Friday Fives – foolin & skoolin

April is nearly over and we are tumbling toward May and soon it will be the season of graduating. It seems like every class has a graduation now, so how about you

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Did you enjoy your senior year of high school?

Oh yes. Too much, in fact. So much so that a couple of our crew didn’t even graduate. Too busy having fun. Especially since we all turned 18 that year. Once you did that, you could get your parents to sign a form saying you were allowed to call yourself out from school. Too many parents signed that, including mine. It’s fine, I graduated and got into college. I would, however, STRONGLY advise parents not to give their 18 year olds the power to ditch school at will with no consequence.

wait, aren’t I supposed to say what all of us celebrities say about high school?  “I was a total dweeb.  I didn’t have any friends, and I was ugly.  I spent my time playing dungeons and dragons with Darryl and Darryl.  I didn’t have any social skills, it was a nightmare.”

not true for me.  I was decently popular, had some wonderful friends, and just a perfect life.  Plus, I had long hair… so I was cool.  At least, that is the story I am telling.  Jamie, I do not need you to pipe in here.  I wasn’t good looking jock class president, but you can see I didn’t not aspire to be those things.  I did play football, have always loved football.  I was too scrawny to play proper.  So, we played at lunch on the football field every day.  Tackle, of course!

Did you have a senior trip (high school) and were you able to go on it.

No. Not to my knowledge, at least. It’s a bummer. I would have LOVED to do one of those exchange student things. Go live in France for a semester and live with a family. I got to do that in college in Mexico, and it was amazing.

Was graduating (from either high school or college/university) a big thing with your family or just another day?

I am very proud to say it was just another day. My parents put a premium on education, and my mom was a teacher. Both my parents are college grads, and everyone of their children (my two brothers and I) graduated college. There is I, the youngest, and then Scotty and Johnny.

What were you looking forward to the most after graduating from either high school or college/university?

Being able to choose my education, and class times. For example, I signed up for algebra my freshman year, at 7:45 am. This was a big mistake on SO many levels. I learned it is impractical for me to take any class before 10 am. Especially since I was not living on campus my first year.  Getting to choose my own classes was HUGE.   I guess they have ‘electives’ in high school now, but they didn’t 30 years ago.

That is when ASU really cheesed me off.  Sorry to swear, but I am passionate.  I quickly discovered a love for psychology.  Psychology is amazing.  perhaps you are thinking of therapy when you think of studying psychology.  No sir.  Psychology is in every single interaction in your life.  It affects your relationships, your job, your well being.  It is super fascinating.  ASU wouldn’t let me take any classes beyond the 101 and 102.  I had to be a declared Psych major to take more classes.  I am, as you will see, still pissed about this.   So, you have classes available?  and there is room in the classroom right now?  and I pay you guys all this money?  and I just want to show up and learn… and that isn’t an option?  Well… fuck you, buddy!  I left ASU after my freshman year and moved up to Flagstaff.

I wish I could tell you I graduated with my psych degree at NAU.  I didn’t.  I chickened out, thinking “what would I do with that?”  I mean, I know it is wickedly valuable as a human to understand humans… but how would that pay the bills?  I certainly didn’t want to be a therapist.  I need a practical degree that will get me rollin in the Benjamins… er… Hamiltons.   So… um… I got a literature degree.  I had no, and still have no, intention of teaching.  that’s ok, I don’t know if any of my friends or associates who are working in the field that they majored in.

Teachers in AZ for the public schools make about $16 an hour.   Even better?  They expect you to get a masters at the very least.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your graduating self?

Learn a trade. A skill. If you have a trade (something physical: plumber, electrician…) you can work anywhere. You can’t get outsourced to the Philippines, which I have been several times being in telecom for 22 years. My pops was totally against the concept of physical labor for a living. He thought that was beneath him. He didn’t fix things, he hired people to fix things. I think he was quite proud of this. My dad’s philosophy was ‘work smart, not hard’. I like Mike Rowe’s philosophy, which is work smart AND hard. There is nothing wrong with hard work and being handy. I am now pretty handy, and I am super proud of that. I didn’t grow up restoring the old Jeep Willis with my pops in the garage.

It’s possible he didn’t know the difference between a flathead screwdriver and a Philips. Here is an example. He had 3 perfectly healthy boys. And we had a big ass hard. He hired Mexicans to mow the lawn. That is SO silly. We should have been mowing the lawns. Again, he felt that was beneath us. I am not mad or sad, because his intentions were awesome. Just not at all practical. Especially now that I am a homeowner. I am still learning how to fix stuff. It isn’t pretty. Generally, when I am ‘fixing’ something, I initially break it worse. But then, I know what I am going. Here is a practical example – first time I replaced and installed a garbage disposal under the sink… took me 3 hours. Second time I did one, it took me 30 minutes.


Friday Fives – things I can’t do edition

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What normal thing can’t you do?

Ok, so we are just going to get right into this, huh?  No handshake or small talk?  Ok, iron a dress shirt!  I wear one every day, and I pay to have them dry cleaned.  Whenever I iron a dress shirt, it just puts creases in different places.  I can only iron maybe a handkerchief.  Small and round and square – just like you!

I am not proud of the fact I dry clean my shirts, but it is a ‘time is money’ sort of thing.  Just like changing the oil on my truck.  I can do it.  BUT… the time it would take me to do it would be hours. I  have to take off all the skid plates and such.  Whereas a garage has a lift and an impact wrench and he can do it in 15 minutes.  That is worth $50 to me.  It is something I truly believe as I get older (47)… time is money.  In every sense.  and in every sense I have more money than time.  As the late Mitch Hedburg joked “I am set for LIFE.  If someone shoots me tomorrow.”

What do you personally hate the smell of?

Fritos corn chips.  Am lucky the wife doesn’t like them.  Don’t even want them in my house.  I wish I had a great or funny story about fritos broke up my parents marriage or something.  I don’t.

People who make their bed in the morning every day, what are the rest of us missing out on?

Don’t know, as I am not one of those who make the bed every day.  You knew that, though, didn’t you?  What are you doing in my bedroom?  And since you are clearly there spying, you might as well make the bed for me.

What is the most pointless thing that actually exists?

A month ago I would have told you the treadmill.  You need a $5K machine to fucking walk?  You sicken me!  BUT… I have been using the one at the office and it is glorious.  Though it is April, it is still winter in Colorado.  We just had another blizzard 2 days ago.  Our second blizzard (not snow storm, mind you… but blizzard) in a month.  I walk the treadmill and read and I am smitten.

What is your best use of an item or object that clearly was not made for such use?

Qtips for the ears.  I know the ONE thing they tell you about Qtips is to not stick them in my ears.  I do it every day, you crackers!  I tell you that to tell you this – what else are they for?  I truly have no idea.  They seem to be marketed to women.  So, is it a makeup removal thingy?  Please do tell in the comments.  Do be sure to write it down, I can’t hear a damn thing these days.

Friday Fives – Spring into slumber

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What is your least favorite part of Spring?

There is absolutely no downside I can think of.  Well, cleaning.  But, I don’t mind cleaning.  Long as I can work by myself and at my own pace.  Last weekend, we cleaned out the office and the garage and it’s a pretty great feeling.

What is your most favorite part of Spring? 

There are two, and only, months where everything will be green.  April and May.  By June, everything is dead and brown and sad.  I live out East of things.  Our climate and terrain is more Kansas plains than Rocky Mountains.  Yes, tornado country.  This means there is wild grasses everywhere, and by June its all died up and brown.  This means fire season.  April is the joyous and brief period of total beauty.

What is the latest good book you’ve read?

Glad you asked.  I track them all here.  This is every book I have read in the last 10 years or so.  I think the biggest mind blowing book experience I have had was ‘A Ladies Life in the Rockies’.  It is the best and most unique writing I have read in years.  Isabella Bird is a breathe of fresh air, even though her writing is 130 years old.  She has several other books about her travels in the ‘Orient’.

I was SO looking forward to them, until I found none of them on audiobook.  For me to read a proper book book, it takes a few years.  Seriously, I have SO little time to sit and read.  And, I am too big a spaz to be able to relax and read.  ADD.  With audiobooks, though, I go through a book about every three weeks.  All that time driving and sitting in traffic?  I put it to work to learn and be entertained.  So should you.  100% of my book reading is now done via audiobooks.  Around the house, I am reading magazines or interesting articles from these folks.  and these folks.  If I am feeling really righteous*** and thinky, I’ll also hit up these good folks.

*** do you have any idea how hard that word is to spell?  I was so far off my first few attempts that even spellcheck was all ‘wtf, bro?’  That word, like the word yacht, tells phonetics to go f itself, and then kicks phonetics in the balls.  Those two words hang out at schools that teach English as a second language and remind these poor immigrants that they will never understand English.

What are your plans for this weekend?

Work.  If it is warm again, I’ll start working around the property.  Last weekend was the first warm weekend since Nov.  It has snowed every single weekend since Christmas.  Once the warm weather hits, it’s time to work on the property and all the stuff we have joyously neglected all Winter.  Fixing horse fencing, and other country song lyrics.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?


Friday Fives – Shakespearean shit-talking edition

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Who surprises you the most at the fact that they are still alive?

Willie Nelson.  Not just because he is old, or maybe lived a storied and hard life.  I am amazed because the life of an itinerant musician is a lousy one.  This is eating weird catering every single day… for 50 years.  Never getting a good night’s sleep… for 50 years.  It’s like what William S Burroughs said about being a junkie.  He said junkies don’t live long, but not because of the drugs.  It is the lifestyle you live because of the drugs… that is what kills you.

We can assume he has a great rhythm, and probably the best dietitians and doctors available.. but that life is hard work.  Interesting, he has a big beautiful mansion back in Texas.  When he is home, though, he stays in his tour bus.  It makes sense.  He says that is his home and his rhythm and his kitchen… etc.

Which words sound perfectly normal, but look really dumb spelt out?

I’ll go with this word, because I love it so.  Also, because it apparently does not have an English equivalent.  It can be explained in English, but there is no single word in our language that can be used.   Schadenfreude.  Man, those Germans do not suffer fools.  Btw, never forget they have twice tried to take over the Earth recently (WW1 & WW2).  These are not good people, and this was not so long ago.  Don’t buy German shit.  Mercedes Benz, Hugo Boss?  All monsters who helped Hitler eradicate the Jews.   Sure, technically we are allies now.  That doesn’t carry much water with me.  Dylan addressed this issue beautifully right here.

Oh, and the word phonetic.  It is amusing that the word that means sounding things out slowly and intuitively is spelled in a super non-phonetic manner.

What is surprisingly NOT illegal in your country?

Assault weapons.  Listen, I know they are really really fun.  I have shot them, it is fantastic.  However, you do not need them to protect your home from the British, or to hunt.  It is an advanced weapon.  As a result, you should have to have training before you are allowed to use or carry one.  Just like a driver’s license.

Without swearing, what is your favorite insult?

Dunk.  It is an amalgam of bad words that I cannot say in polite company.  Mostly, it is an expletive I shout at, and in, traffic.  Dunk!  It’s like 4 mean swear words jammed into one.  You are welcome to use it, free.

A dad used to tell his children that the noise produced from the fan above the stove came from a creature named Kitchen Willy who lived in the walls; what ridiculous creatures or ghosts did your parents convince you that you were living amongst?

 I don’t have a story like that.  But that isn’t what is important right now.  What is important is talking about this story and your parents.  Let’s not say ‘a dad…’  you coward.  How about ‘my dad used to tell…’.  Your father is a monster!

What the fuck, buddy?  Your parents were either super high, or might be hobbits.  Get thee to a nunnery, stat! ‘Swounds!

tangent alarm.  I just went down a rabbit hole here.  A good editor would delete everything below.  I do not have one of those, though. It an aside on historical curse words.

Yeah, I just threw some Shakespearean f bombs at you.  300 years ago, ‘swounds!’ was ‘what the fucking fuck?”.   It is short for ‘God’s Wounds’.  As for ‘get thee to a nunnery’, that is Shakespearean speak for “you are a goddamn whore!  You are going to die soon and alone and probably with all the festering venereal diseases from all your whoring.  If you get yourself to a convent (and so back in God’s good graces) maybe you can escape hell.  If you somehow manage to live through your whoring, maybe the nuns can put your soul back together.”

Saying either one of these things 300 years ago would get you killed.

ok, actually that weird ‘Kitchen Willy’ story is awesome.  I don’t have kids.  If we did, I would totally fill their heads with that kind of nonsense.  Being left handed, I can come up with weird stuff like that all the time in real time.  It is something I would also not remember even ten minutes later having said.

In editing over this, I realize I come across all angry.  Odd.  not my style.  But I ain’t taking any of it down.  I am in a pretty good mood today, it’s my birthday!  You may now sing me ‘happy birthday’, as that song JUST became public domain in the last couple of years.  This is why when you go to hacky restaurants and the staff comes to the next table and sings a creepy and upbeat birthday related song…  that is why they never just sing ‘happy birthday to you’.  These restaurants would have had to pay to license that song to sing it at your table.    For some reason, these homemade birthday songs involve a ton of clapping.  Like… these places have stock in clapping, and need a write off.

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Think of it like this, because this is very interesting stuff.  You could not rent out the Pepsi Center, and sell tickets to play Elton John songs.  Like, imagine you made up a play that revolves around Elton John songs, and wanted to put it on for people.  You might charge them $10 each, for your troubles.  You know you can’t do that, of course.  Elton owns the music.  You would have to get permission from him, AND pay him.  Per music copyright laws, it is the exact same thing if you plug in your iPod and play tunes at the bar from your Bluetooth speaker.

OR… they have a piano there, at this bar.  You have some beers, and you hop up and play an Elton John song.  Just for your friends at the bar.  Maybe you go to an open mic and do a couple John Prine songs.  If that bar doesn’t have a license with Ascap & BMI... it is no different than you trying to sell tickets to your Elton John song.  Ok. apologies.

Imagine you recorded your own version of ‘Your Song’ from Elton John.  Same words and chords and melody.  Imagine you then sold that recording and kept all the money.  Legally, to music publishers, this is no different from you playing ‘Your Song’ off your cell phone and a blue tooth speaker on the porch at Illegal Pete’s.

When I said this was interesting, I should have clarified.  It is interesting to me.

Friday Fives – alice in slash edition

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What sci-fi hero are you most similar to?

No idea.  Don’t read sci-fi

What fictional character from a novel are you most similar too? 

I’d like to think Alice.  The entire book, crazy shit happens to her.  She handles it and moves on.  Her angriest diatribe is to say ‘well, that was curious’.  I won’t even give a specific example, as the entirety of the book is crazy shit happening to her.  That is why she is, and becomes, the hero.  In the truest sense of Joseph Campbell’s archetypal study ‘hero with a thousand faces’, she goes out into an uncertain world… down the rabbit hole.  She has epic battles to fight, and triumphs through them all… half with her wit… and half with what she has just learned from the last apeshit thing that happened to her.

What Disney character are you most similar to?

Since Disney now owns any film version of Alice in Wonderland, I am going to stick with Alice. She means that much to me.  Bonus pointless trivia?  There is no book called ‘Alice in Wonderland’.  It has become shorthand for ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and what she found there.’  Now if that trivia doesn’t get you laid… then you are more like me than you think!

What toy action figure are you most similar to? 

Slash, the Todd McFarland version.  Why?  It is super realistic.  And what character in real life rock music (sorry, that is all I care about besides Alice) that is the journey of the hero.  He went through drugs and being in Guns and survived it all.  He never ONCE talked shit about Axl.  Even when Axl called him a ‘cancer’.  It is especially the worst thing you can do since Slash MADE him.  Who wrote all those songs on Appetite?  Hint – it rhymes with ‘Slash’.

What car/truck/auto are you most similar to?

A pickup truck, the only vehicle I have owned for 22 years and will likely ever own.  Super duper useful, even if only 10% of the time.  Oh, and I get lousy mileage, too.

Friday Fives – decade style

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What were 5 great things about the 1970s?

Rock was king.  More importantly, it was still being invented.  Everything we see now, and have seen in the last 30 years, is simply derivative of what was accomplished in the 60s and the 70s.

We got rid of Nixon, ended Vietnam, and I was born.  Is that 5 things?  Math isn’t exactly my jam.  Let’s go ahead and pull the number 5 out of all of these.

What were 5 great things about the 1980s?

Music was fun.  We were able to lose the seriousness and make music that didn’t have to be high art.  In the art world, when this happened, it was a revolution.  For centuries, art had to have a reason to exist.  It was to represent or celebrate something.  Maybe it was propaganda.  Throughout history, art was rarely done ‘because it looks nice’.  No serious artist would dare say ‘there is no point to this whatsoever.  It’s just fun and silly.’  Even Picasso would not say that, though we certainly do now.  Take a look at Guernica.  That was a VERY heavy statement on war.  Books have been written about it, and classes taught.

To me, this was rock in the 60s and 70s.  it was self serious critical expression.  Sure, there was pointless fun in rock earlier.  Just look at Mungo Jerry’s silly masterpiece ‘in the summer time’.  These guys were not exactly trying to unseat a monarchy, but this was a rarity that early.  To me, the 80s embodied this ‘fuck it.  It’s a catchy melody.  That is a good enough reason to release it’

In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather’s fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find

If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor just do what you feel

What were 5 great things about the 1990s?

As you can see, I only want to talk about music here.  It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

There was a side effect of the ‘fun’ part of the 80s.  There was the game change of us listening to music (up until the 80s) and watching the music (Mtv).  Because we consumed music primarily by watching it, style trumped substance.  In the 80s, being beautiful was at least half the battle to being a successful musician.  I think the 90s represented a backlash.  Don’t worry, we were (and still are) plenty shallow.  BUT… outfits and cinematography didn’t dictate the times.  There is a name for this great sea change in art, but I don’t remember it.  Art Nouveu, or was it Art Deco?  I don’t know, man.  I’m a rock scholar, not an art one.

For some reason, we changed the name of and ‘heavy metal’ to ‘alternative’.  To me, it’s the exact same music.  Angry dudes, cool riffs, lots of distortion.  In fact, they are so so interchangeable that they only way we can look back and differentiate ‘heavy metal’ and ‘alternative’ was if there was hair spray involved.  If your hair went up, it was ‘heavy metal’.  If it didn’t, it was ‘alternative’.  So, now we call that first era ‘hair metal’.

What were 5 great things about the 2000s?

Musically?  I think it has been all ‘rinse and repeat’ for the last 30 years.  Why?  Am I saying ‘there is no good music anymore’ because I am stuck listening to the same shit I was listening to in high school (which is pretty true)?  NO.  I don’t mean on ANY level to dismiss music that followed.  I am absolutely not saying ‘nothing good has come out since the 70s’.  I am saying (as a musician) there are 8 chords.  That’s it.  You can only do so much with 8 chords that has’t been done before.

What were 5 great things about the 2010s?

I think the great sea change here is the collapse of the record industry.  That, couple with the wide open internet, meant our music was no longer handed to us.  For the last 50 years, we all listened to the same music.  Know why?  Your market had 3 TV stations and 3 rock stations (at best).  Like TV, you were kinda forced fed content.  At my age, of course you remember ‘Different Strokes.  Everyone watched it.  You had no choice.

Now…you have to go out and find what you like.  It is great, on so many levels.  However, for someone lazy and stuck in my ways like me… it is also tougher.  I know positively there is amazing music being made.  I just don’t have the energy to chase it down.  Another aspect of that is I am a bit of an elitist when it comes to live performances.  I except a band to be better live than in studio.  I expect a band to play a different setlist from night to night.  Point being, I am most turned on to new bands live.  Last year, for example, I went to see Umphrey’s McGhee.   They were fine.  They opener, though, rocked my dick off.  They are called ‘The Record Company’, and I can’t remember the last time I was that impressed, or had that much fun, seeing live music.

I also want to point out that no matter how much fun I had seeing them that night, no one was having as much fun as their singer.  Bonus, it was a perfect summer evening at Red Rocks.

Friday Fives – grocery edition

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Do you make up a meal/menu plan for the coming week?

We kinda gave up.  Here is why – the wifey and I work wildly different schedules.  She works business hours, and I don’t.  So, we aren’t able to sit together and have a meal.  It kinda jacks up planning.  Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it does make it tough.

Do you make up a grocery shopping list and stick to it when shopping?

When the wife shops, yes.  She is planned and methodical.  Me?  I think only a day at a time.  Or, more realistically, a meal at a time.  It is a bad way to be.  I am trying so hard to just get to a regular schedule.

What’s that one thing that you always buy – a go-to product you but, but never write down on a list?

There are a few go to things I don’t even need to write down.  Greek yogurt, protein bars.  With both, I have very specific brands.  I don’t remember them offhand, though.  They key is both have to be HIGH in protein and low in calories and lower in sugar.  And Califia almond milk with coconut.  This shit is the BOMB!  We don’t drink milk at all, so this as close as we get.  I use this for protein shakes and even in cooking when something calls for milk.  Look at the bottle, even it is beautiful.  This is the exact, and only, one I get.  Good flavor, and isn’t loaded with a ton of bullshit preservatives and sweeteners.

Is there anything that you always think you are out of and come home with it to discover you already have a year’s supply on hand?

Not really.  We always have tons of coffee, butter, and olive oil.  You can never have enough of those things.  If I fear we are low, I will buy some.  It will never go to waste.  Oh, and driving gum.  It MUST be only this flavor… the pink one.  Now, here is the frustrating thing.  I know they sell this flavor over others about 5 to 1.  At the grocery store, they stock about 4 boxes of this flavor and only a couple single boxes of the other flavors (green and blue, usually).   YET… when you go to a gas station or 7-11… you will find the Orbit fits-in-cupholder gun.  but NEVER the pink.  WHY IS THIS?  How does every grocery store in America pay their rent by selling the pink one, and never once has a gas station or 7-11 carried the pink one.  Do gas stations realize if they carried the pink one, they wouldn’t even have to sell gas or ciggies?

Really, all there should be is corner markets for the pink orbits gum.

Do you get your groceries delivered?

No.  Not interested in that, seems kind of weird.  I enjoy shopping, and looking at the food and choices and deals.  Plus, we live pretty remotely.  Don’t think anyone wants to run food 15 miles out of town.  They would charge us a fortune for that.  Instead… I will hit the store on the way home… so nothing is out of my way.

because I am specific about a few brands above, perhaps you think I am sponsored?  Perhaps you think I am in the pockets of Big Gum, and the Big Gum Lobby.  I sure would like to be.  Go ahead and start sending me free shit.  As of yet, that has not happened.  Any products I mention, I mention because I like them (or hate them).  There is no ulterior motive beyond self expression.  I sure wish there was, though.