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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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Do Unto Others

It never/always surprises me. The way that people treat each other and the way people react. It's so surprising the depths that people will go to, just to get ahead. It happens so often that I'm not even surprised.

What does surprise me is when people do what's right. Not like, jump back surprised, just pleasantly surprised. The other cheek is turned. The high ground is held. The oppressor is killed with kindness.

It's nice to have people like that around when I start to get all bogged down with looking out for number one. I got ahead in my business not by being particularly good at what I do, but by just being a nice guy. Like my father and grandfather before me I'm trying to be an upright Christian man in a corrupt world. It really helps to see someone else doing it too, Christian or not.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Name Game

Cousin Jill finds all the good ones, here's my contribution. Play along if you like. No tags this time.

Jonathan Russell Dayton

2. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother and father's middle names)
Adrean William

3. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)
Vernon Warren

4. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name)

5. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Purple Lemur

6. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, town where you were born)
Russell Alexander (I might actually use this one as a nom de plume)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink, add "THE" to the beginning)
The Black Guinness (Frickin' sweet!)

8. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of first name, last 2 letters of your last name)

9. STREET NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip

10. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pets name, current street name)
Sebastian Church (ROCKFIST!)

11. PORN NAME: (first pet name, street you grew up on)
Foofy Church (must be gay porn, eeesh)

12. GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of real name plus izzle)
Jonizzle (My real hip-hop name is actually Skinny Mac)

13. IRAQI NAME: ( second letter of your first name, third letter of your last name, first 2 letters of your middle name, last 2 letters of your first name then last 3 letters of your last name)

14. GOTH NAME: (black and then name of one of your pets)Black Blizzard
Black Sully

15. STRIPPER NAME: (name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)
Speed Stik Snickers (Quick! Where's the pole!)

Hope you got a laugh, feel free to copy and paste and play along!

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Who's The Boss?

I slogged through another day at work today. And when I say slogged what I really mean is that I dragged my tired ass from one end of the campus and up and down elevators all day trying to get something accomplished after having been out mixing a theatre production till midnight and getting called in to salt the parking lot at 4 am. Nice.

After my blissful departure and some quality family time, by which I mean I was home for about an hour before I left for the show again, I was happily engrossed in the minutiae of show biz and the phone rang.

It was my boss. The Big Boss. He wanted to know if I'd like to put my computer experience to work handling our work request system and also take care of the documentation of life safety issues, compliance and policy. It kind of sounded like he was fishing for a foreman. A job that I already interviewed for and turned down to be a mechanic because hey... I just want to go to work. I don't want to be in charge.

It seems like everybody wants me to be in charge though. I opted not to take over the family business when Dad retired because I just like to work, I don't want to run the company. But I still wound up running the company after I became self employed which is almost as much paperwork. My next boss had me slated for a foreman position after a mere six months on the job, which lead me to quit hastily. Now I've broken that record by being asked to start getting ready for a position I already turned down just four short months ago.

Yikes. I can't even wrap my head around it at this hour. Maybe it'll make more sense in the morning. Hopefully it'll make more cents after I meet with the boss next week. Yikes.

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