing bubble. Times of financial woe and want are broken up (as far as the media is concerned) only by periods of wondering how long it will be until we're in trouble again.

I'm only groaning about this because every time something like this is getting flogged in the news I'm looking around and seeing the near total lack of effect on the area around me. Western New York is always depressed. We suck at life here and we're used to it. There hasn't been anything around to go bust since Big Steel kicked the bucket way back in the 70s.

I turn the radio on in my truck on the way to work hoping to hear the weather and all I hear is groaning about foreclosures. But I look around and for the most part it's not happening around here. Being a bunch of stupid, hay-seed hicks we have all purchased houses that are within our means and financed them with local banks. It may look like Deliverance out here to all you city kids, but at least we're not lying prostrate under 10,000 square foot McMansions that nobody wants to buy.

I'm sorry that all the people who make billboard sized televisions are going to be looking for work. Not all that sorry though because I never had any plans to buy one. We're busy reading books, and making things, and growing vegetables to lay up for the winter. Maybe my family should make a DVD about how to spend next to nothing and eat like kings. As long as it wasn't too pricey we could probably do land office business selling them to down and out workers in the luxury industry. My tomato patch would probably look awesome in hi-def.

Whups. I dun ran out of steam. Guess I'll go back in the house and do something frugal.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fiction - Hands

Kent was a man obsessed with hands. To say that outright at the start may paint an unfair picture of him. He wasn't some creep with a sick fetish, living in an apartment plastered with pages torn from magazines. The single piece of art in his sparsely furnished living room was of a hand though. It was the hand that wore the first wedding ring he ever crafted, fresh out of college with his degree as a gemologist.

In that living room at night Kent's eyes roamed over every hand that crossed the screen. It was so easy to gauge the caliber of an actor by their hands. It's always said that true emotion shows in the eyes, and it may, but he could see it in an instant from the flick of a fingernail what an actor was made of.

In his daily life he ran across a lot of the same sort of hands. A jeweler in a large mall store could only expect as much. His eyes took in many a manicured cuticle, both male and female, atop the glass cases. Not much to write home about for a soul so consumed with hands.

His real interest was in people watching. On his lunch break he would roam the mall, glancing about. Teenage girls picking over earrings. Blah, no character. Ants crawling over a pile of leaves. Plump baby hands gripping padded strollers, mashing stuffed animals to their chests, flinging pacifiers across the floor. Little gems. A mother's worried twitch. Old women gesturing lazily, hands that had prepared ten thousand dinners, enjoying their leisure.

When the weather was warm Kent ventured outside to see what he might. College students holding hands. Nice, but a little too greeting card. The hands that always interested him most were the hands of the workers. Leathery mitts on the handle of a concrete rake, as cracked and worn as old leather gloves. A Hispanic woman chopping onions with blinding speed in the window of a pizzaria. Delivery men gripping heavy boxes on their way inside. Those were the ones he was drawn to.

One morning in late spring Kent happened on an electrician outside an apartment building. He was grunting something in a foreign tongue to his helper. The triple-jointed last name on the van at the curb suggested Polish. The Man's hulking shoulders strained at the seams of his flannel shirt as he strained at a brace of wires the size of a child's leg coming out of a pipe.

Ham-fisted had always been sort of a verbal tickle. The phrase always brought to mind a cartoon image of a bumbling character too muscle bound to do anything with finesse. It was a term he often jokingly applied to himself when a gem slipped his grasp in a tricky setting under the jewelers loupe. This guy was the poster child for the term.

His hands were like slabs of meat. No, not like meat. Like animals, alive and coursing with life. As he contracted each paw around the wire it was like watching a living wall. Muscles leaped into stark relief. The tendons strained. Knuckles rose up like a mountain range, stark white except where he had nicked three of them. Kent stood motionless on the sidewalk and stared.

With a final grunt the wires were apparently where they needed to be and the electrician turned around with a pleased sigh and caught sight of Kent staring at him. Shocked into consciousness he just stood there, a cat in the street, trying to decide which way to dart to get away from a car.

A broad grin muscled its way across the mans face and in a voice that was surprisingly gentle said, "Is OK you watch. Service entrance cable is free but is five dollars if you watch me hook up meter channel."

Kent jerked as if to hurry away down the street but the laughter from the helper flustered him even more. At that moment he felt his whole world gently swing around a few degrees. It was like the trick photography in soda commercials. He caught a twinkle of benign amusement in the man's eye. In half a second he traversed the years and saw his father's hands, skinned knuckles wrapped around a can of Milwaukee at the dinner table. Calloused fingers lifting him high over head. Arms crossed, nervous in a stiff shirt at his graduation.

His dad was proud of him. Kent was the first man in the family to go to college. Certified to craft jewelry for the rich and certain to grow rich himself. But he didn't get it. A man who had raised his family by the sweat of his brow and the work of his two hands couldn't fathom it. And Kent, up until now couldn't grasp his father's life. He, for one, wasn't built for it. He had his mother's hands, slim and delicate, well suited for his chosen work.

How could it be enough to work your eight and punch your card. Fiddle with things in the garage and drink beer with Mom in front of the TV every night. But it was. It was enough because from his dad's perspective in the La-Z-Boy he was a rich man. Kent had a brief flash of his Sunday school teacher saying something about the meek and riches or something like that. Whatever, he got it. The satisfaction of a job done well, any kind of job had become apparent to him when he had seen the merriment in the eye of a man pulling wires on the street.

After spending half the day in that second of thought he raised his eyes to meet those of the man standing in front of him, still twinkling. "Yeah, caught me." he mumbled.

"Is OK city boy, you watch John and Vladimir and you see what work is. Wychudly." The latter was addressed over his shoulder to the helper who roared with laughter as he turned toward the truck, gnawed fingernails scratching his shoulder.

Kent couldn't resist. He stuck out his hand and said, "You're right. I have to get back to the office. Thanks for the show."

Chuckling, the electrician wrapped his meaty paw around Kent's hand and gave it a bone crunching squeeze, the callouses digging in. "Heh, you are OK for a suit." said the man as carelessly as if this sort of thing happened all the time, "Any time you want, I let you help Vlad carry tools. Put muscles under that suit." With a final wrench he let Kent's hand go and turned back to his work, still grinning.

Kent spun and hastened back toward the mall and his counter. Drawing his cell from his pocket he thumbed the old numbers.

"Hey Dad. It's Kent. Nothing much. Hey, what are you and Mom doing for Memorial Day? Me? Nothing at all, thought I'd pay you a visit." Yeah, a real visit.

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Monday, March 09, 2009


The French word for boredom. It's more nuanced than that but it's a good start. I've been so wracked by my life lately that I've kind of lost the enthusiasm for writing that I had earlier in the year. What started out as a small diversion has now displaced TV completely from my life and connected me with all kinds of new friends. But I've been slacking. I actually lost a follower on this blog.

It's defiantly not the experience that's wearing my down though. The chance to sit down nearly every night and take a more focused look at some part of my life is not something I think I'm ever interested in giving up. This last year has been a real kick in the pants and my writing has served as a pressure release and a magnifying glass for the things that bring me joy. Coming up on my 200th post and a text from a friend kind of woke me up a little today.
Prayers being lifted up for you man. Would love to raise your roof with you. [re: need to put on an extra bedroom for the new baby.] I know it has been totally shitty for you for over a year now. Thanks for coming last night with the fam.

My response was something like, "Dang! It has been over a year of suck. Where's the schnapps?!" All joking aside though, here's what the last fourteen months have been like for me.

  • Out of work for two months
  • Got incredibly difficult job that barely paid the bills
  • Nearly got caught up somehow
  • Found out we were expecting our fourth
  • Got worn down to nothing by said job
  • Tried to leave and got into a horrible pressure situation with the boss
  • Cried out in desperation.
  • Got new job that paid slightly better
  • Got worn down to nothing by new job
  • Found out that bosses running job are out of touch and nothing will change
  • Still can't get caught up.
  • Would much rather be doing audio work but the scene is flat
Yeah... life with a capital MEH. Not that there haven't been some pretty sweet moments in there. But really, two years ago I was mixing my little hienie off and filling in with a little electrical work. Now I'm slaving away at a dead end job and scrambling to get enough time off to mix the few gigs that do come along.

Somebody pointed something out to me in a conversation about all the rats that have jumped ship (despite the economy, it's that bad). It's always better to look for work when you already have a job. So at least I've got that going for me. I hate to say it's a vow or anything, but I'm hoping to finally hitch up my pants here and see if I can't do what I love for a living.

Here's hopin... now where's that schnapps?

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Primus Still Sucks

This is a little game I've been playing. Sticking lines of Primus songs in the status line on Effbook. Lately I've been feeling like I suck. I figured a way to fight it off was some company for my misery. And nobody sucks like Primus!

For those who aren't up on the terminology, "Primus Sucks!" is actually a heartfelt cry of adoration, uttered by many a faithful fan over the years. It started out with a heckler at a long-ago Primus show. Les Claypool, ever the wizzard of words, wasted no time turning the cry back on itself to help promote the band. Not a show goes by without the front man himself uttering the phrase.

Casual fans are often in the dark about this particular practice though and often with amusing results. I was in the crowd at Ozzfest in '97 or '98 when Primus was on the bill. My two good friends and I were happily chanting away between songs and some younger fans behind us were getting pretty upset. The commentary started, "Who the hell are these guys? Primus doesn't suck!" On and on it went until it sounded like they wanted to start something. Then, at the precise moment when Mr. Claypool introduced the band, three headbangers (all in excess of six foot two) wheeled around on the shrimps and tossed off a hearty, "PRIMUS SUCKS!"

So if you didn't know, now you do. Anyone can bring a smile to the face of a fan with a casual quote of that now famous epithet. And as for myself, nothin' says lovin' like a little casual self deprecation. I'm feeling much better now. Here are some recent quotes from my Effbook page. Feel free to stop by and play along. If you're not a friend yet hit me up. There's a link over on the right. Let me know you're a reader.

Mar 5 6:27pm

Jon is grabbin' himself a can of Pork Soda.
Sean at 6:31pm March 5 via Facebook Mobile
Primus!! Woo hoo!!
Michael at 6:39pm March 5
Ain't nothin' quite like sittin' 'round the house
Swillin' down them Cans of swine
Sean at 6:44pm March 5 via Facebook Mobile
6 foot 2 and rude as hell, gotta gethim in the ground before he starts smell.
Brian at 7:22pm March 5
Now listen up you know ya come home from working that nine to five and lay yourself down on burgundy couch, you know, it never really was burgundy. It was red, and you painted with the goddamn sprinkler and now you have bits and pieces of burgundy stuck to your butt every time you get off of it. You never tell your family, you never tell your family because, you know, ol' Junior, he's got no brains, and what can you do? What can you do?
Jon Dayton at 11:55pm March 5
Dude! You guys are totally jumpin the gun. One song at a time.
Sarah at 4:11am March 6
Yeah, I'm still trying to deal with the imaginary Pork Soda taste in my mouth.

Mar 7 1:42pm -
Jon is Alouicious Devandoner Abercrombie, that's long for mud.
Michael at 1:44pm March 7
Michael Joseph Patrick O'Connor, that's long for drunk
Michael at 1:46pm March 7
Kevin at 1:48pm March 7
Hey, why all the hatin' on Primus? Jerry Was a Race car Driver is a classic!
Amanda at 1:59pm March 7
please tell me that's what you're naming the kid.
Matt at 3:41am March 8 I kissed him upside the cranium with an aluminum baseball bat. Primus Sucks
Jon Dayton at 1:42pm March 8
We're actually torn between Thermal Atmos Dayton and Felix Blackthorn Daton. :)

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Primus Sucks And So Do You

For a giggle lately I've been filling the status on Effbook with lines from Primus songs. My college friends in particular have been forthcoming with the witty comments, line completions, and of course the obligatory "PRIMUS SUCKS!" I've been saving the responses and thought I'd stick a few up just for a laugh. (IF anyone needs to know, I'll explain the sucking but for now I'll just assume that you get it.)

Feb 23 11:53pm
Jon was a fireman. Richmond Engine No. 3.
Robb at 12:05am February 24
primus sucks.
Pamela at 12:12pm February 24
oh dear.

Feb 25
Jon came slidin' on down the alleyway like butter drippin' off a hot biscuit.
Michael at 9:01pm February 25
She knew what she wanted
Brian at 9:10pm February 25
she was looking for the he-cat.
Robb at 9:28am February 26
primus sucks.

Feb 26
Jon caught a hundred pound sturgeon on twenty pound test...
Troy at 11:13pm February 26
No way! Where post pics!
Sheila at 11:14pm February 26
you guys and your fishes.. I caught an 8lbs bass once with a little tiny wormie....
Matt at 11:23pm February 26
Fish On! Primus Sucks
Jon Dayton at 10:02pm February 27
DING! We have a winner!

Feb 28 2:37pm
Jon knows but one desire. Jon Dayton set's his skull on fire!
Kevin at 3:26pm February 28
Do you need an extinguisher?
Brett at 9:38am March 5
you make me giggle

I was thinking that Laquor Head was maybe too little know to get much of a reaction. Thanks to Brett for picking up the slack on that one. (You complete me Snookie.)

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Heck With It

I was going to get on about work turning into a world class suck-a-thon lately. I turned a birthday party into a bitch fest last night when someone asked me how work was going though so I'm a little hesitant to get that particular ball rolling.

Suffice it to say that not even the current economic climate could stop three of my workmates from jumping ship since the first of the year. That was a little bit of perspective for me. I tend to the dramatic. I'm sure The Missus will testify in the comment section, but at least I have the satisfaction of predicting it. (Touche!) But when even guys who have been on the job for twenty years are complaining about how badly the shop is run, things are getting sketchy. So I guess my fantasy about throwing up the Double Deuce (two middle fingers for those who don't know about Strongbad) and trying to make ends meet in the production arena again aren't such a wild idea after all. The only good bit of news to surface is that the maintenance crew is exempt from layoffs because we have so many empty positions at the moment.

The whole place is talking about it. There's a bit of a bright side to that. All the grunts, the nurses and aides, housekeepers, techs and mechanics are for the most part awesome. They all have the same thing to say though. It's pretty much Office Space no matter where you go. Apparently four incompetent bosses is pretty much an industry standard, no matter what industry you happen to be in. The other guy who used to be self employed and I just look at each other and roll our eyes at the way things are done.

Whatever. It's close. It very nearly keeps the bills paid. And if you know where all the cameras are the coffee's free. I guess I'll keep the Dueces safely holstered until I can slip out some resumes to the local production companies. Peace... and I'm out.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

25 Albums That Rocked My World

This is supposed to be a pick some records, name some friends, and pass it along kind of thing. I'm not feeling that ambitious. Here's twenty-five albums that rocked my world at one point or another, in roughly chronological order.

1. Beach Boys - California Girls (I grew up on my parents' music)
2. Huey Lewis & The News - FORE! (First record I was allowed to buy)
3. Van Halen - 1984 (Those epic synth notes opened a door for me that year)
4. Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet (The start of my true rock career)
5. Metallica - Kill 'Em All (Metal makes its entrance)
6. AC/DC - Back In Black (What high school experience would be complete without it?)
7. Overkill - Hello From The Gutter (My intro to NY Speed Metal)
8. Megadeth - Peace Sells (Whoa! There's METAL out there!)
9. Ozzy Osbourne - Tribute (Randy Rhodes was at the top of his game on the Blizzard of Oz tour, it's just inspiring)
10. White Zombie (I met my long lost brother)
11. Primus - Pork Soda (The beginning of a beautiful friendship)
12. Jane's Addiction - Ritual de lo Habitual (I still tear up at the bridge of "Three Days")
13. Motorhead - All The Aces (Did I mention that Lemmy is my biological father)
14. Cypress Hill - Black Sunday (My introduction to hip hop, unless you count 15. Anthrax and Public Enemy)
16. Slayer - Seasons In The Abyss (Still my favorite album when I'm REALLY pissed)
17. Pantera - Far Beyond Driven (My other long lost brother, Dimebag (snif) RIP)
18. Beastie Boys - Ill Communication (The soundtrack to the Purchase class of 98)
19. KISS - Greatest Hits (The cream of the crop)
20. Sepultura - Chaos AD (Sometimes I still need a little pissed off Brazilian metal in my life)
21. Judgement Night - Soundtrack (A dozen metal/hip hop mashups from the 90s)
22. Infectious Grooves - Sarsippius' Ark (I've never met anyone who knows about the plague that makes your booty move that I didn't get along with)
23.Queen - Greatest Hits (Blue) - (I just can't get along without it)
24. Queensryche - Empire (One of the first all digital albums, so clean, so tasty)
25. Megadeth - Cryptic Writings (The soundtrack to two years of my college career, they were actually getting radio play in NYC at the time)

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The State of New York

I was flipping through a local news site that gathers posts and articles about my immediate area the other day, looking for tidbits about the ambulance service that's being discontinued. (Good idea no? Way to save money by cutting out the frivolous.) While scrolling down I happened upon the following article:

Steve Hawley Calls For Study On Splitting New York Into Two States

I posted it as a link on Effbook and it's been racking up the comments so I'm interested to see what it'll do over here.

The article states that all sorts of people have been putting forth all sorts of division ideas for years. While many think them ludicrous, there are a lot of people putting serious thought into it. My idea when I was in college in the area was to make the greater NYC area, out to about Greenwich, CT its own state. My own friends cite the northern boundary of the city to be anywhere from where the Tappan Zee Bridge crosses the Hudson to as far south as Yonkers or as one person believes: 34th Street.

Anyway, having seen the millions crowded into Manhattan, and repeatedly driven through the woods of the Southern Tier on my way back to my home town in Almost-Canada it's been hard to ignore the disconnect. An island of hipsters, corporate giants, crack addicts and immigrants way down at one end of a long stretch of wooded farm land where the second biggest city is home to only a third of a million (and shrinking).

It's hard to believe that the policy that's hashed out in the capitol can be fair to both the folks who inhabit the 27,000 person-per-square-mile neighborhoods and the folks who live on unpaved roads. (Three miles down on the left side, it's the first house.)

I'm reminded of some friends who lived out of state for a while that ran into a New Yorker.

"Oh, you ain't from New York, you from up-state."

"Oh yeah?! Why don't you go back to your ghetto and smoke some crack while my taxes pay for your everything!!!"

"Oh... I guess you is from New York then."

I for one will be interested to see if there are any bites on this invitation. Would NYC be able to support itself without the rural tax base. Would the farmers even notice if the Big Apple fell off the cart? Could upstate just become part of Canada? Could Gotham become it's own country? Let me know what you think?

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Recovery Day

Periodically I have a day where I fall into a recovery routine. There's not anything predetermined about it. I didn't sit down and develop a regimen for getting over a long pull. It seems as though it always happens about the same way though.

It usually starts with an abnormally long period of sleep. I passed out on the couch at 10 pm last night, moved to my bed after midnight, and didn't get up until 10 this morning. I also took a nap this afternoon. I don't know how long I was out but it was long enough and deep enough for me to have dreams. Also, one of my wife's friends was over when I went down and a different one was there when I woke up.

There's a particular sort of detachment that goes along with a recovery day as well. The feeling of being so busy that I can't get my head out of it is gone. Somehow I go through the day feeling insulated from time. I'm not worrying about a schedule or deadlines. I'm not even worried about dinner time. I snack. I lounge. I read. I play with the kids.

The best part of the day usually comes at the end. I sit down at the kitchen table after everyone has gone to bed with a book and just snack. I've been doing this for decades. The practice started way back when I was in high school. I read a chapter or so and then get up and grab something else. Yogurt, bread and jam, cheese, salami, candy, a glass of milk. It goes on and on. Something about spending two hours alone and silent, gently stuffing my face is all the therapy I seem to need.

I don't know how, but somehow a day like that hits the reset button for me. The kids won't annoy me so much tomorrow. My wife will seem that much sweeter. The prospect of another week of work won't seem daunting. And the best part of it is that I just seem to do it all on autopilot. There's no structure, no procedure, no yoga or meditation. I'm my own day spa.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Little Weasel

So. It's been five days since the show closed and still no money. No money. Which is, coincidentally, the amount that we have in the bank. I called the producer (hereafter referred to as The Weasel) and asked how things were coming along. He responded that he had sold some stock and it had to clear and get transferred and then he would write me a check and mail it sometime next week.

This is after I was always on time and always got not only my job done, but also covered for his inept lighting designer a fair amount. To add insult to injury I was only charging him a third of my usual rate for theater. I never have this much trouble getting paid, contract or no. Even high schools can get the rusty wheels over in accounts to turn enough to hand me a check on closing night. He won't even hand me a back dated check.

So I didn't work a minute of overtime for two weeks and spent close to $300 on gas and other expenses to do his show. Read my post called "Still Alive" to hear about my schedule those two weeks. My kids don't know who they guy with the beard is anymore. Now I have two bank accounts with negative balances and a grand total of three dollars cash money until I get paid for the show.

After I explained as much to him and asked for even a couple hundred so we can buy groceries he said he couldn't do anything. Fed up, The Missus gave him a call and got into irate pregnant lady mode with him. After fifteen minutes of haranguing it turns out that he has enough on hand to pay me but just isn't. Apparently he needs that money to sleep on so his delicate princess ass doesn't get bruised and can only afford to part with some stocks.

So when he does finally cut me a check and I go to pick it up at his office I'll be providing him with the following advice about future work:

"If you ever need a sound guy again, don't hesitate to find a very small hole in the wall and FUCK YOURSELF into it! Hope you fall in a bucket of AIDS... prick."

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cats Have Tail Bones

Let me preface this by referring you to a post written by The Missus about the million or so hours that I've worked in the last little bit. Nah, I'm too tired to copy and paste. Suffice it to say that I've been working full time, working in the theater full time and on occasion sleeping as little as thirty eight minutes before starting a new day.

Tonight, with all the Short People in bed The Missus and I were sitting on the couch with our big, fat cat Jake in between us. I was absentmindedly petting him and twirling his tail. Somehow it came to mind that somebody's cat had a broken tail and I said something to the effect of, "Cat's can break their tails."

"Duuuuuh!" said The Missus, "have ya seen our other cat's tail?"

"So there's bones in there" I continued, mulling it over. I grabbed Fat Jake by the tail and started feeling around for the proof. And sunovabitch... there's bones in there! It was the weirdest thing. I always thought cat tails were just like spaghetti with fur on them. It never occurred to me that inside all that fluffy softness there would be bones.

And that is my contribution to rational thought for the evening. Another mystery solved!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Meh with a capitol M!

My two week stint mixing a local production of The Producers came to an end last night. We packed out and headed home. I even got back in time to see my Short People off to bed. I loved the show and the cast was truly magnificent. The producer, already a somewhat shady character, seems to have crossed some invisible line and descended into a world of madness though.

Ever the micro-manager he tends to try to do everything himself. It's not such a terrible thing, when things get done. Adding a second week of performances seems to have been a little too much for the guy though. He had forgotten to do a couple important things. Like adequately promote the show. Somehow strangely appropriate for a show with a story line about creating a show that's a flop on purpose. Not sure if there's any significance to that.

The thing that's particularly annoying is trying to get this guy to pay me. While most other shows put a check in my hand on closing night, he maintains that he has to close the books first and mail me a check. Whatever, it's worked out all right on two past productions.

This time he's been crying the blues about loosing his shirt the whole time. There was even an incident where he claimed to have misplaced a significant amount of cash, the value of which kept changing until it finally settled somewhere around the amount that he owed the musicians.

The cast and crew were plotting a shut down when it came time to strike the show. One of the actors headed him off though and told him he had better go get some cash and pay people off or he was going to find himself loading the truck all by his lonesome little self. So the actors and musicians got their pittance in cash.

That leaves the director, the rental company, and myself still waiting on our sizable checks. He told me that he was going to cash in some stock and would mail me a check as soon as he had it. I doubt this is the case as he is known to be fairly wealthy by the standards of most people our age, swimming in cash was how one person put it.

So I got a call at dinner today from the company he rented wireless mics from. I had already been on the phone a bunch with him over some technical issues. Misseur Producer wanted me to help him swindle some fee reduction out of it, but I wound up siding with the guy from the rental house instead. (You can't screw a sound guy without all the other sound guys finding out about it, and I have to work in this town.) Mr. P had fed him a line about the truck being broken for a week (not true) being broken down on the side of the road (not true that I know of at this time) and having to leave to return the set to Virginia (that one's true), and if he wanted his mics back he would have to go pick them up himself. This came after business hours when all his employees had already gone home. He also got the news that he was going to have to wait thirty days to get paid.

So now it's on. I'm preparing to work all my connections to lean on this guy and get everybody paid. I'm also going to do something I've always wanted to do but have never felt justified enough to go through with it. Mr. Producer is getting black balled. Actually I won't have to do much. Anyone involved in the show is never going to work with him again and the stories they have to tell of this production are not flattering. Secondly, with the rental house now fully in the know about his shenanigans the rest of the production people in this end of the state are going to know about them shortly as well. Huh, I don't actually have to do anything. Looks like he's pretty well black balled himself. HA!

Well, that's the story. And I'll end it with one of my favorite phrases. It came to me while working a strike at Summer Stage in Central Park years ago. There was a ramp on the back of the stage with a big hole in it. Someone had written, "What?! And quit show biz?" next to it. And man, ain't it the truth! No matter how deep the hole you fall into, there will never be a cure for the bug.

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