a perpetual state of negotiation

now playing: mogwai, “nick drake”

(hit their site if for no other reason than to see the pic of tony the tiger with siegfried and roy…i almost pissed myself)

i love my children. i hate the holidays.

halloween, thanksgiving, and christmas, all within the span of 90 days, usher in the annual parental negotiation phase…where every waking moment of their lives are fodder for bartering and negotiation.

it should be noted, that i am typically a pretty capable negotiator, and i can usually compromise with just about anyone – i have to keep myself in check in some instances to keep myself from giving away too much, because i am, of course, perpetually concerned with how i’m perceived…but i usually fare best with a sane and logical negotiating partner. this is never the case with the person whom fate has cast as the mother of my children.

i won’t even go into what it is that informs my decisions where relationships are concerned – hell, that could well be a topic for nanowrimo if i didn’t already have a thought about where i wanted to go with that…maybe next year. but this woman hears nothing said by any voice that doesn’t come from inside her head, so there’s a huge amount of futility involved, which to this day only comes to light after i’ve made some attempt to communicate something to her, only to realize that she hasn’t heard a word i’ve said.

i’ve had two ex-girlfriends who were single mothers, one of whom i almost married. neither had any real contact with their parental counterparts while we were together, and i often mentioned to them how lucky they were that they didn’t have to fight/bicker/negotiate/bargain in damn near every aspect of their kids’ lives – this statement, of course, carries no weight when you’re calling the cable company to have the TV shut off because you can’t afford it and you’re receiving zero funds in the support category…but i lack that particular perspective on the situation.

i am tired of constantly having to barter for time that legally belongs to me, though.

as an adult who has pretty vivid memories of my childhood, knowing what i now know to be true about those times has given me some serious perspective about what was actually going on around me at a given point in my life. and both of my kids are extremely sharp. they get it. and someday, they’ll get it all, and it’ll be obvious to them what was going on at a given time, and hopefully will make peace with things as they turned out with a minimum of therapy.

this is my wish, anyway.

in the meantime, i have to try to scramble to gain their availability for halloween if they are to go door-to-door in my neighborhood at all.

it’s tough to negotiate when no one is talking back.

the bubbles

now playing: mary chapin carpenter, “come on come on”

you see them at the bottom of the pot, starting to rise slowly from the floor up to the surface right before the water starts to boil…

that particular pot is my personal metaphor for the day thus far.

i’m finding more and more that the concept of planning is a waste of time in my life as its’ presently being lived. i honestly don’t know anyone else who has demands on their time coming from more directions than i do. now, here i go, climbing up on the soapbox again, to bitch and moan and do my little “woe is me” dance, but the fact is, i absolutely have to learn to start drawing some lines and creating some boundaries and practicing the fine art of saying “no” on occasion.

i blew my entire morning working on a laptop that wouldn’t acknowledge the presence of its soundcard drivers, even though they were installed, showed up ok in device manager, and had an IRQ assigned. it was maddening, and it wasn’t on my LOSTD (list of shit to do), so i’m hopelessly behind enough at this point that i don’t feel as though i’ll make any further headway today (it is, after all, almost 4 o’clock), so i’ve now sunk into my large, comfy “fuck it” persona, and will probably ride out the day sittin’ right here, thank you very much. the price i’ll pay for that is that i’ll almost definitely be in here at least one day this weekend. i have a maniac QA manager running around the plant like the fuckin’ pied piper, setting up workstations with accounts from some ISO9001 company, and so far, not a lot of them are working properly – and not too many of our workstations have soundcards on them, and they’re necessary for the online tutorials that come with this stuff. so there’s more work right there, in addition to the troubleshooting angle….

wrong move at the wrong time.

throw it on the pile.

the irritant, though, is just feeling taken for granted. feeling as though everyone feels that they should be at the top of my list…or at least behaving like it. i’m starting to get the feeling that i’m never gonna get caught up, never gonna get everyone off my back. i’ve put myself in the position, though, by doing all my own warranty work and by committing to so many customers and taking on so much work – so i can only resent it in an internal sense, a passive sense…because most of these demands are legitimate, so what am i supposed to do? it’s business. i have to make good on my word to complete projects, to make house calls for paid customers who have large issues with their machines, to answer phone calls at crazy hours – i signed up for this.

my family, however, did not.

and guess who gets the short straw where tom’s time is concerned?

i have to find a way to say no, to say not right now, to politely decline…otherwise, i’m not gonna last much longer. this is becoming too much.

take 74213498, rolling…

now playing: without a trace

long, LONG day at the studio – finally got to meet marc moss, blakes’ partner in crime for the three aunt pat albums…nice guy. he played me some remixes of some rare stevie nicks tracks he’d worked on, and then blake and i got to work – we set up two amps, a fender vibrolux and a marshall head that was never even turned on, much less used. we finished two complete tracks in what i’ve come to know as typical blake style – i call it subtractive recording…recording dozens more tracks than you need and then sitting and analyzing them, maybe comping them together into a single track, maybe just using the first one you did, but essentially, subtractive recording involves throwing absolutely everything at the wall, and then scraping stuff off until you have something.

admittedly, there was a fair amount of subtractive recording during the making of “our mutual angels”, so it’s not a foreign concept to me…

i think that blake worries that i become impatient during all this, but patience isn’t as much of a factor as my muso-biological clock…i have a finite amount of “keepers” in me…there are X number of good takes in me before i start becoming either bored or tired and things get either too mechanical or too sloppy. but i can typically reel ’em off for longer than i need to, because people usually only want one good take…but then sometimes there are exceptions…

gotta finish some stuff here at the house this weekend – the jodi project starts very soon, and i have to go get the van next week.

all the stuff i need to do before bed, but all i want to do is sleep. it was 4 am when i got home this morning, 6:30 when i got up…so i’m overdue.

competition commuting, and the proper care and maintenance of damn near anything

now playing: little feat, “spanish moon/skin it back (live)”

i gotta get this stuff down while i’m thinking about it…

somehow, it’s closing in on midnight and i’m back at work. i have three things that i must get out of my way before tomorrow comes and i’m not here to deal with them, so here i sit…obviously very dilligently taking care of them (note to the non-sarcastic: blogging is not on the to-do list)

what is it that drives people so crazy about the way people drive if it doesn’t really affect them? I have a relatively simple rule that i try to adhere to, in terms of my attitude towards other drivers – if it doesn’t affect me directly, then more power to them. if someone flies up my ass, i move over and let ’em have the road. sometimes i’m in a hurry, sometimes i’m not. if someone has a more intense agenda than i do, then i’ll move over. it’s not mine to say how fast someone else should drive.

i do get pissed every time the universe points out to me that i seem to be the only living organism on the planet with this mindset. in pittsburgh for the charlie show a couple of weekends ago, we were driving into town at a little before 9 in the morning on a saturday (it should be pointed out that p’burgh seems to share philadelphia’s attitude that any artery flowing into or out of its boundaries should be limited to two lanes for reasons i’ll never fully grasp) – there was a gentleman who perfectly fit the MO of what i like to call a “bingo ranger” – oversized luxury car driven by a very tiny head with large cataract lenses on it, perpetually in search of the $500 winning card by driving from bingo hall to bingo hall like a modern day headless horseman. he was nestled in the left lane, locked into a steady but maddening 54 mph, and i had to be ready for soundcheck in roughly an hour.

i finally found my hole, and around him i went…and boy, did this crusty old bastard ever take it personally…he immediately accelerated and tried to catch up with me, but i was driving a rental car, and i would not be denied. i lost him in less than a minute.

well, five or six minutes later, here comes this uncle baxter-mobile SCREAMIN’ up the interstate behind me…he cuts in front of me, and immediately resumes his state of 54 mph.

now, did he honestly think that by doing this, i’d see the error of my ways and sit contentedly behind him with my tail between my legs….???

i passed him again and blew him a kiss and waved at him with a smile on my face…i swear i thought i saw the vein in his neck pop out. i singlehandedly succeeded in ruining this guys’ day, simply because i had to be somewhere and he was crampin’ my style. it was nothing personal – hell, i didn’t even know the guy. but i bet that guys’ blood pressure has yet to return to a semi-normal state.

one of the people at the APCA regional that day was an author who had studied conflict extensively, and this experience made for some interesting conversation after the instruments were put away. he was an ex-FBI officer who had been with the bureau during j edgar’s day…i bit my tongue and didn’t ask the two biggest questions i wanted to pop the guy:

1. how do you feel about the blame rhetoric going on in the wake of 9/11 regarding the field office reports that may have thwarted the attacks in the first place?


2. where did j edgar buy his shoes? i bet for a guy of his stature, he had to have had a source for stihletto pumps in ultra-wide. my son needs a pair for halloween.

get this – dylan is going to school as edgar allen poe, but is actually going trick or treating as a prostitute. i started calling him “edgar allan hoe” a couple of days ago, and now everyone’s calling him that.

one final story, and i have to get my work done.

today, one of our super-flaky users comes in bitchin’ and complainin’ that someone got gunk all over her phone by taping down her hook (so that when she answered the phone, it continued to ring, because the tab wouldn’t come up). she was completely melodramatic and indignant about it – you’d think someone walked up behind her and felt her up. anyway, mary ann – my office mate – stokes the fire and asks her if she’s gone to HR yet, and recommends she does so…i’m sitting here shaking my head, and made a not very friendly remark that would indicate that the two of them might have some pent up sexual frustration, and then Frantic Girl leaves with her handset in her hands…

ten minutes later, she comes back and announces indignantly that “they’ve really done it now…now my phone doesn’t work!”

i asked all the pertinent questions, and coax her into telling me that “it worked before i cleaned it off”…

i said, “what did you do to clean it off?”

“i ran some water over it in the bathroom….”

yep. genius girl took the handset into the bathroom and held it under the faucet in the sink.

i told her that this method works great for getting stuck VHS tapes out of the VCR, too, but that you have to leave it plugged in so that the eject mechanism will work.

the truly sad thing is that there’s more than a passing chance that i may someday have her charbroiled carcass on my conscience.

relatives should not breed. nothing good comes of it.

more bones

now playing: october project, “paths of desire”

dig this guy – no denyin’ whose kid he is. you wouldn’t believe how impressed his mom was when he came home from TN knowing how to play mandolin…

this picture is from an outdoor carnival that we played this past summer…i seem to have a lot of pics of me with this guitar. it is something special, though. i have five telecasters, and this one is the best of the lot.

also from tennessee this past summer is yours truly with ed king from lynyrd skynyrd. ed is one of the nicest guys i’ve met on his particular rung of the food chain – i took ed and his wife sharon out to dinner the night we got into nashville, and we all enjoyed their company a great deal. can’t wait to go down and see him again.

on the subject of skynyrd, i heard some cuts from a fan-generated tribute cd today that was just awful. the worst part was that there were a number of cuts on the record by a nationally known tribute band, and they had no clue. didn’t play the solos right, timing was off, vocals were lousy. other than that, i guess it was ok. i didn’t hear anyone do a solo right on any of them. too bad our boys didn’t get wind of this before it came to fruition…i would’ve loved to have gotten a stone road treatment on there.

tomorrow is “melt blake’s brain in the studio” day. gotta go home and pack my stuff…that is, after i drive to emmaus to try and sort through some PC problems for one of my clients. and just like that, another week will be over. many phone calls to make before the nights’ over, though.

walked outside today to scamper across route 61 to the supermarket for lunch, and smelled someone’s wood fire burning…one of my absolute favorite smells. definitely in my all time top five smells.

definite sign of autumn. never mind all those leaves in the parking lot….

another grey morning

now playing: jonatha brooke, “inconsolable”

now playing in my head: james taylor, “another grey morning”

raining. again today.

hardly unexpected, i guess…but it is starting to take its toll. i was glad the kids were overnight last night – it meant getting up a little earlier to manage the shower queue, but i hate it when they have to walk to the bus stop in shitty weather. i think i’ve talked before about how much that bothers me. i’ve actually started getting up early and picking them up at their moms’ and driving them up on bad days.

got a note this morning from my buddy jay, expressing some enthusiasm for my modus operandi regarding jodi’s album. i woke up this morning with patty griffin’s song “top of the world” in my head, thinking that would be a great song for jodi to cover…i also thought we could do a kickass version of “too soon” by eastmountainsouth.

now, though, i find myself sitting at work with no desire to do anything but curl up underneath my desk and take a nap. generally speaking, i’m pretty impervious to the weather, but today it’s not helping.

Repetition in the morning air
Is just too much to bear
And no one seems to care
If another day goes creeping by
Empty and ashamed
Like an old unwanted memory
That no one will claim
The clouds with their heads on the ground
She’s gonna have to come down

She said “move me, move me
I’m locked up inside”
Well, I didn’t understand her
Though God knows I tried
She said “make me angry
But just make me cry
But no more grey morning
I think I’d rather die”

the stories we could tell..

now playing: rain falling on the sidewalk outside – otherwise, silence…i like this song.

i promised a while back i’d post my poco chronicle – somewhere, there are orange cones being retrieved from a stretch of the road to hell, freshly paved with my good intentions…i will, i will. i promise. stand by.

went to dinner with the gang tonight, and marvelled yet again at the playfulness that exists between my son and my daughter…there was a baby at the table next to us who just became enthralled with jayda for a few minutes – i told her that “you happy babies must have some kind of unspoken cosmic connection of some sort…”.

she said, “yep. i was a happy baby. not that i remember much about it….”

both of my kids could be a case study in excessive intake of bovine growth hormone, i think. i gave up on trying to get 12 and under discounts for them years ago, because frankly, i wouldn’t have believed that they were under 12…and if i don’t believe it, then i can’t sell it. whether it’s true or not. they’re not taller than i am or anything, but i just don’t see them as being that age to begin with.

wendy is a trip. i think that if i could keep her up for 3 days straight, she’d still gallop up and down the stairs. when we first moved in together, every time she went up or down, i was certain she’d fallen. i still think that one day she’s gonna take the sandy denny plunge and seriously hurt herself…

i started ripping the studio up tonight. i could only go so far into it, because i have a new console coming in and i’ve got some wiring harnesses on the way as well – and i want to try to wire that up before i go too far into setting the peripheral stuff up. i don’t think it’s going to take as long as i initially thought it would, though, and i think that the new layout is gonna be much more user friendly.

i think i know how i’m going to do the jodi record.

just like i did back in the day.

i think i’m gonna have her in and we’re gonna set up upstairs and cut basic tracks for everything that we want to do, running the guitar direct, and getting her vocal in the room. maybe i’ll keep the vocals from these sessions, maybe i won’t, but i won’t really have to worry about it until close to the end of the project. after i’ve gotten those tracks finished, i’m going to build on the basic track, replace the initial guitar track, overdub other instruments, and put down whatever rhythm track i might use after all the vocals are done from the basic tracks.

i realize this is totally backwards from conventional wisdom, where making records are concerned, but i think it can work, in jodi’s case. get the absolute best vocal i can get in an intimate guitar and vocal setting, and then build the tracks around the vocal, as opposed to building tracks around scratch vocals and coming back and doing them for real later.

hell, i might have her come in and take a pass or two at the vocals after the tracks are constructed, but somehow, i doubt it. i’m betting that i get the best performances out of jodi without headphones.

now that i’m starting to whip the room into shape, i’m starting to get psyched about doing this. jodi’s not the total flakeball that michelle nagy has historically been, and i think it’ll be a lot more satisfying in the end. i just got an email from michelle yesterday, plugging a gig, and running down the list of the folks in her band – this not more than a month after she called me, telling me how much it’d mean to her to have me on board, how comfortable i made her, etc., etc – and i can feel the earth giving ‘way beneath my feet, because i know what’s coming next…

she came up during the summer and cut some demos here, and i only heard from her the one time since. i can’t be in michelles’ band. it was all i could do to be in her presence back in the day – she made me crazy many, many times while we were managed by the same company, and not being managed by the same guy doesn’t make her any easier to take sometimes.

i’d like to see her do well, but she’s trying to be everything to everybody, and i don’t know of any instance where that has ever worked for anyone. the demo she sent me started off with a folky tune and went headfirst into this heavy hip-hop thing – it was exhausting. she can’t decide whether she wants to be beyonce or lucinda williams. and you can’t fuckin’ be both.

boy, have i mentioned lately how much i enjoy doin’ sideman work?

studio good. guitars good. divas bad.

diggin’ up bones

now playing: kate bush, “cloudbusting”

today has been an excellent day for sifting through old crap and finding little surprises amongst the 160GB or so of storage i have scattered amongst various removable hard drives. i found some great stuff.

this picture just kills me…i have this picture, and an unscanned pic of dylan playing the mandolin, hanging on the wall next to the door, right next to the letterbox where i hang my keys. they’re the last thing i see before i leave the house.

i have a very vivid memory that’s thankfully recorded to videotape of jayda wearing this outfit, dancing around the living room to tori amos’ “winter”. i get teary just picturing it in my head. it just kills me.

then, there’s a moment in my parade of hairstyles that always manages to extract a grin at the very least from people who see these old pics…i have to say, though – my generation, at present, has a fraction of the apology material that today’s kids are gonna have. i’d much rather explain a mullet than to somehow try and rationalize my pants hangin’ off my ass with my underwear stickin’ out. just wait. you’ll see.

i’m an incredibly lucky parent. my kids bicker as much as could be expected, i guess, but for the most part jayda and dylan are a unit. i hear stories of siblings that hated each other for their entire childhoods, and to this day i don’t really relate well to my family…we’re from different planets, for pete’s sake. but jayda and dylan, for all their moments of spitefullness and such, are a team.

i’ll never, ever forget this night. i had a gig at the late, lamented fast folk cafe in new york city, and it was a relatively early show, and it was summer, so i brought the kids with me. we were driving across I-78, and dylan looked across at the skyline and asked incredulously, “is that the entire state building?

so we go do the gig…the other guy in the pic is christopher smith, who was then writing for performing songwriter magazine (he’s since moved on to billboard, so i’m told), and then we all go out to dinner…me, the kids, chris, and my manager, matt asbell, and a few other folks from the magazine, including neil fagan). and we’re sitting really close to the door to the ladies’ room. and everytime (no shit, every single time) a woman comes by our table to go to the bathroom, dylans’ eyes and head follow them from the corner of the table to the bathroom door. it was the funniest thing i think i ever saw.

they were lucky enough to have spent time in nyc and remember what the skyline used to look like….they’ve grown up on the road with me. in fact, we were discussing once where in our apartment to put the christmas tree…and i came up with the novel concept that it should be in the room where we all spend the most time…and dylan volunteered, “maybe we should put it in the van….”

time will tell, i guess whether that’s a good thing or not.

deeply satisfying sofa nap

now playing – monday night football from a neutral corner in arizona

i have an infinite capacity for the surreal.

i realized this tonight when i saw toni braxton sexin’ it up alongside bocephus during the monday night football intro.


there most definitely is such a thing as bad publicity.

dylan came over tonight and worked on his homework on my computer here in the living room, and then came over and sat down next to me on the sofa and snuggled up next to me with his gameboy…we fell asleep together until a little before 9, when wendy woke me to talk to her parents on the phone. that’s when i realized he had curled up next to me and fallen asleep. i had draped my arm over him, and he put his arm around my forearm and fell asleep.

for all the tribulations that come with parenting in this day and age, those fleeting little moments are their own reward.

talked to the blakemeister today, whos’ having some ADAT issues, so i went shopping for him to pick up another machine as either a spare or a permanent second machine for blake…it’s well after eleven, but i’m still considering heading upstairs and doing some work before the night is up…i have laundry in, so there’s a premeditated excuse.

of course, i also have tons of other stuff to do, and – oddly – some energy to devote to it…courtesy of the father/son power nap earlier. wendy retired a half hour ago or so.

the chargers are depressing me, though. gotta change the channel. vh-1 classic. yeah.

so, let’s recap…this month, i’m working on finishing blake’s album (we have all day thursday booked at target in delaware), and getting the jodi project off the ground. i also need to get upstate and pick up the new console as soon as i get the van into the state.

i fear, especially of late, that the blog is turning into a combination of a giant “to do” list, peppered with whining about how much i have to do. i hope that’s not the case, but i think that realizing that it’s leaning that way is probably a pretty good indication that this is exactly what’s happening….

i don’t know if i mentioned it, but the stone road gig on saturday was a halloween party, and i walked in dressed as the late lowell george from little feat. i thought i looked pretty authentic, myself… although i’d have preferred to have gotten a pic during our 10 minute version of “dixie chicken” while i was playing slide on my open-g strat…then i’d a’been a dead ringer.

that was such a totally unintentional awful fucking pun that i almost went back and changed what i wrote.

quin got it immediately – he started laughing when i walked into the hall, and informed me right away that he knew exactly who i was supposed to be. other than wendy, who conceived the idea in the first place, he was the only one who “got it”. and that’s just fine by me. that was kinda the point in the first place.

lowell george was, very simply put, one bad motherfucker. nobody else sounded like him. he had a signature – he could play one note and you knew it was him. there are really only a few slide players that you can say that about – mister dave is certainly one of them…ry cooder and duane allman pretty much round out that list for me…there just ain’t too many more. not that there aren’t other slide players i love to listen to, but that’s my gospel quartet, man. lowell, mister dave, duane and ry…damn.

the big ending to the stone road shows has been, for some time now, this drawn-out version of “rocky mountain way” where i do the first solo through the talk box, and then plug in my lap steel and just go off for a few minutes at the end of the song. i’ve always been a disciple of slide guitar, in various forms…whether it’s my black dobro, or my 1946 rickenbacher lap steel or my new hawaiian steel guitar, i can’t make it through a gig without grabbing one of them. i just love that sound. it speaks to me.

well, i think i’m gonna concede defeat and turn in for the night. i have to get mister dylan outta bed in time to shower in the morning….two hampton men sharing the shower first thing in the morning is a logistical nightmare, lemme tell ya.

the holy USB driver grail

now playing: coldplay, “trouble”

someday, someone is going to perfect driver downloads for OEM systems. dell is closest to getting it right, but they still have a ways to go. gateway doesn’t have a fuckin’ clue.

i draw parallels sometimes between being a PC support tech and being a mechanic – it’s a skill that never really loses its lustre, man…there’s always someone who needs to know what you know. but i’ll tell ya what – i’m soon gonna stop working on systems that i didn’t build personally. i’m just tired of the bullshit. i’ve never had to scour the earth for a driver for a system that i built, because i know what i use and where to find them…others, i can’t say that about.

just got a call from dylan – he wants to come over tonight. overtime has, as such, been pre-empted by my sons’ report on ohio.

i was just talking for a long time to an old buddy of mine, who was kind enough to point out that i should post some gig stories that have gone unmentioned here thus far. and – maybe it’s high time i did just that. just not right now.

i need to wrap some stuff up here and move on to the next thing…before my nostrils go under the waterline.