Best of California

This picture pretty much sums up everything I love and miss about my home state of California. This is my friend Jim Hinton, an extraordinary singer/songwriter, and a young fan...


Rare Linkage

I have to confess that I'm out of blogging ideas for the next day or two, probably because I've posted some pretty meaty entries over the past few days and I've been working a lot on my book as well. I'm going to let other people pick up my slack until I get my blogging mojo back. Here are some excerpt from entries you really should read...


Life is Sweet

When I was a child, my family meant everything to me. From the moment I was brought home from the hospital I was surrounded by my parents, my grandparents, and my aunts and uncles. My older brother and I were at that time the only kids, but cousins began to appear a short four years later.

When our family moved en masse to California from Kansas in 1948, they bought a piece of land in a tiny area near Ventura that was called Nyeland Acres. I think the neighborhood was only about five square blocks in those days, and it contained a collection of quaint houses that had been built by young families after the men started coming home after World War II.

One-by-one the men in our family built houses on this landa family compoundbeginning with my grandparents' house. In the meantime, everyone rented little places in the neighborhood. By the time I came along, they were building our house, which we moved into when I was two...


Entitlement or Gratitude?

Does art owe anything to the artist? This is a question that has plagued humanity for eons and one that has been on my mind a great deal lately. It seems to me that people have been so thoroughly indoctrinated to accept talent as a marketable commodity that we’ve forgotten its basic purpose: to be expressed. Can I sing? I’ll make a gold record (and get rich). Can I dance? I’ll be a big star on Broadway (and get rich). Can I write? I’ll write a best-seller (and get rich). Can I act? I’ll go to Hollywood (and get rich). Can I paint? And so on...


My Dinner With Jimi

No, this isn't another of my stories about meeting someone famous. Sorry. And it's not really a film review either. It's about something that happened to me last night while I watched My Dinner With Jimi, a film that was written by Howard Kaylan, who was the lead singer with the Turtles and went on to join Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

Maybe this film means so much to me because I too had a chance encounter with Jimi Hendrix. Maybe it's because I too was a performing musician in the L.A. area and grew up in southern California. Maybe it's because, although I never met Kaylan, we skirted around the same circle of people in Laurel Canyon. Maybe it's because I too felt just on the outside of things while meeting all the people who would later become part of the future Rock pantheon. Maybe it's because I'm currently spending all of my time in London of the late Sixties while writing my Rock trilogy. Maybe it's just because this is one damned good movie...


The New Google Image Search Sucks

The new Google Image Search format is crap. It looks disorganized, the searches aren't as fine-tuned, I can't see the resolution, file type, or size of an image, and I've always hated those hover panes that some people have enabled on their sites, which is how the new GIS works. The infinite scrolling is an equally bad idea, just for orientation's sake. From what I can tell, they're just competing with Bing, which I've never liked. Guess I'll be heading back to Alta Vista, or see if there's something else. Time for me to start doing some surfing.

If you haven't been given it yet, here's a page that tells you about it.

This is a poor excuse for a blog entry, I know, but I haven't been to bed yet and I'm falling over. Good night.
UPDATE 7/23/10:
UPDATE: My friend Siren has informed me that after you type in a search request and you access the page with all of the thumbnails on it, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Switch to basic version". Voila!

Thanks Siren!


Shufflin' Across the States

Damn, I'm a rotten person! I forgot to tell you about an awesome blog I came across a couple of months ago. It's called, I'm Just Walkin' and is hosted by Matthew Green, a guy who's walking across the United States.

He started in Rockaway Beach, NY and is headed for Rockaway Beach, OR. He began his journey on March 27th and he's about to hit Great Falls, MT. When I found him, he'd just entered Minnesota, so he's really booking...


The Stolen 9

Yes, I stole this quiz thingy. I stole it from Byzantium's Shores because he steals good quiz thingies. So sue me. Then go read his answers...



Back in the summer of 1965, I spent a couple of weeks with my aunt and uncle, who lived in Ventura County. I lived in the Santa Ynez Valley at the time, a two and a half hour drive away in those days. Yeah, that's 14 year-old me, ready to take on the world...

One afternoon I took the bus to a Walmart kind of store called Disco (short for discount) to get some cool, mod-inspired earrings. When I came out, there was a band playing on the back of a flatbed. I can't remember their name, but they had the obligatory Beatle haircuts and were kind of good, so I stood and watched.*


8 Years!

Blogiversaries are funny things. While one wants to relish the day a bit, it's kind of predictable to post ones first post. Those are sort of boring anyway; few people, myself included, ever wrote a brilliant first post.

I have a whole philosophy around why I blog, but I won't bore you with that, either. I just never thought it would go on this long, but now that it has I intend to keep blogging until they pull the blinds on the Internet and tell us all to go home. I've gotten attached to all of you, you see, and I happen to consider you friends whether or not we've actually met face-to-face. So thanks for continuing to come here through the years. You deserve to celebrate as much as I do!

In case you would like to read that riveting first post of mine, here it is.


Backstage with the Lovin' Spoonful

The Lovin' Spoonful
Growing up in southern California afforded me many opportunities to attend some incredible concerts. My older brother Rick and I were musicians, which opened doors to meet a lot of recording artists as well. Through our friendship with Ernie and the Emperors, we felt like we were part of something incredibly exciting, like we were riding on the tail of a comet...


That Wasn't Very Smart

I can handle the crumbling sidewalk and I even kind of like the creaks this old cottage has acquired through the years, but I cannot stand, and will not tolerate the bug problem. You see, before we moved in last August, this house had been rented out by students for years and years, and we all know how tidy and fastidious kids are when they get out on their own for the first time...


Visualizing the Mundane

Last Sunday afternoon while I was trying to take a nap, something came to my mind that kept me awake. I started thinking about celebrities pushing shopping carts. Yeah, I know that's weird, and when I turned over and told Nettl, who was also trying to nap, she got into it, and instead of a pleasant Sunday afternoon nap, we spent an hour speculating and laughing. That was cool.

Some people I can visualize doing this mundane task and looking quite comfortable, but some, well, I can't see them doing it at all. This picture is of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Nope. Doesn't work for me. Neither one looks right with a cart. Here are the lists of people I've come up with, living and dead...


Oh, God, Help Me

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Thanks to Kelly at Byantium's Shores for this fun little meme.

Inspiration in a Bottle

I came across this possible solution to writer's block last night. It's a wine called Writer's Block. I don't know about you, but a good red wine always unleashes words and ideas in me, so maybe tonight would be a good night to take my laptop out to the living room, put some music on the stereo, pour a few glasses, and be firm with myself.

I don't have this particular wine, of course, and I doubt my local wine store has it, but any red wine will do. The problem with this is that I don't particularly like red wines in the summer. They're too hot and heavy, but whites just don't have that bohemian spirit.

The crap I put myself through.


A Night Out

Because Stillwater is a university town, the restaurants here tend to cater to students. Outside of a Red Lobster franchise, there really is nowhere for adults to go where the food isn't heavily fried and where the music isn't so loud, conversation is nearly impossible and is geared to push you in and out in under 45 minutes. All over town, the servers line up and sing Happy Birthday in the aisles, the drinking glasses are multi-colored plastic "buckets", and the clientele whoops it up over the din of ringtones.


Giving Back is an Obligation, Not a Good Deed

When Nettl and I first got together back in 2000 we began years of talks about how we want to help people in need. It started with my elderly mother, who had a stroke and was about to be dumped into a fleabag nursing home by my brother. I said no way, not on my watch, and we brought her to live with us. Then, over the next couple of years, our five shared children of varying ages came to be with us...


Yet Again

I seriously think our local hospital should be renamed La Boheme Community Hospital. In the past year I've been there more times that I can count, with either Lynette, Ville, or Joel. It's not that I mind going, it's that it's a worrisome thing to sit in the waiting room while someone you love is getting cut open.

Tonight (last night to you), I finally talked Nettl into letting me take her to the ER. She hadn't been feeling well since Sunday morning, and since it has only been a few weeks since her surgery (and nearly losing her!), I didn't want to take any chances. She ran a low-grade fever all weekend, but she kept telling me the discomfort she felt was some cheese she ate on Friday, or a stomach flu. Tonight I said, "I'm taking you", and I did. It turns out that she has a bladder infection. We were told that everything looks great otherwise, so that's a huge relief.

As much as I like and appreciate the staff at the Stillwater Medical Center, I really don't want to spend any more time with them, okay, so can we stop going there now?


This May Be the Last 4th of July

With Micah preparing to move out of the country, I'm very aware of holidays this year. It's likely he'll be gone by the next 4th of July. That's why some impromptu firecracker fun in our driveway last night was so special to me. I had both my guys there, blowing up things like grapes that were ready to be tossed, old acorns that were lying around the yard, and empty beer cans. You know how boys are.

It had been raining all day, so I grilled the bratwurst in the house and set the dining table as a buffet with corn-on-the-cob, macaroni salad, chips, and watermelon wedges. When we went outside at around 9:30, the rain had stopped, but everything was still wet. Perfectly safe for the fun we had for the next couple of hours.

Other people in the neighborhood were also shooting off fireworks and from all over town came the sounds of some really big ones. From a tree in the front yard a bluejay cussed us out the entire time. The cat wasn't too happy with us either.

Finally, around midnight, a squad car pulled up in the drive and nonchalantly told us that what we were doing was a $100 fine. I didn't know that. I thought fireworks were legal here. We apologized and called it a night. The bluejay is quiet now.

It was simple fun, and it meant a lot to me to have both my guys together on the 4th one last time. How do they grow up so fast? Actually, they never really grow up at all, do they...


Blog Ritardando ma non Troppo

It might be too soon to tell, but it seems to me there's a gradual blogging slowdown happening. I know that a lot of people have gone over exclusively to Twitter or Facebook and that's fine. Posting several paragraphs day-after-day year-after-year isn't easy. Even those of us who tend to be verbose articulate have trouble sometimes. But Facebook is where I chat with my friends and I just don't get Twitter. It reminds me of standing on the roof yelling out to the neighborhood, "I'm standing on my roof!" Not that I've ever done that, but that's what it feels like; I don't get the point...