requires adult supervision

Back when things were things.Happy Tuesday world.

At some point early along in my adolescent life, both my mother and father had to work during the summer. I think this was the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years of junior highschool.  That would’ve made me about thirteen or so, and my brother around ten.  6th grade was my first year in Florida, so I hadn’t yet built up any real network of friends, and I entered that first summer after my first year at junior high without much prospects for socialized fun aside from interacting with my brother.  And, since it’d been he and I up until that point anyway… I don’t think it bothered me too much.  Anyway, being that our folks were working during the day, this meant that he and would be home alone during the day.

Well, it meant we would’ve been home during the day… had my parents not got us a babysitter.

That’s right; here I am with thirteen long years of life experience… and, in my mind, solidly qualified to care not only for myself, but also for my brother (should the need arise).  My parents, however, saw it differently.  I remember feeling insulted when my mom told us she’d hired a sitter to come over during the days. I can imagine my teenage brain reeling; what would my (non-existent) friends say?  How would I explain this (to David the Gnome)?  But, fight it as I might, they were going through with it. Looking back, thinking about things as a parent, I can see the desire to have some adult supervision for a thirteen year old punk and his ten year old brother.  I mean, I wasn’t setting forest fires or stealing Now and Laters yet, but I did have that teenage raskishness about me.  Anyway, in the end it turns out that our last summer of being babysat made for some good memories… so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

The first babysitter I remember was a pixie-like college-age girl; short blond hair, very pale, and tiny like a compressed spring, a gymnast.  I don’t remember her name, but I do remember (or rather, the thirteen year old in me remembers) that she wasn’t particularly attractive.  However, since thirteen year old boys are notorious for having ridiculously high standards, I’m sure that unless she looked like Alyssa Milano from Who’s The Boss I’d think she was dogmeat.

Anyway, the one thing I remember about this babysitter was her taste in music.  She was deep into what I know now as the “Madchester” scene, and I recall her listening to things like Candy Flip’s cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and some Happy Mondays stuff.  I’ll never forget sitting in the passenger seat as she drove us to the mall one afternoon, watching her work her hand in rhythmic waves to the beat of that crazy Beatles cover… I thought that was so cool.  As I got older, and began researching the musical trends of my youth (as all good music nerds at some point do), I realized that she was actually pretty cutting-edge at the time… Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets… pretty cool.

The next babysitter (not sure if we drove the first one away or she could only do part of the summer) was completely different.  A big-haired party girl, she spent most of her time “watching” us lounging around the pool in the backyard in a skimpy bikini.  Truth be told, I likely kept a much better eye on her that summer than she did on me; it had to be at least 2:1.  Oh yeah man, she must have been about nineteen and, to me, she was masturbation incarnate.  Again, I can’t seem to remember her name, but I remember her reeking of cheap teenage perfume and hairspray.  What’s more, whereas our first sitter treated me appropriately, as a thirteen year old boy – this babysitter saw in me a burgeoning young adult, and interacted with me more like a peer.  To me, this was amazing, and likely did wonders to boost my self confidence in the psychological long-run.  In fact, I can remember most distinctly one afternoon when she called to talk to my mother.

After telling her I’d go get my mom, but before I actually could, her raspy voice came through the phone, “Hey, guess what I did last night?”  Holy crap… this girl was talking to me… asking me a question like we were about to have an honest-to-God conversation or something.  My heart raced, my brain ached for the appropriate response… “What,” I asked, trying to sound like I talked to incredibly hot nineteen year old girls on the phone all the time.

“I went to see 2 Live Crew down in Miami.”

My mind raced, I knew something about this… I’d followed the recent national drama around 2 Live Crew on the MTV news, I’d even listened to their debut offering on Luke Skyywalker records back before I left California (how cool was I!?).  Bottom line: if I responded right, I stood a chance at being relevant here.

I asked her about the performance, did the cops show up?, how crazy was it?, did they do “Throw the Dick?”  She proceeded to tell me how wild the show was, how there were girls taking their tops off and, yes, the cops did come (I’m not sure if this was the famous show where the band was arrested or not).  And thereafter that minute and a half marked the most engaging conversation I’d had with a female in my post-pubescent life.  Here I was, a barely-teenager talking about stuff I really didn’t have much clue about, and doing best to discover my own game before I knew what game even was.  And I did it, too.  We talked for a bit before I handed the phone over to my mom; I handled it with aplomb.

Ah… that blissfully empowering memory almost makes me forget the teenage shame of once rummaging through her duffel bag in search of her thong…

Funny, I guess both of those babysitter memories involve music.  What do ya know.  Anyway, I think we may even have had one more sitter over the course of those three months, but she must have been rather unremarkable in the end.

Dear Lord I wrote!  Call the papers.

OK, before I go, I wanted to pass along this thread I saw on reddit the other day.  Y’know, we all drew that thing in 6th grade too… it’s like some vast international mind-meld or something.  Crazy.


a place where I is

Don't abide it.Monday night.

I’m falling asleep in my head.

You know the feeling?  Somewhere in the back of my brain, I’m already asleep.  There’s a dense, heavy rock in my skull, and it’s taking up valuable neural space I could be using to produce real-time cogent thought.  Except, I can’t; because of that sleepy rock taking up all the room.  Even if I shake my head around the rock won’t go away.  I know this means I should just give up on the evening and hit the sack; but I’m stubborn and American and, I don’t know if you heard, but we do what we want.  What?

I think I’ll go out to the woods somewhere and find a place where no one is. Through the grip of my hands and the ache of my back I’ll turn that place from a place where no one is into a place where I is. I’ll maybe dig a hole in the ground, reinforce it, and live like a hobbit. With little windows in the side of my mound-home that let in the sunlight and keep out the rain. It would smell like earth and woodsmoke inside. Or I could build a house on a platform up a tree, perched above the wilderness. There’d be a beautiful evening vista, maybe mountains and a river. It would be full of breezes and fresh air and would stand strong against the winter storms. I could take my family there; maybe to a cabin built hard against a lake, with a water wheel. We could live inside and sleep bundled up in patchwork quilts Sharaun makes out of scraps of last year’s workclothes. We could eat fresh fish and maybe wild turkey. Burn candles. Sit on the porch in rocking chairs.

Is this so much to ask?

As a young teenager, I had really bad acne.  For about two years, all through 7th and 8th grades of junior highschool, I suffered.  No, not suffered like so many around the world starving or bearing the brunt of social injustice… but the teenage kind of “suffering” caused by… pimples.  It was bad enough that even my best buddy Kyle would sometimes give me crap about my face, since he was blessed, at that age, with smooth unmarred skin.  On the whole, I didn’t let the acne bother me too much… I think I was young enough that it wasn’t the end of my social universe.  But I did hate it.  I hated it.

Sometime during the apex of my affliction, one of those lifelong kind of memories was burned into my brain:  I was laying on the couch in the living room one evening; my folks were watching TV while I rested, and obviously thought I’d fallen asleep. But, as I lay there, awake with eyes closed, I listened-in on their conversation about their sleeping child.  “His acne is really bad,” lamented my Mom.”  “Yes, it is,” said Dad.  Mom continued, “I remember how bad it was when I was his age; it must really be hard for him… I just wish it would clear up.”

The conversation continued, but the sheer pity expressed in my Mom’s voice flat-out sunk my heart.  My parents were talking about me like some terminally ill patient.  Condemned to be glimpsed through my wretched veil, apparently, they mourned for me.  Talk about a terrible conversation for a kid to hear; a real self-esteem torpedo.  I don’ t think I’ll ever forget overhearing that conversation.  Hurting themselves, feeling the hurt I had myself, I heard my folks’ personal suffering for their child’s condition.  And that, people, is what parenting is all about.

I didn’t write well, that rock of sleep is dominating… I know this could be better.  I can’t find the phrases.  Goodnight.

at least it’s better than falafel balls

Yum.Happy Tuesday.

In our house, I handle the money.  I take care of our savings, investments, bills, budget, etc.  I do most of this in a vacuum, as Sharaun’s threshold for caring about money vs. not caring about money is simple: As long as there’s money available when she needs it then there’s not a money problem.  This works for us for a couple reasons: 1) We communicate about spending pretty openly and regularly, and 2) We’re both fairly cheap, frugal.  Yeah we’re not the most miserly of penny-pinchers, but we don’t spend excessively.

Lately, I’ve been trying to share the details and workings of our budget with Sharaun.  This involves some “training” on my complex household-finances spreadsheet.  When I’ve tried to review it with her, I can tell she’s just favoring me – pretending she cares how much of my paycheck goes to the 401k, what the margin is on our stock sales, etc.  It’s OK, at least she knows where the spreadsheet is and how to (sorta) read it.  She’ll never have to be in the business of changing the numbers, hopefully, so I guess that’s about all I need to ask of her anyway.

One positive result of this budget review is Sharaun looking for little ways to save money.  Part of this has seen her decide that planning a weekly “menu” of dinners is more cost-effective (in terms of the shopping required) than planning things quick day-of.  Subsequently, she’s started trying to map out our meals in advance, choosing a bunch of dishes she cooks semi-regularly anyway and assembling them into a canon of stock meals she can rotate through.  I’m not exactly sure how this saves money (other than the assumption that shopping strictly against a fixed list discourages impulse purchases), but it has sparked an idea for the blog…

See, Sharaun’s exercises in meal-planning remind me of my own childhood.  Wherein my Mom would make a weekly meal schedule, a “menu” if you will, and post it to the fridge for the family to see.  She’d have the nights of the week and what would be for dinner each night.  As I kid, I took this for granted.  It was nice being able to look forward to Thursday’s “chicken and wild rice casserole” on Monday, the elements of predictability and anticipation worked well, I think even encouraged the family to come together at mealtime (which wasn’t an option, we always ate together).

Near universally, I loved my Mom’s cooking (I never was too big on tuna casserole).  Culinarily, I’d say my Mom was a study of the famously checkered Better Homes cookbook, which, along with the Joy of Cooking and a handful of recipes passed down from her mom – made up the lion’s share of her drawn-on resources.  Of these cookbooks, I think she lingered mostly in the “casserole” and/or “quick & easy family friendly” chapters.  I imagine the 70s having played a large role in her cooking style, not only a decade in which the US went casserole-crazy, but the decade where I suppose she defined her meal repertoire as a wife and mother.  Now this isn’t to say that casseroles were all my mom cooked, it’s just that I remember a lot of them.

And, like I said, me not being a picky eater my Mom’s fare nearly always seemed palatable.  I loved the casseroles, the pork chops, the hamburgers, all of it.  And it didn’t matter to me that we rotated through what must have been a few week’s of stable-recipes – in fact I think I rather enjoyed having a favorite few dishes I could count on popping up every so often.  The regularity was a good thing.  And, when my Mom did decide, by whim or necessity or whatever, to break from the standard meal rotation and try something new – it was always a notable evening.

And, with the last sentence of that, my now sixth paragraph, I’ve setup the actual bit I wanted to write about.  Sometimes I might overdo the exposition… y’know?  Anyway…

Sharaun’s menu-planning got us talking about my Mom’s menu-planning the other night at dinner.  And, thinking about that reminded me of a story that our family sometimes still talks about to this day: The time my mom thought she’d go all exotic and try making falafel balls for dinner. Talk about a break from the dinnertime status-quo, falafel balls were about as far away from our typical repast as you could get.  Perhaps Mom wanted to add an international flare to mealtime, perhaps there was a “falafel is ultimate good for you” fad going around at the time (you know… the flaxseed, whole grain, no trans-fat, and steel-cut oats kinda fad).  Whatever the motivation, the results will live forever in dinner-table infamy for our our family.

The actual point here is that my Mom’s falafel balls turned out horrible.  Now, I can’t quite recall if this is because we simply agreed that we weren’t falafel people or if she actually botched the recipe and the resulting “balls” were inedible.  But either way, the family universally agreed that falafel balls were the worst thing ever. In fact, I still get a smile when I think about how we all choked down our hesitant bites at the dinner table, and can remember being a bit surprised by my folks’ open disgust at how badly they’d turned out (as a kid I guess I was somewhat stumped that my Mom’s feelings weren’t hurt, and that she was openly acknowledging how horrid her own creation was).

Point being that, from that meal on, no matter how bad anything we ate was – we could always joke that it was, at least, “not as bad as falafel balls.”  To this day I sometimes catch myself thinking that in my head when I don’t like something I’m eating.

“Hey, at least it’s better than falafel balls.”

I’m lucky now… Sharaun is an excellent chef, and has a wide selection of things she cooks for our family.  In fact, I’ve said to her on many occasion that I’ve not disliked anything she’s ever made for us – and I’m being honest.  Her meals are almost always enjoyable, and I always find myself grateful for the food she makes for Keaton and I.  I make sure and let her know that, and I think I do so fairly religiously after each meal. And, I’ve told her the falafel ball family apocrypha too – so maybe knowing that the low-mark on the bar is pretty dang low gives her that extra confidence.  Ha.

Well, I think I remembered that right… maybe the falafel balls were only a big deal in my head.


before pro tools and cubase

Original.Monday night and I’ll kick off this music-centric entry with a prayer:

Dear Lord I’d like to thank you.

For the first time since I discovered Beatles bootlegs, became a fervent collector, and eventually amassed all that there was to hear (quite truthfully), and then quit the game once the unreleased material dried up, you have blessed us fanatics with something truly amazing. As always, I am in awe of the work of these sonic wizards, and I thank you for bringing new material to the forefront.

Blessed be the well-oiled and poorly-secured doors on the Apple vaults.

No but seriously, last week one of the holy grails of unreleased Beatles’ material leaked out to the web: the full eleven minute “take 20” of the White Album track, “Revolution 1,” which is the slowed-down, mellowed-out original version of the heavier (and more familiar to most) “Revolution” released earlier that summer in 1968 as a B-side to “Hey Jude.” This take is described in Beatles recording session expert Mark Lewisohn’s incredibly detailed book, Complete Beatles Chronicle, with the following entry:

Tuesday 4 June, 1968
Studio Three, EMI Studios, London

A session of unusual overdubs and experiments for “Revolution 1” 2:30pm-1:00am.  John re-taped his lead vocal – and, attempting to alter his voice in some way, he lay flat out on the floor of studio three while doing so.

Paul and George added a persistent backing vocal that went along the lines of “Mama Dada Mama Dada Mama Dada” towards the end of the ten-minute recording, Ringo added some percussive clicks, John a tone-pedal guitar part, Paul an organ part and the group then spent some time creating two tape loops, neither of which was used.

A rough mono mix of take 20 (which was a reduction of 19) and an additional copy of this made at the end of the session were taken away by John and one other person (unnamed on studio documents).

So there you go. Fifty years later that “additional copy” made for “one other unnamed person” has made it onto the internet. One of only two copies in the world, the other presumably still locked away in the studio gathering dust. Tip o’ the hat to you, unnamed person.  Too bad that I am, in all likelihood, celebrating the passing of unnamed person – as I’d be willing to bet that was the catalyst for a changing of hands, or sharing without repercussion, of this tape.

And, before I continue this essay on the new tape, I need  to wax a bit about the current state of the bootleg “scene…”  Please bear with me (or, skip three paragraphs ahead if you simply can’t).

While I’ve been away from the “Beatleg” trade for years now, I do still follow what small “development” there is in terms of new material, new labels and players, and what may be on the horizon. With most of the old-school European bootleggers now IFPI’d out of business, all physical production has moved to Japan. I have a hunch that most of the material appearing is still coming from the same European and US “sources,” but that it’s just too risky anymore to print the physical media in that arena. Besides, the internet has marginalized the market for physical bootlegs. Sure you’re still guaranteed the collectors who want the physical discs – but you don’t have to seek them out in order to hear the material, as the new generation will just wait until they are digitized and put on their favorite tracker to download.

Funny enough, hardcore bootleg addicts being a peculiar bunch, it’s not a surprise that there’s a growing “rip opposition” movement amongst the die-hards, in which they promise not to rip the discs and post them on torrent trackers for the world to hear. This somewhat anti-sharing, reveling in exclusivity snobbery is classic Beatleg hoarder behavior… so it’s not unexpected. After all, he who has the rarest cut wins.

But, in this day and age, you simply cannot keep things off the internet. Unless you’re unwilling to brag, unwilling to cut just that one copy for your best mate and fellow collector, it’s gonna end up online. And let’s face it, what good is having the rarest bit of tape in the world if you can’ brag about having the rarest bit of tape in the world, right? And so, even things shared amongst a privileged few under strict pacts of non-torrenting will, and do, end up online.

And so it is that I’m here listening to this amazing piece of history, five minutes into an eleven minute descent into John & Yoko tape-loop madness. I can remember the stories I read as a teenager, how John had taken some of the “stranger” bits of the extended “Revolution 1” sessions and warped, reversed, and wrecked them into his music-concrete stunner, “Revolution 9.” “Revolution 9,” the track that I used to be scared to listen to in the dark. Seriously. And, in this brilliant new leak, you can hear the elements John used to craft that piece of “musical” nonsense. The bassline Lennon buried as the “drive” for his piece, the tape-stretched and effect-drenched yelps and whoops, it’s all there. But here, in this take of “Revolution 1,” it’s still musical.

And, I’ll be honest, I listened to it at least ten times this morning, over and over and over. Hearing pristine new Beatles audio like this hasn’t been an experience I’ve had in a good while. Not since the “Hey Jude” sessions leaks back before Anthology have I been this intrigued with a new leak, nor has there been a leak this significant.

Well, I suppose the Sgt. Pepper multi-tracks were about equal in importance, but you don’t get the gravity of hearing “new” material with them – just the underlying 4-tracks of songs you’re already intimately familiar with. That said, to me the availability of this recording trumps the Pepper multi-tracks in terms of sheer enjoyment derived from listening.

I got into a bit of an academic discussion about the track with Ben today… the only one I really know who can stand to get “academic” about music, other than a close buddy in Florida who wasn’t online at the time and doesn’t quite share my Gods-on-high view of the Beatles. I shared the track with him and he queued it up at work for a listen. His reaction interested me, as he remarked something like, “This is very shoegazer-ish, just epic. Goes on and on and on and on. Like a Ride song. This track is downright great. Love it.”

At which point, I got on a favorite soapbox of mine and tried to explain how, listening to stuff like this now, with our modern appreciation of music, it’s hard to imagine just how groundbreaking and ahead of its time it was back in 1968. I tell this to Sharaun all the time when she says things like, “Yeah, the Beatles are good, but I don’t hear why people think they were so revolutionary or groundbreaking.”

It’s all well and good to say something like that having had the luxury of hearing all the areas music has managed to explore since the Beatles were around. What they invented, modern music has emulated… so without going back into the past and unhearing what those musical seeds blossomed into post-Beatles it’s virtually impossible to hear the stuff as one would have then, that is – in a context all its own.

Anyway, I make a similar argument to Ben, saying how, at the time, some of the more inspired bits the Beatles did stood wholly on their own ground, without reference and completely new unto the world. He agrees with me, and we both wonder at how some of the interesting techniques were achieved in the pre-digital world. Before Pro Tools and Cubase, the kind of stretched and warped vocals Lennon gets on the recording were done completely manually, pressing pencil erasers to running tapes, feeding microphones through hand-built effects pedals, physically cutting and looping tape (yes, with scissors and tape). We both bask for a while in the combined glow of the recording and our hipster music-nerd pomp, and close the conversation by agreeing that it’s like someone travelled back in time and anonymously dropped a copy of Nowhere at Lennon’s flat.

Yeah, it really is that advanced. I know, after all this you might want to hear it too, right? Well OK, here ‘tis. Enjoy.

And now that you’ve heard it, you’re free to accuse me of gushing over nothing. But you have to understand where I’m coming from, the history of the matter here. What’s that, you don’t really understand the history? I’ve never told you the history? Oh man… this is… big.

In fact, now that I think about it, I’ve written about bits and snatches of my history with bootlegs over the years, but a quick search of the blog annals shows I’ve never tacked a concise overview of how it all started, how it all got just a little bit out of control, and how it arrived where it is today.

But, I’ll get to it tomorrow, as I’ve already written a ton today.  Hope someone enjoyed it, take care  – I’m off to the gym (but not before I load up this new leak on the iPod for some more ear-time).


comforting. permanent.

Gleeman.Thursday night.

After some 5:30pm peer pressure from coworkers, I did an about face on my “going home, going to dinner, then going to the gym” evening and instead joined them at the bar for happy hour.  It was a welcomed break.  See, the whole annual review process at the sawmill culminated today, ending in a manager staring-contest worth of Guinness.  In the end, things went as good as can be expected, and, as always, the proceedings were torture.  So, to recap: reviews are done; cold beer was had; calorie intake was monitored.  Let’s go.

The crew that met tonight for happy hour is a crew I’ve run with almost from day-one at the sawmill.  Because of this, we have a lot of history, a lot of stories.  And, on the rare occasion when we all get together (difficult these days, as we now live on different continents), those same told and re-told stories are trotted out and run once around the track again for old-time sake.  Something of a tradition, even though we’ve all heard them before, we tell them again.

… the Cuban arm-wrestling contest in the Shanghai apartment…

… the guy who left a pair of soiled underwear in his desk drawer after losing his job…

Seems like they get funnier and more grand with each telling.  How a story about “finding” an employee who’d  gone completely MIA whilst in Taiwan by seeing him on television, whilst visiting there yourself months later, being arrested in a transvestite prostitution sting can get any more “grand” remains to be seen, but we seem to be able to pull it off.

Every single time we get together.  Comforting.  Permanent.

A good way to start off a weekend.



Hi guys.Monday, a holiday in the US… so I’m not at work.

Why, then, am I sitting here working?  I’ll tell you why, because it’s annual review time.

And, that’s what I did all morning, review stuff.  Sufficiently frustrated, and not sufficiently self-flagellated, I chose to take an afternoon break from reviews and do our taxes instead.  Much frustration and a few raised-voice exchanges about receipts with Sharaun later I’d completed at least one arduous annual tribulation today.  Tomorrow work will be about finishing up the other, and getting all reviews taken care of.  I spend so much dang time on the things… demanding a level of perfection in writing nothing like sounds familiar has ever seen.  Get it… it was knock on my writing here…

The other day Sharaun showed me some old scanned-in images one of her new Facebook friends had posted on the internet.  Her new Facebook friend being an old real-world friend, the pictures were of them together back in their youth.  Seeing them made me smile, and also made me think about how neat it would be to have the old family pictures in digital form.  The only real way we look at and/or use pictures now is on the computer, and I think it’d be so neat to have “forever” copies of those old printed images stored digitally for generations to come.

So, I asked my Pop if he’d be willing to ship down all our old family photo albums.  Not wanting to scan in what could potentially be thousands of pictures one-by-one, I instead found a reputable (well-reviewed, at least) place to ship them off to where they’ll be bulk-scanned for pennies a print in no time at all.  If and when I get the albums, I plan to go through them, put the good ones into logical bundles, and ship them off in bulk.  When the resultant DVDs come back I’ll look through and post some of the better ones here after touching them up a bit (the place just does raw scanning, no post-processing).

Could be a fun thing to do, I think.  I’m looking forward to flipping through some photos Pop… so get them in the mail, OK?

Moving on, a quick note about Sunday.  After church we joined friends for a BBQ in the rain and some Daytona 500 watching.  Was  great time, but towards the end of the day Keaton started making more-than-regular trips to the potty – and her #2s became less and less, ahem, “solid.”  Fearing more of the same, we left the get-together a bit early and retired home.  Good thing too, once at home we played around for a while until it was Keaton’s bedtime.  Once she was down I headed to the gym, and upon returning found Keaton out of bed and in a freshly-run bath and Sharaun washing puke out of her bedsheets.

Poor girl.  She lost her stomach another time that night, and Sharaun and I were both by her side to see her through it.  Breaks my heart to see how much it scares and frustrates her; she just stands and wails between heaves, shaking her hands in protest and asking to be held.  I can remember how scary it used to be to get sick, the fact that’s it’s totally beyond your control, the overall awfulness of it all, and the added bonus that you can’t breathe while it’s happening.  She took it like a champ though, and never did develop a fever or any other symptoms.  Monday she was fresh as a daisy and had her regular appetite, so I guess it was something she ate.

Let’s hope, at least.

Goodnight folks.  Wish me a better week writing, OK?