There was an error in this gadget

Friday, July 30, 2004

Ok, it's late but I'm a few days overdue. Here's what we missed...
The Democratic Convention wrapped up tonight. I'd like to say that the only way to really REALLY watch the way the United States government works, free of so called journalists, free of opinion and spin, is to watch C-SPAN. I watched the convention solely on C-SPAN, without commentary, and I thought it was just great. It was a relief not to here aging political hacks chime in with their jaded and useless opinions. One thing that "Fahrenheit 9/11" taught me is that the press in this country is bloated, lazy and only truly worried about whether the shrimp at the after-party is going to be chilled to their specifications. Besides that, one look at George Will tells you that that man has suffered his share of wedgies in his lifetime at the hands of people who are funnier and much less annoying.
Kerry's speech was basically a battle plan set to the rhythm and cadence of a political convention. It was upbeat, it was positive, but unfortunately, I didn't think he went after this God-awful president and his team. We'll see how he does in direct debate. Leslie had a good laugh when Kerry malapropped himself into a corner stating that the children in Harlem have asthma from "hair pollution". It painted an interesting mental picture if nothing else.
I'm glad I'm going into a Friday. I could use the weekend right now. I'm getting my haircut Saturday afternoon. We'll see how that goes. In some strange way, the length of my hair is directly proportional to my feelings of youth and vigor. Coupled with the fact that I have ears that are so big they track satellites, I don't like getting my hair cut.
Now, tonight's song. This song is extremely painful for me, and I'll NEVER play it publicly. There's nothing in my life that shouldn't be explored in some artistic way, especially songwriting. Songs are, above all things, mile markers that always take us to another place and time in our lives. The place this song takes me to is not a pleasant one by any stretch of the imagination. Having said that, this one probably owes something to the influence of Loudon Wainwright III. By the way, Loudon has a GREAT election year ditty on his website called "President's Day". I highly recommend it. Anyway, here's the song of the day.

 
 Daughters Can’t Dance

                                            
My lady Anna got off of the couch
                                                           
Her daddy’s a salesman; her momma’s a grouch
                                                         
She wanted to dance, and oh, did we try
                                                                    
But daughters can’t dance, and neither can I

                                                    
Never leave the children alone
                                                                  
Anna and I had a girl of our own
                                         
Timing was against us, and I took the blame

And daughters can’t dance if they don’t have a name

                                        
Anonymous doctor took my baby away
                                                                          
Well, she wanted to run, Lord, she wanted to play
                       
She could have two-stepped, and maybe learned The Fly

But daughters can’t dance, and neither can I

 
That does it. I'd like to end on a high note, so I'll tell you all that love is always in the air, despite appearances to the contrary. You can find it with the same vigilance we all tap into to find the bad things in life. It's out there, people. Embrace it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

This week's big event is the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. I watched some of the later speeches tonight. I caught a war buddy of John Kerry's, Hillary Clinton and then her erstwhile husband Bill, who can still deliver on the stump. He looks like he's slimmed down too. Good for him. He must have watched "Super Size Me".
I have been a Democrat for life since mid-2000. I was a registered Libertarian, until, in their paranoid zeal, they warned people not to answer the census. Perhaps they saw the Patriot Act coming, but after I saw George W. Bush become the Republican nominee, I felt it was more important to keep a complete buffoon out of the White House than it was to take a stand. I've been a Democrat ever since the Great Theft of 2000.

I could have more patience with the Republican viewpoint if they weren't SOOO ignorant. They seem to take their verbal cues from the Limbaughs, Hannitys and Gingriches of the world, which is truly a shame. I think Bill Maher said it best when he was on Larry King last week. When you watch the conventions, bear in mind that at least the Democrats show their true face at their conventions. I lived outside Philadelphia in 2000 when the Republicans had their convention there. It was a ludicrous dog and pony show. They marched out every ethnic or near-ethnic person with the barest minimum of Republican ties in a quixotic attempt to show Republican diversity. Nevermind that these people were talking to so many old white men that the smell of Center City Philadelphia was masked with the stench of Old Spice, which is no small feat. They also drew the lamest of celebrities. In addition to tired war horses like Chuck "Cold Dead Hands" Heston, they drew the ever-bodacious sometime nude model and bad actress Bo Derek. She has her head up her ass politically, but hey, nice tits honey!

There will be more convention frivolity to follow in the coming days, but tonight I have a special song from Spencer's Writ Of Common Wisdom. I write a lot of songs based on dreams I have (when I think they sound good; last night an original country song popped into my head with vocals that sounded like Emmylou Harris; I can't sing like Emmylou harris [who can], so the song is lost in near-sleep for the rest of time). I had a dream once where I was in a park at dusk. I walked over to a picnic table and sitting there was the child actress Anissa Jones. I was aware that she had died barely into adulthood of a heroin overdose. I used to watch the TV show "Family Affair" as a kid, to the best of my knowledge her only TV credit. In my dream, Anissa was frozen in time as that child I had watched so many years before. She had a hypodermic needle in her hand, and in my dream I took it away from her. When I woke up, I wrote this song. Anissa met an ignominious end, like one too many of her contemporaries in that time period. I've written a lot of songs that I think have staying power, but this is probably one of the few that I would like to know that people are singing 50 years after I'm dead. It's also hoped that those who read or hear the song and know an addict somewhere are spurred to action. It's not easy to intervene between a human being and their addictions, whatever they may be, but if successful, two lives get better. Anissa is frozen in my mind as that innocent child actress holding the Mrs. Beasley doll on "Family Affair". This one's for her. I hope she's somewhere peaceful.
There is one line that always causes confusion "There's a reverend eating women in the city" refers to the savage crimes of Gary Heidnik, a self-styled mentally disturbed minister who lived in Philadelphia and was later found to have chained up women in his basement and eaten the ones who died. He was executed a few years ago for his dreadful crimes. As far as the human condition, how could it get much worse than that as a reference point?

Could Anissa Have Been Saved?

                       
How did this darkness all begin? It’s much too early for the lights to dim
                                                     
I’m sittin’ in the dark all by myself, like an antique clock on a dusty shelf, and if
   
Only somebody would help me along, then I wouldn’t have a need to write this song
                                          
I feel the distant echo of where we’ve been, or maybe it’s these four walls a-closin’ in
                             
And I wish I knew someone who’d rescue someone, but no one I know’s that brave
                                                                
Could Anissa have been saved?

Could Anissa have been saved?

  
I tell somebody how the world has turned; they’re easily distracted and hardly concerned
                                                     
You can see a cemetery in their eyes, when a stare is never a good disguise
                 
And the world has more people than it’s ever known, how come so many are so alone

You can’t make a friend if you’re feelin’ mean, and you can’t get love from a movie screen
                          
There’s a reverend eating women in the city, what makes people so depraved?
                                                                 
Could Anissa have been saved?

Could Anissa have been saved?

         
I close my eyes and start to dream, tries to kill herself and she don’t even scream
          
A doll in her lap that she loved so much, a needle in her hand just about to touch
             
The skin in her arm, she’s white as the frost, I convince myself she was never lost
                                    
Then I wake up alone in the cold again, with a 2-day beard and a bottle of gin
              
I’ll catch her on the second time around, after I’m showered, drunk and shaved

Could Anissa have been saved?

Could Anissa have been saved?

I truly, TRULY love that one. I think I always will.
Enough of this frivolity. My cat just walked into the office, she's probably hungry, but little does she know that I'm going to bed. She's in for a shock. May everyone eventually be saved in the best way possible.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

This was such a beautiful weekend. The temperature in and around Milwaukee stayed in the low '70's with virtually no humidity. It was a nice weekend to get out of the house, and Lovely Lady Leslie and I did. Yesterday, there was a small Italian festival in Racine which is just a hop, skip and a jump to the South of Milwaukee, for those of you not in the know. I had a meatball sandwich, we shared a substandard cream puff (the cream tasted like Cool Whip; VERY disappointing) and we watched a Beatles cover band for about an hour and then came home.
Today was a lazy day. We sat out back with Sandy, our wonderful neighbor and landlord, eating homemade salsa, drinking pink lemonade and conversing. Our next door neighbor Beulah joined us for a time as well. Currently I've just finished dusting the house and am ready to address today's entry from the Writ Of Common Wisdom.
People love when I play this one. It's basically a humorous drunk driving song. When I used to play with Curtis, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, he didn't like this one and it clouded my judgment, but who am I to argue with the public at large?

Cop Up On The Right

                                                     
Can you buy me a drink?
                                                 
I’ve had ten already, I think
                                                                         
Are you a girl or a guy?
                                                    
Oh! So you are? What am I?

                                                  
CHORUS:                              

Too much time in the bar
                                             
Point me to the back seat of your car
                                                    
I can’t drive mine tonight
                                                 
With that cop up on the right


My shoelaces are tied
                                                     
All together, what a ride

Roll down the window and toss
                                                         
Tomorrow, I’ll call my boss

(Chorus)

                                                            
You’re goin’ 58
                                                   
Speed limit’s 35, oh great!
                                                                  
Flashin’ lights of red and blue
                                               
I suppose you’re fucked up too!

(Chorus)

 
I enjoy playing that one too. It cries out for harmony vocals in the chorus, so anyone who's around usually has to chime in. It's not often when I get a chorus that's good for a group singalong. This song is one of the few exceptions in my catalog.
The rest of my day will be spent in veg mode. I'm watching the cat clean her leg, I'm feeling a cool breeze come through my back window, and I'm thinking about what I want for dinner. All in all, an idyllic American afternoon.  May the breeze that surrounds the reader be just as comforting.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

This is a bit of advanced planning. I plan to pass out from exhaustion later because I was up far too late last night.
I received a bit of sad news at work this morning to dropkick my day into the toilet. Judy, one of my best employees, may be leaving the company in a week's time. Her husband is out of work thanks to the Bush economy, and it has been a hard climb back to employment. Judy may be leaving us for a company with a better benefits package for herself and her family. I'm totally bummed, but I wish her well. Since this is a public blog, I'll not bring forth my boss' reaction. Suffice it to say that it was negative.
I recently had to switch my cat to canned food, as she has decided that at the age of 14, she no longer feels like chewing hard cat food. Since we made the switch, she has been a holy screaming terror whenever I am in the kitchen. Thus will be the rest of my life with this cat. The dog remains impassive.
Today's (it's usually 'tonight's'; man, so this is what the sun feels like) entry from the Writ Of Common Wisdom deals with a bad reaction to a breakup. I rarely sing this one anymore, but all in all, I wouldn't mind drinking enough to vacate a vat every once in a while.

Cold Water Courage


                                 
It must have been a life ago in another time and place

When the January tears I cried froze right against my face


Banged my head on the door in the dark, spoke your name about a million times
                                  
Convicted you in the court of verse for imaginary crimes

CHORUS:
  
It takes a lot to make me cry

It takes a lot to be your friend
                                                    
It takes cold water courage just to be a man
                                                                 
Cold water courage just to be a man

                                                     
Drank enough to vacate a vat, than I shouted at my shoes
                          
A cold towel on my swollen head was my way of paying dues

(Chorus)

The autumn rain is falling hard; you know it makes me think of you

So I’ll stand in the rain ‘til the sun shows up, it’s the best that I can do

(Chorus)

CODA:                             It takes cold water courage just to be a man

                                                                                It takes…

So that's one more.  As I placed that one here, I've been chatting with my old friend Scott in the Atlanta suburb of Acworth, Georgia. He and his wife Wendy were co-workers of mine in Greensboro all those years ago. They have two beautiful daughters and just a great house down there. I'll see them again. Scott's a good man. I'm on pins and needles right now. He's in the Army Reserve and his hitch ends next month. He could still be called up to be shipped off to Bush's Folly in Iraq. A lot of his friends have already been sent over there. I thank the soldiers who've served. I'm very sorry that they've been sent over there for all the wrong reasons with figurative targets painted on their chests. Now that we've bought this war in the name of America, I have the worst sinking feeling in my stomach that we'll be stuck there propping up this installed government for many years to come at the expense of thousands of American lives. All I can do is wish the world peace, hope that a vote for Kerry is a vote to bring them home as quickly as possible (though I know better, but a canned ham would be preferable to the Village Idiot pulling the strings currently) and make sure that America never lets its guard down again, and finishes one battle before starting another. Sleep well world, wherever you are.
Man it's late. I've been playing poker online with my friend Brian and a cast of a few.
I have been neglecting this blog for a few nights by sleeping. Where do I get off?
We're now playing poker with a girl from Michigan. Brian IM'd me and stated that she has the personality of a dialtone. I almost agree, but that's a little bit mean.
So, I guess you're wondering where tonight's Writ entry is. Well, as soon as "No Salt On Her Tail" by The Mamas and the Papas fades out, I'll give you one (I LOVE this song)......
OK. Tonight's entry, though delayed, is a real treat for me. It's one of the only quasi-gospel songs in my repertoire. A little bit of history is needed first. When I was in high school, my old friend Dave Mann and I were talking about band names, and what would be a good one. Because of our like of progressive rock (it WAS the early '80's in suburban Philadelphia), we came up with the name Crimson Shadow. Dave even drew up a perfect logo for the name in his spiral notebook. Alas, at that point we couldn't play any instruments, and the dreamed died on the drawing board. And yet the words parked themselves in the back of my head, right next to one another. Roughly 16 years later, I wrote the song below. It has nothing to do with a failed band, but I like the sentiment of this one. I still can't decide if it should speed up between the first and second verse. Let me know.

Cast A Crimson Shadow 
  
                                                             
We shall walk beneath the flowing streams of amber 
                                                  
Sunlit in eternal morning grace 
                                                  
And all the best emotions I will grant you 
                                                   
In the moments when again I see your face 
  
                                                 
CHORUS:                      

So cast a crimson shadow on the water 
                                        
Scatter leaves of green along your way 
                                                  
Your shade will be the sun in my direction 
                                                     
And love will be the order of the day 
  
                                             
Over many winding paths my feet have traveled 
                                                      
To places I may never see again 
                                               
And all my plans will slowly come unraveled 
                                             
Until I reach that place that knows no pain
 
(Chorus) 
  
                                         
In moments when this life can’t be more vacant 
                                              
I look into the distance heading north 
                                             
I almost see the peace I’ll one day savor 
                                            
Above the trees a-swayin’ back and forth
 (Chorus)

 
And so we have another entry. When I wrote this, I was listening to a lot of the Grateful Dead. I think the song "Brokedown Palace"  bled through this somewhere, but this isn't as good. I hope you liked it anyway. 
It is now 3 AM. I MUST go finish the laundry and put away my bag of cookies. I love you all. Ain't that grand?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Another day, another day off....
I slept a long time today. Originally, Leslie's sister was supposed to come up for a visit today, but she decided to take the day off and relax after she and Leslie cleaned her garage out while Leslie was down there yesterday.
I had planned to get an oil change this weekend, but that will have to wait, as Leslie discovered that I have another tire going flat in the rear of my car. Currently there is a screw in the wheel, so that will have to be patched tomorrow. What's a man in America without a car? A man in shape, because he walks or bikes everywhere. I used to be in shape. Now I'm 38.
And that brings us back to the Writ Of Common Wisdom. Tonight's entry stems from an all-too-brief career as an anesthesia billing consultant. Last year, I was attending an anesthesia conference in New Orleans. I had been in New Orleans a long time ago when my dad lived in Baton Rouge, and I didn't think much of it. First off, with my allergies juxtaposed against the Louisiana humidity, it seemed like a place where I would suffer greatly. Second, the sections I saw were run down and dirty and no one seemed to care. It was with this memory that I went to the conference. I must have been housed on the clean side of town, because I didn't see as much despair this time around. I decided ahead of the trip that since I was going to be in town, I would make a reservation to have dinner at one of the restaurants of Emeril LaGasse, famed TV chef. I later caught some flack from my boss for charging it to the company expense account, but you only live once. She ended up letting it slide. It was a little unorthodox, as I went to New Orleans alone. I sat next to two women from California, one of whom was having a birthday. I believe they were sisters. I got the sneaking suspicion that they were trying to fix me up with the birthday girl. As Leslie is now permanently inserted as my one and only, I blew it off, politely said good evening, and walked back to my hotel on what turned out to be a pleasant evening. I like walking city streets alone, as it allows me to take in the sounds around me, as well as the activity with an unblemished eye and ear. I was staying at a hotel whose name escapes me at the moment, but my window looked down on Camp Street in New Orleans. New York is often called the city that never sleeps. That may be true, but no one in America avoids sleep in quite the same way and with such a distinct and devil-may-care flavor as the denizens of New Orleans.
I don't mind being alone, but if I'm alone rather than close to the one I love, it results in songs and thoughts like those put forward below. In the past year or so, I've been listening to a lot of David Ackles. This song's chord choices drip with his influence. His footprint is on the lyrics as well, but in a more subtle way. I recommend acquiring David's work as soon as you can. His songs were fabulous. Rest in peace, David.
 
Camp Street 

  
                                                                                     
Standing wide awake again 
                  
I could swear that I still have some life to spend 
                                                            
Looking down from the 12th floor
                                                                             
Hoping for a little more 
                                                                         
And an open window 
  
                                                                                  
Insomnia returns 
               
Stitch the cuts and soothe the places I’ve been burned 
                                              
Toss and turn from bed to bed
                       
And the pounding in my head 
 
Is getting in rhythm 
  
                                                            
And the lights go out on Camp Street 
                                                            
And the lights go out on Camp Street 
                                                            
And the lights go out on Camp Street 
                                                           
‘Til the sun shines down on us again
 
 
Revelers are stumbling down 
           
The empty darkened streets and laughing thru the town 
                                         
And even when the bars are closed
 
Someone everybody knows 
                                                                 
Just keeps on drinking 
  
                                                   
Another taxi passes by 
                    
His light is out and no more fares; why even try? 
                                            
Traffic lights are flashing red
 
But the city’s only dead 
                                                                        
For just an hour 
  
                                                        
Then the light shines down on Camp Street 
                                                        
Then the light shines down on Camp Street 
                                                        
Then the light shines down on Camp Street
 
‘Til the night surrounds the streets again
 
 
This is three songs in a row of mine now that I hold in high regard when placed against the rest of my catalog.  When this one finally gets recorded, it could just be massive. For now, it's a wannabe on acoustic guitar, but a very healthy, self-reliant, Bohemian style of wannabe.  This song ends with some hope, which is hard to project with just lyrics, but trust me on this one. It happens when the music is added.
 
I just completed a bowl of banana fudge chunk ice cream, which my cat found very interesting (she finds ANYTHING in a bowl interesting). She's 14 years old and hasn't been eating lately, so we switched her to wet food to help her chew. The first helping disappeared VERY quickly. I'm hoping she's not mad that there's not more in her dish right now. I better go check. Until tomorrow, dream well..

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Well, aren't I early?
Leslie has been away for most of the day. Because the hot water heater in the house was being replaced, I stayed home and wallowed in my own filth until about 2 hours ago when I finally showered.
I spent most of the day alternating between watching baseball on TV and reading a biography about the Buffalo Springfield. Lots of drugs and egos in that band. They were young and stupid. They're one of the few bands from that time period that still have all their members still alive, so that has to count for something.
Well, before Leslie gets home, I have to get to tonight's entry from The Writ. This one needs a LOT of explaining.
I have chronic seasonal allergies, so in the spring, when most people are mating, I am sneezing and reaching for the nearest tissues. My allergies are caused more by heat and humidity, so I have a better time of it in the Fall and Winter. Autumn is easily my favorite season of the year, so when the summer finally ends and the weather turns cold, this is MY mating season.
When I lived in Pennsylvania, I made friends for a brief time with a between gigs guitar player who ran a karaoke showcase on Friday nights. It was early in October and the weather had been summer-like for the preceding weeks. I went out one Friday night heading for the karaoke bar. I left all the windows open in my third floor apartment, as it had been in the low '70's that day. ..
Now, the next part needs a little more of an explanation. I talk to myself. I'm PROUD of the fact that I talk to myself. In the end, I'm the only one who can make sense of my thought processes and understands what the hell I'm saying. The voice I talk to myself with takes many forms, one of these being a voice that sounds roughly like Arte Johnson's old man character on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" that sat on the park bench next to Ruth Buzzi, who would end up saying something slightly off-color to her, and would invariably end up getting bashed over the head with Ruth's handbag.
Now, that being said, I can continue the story. The temperature dropped about twenty or twenty-five degrees that night. I got home at about 2:30, unlocked the door to my apartment, and I found it joyfully chilly. "It's AUTUMN!", I said to myself. Suddenly the lecherous Arte voice in my head followed that with "bend over".
About an hour later, this song was written. It's not about anyone specific, and it is not about what would seem like the obvious topic on first read. I don't enjoy you-know-what, and I'm not an advocate in any way, shape or form of that kind of activity. To each his own though; don't let me stop anyone from having a good time. Unfortunately, I put these lyrics to one of my most catchy tunes written to date, so most people really like this song (as long as they have a sense of humor).  Without further ado, I present........
 
 
Bend Over, It's Autumn 
  
               
The leaves fall gently through the trees, then it rains and makes a mess 
                          
The wind is blowin' 'round the hem of my true love's favorite dress 
    
October winds come gently 'round her head, but I'm lookin' at the top of her legs instead 
                                               
And I love her from the top down to the bottom 
                                                                                   
Bend over, it's autumn! 
  
                     
And nothin' truly feels like the first time when a cold wind hits your chest 
                              
So at the risk of sounding crude, will you please show me your breasts? 
             
I look at them and fall in love again; I would hate it if they fell on other men 
                                             
Well, two brown eyes on top, one on the bottom 
                                                                                   
Bend over, it's autumn! 
  
                                  
Well, throw open the window and give us some cool fresh air 
                                      
I'm never truly happy 'til your whole backside is bare 
                                                   
And you can fake it if you really wanna 
                                                                                        
Any feminist will tell ya 
                                                                            
I'm a man, and I'm not supposed to care 
  

I'm holding you as close as I can get without being behind you 
                  
And what would truly be so wrong with that, from back there I love the view 
                  
We'll start to get a little frigid rain, then I'll wake you up and start all over again 
                                               
So hop up into bed and make like Rover
 
It's autumn, bend over!  
 
 
And that's one more. I read a caption under a picture of Randy Newman once that said, "If the songwriter offends you, you've missed the point". That is my disclaimer, but certainly NOT my apology. I make no apologies for anything leaning towards the artistic.
Leslie just called me on the cell phone. She'll be home in about an hour from her sister's place in Illinois, home of future Democratic Senator Barach Obama. I'm going to go do the dishes and change over the laundry. This was an early post, so I'm going to bed later instead of staying awake. I bid all peaceful people a restful sleep, and all warriors a change of heart.

Not much of a Friday. I went to work, came home, barbecued some steaks for Lovely Lady Leslie and I, and after eating them I fell asleep until about 2:40 AM. Now that I've my night's sleep, I'm up and around and chatlessly visitng all of my favorite stops.
 
Which brings us to this morning's entry from The Writ Of Common Wisdom. At the time I wrote this, I was listening to a lot of John Prine. I wish this song were funnier, but it sets the mood I was looking for correctly. I don't play this song nearly as often as I should. This is one of the better ones lyrically.
 
Back To The Wind 
  
                                             
Once had a friend of social grace 
                                     
Hat upon his head, and a smile upon his face 
                                                                
Drank all my whisky, then he disappeared 
                                                  
With his back to the wind and a belly full of cheer 
  
                                   
Met a psychic gypsy dressed up like a clown 
                                      
Painted on a smile and then we hit the town 
                                                           
Told me my future, then she left me for dead 
                                             
With her back to the wind, and a dream inside her head 
  
                                     
Came upon the postman in the driving rain 
                                 
With a can of mace and some keys upon a chain 
                                                                    
Gave me some letters, then he sped away  
 
With his back to the wind and his lights on in the day
 
  
It’s a funny road that we travel on 

One day we’re here, and the next we’re gone
 
So I’m leaving here at the toll of the bell 

With my back to the wind and just one more tale to tell
                                                               
Yea, with my back to the wind and one more tale to tell
 
 
And that's THAT entry. This one holds up well for being written almost ten years ago. A lot of these songs are older,  and some lyrics just don't age well. I like this one.
 
Among the stories of people being intimidated for their beliefs in this once-great and slowly decaying land of ours, I wish the reader a happy weekend and assure them that I refuse to decay, physically or intellectually.

Friday, July 16, 2004

CONCERT REVIEW
James Lee Stanley
Shank Hall, Milwaukee, WI
July 15, 2004
 
I live with a fan of The Monkees. I have no objection to this, as virtually all musical things from the 1960's (with the salient exception of MoTown) hold a special place in my ears and heart. Since I've known my housemate (and for purposes of full disclosure I must state that we're getting married sometime soon), she has told me about seeing Peter Tork live, but that on the same bill was one James Lee Stanley, who in her opinion, bested the headliner.
With her urging, and in the company of one of her oldest friends who drove up from Illinois, we went to see James Lee Stanley at Shank Hall in Milwaukee tonight.
We arrived early and grabbed a front row seat dead center in front of the stage. I didn 't realize that by doing this, I had set myself up.
James came out and immediately asked if there was anyone in the audience who had never seen him before. I raised the loneliest hand in the world; I was the only Stanley Virgin in the bar. For the first few songs of his very entertaining set, I was the between-song banteree.
The power of Stanley's live performance lies in two things; mastery of guitar and storytelling.  Stanley is one of those rare acoustic guitar players that when seen by people like me with (at best) marginal talents, the first reaction I have is to take my hands home and scold them for not behaving like those I've just witnessed. Being the only person in the audience for whom James Lee Stanley was a new experience, you'll pardon me if I don't know the names of his better known songs. The fans in the know who surrounded me tonight at Shank Hall were more than obliging as they blurted out requests from what I now know as Stanley's impressive catalog of songs.
At the end of the show, I had a brief occasion to meet Mr. Stanley, telling him that I had never been abused so tastefully. He was as genuine off the stage as off, and when Leslie (my intended) blurted out that I also played, I was penetant, saying I could NEVER play guitar anything like what I just saw. And tonight, for the first time in my life, a true troubadour looked me in the eye and said, "Anything that anyone else has ever played, YOU can play!". Not even from FAMILY have I ever heard such words of encouragement from one musician to another. I left Shank Hall knowing that the next time we met, my hand wouldn't be the one going up at the start of the show.
James Lee Stanley is currently whizzing around North America. Visit his website at http://www.jamesleestanley.com for all relevant information.
 
 
Because I actually saw a REAL musician tonight, I won't ruin the moment by posting another entry from The Writ Of Common Wisdom this evening. Look for the next entry tomorrow night.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Well, at the moment I am chatting on IM with both Dani and my friend Brian. One conversation is about hockey fights, the other about music. How exhilirating.
I would have posted last night, but I had a BIG sandwich from Subway and fell asleep within an hour. So, here I am; well-rested, incessantly chatting and listening to Sandy Denny.

So, I wrote a GREAT protest song today, but that's not the song I'm presenting here this evening. Since I'm presenting The Writ Of Common Wisdom in alphabetical order as it is now, I've come to a song that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I look at it now and it's just horrible. In the name of being a completist, I present it for your laughter and general scorn.

As The Moon Flies High


The summer sun burns all of my senses

Walkin’ ‘round both lost and agonized

My fevered brain just withers and condenses

Until I find I’m halfway paralyzed


CHORUS:
But as the moon flies high

And the bright light fades away

In the blink of an eye

I’ll be on my feet

And on my way


Humidity is making my mind wander

Sometimes I don’t even know my name

Can’t focus on a single point to ponder

And I don’t even know from where I came

(Chorus)


The nighttime will wash over me

And the stars will light my path

And I’ll forget that that sun ever shined

In all its radiated wrath

(Chorus)

And on my way


And if you think that THAT'S a load of crap, you ought to hear the chords and melody to it. I keep it around as my red-headed stepchild. I psychologically abuse it until it decides to sound better. Honestly, I promise that the NEXT song I post here will be MUCH better.
Good night. Love one another. Hug a Democrat whenever you can.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

About 45 minutes ago, I was engrossed in three different IM chats at the same time. Now, everyone has gone to bed with the exception of Dani, my Austrian friend, who went to work.
My boss is back from Africa, and suspiciously pale for being in Kenya for two weeks. How did she do that?

Well, let's fast-forward. Tonight's entry from the Writ Of Common Wisdom has a nice story behind it. The tune is eleven years old, the lyrics ten. When I was living in Greensboro, NC in 1993, my hands kept playing this same chord pattern over and over again. I knew it was something, but the words wouldn't come. This spilled into 1994, when I had moved back to Pennsylvania (also known as "the worst mistake of my life"). In April of '94, six days after they found Kurt Cobain's body on a floor in his house, my grandmother died at the age of 85. I knew she was going to a happy place in the afterlife, and out of nowhere, these words presented themselves to me. I think vocally, this is one of the best songs in the Writ. You be the judge of the lyrics, but this song will mean a lot to me for a long, long time.

Ascension


Your time is done

Close your eyes

Into the sun

Rise, rise, rise

Wait for the dawn

Time to move on


Gently, you wing

Into azure skies

To thee, we sing

Rise, rise, rise

You’re still alive

We will survive


I can really wail on that one. I recorded this one live about 4 years ago, and it filled me with a spirit I'm not used to.
Well, I've downed a Newcastle Brown Ale, I've listened to "Spread Your Wings And Fly" by Laura Nyro, and I'm ready to call it a day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring to my doorstep? All I can say is I can't wait to see, and I never pictured myself saying that at this point in my life.

Monday, July 12, 2004

So we went to see "Anchorman" today in a local theatre. Leslie loved it. I thought some of the humor was forced, as is often the case with Wil Ferrell. Sometimes, he's just a little too over the top for my tastes.
After the movies, we got some Chinese take-out from the local Chinese restaurant (where else?), which is in the middle of remodeling. It's a good thing it's only right around the corner. We both had sesame chicken.
Now, tonight's entry from the Writ Of Common Wisdom. This is a country song again. I don't write a lot of country songs; I just happen to write a lot of country songs that begin with the letter A.

A Really Big Eraser


If I had a really big eraser

I would stick it inside my head

I would rub and rub ‘til I erased

All of those rotten things you said

Then I’d pull it out and start all over

And find something else to do

But I can’t find a really big eraser

So I guess I’m stuck with you


If I had a really big cheese grater

I would shred my life down to size

Maybe I’d cut, or maybe I’d slice

Or maybe make julienne fries

Then I’d take all the cuttings and the scrapings

And make a pot of John Paul stew

But I can’t find a really big cheese grater

So I guess I’m stuck with you


If I had a really big paint roller

I would repaint the canvas of my life

I could be Picasso’s pet canary

Or maybe Fra Filippo Lippi’s wife

I could take my mistakes and my bad decisions and make them all just disappear

But I can’t find a really big paint roller, so I guess I’ll just hang my canv-ass here

Yea, this one's really silly. This will be the first of many that the reader sees on this blog. I think you have to flush out the silly lyric pipes of your brain every once in a while or you'll go mad.
I loved Kerry's pick of John Edwards last week. I don't think I mentioned that. I actually voted for Edwards in the primaries, and I truly believe he should be president someday. He's a good man, until proven otherwise by this reckless and lazy media in America. Here's hoping they win this one.
Sleep well, world. We're not going anywhere.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Well, I had another great day.
I woke up after noon (forgive me, for it was a Saturday). I immediately sprang into action; I did the laundry, scrubbed the entire bathroom, took out the trash and installed a window air conditioner in the bedroom for use in the near future. Leslie and I had a chicken/bacon/barbecue pizza that was to die for from Papa John's and then went shopping for about an hour. We came home and watched a free DVD we got with the pizza ("Weekend At Bernie's"; it's great escapist entertainment).
Leslie is now asleep, and this brings me to the song of the night from The Writ Of Common Wisdom. This one dates from a dumping I suffered in early 1994. This song was one of many from that particular dumping, and I think it's one of my better songs. I also think it explains itself.


Anything She Wanted


When the sun comes up, she’s in my arms again

And we pick up where the night left off, the kisses sweet as rain

And I drive her home once more, promising that I’ll call by four

And my days are filled with autumn’s chill and anything she wanted


I drop everything to see her gray-green eyes

I disappear when she speaks to me; no limits to my skies

But the truth is always there; I try to lie and say that I won’t care

And I wish my day to go her way, with anything she wanted



Well, it always seems so perfect when there’s nothing bad to see

Ah but when one nerve shows you’ve seen them all, and that’s been the death of me



And when I wake up now, no one is with me here

And I spend my days just kidding myself and I go to sleep in fear

But I tell myself again, if she needed me to be her friend

I’d be her fool, her perfect tool, for anything she wanted


Sometimes I'm such a sap. Did I mention that the dumping had to do with the facts that she was 450 miles away and dating someone else at the time? ...That's a story for another day.

I'm dumbstruck. I have nothing to add. What am I doing here? Why are you staring at me? Why are all of these letters in black? Help me. HELP me!!

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Another late night.
I'm listening to "Hejira" by Joni Mitchell, after reading posts about it all week at the Cafe Utne forum to which I post and read.
This was a day chock full of happy events. I received an e-mail from my friend Marcos back in Pennsylvania. He and his wife had their second child back on June 4th, a boy they named Lennon. Marcos is quite the musician. It was a marvelous piece of news. He also produced my live album roughly four years ago, which has sold the extremely modest total of two copies.
I also fell into a nice IM chat with former co-worker, scratch bowler and all-around hockey nut Brian. He and HIS wife are expecting their first child in late-October. For a while, the lax job market was pummeling them in unfair ways for such sweet people. Things are now back on track, and baby will soon make three.
Now, tonight's contribution from The Writ Of Common Wisdom stems from a time when I dated all the wrong women for all the wrong reasons. I dated this girl named Amy who claimed she was a telekinetic. She was also a hypochondriac. This is not the person you want to be around when you are in the depths of a budding drinking problem. I met her on my 22nd birthday. She ended up being a present that lasted for three months. I have to admit that those three months seemed magical, as do a lot of days you have in your twenties. They were days full of reckless abandon and seemingly endless sunshine. Outside forces were conspiring to pull us apart, it broke up badly and I reacted by crashing a car while drunk.
Fast forward two years, and our paths crossed again. I was dating a girl named Susan, and had been for over a year. Susan was younger than I am and was just entering college when we started dating. My relationship with Susan was filled with pain, unfortunately mostly on her side as her father died while we were together. To add to her devastating loss, she loved me, and I was unfocused and was beginning to feel the walls closing in faster than I wanted them to. A mutual friend invited me to Amy's birthday party at a bar close to her house. We got together again. Sue was crushed, and I still feel like a horrible person for doing that to her. She certainly deserved better, but all I could see at the time was Susan's increasing reliance on me, not realizing, as I do now, that she needed me as the man in her life in a time when there was no other after her father passed away.
Amy and I lived together for 17 days. It was a horrible experience. As was becoming my custom, I reacted to the breakup with a car crash.
I still shake my head to this day at my stupidity of crashing two cars over the same woman, a telekinetic hypochondriac with a laundry list of similar low self-esteem issues that shadowed my own far too closely at the time for us to ever DREAM of making a relationship work. I haven't seen or heard from her since I moved out after that period in 1990. Someone told me that she was a realtor in Northern California. If you live in Northern California, and are buying a house from a realtor who seems to be taking a lot of tablets for her headache, and suddenly the front door of the house opens by itself, tell Amy I said hello.
The following song stemmed from a dream I had about Amy many years later. It's a country song that bears a strong rhythmic resemblance to "The Return Of The Grievous Angel" by Gram Parsons.

Another Dream About The Car Crash Queen


And I saw you again in a different place than the one you had before

You had a new mom; you had a new man and a noisy aluminum door

And your man was nervous that I’d come to you to sweep you off your feet

But that was then and this is now and the two will never meet


The mom that you had was annoyed by you and the burden that you were

If it means a thing, if it matters at all, you should know that I didn’t like her


You hair changed colors and so did your life; it was all so bittersweet

‘Cause that was then and this is now and the two will never meet


You were the love of my life

When my eyes were open wide

And my heart beat fast

Shoulda known we’d never last, never last….


So in my sleep I still have you and that’s good enough from here

You’re a juvenile hole in my heart that only I can feel

And I think of you when I drink rum or a double Dewar’s neat

And that was then and this is now and the two will never meet

And so it goes. Now I'm engaged to the love of my life, a person I wish I had met so many years earlier. I place this song here knowing that it was written at a time when I didn't see my true love ever finding me. She did. This song stays in the Writ as a Ghost of Relationships Past. May it always stay right where it is as I approach my new life with Lovely Lady Leslie.


Friday, July 09, 2004

3 in the morning. Somehow, I have to get my sleep patterns adjusted. I think I'll be up for the next few hours making that attempt.

In tonight's installment of "Nuggets From The Writ Of Common Wisdom". I offer you the following selection. The words to this are country, but the tune is pop-oriented. And when I say "pop", I am referring to something closer to the Beatles definition, and not this garbage that's on the radio today. This song can't really decide what it wants to be, so I'm exposing its ongoing identity crisis to the rest of the world.

All I Wanna Know



A spherical bouncing ball and a place I wanna go

Is all I think about, it’s all I wanna know


A topped-off tank of gas, and a little April snow

Is all I think about, it’s all I wanna know


At the end of the night

When the sun comes up

I’ll be far away from here

And I won’t have a care

As long as I still have a dream to share


So a cloud above my head, and a steaming cup of joe

It’s all I think about tonight, it’s all I wanna know


After reading this, it's got a positive message, so I guess it's on the happy side ofcrisis. We'll see.

With that, I bid you a good day. Love everyone; trust no one.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

After a roughly four to five hour mid-evening nap, I have arisen to nothing in particular.
I'm listening to the best of Spanky & Our Gang, and contemplating my future, which remains wide open.
In keeping with this, I've decided to use this space to publish my songs, one at a time, sans musical notation, to share my vision with the future. I'm going to publish them in alphabetical order as they appear in The Writ Of Common Wisdom. So without further discussion, I present the first of many.

Airport Wind


Stranded here in Newark waiting for a limousine

This is the coldest place that I’ve ever seen

And brewery lights in the distance there

And a January breeze blowin’ back my hair


CHORUS:
Airport wind and 747’s

Blow me up into the heavens

You can jump on a plane; just leave your car

Let the airport wind take you to the stars


Shoes brightly polished, suitcase with a tag

Black and white stripes on the American flag
‘Cause the air is so dirty, all I do is cough

And those red tower lights just blink on and off

(Chorus)

BRIDGE:

Hope I fly into the sunrise; hope the food is good today

Hope tomorrow I forget about this windy yesterday


Truck traffic passin’ headin’ to New York

A plastic knife, a plastic spoon, a plastic fork

And my tie’s a little crooked, and my pants a little tight

But those runway zephyrs take me from the night

(Chorus)

And that's song number one. This one is kind of jazzy, and this is one of the few that I have recorded, having recorded it as a live track about four years ago.

I'll have so much more to share.

As for now, my CD changer has switched to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Every once in a while, between songs I'm writing, I have to remind myself of what real music sounds like.

Good night!!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

It's just after Midnight on July the 6th. The long holiday weekend has come near its end. Over the weekend, I ate like a champion, saw two rather impressive fireworks displays, worked a little bit on "The Writ Of Common Wisdom" (my name for my songbook) and generally enjoyed myself. I even came up with a good song title that I must work on.
I was inspired by going to a small town 4th of July to-do in Spring Grove, Illinois. It's a small town just outside of the town where Lovely Lady Leslie grew up. After watching small town folk congregate around the beer tent for more than half a day, the following couplet came to mind:

"When Danny gets drunk on the 4th of July
Somebody's going down"

So, sometime in the next week, I'll have a song called "When Danny Gets Drunk On The 4th Of July". You want an American anthem, you've come to the right place!! And the best part is, I don't know anyone personally named Danny, outside of some kids I went with to elementary school. Now THAT'S creativity.
Leslie showed her sisters the book that went along with her ring tonight. I didn't read their reactions, but I think they liked it.
It's a nice cool night tonight. It took a long time, but I've found myself a home.
OH, my dad kept sending me right-wing garbage chain e-mails, so I reported him to Yahoo! as being a spammer. I'm curious to see what they do in response. I DO know that all of his mail to ME is being stopped at the server level. No more Fascist crap in my e-mail box. Such a relief.
And with that, it's time to goof off a little bit, see if my friend Dani from Austria is on IM, relax and fall asleep with limited help from my cat Sadie, who likes to sleep under the covers as soon as I come to bed. Love to all.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

I tried to type some of the following information on June 30, but unfortunately, I encountered a computer problem. So I'll try again.
This past Wednesday was the 30th of June, which is Lovely Lady Leslie's birthday. I had a surprise for her after she got out of the shower. We were both topless when we sat down on the bed. I handed her her gift and she opened it. It was the book "There's No Such Place As Far Away" by Richard Bach. The main idea behind this quasi-childrens' book is that no matter the distance, a person can remain in your heart. That was how Leslie and I started out. I reminded her that it had been roughly three years since we had first made love, and that we had overcome great distance to get to this point. With that, I produced the engagement ring she had picked for herself from underneath the pillow, and asked her if she would marry me. She said yes.
It's almost four full days later, and the shiver I get in my heart from her saying yes still feels brand new. On the day I take her hand and offer myself to her as her husband, my life begins anew. She is responsible for nothing short of my resurrection as a human being. I plan to repay that debt in full as time goes by. The most important thing I can do is remain happy by her side, despite all things in the outside world trying to tear us apart. To this point, I have had no idea what true love is. Now I know. She's asleep a room away, and I never want to be more than this far away from her again.
I was going to cover other depressing topics, but the hell with that. Everybody be happy, or we get nowhere. You can do this by voting Democratic in the coming election.