Saturday, April 28, 2007

Chris Cornell Live in Dallas, 4/27/07

A lucky shot I got with my camera phone. It was taken during "Black Hole Sun."

I've gotta say that I had my moments yesterday when I wondered whether it was really worth it. After paying a comparatively reasonable $27.50 each for two tickets to see Chris Cornell, after paying $10 for a fishy-tasting oyster po boy in a bar full of West End assholes, after finding a parking ticket on the van since I was 10 minutes late (how long DOES it take to drop my dinner in a deep fryer anyway?), after paying $10 to park and then learning, sadly, that my boy Mike couldn't make it to the show... Yeah, I wondered if it was really worth it.

But screw it. I've dug Chris Cornell since Soundgarden's Louder Than Love days. That was some dark, angry, sludgy stuff. Soundgarden had fistfuls of great songs, then they were gone.

I've meant for way too long to get Euphoria Morning, Cornell's first CD. But for as many times as I've heard folks swear by it, I've heard it given the stamp of "so so-ness" too many times.

Audioslave didn't do much for me. It seemed like they had some great songs that were hamstrung by the fact that the trio that used to provide the singular stomp for Rage Against the Machine weren't... all... that... great. There, I said it. In "Cochise," there's just too much space where interesting things should be happening. Morello's got this rep for being a great guitar player and all, and I can't say I sat through enough to intend to shoot that down here, but more often than not I found myself thinking, Yeah, I've got an envelope filter pedal too, and it sounds just like that when I play through it.


The line to get in was damn long, but two fans behind me chatted eagerly about this and that. At one point one mentioned there's some bootleg material of Cornell performing with Jeff Buckley out there--whoa! Really?

I found it odd that there was absolutly no meaningful security check. I mean, they scanned IDs and issued bracelets, but no one checked my pockets, ran a wand over me, or thought to see whether I was carrying an Uzi or perhaps weapons of mass destruction into the place.


At about 9pm Cornell and his band took the stage at the Palladium (which seems to be part of Gilley's). I was standing at stage left, about 25 feet in front of guitarist Yogi.

Here's a camcorder recording of "Spoonman," his opening number from the show last night. I didn't shoot this.

It was immediately clear that the guy's voice is no studio creation. As many times as I've listened to his CDs and marveled at those pipes, well, just add this show to that, man. Really... how in the HELL does he do that?

I'd seen a webcast of a Cornell solo show online last week, and I was unimpressed. The band was tentative, really not into it from all appearances. He did say it was the first time for them to play "amplified." I'm not sure if he was serious, but they didn't sound so great.

Last night, though, they were a full-blown rock band. Two guitars, bass, drums... you know, the way God intended it. They were energetic, and the crowd was into it.

The show was put together well, and really worked in a way some shows seem to forget all about. That is, when he played a few songs I didn't know, I wasn't thinking, Hurry up and get to something I recognize. I was thinking about how well he was singing, or noticing a great melody.

The setlist was terrific, with plenty of stuff from across his career. From Soundgarden he went as far back as to play "Loud Love," which was brutally hypnotic. He also played "Fell on Black Days," "Jesus Christ Pose" (WOW), "Rusty Cage," "Black Hole Sun," "Outshined" (which he said is about a friend of his who died)... He also played a gorgeous "Seasons" from the Singles soundtrack. He did Euphoria Morning stuff which made me think I'd made a dreadful mistake by never purchasing that one, and some Audioslave stuff. "Cochise" is much better when fleshed out by a real band.

His solo stuff sounded good, including that song from the Bond movie, and a gorgeous solo acoustic song called "Scar on the Sky." And he did a solo acoustic cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."


The band played for a couple hours, including three encores. Cornell himself was in good spirits, cracking jokes with the band and the crowd, telling song-related anecdotes.

The crowd was more aggressive than I expected. I was within spitting distance of no fewer than six girls who nearly scrapped with each other at different times. Four of them just jawed at each other while two shoved back and forth a bit before one disappeared into the crowd.

And during the third encore it got mighty damn tight near the stage there. Some laughing drunk and his girlfriend were determined to shove their way forward, the presence of, you know, my BODY there not meaning a damn thing to them. They pushed, and I simply had nowhere to go. I turned to him and said, "That's all I've got."

He laughed and pushed a little more before giving up, and I must admit that I thought, If I feel pain, I'm going to knock his teeth out. He was in a perfect position for one of those great Krav elbows, and let me tell you, for just a moment I thought it was a possibility.


So yeah, despite it all, I'm really glad I went. I was very pleasantly surprised at what a terrific show that was. Gotta scare me up a bootleg of that one.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Therapeutic Storytelling

So I'm approaching that time in my studies when I'll soon be doing some actual counseling. Next semester will be "pre-practicum," which is basically practice counseling done with classmates. You get videotaped, you get critiqued, and you're expected to put up or shut up.

The following two semesters I'll be in practica I & II, which will be full-on clinical work. When I graduate in May of '08, even after passing the National Counselor Exam, I'll be an LPC-I (licensed professional counselor intern) for thousands of supervised hours. I'd expect no less for someone who is basically being given license to get inside someone's head.

But the question that I'll be expected to answer soon, for myself and others, is this: What will you do?

That is, where do you stand theoretically? Now, any good counselor will almost certainly tell you that they borrow therapeutic techniques from all over the place, depending on the client's needs. Yes, there are a few dominant theories: cognitive behavioral therapy, Bowenian therapy, solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), narrative therapy, filial therapy, play therapy, whatever.

But at some point soon we'll be expected to basically pick a theory and run with it. We'll be expected to work primarily in accordance with the tenets and therapeutic techniques of one theory. The analogies with martial arts are way too plentiful, and I'll do what I can to avoid the temptation to go overboard. Still, it's kind of like being the martial artist who gets a black belt in Judo before branching out into other arts to develop a more well-rounded approach. I suppose one's superiors want to see that you CAN master one approach before you try to combine several.


At this point I'm inclined to think I like SFBT quite a bit. It's brief, it's positive, and it's future-oriented. You don't dwell on the past, you don't interpret dreams or seek underlying meaning. You work closely with the client to formulate a plan you agree on, a plan based on what they feel will succeed. It's not ideal for every therapeutic setting (and no therapy is); it'd be awful for, say, a rape victim, because telling them you're not there to talk about the past isn't likely to go over well.

Jung and Freud are considered to be the grand old men of psychotherapy, yes, but you don't find an awful lot of that sort of therapy practiced. When you're digging that deep there's simply too much room for interpretation, too much latitude and not enough real-life benefit that can be demonstrated empirically.

Dream interpretation has barely been mentioned.


I also like SFBT because its tenets mesh well with motivational interviewing, an intriguing technique being used with addicts these days with some degree of success.


The thing is, at this very moment it sort of seems like a therapeutic technique is choosing me, not the other way around.

But let me back up a bit.


Many of you know what a John Steinbeck fan I am. When other high school students were rolling their eyes when assigned to read Of Mice and Men, I was thrilled. My father and I fell in love with the simple charm of a film adaptation of his less-appreciated short novel Cannery Row.

I went on to absorb lots of Steinbeck, and I wrote about him every chance I got when college projects allowed. Hey, I took eight years to get my undergrad degree; lots of projects allowed, particularly when I was an English major.

I learned that the main character in Cannery Row, Doc, was based on Steinbeck’s real-life friend Ed Ricketts. Like Doc, Ricketts was a marine biologist working in the Monterey and Salinas area in California, living a simple life among the creatures he admired. He and Steinbeck drank many beers together.

Sometime in the 1940s, however, Ricketts was killed in a car accident.

Steinbeck was devastated.


The Doc character was also featured in Sweet Thursday, a sequel to Cannery Row. In it, Doc meets a woman and falls in love with her.

I read a book of Steinbeck’s letters, and he was clear about the fact that he’d written the second book for the sole purpose of giving Ricketts the happy ending he didn’t get in real life.

John Steinbeck, one of the most brilliant writers to ever grace this planet, had dealt with the death of Ed Ricketts using narrative therapy.


It’s an idea that’s been stuck in my head ever since, even when I didn’t know what to do with it. I was once at a funeral where I briefly had the idea I might be asked to speak. I can’t recall whose funeral it was, and looking back, I’m a little shocked that any such ceremony would leave any room for improvisation. Regardless, I remember thinking that if called upon, I’d talk about Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, and how everyone struggles to make sense of death.


So in 2000 or 2001 I had the good fortune to participate in an online chat with author Jerry Stahl. He’d been a writer on the TV show ALF, which I never saw. I was a Stahl fan due to the compelling darkness of his autobiography, Permanent Midnight.. In it, he describes his years of heroin addiction, and how he was stunned to collect a paycheck for his almost nonexistent contributions to the TV show, especially since it wasn’t much of a secret that he was a junkie who was often locked in a studio bathroom with a syringe.

(Ah, me and my opiate-tinged heroes.)

Anyway, he’d had so many comically insane moments in his life that I had to ask whether he’d used the occasion of writing Permanent Midnight to lend some order or meaning to events which seemed to lack any at the time.

He said emphatically that he had indeed done just that, giving structure where had been none, finding significance where he’d been unable to see it while wrapped in the moment.

Stahl, too, had used narrative therapy.


Stahl, by the way, has gone on to be a contributing writer to CSI. He also wrote the “fictional autobiography” I, Fatty, based on the life of silent film star Fatty Arbuckle. I enjoyed that book, and mean to seek out more of his work.


So yeah, this idea of using the word, which has always been so important to me, as a medium for change, or for connecting and re-connecting the dots, has long appealed to me.

As it turns out, I’ve done a bit of it myself.


Narrative therapy can utilize a bit of selective omission, certainly, but don’t confuse it as a technique based on fabrications or lies.

Let’s look at it this way: Have you ever had a humdinger of a story to share with people, one that you knew packed a real whollop? I’ve certainly had a few come my way.

Smack dab in the middle of those stories you sometimes find it necessary to gloss over or omit bits that don’t lend to the dominant theme, that don’t do anything to bolster the big laugh or meaningful point you’re working towards.

Well, sometimes those omitted parts can lend new perspective. Maybe you feel guilty about doing something awfully inconsiderate to a friend or family member. As you share this story with a therapist, further discussion may lead you to reveal that, say, you only said what you did because of a misunderstanding, or perhaps you carried some resentment about that situation in general from another instance. If you explore those omitted parts, you might be able to find something useful to work with.

There’s more to it than that, of course, but you get the idea. Narrative therapy is about cognitively stepping back from the story as we know and have told it, and allowing that our perspective, as important as it is, is strictly subjective, and leaves room for re-interpretation and re-examination.


So as I sit here, on the verge of having to implement all the STUFF we’ve been taught, I can’t shake the notion that narrative therapy comes pretty damn naturally to me.

I’m supposed to write a paper tomorrow, a position paper on a therapeutic technique that appeals to me. I’d planned on doing SFBT, but I must say that I may have to change those plans.

If you’ve read this far, well, thank you. As soon as I get past this week I’ll be back to (ab)normal. I’m pondering a couple entries on:

1. Bullies
2. Concerts

Ya’ll take care.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What's That Song?

I just posted the following on my sister's myspace site:

So two of the biggest MMA (mixed martial arts) organizations in the world are UFC (here in the U.S.) and Pride (in Japan). You know the stuff: Guys get into cages and actually beat the hell out of each other.

Not long ago UFC managed to sign one of Pride's most prominent fighers, Mirko Cro Cop. It was considered to be quite a big deal.

Cro Cop's tough as nails, and was thought to be a lock for the UFC heavyweight championship. Still, he had to, you know, fight some competitors first.

So Saturday he did, facing some meatball named Gabriel Gonzaga.

Here's the part where you should pay attention: As Cro Cop walked to the ring, his walk-on music was "Wild Boys" by Duran Duran. Yep. No metal for him... no AC/DC, Helmet, Metallica, Slayer... he went with Duran Duran.

In the first round, Gonzaga kicked Cro Cop in the head, and he went down in a heap. He probably still thinks he's Batman.

The moral: If you listen to Duran Duran, a meatball named Gabriel might kick you in the head.


Posts may be quite scarce for a bit, as I have two big papers to work on this week. Sorry ya'll.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Music Meme While Waiting for Intervention to Come On

Ah, finally a meme I can sink my teeth into. No more of this "who likes you" (everyone) or "who do you wanna see nekkid" (almost everyone) stuff.

Ganked from the utterly enjoyable Jefito Blog which, sadly, may be going away.


Of all the bands and artists in your collection, of which one do you own the most albums?

I don't feel like getting up to go SEE, so I'm going with the "I'm pretty sure this is right" approach. It's got to be BB King. I must have... oh, 15 of his CDs in there. And that's not enough. And good old Charles Brown, well, I've probably got 10 of his. After that Eric Johnson deserves a mention due to the sheer number of bootlegs of his I've got (could be 15 CDs as well). Probably 7 or 8 Bad Brains CDs, Um... I've got a lot of Billie Holiday too, and Brave Combo and Muddy Waters... how's that?

What was the last song you listened to?

"Early in the Morning" by the Gap Band

What are your favorite instruments?

Drums and piano

Who’s your favorite local artist/band?

I'm gonna branch out as far as Austin just so I can include Alejandro Escovedo.

What was the last show you attended?

The Who last November.

What was the greatest show you’ve ever been to?

Aw man, so many great shows... Escovedo, Buick Mackane, Eric Johnson was brilliant lots of times, Charles Brown in Seattle, BB King on Austin City Limits, Doug Sahm at Antone's, Buddy Guy at Antone's, the Who in 2000, U2 on the Joshua Tree tour... I've forgotten lots of great shows, I just know it.

What’s the worst band you’ve ever seen in concert?

Hmm... Lone Justice? Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians? The John Strahm (sp?) band? Oh... wait, maybe it was that guy in Spoon... Brent something? Did a solo show at the Electric Lounge once while opening for Hamell on Trial. He sucked something awful, and the crowd told him. So what'd he do? Jump off the stage and charge into the crowd, looking to fight whoever had just yelled "you suck!"

What band do you love musically but hate the members of?

I'm guessing the two primary guys in Oasis aren't exactly paragons of virtue, not that I LOVE their music. And I'm sorry, but as dearly as I love Merle Haggard's music, this shit where he shows up too loaded to, say, remember the words to "Mama Tried" ain't the least bit amusing.

What is the most musically involved you have ever been?

Six months as a roadie for a country cover band in the late 80s and 3 or 4 years as an audio tech on Austin City Limits.

What show are you looking forward to?

Chris Cornell in Dallas next weekend.

What is your favorite band shirt?

My wife has a Replacements shirt from the All Shook Down tour that I'm mighty damn proud of.

What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?

Not sure. Sometimes I think it's Doug Sahm (yeah, I know I'm too late). To me, THAT'S the Texan paradigm. I'd like to flatter myself and think we're similar with our affinity for blues, R&B, and things imported from south of the border, but really, that guy was far cooler than I'll ever be.

What musician would you like to be in love with you for a day?

I keep telling Susanna Hoffs that she's gotta stop calling me.

What was your last musical “phase” before you wised up?

Oh, in the late 90s when I listened to almost nothing but dead opiate addicts that wasn't exactly good for my mental health.

Sabbath or solo Ozzy?


What was the greatest decade for music?

Know what? Give me '95 to '04. Seriously. I can pick the decade, right?

What is your favorite movie soundtrack?


Who is your favorite artist who is much better live than on a recording?

I can honestly say I think Van Morrison sings better live. On CD he always sounds like his pitch runs a little sharp.

Do you have a hidden desire to be a popular musician?

Not anymore. Mostly I just wanted to play on stage a bit. Got close, but no cigar. Woodshedding's fine for me.

Have you ever used drugs to enhance the music experience?

In 1981 I had a bad cold, and while listening to 2112 on the headphones I had the sensation of falling. That was just antihistamines. So yes.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Caffeine and Endorphins

My abs are sore, as are several places in my back. My knuckles are skinned and my shin is scraped.

It’s good to be back in Krav.


Yeah, I finally got to return last night. I had a good lunch, ate healthy things during the day… then about 4:30 I started to fade. Fatigue set in. I did what any normal person would do: I bought one of those over-caffeinated Rock Star drinks, and chased it with a banana.

That’s probably not what caused me to sit out some of the class for the first time. With one drill left (knees, always a bear) I had to sit. I had nothing left. I’d started well, and felt the endorphin rush (too) early. As I often do, I worked out with the school’s biggest guy, a good training partner and a good guy, but that’s no walk in the park. We did these drills where you punch your partner across the mat and back. Holding the bag was almost as rough as being the puncher in my case.

And then it hit me: You do one more thing and you’ll take a ride on the vomit comet. Dang.

So I sat.

Again, dang.


But I’d been out for over three weeks, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise. And in a few minutes I had it back and finished class.


BB’s current therapy: “Sacrifice/Let There Be Peace” by Bob Mould.


And now “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” by Sugar comes on… cool.


The Rangers got no-hit by Mark Buehrle last night. My hat’s off to the guy. He’s always sort of been right on the verge of becoming a really dominant, really noteworthy pitcher. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come.


A woman I met at a work event just emailed me—again—about what a good looking kid THEBOY is. This morning she wrote, “In all your spare time you should send his pic into some modeling/talent agency.”

MOBB and I do make purty babies.


I feel like I should say something about the Virginia Tech murders, but I don’t know what. I'll try.

We’ve learned a thing or two about what to look for after Columbine, and by all indications the shooter had the attention of campus police and mental health professionals.

(Is it true he’d been in an inpatient facility at some point?)

But humans are unpredictable, and obviously someone can plan and implement a killing spree without divulging the sort of information to authorities that would make the necessity to intervene clear.


Former Rangers skipper Johnny Oates was a Virginia Tech alumnus.


Happy Thursday.

Monday, April 16, 2007

At the Cannibal Club

Where were you in March of 1991?

I was in Austin, sharing an incredibly cramped apartment with Toland, who had moved up from Houston in January. I'd been there since October 13 (MOBB's birthday, in fact, though I wouldn't learn that until later).

I was working in a record store on Lamar, making not quite enough money to pay the rent. I'd been steadily selling off the small studio of instruments and recording gear I'd amassed so I'd have money to pay for the roof over my head, food, and beer.

I also spent an awful lot of time seeing bands like Buick Mackane at places like the Cannibal Club.

Lo and behold, Toland sends me this video today, shot 3/14/91.

He thinks he was there for this show, and though I can't imagine why I wouldn't have seen Buick WITH him in March of '91, I don't recall being at a show with a camera crew present. It was probably shot for long-running cable access show Capzeyez (I probably butchered the spelling).

Anyway, this is like a home movie to me, really a welcome, wholly enjoyable snapshot of an important time in my life.

By June MOBB had moved to Austin, and we have been together ever since.

Bitchin'. Thanks to Toland for that one.


Survey. Been a while since I did one. Please feel free to take a stab at it yourself.

1] What made you happy this past week?
Watching THEBOY pick Indian Paintbrushes for his mother and clutch them lovingly the whole drive home.

2] Which friend's car were you in last?
Uh... no idea. Batman's probably.

3] When was the last time you cried?
I wanted to at times the night the roof leaked, but I never did. So... I don't know.

4] What color shirt are you wearing?

5] How long is your hair?
Short, but just reaching that length where it starts to get wavy again. Almost time for a trim.

7] What’s on your mind right now?
Hitting the sheets.

8] Last movie you watched?
Beats me. Tonight in class we watched a clip of Patch Adams. The prof asked, "Is there anyone here who hasn't seen this movie?" I was the only person who raised a hand. Everyone laughed. Why is it always me?

9] Last thing you ate?

10] Last thing you drank?
Some red punch my son invented.

11] Where did you sleep last night?
On my posh new mattress, baby

13] Are you happy right now?

14] What did you say last?
"Good night, hon."

15] Where is your phone?
On the hutch

16) Favorite comedian?
George Carlin

17) What color are your eyes?

18) What time is right now?

19] Who came over last?
THEBOY had a play date this weekend. His buddy was a perfect little guest.

20] Name the last two things you have bought?
Uh... I bought groceries. Oh, and lunch at Luby's today.

21] Who/what do you hate/dislike currently?
The war

22] What are you listening to?
Last thing I remember, music-wise, was an Otis Spann instrumental.

23] What is your weapon of choice?

24] What's your favorite scent?
Those Indian Paintbrushes will do just fine

25] Who makes you the happiest right now?
My family

26] Does someone like you at the moment?
I feel I'm fairly well-liked.

28] What were you doing at midnight last night?
Probably getting up to pee for the first of 58 times.

29] What was the first thing you said when you woke up?
"Move, cat! I swear, you've got agoraphobia..!"

30] Are you left-handed?

31] Spell your name without vowels:

32] How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Three or four

33] What is your favorite color(s)?
Blue, maroon

34] What's for dinner tonight?

35] What is the last alcoholic beverage you drank?
A six-pack of Ziegenbock

36] When Is Your Birthday?

37] Who was the last person to send you a text message?
Probably my sister

38] Last time you went swimming in a pool?
Summer before last... wow

39] Where was the last place you went shopping?

40] How do you feel about your hair?
We have established a truce.

41] How's the weather?
Nice afternoons, cool mornings and nights

42] How often do you listen to techno music?
How often do you listen to Junior Kimbrough?

43] Have you ever been verbally or physically abused?
Nope, unless some scraps with classmates when I was a kid count.

44] Have you ever felt not good enough?
Sure. TV will do it for you.

45] Is there something important you need to tell someone?

46] Will you ever tell them?
This assumes I answered yes on 45.

47] Is there anyone you would take a bullet for?

48] What languages do you wish you could speak?
I'd really like to take my Spanish to another level

49] Do you hate when people doubt you?
Doesn't everyone?

50] Do you have big plans and goals for your life?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Five Things

Bleary-eyed again, gazing in a stupor at the midnight showing of Fast Times at Ridgement High... So I'll kill time with a meme I spotted somewhere.

This is five things you do every day:

1. I eat frequently. Don't take this to mean that I eat a huge quantity of food, as I usually don't. But I'm a nibbler, usually with a vast array of mostly healthy snacks tucked here and there in my office, vehicle and backpack to stave off true hunger. Between breakfast and lunchtime on a weekday I've often had two low-cal yogurts, maybe a banana, one or two cups of tea and maybe even some almonds. I've just learned that the older I get, the bigger mistake I'm making when I stuff myself at some meal.

2. Listen to music. What can I say? I don't often drive even as far as the few blocks to the kindergarten without listening to music, often from my iPod. In my office at work I stream music all day. I've got Launch nicely pruned to play what I want, though I'm considering ponying up the money to join the streaming music service at KBON. One can never have too much Cajun music, right?

3. Apparently, I say, "Happy Monday" (or happy Tuesday or whatever) as I come into the office. Now whenever I come in the folks at the front desk say it for me and have a bemused chuckle. And then I say it back to them.

4. I look forward. I've got no tolerance or need for looking over my shoulder, whether it's to indulge in nostalgia or wish something had been different (hoo boy do I have a list of ex-girlfriends I'd end up sending apologies to if I did...). At the very least I remain in the present, though I really do what I can to look forward to something, either in the immediate or distant future.

5. At the end of the day, when it's just me with my thoughts and the darkness, I give thanks. Call it prayer, call it a moment of meditation or affirmation or reflection... but yes, every day at some point I summarize things for myself, find myself taking stock of what's good, bad, or other in my life. I'm thankful for every day, no matter the qualifier.


And in fact, I should go do some of that in just a sec.

Sleep well.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Sirens

Let me just say that I hate the sirens.

I hate the sirens that we hear every spring in this area. We get bad storms at this otherwise beautiful time of year, and the sirens mean tornadoes.


So leaving THEBOY's daycare this evening, after the fine day off I'd had, we heard the sirens. He noticed them, and thought we were hearing police. No, I told him, this was something else.

As we pulled away from the school, I saw four vehicles parked under the awning. And the awning only extends over the sidewalk. I knew something was up.

FM radio didn't do a damn thing to enlighten me as I scanned the grey skies (the AM function doesn't work). Yeah, looked bad for sure.

Just after fetching THEGIRL from her class, a daycare employee ran through the building blowing a whistle. The sirens were blaring again, and she explained that it's school policy to take shelter when that happens. Not only that, but a tornado had been spotted one city over in Hurst. That happens to be the city we live in.

So everyone in the building was ushered into a couple different bathrooms. My kids and I had a fairly big bathroom to ourselves. My mind was racing. I sent a couple text messages, tried to make some phone calls... I couldn't connect.

And then came the sound of pounding on the roof. Yeah, it was hail all right, and the van was out in it. Crap crap crap.

I resigned myself to the fact that the van was going to get smashed to bits; it was LOUD.

We stayed in that room for about 15 minutes. I tried to give THEBOY some idea of the reality of the situation without frightening him too much, or losing my own cool.


Finally we were led out of the restroom. I looked out the window, and the playground was covered in golfball-sized hail.

So I told the kids to wait inside for me as I checked out the van. Amazingly, no glass was broken. It's got a number of pock marks from the hail, but from what I can tell it's not that bad.


I saw that I had multiple voicemails on my phone, but I couldn't connect to retrieve them for a while. We decided to wait in the daycare for a bit, as we were unsure whether the line of storms had passed us completely.


Finally I heard MOBB's voicemail: She was home, but had just driven beneath a rapidly swirling funnel cloud not five minutes from our home. In fact, it was over the Hurst/Bell train station, where I went most weekdays for years during my commute to Belo.

Her car had been pounded too.


Finally we got home. The news said the line of storms was past us altogether, so heck, we headed out for Tex Mex.

Lots of folks tried to reach us during that crazy stretch when the storms were pounding the area, and I want to say thank you to all those folks. I've managed to reach a few of them by phone since then.

Our neighborhood looks like a giant hedge trimmer went through the trees. Leaves and limbs and other debris are everywhere. Tomorrow morning I'll check out MOBB's car and the roof the see what damage there is. I had a quick look at her car in the rain earlier, and I couldn't find any damage. I'll be stunned if dodged that particular bullet.


Ya'll take care. Stay safe.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Random Bludgeonings

You know, I never got the latest Helmet CD, Monochrome.. Not sure why... honestly, what I heard off of it didn't impress me. I guess I should pony up for a used copy at some point.


I remember 20 years ago all the buzz about guitar synthesizers, and how they were just on the cusp of making a guitar that would actually operate a synthesizer. It never really took off, and now it turns out we may have been barking up the wrong tree. We don't want our guitars to be synths; we want them to be guitars--LOTS of guitars.

Part of me wants to be firmly opposed to the very existence of the Fender VG Stratocaster, one of those digital modeling gizmos that's become so hot in recent years. I own a modeling amplifier, Toland does too, and my brother-in-law does too. But something about taking a Strat and putting 37 different sounds in it... Man, if you want a Strat buy a Strat, right?

But... I've seen this guitar for about $1600, and there's also a part of me that thinks it's potentially a good investment. I can tell you from experience that digital modeling sounds terrific. I'm altogether pleased with my Cyber-Deluxe (which I don't see on Fender's website now--have they stopped producing it?).

Of course, Fender's only gearing their guitars to sound like Fender guitars, so they're not throwing in, say, Les Paul or Rickenbacher sounds. I can understand that. Of course, that's not a self-imposed limitation of, say, Line 6's Variax models

I'd love to have a Les Paul, but my creaky back isn't into wearing a 14-pound instrument.


Speaking of bludgeoning one's ears, I got my hearing checked this morning. MOBB had been at the audiologist's office for testing related to her ongoing vertigo problems, and I decided to make an appointment. It's my 4th test in about the last 15 years, just to make sure I don't have degenerative hearing loss.

It's about the same as it was in my last test, though my right ear is definitely losing the ability to pick up 1 kilohertz sounds. That's usually an indicator of early degenerative hearing loss, but at this point I don't need an aid.

I just need to TURN IT UP, MAN!


"Hey man, is that Freedom Rock?"

"Yeah man!"

"Well turn it up, man!"

(Hit me back if you have any idea what the hell I'm talking about.)


You're in a public restroom in Target. It's you and a young man, a heavyset guy. As you're leaving the sink, he turns to face you, looks right, looks left, then says, "Give me your wallet."

He's produced no weapon. What do you do?


I ask because something similar happened to me yesterday, only he didn't say a thing. He clearly scoped out the place to see that we were alone. He looked at me and... nothing. I kept walking. Probably nothing.


Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Tuesday Thang

I'm alive, I am. My back's greatly improved, though I'm still in the middle of missing my third straight week of Krav simply due to the demands of my job. Hoping to get back next week.


I was honored to attend a naturalization ceremony in Arlington today. We welcomed 330 new US citizens this morning. They read a list of 60 nations represented by folks in the room. Each person was supposed to stand when their former nation was called. It was heartwarming to see them stand and wave little US flags.


Sunday was good, it really was.

Well, except for when I had one of those spontaneous naps (ie, I fell asleep on my mother-in-law's couch) that was interrupted by THEBOY, who felt compelled to ask me, "Do I get to play on the computer today?"

He chose poorly.


BB's current therapy: What's Going On? by Marvin Gaye


Saw Hood and Reba for lunch yesterday, and that was mighty fine indeed.


Gotta jet. Will update more in coming days.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Butt-Kickin' Update

Man, it was quite a surprise to learn that there was a whole night of butt-kickin' TV on tonight on Spike. Sweeeeet.


I had to tape the Fight Night Live stuff, as the kids were still up while they aired live. A few scattered thoughts:

Watching those two sloppy heavyweights go at it wasn't entertaining, but one was a Dutchman named Hardonk, and I stuck around just because Joe Rogan clearly called him "Hardon" throughout the fight.

Hardon lost.


Two 155 pound guys fought, guys I didn't know. But one with a red dye-job won on an ankle lock. He celebrated with a really dipshit looking breakdance move (oh wait, that's redundant) in the ring, about which Rogan said he was "trying to pretend it didn't happen." And for Rogan to tell that guy in the post-fight interview that "if I had a booger as big as you I'd want someone to tell me" was genius, pure genius.


Joe Stephenson, whom Melvin Guillard had accused of using HGH, shut Guillard up with a quick, nasty guillotine choke. GOOD.


And on season five of The Ultimate Fighter, those 155 pound guys are indeed nuts. Watching Dana White try to corral Pulver and Penn as they sidestepped the rules during the selection process was highly entertaining.

The fighter who lost, "Monster," also referred to himself as "The Crustacean Sensation." Now THAT shit is funny! That's a phrase that'll stick around a while in this household.


I read a comment on an a message board the other day from a guy who said he didn't think kickboxing's much use as far as real life self-defense goes.

Eh? You can debate the merits of different arts (and that's what this particular forum is all about), but really... as far as giving someone a good set of useful tools, why knock kickboxing?


I may be taking over the newsletter duties for my Krav school, and I'm kind of excited about the idea. I haven't sprung this on the owners/managers yet, but I'm inclined to set it up as a blog (go figure). I'd probably do it on myspace, with each newsletter as a separate blog entry (maybe monthly). I could also have polls, music, bulletins as necessary, and of course, member comments.


Not sure I'll get a chance to get to some bar and watch the UFC PPV event this Saturday.


I'm off tomorrow. Happy Friday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The not-so-smart cows of North Carolina.

The story my son asked me to tell four times in a row Monday evening:

When MOBB and I were living our carefree BC (before children) days, we took a long weekend and went to a B&B in North Carolina, nestled in the Smokey Mountains west of Charlotte.

We had a fine time there, taking it easy, doing a lot of nothing.

Across the back of the property was a fenceline, and growing nearby were some apple trees. Cattle grazed the slope beyong the fence, and you could pick apples and give them to the cows, who would eat them whole of course.

Thing is, sometimes they'd drop the apples, which would go rolling down the mountain. Cows, not being intellectual giants, would take off running down the mountain after the apples. We'd try to be quick and offer them new apples, to save them all that running, but they always ran anyway.

THEBOY found that quite funny.


BB's current therapy: "Jesus is Waiting" by Al Green.


Our big presentation on the book Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends went well last night. I was the first of our four presenters. I got a few laughs, elicited a few "aaws" from the largely female audience when I shared a story about my kids.

And the clincher, to me, is that several of the points we made were actually featured prominently in the prof's lecture afterwards.

I'm glad to have that over with.


"When you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else."-- Joseph Campbell


I have the best job I've had in years, I really do. And as much time as I've spent blogging in the past about miserable, soul-sucking jobs like Belo and TVTK (backwards...), I wish I could spend that much time talking about the proud, exciting, heart-warming or humorous moments I have in this new place. I shouldn't, but I can't help but share a little...

Sometimes it's slow, and sometimes it's wheels-off busy. We hear a lot of languages here. I cover the receptionist's lunch break on Fridays, and when I'm down there it's not uncommon for me to hear maybe five languages in an hour. Last Friday I heard Spanish, English, a southeast Asian language, an African language, and French (also spoken by an African).

At one point I was juggling phone lines, welcoming new visitors, logging all activity on the clipboard and helping the French-speaking African, who for some reason handed me the phone and wanted me to say his credit card numbers in English.

I'd tried to tell him to do it, okay, when he point at his card and asked if that was the account number.

"Yes, those 16 numbers right there," I told him.

He barked into the phone: "16 numbers right there!"

No no no...

So he handed me the phone, and whaddya know, the person on the other end also spoke primarily French. Somehow I got the message across.


And today as I returned from lunch, I heard the receptionist telling someone on the phone, in Spanish, that I was just returning to my office, and that'd I'd take their call in just a moment.

Okay, fine. I hustled up the stairs, trying to get the Spanish gears going.

I answered the phone... It was one of my regulars, a Bosnian client. Her English is difficult to understand and her accent is thick. I can only wonder what she thought when the receptionist on duty spoke all that Spanish to her.


No Krav for me this week most likely. My back just isn't up to it yet. I might have been fully healed and ready to go by now if not for the roof leak Friday night, but I'm not bitter. I'm on the verge of missing two weeks here, but as you know, that's uncommon. As soon as I can reasonably get back in there I will.


MOBB is watching Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. There's this scene in which a roomful of folks are sitting there, watching women take turns playing the pianoforte (that's a reg'lar piano to you and me). And like I told MOBB, I can't believe there was ever a time when men would willingly sit absolutely still in those uncomfortable chairs, listening to someone warble at the piano. Those guys must have been thinking, Man I can't WAIT for TV to be invented...

Monday, April 02, 2007

It's Time

I'm alive, yes indeed. I'm sore from Friday night's craziness. I've got sore spots on my ribs and back, probably from lying awkwardly on rafters (is there any other way to lie on rafters?).


I heartily suggest you go to Newbury Comics' website and pre-order the new Porcupine Tree CD, Fear of a Blank Planet, just as soon as you flippin' can.



That's what I'll be planting this weekend. I'm off Friday and Monday--my employer takes its religious holidays seriously!


Baseball season starts today. Sadly, I'm not the fan I once was. I mean to keep an eye on the Rangers, and when I'm home and a game is on I'm likely to have it on TV I imagine. I just can't imagine I'll dedicated many three and four-hour chunks of time to sitting down or even attending games anymore. Life has continued to move and get busy, and I just can't do as much of that as I used to.

But it's still a great day, a day when every time is in first place. New chalk on the base lines, batting helmets aren't grimy with tar yet, and David Wells hasn't yet scrapped with anyone at the Golden Corral.

So on that note, here's an excerpt from Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon's) voiceover work in Bull Durham:

I believe in the church of baseball. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball... and it's never boring. Which makes it like sex. There's never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn't have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball--you just got to relax and concentrate. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250 unless he had a lot of RBIs or was a great glove man up the middle. A woman's got to have standards."

Play ball.