Saturday, December 31, 2005


It's about to be 2006. I really like the idea of starting the New Year with a clean slate. I would love to pare down to the bare essentials every New Year and simplify my life. The problem is that I have many pack rat tendencies. I can't seem to part with my stuff. I have reason to believe this year may be different though. Our house has been on the market for 3 months and there is finally some real interest. If either of these interested parties works out we'll probably be moving into our new project in January or February. Moving is a great time to clean things out and start fresh. Moving at the beginning of the year may just allow me the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. And that diet starts tomorrow too....

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gift list

Coming up with a Christmas gift list at my age is a real pain. I rarely have appropriately priced gift items that others can get for me. I don't really have hobbies. I don't golf, or collect Hummels or anything. If I go too generic (ex. sweater) I never know what I'll get. Gift cards are great but not a whole lot of fun to watch someone open. Same goes for magazine subscriptions. The things I want are either big ticket items (HDTV would look good in my living room) or so obscure that I wouldn't know how to direct a family member to it (so the last time I was in Chinatown I saw this cookie jar...) or else they are tasks that I would love to have someone else do. So I thought I'd jot down what I would want for Christmas in a perfect world. The second list wouldn't cost anyone a thing.

1.) Buy me a new kitchen from Ikea (about $3,000 in cabinets should do it)
2.) Fix my vintage motorcycle (find a repair man, transport it, pay for it, thanx)
Sell/buy my house (my house has been on the market for nearly 3 months now with no offers)
4.) Pay off my credit card (I'll do it myself when my house sells, but see #3)
5.) Finish my rehab project (c'mon, you know you want to)

Or if you are short on cash...
1.) pull my weeds for the summer
2.) do my taxes
3.) teach my neighbor how to parallel park so he doesn't screw up the street for everyone everytime
4.) organize my life (just give me a system that works for me)
5.) help me move

Sunday, December 04, 2005

This is not easy!

I underestimated how hard having a baby would be. I've heard a million times from parents that it's difficult, but I kind of thought they were exaggerating. In retrospect I think they were probably lowballing the amount of effort in an attempt to trick the childless into their group. Either that or they lost their minds and had forgotten how much effort it takes. I thought it was simply a matter of maintenance (feed, change, wash, repeat). You get a good schedule going and it practically takes care of itself. Effortless.

What people don't express is all the stress involved. It's not just the feeding but worrying about when they are going to eat, are they getting enough, too much, are they going to spew it out this time, etc. Changing is much easier, unless of course you start changing them before they are done. That can get messy. I think certain aspects get easier as the child grows. There is more decision making that needs to be done (Can they spend the night at a friends house that you've never met?), but at a certain point they can do a lot of things for themselves. They become less fragile.

One thing this experience has done is made me more sympathetic to single parent families. I think Jen and are doing a pretty good job of working together and sharing the load. She's up with him more often at night during the week since I have to work, but I'm up with him 3 nights a week (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday). I can't imagine how you could do it on your own. I guess that's why people bring their extended families into the mix. Share the burden or go insane seems to be the 2 choices.

We do love him. How could you not? But we are anxious for him to grow up a little. Talking and walking are going to be really fun. Or am I being overly optimistic again?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The New Old Busch Stadium

They're building a new baseball stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals. It will be ready for the 2006 season and will also be called Busch Stadium. The old Busch Stadium built in the 1960's was a modern structure inspired by the then new St. Louis Arch. The Arch is the most beautiful Modernist Monument in the world. Cutting edge in every way. I love the Arch and loved that the stadium reflected the style of the Arch. There was a cohesiveness to the two structures. It gave the city an identifiable character.

The new stadium is one of the retro style stadiums that have been built around the country over the last decade. This stadium is taking inspiration from another St. Louis landmark, Eads Bridge. This is a structure that was also cutting edge for it's day. That day, however, was the 1860's.

I'm sure the new stadium will be swell. It'll have modern amenities and feel architecturally cozy and old fashioned with it's faux brick exterior. People may say that it takes them back to when they were a kid at the old Sportsman's Park. I'm not sure this is a good thing. When do we move forward? When do we get the flying cars we were promised as kids? When do the cops get ray guns that'll stop you in your tracks rather than put 12 bullets in you?

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm a huge fan of old buildings. I don't think we should ever tear one down. They are precious reminders of a different era. An era when things were built with an attention to detail. Save the old buildings! In instances where a new building is being put on an empty lot, however, we should not try and build an old looking building. It's an insult to the designers and tradesman who made the old buildings. We should build something equally as cutting edge. We should be designing pneumatic tubes or transporters to move people around. That would be as cutting edge as elevators were in the 1890's.

People like old things. Retro is fashionable. Designers seem to be basing their designs on old fashioned items. Look at kitchen appliances now. All of the coolest contemporary ones look like they were made in the 50's. The toasters you buy now look like the one in your Grandma's kitchen when you were a kid.

The new Ford Mustang is another example. Ford created, and has been very successful in selling, a new Mustang that looks like it was built in 1969. I think it's pretty cool too. But Ford is not breaking new boundries. They did not create the Honda Insight or the Toyota Prius because they were too busy looking backwards. We need to look forward as a society. That is what Modernism is all about.

Architects, artists, designers help to shape our society. They move us forward. They show us that the past is no longer with us and that we are moving toward the future together. Or at least they are showing Asians and Europeans they are moving toward the future together. American designers are showing us that it's 1950 all over again. I hope everyone is comfortable in that.

W.W.E.S.B.? What would Eero Saarinen build?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fashion confused

I love Fall (or Autumn if you prefer). It's a great time of year. There are overlap seasons though. There should be a name for the seasons that are between the 4 seasons. Right now it's mid November but it is 80 degrees (Indian Summer?). It's funny to go to public places and see how everyone is dressed. Some people dress for November. They picked up their new sweater and leather jacket in August and couldn't wait any longer to wear them. They're out in turtlenecks and jeans and have got to be uncomfortable. Some people dress for the temperature and are out in shorts and t-shirts. It's funny to get them in the same place. I wonder if they know how awkward they look together. If anyone snaps a good secret picture of fashion confused people please send them to me so I can post. stlstuff at sbcglobal dot net

Sunday, November 06, 2005

New Life

Rehabbing: The house is coming along. I had one setback this week with my shower. I have a custom sized shower. It's 8 feet x 3 feet with a seat at either end. I need to have a custom shower floor made that slopes towards the drain. It's pretty important that water doesn't pool or leak below so I wanted to leave it to a professional. After having 4 "professionals" out to look at it and either give me a really high bid or not bother to get back to me at all I've decided to do it myself. This was the last thing I wanted to do, but I think in the end I'll be really proud to have done it myself.

I've also had a difficult time finding someone to install my kitchen/flex room floor. It's the entire back of the house and we wanted to do a sheet Congoleum in black. It would look very industrial and not have many seams which would leave fewer places for dirt to hide. After bids in the $4,000 range I called a place nearby in the city. The guy talked me out of the sheet material because it's going over a wood floor and not something more stable like concrete. He said tiles would work better because they have more flex to them. He also gave me a bid of $1,600 which made it easy for me to make the decision. So in the end we are going with an all black Congoleum tile floor.

Throughout this project I've had a mantra. It's "simplify and black". With any decision that needs to be made I think of ways to simplify the look which I believe will give me a more modern feel or I wonder if black would be appropriate. The doorknobs are all black enamel and that inspired the black thinking. Example: Picking wall colors. Black is not appropriate. So I thought of ways to simplify. In the end we are painting the trim and walls the same color (different finishes but the same color). This cuts down on the number of color decisions that need to be made (simplyfying my life) and it unifies the rooms making the space feel larger. This is pretty common in "modern" homes and I think it'll make our historic home feel more contemporary.

I also needed to make a decision about tile for the entryway. We had all of our wood floors refinished, but there was a space next to the front door that had different flooring that had been removed. I thought of my mantra and it made the decision easy. I ordered some flat black ceramic tiles with onyx colored grout. In the end it will be very elegant and tie in with the black floor in the kitchen at the back of the house. In a future project I'll probably have an alternate mantra (sunflowers and shiny? rectangles and stone?), but having a simple plan helps keep the project cohesive.

So, the shower not being done is holding up a lot of the finish plumbing and the kitchen floor not being done is holding up cabinet installation. Both of these things should be completed this week which would be a big step towards the completion of the project! Yippee.

Movies: We haven't been to the theater since having the baby, but we did rent a movie last night that was really interesting. The dvd was Millions directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later fame. It was unpredictable which is one of my 2 criteria* for enjoying a movie.

*My movie enjoying criteria: 1) The movie has to be unpredictable. If I know what is going to happen before it happens then the filmmakers didn't do a very good job. 2) It must show me a world into which I would not otherwise see. That world could be the world of my next door neighbor, but it would have to be an aspect of their life that I wouldn't see if it wasn't for the film. Movies can meet either or both of these criteria and I will usually enjoy some aspect of them. It would be the rare film that doesn't meet either criteria and I would still enjoy it.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Babies Rule

Nathan is awesome. I can already tell he's going to be a fun kid to have around. He doesn't do much right now except cry, sleep and chug formula, but a Father knows these things. We are already looking forward to the next step. We're ready for him to talk, walk, laugh, etc. We don't want to miss out on this precious time but there is so much to look forward to and we want to enjoy it all now.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Our son has arrived. It was a tough birth. First Jen had the External Cyphilic Version which was successful in turning the baby head down, but which resulted in a little tear between the uteran wall and the placenta. Then they induced for 20 hours but were unhappy with the results. So finally in was cesearian section.

Regardless of the trip he is here and now the journey begins.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Big news. Not THE big news though.

Big, shocking news yesterday from the doctor. The baby is breach! Nobody else had detected this. Our own doctor is on maternity leave (she had a breach baby) so we've seen a different doctor nearly every time we've been in there. There are 5 doctors in the practice and we've seen all five. This was the first visit to see this new doctor. She herself is pregnant too.

Thursday, we are going into the hospital and they are going to try and turn the baby through external manipulation. If they are successful in doing that 2 things can happen. It can spur on labor or nothing. If they turn the baby they may just send us home and wait until Jen goes into labor. If they are unsuccessful in turning the baby they will do a C-section immediately. C-sections are common but it is surgery and there are risks. It wouldn't be ideal.

It is odd to have a due date (tomorrow! my birthday! and possibly my son's birthday!). We had gotten so used to the idea of Jen being a week or two late that it didn't occur to me that we could have the baby on the actual due date. A date that was named by the doctors many moons ago.

There is so much to do in one day. I've got to charge the camera, pack a bag, wrap up things with the new house, schedule subcontractors, make sure the old house is ready to show realtors and clients, and about 450 small things. Jeez Louise.

Name: It looks like we are going with Samuel. It's kind of a last minute entry. Jen abbreviates or nicknames everyone. Samuel works as Sam for a grown up and Sammy for a baby. Our other favorite name is Nathan. Nathan works as Nate but not Nathy or Natey. Always was a problem. I thought of Samuel when I was looking up the name of my favorite blues musician. He went by the name Lightnin' Hopkins and it never really occured to me that he had another name. I looked it up and found out that his name was Sam Hopkins. Also Sam Cooke is one of my favorite Soul singers (#2 after Otis Redding and Otis just wasn't going to fly). So Sam seemed like a legitimate contender. We'll see. Jen says she wants to see him first. We could come home with a Woody or Mikey Jr. or who knows what. It could all go down tomorrow by 8:30am though.

Music: Loving the new Calexico/Iron & Wine album. Also putting in some time with the Fruit Bats "Spelled in Bones".

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

On tonight's episode of "The Rehab Project"...

Trim going up around the windows.

Floors in the baby's room yesterday.

Floors in the baby's room today.

All new trim taking up current residence in the kitchen.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

What me worry?

Rehab: I've been busy. It's to be expected. I knew months ago it was going to be like this. It is 1:20am and I just finished working for the day. It's been about a 16 hour work day.

It's all because we have our first open house on Sunday. We're selling our current home so that we can move into our soon to be completed house next door. It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't such a procrastinator. When we moved into our house there were still many things that needed to be done. When we got married in our house (it'll be a year ago Sunday) I finished a bunch of things but not everything. Now I have to finish everything so that we can get top dollar. I've been busting my ass.

All week I've been splitting my time between working on my current home and my new home. I've learned to prioritize very well. I have not been able to see more than 2 days into the future. I do what has to be done right now and can't worry about something that has to be done tomorrow. It's been eye opening.

This week in the new house I had a new basement floor poured (busting up and hauling out the old one was a joy and a half), sanded and primed the drywall, purchased vanities for the bathrooms, tiled 1 bathroom, started tiling another, ordered a stainless steel handrail, ordered a vanity top for the master bathroom, priced all new appliances and cabinets, and did a bunch of prep and painting in my house to get it ready to go on the market.

The baby is due in less than 3 weeks so it doesn't look like the new house will be done, but it is getting there. Everyone says the baby just sleeps in a bassinet in your room for the first couple of months anyway. So he won't know that his room in his new house isn't done yet. Why stress about things 3 weeks from now when I have a million things to stress about for tomorrow?

Listening: While I'm working I've been trying to listen to music more often. I frequently listen to NPR but I have had my fill of Katrina and Iraq coverage for now. I've been listening to the Fruit Bats, Lucero, the Mountain Goats and several other new releases along with all the old favorites. Helps keep me company.

Watching: Very excited about Lost starting up again. I also enjoyed the My Name is Earl premiere paired up with The Office for a solid hour of non reality tv on NBC. This week saw Martha's Apprentice, Donald's Apprentice, Next Top Model, and many other Fall shows broadcast across my screen.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Not clueless

Baby: Last week we took a tour of the hospital where my son will be born and yesterday we took a caregiver's class. In the class we learned rudimentary elements of taking care of a child that included feeding, changing and bathing. I don't think either of us learned anything surprising, but it did help reinforce the fact that we aren't completely clueless.

Rehab: The house is coming along. The taper/mudder finished up yesterday. The flooring guys made all of their repairs and started sanding the perimeter of each room. They have another job they need to go to for a week and then they'll be back to finish up. I'm going to spend the week priming the walls of the whole house and setting the tile in all 3 bathrooms. We've picked out our cabinets and are working on the counter tops. We've decided to go with inexpensive unfinished cabinets since we plan on painting them a custom color anyway and instead spend the money we'll save on the counter tops and get something really nice. I haven't completely eliminated the idea of doing concrete counter tops, but it is a time consuming project and I don't know if I'll have the time to spare.

I just counted and I have 32 days before this baby arrives. That also means I have 32 days before our new house needs to be done and our old house needs to be on the market and preferably SOLD. It's going to be an exciting month. If you don't hear from me don't worry. I'm just working myself to death before a take an 8 week paternity leave.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Gallery Opening

This weekend was a fun one. I've been working on promoting a gallery opening for the past couple of weeks and the show was on Saturday. The show was called Paper Cuts and Track Marks and was a gig poster show inspired by my own collection. There were 11 artists involved and a couple of the artists came from out of town to be at the show. We received some good press and hung posters throughout town. There were family members of the artists, people I knew, people I didn't know, people I wanted to know and they all seemed to have a good time and get along. I hope we can do another poster show in the future and maybe even make it an ongoing show every 6 months or so. There are plenty of artists making posters on an ongoing basis making it possible to do frequent shows of new material.
Andrew Vastagh of Memphis, TN

The work of Brady Vest of Hammerpress in KC, MO

Bob Boring of Boring Inc. and Steve Walters of Screwball Press Chicago, IL

Admiring Crowd

Aaron spinning tunes

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Drywall is up!

Framing complete.

Insulation installed.

Couldn't even wait for the dust to settle to take this picture! Drywall is complete. Inspection is tomorrow and then the taping and mudding begins. Our flooring guy may even get started before Labor Day if the weather stays agreeable and the mud dries quickly.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Computer Insurance

I had a small problem in that there was a power surge and my hard drive seized. I lost everything. Pretty much 4 years worth of photos and thousands of songs that I only had in a digital format. I have now purchased a new, larger harddrive and a DVD burner so I can store everything on a couple of discs as well as a battery backup to avoid this problem again in the future. Just a bit of advice for y'all...back up your data. It too can happen to you.

It's going to take me awhile to get back up to speed and upload a bunch of cd's again. The one silver lining is that this happened before the baby came. I will now be better prepared and not lose all of my son's baby pictures due to some randomn surge in power on my street.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Baby Name Game

Baby: My sister-in-law's due date was 3 days ago. She's not happy about that. It's hot and she's not sleeping and is taking care of a 2 year old during the day. Honestly though I hope Jen is late. I'm really anxious to see my son for the first time, but I could use every extra minute I can get to finish the house and prepare for the new addition to our family.

We do not have a name yet. I will not be able to choose a name. Our baby will go nameless. At least that's how I feel in this moment. My wife is pushing to name him after me. Michael was the most popular name for boys for over 30 years. It has declined while names like Jack and Max have increased, but naming your child after yourself seems self indulgent. Will he feel he has to live up to something? There are plenty of good names out there right? I just can't think of them.

Lots of people name their kids after people they admire. I've searched hard and come to the realization that I don't admire people. I don't admire things in general. I tend to admire specific things. I admire a painting, but not the artist because the artist did a bunch of crap in their later years. I admire a song or an album, but not the singer/songwriter because he was also an alcoholic that beat his wife. I admire a film but the director was a one hit wonderchild that hasn't put anything worthwhile out in 8 years. I just don't admire people. I see the flaws. I don't judge or hold their flaws against them. I just don't respect them enough to name my child after them.

One caveat is that I admire my Dad but he hates his own name and doesn't want us to burdon our child with his moniker.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Excuses, excuses

It's been tough to blog lately. My harddrive fried due to a power surge. Occasionally Jen brings her laptop home from work so that I can log on and keep in touch. I think the heat has just as much to do with not publishing too. It's been in the upper 90's for 2 weeks and is supposed to hit 102 today. I'm really working hard to get my rehab project ready to move into, but I feel like I'm moving underwater. It's so hot that I work at about half the speed I would like to be working. It's supposed to cool off this week. They are calling for the high on tuesday to be 84 degrees.

My HVAC guys finsished the rough in on Thursday and the plumbers start their rough in on Monday. I've been working all weekend to buy fixtures and tile so that the plumbers have everything they need to do the job. Hopefully I can get the electricians in either while the plumbers are there or shortly thereafter. Then the drywall goes up. All 3 mechanical contractors come back and finish up. The floors get sanded and refinished. The trim goes up. The painting happens and then we move in. Simple. Only problem is that there are a million jobs and decisions that need to be done and made in that time all by me. Yikes. In that time I also need to finish some of the things I've never completed on our house so that we can put it on the market. Hopefully Jen doesn't go into labor early and we can have a completed home for our baby to come home to. From past experience I can say that it will all work out. What I don't know is exactly how it will work out. I'm keeping my mental fingers crossed while I work away each day. Wish me luck.

Friday, July 15, 2005

July Mix Exchange

Volume 3 In the ongoing saga of my Gigposters cd mix exchange: July was a hard one for me. I wasn't feeling inspired at all and the guy that I was making the mix for likes the opposite kind of music I do. He likes really edgy industrial electronic music. I like very organic indie rock and roll.

Once I decided to just give him a mix of what I like and hope that he finds something in their for himself I was able to throw the mix and artwork together in one day. I made 2 discs. One that is more upbeat and one that is a little calmer and more peaceful. Disc one was called Keep it Up! and disc 2 was called Keep it Down!

For the artwork I used and old super 8 film tin that I found in a second hand store. I scanned the reel and used that as the art on the front of the actual discs. I left the sticker that was on the front of the tin. It was something about Christmas 1962 at Edna Jones' house. That seemed worth keeping. I also cut the liner notes out of one piece of paper and cut it to fit inside the tin.

Keep it Up!
1. Kings of Leon - Four Kicks
2. the White Stripes - Red Death at 6:14
3. Mule - We Know You're Drunk
4. Low - Monkey
5. the Hives - Main Offender
6. the Stooges - No Fun
7. the Sights - Just Got Robbed
8. Spoon - My Mathematical Mind
9. Yo La Tengo - Speeding Motorcycle
10. Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - Satisfied
11. the Black Keys - Heavy Soul
12. Love as Laughter - Every Midnight Song
13. Broken Social Scene - cause=time
14. the Kinks - Milk Cow Blues
15. My Morning Jacket - Dancefloors
16. the Afghan Whigs - Hated
17. Von Bondies - Lack of Communication
18. Elliott Smith - Shooting Star
19. Big Chief - My Name is Pimp
20. Rugburns - Me and Eddie Vedder

Keep it Down!
1. Tilly and the Wall - Bessa
2. Lou Barlow - High School
3. Bright Eyes - Land Locked Blues
4. Cat Power - I Don't Blame You
5. Ryan Adams - Halloween
6. Jay Farrar & Kelly Willis - Rex's Blues
7. Superchunk - Detroit Has a Skyline (acoustic)
8. Ben Kweller - Lizzy
9. Brendoan Benson & the Wellfed Boys - Alternative to Love
10. Lightnin' Hopkins - Feel So Bad
11. Willie Nelson - Too Sick to Pray
12. Evan Dando - Why do you do this to yourself?
13. Nina Simone - Nobody's Fault but Mine
14. Kasey Chambers - Lost and Foundd
15. Josh Rouse - My Love Has Gone
16. Weezer - Butterfly
17. Clem Snide - Don't Let the Sun Go Down on your Grievience
18. Kelly Joe Phelps - That's Alright
19. Jon Langford - Everyone Speaks Elton John (from This American Life)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

5 Stitches

Rehab: I received my worst injury pertaining to rehabbing yesterday. I was cutting through a brittle cast iron pipe in the basement with my sawzall when it snapped off and one end bounced off the ground and the other jagged end landed on my arm. It didn't hurt very much and I thought about how lucky I was that it didn't land on my face or head. Then I saw the blood. After I rinsed off the dirt and saw the size of the gash I realized that it was more than a bandaid could fix. I figured I shouldn't drive myself to the hospital so I called Jen and she gave up a dinner with the gals from work to take me to the ER. I ended up getting 5 stitches. The most painful part of the entire thing was the 6 hours in the emergency room.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

July 4, 2005

So Jen and I decided to make a pretty much last minute trip to Michigan to see my family for the long July 4th holiday. Lately we've only been going up for Christmas and we've wanted to make more frequent trips. With the baby coming Jen has been hoarding vacation time to supplement maternity leave and the long weekend gave us an opportunity to dash up there without using up accrued vacation time. Her one request was that we go to Ann Arbor so she can get a hot dog and waffle fries at Red Hot Lovers (her fave lunch spot when she lived there). Everytime we go up for Christmas it's closed for the holiday.

Unfortunately it was also closed for the Independence Day weekend. Maybe next year? At least we got to have a lovely dinner with Ken and Nicole so it wasn't a total bust.

On Sunday my parents had a BBQ and one of my cousins
brought her 3 and 5 year old girls, 6 week old son and husband. The girls went berry picking in their bare feet and turned them purple. It was a great image of being a child in the summer.

The girls came over with a makeup kit and were offering makeovers for a very reasonable fee. The "boy" makeovers consisted of grape hand lotion. I asked the 3 year old, Riley, what she planned to do with the money she earned. She said she wanted to buy a diary. I asked her if she could write? She is only 3. She said she can write her name and "I heart you". I thought that was the sweetest thing I heard the whole trip.

On our way home sunday we ran into a little car trouble. I heard a flapping sound under the hood 400 miles into our trip and 150 miles from home. Almost immediately the car felt humid. I was 1 mile out from a rest area just south of Terre Haute, IN. We pulled into the rest area, I popped the hood and saw that the main belt was splintering off into shards and one of the shards cut through the air conditioning hose. The belt had shredded like this once before. My 2002 Liberty has 60,000 miles! This shouldn't happen twice in 2 years with a vehicle just 3 years old. The last time this happened we were in town and had it towed to the dealer where it was repaired under warranty.

I have little knowledge about auto repair and was underprepared for this emergency. I went in the rest area where they have a staff person positioned to answer tourist questions. I found out that a small town was 2 miles down the road and since it was after 5pm on a holiday we'd probably have to get a hotel room and wait for a repair shop to open in the morning.

I came back out to the car and just stared at the engine. I was dumbfounded. Having experienced this before I knew it wouldn't make the couple of miles to the next town. A man came up to me and asked if I was having trouble. I wasn't in a great mood but explained to him what was going on. He told me he could fix it if I could get a new belt. It was a holiday! Where was I going to get a new belt? He said the auto parts store was open the previous evening (Sunday) until 9pm in Ohio and he thought it'd be open on the 4th too.

I went back inside and called the nearest Autozone. They were in fact open until 8pm and had the belt for $7.99. The man offered to drive us the 9 miles back to Terre Haute to get the part and he'd install it for us. This was a strangely generous offer. I spoke to Jen (noticably pregnant which may have helped in getting attention or attracting a serial killer) and we decided to go with him. If we were going to get murdered in Indiana at least it was going to happen to us together.

In his vehicle we found out the man's name was Tom and that he was the head mechanic at a Dodge dealer in Ohio near Dayton. He had 3 weeks off and was wrapping up a visit with his daughter and heading to Vandalia to spend time with his son's family. We had an uneventful trip to the store. Jen and I later confirmed that we both were breathing sighs of relief every time he made a turn that brought us closer to the store as opposed to some dark dead end.

On the return trip we stopped at a gas station to fill up Tom's truck and got back to the car without incident. It took him all of about 10 minutes to change the belt with the wrench I purchased and we were on our way, sans A.C., but at least we didn't have to stay in a crummy motel for the night. Tom was our hero. If we were driving some other kind of vehicle he wouldn't have offered since he only works on Chrysler vehicles. Our tale turned from tragic to a simple 1 hour delay. Thank you Tom! I'm unsure of whether this was a reward, instant karma like, or if I need to now pay it forward. I am very grateful regardless.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

it's the heat

I have not been blogging much. It's too hot. 98 degrees today with no end in sight. I'm working hard on my rehab project. Framing is nearly complete. Windows are being wrapped up today and tomorrow. HVAC rough in begins next week. Then plumbing and electrical rough ins to follow. I still need to install the cement board in the kitchen and bathrooms and repoint the basement walls. We have set aside time next weekend to shop for tile, cabinets, light fixtures and other decorative elements. So much to do. So little energy to do it.

The timing of the completion of the project, the baby coming, putting our house up for sale, moving next door, etc. is like a perfect storm. It's looming in the distance and it could be a disaster of epic proportions. Nothing to do about it now but put my nose to the grindstone and hope for the best. Wish me luck.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What I'm doing this summer

Wearing: Got some Chuck Taylor Converse navy low tops for the summer. Haven't had any since I was a kid. First time I wore them I rubbed all the skin off of my heals. Got to remember to break them in. Also wearing cargo shorts. I need them to hold my perscription sunglasses, phone, notepad, ipod mini, camera, etc. I'm migrating away from printed tees to solid color better cut and quality tees. I also picked up a pair of super lightweight khakis that are great for summer nights.
Planning: To go to Canada for my cousin's wedding in August and see my brother and new niece/nephew due in July.
Listening to: the new White Stripes on my ipod mini.
Reading: Mixtape edited by Thurston Moore and A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Watching: The Detroit Pistons beat the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, Six Feet Under, and a slew of embarrassing reality shows.
Bored of: People ranting

Happy with: My new Sony Cybershot 7.2 megapixel camera
Snacking: Charleston mini chews and Junior Carmels (from the makers of Junior mints, they're like soft Milk Duds)
Drinking: Newcastle, Sierra Mist, Minute Maid light Mango Passion
Loving: How cute my wife is in her maternity clothes.
Anticipating: My son being born in October.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Television: We've got Moxi! Moxi is our local cable company version of a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). DVR's are routinely referred to as Tivo since that is the first recognizable brand name. I like this one because I didn't have to get an additional phone line installed.

Moxi is changing my life. First of all it has streamlined my entertainment area. Moxi is the same size as my previous digital cable box, but it also replaces my VCR. Thereby eliminating one of the electronic black boxes surrounding my tv. It is pretty easy to use and is changing my tv watching habits.

Last night Jen and I decided that it would be a wonderful evening to sit outside at a restaurant and eat dinner. But wait, the Pistons are playing the Spurs in game 3 of the NBA finals. Moxi to the rescue. I programmed the DVR to record the game with about 2 buttons pushed. We went to dinner at Syberg's. We had a relaxing dinner sitting outside. I had a chicken quesadilla and Jen had a giant chef's salad and we split a basket of fries. Yum. We got home about an hour into the game. I was able to go back to the beginning of the game and start watching while Moxi was still recording. After fast forwarding through the commercials I caught up to real time by the 3rd quarter and was able to watch Detroit stomp San Antonio along with the rest of the world.

In the past we would have to program 1 or 2 of our vcrs to catch all of our shows and if you got home 10 minutes into a show you would have to decide whether you wanted to dive in and miss out on the first 10 min or wait 50 more minutes until the show was completed and start watching from the beginning. Now we actually try to start shows late or we'll randomly pause in the middle to grab some dessert. When we get back to the show we can blow through the commercials and enjoy the show even more.

This invention is great because it allows me to watch more tv (hard to believe) in less time, and when I want to watch it. Eventually they won't even broadcast programs. They'll just download programs to your home device and you'll get a message when new programs are available. Can't wait.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It's a happy time!

We had a little health scare. Jen has some travelling to do for work. She flew to NY last Wednesday and then was going to spend some time with an old friend who now lives in Brooklyn and come back on Sunday. Thursday she was working out in the hotel gym and noticed a sore spot on her thigh. She felt a bump that she knew wasn't there before. She had no recollection of getting hit or stung by anything. Being pregnant and flying are 2 things that can cause blood clots so she called her doctor to see what she should do. After a brief interview it was decided that it was unlikely to be a blood clot, but that she should have it checked out. She cancelled the rest of her weekend plans and flew home on Friday.

After 4 hours in the emergency room we got in to get a vascular ultrasound. It ruled out a clot but did not determine exactly what it was. At no time was the baby in any danger, but it does make your mind wander. We've only got another few weeks before the baby is considered viable outside the womb. At that point she could give birth, but health problems both short and long term would be likely. It doesn't look like that will happen. Jen is going strong and looking good. She's convinced she's bigger than average and I have to say I agree. Her belly is really popping out. Strangers on the street now smile at us and ask her when she's due and all. It's a happy time!

June: CD Mix Exchange

I sent off my June cd mix for the gigposters exchange. I tried to be more creative with this one. Many of the mixes that I saw last month were hand drawn or screen printed. I felt bad about my weak attempt at being creative so I tried to step it up a notch. I created a sort of boxed set feel by creating a package with the cds inside.

I made this case myself by cutting it out of an old rollerblades box. I then folded it and doodled all over it so that at least one part of it is hand done. I then put a velcro attachment onto the inside to hold it shut. I included 2 mixes for my next victim. The first is mostly contemporary stuff and the second is mostly vintage.

When I Go Deaf: June Mix Exchange
Ben Kweller - Wasted & Ready
Kings of Leon - Red Morning Light
the Black Keys - Heavy Soul
Love as Laughter - Dirty Lives
Spoon - My Mathematical Mind
Cat Power - He War
Low - When I Go Deaf
the Sights - Waiting on a Friend
the White Stripes - Red Death at 6:14
TV on the Radio - Staring at the Sun
Josh Rouse - Slaveship
The Streets - Don't Mug Yourself
Hayseed Dixie - Cat Scratch Fever
Secret Machines - Sad & Lonely
Danger Mouse (feat the Beatles & JayZ) - Encore
DJ Shadow - Untitled Heavy Beat, pt 1&2
Guster - Barrel of a Gun
Kev Russell's Junker - (Somebody Bring Me a Flower) I'm a Robot
Brendan Benson - Good to Me
Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - Satisfied
Clem Snide - Messiah Complex Blues
Buffalo Tom - Birdbrain
Evan Dando - Fade to Black

I made a bonus mix of songs. This one is primarily a getting dumped/hitting hard times theme.
I Gotta Get Drunk: June Mix Exchange (bonus)
Ike & Tina Turner - A Fool in Love
Ernest Tubb - Thanks a Lot
Son House - Death Letter
Nina Simone - I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl
Charlie Rich - Don't Put No Headstone on My Grave
Jimmy Reed - I Ain't Got You
Sly & the Family Stone - If You Want Me to Stay
Willie Nelson - I Gotta Get Drunk
Otis Redding - Pain in My Heart
Loretta Lynn - Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on You Mind)
Pee Wee Crayton - When it Rains it Pours
Betty Everett - You're No Good
Lightnin' Hopkins - Jake Head Boogie
Solomon Burke - Got to Get You Off My Mind
Aretha Franklin - (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone
John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom
John Prine/Dolores Keane - It's a Cheating Situation
Sam Cooke - Please Don't Drive Me Away
Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind
Ray Charles - Busted
James Cotton - Worried Life Blues
Clarence Carter - Snatching it Back
Junior Wells - Give Me One Reason
Webb Pierce - More & More
Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightning
Louis Armstrong/Velma Middleton - Trouble in Mind

Monday, May 30, 2005

baby digs and poster gigs

Baby: We've purchased our crib set. These are basically sheets for the baby's room, but are very specialized. They will allow us to start putting together a plan for the decor of the baby's room.

Probably the biggest priority for Jen right now seems to be picking a name. Now that we know it's a boy we are able to quickly narrow down the list to a few names. This is one of the most difficult things that I'll ever have to do. The repercussions will last for generations. I do realize that whatever name we come up with will simply be how we know the baby. Names seem to fit the person after awhile. Once you call your baby Cornelius a million times you can't imagine calling the baby anything else. I would like to come up with a name that isn't too common or too strange as to give my child unneeded baggage once he walks into a classroom or a workplace.

For some reason I don't want to pick a name too early. Maybe I want to have the name be the surprise since the sex is not. I'm not sure. I don't want to be rushed. This much I know.

Gig Posters: I'm going to coordinate a poster show for St. Louis. A friend is going to be a part time gallery curator for a place that opens this weekend. We have spoken about doing a poster show in September. I'm really excited to give artists a place to show and sell their work and bring a little sense of what I consider cool to my city.

There is a large poster show, Flatstock 7, in Seattle in September so that will draw a lot of the really big designers, but it should also allow us to piggy back on the press it will receive. I think we'll be doing a show that is smaller and more or less regional to begin with. Once we work this one out and get some experience we should be able to do something larger and more impressive down the road. It'll be good to get our feet wet with something like this.

I'm excited to work with some talented people and to plan the opening night celebration. I'm going to try and get some of the artists to speak about their craft, serve some food and drinks and of course burn a wicked cool mix to entertain the masses. I'll post updates. Assume you are invited.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

It's a BOY

Baby: We caved. We started talking about it last night and decided in the waiting room that we were going to find out the sex of the baby at today's ultrasound. It's a good thing we did. It's going to take Jen the remaining 4.5 months to come to terms with the fact that she is having a son. She can't even imagine what that will be like or what kind of relationship she'll have with him. She feels like she'll be outnumbered by guys now. She's right in that it will be 2 guys to one girl but the 2 guys will completely adore her.

This is both good and bad news for me. I'm thrilled to be having a son. I am worried that much of the blame will fall on me if I am unsuccessful in raising a son. It seems that it will be my job to make sure that he fits in well with other boys. That he doesn't become either a bully or a pushover. That he knows enough about men's interests to fit in but not to the exclusion of other interests that women can't relate to him. The pressure is now on me more so than if we found out we were having a girl. I could have just spoiled daddy's little girl and gotten away with it.

There are plenty of benefits to knowing that we were previously in denial about. Decorating the nursery is one thing. Also we only need to come up with one name. That alone is going to be very difficult. We don't have to buy all of those gender neutral things. I didn't know that most baby stores were filled with light green things. Filled.

Today was a very special day. Each day that passes makes it feel more real. Each goal, deadline or benchmark that we achieve adds a little more confidence. At some point my son will call me Dad and I won't even look around to see who he's talking to.

Rehab: Tuckpointers showed up this morning. 2 weeks early! Not a bad thing, but it was a surprise. Steve is coming tomorrow morning to start the framing. The window guys are moving along nicely. Things have been slow but they are picking up momentum and probably won't slow down much until the end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


The other day Jen and I were stopped at a light on Grand and saw a guy roll down his window and throw a whole bag of fast food garbage out the window, roll up the window and drive off. This is not the first time I have witnessed this kind of behavior. It makes me wish they allowed caning in the city of St. Louis. I have an anti-death penalty stance, but would love to see more extreme punishment on these kinds of crimes. What kind of filthy pig behaves in this manner? Nothing says "ghetto" quicker than trash blowing down the street. I didn't see the license plate on the car, but from my recent run-ins with the police, I would not expect them to behave appropriately to my complaint. This is going to have to be the last of my rants. I've got to get out and enjoy something before I (or a vein in my temple) burst.

I grew up in the suburbs and for the first time since moving to St. Louis I'm wondering if that is where I belong. In the suburbs people hurry across the street, they do not creep and glare at you as they cross the street. People throw trash in containers, and if they don't someone WILL say something since they don't live in fear of retaliation. I love parts of the city. There are some benefits, but do they outweigh the drawbacks? Will the things that are out of my control change for the better quick enough? Will I be allowed to raise my child in an urban environment free from fear? Will I turn my home into a fortress/prison to save myself from the nightmare that is rush hour traffic? I will be thinking hard about these things in the next year or two. City don't let me down. You've come a long way, Baby!

Monday, May 16, 2005

There's a baby comin'

Baby: Jen is definitely pregnant. She has grown out of all regular clothes and can only wear maternity now. For awhile she could get away with wearing larger sizes but that doesn't work any longer. Her body continues to change but I think from here on out it'll mostly be just her belly growing.

She couldn't ever imagine what it would be like to have a baby moving inside her. It seemed so alien. What she's learned, however, is that the 9 month process is long and slow enough that you get used to things before the big changes. By the time the baby is large enough to come out giving birth will seem like the most normal thing.

The length of time works in my favor as well. I'm hoping that by the time the baby arrives I'll feel like (and behave like?) a father. I think already doing things like researching strollers and pumpkin seats helps to take the mystery out of the whole parental thing.

This Thursday we have the ultrasound where they can tell us the sex of the baby. We are still sticking to the plan of not finding out what we are having. That may change. We are weak. Would be nice to know. We'll see.

Music: Spending a lot of time with Spoon's Gimme Fiction right now. I can't believe this band is from Austin, Texas. They are the least Texas sounding band I've ever heard. Music from Texas is usually unable to get away from a roots sound. This band could be from anywhere (UK, Sweden, Iceland). Very nice contemporary sound made with guys playing real instruments.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

We were Robbed!

I don't mean figuratively. Tonight our house was illegally entered, ransacked and valuable items stolen. I can't sleep now because I'm still upset by it. It is such a violation! This is not helping my current sense of rage.

Here's the story. Jen and I went to Arcelia's for dinner because we've been craving Mexican food. Just before we left the house I took the trash out to the dumpster in the alley. I think I forgot to lock the door behind me when I came in and we left for dinner immediately afterwards (7pm). We were thrilled that there wasn't a wait. We got a table right away and ordered our meals. Afterwards we came home (8:30pm). Right when we walked in the door I noticed some lights on and I joked to Jen that she forgot to turn them off. She said she didn't leave any lights on. I noticed the couch cushions were messed up and I orderd Jen out of the house while I looked around. One peak upstairs and I saw the disaster. Every drawer was pulled out and dumped on beds and the floor. I went outside to tell her to call the cops. I remembered that my neighbor behind the alley had been working on his car all day so I went back there to see if he had seen anything and his wife said that she saw 4 or 5 young black males walking out of our house about an hour and a half earlier (very close to the time we had left). She's a schoolteacher and described them as being between 7th and 10th grade and wearing the usual long white T-shirt and blue jeans that every single kid in the neighborhood wears.

We didn't want to touch anything in the house until the cops got there. I did go down in the basement to see if anyone was hiding down there and saw the basement door, which is always locked, was wide open. The cop arrived, took a report and called for the crime lab to show up and take fingerprints. The crime lab guy was no CSI guy. All he did was tell me how he couldn't get fingerprints off anything. Everything had either too many fingerprints or wasn't a surface that he could get fingerprints from. No help there.

We started cleaning up and taking note of what we had lost. The first thing I noticed is that a bowl full of change had been emptied. About $20 worth of change. Then Jen started naming all of the things that kids would want to steal. I ran to the office and saw that my MP3 player, our digital camera and our video camera had all been swiped. We also found a can of soda in the bedroom and realized they stole beer and a 12 pack of Pepsi from the fridge. The worst, though, was the video camera. The case contained our entire library of irreplaceable family videos. I know it could have been worse, but it could have not happened at all.

I try to be polite as flocks of school aged kids walk down the middle of my street cursing and yelling at each other and everyone else. I tell myself that they are rude, but they haven't been taught any better. Lack of manners doesn't make them criminals? From now on I'll be suspicious of every kid that walks by my house. The cops said that they are most likely neighborhood kids. Which ones? I want to know. I want to smack the shit out of them and then, when I know I have their attention, give them a piece of my mind. This is a fantasy. I'll never know who broke into my house. Just like I'll never know who stole both of my cars 2 years ago, vandalized my motorcycle last Summer, broke the rear window in my Liberty last Fall. I just have to pack those feelings away until the rage subsides and come to terms with the fact that life isn't fair. Things get stolen from good people and these miserable little punks have terrible home lives and will most likely remain bums or go to jail. Life isn't fair. Count your blessings.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The World famous, Eero Saarinen designed, St. Louis Arch. It is kind of a cliche to many. It represents the "flyover" States. If you are making a movie or commercial and you want to represent a cross country trip you have an obligation to show an image of the Arch out the window of a moving car as it crosses the Mississippi.

To residents (or at least transplants like me) it means a lot more. The Arch represents a different era to me. 1965 was a time when people still valued creativity. When building a 630 foot sculpture wouldn't have been considered a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. The Arch is a grounding object. I see the Arch on a daily basis and it gives me a sense of direction. I always know which way is East because of the Arch. In that way it is a helpful friend.

Up close the Arch is magnificent. All that stainless steel seems both modern and timeless. I love the fact that you can walk right up and give it a slap. And I do recommend slapping it. It's so massive that it doesn't give one millimeter. There is no hollow ping to the Arch. It's solid and will stand for centuries. As a structure it's massive size and beauty are inspiring.

I wish every city in the world had such a structure with which to identify. I hope you can come to St. Louis and visit our monument. We'd be happy to host you. You can go up to the top of the Arch in little podlike trams and look out to the West and the future of America in a way that Lewis and Clark couldn't have dreamed of. Did I mention it was inspiring?

Monday, May 09, 2005


We are full of rage. At least we all seem to be right now. I'm included in this one. Lately I have been on the verge of beating my neighbor. Last Friday he was out yelling and making noise at 3:30am. I walked out onto my front porch and pointed out the time to him. He yelled some expletives and said something about me waking him up at 7am. I can asure everyone that I am rarely up and never making a peep at 7am. His friends then drove down the street honking their horn the whole way. It was 3:30 am! I wouldn't have gotten out of bed at midnight even if he woke me up, but 3:30am is ridiculous. I didn't sleep the rest of the night I was so upset. I stared at the ceiling all night plotting ways to get away with murdering him. The next day I went over with the idea of talking to him but the thought of beating him was also present. He wasn't there, but his roommate was and said they'd come over and talk to me about it. Over a week later and I haven't heard from him. The next night he woke up my wife and my visiting Mom at 3:15am when he drove home so drunk he had to be carried into his house. One of the frustrating things is that as a homeowner I care about my neighborhood, but since he is just a renter he doesn't care and their is very little I can do without pissing him off and starting some kind of neighborhood war. If I call the cops for a noise violation I'll wake up and find my car has been keyed.

Also while my parents were in town we walked up to a local restaurant for dinner. After dinner we walked to the grocery store to pick up some ice cream. While at the store Jen and I were waiting in the self checkout line and my Mom and Dad (in their mid 60's and as harmless as people can be) decided they would get out of crowded line and walk to the front of the store to wait for us to complete our purchase. A young man in front of us started saying some rude expletives to MY MOM. She may or may not have bumped him with her purse or maybe he thought she was taking cuts in line. Whatever happened it wasn't blatant and wasn't clear to me until my Mom walked up to him and apologized for whatever she did that upset him. Then my Dad spoke to him and asked him if he had a problem. My 67 year old Dad was challenging this kid that wasn't more than 25. It was complete insanity and I didn't even realize what had happened until we were out of the store. My helpless Mom was not challenging this kid at all yet he felt the need to swear at her for who knows what reason.

What can you do with these people? You can only suck up the rage you feel towards them for so long before you get all COPS on them and they are dragging you off to city jail without your shirt and shoes.

Then today Jen was pulling up in front of our house and was about to parallel park. She pulled just ahead of the parking space and put her turn signal on to identify to the car behind her that she was pulling in. The car then sped around her yelling "Bitch" at her. Jen said the car had children in it too. What was this guy so mad about? She had done nothing wrong. It was maybe a 10 second delay in his day while she backed in? Why did he have to bring his rage into our lives and the lives of the children in his car?

Is there something bigger going on here? Is the whole country on edge about the state of the world? Is time so precious to us now that we can't wait 10 seconds? Are we so inconsiderate that we treat neighbors like a random driver on the road that we don't expect to see again? Have we just lost our manners?

That kid in the grocery store should have excused himself for being in the way even if my Mom had bumped into him. My neighbor should have apologized if he had lost track of the time and learned that it was 3:30am and not 3:30pm when he was yelling out in the street. That guy in the car should have given Jen a friendly wave as he safely drove by after it was all clear.

How do we dispell our daily collection of rage without hurting others? This is getting seriously unpleasant.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

CD Mix Exchange

I'm involved in my first ever cd mix exchange. In case you are unfamiliar it works like this...each month you make a mix of songs that either you like or you think the other person would like. You then mail it off to a person on the list. Someone else on the list is doing the same thing and mailing it off to you. You do this until everyone on the list has sent a mix to everyone else on the list. The only other rule for this particular exchange is that no two covers can be the same.

I enjoy making mixes and introducing music to my friends that I think they would like if they were just given the opportunity to listen. This particular mix exchange is through Gigposters. There are 21 people involved in locations all over the world. There is great diversity in the taste of these people so I am looking forward to what may be sent my way. Many of those involved are gig poster designers or other artists. Much effort is going into the covers and cases for the mixes. I myself am not an artist so I usually use existing artwork or photos that I have taken.

I completed and sent my first mix today. It was sent to a young guy in the UK who is a punk rock fan. He mentioned that he is also getting into some country and likes Hank III. That knowledge developed into a theme and I put together a mix of a lot of cowpunk, old time country songs and other riled up musical pieces along with some movie quotes to make a complete package. The artwork for the package came from a children's book called The Robots are Coming by Andy Rash.

My Android Cowboy cd mix exchange cover.

the complete track listing:
The Black Keys - Thickfreakness
The Gourds - Gin & Juice
Mule - Ass
the Afghan Whigs - Retarded
Son Volt - Last Time Around
Old 97's - Wish the Worst
Bare Jr. - You Blew Me Off
Devil in a Woodpile - I Keep on Drinkin'
Uncle Tupelo - Graveyard Shift
The Rugburns - Me & Eddie Vedder
Big Chief - My Name is Pimp (Mack's Theme)
Superchunk - The Question is How Fast
The Sights - I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About
Buffalo Tom - Birdbrain
Doug Sahm - Give Back the Key to My Heart
Clem Snide - Messiah Complex Blues
Low - When I Go Deaf
Sloan - Underwhelmed
Hayseed Dixie - Fat Bottomed Girls
Robbie Fulks - She Took a lot of Pills and Died
the Waco Brothers - Lake of Vinegar

Friday, April 29, 2005


Saw some good live music last night. It really couldn't have been any better for me. It was an inexpensive show ($8!) at a good venue (the Duck Room below Blueberry Hill in the Loop) that wasn't too crowded (I estimated about 80 people) and it sounded great.

I special ordered the Aqualung import Still Life about 10 months ago after hearing them online during John in the Morning's show on KEXP in Seattle. I could not figure out why they weren't the biggest thing around. I guess it just takes time. They are very accessible sounding. Not usually a good thing for me, but I like their sound. Their song "Brighter than Sunshine" was a key element in our wedding video and was the song that they closed the show with. Hopefully as the weather gets nicer more people will be going on tour and coming through our lovely city of Saint Louis, Missouri. One can hope.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Rehab: I had a meltdown Sunday. I won't go into what prompted it, but I can tell you that it was a full on pity party with a lack of self esteem heaped on top. Jen was gone all day Sunday so that allowed it to fester until it was good and ready. You see I've stalled on my rehab project. I've run out of steam at the same time that I'm waiting for my carpenter to start framing. He's on another job that doesn't have a clear end date. All of my other contractors are lined up but most of the bids are higher than I anticipated so I've reached the point where I'm both behind schedule and over budget. Aaaaahhhhh!

I've heard many people say that they feel like imposters at their career, but I really have very little experience and am in over my head. I stay cool and calm until I clearly am in trouble. That moment hit me yesterday. In the midst of my meltdown I called my carpenter and was going to tell him that I needed to find another who could start right away. He's a great carpenter but framing isn't his specialty and I was worried that he didn't want to do it and didn't want to tell me. He's more of a finish and trim guy. Luckily he wasn't there when I called.

He called me back this afternoon, giving me time to come to my senses, and I explained the situation to him. He was great. Thanks Steve! He talked me through the whole thing. Then we went to the lumber yard and bought the materials to start framing. He's coming in the morning with a couple of guys to get things rolling. I'm meeting with my banker tomorrow and was really worried about him seeing the place behind schedule. If things go as planned all should be hunky dory.

I don't think my meltdown was a waste of time, but I would really like to be able to channel that energy into my everyday worklife. Luckily Jen has seen me freak out like that once before and knew not to pay too much attention to it. Apparently it's just something I do now when I'm about half way through a project and I seem to lack the energy to see it to completion. Also I do believe that the baby coming has added an additional layer of stress that I had not before experienced. It's always something.

Television: I've stopped watching and caring about who the next American Idol will be. The only person that was at all interesting to me was Nadia and she was booted off. I really don't care about any of the other contestents. Bo Bice is just a southern rock cover band singer. Anthony Federov is still there? Scott Savol? Who the hell is voting for that guy? Most people I know think it's a stupid show anyway, but I do believe Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia are talented singers. They were the best on their seasons and America picked them against all odds. I also think bad producing and management has sunk their careers. They are being made to sound like everyone else out there and that is the wrong decision. Fantasia is the next Aretha Franklin and they produce her like she's Tweet or some other songstress of the moment. Give her some challenging material and let her career build over time. They'd be giving her Kennedy Center honors in 40 years if they did that. Instead they'll be giving her Pine Sol commercials in a year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Gig Posters

One of my first gig poster acquisitions.

Pixies poster from The Small Stakes.

Iron & Wine from Jay Ryan.

I collect rock posters or concert posters or gig posters or whatever you want to call them. I have a pretty small collection of about 8 or 9, but I am a big fan of the genre. There is a tremendous amount of creativity going on in this area right now. The book Art of Modern Rock explains the movement and identifies most of the key players. I really like Aesthetic Apparatus, Jay Ryan at the Bird Machine, The Heads of State, Little Jacket, and many others. One of the things that I really like is that there isn't one industry town that you need to be in to be a player in the industry. Chicago, Austin, Seattle, LA are as likely to have artists designing posters for shows as are Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Louisville and Madison. There really is no one place that a poster designer needs to go to and artists from all of these places can do excellent quality work. The internet with it's ability to promote and sell posters from anywhere in the world has created a level playing field. If you do good work people will find you and buy your stuff!

Two things are holding back my collection. 1) Framing posters can be expensive. 2) I can't get myself to buy a poster for a band I don't like. There are people creating great looking posters, but if I can't say that I have at one time liked the band I can't have it hanging in my house. These are good things though. They'll keep my collection from getting out of hand.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sweeping Generalizations

When I first met my wife she grilled me pretty good. She wanted to make sure that I was worth her time and effort. Thank goodness I passed her test. One thing that she would correct me for doing early on was making sweeping generalizations, repeating hearsay and stereotyping. Even if it was a positive thing. Example: "Women are really good at listening." She would tell me that there were all kinds of women and that some were good at listening and some weren't. She's right. At the time I wasn't sure if she was just being confrontational with me or not. Now that we know each other better those kinds of things don't come up in our conversations.

I do see these kinds of things coming up everyday though. I see them on television "news" programs and on the internet on different forums and blogs. One thing that I think we really need to get back to is talking about what we know to be true as individuals. I once was having a discussion with a Republican and he justified his own racism by saying that they are preaching hatred of white people in black, inner city churches. I stopped him right there and asked him when the last time he stepped foot in a black, inner city church was? Of course I knew the answer was never and that brought the discussion back to what we each knew and not what someone heard from someone to be true.

It's kind of like the way urban legends spread. It's always a friend of a friend (foaf) that was bit by a spider and burst out with a million baby spiders. It's never someone you know directly. Nowadays people on tv are speculating and then other people hearing it repeat the speculation as if it were news. "I heard on tv the other day that Hillary Clinton hates veterans!"

If we could just cut down on the speculation, sweeping generalizations and stereotypes I think we could make a huge dent in the rhetoric and bring this country together again. We all have more in common than you would learn from the idiotic tv pundits. But that statement would be a sweeping generalization and my wife would not approve.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Deposit Law

Moving to Missouri from Michigan three and a half years ago didn't seem like that big of a change. The weather is noticeably more mild here, but a lot of things seemed familiar. The street signs are similar (green and white and the same font, not true of other states). The terrain is rolling and not too flat or too hilly just like Michigan. Both States begin with an "M"! Town names are pretty normal, unlike Pennsylvania where they have some interesting ones. One difference I noticed is that Missourians throw away their bottles and cans. In Michigan we've had a deposit law since the mid 70's and nobody throws away a bottle or can.

In case you are unfamiliar with deposit laws it's like this...You pay an extra 10 cents on each carbonated bottle and can (soda and beer, not sports drinks, teas and water yet) and when you return the bottles and cans to the store you get your 10 cents back. The amount varies by State but I can tell you that 10 cents is enough incentive to return the bottle/can. And the big surprise is that everybody does it. It's not just environmentally friendly treehuggers. It's made very convenient to get your cash back. All of the grocery stores have reverse vending machines. You drop your bottles and cans in the machine and it spits out a receipt. You take the receipt up to the cashier and they give you cash. There were many times in college that the cash saved our lives (read: became pizza and beer money). It added up quick in those days.

Curbside recycling is inadequate at best and I don't see people lining up at the recycling centers to return their cans. From what I understand the bottling companies incur more cost because of recycling and claim they have to pass it along to consumers which I guess they assume will hurt their sales. I've contacted Anheuser Busch and Sen. Jim Talent and received amazingly similar responses. Both responded that they are in favor of recycling but neglected to answer my specific question about deposit laws. It appears to be another in a long line of examples of Republicans siding with big business rather than the American people.

Friday, April 08, 2005

When do you know it all?

Do you ever feel like you know just enough to know that you don't know enough? I feel like that with just about everything in my life. I was doing some research about silk screened rock posters at today. They have this forum that a lot of really talented artists are on all day long. I just sat back and watched them rip less knowledgable people apart for no reason other than to entertain themselves. I'm not sure if it's because it's over the internet and therefore impersonal or if they just lack tact. I knew enough to know that I shouldn't be posting any questions over there.

Music is the same way with me. People who don't know anything about contemporary music may mistake me for someone who is knowledgeable. I know enough to know that there are people much more knowledgeable and in those circles I am just setting myself up for embarrassment by talking about music. For example who's Channel 3? I've never been a punk rocker but I thought I knew most of the influential bands. Now I learn about this 80's punk rock band Channel 3 that seems to be influencing everyone from Beck to Queens of the Stone Age. Every time I turn around it's something else.

Rehabbing is the same. Just when I start to feel comfortable someone comes along and makes me feel pathetic because I didn't realize there was a whole other level of complexity.

It must be satisfying being an expert at one thing. Knowing that there isn't anybody in the world who can tell you something you don't already know on a given subject. On the other hand those people are probably really boring to be around. So let's R-a-w-k!