Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 30 Meanderings

Reunion.com and Classmates.com are a real crock. I’m convinced they’re nothing but thinly veiled dating sites. “Brian Briscoe, see who was searching for you!”

Why? Why would I care? I’m not going to claim to be so introverted that there aren’t folks I’d like to hear from, but seriously, there are easier (and FREE) ways to find me online. I’m all over the bloody internet. One little Google search and I pop right up.


I was there as the internet bubble burst. I got hired by Yahoo! in 2000. They actively recruited me away from the job I had working for a PBS station. Yahoo was good while it lasted. No dress code, great benefits, decent pay, purple furniture…

I can still recall the HR person telling us in orientation: “See all those Porsche Boxters in the parking lot? That will be you soon enough.”

I’m still waiting.


I’ve been at Krav a couple times in the last week. Last night was pretty rough and tumble. Even my bruises have bruises.


BB’s current therapy: Death is this Communion by High on Fire.


Guitar lust has a grip on Toland and me. I’m still socking away some cash to replace the p’ups in my Les Paul.

Funny, I had to take a step back and look objectively at my study over the weekend. I have five guitars, and I have enough wall hangers to display four of them. But you know, I decided it might not be wise to have them all there in one place, easily visible through the windows. It’d be very easy for some prowler to get hold of them.

So I’ve got two in there at any given time. The others are in closets.


The kids are going to Corsicana for a few days. I figure this will give me more chances to nap over the NY holiday.

But come January 1, it’s me and 3 Lord of the Rings DVDs.


My guitars:
My #1 is the Jimmie Vaughan Tex Mex Stratocaster I bought a few years back. I love the pure tone, and the action is great. This instrument has taught me a lot about my preferences. I’m a little disappointed at the cheap one-ply pickguard, but otherwise this instrument is really “me.”

(A red one like mine, ganked from the Elderly Instruments site)


A Guild dreadnought. It’s slightly unusual looking I’d say, but the mahogany, including the solid top, makes for a very smooth, full tone.

I lowered the action a few days ago. I have to learn not to beat the bejeebers out of it now, because I can make it buzz. I’m really pleased with this one. For less than $500 I feel like I got a legacy-quality instrument.


My Epiphone Les Paul. I’ve mentioned it plenty lately. I love the color and the playability, but the stock pickups leave plenty to be desired. It’ll do big, round tones, and that’s about it. I simply must have more versatility in an instrument than this. I’ll put in the new pickups as soon as I can.


An ESP bass with a J/P-bass pickup configuration. It’s technically MOBB’s, but I mess with it more than she does. It’s a decent, workman-like instrument. The neck’s got more bow than I’d like at the moment, so I need to get in there and tweak the truss rod. Maybe a good holiday project for me.


A white off-brand acoustic. Larry sold it to MOBB back when I was working for him. The action is high, but I don’t mind that, as I use it for more experimental stuff, like open tunings and slide. It’s got a good, trashy tone. One day I’d like to “Nashville” string it and learn to play the Replacements’ “Skyway.”


My beloved Krav Maga school is closing at the end of January, darn it. They really made a go of that place. My hat is off to David Wilson, Jack Bolowskie, Kevin Link, Micah Tapp, and all the other instructors and students with whom I trained over the years.

I’m motivated to train again though, and a plan is in motion for that very thing. I will update with details as I get them.


BB’s current therapy: “I Hope There’s Someone” by Antony and the Johnsons.


Have a great holiday, y’all.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


In the summer of 2004, I was an at-home Dad for my infant daughter, who'd been born in February.

Over the course of six weeks I took photos of her on the changing table. I tried to set the camera the same way every day, but sometimes I was a little off.

I skipped some days and doubled up on others.

I ended up with the 25 photos in this album. I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Morning After

This cold is a real pain in the nalgas. I SHOULD be asleep, but no, the tickle in my throat woke me up at about 6:45.


Christmas was good. THEGIRL got her kitchen set, and Wolfboy got his Gamecube. He played one (1) game for about 10 hours straight. I'm not kidding.

I received some nice gifts. I watched the Iron Man DVD last night, and that's appropriate since Wolfboy and I received matching "arc reactor" t-shirts yesterday. I was like a little kid, wanting to wear it, but he was into this new baseball shirt of his and said no. Maybe today.

I also got some fine Kona coffee from my aunt, some great music from Toland (do get yourself some Guy Clark, folks), and of course, my new Krav Maga pants.


Guy Clark and Emmylou Harris doing "I Don't Love You Much Do I?" with Los Lobos.


We went to the Baums' place for dinner, and ate like royalty.


Today I need to go to Fort Worth for a bit. I'm going to stop into Barnes and Noble, as I have a gift card, and I read that they're having a big sale.


I'm cleaning out the study, trying to make it more useful and create more space.


Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees. I was thinking about the Yankees yesterday. Bruiser hates the Cubs like I hate the Yankees. I don't get it. I mean, have they played spoiler for the Astros a few too many times? They are wholly different organizations.

From the Newberg Report:

Peter Gammons points out that the Yankees now “have the highest-paid first baseman, the highest-paid third baseman, the highest-paid shortstop, the highest-paid catcher, the highest-paid starting pitcher and the highest-paid reliever in the history of the game.” The praise they’ll get for being World Series champions should pale in intensity to the embarrassment of being anything else.

Exactly. Whatever free agent they want, they can pretty much get, because they'll throw (almost literally) the biggest pile of money at him. Heck, they even got Randy Johnson, who had so famously mowed down the Bombers in the '01 World Series.

Curt Schilling, however, declined.


And some schmo just rang my @#$% doorbell at 8:21am the day after Christmas, wanting to clean up our leaves.

Uh, no.


Time to wrap it up. Coming soon: Quite Possibly the Cutest Post in the History of the Universe.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

[Suegra, aka Nell Thomerson, aka the mother-in-law]
Here's hoping that you too receive the perfect gift this Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I am

a little bit croaky. I may be catching something.


going to have some ice cream very soon.


narrating the Christmas cantata at church tomorrow.


wishing my little girl would stop jacking with the cat, especially when it involves putting the little bugger on ME or MOBB.


glad I watched Meet Dave with Wolfboy last night. It's no masterpiece, but it's a fine movie to watch with a guffawing eight-year-old.

Lo and behold, it was co-written by the one and only Bill Corbett, who spent years as a writer for one of my favorite shows ever, Mystery Science Theater 3000.


finding it an odd coincidence that I have played two MST3K episodes this weekend, in fact: Santa Claus and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

The former gave me nightmares when I was five. Hey, it's kinda messed up to make a movie in which Santa is battling SATAN, okay? And the latter is so bad that even kids said so.


glad to report that I have done well over 1000 pushups this week.


waiting for the kids to go to bed so MOBB and I can watch The Dark Knight.

The movie itself is a bit overrated if you ask me. Heath Ledger's performance, however, is not.


thinking of putting a pair of Lace Alumitone pickups in the Les Paul.


the proud owner of some mighty cool new Krav Maga training pants. I'm like a little kid; I just want to wear them all the time.


very pleased with how my new brochures came out.


happy to be getting new clients.


off for most of next week.


going to spend all of one of those days having a personal Lord of the Rings Wing Ding. That is, I'ma sit down on this couch with a blanket, a remote control, and about a week's worth of snack food while I watch all three DVDs from the series.


looking forward to the gun seminar at the Krav Maga school on the 27th.


not happy to chew on the kids, but doggone it, their mother and I are sitting here in total silence by choice. Still they keep bopping out of their rooms to lean all over us, tell us things repeatedly, have random requests for us to get up and do things...


going to get that ice cream now. Y'all take care.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tales of William

Whit has begun a blog dedicated to his father. I recommend you take a look. I love this idea.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Too Much Coffee, Man!

MOBB used to work with Shannon Wheeler, the creator of the indie comic Too Much Coffee Man.

This was back in Austin, when she worked for the Statesman. I never met him, but she said he was a nice guy. I ended up with some TMCM stuff, including a couple mugs (which are different from the two shown on the site) and one autographed and doodle-upon-by-Shannon comic.

I certainly found the comic to be funny, but I didn't become a rabid TMCM enthusiast by any stretch.

Still, on evenings when Wolfboy is desperate for bedtime material, occasionally TMCM will end up in his hands. He particularly loves the panels about the death of TMCM.

(Posted without permission, admittedly. But I do heartily encourage you to buy some of Wheeler's fine work).


In 2003 we'd been gone from Austin for several years. I was no longer working for PBS TV stations, and in fact had made the move to commercial TV via the very Belly of the Beast, aka Belo Corporation.

My carefree Austin days were long behind me. Yes, there is a fine local music scene in DFW, and there are certainly any number of free spirits and artists and writers and the like. But the presence of these souls in no way creates an atmosphere like being in Austin.

I started blogging while working for Belo, as some of you probably know. It was miserable. Watching The Office was very much like being at work.

I had my TMCM mug with me, though. I liked having my little slice of individuality right there, my... reminder of Austin I suppose.


Our room at BACS (Belo Advertising Customer Services, a little division of the Belo brand, which is housed almost in the shadow of the Death Star, which is what they REALLY did call the corporate office tower) had 30-odd cubes, a few glass offices for management, and no windows.

Oh, you could go down the hall and look out the window, but this being Belo and all, that could prove to be a risky venture. On a snow day a bunch of folks went to check it out for a couple minutes. I'm no fan of snow, so I stayed where I was. I was stunned that by the time my coworkers returned about 120 seconds later, an email from upper management was awaiting them, telling them they had better things to do than look out the window at snow.



On the other end of the room was a little TV studio. It wasn't used for everyday broadcasts, but for "breaking news" sort of stuff. I can't recall specifically, but I suppose it was WFAA folks coming over to use it when they had "live from Dallas" stuff to broadcast nationwide.

I was in the men's room once, and between broadcasts their news guy rushed in and shoved open my stall door. I was not pleased to see him there, and I told him so.

In a place like Belo, a little time in the men's room could be the highlight of one's day.


Some big news came out of Waco in '03. A basketball player was missing. They had a suspect, who was also a basketball player, but no body or anything. Just a lot of suspicious circumstances.

Our little studio was being used rather frequently. News isn't nearly so impressive when it's being broadcast around you every day.


My dang TMCM disappeared one morning, and I was not happy about it. Yeah, any number of "World's Greatest Mom" mugs were there in the kitchen for my coffee, okay, but the idea that someone would run off with my mug just sort of added insult to injury.

I poured my coffee into one of those other mugs and stood there in a daze, just sort of cursing my fate in general.

Soon my eyes wandered up to the TV monitor, which showed the broadcast currently originating from our little studio.

They were interviewing a young woman whom the graphics identified as the girlfriend of the murder suspect.

I was only halfway watching when something caught my eye.

There, on national TV, the suspect's girlfriend was drinking out of my missing Too Much Coffee Man mug.


I was not amused.


The little set was sort of off limits to us, of course, but as soon as they were off the air I marched in without a word, grabbed my mug, and vowed never to just leave it lying around again.

It's currently on my desk at my current job.


The moral: Don't leave your favorite mug in the office kitchen.


Have a good weekend, y'all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Alone in the Wilderness, a documentary about the decades a man named Dick Proenneke spent living in Alaska. I saw some of this on PBS the other night, and it was really engrossing.


The Briscoe Theory of Counseling. My counseling supervisor is aware of the tenets of theories I find useful, like Solution-Focused Brief Therapy and Narrative Therapy.

She has challenged me to take those tenets and put together my own meta-theory.

Is it too late for me to pursue a career in ditch digging?


The Fender VG Stratocaster, a modeling electric guitar developed in a Fender/Roland partnership. It has modeling capabilities for a Strat, Tele, a humbucker-loaded guitar, a 12-string, and more. Oh, and you can change "tunings" with a knob.

Skip the cute stuff and just hear the sounds starting at about the four minute mark.

This is the kind of thing that may be a year or two from being truly great, though, as the reports I've read about its voracious battery consumption are a real deterrent for me. Oh, that and the $1700 price tag.


Being in a promotional video that Texas Wesleyan is putting together to promote its counseling department. Far as I know, I'm the only alumnus. It'll be online at some point. I will certainly holler.


The fact that my counseling service is going to be listed with 2-1-1 soon. If you're not familiar with 2-1-1, it's an information service provided by the United Way. It's what you can dial if you need social service agency assistance and the like. By being listed there, I will get referrals from UW. This could be terrific.


The fact that the Rangers are talking to Randy Johnson and Ben Sheets.

Johnson is 45, and not the pitcher he once was. I'm not saying it would be a dreadful mistake, but anyone thinking we'd be getting the same guy who helped Curt Schilling send the Yankees packing in '01 is mistaken.

Sheets is a long shot at best, and that's too bad, as he has much more upside at this point. He's injury-prone, sure. He's also an innings-eater with good stuff.


Being halfway through the baseball off-season.


And now the bed is calling me. Good night.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Updates from the Padded Room

I dreamed I was standing beside the late Layne Staley in some suburban house. He was looking in the bathroom mirror, and I said to him, "I struggle with this thing too."


Houses are designed incorrectly. At least the ones that child-rearin' families live in. There's a LIVING room, sure. Currently, that's where all the craziness ensues. The kids ride each other like livestock, fight, make noise, make smells, and generally go bananas.

Why is there just one room? The parents need a smaller, private (and possibly padded) room elsewhere in the house, accessible by the kids only if they are on fire or bleeding out of the eyeballs.


I am officially counseling now. I need to get more clients, of course, but it feels great, absolutely great.


Anyone want to buy my Epiphone Les Paul Studio? It's beautiful.


I sold my gun this week.


Wolfboy and THEGIRL are for sale too, by the way. 50 cents a pound and they're all yours.


They make me so doggone mad sometimes. Is there some larger, evolutionary thing at work here? Some urge to kill each other? If they were baby birds, would they be trying to push each other out of the nest? I mean, from a biological standpoint, is there some advantage to trying to murder one's sibling?

They make me nuts.


Anyone know a good, reasonably-priced printer for my brochures?


I've agreed to be in a video promoting the counseling program at Texas Wesleyan. I'm glad to do it.


I have this bad habit of parking where I'm not supposed to. I dodge speeding tickets all the time, but I'm not usually so lucky with parking tickets. Today I parked illegally in Ft. Worth, but the cop who left that ugly orange sticker on my window was good enough to not ticket me.

The sticker was a real bear to get off though.


Stopped into a funky record shop on the TCU campus today. There was a lot of cool, collectible stuff, including boatloads of Texas music. I'd noticed a lot of Stephen Bruton's stuff.

Got to talking with the owner about a Jimmie Dale Gilmore album. Turns out the owner is Stephen's brother, Sumter. Oooooooh. Cool.


I'm rambling on and on about nothing. Y'all take care. Stay warm, and have a good weekend.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Fightin' Side of Me

I'm not a fighter. I'm not a tough guy. Many days I see other guys and think, Man I wouldn't want to tangle with the likes of HIM.

But back in '05, I started training to fight.

For those of you who have read my blogs and known me a while, this will be old news.

I still never know how to answer the questions though. I make no secret of the fact that I train, but I feel positively embarrassed to admit it sometimes. After a confrontation with an unbalanced man a while back, a coworker said, "You know you could have taken him down." This person was serious. At that point, I usually joke about how I'm qualified to shriek and run, or how I can defend myself with a JUDO CHOP!

(That's Whit's phrase, and if you know anything about Judo it's awfully funny).


It started with Judo, in fact. Starting in January of 2005, I took a few weeks of Judo at the local rec center. It's run by a fifth degree black belt, it's cheap, it's close... and it didn't work out. All the breakfall drills and tumbling gave me bad equilibrium problems. And honestly, the class was often run by scowling black belts who had no interest in or use for the newbies, except for the purposes of throwing us around. I lasted all of five weeks. I retain no useful skills from it.


In March of 2006 I started training in Krav Maga.

This was a much better fit for me.

Krav Maga is a fighting system that originated in the Israeli military. It was created by Imi Lichtenfeld.

It is primarily a standup fighting style. If I had to use one word to describe it, I'd just call it kickboxing.

That's really a terrible oversimplification though, as it includes gun, knife, and blunt weapon disarms, escapes from holds (chokes, joint locks, etc), and a fistful of ground work. The addition of ground work is a necessary evolution of the style, as the popularity of MMA (mixed martial arts) means lots of people--good and bad--now have some idea how to fight on the ground. Still, the aim of KM is to get back UP, as there is often more than one attacker, and the ground is a poor vantage point from which to defend.

And there's more. KM teaches eye gouges, head butts, scratching and more. It's dirty.

I think that's fine. I've been the victim of enough random violence in my day to know that there's no honor code at work when someone is trying to injure you. If I am attacked by someone with no weapon, the chances of me standing there and trying to trade punches are pretty slim. I'm not the biggest, strongest guy out there, and though I punch and kick just fine, my training philosophy dictates that the shorter the fight is, the better. I will do something nasty in a hurry and be done. Some bad guy might get to think about me with every limping step he takes for the rest of his life (and I'm not joking).

I'm a guy. We talk like that sometimes.


Thing is, that's not really who I am. I have a couple years of good, hard training in a useful self defense system. This means I can take a hit, I can defend myself, I can counter, and I can do so without panicking. I'm not awfully versatile, but I've got some really good techniques. I also have a bit of Muay Thai training. KM basically nicks its standup from MT, though I like the mechanics of the MT kicks better. KM nicks techniques from lots of styles, in fact, including Judo. While training in my garage some months back, I slipped in some grease. I caught myself in a perfect KM/Judo front breakfall without thought or injury. Heck, I wish I'd done the technique that well on belt tests. So some of this stuff certainly does get hardwired into us.

(Nothing takes the place of training though. Period.)


I struggle to talk about this when asked though. Like today, when my coworker asked if I'm a black belt. I can usually mutter some bad joke and hope it goes away. I mean... look at me. I don't look tough. I don't FEEL tough. I think if I were of a mind to take a deep breath and speak like I'm the baddest thing since the "Thriller" video everyone would laugh. Heck, I would too. It's simply not my character to do that. I'm not a tough guy.

But I'm glad to have some tools. For whatever reason, sometimes the dust settles and I end up being the man to have to confront some random aggressor. That's fine. People who pick on innocents really @#$% me off. I've been the victim plenty. Now I'm glad to be able to be the guy to stand up, and to back it up. I just can't make myself talk about it.