I Object!

January 30th, 2018

Today I managed to not have to serve on a jury again. This was probably about my ninth time to be called, I think, counting all the times in Lubbock, and I’ve lucked out every time. If I can just hold out just over seven more years, I’m home free.

They had 266 prospective jurors there but only needed a jury pool of 59, so they let the rest of us go after only about an hour — which is a shame, since I had packed like I was ready for Desert Storm. I had a tablet computer, backlogged issues of WIRED, headphones, and a huge amount of snacks. Seriously, huge.

fred gwynne my cousin vinnyThis year for the first time we had to watch a video on how important juries are for our democracy, and it was illustrated with scenes from famous courtroom movies, and not just serious ones like The Verdict, To Kill A Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind. They also had parts of Liar Liar and My Cousin Vinny (mostly for the “This is what trials are NOT like” portions). Everybody in the room cracked up over hearing Herman Munster saying “Mr. Gambini … are yew on drugs??”

Another Year — that makes 15 now …

December 29th, 2017

Oh Lordy, has it been another year already?

Ah, those heady days of 2002, when the concept of blogging was still fairly fresh, and wasn’t the domain of corporations and the cynically ambitious (I’m thinking “mommy bloggers” and “lifestyle bloggers”, but there are others).

15 -- 200 pixelsNobody just blogs as an informal journal any more — that’s what the then nonexistent “social media” is for: The Facebooks, the Snapchats, the Instagrams, the things that old people like me won’t even hear about for another ten years, but which are already indispensable to high school students, and twenty-somethings that think they’re still as cool as high school students.

I mean, why bother, when there’s always Facebook, and the things you post will be automatically foisted on your contacts, without them having to lift a finger to get to your page?

I guess I still maintain this cyberfootprint because it was the one time of my life that I was actually ON the curve, one of my few accomplishments.

Marie and familyI don’t even see fit to post the huge developments in my life — like, for instance, the fact that this past June I finally found my biological family. (I have a sister! And a niece and nephew!) Okay, tell you what: When I actually get to meet them in real life, I’ll be sure to post it here first.

I had been on Ancestry.com for four years (and another DNA site for 11), with nothing to show for it, when one day I got a message from a young woman saying that the DNA test results said that we might be first cousins. She told me her mother’s and grandmother’s names, and I compared that information to what I already know … and I replied, “Well, I’m not your cousin … I’m your uncle.” Needless to say, her mom was a little shocked that she suddenly had a little brother …

Mom at Bryant farm houseAnd in other family news, my mom (adoptive mom, but my mom nonetheless) died on Labor Day of 2016, after a lengthy battle with poor circulation in her legs. She was 95 going on 96, and still had most of faculties (minus a bit of delusional dementia). The first year without her was tough, but I’m beginning to come to terms with it.

Lexi smilingOn a happier note: We now have our third rescue dog (and second Pomeranian), Lexi. She’s only about seven pounds, but she had tons of personality, and Bristol is surprisingly okay with sharing the spotlight (and laps, and treats) with her.

Aaaaaaand … that’s about it. That’s all that’s happened in my life. Sheesh, no wonder I don’t post any more.

But hey, I know life is more than dead loved ones and long lost family. It’s also about food (I tried out three of the meal-kit services in 2017!). It’s about getting older (I’ve finally admitted to myself that pretty much all of the music coming out these days sucks, and is going to keep getting worse, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, for the rest of eternity). It’s about great TV shows and movies and cheap books from the library book sales and tick infestations and things going on in politics that really piss me off.

So yeah, maybe I should post more.

I just shouldn’t expect anyone to read it.

The old Lubbock crewAnd oh yeah, I can’t sign off this blogiversary post without mentioning: At my mom’s funeral I got to visit with some old friends, three-quarters of my old Lubbock crew, seen here looking like a cast photo from a Guy Ritchie heist movie.

So anyway: Yeah, see ya around.

Where no … man … has gone before …

December 22nd, 2016

Just posting this to remind me of it later, because you KNOW I’ll forget an hour from now:

And just for reference: It’s Carol Burnett doing a William Shatner impression. Seriously. BONUS POINTS: Andrea Martin as Spock. Seriously.

Another link …

November 23rd, 2016

Another link just so I can find it later: A huge collection of animated gifs for all occastions.

Colorado Music Scene

November 7th, 2016

I posted this article to Facebook a year ago, but I’m reposting it here so I can find it again.

Because before I saw the post again today, I had absolutely no memory of posting it. That’s happening a lot lately, probably a function of age …

100 Years

October 28th, 2016

I haven’t posted in a while (don’t you DESPISE posts that start with that phrase?), and a lot has happened in in that time — the death of my mom, my emergency gall bladder surgery last week, the adoption of our second Pomeranian — but here’s something that has to be posted today:

Today is my birth-mother’s 100th birthday. She died in 2007, but still, she was born 100 years ago today.

The point of bringing this up, of course, besides commemorating a milestone of the only genetic relative that I know about, is to announce something that I probably should have mentioned back in April when I first found out: First the first time in my entire life, I have information about my biological family.

I’ve always known I was adopted, and since I turned 21 I’ve had my birth mother’s name (Coral Marie Clifford), but nothing else. Ever since I’ve had access to the internet, I would do an occasional search on the name, but invariably turned up NOTHING.

Then, toward the end of March, an amateur genealogist on Ancestry.com sent me an email because we had some DNA markers in common, and a list of surnames in her family history. I told her that I couldn’t be of any help, since I was adopted and was only in possession of one biological family name. I told her the name, plus the city I was born in, but didn’t expect it to go anywhere.

The next day she sends me another email … this time with a link to my birth-mother’s page on a funeral home website.

I had always assumed that my mother was an unwed teenager, possibly holed up with out-of-town relatives for the winter and spring, but apparently the truth was a lot more complicated than that.

That funeral page showed me not just her dates of birth (she had me when she was 38!) and death (she lived to be 90!), but also the names of both her husbands (I’ve since come to figure out that I was born between the two marriages, and I’m thinking that the second might be my father, since we share a middle name, but that’s only a guess) and the name of a brother that died in 1963.

I still have no clue as to what anybody in my genetic family looked like, but still: Overnight I went from a genetic blip, with no past or future, to at least having a lifeline to my blood-related past.

And today she would have been 100.

I wonder if anyone else in her family is taking any kind of time to remember this one life, and subsequent death, and this day of a huge personal landmark.

And somehow I think they’re not.

Go-Gos Still Go-Going

May 24th, 2016

I recorded the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, for the sole purpose of watching the Go-Go’s — even though I’ve seen them do We’ve Got the Beat dozens of times over the years, and even though they never vary how they do it, even in length.

Kathy-nowFormer member Kathy Valentine, in a comment on Facebook the day after the performance, talked about the do-it-exactly-the-same mentality that she says is the reason she was booted from the group:

Well it’s old news now. better to comment with some distance. my opinion is that it sounded fine for a live tv performance. lead vocal a little pitchy and shaky but no biggie. No mistakes–how could there be though? The bass player played the song fine but looks wrong for the group vibe. doing those hard rock stances in a matron length dress doesn’t work for me. it didn’t look like they were having any fun, but I know it’s hard to do those big televised things. I felt bad for them kind of, because they got good placement and a great set, yet it still felt like they were the stepchild at the family reunion, and I bet they felt that way. It’s hard to be the irrelevant act on a roster of hit makers, no matter what your opinion of the song or the performance was, that was the circumstance. I never understood why the band wouldn’t work the WGTB breakdown better–I used to beg to make more of it. It’s the perfect chance for audience engagement, everyone at concert is on their feet having the best time–give them more than 8 bars to enjoy it. From afar, I give them this advice once again, for the farewell tour: change it! extend the breakdown! make it fun! stretch the song out to, oh I don’t know, maybe 3 and a half minutes. Oh wait, but that would be DIFFERENT, got forbid. When we played it with Beck sitting in and Jack Black singing, I was trying to make everyone play the song a little longer so we could have FUN. how often does that happen, where we have ****ing Beck and Jack Black on stage with us?! Keep it going! No way. They refused to make it longer. everything is exact. every fill, every strum, every length–unless it is decided on ahead of time and rehearsed extensively. exactly the same. drove me crazy. it’s all about giving the fans MORE, in my opinion. once they are there, having paid their ticket price, give them a show. While we’re on the topic, I also used to beg for this–check this out: I used to suggest, over and over, that Jane sing Rush Hour or some song of hers, while Belinda went off stage to change clothes. Presto!!! You have made Jane happy, given the audience another recognizable song, and added completely free production value with a simple outfit change. I really tried to implement simple easy things that would make a better show. They can say whatever they want about me, but that’s the truth, and I have the emails to back it up. ok, there’s my review and rant. enjoy. curse me out. whatever!

If it’s all true, it seems an odd habit for a band that broke so many of rock’s rules at the time.

J-Punk, Girl Edition

May 22nd, 2016

Everybody who reads this blog knows how much I like chicks with guitars — I even have a whole category dedicated to them (although it’s a fairly new category, and I don’t have all relevant posts indexed as such right now).

ANYWAY: I recently ran across a Reddit thread from a year or so ago in which Japanese girl bands (rock, not pop) were being discussed, and I figured it was time to compile a few into a post. (Spoiler alert: There are several songs by Shonen Knife.)

So here we go:

The’s (the band featured in Kill Bill):

Princess Princess, mid-1980’s:

The same band, just ten years later:



Probably the most famous of all the Japanese girl punk band’s Shonen Knife, with a Ramones cover:

And while we’re at it — another Ramones cover by Shonen Knife!

And another!

And now for something completely different: Shonen Knife covering a Carpenters tune:

And the Monkees:

And at last, a Shonen Knife original:

Can you tell I like Shonen Knife? Does it show?

These girls are unclear on the concept: Thug Murder should be the name of an American rap act, not a Japanese punk band. Anyway, this is a cover of an old U.S. hit:

The best band name of the bunch, Red Bacteria Vacuum:

Watashi Wa Arashi:

Some of these bands are more heavy metal than punk, this one more than any of them. At least the sound is clean and crisp, and there sure aren’t any other metal bands that look like this. Bonus points: The band name, “Band Maid” is one of the great Engrish terms — it almost makes sense on some level, but mostly not.

And finally: A song that starts J-pop and quickly turns metal:

Okay, one more: Here’s a band that wasn’t mentioned in the Reddit thread, but I’ve known about them for years. I prefer their song “Soap and Cigarettes”, but I can’t find a video anywhere, so here’s Dirtruck with a different song that’s not as good:

Whew! I actually know about lots more girl J-Rock, but that is for another day. For now, go exploring for more by these bands on YouTube.


May 21st, 2016

Okay, I missed blogging yesterday, and I used my birthday as a blowoff day, and I almost missed today.

So now I’m rushing to get a post in before midnight.

So let’s talk abut what’s going on:

I’m watching Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, which I posted the trailer of last week. It costars Connie Britton, Nick Offerman and Molly Shannon, plus Jon Bernthal from The Walking Dead, whom I didn’t even recognize at first, because I guess that beard makes his nose look smaller.

I’ve been on the CPAP machine for a couple of weeks now, as a result of the sleep study which found I have sleep apnea, and I’m feeling quite a bit better so far.

Back to the movie: We’ve recently gotten free HBO and Epix weekends recently, and I’ve stockpiled a nice arsenal of movies, of which I’ve watched most by now.

Thursday was my birthday, as you might recall, and we saw the latest Captain America movie.

Oh, look at the time, it’s almost midnight! Gotta post this!

Day Off

May 19th, 2016

It’s my birthday. I’m taking the day off.

But don’t worry, I took pictures.