truly sorry for your loss – hey, stop me if you’ve heard this one….

now playing: vertical horizon, “miracle”

i’m starting to feel that perhaps middle america isn’t going to be the bastion of bush support that i’ve felt it would be up to now. a short excerpt from an article in todays’ washington post:


In the days and months after Michael J. Deutsch was killed by a land mine as he drove an armored personnel carrier down a road near Baghdad International Airport, various reminders of his short life and untimely death came home to his parents in this Middle American river city on the Mississippi.

The First Cavalry shipped back his military belongings in a duffel bag and two boxes. Michael died on the last day of July last year, at 21, but the bag and boxes remained unopened for months. His mother, Ilene, said she was not ready for the wave of grief that would wash over her again if she sorted through the artifacts of her youngest boy’s final days. The U.S. Army also sent home a Bronze Star, Michael’s posthumous award, and his father, Wayne, wears the small star unobtrusively, without talking about it, pinned to the collar of his shirt.

From the state of Iowa, the Deutsch family received a perfectly folded American flag that flew for one day in Michael’s honor above the Capitol in Des Moines. And from the White House came a letter of condolence signed by President Bush. Two letters, actually.

“The exact same one, twice,” Wayne Deutsch noted dryly, sitting at the kitchen table of their wood-frame house in Dubuque’s working-class North End neighborhood. “What does that tell you? It was a form letter.”……

…..Ilene Deutsch listened to her husband’s lament as she stood by the kitchen stove. For several hours, she had politely refrained from answering questions about the politics of the war. She was afraid of what she might say. Now it came flooding out, along with the tears. “They didn’t have a clue what was going to happen once the war was over. No anticipation. Bush had no idea,” she said. “I don’t like George Bush. We are listed as independents, but I will never vote for him. Surely he didn’t look at the long range. . . . He didn’t have a clue.”

(for the entire article, click here.)

lucky seven



now playing: peter stuart, “bring you back”

well, the day is half over, and it’s been everything i thought it would…although i have to mentally utter a word of thanks to our drafting boys, who completely set themselves up without so much as a word or a phone call….they rock.

turns out i was wrong about the HR setup – it was apparently just as they’d intended for it to be put back in place…while not the way it was, it does make a lot more sense, in hindsight – but it didn’t make it any easier to set up than it would’ve been were it left the old way.

i’ve definitely come to the conclusion, now that this is over, that it was the right thing to do in some instances to wait until the user was at their desk on monday morning before setting up their equipment. some folks simply wanted their equipment returned to its old location…but there were a great many for whom some degree of change had taken place, and i’m just not comfortable making those kinds of decisions for them. they have to sit there every day, all day long, and they deserve some say in how its arranged.

so there.

muriel, in HR, was her usual self…here’s a sample snippet of a conversation:

muriel: that wasn’t there before.
tom (me): where was it then?
muriel: oh, it doesn’t matter where it goes…
tom (me): then why did you bring it up, then?
muriel: oh, no reason…i just wanted you to be aware that it wasn’t there before.

now repeat that conversational snippet, vary the subject line, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of muriels’ charming effect on people.

it occured to me over the weekend that this spring, it will be seven years since our mutual angels came out. seven years. hell, let’s elaborate….seven years, two girlfriends, three jobs, a fiance’, two wives, three apartments and a house ago.

you’d fuckin’ think, out of all that, i’d have something to have written about in the time since.

somehow, the thought of writing a song holds no appeal whatsoever for me right now. increasingly, the thought of playing guitar in a band is losing its appeal, for some reason. i’m hoping that this is a temporary thing, and i have every reason to think it probably is. i think this is the result of backing into a rut that i just can’t seem to shake. i can’t put my finger on whether this is a musical rut or a personal one.

i’m inclined to think the latter.

musically, i think i had expected better things of the band i play in the most by now. we’re coming into april, and six months ago, i thought that this summer would be the best season we’d ever had. i anticipated spending our downtime learning a ton of new songs that would kick ass, songs that no other bands were even contemplating doing – working on vocal harmonies, tightening up in general. instead, our secret weapon has left the band, and we’re doing tired-assed  zz top songs, practicing once in a great while, and making no headway whatsoever on regaining what we lost vocally when we let shawn go. while donnie’s a great guitar player, he seems reluctant to sing, unless it’s a lead vocal part – when we work harmonies out, they seem to be quickly forgotten or consigned to confusion later on.

donnie and i keep talking about this imaginary point that we’re going to get to where we’re going to sit down, the two of us, and work out a ton of stuff that we’ve been planning on working out for a long time. it’s more my fault than his that this hasn’t happened yet, but it hasn’t happened yet. it very well could, though. sometime.

but there’s no denying that not having quin around anymore has taken some wind outta my sails.

for the last few weeks, in fact, i’ve been making regular stops to the classified boards on the internet, just looking around to see what’s out there. what i’ve been finding is pretty depressing – most of it has only served to emphasize my dinosaur status in my head. and it’s certainly done nothing to stir any creative juices, in terms of wanting to put anything new out into the world.

i had a long talk on friday with darren from frog holler about the current state of affairs – his band has been quite successful, and they just released their fourth album, railings, to some great reviews…and he’s pondering how to take it to the next level and keep everything under the same roof it’s been under. he’s wary of outsiders elbowing their way into the fray and diluting the recipe, and rightfully so. he’s also trying to balance the need to tour and do the right things to take the next steps with the needs of the guys in the band, which i have to think to be a source of insanity. i don’t know how that’s done. i do know, however, that you gotta believe in what you’re doing far more than i ever did to even try.

the real first day of spring

now playing: tori amos, “a sorta fairytale”

i’m here at work, and something is amiss.

today, i elected to spend the day in some fashion other than coming in at noon (not long after having gotten out of bed) and putting PC’s back in their places while the sun shone and a welcome breeze was afloat in the air outside my window. so i blew off coming in at the usual time, and woke with wendy and went to our favorite summer food spot – a glorified ice cream stand just down from antique row in adamstown, pennsylvania that sits on a creek bank where you can eat and watch the ducks float downstream, avoiding the pebbles chucked into the water by the toddlers who make their way down the hill to the creek. after we ate, we drove through adamstown into ephrata and then to new holland and back through to morgantown and then home, listening to an audio copy of josephine tey‘s “a schilling for candles”. (we’d just finished with her first novel, the man in the queue, a couple of weeks ago. i was shocked to find that, upon looking up a link for her, that this book was written in two weeks for a contest. kinda makes nanowrimo seem extravagant in its tolerance, from a time perspective.)

anyway, all this aside, i came in to work to find that, while it was apparent that the carpeters had been here and done their thing, furniture had only been returned to a couple of spots…the drafting department is completely empty, and the HR area has been put back together in a somewhat suspect manner…and, since i came in late, i’m not sure what the hell happened here.

so, methinks i will do what i can and return home to possibly watch some tv and relax a bit before starting the week off with what will no doubt be a bang tomorrow.

some thoughts about this weekends’ shows as well, soon.

watershed moments

now playing: shane nicholson, “designed to fade”

ever heard a record in its entirety that you knew was going to be important for a long, long time?

you really only get a few of those in your lifetime, i think. or such has been the case with me.

in this age of access to mp3s and music coming out of everything that plugs into the wall, mix-cd’s all over the place – it just seems that albums…real collections of songs…are a total lost art.

so, when you trip over a record that not only holds together as a cohesive work, but manages to touch that special spot in your heart as a collective piece instead of as a bunch of individual songs…well, it’s pretty goddamn rare.

rumours from fleetwood mac.

august and everything after from counting crows.

late for the sky from jackson browne.

isle of view from jimmie spheeris.

if i had to write down my high fidelity-esque, all time, top five list, then the record i’m listening to right now would round it out.

it’s a movie by shane nicholson.

this is an actual album – every song on this record is amazing. and it stands together as a collective work. there’s no filler anywhere on this record.

there’s a deep sense of satisfaction that you get when you discover something that you know as you’re exploring it for the first time that it’s going to be an important piece of work to you for a long time.

i’m just gonna sit back and enjoy this.

for the guy who has….

now playing: aunt pat, “fire”

if i hadn’t had to go to the bathroom when i woke up this morning, i probably would have called off work.

is that pathetic or what?

i woke up with the full intention of calling off. i’m just completely out of gas, physically and emotionally. i was planning on sleeping until noon and spending the day shiftlessly cleaning the basement and feeling sorry for myself, but when i hit the snooze button the last time, i realized that i kinda needed to go to the bathroom, and once in there i just went ahead and jumped in the shower. At that point, there wasn’t much use in going back to bed.

yesterday was exhausting. i feel useless at work, because we haven’t really been able to unpack yet, and there are only certain things i can get done as a result. so at almost precisely the moment that wendy calls to tell me she’s here with the car, an engineer walks in and hands me a stack of drawings for a project i’ve been involuntarily sucked into and proceeds to start asking questions…as he’s sitting at my desk, i get an email from dylan’s english teacher, telling me that dylan has gotten detention for failure to make up required work, and for not keeping his notes in order. as steve is sitting here asking questions about controller interfaces and such, i can feel the blood drain from my face in anger…i’m surprised he didn’t say anything about it, but he left not long afterward.

so then, of course, i have to race out to the parking lot to take wendy to work at the library – and i’m so pissed i can’t even talk, really. luckily, she’s become adept at realizing when to push the issue and when not to, so we rode to the library in silence. after i dropped her off, i went to the house and retrieved the email and printed a copy of it, adding some choice words of my own, and then taped it to the door at his mothers’ house.

to say that i was pissed would be something of an understatement.

see, here’s the thing.

i’ve scheduled conferences already, with the two teachers who are burdened with the daunting task of trying to educate my son, in between parent teacher conferences already, to no avail. i’ve held back things from him, with zero effect. he’s missed out on things that would’ve been his for the asking, without any real results.

i’m truly starting to wonder what it is that i have to do to get through to him.

it’s not that he’s stupid, not by any stretch – he’s actually very bright. but his head isn’t in it. he constantly forgets things – his bus pass, his key, his bookbag, his coat – and then trys to gloss over it by lying.

that’s the thing that really makes me see red…the lying.

this is a kid that will stand in front of you holding a half eaten sandwich in his hand and tell you to your face that he hasn’t eaten anything all day. he will tell you, with utmost sincerity, that black is white, up is down, and left is actually right…and convince you that he believes it himself.

now, were i twelve years old, if i had the knowledge that my mother or father had a direct line to my teachers and could double check anything i said, i’d be mighty careful of what i said to my parents, for fear of being caught or found out.

not him. he’s as brazen a fibber as i’ve ever seen, adult or child.

the stakes are pretty high for him, and he knows this…i bought him a guitar that he’s wanted since before christmas – a faded cherry gibson flying v – and was planning on giving it to him for his birthday. i’d already called the guy i bought it from and made plans to meet him yesterday to pay him for the guitar and pick it up, in fact. i had told him, after his last report card, that he wouldn’t lay eyes on it until i saw his next report card, but since he’d been making what i perceived as an improved effort, i was going to give it to him for his birthday.

but he blew it.

now, i’m actually considering selling the guitar.

lord knows, it’s not something i’d play.

and obviously, based on his behavior, it’s not that important to him.

but i’m still on the fence.

his mother has taken away his Yu-gi-oh cards and his Playstation priveleges for the rest of the school year. I’m taking away his Playstation priveleges, and am holding his birthday money from him (a sizable sum for a 12 year old…if i’d gotten a fraction of the $125 he was going to get at that age, i’d have soiled my undies). i’m considering removing the tv and computer from his room, as well. i’m pretty sure he keeps all his cards together, so i won’t have to take them from him at my house as well.

so, at this point, the only thing he has left to lose is the guitar.

what else do you take from the guy who has nothing left?

i hate this. i really do.

this is my absolute least favorite part of being a parent.

happy birthday, jayda and dylan…

now playing: shane nicholson, “designed to fade”

twelve and fourteen score years ago, their founding parents set forth on this continent a new boy and girl, respectively…

jayda and dylan are fourteen and twelve on this day in history….happy birthday, you guys.

granted, they look a little different nowadays – but forever young in their fathers’ eyes.

i love you guys.

tired and nostalgic

now playing: blue oyster cult, “don’t fear the reaper” (with no added cowbell)

…so….last night was the broadcast of the 2004 rock and roll hall of fame induction ceremony. made my heart swell to see jackson browne inducted, but was disappointed not only that david lindley didn’t make the trip, but that mark goldenberg didn’t make much of an effort to recreate the vibe that david created in ‘running on empty’. the only guitar players jackson has had that didn’t leave a lindley-esque void were kevin dukes and rick vito (who also played the amazing slide guitar solo on bob seger‘s ‘like a rock’). i never saw rick play with jackson, but i did see kevin dukes play with him, at the hammersmith odeon in london in 1986. great show.

had i posessed the energy last night, i’d have probably stayed up and watched almost famous, but i pooped out.

feeling very musically nostalgic lately, for a number of reasons…and not feeling particularly like discussing any of them right now.

goin’ home soon, i think.

office irrigation

now playing: clannad, “harry’s game”

i have a new favorite song for a little while, thanks to paste magazine and the CD that they include with the mag…others have tried this concept before, but invariably the included CD would have one, maybe two good songs and a shitload of critic-pleasing crap that forms an indignant rash on your ass.

paste, however, has gotten it right.

there are a few names on here that fans of this style of music would recognize – starsailor, jonatha brooke, matthew ryan, for instance…but the disc is dominated by artists that i was marginally familiar with or not at all.

i’m now a fan of a.j. roach, thanks to his song “grandaddy”, a tale of his whiskey-running grandfather and the community where he grew up. garrison starr is represented on the disc by a song called “gasoline” – jayda and i know her from a hit she had some years ago called “superhero” that i have a recording of jayda singing from ’97 or so…when she was seven.

the standout on this disc, for me, is shane nicholson and his song, “nice to be here”.

simply put, this is just an amazing song, recorded sparsely by a great singer. if neil finn of crowded house had come of age in los angeles in 1973 and had been a contemporary of the southern california mafia, this song would have been a likely result.

i’m considering picking up the whole album – he’s definitely got my attention.

i’m considering subscribing to paste, too.

so today is the day that we pack up the entire shop and move it out into the hallway while they scrape our nasty-assed carpet off the floor and replace it with clean, nasty-assed carpet. it’s the kind of thing you look forward to in the same sense as you would look forward to colon irrigation. the benefits are obvious enough, but that doesn’t make the mechanics of it any less dreadful. i haven’t even started to pack up the shop yet.

it’s gonna be a long night.

name names

now playing: stephen stills, “word game”

couldn’t help but noticing the following headline on cnn this morning:

White House to Kerry: Name Names

(this, in reference to the statement that kerry made recently that foreign leaders were rooting for him to beat bush in november)

now, how much cooler would it have been if the headline had read instead:

White House to Novak: Name Names

of course, when you think about it, it makes absolute sense that BushCo would demand such information, since they have no problem sharing priveleged information themselves….

as the weekend approaches…

now playing: jimmie spheeris, “come back”

(before i get started – jimmie spheeris was an amazing talent. if you’ve never heard his early seventies masterpiece isle of view, you really owe yourself. you won’t regret it.)

well, let’s see…lots of nerve endings close to the skin at work today – managers’ meeting that preceded tomorrow’s (today’s?) companywide meetings that essentially equate to a small-scale State of the Union address was today (yesterday?).

while this kind of opportunity for a self-congratulatory ego stroke-orgy may not appear to require much effort on anyones’ part, it came quite close to breaking the spirit of Angela, assistant to every elitist exec in the front hallway. The centerpiece of the presentation is a PowerPoint slideshow that she puts together for this event every year. She was provided with zero information with regard to what went into said presentation until she came in this morning to find our CEO’s notes on her desk, with a post-it attached that said “more to come”.

meeting begins at 11:30…offsite.

after putting the initial presentation together and emailing it to me so i could burn it to disk, she was handed yet another change to add to it…at 11:20.

you can just imagine her state of mind at this point…

so as she’s adding it and i’m standing beside her desk, waiting for the word to go burn the corrected slideshow to disk, my boss comes sauntering back and asks in an offhand manner, “where’s the cd? joel said it was ready!”

i walked out. i didn’t want to be there to see the carnage.

Angela goes through her day with a smile on her face, all the while completing the most inane fucking tasks one human being could ask of another. she actually checks one exec’s mail for him! never complains, never gives the ever popular sigh and shake of the head while contemplating her superiors’ ineptness. never.

but they damn near broke her today.

she actually left at lunchtime close to tears to go see her daughter at her mother-in-laws’, and i wasn’t figuring on seeing her anymore today.

when i left for lunch, to make my routine pilgrimage to the supermarket across the highway, i bought a balloon that said “happy retirement!” on it and took it back and tied it to her PC keyboard.

in the meantime, i still have those five mysterious files from the backup that verified but never happened to try to locate – glenn’s brand new, formerly beer-soaked laptop has once again flatlined, and we’re looking another weekend of carpetlaying and PC/phone moving and re-moving right in the face.

i refuse to set illogical priorities for this weekend, though. i’m keeping it to two. cleaning out the basement, for one – and possibly getting started on the guitar rack for upstairs. that’ll make me happy if i can check that off my list.

and i think i’m gonna go give Angela a big hug tomorrow, too.