Thursday, July 31, 2008

Look Out...

BB's back.

Had a really good trip to Washington, DC this week. I ate really good food, hung out with Henley for the first time in way too long, saw a Nationals game, went to the zoo, and watched Karate Kid on TV (hey, I don't have cable, okay?).

A longer update in a day or two. I hope you've all had a terrific week.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Speaking of...

Vamos a ver...

That's Spanish for "we're gonna see..."


I've been watching a some clips Toland sent me of Sonny Sharrock performing in various contexts.

I said this 20 years ago, and I still stand by it: The scariest, most violent music I've ever heard wasn't heavy metal; it was jazz.

See, I'm wincing just saying that... "jazz." Well, it was the band Last Exit, featuring Mr. Sharrock, Fort Worth's Ronald Shannon Jackson, and... what, Peter Brotzman? I once knew. Oh, and Bill Laswell.

But it was the music of doom.

Got 10 minutes to kill?

Knock it if you want. Say it's tuneless. Say that you prefer melody, that you wish it had more than just driving percussion and a hodgepodge of sounds on top. Fine, fine. We don't all have to keep an ear on music's edges. I'm just glad that someone's out there pushing them nevertheless.


Oh, and the same goes for hip hop, which I could just as easily have been describing above. I can barely stand it, but I'm glad it's out there.


Speaking of doom, I've been getting into the Hellboy DVD lately. My coworker Denija was kinda enough to lend it to me. I saw part II in the theater last week and was really eager to see the first. It's a four-year-old film at this point, yet I still remember Toland's reaction to seeing it: "Hellboy rocked!"

It did. It does. I like the second one just a pinch more, but only because of the hyper-imaginative use of anachronistic gizmos throughout the film.


Heck, I'm even re-watching it with the cast commentary now.


Had a fine evening with Los Baums tonight, watching some fine MMA action on CBS.


Headed to DC for a few days starting on Monday. I'm looking forward to it.


Thomas Kuhn argued that paradigms exist only in science. He used the term "paradigm shift" to describe a profound change in a basic scientific assumption.

Social sciences, he posited, can utilize any number of solutions and models, and therefore cannot truly undergo a paradigm shift.


Common scenario: Married addict cleans up but wrecks his/her relationship only after achieving sobriety. Yeah, the prior system no longer works.

Before cleaning up, the addict's relationship, no matter how unhappy it was, was working. The parameters were clearly defined. It was a relationship wherein each person knew what they'd get. One person, presumably, was sober while the other went through life affected.

Clean up the addict, though, and the relationship is profoundly changed, and not necessarily for the better.

Paradigm shift, sort of. It's not the same sort of change in basic assumptions, but the concept seems to clearly apply within the context of social sciences nevertheless.


Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Kuhn.


Well, that just got way too highfalutin. If I knew any jokes about farting chimps I'd insert one here.


Speaking of farting chimps, I managed to avoid seeing Space Chimps today. No, I took the kids to see Wall-E instead. It's a fine little flick, and has some serious social and environmental commentary. At this particular point in the future, humans have fine-tuned laziness to the point that we're reduced to obese, semi-illiterate, littering fools on personal hovercrafts who spend our days watching little video holograms.

Anyway, it's quite a remarkable little movie, I must admit.


I'd better give it up. I doubt I'll update before DC. I return August 1. Y'all have a terrific, safe week.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Say No

Maybe a theme will emerge as I get a few things written down. Maybe not.


I read recently that in the "just say no" 80s, marijuana usage among high schoolers declined sharply.

Nancy Reagan's slogan was laughable and unrealistic, or at least that's how I remember the consensus from the time. Yet the article I read tried to make a case for how it made it uncool in some way. Somehow this approach affected some teens to the extent that they genuinely saw it in an unfavorable light.

The idea, according to the article, is that primary (aka preventative) education needs to focus on taking the glamor out of drug use. We're seeing the effects of this popular opinion on cigarette usage right now. It's dirty, it's smelly, it's bad for you, and it's expensive. Fewer teens smoke now than in years past.

If anyone had seen this man stumble off of the train in Ft. Worth Saturday afternoon as I awaited MOBB and THEGIRL, they wouldn't have thought of drug use as being the least bit glamorous.

He went straight to the pay phone at first, and he kept... sinking. He kept dropping from an upright stance to a crouch. He'd catch himself, straighten up, then start all over.

I went outside to wait for the girls, and soon he was out there too, hunched over a bench, clearly affected. He clutched a plastic bag and a prescription pill bottle.

Many people noticed him. Security, which had three days prior given me lip twice about my four-year-old daring to play on the tile floor there, simply asked, "HEY--are you all right?" before moving on and doing nothing.

Two women griped at him. I couldn't quite catch the words, but the tone was clear. As they left, he stumbled after them, waving the bottle. I'm guessing he meant to justify his condition to them by showing that it was medicine.


Happy Birthday, Toland. I hope it's been a great one for you. If you end up in jail again, don't call me this time. I'm blocking your calls.


Spam seems to have recurring themes. They finally got the spam filter for our office email working pretty well. Prior to that we got lots of solicitations for Viagra and Cialis.

I keep an eye on my spam box on Yahoo mail because sometimes it's a bit overzealous. And you know, these days the spammers are convinced that:

1. My name is Jerry Forsyth


2. My colon needs cleansing


BB's current therapy: Neil Young. I'm enjoying the stuff Ken got for me.


I'm going to be in Washington for the 2008 National Migration Conference next week. I do enjoy the fact that I get to travel for my job, I really do.


Anyway, tomorrow's Friday. Here's wishing you all some caffeinated love, and a mighty fine weekend.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BB's 40th Wish List on Amazon

I guess something things never change. When I was turning 16, I wanted books and music. Same now. My birthday is August 29.

My Wish List

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

As Long as We're Talking About Billy Preston...

A clip of Mr. Preston and his band doing his song, "Circles." This is one we all know, I imagine, but probably don't think much about. I've always liked it quite a lot. Now it makes me wonder if any of his other songs are real ringers like this one.

I find it surprising that the audience remained seated while his band played this tight little funk rave-up. And it's got a solo on some sort of hybrid wind/keyboard instrument/toy. Is that the thing called a "hooter" maybe? I'm serious. Does anyone know?


I took this photo today, I guess. It was by accident, because I was looking at my phone later and saw this image on there. I remember trying to read a text message in the bright sunlight as I left a lunch meeting, but I couldn't see the screen. I'm guessing I mashed some wrong buttons then and ended up with this ghostly image of me scowling in the phone's general direction.


I've watched a little of the Eddie Bravo half-guard DVD Whit so kindly sent to me. He's one talented, intelligent man. It just kills me to see him be a vocal proponent of marijuana usage though.

I'll never be on board with that.

I should probably unleash a whole tirade about it, but I'm tired and my brain is shutting down. Good night.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Sweet Lord

This has been stuck in my head for hours.

I love the late Billy Preston's voice.

And it's great that he got to do this song. He'd played with the Beatles on some of their last recordings, when they were not getting along.

By their own admission, Preston would show up and they'd suddenly be on their best behavior.

It works that way sometimes.


I had a lot of time to myself this weekend, a lot of time wandering around in my own thoughts.


Bed beckons. Good night.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Movies, Food, Fights, and that Burning Sensation Redux

Wolfboy is coming home. He's lonely in Corsicana. I'll get him tomorrow afternoon. I'll be glad to have him back home.

MOBB and THEGIRL come home tomorrow too.


So I decided today to see a bunch of movies. Here's a modified version of an email I just sent Toland about them:

The Dark Knight was, at times, bloody brilliant. Heath Ledger is the kind of bad guy who makes my spine stiffen every time he is on the screen, just wondering what sort of psychotic thing he'll do next (like Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men). It's terrible and great at the same time.

The script is overlong though, and there are some things that left me scratching my head. There are way too many times when Batman appears in a perfectly well-lit room to attack someone. The fact that he just shows up in the shot isn't stealthy, and requires a bit too much suspension of my disbelief. Everyone at the party would have seen him enter, and he could not have surprised Joker. And after the fall out the window with Rachel Dawes, he just goes on his merry way, leaving Joker upstairs with a roomful of rich people. La-dee-dah, scene over?

And Lucius Fox gets crossways with Batman over something that doesn't seem like THAT big of a deal. They work a little too hard to mine the moral ambiguity the Dark Knight is purported to have.

Still, when it pays off, which is often, it is riveting. Again, Ledger... wow. No backstory per se, and after we hear his second explanation of "the scars" we realize that, despite his insistence to the contrary, he's probably not in touch with reality at all. I probably enjoyed seeing Batman pummel Joker a little too much.

So... I give it a B+. A little disappointing.

Hancock can't quite decide what it is. Still, I had a few belly laughs. After 2.5 hours of Batman, the 90-minute Hancock seems to be over in about 20 minutes.

I liked Hellboy II quite a lot. I didn't see the first one. The sheer imagination in this is just... dumbfounding. I loved the look, loved the action. This was my favorite of the three, which I didn't expect. It was fun.


BB's current therapy: "Searching" by Chicago, again. I listen to it over and over, with eyes closed sometimes, taking it in. Gorgeous.


It was during Hancock that, for the second time in my life, I ended up dousing my nether regions with jalapeno juice.



The first time was a simple mistake not all that long ago. Yours truly was slicing peppers in the kitchen, and took a break to use the toilet. Some parts of the male anatomy don't respond well to capsaicin. After squirming and wondering about the burning sensation, I took a glass of milk into the restroom, stood in the bath tub, and poured it over my nether regions. Worked like a charm.


Today, see, was altogether different. I'd bought some nachos. Man, movie theater nachos are terrible these days. It was literally a bag of Tostitos-like tiny chips, about two ounces of a cheese-like liquid, and a tub of jalapenos.

It wasn't until I wondered why my lap felt wet that I realized I'd spilled the tub of peppers. It had soaked through the cardboard nacho tray, through my shorts, through my underwear, and... bullseye on what my buddy Derrick used to call the "chilito."

It wasn't BAD, necessarily. I got through all of Hellboy with a mild burning sensation. I also spilled my Coke Zero on my shirt.

So between the drink on my shirt, the stain on my shorts, and the burning crotch/sore knee pain combo that had me limping out there, I must have looked like I was IN that Hellboy movie.


I came home, poured a cup of milk, and... you know the rest.


Thank GOD for dairy products. Still, that milk was cold.

(I'm going to get shrinkage jokes in the comments, aren't I?)


Had a terrific evening with the Baums. Is that redundant? We ate shrimp curry, drank iced coffee, ate cinnamon fudge brownies, and watched fights.

Anderson Silva made very, very short work of James Irvin in a light heavyweight non-title fight. I'm not sure it even last one minute.

I appreciate their friendship and hospitality beyond measure.


I'm tired now. I hope you all have had a terrific weekend.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Right now, Wolfboy is at his grandparents' house in Corsicana, watching all the TV he can stand and living on grilled cheese sandwiches.

THEGIRL misses him, or so she says. I think she just misses having someone to terrorize.


When I was nine or 10, my great grandmother gave me a little water-filled vial with gold flakes inside. She'd taken a vacation to someplace where you can pan for gold, and that was her souvenir for me.

I loved it. Gold! Real gold! It's not like it was technically worth much, but I was a little boy with his own gold flakes, right there in the vial.

And the vial disappeared at some point. I didn't have it long at all. I meant to take care of it, and I believe I did. I happened to have stepbrothers at the time, and the vial wasn't the only thing that went missing while they lived there.


MOBB's charm bracelet has been missing for months. I keep meaning to just tear the house apart some afternoon and try to find it. It's got charms that mean a lot to her on there, and it would mean the world to her if it turned up. It wouldn't surprise me if it's somewhere in THEGIRL's room. Just a hunch.


I'm certainly missing Wolfboy. It was odd to wake up this morning (eventually... I'll get to that) and not be subjected to his ubiquitous lectures on the finer points of Pokemon, or movies I've never seen.

I woke up with my head aching, still. I don't get many headaches, so to have one last 24 hours certainly got my attention.

It's a bit better now. I got up, dressed THEGIRL, and hit the sheets again.


I used to have this incredible amplifier, a mid-60s Fender Deluxe Reverb. It was a silver-face.

I got it for free. It was in the garage at a friend's house, broken. I offered to buy it on a hunch, and he just gave it to me.

So I took it to the local guitar shop to have them see what they could do. My buddy Rick was excited--until he took the chassis off. "It's pretty wrecked," he told me on the phone, preparing me for the hefty repair bill. But as he and the tech worked on it, they became more optimistic. Finally I had the speaker re-coned at Rockin' Robin, took it home, and WOW. What a great sound!

It had terrific low-end response, as well as a clear, bell-like tone that worked so well with single-coil pickups. I don't know how many times Dad came home to find me wailing away, sometimes standing on top of the amp just to feel the big sound it made.

But it's gone, and I just can't remember when, where, or why. I moved to Austin with it, recorded some demos and... I guess I sold it. Best amp I ever had, and I don't have any idea how I managed to part ways with it. Now, I wasn't always in the clearest frame of mind back then, but it really surprises me that I don't have even the slightest idea whatever happened to it. Breaks my heart really.


One of the guitars I sold during my early days in Austin has kind of an interesting story.

It was an Ovation Balladeer. The more I played and got to know my tone preferences, the less I liked it. So I sold it for about $400 to a nice kid who came to my apartment. We chatted a bit, and he was excited to get it.

About a month later I saw his photo in the paper. Seems he'd been walking somewhere in downtown Austin when a guy ran past him. Someone yelled, "Stop that man!"

So he did.

Turns out the man he tackled on the sidewalk had just robbed a bank. The kid subdued him until cops arrived. He was deemed a hero, and got a nice cash reward if I recall.


Is there anything/anyone you're missing?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Green Apples

Dad called me yesterday. We caught up, talked about a ZZ Top concert he'd seen on TV.

[Maybe I don't give enough credit to him for the passion I have for music. He has always loved it.]

I told him that Wolfboy is going to spend the rest of the summer with his other grandparents starting Monday.

Dad told me to "tell Tommy and Nell that they'd better have some green apples, because we learned the hard way that that boy won't eat red ones."

I was glad he brought that up, because it reminded me of something I've been rolling around in my head for a while. I explained that I worry that Wolfboy doesn't grasp what a life of comfort and privilege he leads. He'll only eat green apples, and complains that he's bored with his latest video game and needs a new one.

I have a new coworker, Dad. She's from Bosnia. She lived for 10 years in a refugee camp. 10 years! He has no idea how easy he's got it.

"Bosnia?" Dad asked me. He started talking about the atrocities that have occurred there. "They'll beat someone to death just to save the cost of a bullet," he said. He went on to explain what rough terrain there is in that part of the world, and how the Slavs stopped Hitler in the mountains there.

"You know, at seven years old, maybe it's best that the worst thing he has to worry about is green apples," Dad said.


I've shared this story with my coworker.


You should hear Eric Nadel's call for Josh Hamilton's walk-off homer last night.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Beautiful and badass.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Back from the Independence Day Road Trip

I'm sitting here in a pile of laundry, halfway watching the first of 12 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu DVDs whit lent me. I've had pudding. The kids and MOBB are in bed, and life is good.


The holiday weekend was a good one. I hustled the kids into the car nice and early, with promises of Pop Tarts for breakfast. It worked like a charm. They gave me very little trouble during the long drives. True, they ate far more gas station junk food than I would have liked, but it's not like those places have produce sections.


We had a fine Independence Day gathering there at Allyn's place on the San Bernard River. A squall had blown through, and was kind enough to cool things off just a bit before we got started. I saw folks I hadn't seen in years. That goes both ways; I got introduced as "Eddie" and even "Kevin" more than once. Fine, fine.

We fished, ate good food, and generally hung out. I brought out the guitar and inflicted a few songs on anyone within earshot.


At some point Wolfboy's sandal ended up in the river. Dang.

So we hit Academy for a new pair (though he tried in vain to lobby for buying just one. No, son, you see... )

He'd systematically eliminated almost every shoe in the building before we found a pair he liked.

On the way out I told the kids to grab some drinks from the cooler. Wolfboy got an orange Fanta. It was only when THEGIRL started making terrible faces and saying "BLECH! DADDY, IT'S BAD!!" that I realized she'd grabbed a grapefruit juice. Best laugh I'd had in a long time.


We watched fireworks with lots of Amanda's friends and family that night. The view was good. We had ice cream, and every kid in attendance went berserk.


We took it quite easy the next morning, watching Nickelodeon until noon.


After taking all the kids out for lunch, I left my two with my terrifically awesome sister and took off for Katy to watch some UFC with Whit and his crew.

And it was a fine time, hanging out with a roomful of martial artists who cheered and joked at the TV. Some fights were good, some were bad... I must say that Forrest Griffin surprised us all by beating Quentin "Rampage" Jackson. I kept thinking he'd have one of those "oh crap I'm fighting RAMPAGE" realizations, but he fought a fine fight and won the decision.


I slept pretty well. After a good breakfast, I bought a coffee so large that the barista must have thought I said "barge," because mine was big enough to have one in it.

I fetched the kids, and we hit the road.


It was not a great drive back. Traffic north of Houston was pretty backed up. Wolfboy stayed focused on his video game, and THEGIRL, well, I don't know what she did, but she was quiet doing it.

We got in at about 8pm. Thank you to everyone who hosted me, took care of my kids, and didn't jump in the river when I sang. Hope to see you all again soon.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New School

Just a little note about my evening at a new martial arts school not far from here.

I was warmly received by the owner, which is a good sign. I was there to try the Muay Thai class. He explained that he isn't actually the instructor (I'd assumed incorrectly). It's Anthony Njokuani, a professional fighter. He's out this month to prepare for a WEC fight, so they have an interim instructor.

I went in just trying to be a humble, hard-working new guy. Two other new folks were there. We were our own group, going over basic footwork, combinations, and kicks.

For whatever reason, my kicks were happening tonight.

The hardest part of the evening was, perhaps, the warmup, which consisted of 15 minutes of jumping rope. Hey, when's the last time YOU jumped rope, hmm? I was lousy at it, but I got in my 15 minutes of bouncing around.

He put us on bags, and it was hard to go lightly. He kept telling me I didn't have to kill the bag.

I kept kinda quiet, worked hard, and generally tried to be pleasant. The instructor paid me a compliment, telling my my kicks looked great and asking where I'd trained before. He said that with kicks like those, I'd catch up to the other guys (aka the experienced students) in no time. I was flattered and did everything I could to take his compliments without a hint of ego.

I like Muay Thai mechanics, I really do. The workout was perfectly hard without making me miserable.

The owner didn't pressure me, just telling me to email him about tuition. Well, okey dokey.

So I am encouraged at this point. Gotta see if I can afford the place, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Here I sit at almost 11pm after a hard workout, and all seems right with the world. I needed that.

To the Blogmobile!

Never Going Back Again

Something I found in my recycle bin this morning.