Monday, January 30, 2006

No Space or Time

I believe a brief recap of the previous week is in order, and is in fact deserved for some of you who have been kind enough not to call me a slacker. So here.

For those of you who may not be familiar with why so many went to Savannah this weekend, the event was the annual conference of the Ge0rgia Music Educat0rs Ass0ciation. Many attend to participate in professional enrichment activities, hear concerts, or look for jobs. I go to catch up with some friends whom I don’t see often, and to try to drum up a little bit of business for my day job.

Last Tuesday 1/21, I finished preparations for several days on the road. That afternoon, I headed 30 miles south for a co-write. At the conclusion of the appointment, I drove straight to Marietta and crashed at Casa de la Blog This. Wednesday morning, I headed down to Savannah in time to check into my hotel, enjoyed a meeting with the owners of the company I will do a little bit of part-time work this spring, then headed to The Office for several hours of fun, revelry, bad jokes, good jokes, poor recollection of memories, and remarkably low tab totals by the end of the night.

Thursday and Friday were more of the same, but the main event of the day/night was the pilgrimage to and the stumbelage from The Office. Saturday I drove to Athens the long way in order to drop a friend off in Atlanta. I hung for the evening with Trina and several somewhat surprise guests. Sunday morning, I woke to a sick Trina (like seriously ill sick… more like a flu and less like a hangover). Jen made us breakfast, then I headed to Dacula where I got to see my nephews for all of 17 minutes. I proceeded to Special K’s home, where we successfully edited, cussed, and discussed his material for this fall. From there, I continued to the Eisenh0wer System and Nashville, arriving shortly after 11 PM local time Sunday night.

The trip was great. Most notable was the time enjoyed with old friends, reliving memories in the context of the many years of living experience that have passed since. At some point, Sean S. cited a line that Willie Nels0n had sung for Ray Ch@rles at a time when Willie knew Ray was sick and fading. He cited the line “I love you in a place where there’s no space or time.” Several of us discussed this, acknowledged the obvious meaning of intense friendship between the two men, looked around at each other and realized a parallel, then very quickly changed the subject to something less like love between friends and something more like farts, boobs, or liquor. That's about right.

Today I have fought with my computer, and we seem to be coming to an understanding. More computer, writing and writing, and laundry over the next couple of days, then a cool trip to the mounts of Colorado North Georgia this weekend. Possible snow this weekend in Blue Ridge.


Sorry for the absence, but you were warned.

I have returned to see that I was an original taggee, and I look anti-social. I will complete the duties required of me by this distinction, then crash. I have to return to the real world tomorrow, in which I have tons of work to do and some of my oldest and dearest friends aren't right across the river at a bar.

Four jobs I've had:
1. Lifeguard
2. Video Rental Customer Service Representative
3. Bill Collector
4. University Instructor/Band Director

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Austin Powers
2. Anchorman
3. Love Actually
4. Closer

Four places I've lived:
1. Mt. Juliet, TN
2. Snellville, GA
3. Athens, GA (this is what I currently reference as my hometown)
4. Nashville, TN

Four TV shows I love:
1. Saturday Night Live (when it doesn't suck)
2. West Wing
3. Sports Night
4. Family Guy

Ten highly regarded and recommended TV shows that I've never watched a single minute of:
1. The OC
2. Six Feet Under
3. The Sopranos
4. Commander In Chief
5. The Amazing Race
6. The Biggest Loser
7. Lost
8. Gilmore Girls
9. Dancing With the Stars
10. The Tony Danza Show (not as true as I wish it were)

Four places I've vacationed:
1. Hawaii (three islands)
2. Bill and Pat's (N. Georgia Mountains)
3. California (from Napa all the way down to San Diego over two weeks)
4. Myrtle Beach (usually during Bike Week, much to my chagrin... too loud for "vacation")

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Dressing (like Turkey and Dressing, without the turkey)
2. Pizza (Dave, I heard someone on TV call it "za" the other day)
3. 3 Eggs scrambled well, with Sausage, 1/2 Orange, Milk, and Coffee with Vanilla Cream (these days, two of the three eggs are Egg Beaters)
4. Jack and Coke (preferably not with the afforementioned breakfast meal)

Four sites I visit daily:
1. Everyone's blog
2. AJC
3. Ge0rgiad0gs
4. ABH

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Athens
2. Bed
3. Maui
4. 16th Avenue

Four bloggers I am tagging :
No one... thanks for your patience.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bulleted List Post #17 (approximate)

• Today was probably the most productive day I've had in, uh, about three months... I'm going with three months.

• K0be Bryant scored 81 freaking points in a game tonight. For those of you not familiar with the game, that's the second-most by any player in NBA history. I'm no pro basketball fan, but damn. (Ed. - The He@dline News sports guy just quoted Eminem's "L0se Y0urself" when trying to be cute telling the story. The end of days is surely upon us.)

Million Dollar Baby... yep, total buzzkill.

• Congratulations to the folks at my former place of employment, who seem to have managed to get through another January Festival with few or no broken friendships or pregnant students.

• The bad news is, there was a bit of a tragedy over the weekend at the alma mater, in case you missed it. There's nothing else I can say.

• Heading to Georgia in a little over 36 hours, and I'm excited. I'm sure I'll post briefly tomorrow and will try to do so while I'm gone. In the meantime, if you have a few moments, I sure do miss reading what a lot of you have to say.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I am tired of it raining and my not being able to hear it. I hate apartments.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006

• Happy birthday to Molly!

• C@le is blogging now. He's employed and in school at the institution of my former employment. Good guy. Check him out if you want.

• I've always had this really weird, almost trance-like, reaction to a specific kind of music on car commercials and music that sounds like it. Watching the last part of Cl0ser with Sarah some time back, one of those songs played that totally has that same effect (maybe I'll go into more detail in the future, but it is really amazing how much one of these tunes can affect my emotional state... and I think she probably witnessed more than anyone when we would hang out). I watched the whole movie today, and it turns out the tune is "H0w S00n is N0w" by The Smi+hs. Now that I've found it on the internet, I can completely freak myself out any time I want.

• After all that to-do from last night about starting a tune, I proceeded to complete the most wrist-slittingly depressing song I think I have ever written. Not depressing like it makes people cry. Depressing like "Jesus, dude. Lighten up." We'll try not to do that again for a while.

• I've been enjoying this little tome of late. If that sort of thing interests you, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The "Knowing What the Hell You're Doing" Quotient

This one’s for me.

I almost started this by citing my own uniqueness as a person who works in a field in which he is expected to create something new on a daily basis. Whether or not a writer actually creates or serves as more of a conduit through which something greater speaks is an issue for a future post that I will probably never compose. I have re-thought my original open to accommodate the fact that most working people have the job of creation every day. A real estate agent creates relationships between buyers and sellers. A cell phone salesman creates a link between one who searches for something that will fit his or her needs and something that hopefully fits his or her needs. A recruiter creates interest, comfort, and enthusiasm in the minds of those she recruits. A band director (who does a good job) creates circumstances that cultivate musical understanding, growth, and confidence, and hopefully the ability to apply all of these things. A janitor creates cleanliness. A CEO at the least creates circumstances that lead to shareholder pleasure, and at the best creates circumstances that lead to employees who feel valuable and view themselves – rightly - as creators. And a writer creates value through combinations or words, or notes, or both.

My third biggest fear (I think, after speaking to women I don’t know and the possible collapse of the music business… I also don’t like manatees) is that of the empty page. The prospect of staring at a sheet of paper with nothing but a lot of white space and a few blue lines is daunting. I think a lot of this stems from a belief in a finite set of material resources… that there are only so many words, so many valid ideas, and only (in Western music) 12 notes. Some time back (here I go referring to a previous entry again) I wrote about my Theory of Abundance. That is that the possibilities for songs, sales, love, value, wealth, and anything else desirable are not only abundant, but indeed may be limitless. This is so much easier to preach than to practice.

Today, I wrote for myself – with no regard for what is or will be marketable, and with no concern for writing with too much darkness or introspection. The result was not Dylan-esque or Grammy-worthy, but it’s valid, listenable, and something I will value regardless of whether anyone hears it and is bored or driven to tears.

As my fear for the blank page gave way to clutter, I realized (at least for tonight) how unreasonable that fear is.

Here’s why (I’m afraid this is silly, but still).

I think a lot of people look at that process at the beginning (not just the process of writing… any occupation that requires some type of creation) and maybe forget that they’re qualified to do what they do. I know I look at a page and think back to sitting at six years old in the back seat of my Dad’s 1978 Buick Century, listening to Alabama on eight-track, and singing along with "Dixiel@nd De\ight." I recall the feeling of being a consumer of the value I am trying to produce, rather than a creator of same. When I do that, I make the mistake of painting myself a novice.

That’s pretty much all I have to say. Assuming you have some semblance of a professional conscience (a worry I have about no one I know who is likely to read this), you wouldn’t be a aesthetician if you didn’t know how to pluck hair. You wouldn’t be a ditch digger if you didn’t know how the ditch witch works. You wouldn’t be a cop if you didn’t know how to write a ticket. And hell, I guess you wouldn’t be a songwriter if you didn’t know how to write a song… even if the most difficult part is starting it.


There are few things that are as generally bumming to me as the day the snow melts. It’s like a Monday-times-three. But it is.

I sent Kip a first-run sketch of a tune I’m working on right now. I won’t post the name of the tune right now, but it is a murder story with a twist. Murder stories without a twist aren’t very much fun, but murder stories with a great twist – to me anyway – are great, because the stakes are at their highest.

I decided to entrust this tune to Matlock. I don’t usually take him my best “love song” hooks, because I think he is jaded on the idea (though I think I am finished with the idea) and into a specific simplicity in which I don’t really enjoy indulging with those not very close to me. He did, however, defend several high profile criminal cases in his practicing days, and has the practical experience with which he can support the song.

I brought the idea to him late last year, and for three weeks we suffered the process of all-but-literally questioning and cross-examining in an effort to establish the facts of the tune with a very methodical precision. I wrote basic melody and chord structure on Monday, and we began the lyric on Tuesday night. We continue a slow and careful process of removing logical holes and those issues that might defy “suspension of disbelief” as we proceed.

Tuesday night, in a moment of inattentiveness to his normally reserved writing posture, Matlock became comfortable enough to accidentally spout off the “m0ney line”… the line that sets up the “big picture” idea of the tune. He has failed to do this in the now four months we have been writing together, and I’m tickled at him for having crossed that threshold. So far, so good. But more than anything, I am proud of a man twenty-five years my senior for opening up enough to say something out loud that might not just sustain a song, but right now appears to make it.

For the record, I was never much of a story songwriter. That was until an old friend, who used to read this blog but I am pretty sure no longer does, one night told me that one of my best qualities was the way I told stories. I initially sort of "aww shucksed" the comment, but it soon thereafter changed a lot of things for me. It continues to do so. Here’s to the tune, and hoping that it’s as good as we think it is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sneaux for real







So I've always had issues with sleep... nothing completely debilitating or life-threatening or anything like that. But I've always had trouble getting to sleep and more trouble waking up. I probably always will - no big deal.

I had been having some issues with that of late, and really got fed up with it yesterday. So I started looking into several solutions. What I am now puzzled by is this: How can a 32-year old boy manage not to know that you're supposed to flip your mattress every now and then? Seriously?
I sometimes judge the quality of a song I write by the number of things that are knocked off of the speakers by the demo of the song.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mike, I remember this phrase: "Just play the fight song." I do not envy you right now, but my stomach is still in my throat.
Last year around this time, I posted about Jamnfest. Now the Athens B@nner-Her@ld reports about Janfest (password required... it's free, ya know). There are some familiar names in the story, but no real surprises.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Look out, Peyton!

Today reminded me of one of my more enjoyable, yet downright depressing, nights in Athens. Two years ago, when Tennessee beat Georgia in Athens (which by the way is Tennessee's only victory in the series since 1999 - 1999! when I was still in freaking grad school!) we all took it pretty hard. I was already having a very rough month and the defeat didn't help things.

Luckily, Warren and the Funkles were there to help. Los Funklos were playing Tasty World after the game. As they played, Warren and Brad and I sat down outside (visited on and off by J.J., Keith and others). After having several sips, our tolerance for Tennessee fans in Peyton Manning jerseys had worn thin. So the whiskey began talking to these fans very loudly, in a manner that would be most accurately described as drunken impassioned screaming. To each Warren and I would yell, "Look out, Peyton!" as he or she crossed the street at Jackson and Broad, while Brad smoked a whole pack in one sitting and looked at us like we were the most immature people who ever existed, accompanied by the occasional "Pfft," when something struck him as mildly funny. We knew it wasn't funny. No one actually looked at us. It didn't change the outcome of the game. But it was still fun, or at least made us feel better. Or maybe that was the Jack.

The night was finally ruined when a gracious Tennessee fan came up to us and told us what a great game we'd played, how lucky they felt to leave Sanford with a win, and how muck they loved Athens. We shut up then. What a dick.

At any rate, I stand corrected about Peyton getting his ring. He obviously won't this year, and I would have felt as though he were receiving it unjustly if the kicker had hit the field goal, due to the horrible review of the interception in the fourth quarter.

In other news, I got a crotch crock pot for Christmas. I am tonight attempting my first roast that does not involved booze, a downtown hotel room, or stories about me and Ln's bride's maids.
Four things:

1. After the events of tonight, I think Peyton Manning finally gets his ring.

2. I'm no expert, but I thought tonight's performance by Scarlett Johannsen was one of the best on SNL in some time... she may not have all of the personality of some hosts, but she was one of the the best pure actors for my money. It also doesn't hurt that she's drop-dead georgeous and looks, um, healthy.

3. This is scary. I understand the need for it, but it still scares the shit out of me.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sneaux, sorta

We here in Tennessee are experiencing what might best be described as a wintery mix (which I used to think was putting an extra shot in your drink in order to keep you warmer). I tried to take a picture so I could prove it, but all you can see in the picture is the reflection of the flash in the lights of the cars directly outside my back door (which incidentally is in the front of my apartment... and there's a question... why are they called apartments when they're all together?). So you'll have to deal with this, borrowed from

Happy Birthday, Gunner (at least it's still his birthday here in the central time zone, though blogger would have you believe it is already January 14h, which would be the day after his birthday)!

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Before I moved, I blogged one night about the process of letting go of the periphery of one place as you are leaving. As was the case on many nights, I was having a really tough time with the process. As is usually the case, the fear and time leading up to the event were actually far worse than the event itself. In particular, I noted how the voices of the newscasters in the place where I lived at the time would gradually begin to “sound less like old friends and more like long lost acquaintances.”

I guess I am a creature who is more susceptible to the influence of sound than any other sensory stimulus. There are other sounds that I recall from having lived in Athens for so long. In particular was the music that used to play on the government access channel - a channel which was my default background noise when the Weather Channel became, um, boring? The somewhat not newsworthy “news” and reminders of often disregarded city ordinances would display in Print Shop-esque panels, while second-tier pop performers from the 50’s would croon second-tier songs (with the occasional Bing and Frank mixed in for good measure). The local commercials (that were not for athletics) also tended to contain music that was or was closely derived from jazz, in spite of the town’s hipper musical contributions of the last twenty-five years.

My outings in Athens for the first several years I was there were usually to jazz shows. I experienced Squ@t and Gr0gus in their formative years, as well as great performances by Steve D. and several others (a few of you will remember “Lush Life,” “M0rgan LeFay,” and several of you will remember “Six Shades Blue”… great memories). My first significant jazz education was also in Athens. Those things only assisted this sort of subconscious association of jazz with Athens. (Aside: This is kinda strange, but a pretty successful songwriter frequently shows up at the events I attend here. When conversation arises about my view of Athens as my hometown, he without pause screams “Pylon!!!” to indicate his fandom for one of the classic Athens bands that never quite got the publicity that some of the more universally famous local groups got, though it is still a permanent part of the town’s musical fabric… not to mention that they have been playing together again of late).

There is a commercial that plays on Nashville cable for a local show that is little more than an infomercial for middle-of-the-road dining establishments. The infomercial itself is advertised frequently, and the theme song for both is uptempo swing (half note = 132) performed by a four-piece combo (drums, bass, a very well-played jazz guitar, and muted trumpet) that totally reminds me of that music.

Whether it is a stroke of marketing genius or simple opportunism because of the town’s name, I still totally associate Athens with the term “classic.”

I am over the fact that I don’t live in Athens. I feel fine here. But when that commercial plays, I think about Athens. I think about Athens, and I think about how lucky I was to have lived there for so long. And when I do, I pine for the next time I am standing at College and Broad on a 65-degree slightly breezy spring night with a person or people with whom I enjoy being. I fondly remember the Christmas lights on the trees, or walking past DT’s or the Georgia Bar as a door briefly opened and music and angst spilled momentarily onto the street only to be contained again as the door sprang shut. I recall sitting outside Bissett’s when I could afford it and Broad Street Bar and Grill when I couldn’t, flirting with my Jack and Coke, (linky, are we?) a friend, and a pleasant evening that wasn’t a Thursday or a football gameday.

I don’t know when I’m going to make it back. Current circumstances seem to indicate that it might be quite a while. But every time that commercial plays, I’m back there for a few seconds. I remember a few specific moments – moments that I made a concerted effort to remember for this very reason.

I’m doing a very poor job of saying this, but I love simply thinking about that place. I love remembering that feeling. I like to think that I can still do what I want while keeping a home there some day. But more than anything, I’m very happy that I have a place with which I can associate so many pleasant memories (and that I can conveniently forget the unpleasant ones). Though it is actually only my adopted hometown, it’s really cool to be “from” somewhere like that. And I can’t wait to get back, and I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Guess I'd better get to work if that's going to happen, huh?
New post on the biz rant, if you're interested.

Oh... I can tell you now that when I lived in Athens, I was on the grand jury that indicted the defendant in this case, which has just been resolved.
(Music cue: Eye of the Tiger)
Alright, put your dukes up and enjoy Warren T, as he attempts to spar with air, Hairy Dog, and the occasional goal post.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is not the Warren with whom I went to high school who struggles with sporadic bouts of gainful employment. This is Warren T, who is consistently gainfully employed. Russ tells you more. Welcome Warren.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I watched Wedding Crashers tonight. I get the whole MacAdams thing now more than ever. Raining in Nashville tonight, and that is welcome.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Another good day... gonna try something new tomorrow.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Felt unusually good today... I don't know if that means I should keep my head down or enjoy it. Things are good.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I also thought you would enjoy this picture of my nephew Ben rolling over for the first time. Looks a bit stunned at the world right side up.
Not much to say today, and that ain’t all bad.

I’m kinda getting back into the routine, and trying to make that routine happen earlier in the day. I get together with a couple of new co-writers next week, and that will be nice. I’m on a bit of a reading binge right now, and that has been a lot of fun. I’m somewhat devoid of ideas for tunes right now, but every now and then I remember a new experience or a familiar feeling from the break that could result in something new. I think I’ll just wait for it.

I also have two projects for Special K and the Big E, which are wrapping themselves up right now. They are a lot of fun, and I’m excited about both of them.

I observed recently to a couple of friends that my life is slightly backward, in that my job is writin’ music, and my hobbies are running a corporation and taking care of myself.

Someone told me once that John Lennon said that, “Normal is what everyone is until you get to know them.” I think that’s right, and if I am, I’m glad that’s the case.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Gunner does Nashville

The Gunner came by yesterday evening. We watched the R0se Bowl, which I thought was one of several classic bowl games this year. Sorry things didn't turn out the way you had hoped, Galarza.

Today, we headed out to look at some martial arts schools (hopefully you know that Gunner is quite the expert in this particular field, and he was really doing me a favor by walking me through the process of choosing the right place). Then I introduced him to Whitt's Barbecue, which many of my recent guests will tell you is the best thing that ever happened... like ever.

We headed back here and watched Crash which I thought was amazing. Highly recommend it, but be in a thinky mood before you watch it. He's off to see his Pop now.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My CokePhone, My TV Appearance, and Mahna Mahna

• After a great time at two New Year's Eve Parties (pics from the second here and here) I returned to the hotel rather promptly thanks to the generosity of cameraman J. Black. On the way, I received a phone call from a student (remember Fobert-Rhymer?) who needed some medical supplies and food - and not because he had been behaving in a way that caused him to need them.

I waited for several minutes at the deli in the hotel, got him what we needed and myself a grilled cheese samich and a coke, took his stuff to him, then returned to my room. After eating and noting that the time of day was now 4:10 AM, I decided that I would not be joining the band in their activities of later that morning. I sent text messages to the two people who needed to know this, then prepared to sleep. As I turned the light off, lay back, and moved to put my phone on the bedside table, I heard and felt a splash. I had deposited the phone (on which Blog This had cut me one hell of a deal) directly into the half full cup of Co-Cola (as my granddad used to say). It stopped working immediately after this, which I am told is frequently the case.

• The first several hours of my Shooga Bowl game day were spent taking a cab to the phone store, purchasing a new phone, then finding my way back to the band in the GWCC. Upon arrival, we were treated to one of the longest games of hurry-up-and-wait that I remember. By the time the game rolled around, I was already ready already to be back at the hotel. By the time the first quarter ended, ABC had attained visual evidence of this on its national broadcast, displayed here by way of my (as usual) shaky digital camera and the DVR on the TV on Mainsail.
(Note: This photo has since been updated with real screen shot from a stupid West Virginia gloat site playing the most poorly transcribed version of "We Are the Champions" in the background. It's basically the musical equivalent of having no teeth.)

• In doing some "research" (as Mike calls it) this afternoon, I was looking into the origin of the little "doo-ta-doo" song that plays on the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper commercial. This may be old news to some of you, but it was the opposite of old to me. It actually was written for a Swedish porn (I am told this is an abbreviation for something) film. Here's a link to the previously most popular version of the tune.
Son of beech. Sheet.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Coffee drinkers: When you drink coffee from a coffee shop, or heaven forbid chain, that uses the lids that rise from the top 1/4" with the very small hole in the top, how do you drink it? Do you:

A. Look at the hole, noting its location, then use your visual memory to determine the placement of the lid to your lips.

B. Raise the cup to your lips, then determine the location of the placement of the cup based on the tactile sense in your lips.

C. Raise the cup to your lips, then determine the location of the placement of the cup by sticking your tongue out slightly until it finds the hole.

D. Gamble by simply gulping, also known as "sipping by faith."

E. Other. Please specify.

Heard more than once last night: "Happy new years."
Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.