Isn't Good Sleep Wonderful?

It was between 1990 and 1992. I was living in Camarillo and working with the symphony. The house was only a corner lot California tract house, one of those that was built in the early 1960s, with the red block wall around the back yard. I had transformed the yard into a secret garden, complete with winding footpaths that were lined with large stones my friends and I had harvested from the beach a short eight miles away, a tropical garden with a waterfall and pond, and a protected beer garden with an uneven used brick floor and an old avocado tree as its roof...


I Was Shanghaied!

No, I didn't leave the internet, but I don't think I've ever not posted in five days. I didn't like it, but I had no choice. I was busy meeting a deadline for a client whose business is centered from both Ojai, California (in Ventura County) and Shanghai, China. In fact, it was really two sites, one in English and one in Chinese. Talk about brain pretzels! But the deadline was met and everyone's happy...


It's Really Spring!

Before last weekend's snowfall every sign of Spring was evident outside. There were fat robins singing away, jonquils blooming everywhere, and buds on the trees...


The Brilliant Mr. Weinstein

You know that I frequently scan the web for new interviews or stories concerning our dear friend, director Larry Weinstein. I just found this interview with Blog TO. Enjoy.


Learnin' the Blues

I know I'll never be a Rory Gallagher, but what's the harm in learning something new? Playing the blues isn't new to me (I had a blues band for a while in California back in the 80s), but playing the bottleneck style is, and I'm hell-bent on learning it. To that end, I went out today and bought myself a glass bottleneck because the stainless steel one Micah so generously lent me was too heavy for my finger. I then sat down with the Too Much Alcohol video I posted yesterday and started learning things from the Master. First of all, I had to tune my guitar to an open D tuning, which made some things easier and other things not so easy. New chords, new scales, new placements on the fretboard. Some of that was pretty cinchy. Teaching myself riffs is a bit of a challenge, because I've always been a rhythm guitarist, not lead. It's fun, and I plan on getting good enough that I can torture my friends and family at our parties!


St. Rory's Day, Please

I'm not a big fan of St. Patrick's Day. For one thing, Patricius (345-493 ce) wasn't Irish. He was a Romanized Englishman. When he was about 16, Irish raiders kidnapped him and took him back to Ireland as a slave (not cool, I admit), where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. Gotta hand it to him for that much. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop and missionary. That took some guts, or plain audacity. While he is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland, the snakes are actually a metaphor for early Celtic Paganism. Once he arrived, he spread the gospel, effectively converting an entire race of people to the new religion. And I doubt it was done in a "what would Jesus do?" manner. That wasn't Rome's M.O. in those days. I happen to like this cartoon more than those legends...

A Simple Plan for My Old Age

First of all, because most people have lost the capacity for ever having a sense of humor about anything, I'm making a disclaimer about this post. I am NOT condoning a life of drugs, alcohol, sex, and Rock 'n Roll. Nor am I making light of the death of any celebrity, nor am I showing any disrespect, because I love the people I'm writing about. It's just a frickin' blog post. Lighten up.

That being said...

I've been thinking lately that as I near the 60 mark, I'm going to start keeping my eyes on two people as signposts of how I should spend the final years of my life. Whichever one outlives the other will tell me what I need to know about the validity of healthy living.

Here's Ringo Starr, who'll turn 70 in July 2010. He looks good. Don't believe me? Click on his picture. Damn! That trim, tight little body looks better than it did back in the heyday of the Sixties!

I've always adored Ringo. From the original Ed Sullivan Show broadcast to today, Ringo is the Beatle I'd most invite over to sit on my front porch. He's down-to-earth, homey, and even a little silly.

Ringo had a hard time dealing with the breakup of the Beatles and turned to drink to help him cope. He also was pretty fond of the nose candy. Trust me. I knew his dealer in Hollywood. I don't know if he still enjoys a hit of pot once in a while or not, but I doubt it. He and his wife (the luscious Barbara Bach) went through major rehab and I doubt they'd mess it up over a little reefer. Besides, that new body of his shows absolutely no trace of Cheetos or fried pork rind munchies. No, this is one clean-living man. Congrats to you, Ring. Love ya, man!

Next, we have Keith Richards, who will turn 67 in December 2010. He's Rock 'n Roll's original bad boy, bad man, and bad old fart. He's a pirate. No, he doesn't look as good as Ringo, but then, he never did. Looking at earlier pictures of the Stones should have prepared us.

I love Keef. I love his philosophies about life and I love his ability to not give a rat's ass what any of us think about him. He just marches along to the beat of his own drum, laughing all the way, leaving a trail of cigarette butts behind him and dropping gems like, "The point is, who are you? Do you know yourself, and can you handle it?" and "It's not about living forever, it's about living with yourself forever."

The older I get, the more I see the wisdom in these simple ideas.

So here's my plan:

I'm going to watch these two icons and see which one goes first. Whichever one survives will dictate how I'll live my remaining years. If Ringo lives longer, I'll clean up, exercise, eat better, and who knows? Maybe I'll get myself a drum set and go back to playing. If Keef is the one to survive, then I'm going to start doing all the things I didn't do during the Sixties and Seventies. Yeah, I know I did a lot, but not as much as either of these blokes.

Either way, I'm pretty sure I'll outlive both Ringo and Keef (since I'm younger than they are). We'll see what happens after that.



England or Oklahoma

I get really tired of people's preconceived notions about Oklahoma and the people who live here. Sure, it has is rednecks, its tornadoes, and its Bible thumpers, but there's a lot more to this place than that (which doesn't mean I'd stay here if I suddenly won the lottery). Below are some photos, some of England and some of Oklahoma. You decide which is which...

Anti-Funk Geminis

Sometimes, it's the unexpected that saves us from ourselves.

All day long, all I wanted to do was write, but this morning there were emails from clients demanding immediate attention. I took care of them and decided to write in the afternoon instead. Then V called and, although I really wanted to write, she had me laughing until I didn't want to hang up. I finally had to, unfortunately, and I was all the happier for the gigglefest. Then, this evening, the dishes washed and the kitchen cleaned, I sat down once again. Immediately, J walked in the back door.

I'm no dummy. I know a cosmic lesson when I see one (well, eventually), so I invited her in for wine and conversation, and the three of us (J, Nettl, and I) sat in the living room talking, eating snacks, and drinking wine over many laughs. After she left, I realized that writing wasn't what I needed today, it was the ministrations of friends. And both of these beautiful Gemini women gave me material for my book, which I needed so badly.

I will never cease to be awed by how Life knows exactly what I need, when I need it. So, thank you, you beautiful Geminis, for giving a fellow air sign the best of what friendship truly is.


Against the Rising Tide of Artistic Conformity

The arts as such no longer exist in the public sector. They have given way to entertainment. The only new art that exists right now is that which is created and passed around privately, not picked up by publishers, dealers and recording execs. It is still being created, but has gone sub rosa once again. It must do from time-to-time, for that is where it grows best, not in theaters, concert halls, or gallery walls. The arts have always followed this rhythm.

We are living in a new golden age of the arts. Do we feel it? No, but neither did the Romantics of Paris, the Beats of Soho, nor the Mods of Liverpool. The only thing we must do is create. It's not the gallery owners or the publishers who let us down—they have never really mattered to creativity anyway—it is ourselves we must keep in check. I believe we are the ones who have gotten us into this mess. Believing that art owes us not only a living, but a fine fortune and global fame, is one of the greatest audacities the artist can adopt, and creates a demand for execs, lawyers, managers and dealers.

We must create, for that which is remembered is that which is survives, and that which survives is that which is plentiful. This is why I think the new wave of self-publishing is so important. It's not merely an alternative marketing tactic, it's a rebellion against the corporate overlords. Follow the new hack formulas if you like. Remove all the adverbs and descriptors. That plays into marketability, not art.

"Then you won't sell."

"Then I won't sell. But I'll leave something behind that I'm proud of and that people might like when you and your ilk are dead and gone."

I will not be a serf in their corporate feudal system.

Neil Gaiman on Writing

I hit a wall with my writing. Then I saw this. I liked it. Now you get it. Maybe it will help me, too...


Monday Morning Puzzler - Keef's Stuff

Here's a fun thing to do while you're knocking back that coffee. Try to identify the items on Keith Richards' desk. The picture enlarges for better viewing when clicked.


Saturday Six

Yeah, I know Saturday is almost over, but there's still a few hours left. Roschelle, at Inconsequential Logic, posted this meme today, and I thought it would a good thing to do too. Feel free to take it. After last night's revels with the Green Fairy, I don't have much to offer today...


It's National Absinthe Day

Friday, March 5th, marks National Absinthe Day! Celebrate with Lucid, the first genuine absinthe to be legalized on the US market in 2007. J & K are coming over for dinner, and we'll be imbibing later in the evening.

Happy Friday everyone!


Warning: New Agey Thoughts On Board

You know, before, when things started going well—little pockets of goodness barely punctuating all the crap—I used to enjoy it, but I wouldn't breathe for fear of chasing it away. Now, I'm just surrendering to it, and it's lasting.

I don't know that it means anything to you, but there ya go.



Do you ever have a really hard time waking up? I don't mean that every day early morning waking up, I mean like you drank a bottle of scotch and took three sleeping pills before going to bed the night before. I tried several times to wake up this morning, but I swear my eyelids were sewn together and my brain was about 10 feet under. Man... And I didn't ingest anything last night except one 3.2 Corona eau de beer. To add insult to injury, when Nettl came into the room she laughed at my bedhead. No, I'm not posting a picture.

We're having Jacey and Kyle over for dinner on Friday. Any ideas for what I can prepare? Maybe seared salmon with a pasta Alfredo side, squash confit, salad, and crostini? Would Hollandaise be too weird to serve beside an Alfredo? Yes.


Meeting the Green Fairy

I went into it completely open to any new experience that might visit itself upon me. It was late, and I went around the living room lighting candles and switching off the electric lights. I put the Chopin nocturne on the stereo and went to the little bar area that sits between the dining room and the kitchen...


Tie a Rope Around My Ankle, I'm Going In

This afternoon, after running more errands than I have in ages, I came home to find an email from RW, who told me to go to my local liquor store, there was something waiting for me: a bottle of Lucid Absinthe!

I can't tell you how excited I am about this! Late tonight, after everyone's asleep, I'm going to light my candles and incense, put on Chopin's Nocturne in B-Flat Minor (Op.9, No. 1), as per RW's instructions. Then I'll carefully prepare the libation, imbibe, and see where it takes me. I will then go into my book and rewrite the acid trip.

The conversation at the liquor store was pretty cool. We know the manager (his wife sings with Nettl in the Stillwater Chamber Singers), and when I told him a writer friend of mine sent the bottle because I'm working on my own book, this is what ensued:
John: "Well, this should get the creative juices going."
Me: "That's what I'm counting on."
John: "Be careful with this stuff."
Me: "Meh, I survived the Sixties. I think I can handle this."
Two cool coincidences are at play here. First, see that bottle beside the Lucid on our bar table? That's a bottle of Chopin vodka. Second (and maybe this isn't a coincidence at all), today is Chopin's 200th birthday. What better way to celebrate the great, tragic genius!

Thank you, RW. You're a sweetie (or maybe you're just a Libra like myself who doesn't like to enjoy his hedonism alone). You may expect a special acknowledgment in my book.

I'll make another blog entry tonight when I start the ritual.