Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A minor epiphany

Ok so I'm an adult now. Whooppeeeee! My minor epiphany occurred yesterday while I was discussing, of all things, spicy foods. I realized that adulthood is about making choices based upon consequences. I think it's kind of sad that it has taken me this long to come to that realization.

On another note, the song that I've been working on has pretty much solidified into a working model. I think it will need one more facelift before I'm done.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The 28th of September

I spent a few minutes this morning persusing other blogs. I have discovered that apparently I write too much per each entry. And perhaps I should add photos to make my blog more "interesting." So I shall do in an upcoming entry.

The rest of today's entry will be somewhat of a diary-esque entry.

Yesterday was Monday and I was a bit tired for no reason at all. Work was slow and as we all know that is when boredom and a general malaise settles over me. Luckily I had my blog to write things to. Last night I practiced guitar a bit and watched monday night football. My Redskins looked like crap for the majority of the game. They finally got it together with oh... 9 minutes left in the game.

My knee, it seems, is still in the healing process. I'm not sure what I did to it. I have very little lateral stability and quite a bit of pain that accompanies it. I've been wearing a soft brace for about 3 weeks, and took off three weeks from my hockey career to aid in the speedy recovery. I think it would be beneficial for me to join a health club so I can work on core strength and flexibility.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Some of my favorites

I know that I've said alot about music, and since you know that music is important to me I thought I'd create a list of some of my favorite albums, songs and songwriters so that my influences can be seen. Perhaps you'll even listen to some of my choices.

Pink Floyd's "The Wall" is one of the best albums I've ever heard. It has flow, a good story, and incredible songwriting. The guitar work is so emotional and still sends shivers up my spine after all these years.
The Moody Blues "Days of Future Passed": Wow! This one goes back a few years but offers something fresh on every listen. The orchestral work is moving and of course the songwriting is superb. Everything falls into place in this album, pulling the listener into the experience.
Queensryche "Operation Mindcrime" is probably the only 80's concept album that really rocked. Sure it launched the group into fame, but it's too bad they are best known for "Silent Lucidity." Geoff Tate's voice is a thing of beauty and the dueling guitars blend seamlessly. I wish that the group would have developed into better songwriters though, since the follow up albums were lacking in that area.
AC/DC Highway to Hell & Back in Black; Quite possibly the best hard rocking, power chord albums of all time.

Metallica's Kill 'em All. I heard this album for the first time at a friends house. He had bought it from an import record store. This was before it was released in the US. Our jaws were on the ground for at least an entire day. This was the music that we were looking for. Fast, heavy, relentless. Their subsequent albums were incredible as well, then came the "Black album." Sorry but I lost all respect for them after that.
Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti. This double album is perfect for a long night of anything requiring a sound-track. From the growling guitar in "As I lay Dying" to the mediteranean influence of "Kashmir" this album is Jimmy Page's answer to "Hey you stole that riff from Robert Johnson."
Well that's probably it for albums for right now. I think it's time to discuss songwriters and songs:
Bob Dylan: What can't be said about this guy? He's done it all; political commentary, storytelling, social commentary, the abstract. Bob Dylan is Americana, even if he refuses to be identified as such. His songwriting is prolific and has spanned at least 4 decades that I know about. This guy is a living legend. My favorite songs by this guy are: Don't think Twice, It's Alright, Tangled Up in Blue, Knocking on Heaven's Door and of course All Along the Watchtower. Sure I know that some of them are mainstream, but's DYLAN!
Pink Floyd: They always seem to put the right note exactly where it belongs. They never, it seems to me, have too many or too few notes. They've always made me feel whatever it is that they want me to feel. "Great Gig in the Sky" is a perfect example. I feel lonely, overwhelmed yet somehow hopeful when I hear this song. To me David Gilmour is the perfect guitarist, not necessarily the most skilled but definitely plays with more feeling and emotion than anyone I've heard today.
Speaking of emotional playing one cannot exclude Gary Moore. This guy has chops. He can rock with you, make you boogie, or capture the tears in your song while his guitar sings and cries. Check out "Parisienne Walkways" or "Still Got the Blues" if you want to know what I mean.
Randy Rhoads was and would be the best guitarist in the world if he still walked this earth. This guy transformed heavy hard hitting metal into something that could adapt, a force that could drive you to soaring heights. He is the reason that Ozzy succeeded in his departure from Black Sabbath. Just listen to the way that Randy combined blues driven rock with classical driven intensity. Give a listen to the solos from "Mr. Crowley" and think about this: There was no finger tapping involved at all, everything was either picked or hammered on. The guy was a genius. I wonder how much of a metal god he would be today if he lived. We miss you.
Iron Maiden made metal fast and exciting. They gave us "Eddie" and all sorts of double entendre to work with, the songwriting was clever and descriptive. Songs like "The Trooper" and "Flight of Icarus" made us think of history and mythology in ways we never thought of them before. And what about the "galloping horse" rhythm? Enough said, they make the cut.
In the same breath as Iron Maiden, one cannot help but discuss Judas Priest. Rob Halford's voice is an inspiration to all the screaming metallions out there. He is the metal god. With the guitars of Glen and KK fueling the heavy metal flames, Priest ruled the metal world of the 80's. Listen to Victim of Changes or Screaming for Vengeance if you want to hear his incredible vocal range. I think that these last two groups inspired more would be guitarists than any other bands combined. These guys rocked.
And out of Europe, Germany actually, came the Schenker brothers and The Scorpions. And it was good. Who hasn't wanted to "Rock you like a Hurricane' or had a "Blackout," who hasn't listened to Klaus's voice and wondered how he sings so well in English yet when he speaks...oy ve!
There are too many more hard rock interests for me to elucidate: groups like Kiss, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, Steely Dan, Foghat, The Cars, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kix, Dio, Danzig, Helmet, Dokken, Skid Row, Ratt; Cake, solo artists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Neil Young, George Lynch, John Lee Hooker, BB King, Albert "the ice-man" Collins, Jim Croce, Paul Simon, Frank Black, Billy Idol, Jimi Hendrix. The list could go on for about two hundred more names.
As far as my classical influences go, (and yes, I do listen to classical music) I am absolutely astounded by the hard driving rhythms in Tchaikovsky, by the smooth flow to Strauss, by the sheer inventiveness of Mozart and the ever present sadness in Beethoven.
Music, in the short and long runs, is a very important part of my life.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Watches and stuff

Ok please tell me this: Why would a manufacturer design, build, and market a waterproof watch that does not have a waterproof band? I bought a wonderful Timex watch with all the features that I need: Clock, Date, Alarm, Chrono and countdown timer. This watch says on it "WR 200M." Yet the band is made of some woven nylon material with a velcro closure. Who would buy such a thing? Me, that's who. After wearing a watch for over 30 years of my life, I must remember now, to remove it before showering. I'm not good at that. I hate change, it scares me. My options, I think, are to either buy a new watchband or to remember to simply remove it as I enter the shower, or go swimming or wash the truck.

On another note, I have discovered that my mid-day musical creativity and inspiration is fairly non-existent. I think I'll have to adjust my jamming schedule to fit into my creative schedule. On a lighter note, I will be recording the song that my friend and I have been working on. I'm going to do it at home on my 4 track and see what kind of results I get. I don't have a bass at home, so I'll need to borrow one, but for the rest of the song I have an idea where I want to go with it and where it needs to go. I will try to lay down some vocals as well, though my voice sounds somewhere in between Tom Petty and Bob Dylan both with sinus congestion. The other problem I think we'll have to solve will be the drum problem. I don't have a set, he doesn't have a set. He does, however, posess a drum machine program, but it seems pretty complicated and quite detailed. The other conundrum is that I don't want to record in mono, so I need to find out how I can upload the stereo tracks to the computer program.

Just another day in the life.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


I've been turning a musical jam into a song, co-writing with a friend of mine. I've said before that he was a much more gifted theorist than am I, after yesterday I realized that even more than that, he's a more highly skilled guitarist as well. I didn't feel smaller or humbled jamming with him though, I felt more of an urge to play more, to play harder and to regain that which I've lost through disuse.
The song is turning out quite well. I'm beginning to feel alot more comfortable with it. In the past I've done everything myself when writing. This time I've got someone to share ideas with someone that has a different background than I do. Had I been doing this by myself, everything would have been written, recorded and filed by now, never to be heard of until I shared it.

As a child I remember an old religious song we used to sing:

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Won't hide it under a bushel no
I'm gonna let it shine...

Maybe I've been letting my light hide under a bushel when I should have been letting it shine.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Report Suspicious Activity

I live in the Washington DC metro area. There are various message boards that give drivers "real-time" traffic information to prepare them for traffic jams or stop and go traffic ahead. When there are no traffic snarls or snafus these boards advertise "Report Suspicious Activity Call 1-800-942-TIPS." Call me un-American if you will but these signs are the most anti-American thing I've ever seen.

"Report Suspicious Activity." It's not a request. It's a demand. What's suspicious anymore? People cannot video their vacation without being suspicious. People cannot take pictures in front of national monuments without being suspicious. You cannot park near a public building without being suspicious. What is suspicious activity? We don't know our neighbors anymore, so how do we define "suspicious?" Is it suspicious that our neighbor has set out several boxes marked "for charity" in front of his/her house? Is it suspicious that they have begun sweeping their stoop only on odd numbered days? What is suspicious? What about the neighbor that pulls her shades during the day and comes out seldomly? Is that suspicious?

"Report Suspicious Activity." This makes me think of a wonderful tale by George Orwell. This makes me think of some sort of governmental police that can spy on private citizens, questioning them, sequestering them, and ultimately detaining them for no other reason than suspicion. Wasn't there a governmental machine that did that before? Oh yeah they called it the KGB. Or maybe I studied this in my history class, but then they called it "un-American" activities and they were headed by some guy named McCarthy. Now they call it "Homeland Security."

Homeland Security and "Suspicious Activity." So now we have the greenlight to point fingers at anyone we do not like, anyone we do not agree with, anyone we deem "unacceptable" by our own skewed standards. The government can listen to our phone conversations without providing search warrants. The government can detain us for no reason, for an indefinite period of time. This is your government folks, a government that would restrict your freedoms because they deem them "suspicious." Don't speak Arabic, certainly not in jest. God forbid you say the word "jihad" on the phone. God help you if you say it on a cell phone, or should I say "Allah" help you?

Our freedom is at stake. You see, the terrorists have already won. They won because we have signs up that tell us to "Report Suspicious Activity." They won because our congressmen were debating the torture of prisoners who were and are named "enemy combatants." They won because we shut ourselves inside our four walls and a roof expecting freedom to be won by the rhetoric and vitriol of the politicians. The terrorists won because we don't respect each other anymore. They won because we forgot what the "U" in U.S.A represents. They have won because we worry more about the football season than we do the war in Sudan. The terrorists have won and all we can do now is "Report Suspicious Activity."

Now some of you will say that I am being negative, that these signs give us someone to call, giving us an alternative to hindsight. Think what you will, say what you will; I am right. Give this government the ability to usurp the Bill of Rights and you can kiss your Freedom of Speech and your Freedom of the Press goodbye. This isn't the prohibition era people, this is real-time, this is real life, this is reality here and we're kicking back watching them take away the rights of the accused, all the while shaking our fists in the air and goading our government agencies into dehumanizing these people more. But we're not thinking what would happen if that was us, or one of our loved ones being falsely accused. No, we're not thinking about what the real agenda comes down to.

I hate Bush. I hate Kerry more. I'd rather have a man of action, even if I don't agree with his actions, in the White House, than have a man who vacillates and wavers and in the end accomoplishes nothing but the waste of valuable time. If it were up to me, I'd rid the Senate and the House of all career politicians and start over. But I cannot say that without arousing "suspicion." If you feel the need to report me, here is the number again: 1-800-942-TIPS.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

A really really quick blog

I just wanted to blog this site

As a Libertarian I think it's important for others to know what we stand for, and why we stand for it. Peruse, analyze, and decide whether you feel the same way.

Up all night

I suggested to a friend that I jam with that we turn one of our jams into a song. He's a much more gifted music theorist than am I, he is also immensely talented and uses his knowledge quite well. I am more of a "feel" player that knows next to nothing about theory. Our styles complement each other very nicely, I think. I really enjoy listening to him while we play, and I think he enjoys listening to my noodling as well. I haven't co-written a song in over a decade so I'm not sure how this process will work out. I digress. So we've agreed to work on arranging our jam into a song. The first step is to write bridge and chorus parts as well as an intro and an outro. I think that this process will be the most difficult. Then there's the lyics, which kept me awake for a bit of last night. I think I've got a grasp on the tone and feel of those. For some reason though, I woke up last night and could not get back to sleep. I was playing the riff again and again in my head, trying to figure out harmonies and melodies, bass lines and leads. Yep, I'm an obsessive one. I think it will all work out though. I have ideas for everything but the intro. Well I have an idea for how it should sound, but I'm not sure of the progression, whether the intro should be clean or rough, when the bass should enter, how the bass should enter, or pretty much any of the details that make a good intro to a song.

I don't know why I get on these kicks, but I haven't written anything (musically that is) in a long while and I get excited just thinking about getting my creative streak running again. I just hope I can hold on to this excitement long enough and make it through this one song. I tend to ramble in music like I ramble in life and it is difficult for me to concentrate long enough on one thing without a million other things popping into my head.

There are a multitude, one might even say a plethora of questions in my mind surrounding the this piece; should the original riff be the intro/chorus part? what kind of a structure do we want the song to have? Who plays what where? Do we need a chorus? What will the song's "hook" be? How will my friend and I write together, will it be strained? I can think of a dozen more questions but I'm sure that you get the general idea.

Now if my friend reads this he might get concerned, but there's nothing to be concerned about. I'm sure that everything will work out, I just need to put some of my feelings out there. I'm sure that this song will turn out quite nicely, paving the way towards other collaborations in the future. If it doesn't turn out well, and we discover that we cannot work together then we've learned something in the process and we should continue to jam.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Give Peace A Chance...

I don't ever expect to look at a newspaper and see a headline that reads "No one was killed yesterday, no one was murdered, tortured, maimed, raped or otherwise harmed." Maybe I'm jaded, maybe I'm realistic. I expect that war and strife will forever be assosciated with humanity. I expect that somewhere people will be starving while "overlords" or "warlords" or someone with some might is stealing their food, meting it out for obedience and favor. I expect that somewhere a government, or a governmental entity is sanctioning the rape and torture of women and children. I expect that somewhere in the world there is a cabal plotting the destruction and murder of large numbers of innocent persons. I expect wars to be waged in the names of gods, of liberties, in the name of revenge, in the name of righteousness. I expect that atrocities will be committed, bodies mutilated, diseases spread.

I am reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies The Mission, "If might makes right then love has no place in this world." At least that is the side of me that sees the futility in killing. My "greenpeace" side, as it were.

In truth I see no reason to expect that peace will ever exist. I have no reason to believe that human beings will ever get along, or coexist in harmony. People will always develop disagreements. Even persons that love one another will disagree and become angry with each other from time to time. Parents become angry with their children, wives become angry at husbands and so on. That is the inherent nature of the human experience. At times we place demands upon others that they refuse to meet. We then issue ultimatums; either you do this or I do that. When the ultimatums are not met anger and frustration enter the mix. Sometimes anger spurs us on to make decisions that seem logical at the time but are quite irrational. We then give ourselves permission to entertain these thoughts and ultimately act upon them. Thus is the way of governments.

Zealots are a different nature. They are those that proclaim that their way of life is closest to their god and must be followed all others are blasphemy and must die for their ways. These persons care not what lives they destroy, for it is all in the glory of their master. Ah yes, glory. The glory of a mass suicide, or a car-bombing, or the hijacking of an airplane and the ultimate mass murder of those persons who have nothing to do with decision making or the politics involved. Self-righteous murderers are the worst, for they can not be made to see the inherent evil within their acts. And punishing some only strengthens the resolve of the others, yet to let them lie peacefully only allows them to regroup and conspire again. So how do we rid the world of these murderous zealots?

The truth of a war is that it should be brutal, it should be violent, it should take the lives of innocents, it should be ugly. The only war that should be waged is a total war, affecting the lives of everyone involved. A war should be carried out with extreme prejudice, exterminating everyone in it's path. Cameras should be focused upon the carnage, audio recordings made, the slaughter should be recorded, dated and filed. War is a horrible occupation, a horrifying entity, an emotional, cathartic, chaotic event which should be played out for the world to see in hopes that people would identify with the victims and not the victors, that they would empathize with the vanquished and realize that life without war would be best for them and theirs.

Alot of people will misunderstand this, alot of people will think my idea brutish, hawkish and cold. Believe me when I tell you that to sight down the barrel and pull the trigger is a hard task emotionally, when one knows that to squeeze that index finger is to take a life. The one that feels the worst about what he has done is the soldier or Marine who kills his foe. It doesn't happen at that moment of the kill. It may not happen while that soldier or Marine is in the combat zone. Often it happens years later. Often it drives them to the brink of insanity. Do not think that the nightmares of veterans are all about being killed, some of them are of the killing. The ultimate goal of the warrior is to end his war and put down his weapon forever. This too, should be the ultimate goal of those who create the wars, but, as I said earlier, I do not expect this to happen.