Thursday, July 22, 2010

"So Why Do I Do This, Anyway?" or, "A Drummer Under The Influence"

Well, there's the mission statement right there, under the title. But more importantly, why write this blog in the first place? Who or what got you inspired enough to actually write about the inanities of your life and work? Well, I have a few inspiration, and it's actually a pretty diverse group. So here are the people most responsible for inspiring me to actually do something in front of my computer other than play Facebook games and caption pictures of cats:

David Goldstein - Seattle, WA

Goldstein, better known simply as 'Goldy', started his blog Horse's Ass ( as an extension of a somewhat less-than-serious jab at the voter-initiative system here in Washington, targeting right-wing activist Tim Eyman with an initiative of his own, the sole purpose of which was to declare Eyman "a horse's ass" to all and sundry - even Eyman's mother. While Goldstein's initiative was shot down by a Secretary of State with no sense of humor whatsoever, it led to the blog which was probably the first one I'd ever read. He takes his shots at people, and takes plenty of shots in return. Goldy's biggest moment so far was when he revealed the utter lack of experience then-FEMA chief Michael Brown had in emergency-management in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And he continues to annoy righties to this day.

Andrew Sullivan - Washington, DC

I've always been taught to respect both sides of an argument, so long as the people making them are factual in what they say and respectful of others. It drives my old-school liberal parents crazy, but it's part of what makes me who I am. Andrew's blog ( gives hope to me that there's some sanity over on the other side of the argument. Even though many would supposedly think as he does, many on the Right consider him something slightly to the left of Satan hisself. Why, you ask? Well, let's see here - he's not an American (English), he's a Catholic (and deeply critical of the current Pope and his policies), and he's openly gay, HIV-positive, and married. And yes, to another guy.

No wonder Sarah Palin is so scared of him. Which explains why I like the guy, though it's much deeper than that. Having the balls to call out people on (theoretically) his own side for their bullshit takes big brass cojones, and that's something I respect greatly.

Jason Davis - Washington, DC (metro)

The old adage goes "you've got to start somewhere." I met Jason on the comment forums on ESPN's website, talking soccer - more often defending it from dullards who think soccer is gay/retarded/socialist/un-American/whatever - and he was encouraging readers to check out his blog Match Fit USA ( And in the space of a few years, he's gone from him and thoughts rambling in the middle of the night to running one of the best American soccer blogs on the net, with the awards to prove it.

"Elli" - Vancouver, BC (metro)

Yeah, that's her name. The name she wants you to know. Y'see, she's an independent..... oh, fuck it. She's an internet porn star. Well, she doesn't really like being called a 'porn star', but that's what she does for a living, and doing it pretty much all by herself. I came across her blog ( - NSFW) very much by accident. Seriously. One day I was just surfing, linking from one blog to another, pretty much at random. I can't even remember the name of the blog I was on when I saw a link that read "The Reluctant Porn Star".

I'm a guy. How the hell am I going to pass that up? Well, I didn't, and while she advertises her adults-only website regularly on her blog, she also talks about things far more normal than her latest videos. To be honest, when I cook ribs, the recipe is hers. I've swiped a couple other recipes from her as well. I've grumbled at her successful gardening. She's a good photographer of things other than herself (her archive of nature pictures on Flickr reminded me a lot of home when I lived in Reno). I've been utterly lost when she talks tech (I wager that she has the skillset to be the IT manager for a fairly large business - though that would probably mean a pay cut for her). But what really made me a fan of her blog was a post where she revealed that most of her family was none too pleased about her career choice, and that this made holidays really uncomfortable for her. I can sympathize with that. A lot. Admitting something like that takes a lot of bravery. And as you may have guessed by now, bravery is something I admire greatly.

Jamie Harvey - Fredericksburg, TX

This is almost an obituary of sorts, though I hope she wouldn't take it that way. She has enough of that on her hands right now as it is. Like Elli, Jamie is quite pretty, formidably intelligent, and very tech-savvy. Unlike Elli though, Jamie is very safe for work. Until recently, she was arguably San Francisco's premier music-scene blogger, known as the Hard Rock Chick ( She averaged close to 100 shows a year that she attended, mostly in the Bay Area but often venturing far and wide to follow her favorite artists and bands. And her vast knowledge of Nine Inch Nails trivia, lore, and legend even helped settle an argument between Joy and I. Allow me to explain:

Y'see, Joy had told me for some time that her sister-in-law had a nephew who supposedly was Trent Reznor's touring bass player for a while. My sister-in-law is one of the nicest Mormons I've ever met, and while I've known more than a few Mormon black-sheep growing up (Thad Huhn, where are you?), including the one I've been married to for sixteen years. But I just had a hard time believing that my very normal-looking sister-in-law had a nephew like that. Jamie not only confirmed that it was so, but also provided me a link of said nephew trashing the Orlando Hard Rock Cafe during a solo performance.

And Jamie has had the willingness to reveal her darker moments as well. Concert and CD reviews could often be as much about her mood at the moment as it was about the bands she was there to see and hear. A review of Alice In Chains offered glimpses into dark corners of her adolescence that I could seriously identify with. Abusive exes and confused, not necessarily supportive family members (she once wrote that she was asked by a relative if she was gay simply because she lived in San Francisco - she worked for Sega in the videogame biz there) surfaced in reviews of black-metal bands and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. And she had a geek-out moment with the best of them when she followed NIN last summer for a few weeks, culminating in meeting The Reznor himself at an airport in Southern California when he told her through the NIN iPhone app that he was literally standing right behind her. But she recently left it all behind to return to Texas to care for her seriously-ill mother. We're friends on Facebook nowadays, but I've been hard-pressed to talk to her since she went home - how do you wish the best of luck to someone caring for a gravely, perhaps terminally ill parent?

I guess what all five of these people have in common is a certain kind of perseverance. The ability to be honest with oneself to others, to complete strangers. To hang yourself and your thoughts and opinions out there for all to see, to support or criticize, and to do so without fear. That is something I admire greatly, and aspire to emulate when I write these things out for you, dear reader.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a chuck roast downstairs that should be thawed out and ready for my attentions. And no, I didn't swipe this recipe from Elli. I got it from Alton Brown.

So there.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sunburns And Missing Cords

I'm home in Port Angeles now, just got back the other day. Jeez, is it hot here - 85F at sea-level feels like 100F in the high desert. And I'd know. Hell, I just played in it on Sunday.

We'd known well in advance that we'd been booked to play at The Nugget in Sparks for July 4th. But we weren't really sure just how we were going to go about it. We originally figured that we'd be playing in the little amphitheater-like stage just east of The Nugget, on the eastern side of Sparks' Victorian Square. But only a few days out from the gig, we found that we would actually play on a temporary stage in front of the parking lot that separates The Nugget's Courtyard Hotel from the northern section of the casino itself. But this was no problem to us. All we need are enough electrical outlets for our stuff, and we're good to go.

But playing outdoors is a different thing. And in Reno, that usually means playing in the heat of summer. Starsound Audio actually rolled out their own portable stage, and shaded it from sun and wind reasonably well for us. A little bit of sunburn on my arms was about all I had to endure, because there was just enough of a breeze to keep the heat from being too oppressive. In previous outdoor gigs with other bands, dealing with the elements was always a challenge, especially considering that those past gigs were in the unpredictable environment of western Washington, where rain can short out equipment far too easily - particularly the very expensive electrical thingamabob wrapped about my melon - microphone becomes electrode, mayhaps? But rain was nowhere to be found Sunday in Reno, and the day dawned brilliant. And hot. But everyone knew that this was coming, so plenty of hydration was the order of the day as we set up. Me? I replaced the Coke in my king-size travel mug with Powerade.

We started our show at 5:30pm, but only after a scheduling mishap. Y'see, we'd been told that we'd be playing from 5 to 9, but it turns out that The Nugget had been advertising all along that we'd play from 5:30 to 9:30. I only found this out as I checked into my room at The Courtyard. After letting Mike know, as well as the crew from Starsound (who also thought we'd be starting at 5), we all agreed that since this was The Nugget's show, we'll run on their schedule. But starting a show like this can be a bit disheartening. Why, you ask? Well, the real show (the fireworks) wouldn't start until after we finished playing (actually about 10pm), so the crowds only started to really come in after about 7pm or so. Which left us playing to..... well, let's just call them interesting. I have no problem playing for people with disabilities. Hell, usually they're the best-behaved people at shows. But let's just say that a few people in that early crowd were maybe best left indoors. It took an effort to keep from laughing at their antics. And I'm not trying to be mean-spirited or saying that the disabled should be viewed as freaks or something like that. I was just beginning to wonder where their caregivers were after a while. Dude staring at a single empty part of the stage obsessively while pawing something I presumed to be a cellphone, or the pair spitting water on each other - well, it was really just one guy doing it to the other, actually - but still, this was adding a whole new meaning to the term 'crazy from the heat.'

We had our own little private backstage area to hide out in between sets, but after a while it wasn't all that private. Kids kept asking to have their pictures taken with Mike and Arthur, while ignoring us. The only attention Cliff and I got was from a drunken woman who actually tried to sit in my lap and kiss me - yuck! Beer breath is not my idea of an aphrodisiac by any stretch of the imagination, but how the hell do you politely tell someone to get the fuck off of you? It didn't really help that almost none of our friends from Carson City that had promised to attend actually did, just our friends and chocolate-pushers Robert and Rhonda (thanks for the truffles!). A few other friends of the band showed up, but they were all new to me. But they were nice, so I guess that's all that really matters.

But as day became night, the mood improved. Eventually, we were playing to around twenty- to twenty-five thousand people. Or at least that how many I thought there were. There could've been a lot more - the expectations were for fifty thousand. But I was only able to see so many, and the whole of Victorian Square was closed, so I probably saw only half the crowd at best. But they were thoroughly enjoying the show from my vantage point. We'd been rehearsing a bunch of new material up to that point, and it all came off good. Any mistakes made were minimal and went unnoticed by all. The show ended, and we introduced Ascuaga family scion Stephen to the stage, and he emceed the remainder of the show, basically introducing a Nugget employee who sang the National Anthem, then calling on the show to start. We sat back and enjoyed the show, then Cliff and I headed back to my hotel room to get back into civvies to change. We were in mid-change when I got a phone call from Mike to hurry the fuck up and get back to the stage. I wish I'd gotten there faster. Y'see, in the chaos, the Starsound crew picked up one of my instrument cables and packed it away. I'd already misplaced one cable earlier in the day, and this was really beginning to piss me off. However, the Starsound techs told me that since they don't use quarter-inch instrument cables, and hadn't in quite some time, it shouldn't be difficult for them to find my cable and to return it. I sure hope so. They agree that cables aren't cheap.

But I got everything else packed away, and made it home just fine. And with good press. Every comment we got was in the most positive of terms - especially those that came from the higher-ups, even Stephen Ascuaga himself. Hopefully this will lead to more gigs, something we need in order to keep me able to be there to play. But now I have a few weeks of downtime to spend with Joy, and my family. Maybe my dad finally got the buffer he'd been agonizing over the last time I hung out with him. That way I can actually work for that airfare, rather than just ask for it.......

Friday, July 2, 2010

Louisiana Purchase

The other day, Mike and Arthur confirmed that we will indeed be headed to Louisiana, to play at the Sam's Town in Shreveport, right on the Mississippi River. We'll be headed there at the end of August, playing from the 26th to the 29th and September 2nd to 5th. There will be backline equipment waiting for me there so I won't have to take much more than my sticks, my kick pedals, my headset mic and maybe my monitor mixer. I am most certainly looking forward to this gig.

However, going to a new gig in a new city (2,414.57 miles from home!) has its own unique set of challenges. First off - naturally - is getting there. the four of us will fly from Reno to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) either through Las Vegas or Phoenix, with the exact date yet to be determined. I was informed that Sam's Town will require us to pay for our flight there as a de facto deposit to insure that we actually show up - eminently sensible in my opinion, but still a pain. After our arrival, they'll give us back the money spent on the flight. It just means that I'll have to borrow more money from my dad in order to pay for the flight as soon as possible, but at least it's money that I'll be able to pay back as soon as possible. We want to fly together in order to insure that nobody is left waiting around at DFW for god-only-knows how long.

The next challenge is actually getting to Shreveport itself. Actually flying in to Shreveport would likely double the cost of getting there, so we'll rent a van to get the rest of the way there. But there's one small problem. Though Arthur has already rented the vehicle, he and Arthur hate to drive. I mean, they really hate to drive. Go back to when I had them follow me from Reno to Florence, OR last year if you want proof. I've made the offer to do the driving for them, even suggested that Arthur cancel his rental reservation so I could make one instead (thereby saving them the expense of adding a second or third driver to his rental agreement). But even if nothing comes of that, I shan't worry. Instead, I'll just keep my mp3 player going, and make sure to bring more than one book - one for the flight, one for the the road, right?

The last challenge will likely be the thorniest - that car rental will be one-way, and one-way only. So until we start the journey home on September 6th, we'll be housebound. It shouldn't be too bad a deal, though. We will get rooms and a meal a day comped, and I'll have to find out how much internet access will cost me there, if at all. But what to do if I wish to get around? I can't imagine that I'd do that much walking in late-summer heat and humidity (both likely in the 90s and higher), but a bike is a possibility. Considering that I'll have a fair bit of money in my pocket at the moment, renting or even buying a bike isn't out of the question. The latter option also allows me the opportunity to donate the bike to a local charity when I leave town. Hey, take care of my own needs plus do a manly good deed by donating to charity when I no longer need it? BONUS!

I've been informed that I should have a good time while I'm there. Mike and Arthur have told me that the food is excellent there, and that they'd always had a good time there. One thing that intrigues me in a train-wreck sort of way, though: Remember when I told you that I found a Hustler Club in Shreveport when I looked at the area on Google Earth? It's right across the parking lot from Sam's Town.

Anyone want to give odds on whether or not I'll be able to fight off the temptation to look at the train wreck?