Monday, March 31, 2008

Why yes, it's another survey!

Come on Toland, you know you wanna...

Ganked from Liesl.

1. Were you happy when you woke up?
Yes, until THEGIRL barfed on the floor.

2.Is there someone on your mind right now?

3.How is life going for you right now?
Troubles, like bananas, come in bunches

4.When was the last time you held someone's hand?
A little while ago, walking my daughter out of the Rainforest Cafe.

5.What are you doing right now?
Noodling around when I should be working on a paper.

6.What color is your shirt?

7.Who was the last person you talked to?

8.Have you ever kissed anyone who's name started with a M?

9.Would you get married if you could right now?
I am married.

10.What's the best feeling you've ever had?
Driving along the Mississippi River, listening to Cajun music on AM radio as the scent of magnolia drifted through the spring air.

11.Who was the last person of the opposite sex you talked to?

12.What is the next concert you're going to?
There's an outside chance I'll go see BB King this weekend.

13.Who is your best friend?
I have enough best friends to fill all positions on a baseball diamond.

14.Do you like someone?
Yes. Everyone likes SOMEONE, don't they?

15.The last person you argued with?
Someone at work.

16.Do you prefer warm or cold weather?

17.Is any part of your body sore?
My legs, from gutting out one of the worst runs of my life yesterday.

18. What do you wear more jeans, sweatpants, or slacks.

19.What is the last movie you watched?
That third Lord of the Rings movie I think.

20.Plans for this weekend?
Yard work, and maybe, MAYBE BB King. And I may see some clients on Saturday.

21.If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
BB scratches his head... I think we just hit one of those space/time continuum things... but yes. I'm actually kinda bitchin

22.Have you kissed someone in 2008?

23.Where did you sleep last night?
In my bed. MOBB slept elsewhere.

24.What's your biggest regret?
Ever setting foot in a commercial TV station as an employee.

25.Whos your last text from?

26.Favorite type of music?
Okay, spinning the bottle here... whaddya know, it landed on zydeco. That can't be right, can it?

27.How old do you think you will be when you finally have kids?
I was 32

28.Would you rather watch football or baseball?
Baseball. It's God's game.

29.Missing someone right now?

30. Write something random.
"America has rolled on like an army of steamrollers, Ray. But baseball... baseball has marked the time..."

31.Where is your number one person on your friends list?
I don't even know who that is. Debbie Gibson? Probably out there somewhere, waking up every night calling my name...

32.What does your MySpace name mean?
That would be my initials. It's not all that complicated.

33.Do you like dancing?
As a spectator sport, yes.

34.Name your favorite pair of shoes?
My beat up brown Nocona boots are just terrific.

35.How much money do you have on you?
Not a dime.

36.What's something that bothers you?
Lack of manners. Hell in a handbasket, that's what I say.

37.Is there someone on your mind that shouldn't be?

38.What room are you in?
Living room.

39.Do you speak another language other than English?

40.What made you happy today?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pedazos de Nada

BB’s current therapy: We Lost the Skyline by Porcupine Tree.


Wolfboy is running laps in the living room. I have to curtail my impulse to tell him to calm down. We’ve been pretty sedentary today, so I can’t begrudge him this attempt at getting some exercise, even if it does mean that he’s flailing about near my laptop.


I’m reading the book Sexual Pleasure by Barbara Keesling for a class project (really).

She recommends shaving and/or trimming of what we here at BB Am I scientifically call “the naughty bits.”

Keesling notes that some of her clients are opposed to the idea. “So I offered to shave it for them. After they saw the difference it made in how they felt, they were all for it.”

So what do YOU get for your $20 copay at the shrink’s?


I dreamed I was flying.

I wish I could fly right now, free from all thought and worry, free from words and all the cares of this grownup world. And I'd be flying away from myself as much as anything.


Good night.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Wolfboy has his first mix CD. He picked 16 songs, and named it The Jazz Music.

The playlist:

1. "Behind Blue Eyes" by the Who
2. "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath
3. "Mr. Roboto" by Styx
4. "Intergalactic" by the Beastie Boys
5. "Whip It" by Devo
6. "Karma Tsunami" by Fishbone
7. "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by the Gap Band
8. "Maneater" by Hall and Oates
9. "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys
10. "Do Ya?" by Jason Falkner
11. "Whiskey in the Jar" by Metallica
12. "Fire" by the Ohio Players
13. "Jet" by Paul McCartney & Wings
14. "Connected" by Stereo MCs
15. "Jungle Boogie" by Kool & the Gang
16. "Senses Working Overtime" by XTC

By gum, I'm raisin' that kid right.


I've been watching the DVD of the PBS program, The Question of God. It gives biographical sketches of CS Lewis and Sigmund Freud, interspersed with expert round-table discussions regarding the question "Does God really exist?"

It's pretty fascinating stuff.

An agnostic and an atheist are present, and though I recall thinking the atheist was a real ass when I first saw this some years ago, he doesn't strike me that way now. He does have a very narrow focus though. He has one window into reality, and that's the discernment of facts as established by the scientific method.

One of the experts points out that as a woman of faith, she has more windows on reality than just that. Music, art, emotions, and yes, science.

The atheist says that there is no supernatural, just the natural and the things for which we don't yet have a natural explanation.

Would getting a natural explanation for everything discount the notion of a higher power?

We're made of all sorts of clearly-identified parts. Is the fact that those parts work in tandem when we're alive any less of a miracle?


I don't wiggle all the time now. I sit in class, and I don't worry that my constantly jiggling foot will annoy my classmates. It starts up for a minute, then it fades. It's like the constant motion used to sort of... hum. And the humming felt good.

But now I feel that hum without the hyperactivity.


Had an interesting discussion with my counseling supervisor regarding evil. A prof of mine had said that in all of his years of counseling, he'd never encountered a truly evil person. He said each client, no matter the abuse or other crime he or she had perpetrated, was not without redeeming value. I've heard more than one counselor say that even the worst abuser tends to operate...

[and THEGIRL walks in and hands me her teddy bear to hug, telling me he's scared. I hug him, and we both feel better]

...out of some twisted perspective on benevolence. The abuser thinks that he or she is doing what's necessary to create positive change. It's messed up, but I get the point.

My counseling supervisor was inclined to think that evil deeds are inversely proportionate to cognitive capacity. The more a person operates out of the functioning of primitive or "lizard" brain, the more likely they are to behave in a manner considered evil or at least repugnant by society. I find that I can't come to grips with the whitewashed notion of culpability that's part and parcel of this, however.

So was Jeffrey Dahmer not evil? Hitler?


I've received emails from a stranger lately. She lives in Ohio, and I sent her a CD of a great Alejandro Escovedo bootleg I've had stashed away for years. She, like many of the folks on the AE email list, is quite excited about getting it.

She tells me she has a son with significant mental retardation. He's 32, and is 6'2" and weighs 245 pounds. He has the mind of a six-year-old, and he loves Escovedo.

He helped her do a make-ready cleaning on an apartment recently, and was delighted to find that the vacated residents had left behind a six-pack of Bud Light. "Mana (sic) from Heaven," she wrote.



I'm not a Dear Abby fan per se, but I agree with something I read in a column of hers years ago: Sex can't save a relationship, but it can ruin one.

Well, I say I agree with it. I have until recently. We base our perspective on sex on our culture's expectations, even beyond what is "natural." Really.

We treat it like it's some sort of entitlement, like it's absolutely essential to any intimate relationship. I'm not saying it's wrong, but that we can't discount that not every culture on the planet feels that way.

I've read in our human sexuality textbook recently about other cultures' take on it. One relegates it to an activity for teenagers and young adults. After that, when children have been born, they find it quite "natural" to lose interest in sex.

Tony Randall fathered a child in his 70s. Was he acting out of some very natural urge? Or was he out to prove something? Did he even know?

Now excuse me, Baywatch is coming on.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Way It Goes

by Alejandro Escovedo

God bless the child
Who don't have a mother
To put her fast asleep

God bless the father
Who's lost his lover
For whom his soul to keep

Sometimes it takes more than just
Walking away
To find you've lost

Sometimes it doesn't take
A good friend to say,
"It's just time, and it's gone
But that's the way it goes."

It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes

Throw a penny into the Indian Ocean
And you jump right in
Three wise men can tap you
On the shoulder
And you jump right in

Sometimes it takes more than just
Throwing it all away
To find you've lost

Sometimes it doesn't take a genius to say,
"It's just time and it's gone
But that's the way it goes"

It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes

Close your eyes with all your might
But she's not there
Reach into the blinding light
She's still not there

You made your choice now
Live with it--It's all you've got
Sometimes it doesn't take
An image in the mirror to say,
"It's just time and it's gone
But that's the way it goes"

It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes
It's just the way it goes

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


THEGIRL and I watched a Wiggles movie last week, and we must have danced in front of that TV for nearly an hour.

And she knows the dances too! I could only do like I used to do back in gym class: I'd semi-mimic her steps and hope she wasn't watching me too closely.


I was noodling around on the guitar last night. Wolfboy, quite brilliantly, used it as an excuse to stay up past bedtime. He started making requests.

Him: "Behind Blue Eyes!"

Me: "I don't know that one. I used to."

Him: "That Beach Boys song!"

Me: "Barbara Ann?"

Him: "Yeah!"

Okay, fine. It's a I-IV-V chord progression. I started trying to find that first note in my head.

I asked MOBB to help me out. "What's the first note in that song?"

She started humming.

"It's a 'ba,' Dad," said Wolfboy.


I did discover that knocking out an impromptu "Iron Man" is one sure way to entertain both Wolfboy and BB.


And you should have seen us at the Sonic on Glen Rose last week, doing the robot dance to "Mr. Roboto," one of Wolfboy's new favorites. We laughed like madmen. And maybe that's what we were, having traipsed around in the sun all day looking at dinosaur stuff, then hitting Sonic at 10pm for ice cream. We had great belly laughs as we did our little dance.


Wolfboy's favorite songs:

"Mr. Roboto" by Styx
"Iron Man" by Black Sabbath
"Maneater" by Hall & Oates
"Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys
"Do Ya?" by Jason Falkner


And he asked me last night if I'd come to music class and play "Iron Man" on my guitar for everyone.

"Uh, I don't think I can do that."


"Well, the song's kind of scary for little kids. It's got all that stuff about killing and time travel and all."

"Oh come ON Dad. Come do it in music class! You can come! Mr. Daly comes and READS to us, so you can come and play for us!"


I don't think it works quite like that. I can only imagine addressing a roomful of bewildered kids: "Okay, I hope you liked that one from the Paranoid album. And now for another Black Sabbath ditty, this one from Master of Reality, "Children of the Grave"...


I've got a brownie calling my name. Ya'll take care.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Big News

I passed my exit exam!

(This means I get to graduate)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Images from Glen Rose

Our Phoenix trip got scuttled due to financial reasons. I waited way too long to give it a serious look, and that meant the prices were too high by that point. So I picked up Wolfboy from his grandparents' house in Corsicana, and we took off for Glen Rose, Texas, a city wiith lots of dinosaur stuff. They've also got a cool drive-through wildlife preserve.


Look at the mug on that one! And the dinosaur's kinda homely too.

Dinosaur World was a bit pricey, but the place is brand new, and really nicely set up and clean. We walked through it twice. Wolfboy marveled at how lifelike the eyes on most of the animals seemed. And he was quite adept at picking out the carnivores from the herbivores based on physiology.


Just another Saturday in Glen Rose. Displays like this one really helped stir the imagination. It was easy to conjure up mental pictures that were probably a lot like this one from hundreds of millions of years ago. Dinosaur World was Wolfboy's favorite stop in the trip.


Wolfboy racing a Brachiosaurus. MOBB had been here before as a child, and saw these very statues. The footprints were mostly submerged in high water along the Paluxy River, though we did get a decent look at a few of them.


"Oh yeah, you've got some bad plaque buildup in here, Mr. Rex. Charlotte, cancel my 2pm appointment..."

Not funny?

Should I have gone with an IRS joke...? Nah. No one laughs at those.


One of the footprints... cool!

This is actualy a reproduction from some of the prints along the river. This one in particular, though, looks just like one of the prints we saw down in the shallow water.


Wolfboy being chased by a T. Rex.

The ideas for these poses were his own, and he even had the patience to do them over after I filled up the memory on the camera the first time.


Amateur paleontologist Wolfboy searching for fossils. He found a shark tooth, a gastropod, and some sort of spiny thing related to a starfish.

This was his favorite thing at Dinosaur World.


A dinosaur prepares to cough up a hairball.



A cat livin' the life outside a barbecue joint in Glen Rose.

We had some mighty fine 'cue out there. I think the restaurant was called the Ranch House.

Later on that night Wolfboy and I hit the Sonic for ice cream.


Wolfboy surveys his domain from an eatery at Fossil Rim.

I liked this place a lot. People broke the rules all over the place though, feeding any curious animal by hand (they'd told us only the giraffes were tame enough for that).

And Wolfboy and I snuck around one edge of a fence to get a good eyeful of...


a horny chicken.

Okay okay... it was an Atwater's Prairie Chicken, and it was cooing and doing its little mating dance.

Of all the horny birds I've ever seen, well, that was one of them.


Finally, one of our visitors from near the end of the ride. I must say that giraffes just look STRANGE. They really have that look of critters that usually died out long ago. I mean, they've got these bulbous little horn things, those strange markings, gangly legs, and of course, that NECK. I think if men from another galaxy landed here tomorrow they wouldn't look half as weird as giraffes.


Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Greetings from Glen Rose, Texas

Wolfboy and I are here to check out some of the dinosaur-related stuff. Along the banks of the Paluxy River are some well-preserved dinosaur tracks. The water level's high, though, so most of them are covered up. We got a good look at a few though. Pretty cool.

This is me at an overlook. The drop behind me is quite high and steep.

And below is Wolfboy, beneath a statue of an apatosaurus (if I recall). With the bright sun I couldn't really see the screen on my cellphone at all, so it's no surprise I cut off the dino's head.

Anyway, it's been a grand time. We hiked, we walked barefoot across the river, and then came back to the hotel for sodas and snacks.

Tomorrow we'll hit Dinosaur World and Fossil Rim wildlife something or another. You know, it's one of those wildlife parks where you drive through instead of walking. I think he'll like it.

Have a good weekend.

Amen. Amen.

I'm not going to get cute with this. I guess it could be fun to take the irreverent route, maybe pen this as a "Dear God" letter. I just don't feel like this topic and my mood lend themselves to that. And besides, XTC did it better.

I went looking for God this week.

I'd like to think I see Him in many places. I see Him in my family's health, our easy life, in the amazing sounds of the songbirds outside my daughter's bedroom, and in her eyes when she pauses to listen to them and smile.

I have felt Him twice. Both times occurred when I was a child. Of all the moments since, including the ones in church, I haven't seen, felt, heard, or otherwise sensed anything.


I went to our agency's monthly chapel service yesterday. I was in a contemplative mood, and found myself feeling out of sync with the Baptist-tinged, active worship service occurring there. We were treated to a good sermon, good music, and a good dance performance.

But I didn't encounter Him there. I was looking for Him in quiet, and there was none to be found then and there.


So I went to the chapel within our main office today. I closed the door behind me, had a seat in a pew, and took in my surroundings. I'd walked past it countless times, but never been in. It's small and quiet, decorated with wooden carvings of the stations of the cross. Candles burned, and a stained glass window depicting Jesus with carpentry tools was directly in front of me.

I stopped, closed my eyes, and opened everything else.


Prayer comes naturally to me. I don't know how or why. I wasn't given any particular model for faith as a child. I mean this as no slight on my parents. It is what it is. Still, around the age of 10 I found myself talking to God every day. Quietly. To myself. I developed idiosyncratic prayer habits that persist to this day, like saying "amen" twice.

So today I just let everything go. My reservations, my cynicism, my skepticism, my fear. If God had spoken to me in a voice that I knew was His at that moment, I was ready. If the voice had told me to renounce everything and join a snake handlers' church, I'd have done it.

I slipped between prayer and meditation. I did. I didn't worry about time or company or how I looked. I made myself available to be a vessel. I opened up.

I was ready to receive.

It didn't happen, and that leaves me at a loss.


I wasn't really looking for a voice per se. I don't need a burning bush.

An emotion, a flash of connection, a new sensation, a tingle... something that felt real to me, something that said this is IT is all I wanted.

I wasn't there to test anything. I wasn't there to put the fate of my faith on the balance beam, to be tipped one way or the other through the vanity of asking our creator to make Himself or Herself known to me on my schedule.

I presented myself there humbly in an effort to connect for the third time in my four decades on this planet.

It didn't happen.

I reach out to God, but He doesn't reach back.


The atheists (plural) among my friends might shake their heads and say, "Of course not! There is no God!"

The faithful (plural) among my friends might shake their heads and say, "Of course not! God doesn't work on demand!"


On my way back to the office, I realized that this amounts to a crisis of faith.

I have been a defender of God's. Hey, you all know me. I consider myself to be a man of faith, even if I variously wear Lutheran, agnostic, or Buddhist cloaks when doing so. Does He stay distant from me because I don't know if he looks like Willem Dafoe or Samo Hung?

I don't have difficulty reconciling my faith with our science. There are aspects of intelligent design theory that resonate with me. I stood in the lobby at a Catholic conference last year and took in a mural of a chambered nautilus, a terrific example of this theory. It's a functional, beautiful aesthetic that is not superfluous, and speaks to someone putting thought into its creation. It's God's thumbprint.

When people eschew faith, I wonder how they can with all the miracles around them. For example, we have the capacity to love each other. If you disregard the notion of a higher power, what exactly is love then? An evolutionary echo from the days when we needed to stick together in order to ensure our survival in a harsh world?

When people eschew science, I wonder how they can with all the evidence around them. Creationism is a romantic yet primitive idea when considered in a vacuum. Evolution is real; we have the fossil record. The evidence is really quite clear.

I think I can have it both ways.


Is God mad at me for thinking? He warned Adam and Eve in the garden not to eat from the tree of knowledge. Ignorance is bliss, right? I don't think we would have been given this capacity for rational thought if He hadn't intended for us to use it. Eating that apple didn't cause Him to turn his back on us for good. Or did He just stick it out for a while after that and then finally wash His hands of us?

Does God refuse the prayers of a sinner? If so, he's going to be one lonely deity.

Is God waiting for me to, again, see Him in a thousand little ways, and to connect the dots myself? It's part and parcel of my daily life. Call it pride, but I think it's not unreasonable to ask, after all this time, for a direct connection. I'm a guy; we don't do subtle very well.

Has he thrown up his hands and given up on me personally? If so then there's either no devil, no malevolent anti-God waiting to scoop up my withered soul, or ol' Pitch is too subtle as well.

Am I too soon? Too late? Am I one more epiphany away from really having my eyes opened?


I don't get it, but shoot, even Jesus on the cross asked, "Why have you forsaken me?" Right? In his hour of need, he felt alone, at least for a moment.

I'm not in some awful place. Do I have to hit rock bottom to feel that connection? If that's the case then the correlation between emotional problems and the strength of one's faith is deeply troubling.

And I wasn't at rock bottom the two times I did feel it.

I DID feel it.

Didn't I?


So before I shuffle off to bed, I request this:

If you do feel that connection to God, please thank Him for my family's health, for our comfortable life, for keeping us safe, and for giving my sister the courage and smarts to face her extraordinary parenting challenges. And please ask him to bless my parents with better health and to do something about war and genocide and famine and disease and hatred.

And if he responds to you, please ask what he can do about getting the Rangers to the World Series.


Good night.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wirra Wirra Wirra

What’s that from? Isn’t it a refrain used by some character in a children’s book when a character is worrying?


Interesting days here, interesting times. I share a lot, I know. I can’t share everything though. Personal reasons, ethical reasons.

Answers come from unexpected sources sometimes. Old questions, new questions, whatever.


BB’s current therapy: New River Head by the Bevis Frond


Looks like we’ll have no Phoenix trip this year. I simply got too busy, waited too late to plan it. But perhaps I’ll take Wolfboy someplace like Glen Rose, Texas, where they have cool dinosaur footprints.


A clerk at the Walgreen’s spoke to me last night. He’s always struck me as an interesting young man. Big vocabulary, nerdy ways, sunny disposition. I feel some sort of kinship with him.

He said something nice about my Buddhist eternity knot necklace, which I wear a lot. I told him what it is.

He said, “When I go in Earthbound Trading Company and see the Buddhas I have to rub their bellies.”


We want the golden path for our children. We want them to be happy, healthy, smart, and to know that they are loved.

We don’t want them to be ostracized, belittled, traumatized, saddened, neglected or unsure of love.

The very best parents cannot prevent all of those things from happening. We underestimate our children sometimes.

And yes, we overestimate them too. More often than not, though, if you raise your kid(s) with good intentions and effort, they will end up being okay. Despite your fears and worries, and the ways in which the mistakes play on an endless loop in your parent brain, they will tell you, in the end, that you did fine..


We close down Tex Mex restaurants. We do.

Since ’91 we’ve picked family-owned joints and patronized them every Friday night. I don’t know how many we’ve gone through, but eventually they all go belly-up. I guess that’s the curse of avoiding chain places.

So is each of these defunct outfits a failure by virtue of the fact that it didn’t last forever?

I don’t think so.


I had this dream once.

I dreamed I was witnessing the courtship of my maternal grandparents. They were young, looking quite different from the way I picture them. He was in his military uniform and she was in a modest dress. They were arm in arm, going to movies, going on dates.

And in the dream, I pleaded with her from my nebulous vantage point: Don’t do it. Don’t marry him. You’ll get pregnant on your wedding night, he’ll accuse you of doing it intentionally, and your life will be decades of being subject to alcoholism and verbal abuse until the kids grow up and you finally leave him. Don’t… please.

She couldn’t hear me.

I woke up realizing I’d effectively been trying to wish myself out of existence.


Ya’ll take care.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


That's a bit of a catch-all word for me. I guess that's my way of saying I think I use it too much.

I use it to say that something has meaning to me, that it in some way moves me. With my musical bent and all, the fact that it's analogous to "vibration" makes it useful.


The 80s offended me. I'm chuckling as I write this.

From age 12, whether things were good or bad, I played guitar. I had lessons here and there, figured stuff out on my own, whether intentionally or by accident. Then, like now, I didn't have much use for television. More often than not I'd be in my bedroom, making every sound I could conjure on whatever guitar I happened to have in my hands at the time. A stepdad taught me E major, A major, and B seventh, three of the most basic rock 'n' roll/blues chords. To this day that B seventh is a bitch to play, so I substitute a B ninth, which has a jazzier feel and is easier with this crooked ring finger.

But as often as not, what comforted me about the instrument was the resonance. I'd often play an electric guitar unplugged (though not often enough for my long-suffering father and sister). I could feel the notes on and in me. I'd hammer out a chord I knew and experiment with putting my fingers in new places, feeling the mood each one conjured.

So yeah, suddenly popular music tried to give up on the guitar. Here I was embracing this very physical, still-organic way of producing music (amplified or not), and all the Flock of Haircuts bands started basing their music on synthesizers. The nerve! The sounds weren't from vibrating sources at all, but microchips. All of the feeling was missing.

Music saved me. The music I crafted with my hands was my therapy. I'd grown up with sounds and tones from CCR, BB King, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel. It hurt when popular music abandoned me. I had to dig deeper to seek out sounds within which I could breathe, relax.


We're mostly made of water, right? I guess this is common knowledge. Or maybe it's urban myth. I bet it's pretty accurate.

A few years ago a shrink dragged out this photo book. A Japanese scholar had studied the way music affects water particles.

The shrink showed me the photos, blown-up images of how the particles resonated in reaction to different types of music. Most types were pleasing to the eye in some way, with patterns or symmetry or some other detectable grace.

Then she showed me the photo of the water particles in obvious disarray, moving in no discernible pattern. They were blurred, almost damaged-looking. Compared to the particles in the other photos, they looked downright awful.

This was heavy metal.

I'd told her how I liked to go to loud, angry concerts, even alone, and just absorb the bigness of it all, just lose myself in the bombast and the volume.

Look at what you're doing to yourself, she told me. Her point was that resonance of that sort can't be good for me.


I've got this book on my shelf called Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Tavris. It was the recommendation of another shrink. And it's all about how there is a place for anger, and how there are certainly healthy, valid, useful ways of expressing it.

I think that sometimes the music of my choice is one of those ways. Pictures be damned, it resonates with me in a pleasing way.


I used to be bad about getting into trouble when I was by myself. Like any young man, I certainly pulled any number of boneheaded stunts with my buddies, okay. But it was by myself when I'd follow some whim I might not even bring up in the company of the guys. I'd go into the worst dives of all sorts by myself. More than once I ended up in altercations in those places, getting out by sheer force of attitude or luck. Bouncers, invasive strangers, poison girls.

And it's like I'd feel this vibration in me when I was alone. I'd feel some sense of possibility, though too often I steered towards misbehaving. I lived, I learned.

I still feel it. I feel it when I'm in the library. Is that strange? All of that possibility almost overwhelms me. Think an electric guitar has a profound effect? I'd like to see an image of how merely standing in a library resonates with me. That may not make a damn bit of sense.

I don't do those bad things anymore. Last summer in Austin, I swam alone in a pool at night, feeling that sense of... something. Feeling that desire. I knew that voice. I recognized what it was, but I just swam, back and forth, watching the night sky and letting the possibilities run through my mind. But that was all.

And here I am today, alone in the house as MOBB has taken the kids to Corsicana to my mother-in-law's.

(It's 90 minutes by broom... I love that joke).

Wolfboy will stay the week there.

I have the day to myself, and the moment they left I felt it.








I picked up my acoustic guitar and picked a few tunes, feeling the resonance of the mohagany against me, losing myself in the sounds and the words. The songs I play the most have some lyrical meaning to me:

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine


I know you've been wondering what's gonna happen. Times like these are blood and metal


There's nothing unwavering as a woman, when she's already made up her mind

... and so on.

So I played, and let the strings vibrate, feeling the sounds as well as hearing them. I'd put a finger here or there, thinking about what the sounds meant.

And the sounds led me here, and from here I will stand and greet the day. I will behave, and I will revel in the sunshine, and in the meaning I find today, even if, after all of this, I have not found the words for it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Survey to Take My Mind Off of Things

Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Food: Pho
Favorite Month: April
Favorite Song: "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder
Favorite Movie: Casablanca
Favorite Sport: Baseball
Favorite Season: Spring
Favorite Day of the week: I don't have one
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip
Favorite Time of Day: Evening


Current Mood: Quiet
Current Taste: Eh? None
Current Clothes: Jeans, long-sleeve shirt, shoes, Frisco Roughriders cap
Current Desktop: Blue
Current Toenail Color: Eh? Flesh
Current Time: 5:36pm
Current Surroundings: My living room. THEGIRL is watching 101 Dalmatians to my left.
Current Thoughts: I don't feel so great.


First Best Friend: Steve
First Kiss: I've never kissed anyone in my life. I'm not that kind of boy.
First Screen Name: BB
First Pet: Dooley, a yorkshire terrier/dachsund mix
First Piercing: One ear, long ago
First Crush: Debbie. I was 5.
First CD: Led Zeppelin IV


Last Cigarette: Oh, I probably had one or two in the late 80s
Last Drink: A six-pack of Ziegenbock, August of 1995
Last Car Ride: Running some errands with a buddy today
Last Kiss: My daughter just kissed me
Last Movie Seen: Lord of the Rings -- Two Towers on DVD last night.
Last Phone Call: Not sure. To Whit or Ken I guess.
Last CD Played: The Beatles' Revolver


Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Guy/Girl Friends: Not exactly
Have You Ever Broken the Law: Yes.
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No.
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: Yes
Have You Ever Been on TV: Yes. It's overrated.
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: Prestidigitator. I just wanted to use that word.


Thing You're Wearing: Necklace
Thing You've Done Today: Napped
Thing You Can Hear Right Now: A movie
Thing You Can't Live Without: Caffeine and the written word.
Thing You Do When You're Bored: This


1. Bank
2. Coffee shop
3. Gun shop
4. Ken's house


1. Whit
2. Amanda
3. My squeaky Buddha toy


1. Black or White: Black
2. Hot or Cold: Hot


See the Aurora Borealis

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Texan by the Grace of God

My job took me, once again, to one of the outlying counties. This time I was at a health fair in Grandview, Texas.

I enjoy that part of my job. When I'm out in some little town my natural accent shows through, and there's almost always some bit of rural culture to behold.

The health fair was a modestly-attended event. The woman at the booth next to me asked me why there were so many boots and hats on the students. "Was it Western day or something?"

I thought, We're in Grandview, Texas, a town with one traffic light. I doubt this is "dress up" for them.


We barely made it on time, Wolfboy and I. We had some snacks (of course) to get us by until it was over though.

I'd hoped we'd see a chain burger joint somewhere to get a meal, but on the way in it became clear that there was no such place to be found. I asked some of the locals, and they all suggested we go to Neal's, a burger joint/gas station/laundromat.

Always up for a bit of local culture, we headed that a-way. (Sorry--it's my accent coming back to me)


Neal's had that suitably grimy, humid feel inside. It wasn't exactly a dump, but you kind of felt like there was a layer of grease on every single thing in there that simply could/would not ever be removed.

Wolfboy and I sat down and ate our cheeseburgers while watching the Stars/Red Wings game.

The meat was juicy. The condiments were generous The bun was fresh, but crisply toasted on the inside. The potato wedges were mighty fine.

We both got stuffed to the gills for $9.54.

Highly recommended.


On the way back, Wolfboy noticed the old buildings downtown. "Why don't they build some new buildings here?"

I explained that old buildings could be nice, and that sometimes we like to keep old things around to remind us of how things used to be.

As we headed up the freeway, he asked what city we were in.

"I'm not sure in some of these rural areas. This might be Alvarado."

"Real areas? What's that?"

"RURAL areas," I said, enunciating clearly.

"Rural? I don't get it. Is that where everything is old?"

"No, it's just country. It's where there aren't as many people living as in the city. Things are farther apart," I said.

He asked to roll down the window, and for a long time he stared out at passing vehicles, at the sky, whatever.

"I can see another universe!" he said.

"Yeah, the city's nice, but all the lights make a glare in the night sky that makes it harder to see things up there," I said.

He was resting his head on his hand, staring up.

A few minutes later I noticed that he'd fallen asleep in that very position, with the wind whipping through his hair.

And for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, I hope he remembers tonight for a very long time.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Life's Little Adventures

MOBB may have finally recovered from the stomach bug that hit this household last week. By Friday night she was to the point where I think she'd decided that as long as she was going to feel bad anyway, she might as well eat something she enjoyed more than chicken noodle soup. So she had some enchiladas. You may be shaking your head, okay, but I've BEEN there. I understand. One can only eat so much chicken noodle soup.


Saturday morning I took Wolfboy to a health fair with me. He indulged himself on the bounce houses while I did work stuff at the table (aka eating cookies and chatting to whoever strolled by).

This was one of his favorites. You put on a harness attached to a bungee cord, then take off running as fast and hard as you can. At some point the bungee cord snaps you back, and you go tumbling end over end.

It's great fun for a child. For an adult, it's six months of chiropractor visits.


Last night I just needed to lose myself in something else for a while, so I put on that first Lord of the Rings movie. It was good to change up the routine.

Mighty fine film there. I never got into fantasy fare much, and I know I speak blasphemy when I admit that the whole Star Wars franchise didn't do much for me. But I must say that I do enjoy the LotR movies.


I slept in today, bigtime. SSRIs seem to have that effect on me. For the first time in my life I'm just not in such a hurry to get up. The bed feels good!

So today I lay there, just drifting in and out of sleep, letting my mind go wherever. Not a bad way to start the day.


BB's current therapy: "Misery and Gin" by Merle Haggard


And it was a lazy day the whole way around. Between sleeping in and the time change, I must say that the day seemed to slip by in a hurry.

THEGIRL knew exactly what she wanted though. She wanted to dress up like Batgirl and watch some Batman/Batgirl cartoons.


You ever see someone who is roughly your age, someone who strikes you as having at least a little snap, but they're working a menial job and you wonder why?

That was the case at Wally World tonight. This man was a little older than I. He watched the scanner intently as he cracked a few funny jokes. Someone asked him how he was doing, and he said he'd be better when he got off--at 7am the next morning. That's a bad shift.

I paid, and he handed me my receipt, looking directly at me for the first time. He said something about going to the Wal Mart website to enter a contest, and that's when I had my answer: His breath smelled like a brewery.


Ya'll take care and have a good Monday.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


All right all right, I’m alive.

I figured it was time to put some of my own thoughts down, as opposed to the rather generic stuff I’ve borrowed/stolen lately.


It’s been snowing here today. I guess I’ve gone on plenty about winter and snow, and I’ve probably whined from about every perspective possible.

Maybe it is my coastal upbringing that makes me completely unable to wrap my mind around snow.

But this afternoon when these big flakes were falling, really floating and swirling as they descended, I must admit that I could briefly see why some folks see something magical in it. It has its moments.


If you pick up the April, 2008 issue of Guitar Player magazine, you’ll find a review (“Bench Test”) of the EVH brand “Frankenstein Replica” guitar.

But before I get into this, let’s talk a bit about guitar collecting.

Come on, it’ll be fun!


Here’s the deal. We like rock. We do. And country, and jazz, and old blues. All that. In those formative decades we heard a lot of cool, raw sounds on our favorite records.

Guitarists love to replicate those tones as accurately as possible. And I’m not even sure if that’s what’s really behind the guitar collector’s lust for old instruments. I mean, lots of collectible instruments end up behind glass.

I was at a Guitar Center not that long ago, and in a glass display was a ’66 Fender Telecaster. It was a blonde, complete with scratched paint, worn frets, rusty parts, the whole works. Heck, in ’66 the Tele featured a three-piece bridge. What this means is that for a six-stringed instrument, any intonation adjustment you did affected two strings at once. The point is that no matter what, this instrument could probably never be in tune.

The price? $16,000.


BB’s current therapy: Apple Venus by XTC.


It gets worse.

See, you could approach, say, the Fender custom shop, and get them to custom-make an instrument that replicates something like a ’59 Stratocaster, complete with rusty parts, wiring that hums, and fretboard gunk, all for thousands of dollars.


So yeah, this “Bench Test” features a replica of the famous Eddie Van Halen red/white/black homemade guitar (circa 1979). He coaxed all of those famous tones out of his, recorded some huge songs. I’m not even that big of a Van Halen fan, but there’s no denying his distinctive sound and impact, for better or for worse, on rock guitar.

What do you get with the replica?

Here’s a partial rundown:

• Dinged paint
• Fingerboard gunk
• Eye bolts where the strap buttons should be
• Asymmetrical pickup routing
• A humbucker in the bridge position, screwed directly into the body
• A single coil pickup in the neck position that doesn’t even work (still, it’s consistent with the original)
• A pickup selector jammed into the middle pickup slot
• A volume knob that proudly reads, “Tone.”
• A loose tremolo arm
• A 1971 quarter screwed into the body behind the Floyd Rose tremolo as a blocking device (“If you start messing around with different years of quarters, especially those from the late ‘80s, you’ll totally ruin the tone,” reads the review in facetious moment)
• Crooked tremolo springs in the back
• A cigarette-burned headstock with no name

The cost?

Are you sitting down?

$25,000 retail. It comes with an Anvil brand case, a certificate signed by Van Halen, VH picks, and an 8”x10” also signed by VH).

On the positive side, the reviewer, Matt Blackett, raves about how dead-on the tone is. On the minus side, the test model came with a bad whammy bar and a crackling output jack that had to be repaired before the test. I gather those weren’t idiosyncrasies taken from the original.


The collectors’ market is mighty doggone strange.


Funny, with all the parallels between cars and guitars, it’s always sort of amazed me that, say, Ford Motor Co. doesn’t have boutique cars that replicate classics. I’d think that there’d be a real market for perhaps newly-made ’66 Mustangs. Make ‘em to the original specs… someone would pay.


I came home tonight and was tired. I wanted to lie down for about a half hour. 90 minutes later I woke up, confused, thinking briefly that it was Friday morning.


They’ve changed my medication. Couple of the side effects of the original meds weren’t so fun.


Martina McBride is on PBS. I’m waiting for her to do “In My Daughter’s Eyes.”


MOBB is still struggling with the bug that hit her and Wolfboy Wednesday. He’s fully recovered, lecturing constantly about comics and games and Greek mythology.


It’s been virtually a Ray Harryhausen film festival in this household lately. We’ve watched Clash of the Titans, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and Jason and the Argonauts. They’re all quite entertaining, I must say. We really don’t get tired of watching them. They’re great movies for a seven-year-old, I must say


I’d better give it up. Ya’ll have a great Friday and a terrific weekend.

How Many of You Are There?
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

An Idea So Good I Had to Steal It

From a Jellyfish list I'm on. I'd like to see your responses. I find the idea intriguing.


Share with me one song that will make me fall in love.

Better- share with me a song that will make the person I send it to fall in love.


I'm asking for a love potion song.

You have 24 hours.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Jeff Healey and the Jolly Rancher

Jeff Healey, RIP.

The cancer that claimed his eyesight at age 1 finally claimed his life, 40 years later.

What’s it been, maybe a month since I posted that link to “Angel Eyes”?

He leaves a wife and two kids.



I saw clients this morning, as I usually do on Mondays. It went well.

As I left I was just starving. The barbecue joint had a sign that read, “$2.99 Special—chopped beef sandwich, 1 side.”

Sold! I whipped a u-turn.

“To-go orders placed at the bar,” read the sign at the front. Okey dokey.

So I bellied up to the bar and ordered my lunch.

“Do you know how to make a jolly rancher?” the bartender asked me.

“No,” I said. “I don’t drink.”

“Well, you can sit here and watch me make them while you wait,” he said.

Okay then.

He was quite meticulous, showing me as if I’d soon be tending bar back there. It’s a shot of citrus Skyy vodka, a shot of peach schnapps, a shot of something called watermelon pucker (is that a liquor too?), shaken, then poured over ice. Fill the glass with cranberry juice, and “it tastes like candy.”

“And if it doesn’t fill the glass, just add more cranberry juice,” he added. “Because the right amount of alcohol is already in there.”

“Okay, so it’s 12:30 on a Monday afternoon, and there’s some demand for this?” I asked.

“Oh, this is their second round,” he said.


So who in the world is going to have a chance at stopping Anderson Silva? He made Chris Leben look like a rank amateur. Rich Franklin fared hardly any better. Travis Lutter looked okay into the second round, when he got submitted. Dan Henderson looked good in that first round, but he too got submitted. Who is left?

And Kongo and Herring had themselves a real scrap there! How about all those cool reversals from Herring, who admitted he’d trained no ground at all for the match?

I’m kinda cheesed that Andrei Arlovsky, Diego Sanchez, and Luke Cummo were all on the card but didn’t make the broadcast. We missed THOSE guys to see the likes of generic white guy with a beard Fitch fighting one boring matchup with generic white guy with a beard Wilson?? Heck, Jorge Gurgel was on the undercard too, and though he’s never seemed to live up to his hype, I’d have liked to see him in action.

And Evan Tanner showed his age. He looked rusty, looked frustrated… I have to wonder if he’ll fight again.


This place gets mighty quiet when everyone’s in bed but me. But I still hear music.


Good night.

What Food is BB?

You Are French Food

Snobby yet ubiquitous.

People act like they understand you more than they actually do. [Dang--I imagine this is eerily accurate -BB]

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Few Feet Away

If the sky fell down
And the moon went out
I’d just be
A few feet away from you


You know they wonder
You know they stare
You know they wonder
Oh just tell them
Who I am

Go for a walk
And we’ll sit by the rock
I’ll just be
A few feet away from you


You know they wonder
You know they stare
You know they wonder
Well just tell them
Who I am

If the sky fell down
And the moon went out
I’ll just be
A few feet away from you


You know they wonder
You know they stare
You know they wonder
Tell them who I am

You know they wonder
You know they stare
Sometimes you know they wonder
Tell them
Who I am
You know they wonder
You know they stare
You know they wonder
Oh, just tell them
Who I am

a song by Otis Taylor. It's a father's lullaby to his bi-racial daughter.

A Texas-themed Survey

1. First of all, where in Texas have you & do you live?
Born in Freeport, spent my first 22 years more or less in Angleton. Then six in Austin and the rest in northeastern suburbs of Ft. Worth.

2. Where's your favorite place to chill in Texas?
You know… might be Lost Maples.

3. (What?)

4. Do you go camping?
It’s been a while. I’d like to do some more.

5. Do you use the word "y'all"?
Does the Pope wear a funny hat?

6. Have you ever owned a truck?
I have owned three.

7. Have you ever had heat exhaustion?
Yes! I was out working on the well pump in 110 degree heat one summer day. I was crouched down in the wellhouse, and the sweat was rolling off my nose in a steady stream. After a while, though, I noticed that it stopped. I got out, stood up, and felt my hair, my armpits… I was bone dry. 110 degrees and there was no sweat on me. So I went inside and drank about a quart of water.

8. How many "Texas snows" have you witnessed?
Eh… a handful. And that’s too many.

9. Have you ever ice skated outdoors?
What? No.

10. Have you ever shot a gun?
Does the Pope… ah, nevermind. Yes.

11. Do you prefer the Spurs or the Mavs?
I wish the Mavs well, but honestly, basketball makes me crazy.

12. Do you like the city or the country?
A little from column A, a little from column B

13. Have you ever been sprayed by a skunk?
No, but I nearly ran over a skunk that had to weigh 30 pounds once.

14. Have you ever run over an armadillo?
Yes, I’m sorry to say.

15. Have you ever been to a cowboys game?
Nope. I’ve spent some time crawling around Texas Stadium as an audio tech though. The place is a real dump.

16. Have you ever been to a Stars game?
No, but I might go someday.

17. What's your favorite Mexican food restaurant?
I’ll still take El Jacalito in east Austin.

18. Have you ever drank Shiner beer?
Shiner Bock and I have some history together.

19. Have you ever been on a hayride?

20. Have you ever ridden a horse?
Not yet

21. Were you in 4-H or FFA?
No. I’m not THAT country.

22. Which place in Texas has the best scenery/view?
Right around Bandera is pretty doggone nice.

23. Which grocery store do you shop at?
Currently, it’s Target. What does this question have to do with Texas stuff?

24. Have you ever partied in a barn?
I guess not.

25. Have you ever partied in a pasture?
Despite my upbringing so close to Danbury, Texas, it actually never happened.

26. Do you like keg beer?
We broke up several years ago.

27. Are you Baptist?
No no. I’m a Lutheran agnostic Buddhist.

28 Have you ever been swimming in a river or creek?
Sure. And the occasional bayou too.

29. How many presidents do you know lived in Texas?
Eh, some folks from the Bush clan and LBJ, right?

30. Have you ever been on the Comal River?
Not that one. The Guadalupe, yes.

31. Is/was your school big?
Um, 5A. What, couple thousand kids?

32. How many times have you been to Houston?
Millions. Too many. It’s the armpit of Texas.

33. Have you ever ridden a mechanical bull?
I’m no Debra Winger. No.

34. Have you ever been to a rodeo?
Yes indeed. And tractor pulls and mud races.

35. Do you own a cowboy hat?
No, the look never worked for me. But I still wear boots regularly. Got some beat up old Noconas that feel like a second skin, and my newer Tony Lamas that my Daddy bought me are pretty sweet.