Monday, May 31, 2004

It's my blog & I can lie if I a-want to

I said yesterday that I would write about the ELO concert I went to back in 1977, which was interesting in that it was not only a great show, but my first "date concert" as well. Well sorry, but I'm gonna change course and talk about a show I just saw last night instead. We'll save ELO for tomorrow.

Any "Toad" fans here, boys and girls? Yes, I see that hand (that was for you, Sam). Well if you know Toad the Wet Sprocket, you know Glen Phillips, the band's former lead singer. Glen played at a great little bar in Nashville that I frequent more than any other music venue here. It's an unassuming place in a strip mall called 3rd and Lindsley Bar & Grill, and I think I need to sit down sometime and come up with a list of the great bands I've seen there over the last 10 years — dozens. From Dave Mason to David Gray to Patty Griffin. It's a great place, and if you ever spend some time in Nashville, you really need to check it out.

As you may know, since Toad's demise in January of 1998, Glen took some time off and then embarked on a solo career. In the last couple years he has played here in Nashville fairly consistently, and last night was my second time seeing him in the last couple years.

Due to the fanaticism of Toad followers, which continues even now more than six years since they split, he always seems to draw an enthusiastic crowd that calls out a half a dozen requests for their favorite Toad song between every tune. Last night he played before a packed house at 3rd, along with a live local area radio audience, broadcast by WRLT Lightning 100 (the best radio station in town by far, IMO).

For the first hour (the radio broadcast portion), he was able to do a lot of his newer individual stuff (along with a few Toad standards) without interruption. After the broadcast was finished, He then continued to play for about 45 minutes, during which time the requests came in fast and furious from the crowd. From reading comments on the fan forum at his web site, apparently it kinda got ugly in Atlanta a couple of nights earlier, with a number of fans being pretty obnoxious throughout the show shouting out requests.

Fortunately that wasn't the case here. Glen took it all in stride and seemed happy to oblige as much as he could, although he did say he couldn’t do some of the songs requested (apparently there are some songs that he's either contractually prohibited from doing or just unwilling to play). However after the first song of the bonus set, while being bombarded with more Toad requests from the crowd, Glen made what I thought was kind of a telling statement, albeit good-natured. He said, "Okay, it’s gonna be a half hour of request madness, but we’re gonna alternate between Toad songs and the things I've written in the last several years...just so I don’t feel terrible...okay?” He was smiling as he said it, but I'm sure a good measure of truth is behind it. It's gotta be a double-edged sword for him have his older music be so adored, to near exclusion of the new stuff he's excited about.

Among the the Toad songs Phillips played were standards Walk on the Ocean and All I Want, along with All Things In Time, and Throw it All Away, from Toad’s final CD, Coil. On the latter tune, I was apparently the only person in the place shameless enough to throw the confetti on cue, causing him to momentarily crack up while singing the song. So to reward my nerdiness, Glen asked me to request the next song. Considering how embarrassed I felt being put on the spot, after freezing for 5-10 seconds, I requested the only song I could have at that moment: Stupid.

It was a great show and I'm especially looking forward to his upcoming album with the fabulous Nickel Creek, Mutual Admiration Society, and a tour to ensue in a couple months. No Nashville dates have been announced as of yet, but hopefully they will be soon.

Although they've worked together before, I've only seen NC and Glen individually, and both are incredible so I would highly recommend seeing this collaboration live if the tour comes to a concert venue near you.

Okay the hour is wee and I gotta go back to work tomorrow, so hopefully I'll get the ELO story you've all so anxiously awaited (sheesh...who am I kidding?) up by tomorrow night. TTFN.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

So which one was this...Memorial Day or “Labor Day” weekend?

Y'know, I've heard a lot of people confuse Memorial Day with Labor Day in conversation before, but this year it seems like I'm doing it in practice. Yesterday was a 12-hour shop-'til-you-dropfest with the wife. We went out and quickly spent our tax refund check on a new sofa, a new gas grill, and various new clothes. We were both exhausted, but really had a great time hanging out for the whole day together, which is something we don't do a lot of at this point in our 25 and a half year relationship. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it is kinda nice to veer off our respective individual courses every now and then to come together and spend the day together.

Now my "Labor Day" weekend continues with a day of yardwork and the maiden voyage of my new Vermont Castings grill. I believe London Broil is on the menu.

I'll rejoin my concert retrospective tonight or tomorrow morning (to be determined by whether or not I have any steam left by the end of the day). My next entry will be about my first "date concert" — The Electric Light Orchestra at the Forum in Los Angeles in 1977.

Have a great Sunday everyone...

Friday, May 28, 2004

That's some pretty nice shite right there...

I dunno about you, but I've always been fascinated by etymology, the evolution of words, their roots and changing meanings in popular culture. I'm particularly interested in popular traditional slang and/or "cuss" (which itself is an etymologization of "curse") words.

A few years ago I was all hot on the idea of actually writing a book about the common euphemisms of tradional 4-letter curse words that have been used in "polite conversation" in America over the past 200 years or so. I've always found it amusing how these "polite" variations, invented to provide alternative explicatives at a time when cursing was not only considered a sin, but was actually a punishable offense as well, exemplify our continuing compulsion to bend the rules.

"Dang" and "darn" for "DAMN"; "Heck" for "HELL"; "Shoot" for "SHIT," among others. It's really pretty funny when you think about it.

However my book ambition lost most of its steam when I started doing some research to find that there is SO much info out there on the Web, why would anyone want to pay for it? I may still do it at some point, but I'll need to come up with a better angle than doing it to poke fun at hypocritical "pious" culture.

At any rate, I thought I'd share a little of what other people have said about the etymology of perhaps the most functional cussword in popular language, the ever-popular, "shit."

Etymology Online defines it thusly:

shit (v.) - O.E. scitan, from P.Gmc. *skit-, from PIE *skheid- "split, divide, separate." Related to shed (v.) on the notion of "separation" from the body (cf. L. excrementum, from excernere "to separate"). The noun is O.E. scitte "purging;" sense of "excrement" dates from 1585, from the verb. Despite what you read in an e-mail, "shit" is not an acronym. Extensive slang usage; meaning "to lie" is from 1934; that of "to disrespect" is from 1903; used for "obnoxious person" since at least 1508. Shat is a humorous past tense form, not etymological, from 18c. Shit-faced "drunk" is 1960s student slang; shit list is from 1942.

* * * * * *

Nadia breaks down the apparently similar etymologies of "shit" and the word "nice":

Jack mentions randomly in a conversation some story Alexf had told him about the words 'nice' and 'shit' having a common root. My first response was "what, in proto-indo-european?"

This is interesting, so I investigate. It's easy to find a discussion on the word 'shit':

From Old English "schite" (and similar spellings), originally as a verb meaning to defecate. It's been traced as far back as the proto-Indo-European root "skei-," to cut, split, also responsible for "science," "omniscient," "conscience," and lots of other words. Defecation is a kind of separation: the material passed leaves one's body...


Next for 'nice':

"Nice" has had an interesting history. Deriving from the Latin nescius, "ignorant" (from nescire, "not to know"), it's meaning in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries commonly was "foolish" or "wanton." To refer to someone as a "nice person" was no compliment in Chaucer's day.


* * * * * *

And finally, an observant D. Ward of the The Library of Halexandria explains why "shit" is the most functional cuss word in our modern lexicon:

You can be shit faced, shit out of luck, or have shit for brains. With a little effort, you can get your shit together, find a place for your shit or decide to shit or get off the pot.

You can smoke shit, buy shit, sell shit, lose shit, find shit, forget shit, and tell others to eat shit and die.

Some people know their shit, while others can't tell the difference between shit and shineola.

There are lucky shits, dumb shits, crazy shits, and sweet shits.

There is bull shit, horse shit and chicken shit.

You can throw shit, sling shit, catch shit, shoot shit, or duck when shit hits the fan.

You can give a shit or serve shit on a shingle [the proverbial "SOS"].

You can find yourself in deep shit, or be happier than a pig in shit.

Some days are colder than shit, some days are hotter than shit, and some days are just plain shitty.

Some music sounds like shit, things can look like shit, and there are times when you feel like shit.

You can have too much shit, not enough shit, the right shit, the wrong shit or a lot of weird shit.

You can carry shit, have a mountain of shit, or find yourself up shit creek without a paddle.

Sometimes everything you touch turns to shit, and other times you fall in a bucket of shit and come out smelling like a rose.

When you stop to consider all the facts, this word is one of the basic building blocks of creation. For if nothing else, once you know your shit, you don't need to know anything else!

[1] Robert Hendrickson, The Facts of File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Checkmark Books, 2000.

* * * * * *

Well, here's hoping everyone has a really I mean...Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

A Memorial Weekend Memorial

As this Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches, I can hardly believe that it's been 4 years since the passing of my Step-Mom on May 29, 2000. I'm not sure how much I'll end up writing about her in this blog, because we had such a love-hate relationship, which I have so many mixed feelings about, that I'm sure it would be impossible to properly explain. It was one of those "I guess you just had to be there" kind of things.

To an outsider, a description of what I went through for the six years I lived under her authority might surely seem like a day in the life of an Auschwitz inmate. But what I gained from her "tough love" has become more valuable to me than I could ever express. I have too much respect for her memory to leave her methods hanging out there for interpretation by others who may not understand the circumstances that shaped her own world view, and the values that she saw fit to raise me with. But she did more to mold my concept of right and wrong, my sensibilities about responsibility and respect, than anyone else in my life. And for that I'll be eternally grateful

Yesterday I spoke about seeing the Beatles in concert when I was 8 years old as one of my life's defining experiences. Well, four years ago this weekend was another one. I had the honor of delivering the eulogy at her funeral. It was nearly an out-of-body experience for me and something that I credit as the beginning of my current love for writing (as weird as that might seem). It was the first time I can recall really thinking about the significance of what I was writing, and I've kind of been doing it ever since.

So here's to ya Mom. And thanks again...

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Meeting the Beatles

I really don't have any way of knowing the age demographic of the people who may be reading this, but based on what I've seen on other blogs, I'm of the opinion that Blogger is much more the domain of 20somethings than say — 40somethings. And since I happen to fall to the latter category (and BTW children, did we do our homework assignment and figure out how old I am, or do I have to go bust out the 'ol Carbon-14 kit?), I want to share with you something that happened long before many of you were born; An experience that I consider one of my life's most defining.

I think it's difficult for subsequent generations who have grown up with Rock 'N Roll as the established genre of music it is today to appreciate just what it was when it burst on the scene — something SO new and revolutionary — that its impact was much greater than anything that could possibly happen in popular music today.

As I mentioned briefly yesterday, I had the singular (in my world anyway) experience of seeing the Beatles in my very first Rock concert as a mere child. On September 3, 1964, I saw the Beatles in concert at, of all places, the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. They actually did two shows that day, the matinee which I attended, which was indoors at the Coliseum, and another show later that evening, outdoors at the Fairgrounds Grandstand.

As you might imagine, this was something that made a huge impression on me, and I remember it vividly. However recently I discovered I’d been living with some mistaken details about the event.

And let me just say, GOD BLESS the Internet! How did we have ever get along without this vast sea of knowledge at our disposal?.

You see, for YEARS, I was under the impression that I'd had this great experience in 1965, on the Beatles' second American tour, when I was nine years old. But a couple of years ago, while searching the Net for more details about that show, I learned that instead, the show I witnessed was actually on their FIRST (and biggest) American tour — in 1964, when I was only eight. They didn't even play Indy on the ’65 tour.

Another misconception I'd had throughout the years regarded the ticket price. My big brother, Jack, who had so magnanimously brought me to the show, had told me years ago that they were $10 (which is impressive enough). But again, only a few days ago, I discovered that I had misunderstood him. I was only half right. The tickets were indeed 10 bucks — A PAIR! Can you imagine — FIVE DOLLARS for a ticket to see The Beatles? Just think of the scalper mark-up you could've gotten for 'em on eBay back then! Oh...wait...nevermind.

But dates and ticket prices aside, I'm pretty sure my memories of the concert itself are pretty accurate. The opening act was the Bill Black Combo. Black was a former bass player for Elvis in the mid-50s. His band opened for the Beatles throughout that '64 tour. They were okay. Their music was a little on the Jazzy side and mostly instrumental. And having no concept of an "opening act," I remember thinking, "Who are these guys and WHY are they playing? When are the Beatles gonna come out?"

When the Beatles did come out it was, of course, to a deafening ovation that didn't stop for the entire show. The images on TV you've seen a million times of screaming girls at Beatles concerts were no isolated incident. They ALL screamed and they ALL screamed for the entire show. Me? I didn't scream or jump up and down. I just remember not being able to stop smiling.

Set-wise, the lion's share was composed of hits from the albums Meet the Beatles, Something New, and A Hard Day's Night.

I remember the only disappointment I had about the performance was one that only the naivete of a kid my age could've conjured up. I expected all the songs they did live to sound exactly like what I'd heard on their albums and on the radio — and they all did — except for one.

On A Hard Day's Night (which I just today learned was the first song in pop music history to end on a different chord than the one it started with), instead of George Harrison's signature undulating guitar progression that fades out at the end of the song, he simply ended it on a single chord strum. I thought, HEY! Why did they change the song? Why didn't it fade out?" (not realizing there actually *is* a difference between what's done in the studio and in a live performance). But hey, cut me some slack — I was eight for petesakes... :)

Happily, I was able to find a sample of what the ticket for that show looked like (above), but was unable to locate an authentic set list. However I did find one for the Beatles’ famous Hollywood Bowl concert that they had performed just 10 days earlier in Los Angeles, so I'm pretty sure it’s largely similar to the Indy show that I attended:

Twist & Shout
You Can't Do That
All My Loving
She Loves You
Things We Said Today
Roll Over Beethoven
Can't Buy Me Love
If I Fell
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Boys <— EVERYBODY gave it up for Ringo! • A Hard Days Night
Long Tall Sally

And speaking of giving it up (no, not that — I was EIGHT, remember?), here's perhaps the thing I remember about my first concert experience the most clearly. Sitting beside me on my right was my brother Jack, and on my left, an anonymous young girl, probably between 16 and 19 years of age. Her blond hair was long and flipped up in the back as per the mode o’ the day; not in any kind of bouffant doo or anything like that, but clearly a coiffure befitting of the times. She was wearing some kind of sleeveless jumper or sun dress as I recall.

Another thing I remember about her provided what could very well have been my very first “V8 Moment.” The girl clutched a tiny 3"x5" spiral-bound notepad and throughout the concert, after each tune the Beatles would play she would write down the song title and various notes. I remember being so impressed that she would think to do something like that, and why hadn't I done the same? As silly as it sounds, I'm still kicking myself about it even now.

But as much as the experience of seeing and hearing that concert is emblazoned upon my memory, the sheer emotional FRENZY of that girl, as well as every other female in the audience of around 12,000 that afternoon was every bit as remarkable to me. For the entire hour the Beatles were onstage, that girl was bouncing and screaming, LITERALLY at the top of her lungs, with tears streaming down her cheeks. I clearly remember thinking, "Wow...what's HER problem?"

What was happening to that young lady was something that gripped just about everyone in 1964 — whether they liked it or not; a phenomenon, so different that it changed the lives of nearly all who came in contact with it; And I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been a part of that special place in time.

And one more thing — I swear to God — my cheeks actually ACHED for an hour afterwards because I’d been smiling so hard, for so long.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

And Anita said, “Let there be light!”

I guess it's safe to say that if you've never visited my blog before, you won't notice that I've brightened up the place a bit. To be precise, I reversed the color scheme I had originally begun with (black background, white text) at the behest of Anita, a visitor to my favorite, Kevin's wonderful blog, "Life at TJ's Place." I read a general comment she made, urging the many bloggers who use that popular scheme, to abandon it in favor of a more readable background color. She said that it made the blogs so hard to read that she couldn't get further than a few lines.

Personally I really like reversed text, but I have to admit, it *is* kinda stressful on the 'ol peepers.

So Anita, I don't know if you'll ever see this to appreciate it, but this is for you...


The long and winding road

Okay, just one more entry, then I've gotta get to work (sheesh, I'm starting to sound like The Washingtonienne!).

Just briefly, I want to organize my thoughts on what I'll be writing about over the next few days. I said at the beginning I wanted to take advantage of this journal to make concrete my memories of some things I've never written about, but very much want to, for posterity sake: namely my concert experiences.

Over the 12+ years I've lived in Nashville, live music has become my number one recreational passion. I see probably fewer shows than a lot of "music hounds" (my pet name — pun intended — for guys like me who would rather listen to and talk about music than just about anything else), but I'm pretty sure I see more shows than most who fall into my category of being happily married and not involved in the music biz (although I used to be, but while important, that's another discussion for another day). I seem to go in spurts, seeing 4 shows in a week's time and then not seeing another one for 6 weeks, but I'm familiar to enough people in the club music scene here in town, and the DJs and staff of our premier local rock radio station that most of them either know me by name or by face, giving the familiar "hey, what's up man?" nod when I walk into the room.

My wife? Well let's just say the club scene isn't her cup of tea. She values sleep much more than music, so this is something she doesn't mind giving me the space to do on my own pretty much whenever I want to. She'll always come to a concert when it's in a comfortable venue with reserved seats, but showing up 2 hours early to sit on the sidewalk, waiting for the doors open to get into a general admission show just ain't her idea of a good time. I could say the same thing about tagging along with her while she pores over bolts of fabric and decorator sewing patterns or milling around an antique mall for hours, so we understand each other. She's a great lady and we know each other so well that we co-exist almost perfectly. And I thank God for that every single day.

So back to the concerts. Having lived the majority of my adult life in Southern California, where you'd think that the access to music is as good as it would get, I never dreamed it could be as good as it here in Nashville. I've talked to a few folks who swear by Austin, TX as the best locale for live music around, and I'm sure they're right. However for my purposes, I don't think I could ask for more than what I've got right here in "Music City," but I'll talk more about that at another time — this entry is already way longer than I intended for it to be.

Let me just say that I'm going to start with my first concert and work forward the best I can remember toward present day. I've probably forgotten many more shows than I'll be able to remember, but I'm certain I recall just about everything about Numero Uno. And that's pretty amazing to me, considering I was only 8 years old. It may not be as big a deal to the 20somethings out there, but if you're within 15 years either way of my age (this is your homework assignment: figure out how old AJ is), I think you'll agree, having seen The Beatles in concert during their first and only extensive American tour is a most noteworthy event. In fact, besides my older brother who took me, and another one of his friends, I'm the only person I know of who actually saw the Fab Four in concert here in America.

It was September 3rd, 1964 at the Indiana State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis, and was one of the defining moments of my lifetime. Details tomorrow.

Besides the concerts, I'll be talking a little about my other interests and how they've helped to forge my personality and sense of self: sports, family, friends, and the like.

But now, as Dick Vermeil once told my favorite football team, "GOTTA GO TO WORK!" 'bout, “Life at AJ's Place”

Just a quick plug to start off with: I'm a little more bleary-eyed at work this morning than usual, due to not getting to bed 'til around 4:00 AM. The reason? I was absolutely glued to the work of my newest literary hero, Kevin at his wonderful blog, "Life at TJ's Place." I discovered it a couple days ago, read a few pages and had intended to finish it gradually. But late last night, once I got started, I just couldn't stop until I'd gotten all the way through it.

As you'll soon learn when you visit, Kevin's blog is about his experiences as the manager of a Gentlemen's Club somewhere in the Mid-West. Obviously, "TJ's" isn't it's real name, for the protection of Kev and his co-workers, but the place might just as well be called "Cheers," because Kevin's wonderfully crafted descriptions and observations make you care about the players in this ongoing narrative much the same way the TV show did.

While it may not change your opinion about strip clubs in general, I can almost guarantee that it will change your opinion about the kind of people who work in them. They're real just like you and me; doing a job to get by the best they can, with predictable flaws and unpredictable dedication. But, the human interest aspect aside, Kevin is most definitely an intelligent, gifted writer with a keen wit and a very comfortable style. He writes like I would very much hope to in time. I can't help but think about the Billy Joel song, Piano Man — I wanna go put bread in his jar and say "Man, what are you doin' here?!" But then if he wasn't there, we'd be missing out on all those wonderful stories...

I briefly thought about changing the name of my blog to "Life at AJ's Place" but, nah...that'd probably be overkill. My tribute will just be trying to make my blog half as interesting to read through as his — although I'm definitely at a disadvantage since I don't have any naked women to talk about — oh well... :)

So go check him out today, or tonight if you're at work right now. But you might want to get started early, 'cuz once you start you won't want to stop until you're all the way through. And I'm sure Kev wouldn't want you to miss out on your beauty sleep.

A Jumbled DISQUSsion

This really isn't even a post; it's a casualty of war.
This is a catch-all blog entry created to hold all the unclaimed comments that, by virtue of the malformed XML code spit out by Echo (formerly Haloscan) upon my exporting the over 3,000 comments to my new commenting system, DISQUS, I'm having to fix — the hard way.

At the time that Echo made its “use US or lose IT” power play in November 2009, in order to get the users of the formerly free Haloscan commenting system that they had purchased to put out of business in favor of their own steaming pile-'o-crap system, they offered no "official" means to port comments from Haloscan back to default Blogger comment format, which meant that while I could retrieve my old comments, I could not reinsert/resynchronize them into my blog. This made me extremely angry, since I had actually been a paying user — twice, with two accounts — supporting Haloscan over the years, from 2004 to 2009.

And they give me this? Garbled XML that somehow leaves out the identifier on about 97% of the nearly 4,000 comments, so that there's no way other than the date they were written, to determine which freaking blog post each of them go to?

Yeah I'm steamed alright.

I am now faced with the arduous task of manually editing the XML code, going through each comment — hoping I can discern the context and date of each entry — enough to divine the blog post they were supposed to attach to; and then insert the proper ID for that post into the code. Fun, right?

That's where this post comes in. It's backdated in order to not show up in my current blog timeline, because I really don't need anyone finding it 'cept for me. I thought it would be easier to lump-associate all the unidentified comments into one post, and then sort thru them, as opposed to going back and forth between the XML code and the browser to compare dates and what-not.

So if you do find this post, do me a flavor and don't comment on it — even if you're really tempted to make fun of me for talking to myself...aiiight?

Mucho garcias. (and yes, I know I misspelled it.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Just call me “Jack”

Yesterday when I began this personal blog journey I said that among other things, I wanted to use this forum as a chronicle of the musical events I attend here in "Music City" (Nashville, TN). The live music opportunities are so abundant here, anyone who has even a passing interest in nearly any type of popular music couldn't help but be thrilled. I've made a conscious effort to save the ticket stubs from every show I've seen in the last 5 years to serve as a way of reminding me about the experience. However the vast majority of shows I see are in local bars and small, general-admission venues that don't sell "tickets" per se, so that kind of defeats my memory-jogging system. So I think I'll just go back and try to recount the highlights of the shows that I can remember, and then obviously, begin in detail with the current events as they happen from this point forward.

Music is one of my two personal passions. I love to listen to it. I love to talk about it. My tastes are pretty broad, so don't be surprised to see just about any style discussed here. "Music Hounds," as I like to refer to folks such as myself, are among my favorite people. All my best friends are music hounds. If I had a single ounce of musical talent, I'm certain that would be my profession of choice. But alas, I have none, so I try to keep up with as much as I can to be conversational on just about all levels, while guarding against coming off as a smug asshole, which my wife constantly tells me I am dangerously close to being. It's a very fine line for me I know, but I seriously try to avoid the appearance if I can. Am I an idiot for admitting that? I dunno...but at least I suppose I'm admitting it to myself. That being said, there I have two credos I pretty much adhere to in both my approach to music, and especially in conversation with others about it:

1.) Don't be a snob. ALL music is music to somebody, and perhaps even you if you give it a chance.
2.) You are never as big a "fan" as you think you are. No matter how much you like a particular artist or musical style, or no matter how knowledgable you are in general, there is ALWAYS someone who knows more, has been a fan longer than you have, or places more of his self-worth on what he knows about said artist or style than you do (sad as that may be).

That has been my overriding experience in over 40 years of really being aware of what music is. I've learned its always better to listen politely than to get your ass handed to you in a pissing match with someone you think you're more knowledgable than. Unless the information is SO wrong that it simply HAS to be corrected, it's better to just let it go. There's nothing a know-it-all wants more than to be respected, so if you show it, you'll probably get it back as well.

And while I would love for you to think me noble and mature for having these attitudes, I really don't deserve the kudos, unless the basis for awarding them is that I've learned from my mistakes after looking and feeling like an ass on a number of occasions. :)

A lot of guys really take the notion of their musical knowledge and one-upsmanship in such conversation as an important part of their self-image, and that's fine for them. Although I definetly battle that same urge, I prefer to try to relegate that aspect of my passion for music to the recreational. I don't want to ever "have" to win the argument if it means exposing myself to ridicule if I'm in fact wrong about something. As introspective issues go, this is one I ponder a lot. I guess I've learned that I'm too much of a generalist to really be successful at that kind of thing. And I'm fine with that, because I've got a LOT of things that captivate my attention and curiosity on a daily basis. For me, it's okay to be a "Jack of all trades, and master of none."

Monday, May 24, 2004

The Heart of the Matter

I had a disturbing dose of reality forced down my throat this past weekend. My eldest brother, who lives in the nearby state of my birth, called to say that he would be in town with his wife and to attend a wedding which happened to be at a church only a couple miles from my house. He wanted to get together for breakfast. I was excited at the notion, especially since it just came up rather out of the blue, and we see each other so rarely.

The next thing he said was even more random, and not nearly as pleasant, "Also, I think you should know, I'm going in for heart bypass surgery next Wednesday."

*My* heart stopped.

The man is only 57 years old, and although the possibility wasn't that much of a shocker (he's been a life-long junkfood junkie) — we knew he had begun developing some heart problems a couple years ago — but he's been on medication, had dropped his cholesterol by 150+ points, and, we had assumed, was getting better. But as he explained to me when I met him for breakfast on Sunday, he still feels "like I have a cinder block strapped to my chest all the time." He can't exercise, is obviously restricted at work, and was told that he could either "live with it" (ie: do nothing more and hope you don't have a coronary the next time you bend down to tie your shoes), or go under the knife. So he's opting for the knife.

Besides the fact that he's my big brother and I love him and all the normal stuff, the other angle which is obviously disconcerting about all this is the alarming pattern rearing its u-jigally head: The family history. Unbeknownst to me until my conversation with him Sunday, high cholesterol and heart disease runs rampant thru my family. My grandmother on my Dad's side died in her mid-50s from a heart attack. Her husband, my grandfather, died of emphesema and had high blood pressure. But having known that both were smokers however, I'd never given much thought to there being any hereditary implications toward the rest of us, but my brother assured me that there are — and they're becoming more apparent as time passes.

This will be the second bypass surgery in my immediate family in the past three years — yep, you guessed it — my Dad, at age 79 two years ago, had a mild heart attack and subsequently, a QUINTUPLE bypass after having no previous symptoms. Thankfully he is now fully recovered and quite healthy, thank you.

But the pattern is obvious.

Almost coincidentally, just last month I went in for my annual physical and found that, while "ahead of the curve" for my age overall physically, my cholesterol was higher than it should be (220), and given my family history, the doc immediately put me on Lipitor 40's to try and knock it down below 200. I've got 2 pills left and go back to see him in 10 days, so we'll see how well it worked.

I'm trying to get back into a pattern of excercise and out of my Winter-Hockey Season-Jack-in-the-Box-3-times-a-week pattern which I suspect is what got my cholesterol up in the first place.

How the next 6-9 months play out and the effect of diet and exercise on my cholesterol numbers could go a long way in determining how much my life may either do a swift about-face, or allow me to maintain a similar (but hopefully less oblivious) existence for the rest of my days. I'm resigned to the fact that I may be in for some significant changes. I hope not, but am prepared to do whatever it takes NOT to become my brother in another decade or so.

In a Blog of my own

While I may not have any sordid escapades to write about like Washingtonienne, it's going to be kinda cool to just post a little stream-of-consciousness every now and then.

I would like to officially thank my Blog comrades in TK fandom, who on a daily basis, make me meaner, more irreverant and a more than just a sight bit smarter, as the inspiration for my Blog moniker. It has absolutely no significance to me or my life, but it makes me laugh everytime I think of it. Those who know where it came from will get it immediately; those who don't, won't.

I'm not exactly sure what I'll do with this thing. It'll probably be a series of random thoughts composed of equal parts friends, family, music, sports, and personal history. I'm kind of excited about the idea of chronicling reviews and thoughts about the many concerts and music shows I attend, just to have a record of the experience. I've never kept anything that resembled a journal before, so this should be fun.

I'd also like to talk about some things that I think about a lot: friendship, loyalty to ideals, genuineness, my wife and kids, and other things that make me happy. If anyone reads any of this and wishes to comment, I'd welcome the dialogue.

Well, here we go...