Where Do My Readers Come From?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Neil Peart Is Mistaken...

As I sit here listening to Rush, allow me to say again THE ALMIGHTY RUSH. Sure they have their problems and it is easy to poke fun at them. But I grew up liking them, I believe since the 4th grade when a boy in my grade school named Tom, cruised past me in the hallway singing Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and that was it. I was hooked.

I did not see them in concert until I was out of high school. I was working at the Lancaster mall theater with my good friend, one of my best friends actually Travis or as I sometimes call him Maestro and we heard that Rush was coming to Portland for their Presto tour and we decided to go. There was a girl working with us at the theater at the same time and she asked if she could go with us. That seemed fine because she was relatively attractive in a 1990's kind of way, with the big feathered hair and the kind of slutty vibe. Well Maestro and I picked her up at her apartment and we both were shocked as this woman who appeared to have stepped off of the set of the latest Whitesnake video came walking down the stairs in the tightest and shortest black dress I had ever seen and never in real life that is for sure. As she came closer to us we both realized that she was not wearing anything under her dress and we were not dealing with a proper lady at all. I leaned over to him and said "When we get to your brothers house you better tell him that neither of us are dating her." I am not sure why that was important to me but I wanted to be sure that his brother knew that neither of us would be dating such a obviously slutty girl. As you can tell I was raised pretty sheltered and still had not broken away from it. But that was the first time that we saw Rush and it was amazing.

I tell you that story to let you know that I love Rush. I do not dislike the band at all and I still to this day really do enjoy their music. So what I am going to say to you next is not coming from a place of hatred for the band or anything like that. True, I am a bit of a music snob to be sure but that has never stopped me from enjoying them. Not one bit. So that being said, I have been reading a book written by Neil Peart (Rush's drummer) titled "Ghost Rider : Travels On The Healing Road".

Now there are some songs that he wrote early in beginnings of Rush that are very obviously inspired by the writings of Ayn Rand and I will allow for the exuberance and idiocy of youth as far as that goes because Ayn Rand is just silly. We can have that conversation later if you want. But, fair warning, you are going to have to work very hard to change my mind and prove to me that she had anything of value to say. But, back to the matter at hand. He wrote this book about a year or so after going through what is probably one of the most horrible things that a person could go through. In the space of basically less then a year he lost his 19 yr old daughter in a car accident and then his wife from cancer.

So after all of that in his quest to find some healing and some peace he decided to go on a long solo motorcycle ride. The book is the story of that trip and so far I have found it very interesting and a little bit healing for some issues in my own life. But as I read it I also notice some of his political views coming out and at one point he says some things about the great state of Oregon  that I found rather upsetting. I will allow that he is entitled to his own opinion on many things but when he starts to talk about Oregon well I can't stand idly by and not respond especially when he is so far off base.

What begins with him complaining about the 65 MPH speed limit in Oregon soon moves to not being able to pump your own gas and that is when I begun to get annoyed, this is what he said.

"Although modern day Oregon's progressiveness was often admirable, that same liberal-conservative...mindset could also tend toward the presumption that its citizens (and visitors) weren't ready for too much freedom. The unreasonably low speed limits were one example; another was the state wide ban on self service gas stations, presumably because people were not responsible enough to fuel their own vehicles without the risk of spilling fossil fuel and causing fires and environmental degradation. Or maybe it was designed to increase employment at minimum wage level."  (pg 125)

He then goes on to talk about how, being a motorcyclist, he likes to pump his own gas and so he made a point of doing it himself in Oregon in the spirit of civil disobedience followed by the comment "You've got to resist oppression!"  I almost do not know where to begin with addressing this. The first thing that pops to mind is that as far as being a motorcyclist goes they always let those guys pump their own gas regardless of the law or not. You are not some outlaw scoffing at "Big Government" if you fill your own tank. You are being a prudent cyclist who wants to protect the paint job of your gas tank.

My other is that if he or anyone can prove to me that it would be cheaper to pump my own gas then by all means lets do this. But I live in Oregon and have purchased gas in both Washington and California where I pump my own and it is not cheaper. So what is the benefit? I ask you Mr Peart, what is the benefit of pumping my own gas? Since there isn't one. I will gladly stay in the relative comfort of my own vehicle and let the paid employee pump it for me.

I am sorry that things are so rough for you here, Neil. But really nobody asked your thoughts on the subject so just

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Scotch - Viking

I am an American born in the United States of America, in the state of Oregon in the county of Marion in the city of Salem. But that litany does not really interest me. I am those things by pure fate or total chance unless of course you are a believer in there being a total plan for ones life and then me being born when and where I was is part of some greater plan. I am a little skeptical about the idea of a greater plan. But that is a topic for another day and it may well be a topic that I have already worried to death and you folks may be tired of hearing about it anyway. What I am interested in talking about today is where my ancestors have come from.

I think what I am is a pretty common mix for most people in the pacific northwest. A lot of us in Oregon anyway seem to have some family members who stopped for a little while in North or South Dakota and some in Minnesota and then moved on to Oregon or Washington. That is the case on my Mothers side of the family. On my Dad's side near as I can tell they can trace their time in Oregon all the way back to the pioneer days. But as far as country of origin goes I think that the muddled up mix I come from is probably pretty common overall with those of typical American ancestry.

On my Father's side the mix is predominantly English and Scottish. I think that it is pretty close to a 50/50 mix but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some other countries thrown in there as well.

On my Mother's side it is Norwegian and Swedish though I have heard some talk that on my Mother's Fathers side things are a little bit muddled and I have heard him referred to as a Black Swede. I am not totally sure what that means to be honest. I do find it kind of fascinating that the town my Mother's Mother my Grandmother grew up in had a cemetery for the Swedes and a separate cemetery for the Norwegians.

All of that together created this messed up mix of a native Oregonian and proud to be one.

That is me, sitting in my favorite Coffeeshop in my usual location listening to music. Now as I look at myself in this picture, I wonder a couple of things 1: Do I look pretty? Never mind you do not need to answer that and 2: Do I look distinctly American or English or Swedish or Norwegian or Scottish? I don't think that I do. I think that I look pretty typically American or rather typically Northern European ancestry. Does it matter if I look like a certain ancestry or not? It doesn't to me but I know that if for sure does to some people. The idea of racism is not dead in this country or the world despite the best efforts of many. But race is pretty much a non issue for me. In fact really the only thing that I find interesting about my origins is that I am made up of basically four different types of people from four different countries that historically did not get along with each other all the well.

I don't know why but I find that fascinating and I like to think that is why I feel so conflicted all of the time. I know that of the four countries I am not nearly as dour as the typical Swede but other then that I am not sure if I have any real tendencies toward one or the other. I know also that had I grown up in one of those countries I could have and most likely would have turned out totally differently then I am today. Not that it really matters in the real world but in the purposes of today's writing I feel like that is important to take note of.

So my readers if any of you feel inclined to comment, I would love to hear where you call home and where you ancestors came from.

Tuesday Morning...

It is Tuesday morning and I managed to get to the coffee shop early enough to get my usual table. I am happy about that. I like the ability to sit near a window and enjoy my bacon scone and my Americano. That is really the most important reason for me to be their. The second reason is that from that position I am able to usually see almost everyone that I know who may come into the coffee shop for their daily dose of one of the few socially acceptable and legal addictive substances in the world.

I wonder what the world would be like if coffee didn't exist or even caffeine in general. I don't think the change would be as dramatic as it would be if say sugar never existed. Because I think that there has always been some sort of intrinsic value to sugar but I am not sure that caffeine has always had a value. I could probably use the google or ask jeeves or some other search engine to find the answer. But honestly I find baseless speculation far more fun. When I do that then I have the chance to really upset someone and isn't that what the internet is for? It certainly seems that way.

I have talked about Twitter before I think, or perhaps I just made a comment on the Facebook about the nature of it. But while I find it fascinating and a useful informational tool I am also amazed on a pretty regular basis by the amount of people who do not seem to realized that the ability to throw up your very first emotional response to any particular issue that happening at any moment to a world wide audience is not a good thing. Not at all. I hope that someone after the first 10 year of Twitter compiles all of the "Tweets" that have cost people their jobs or caused a huge public relations mess one way or other. It won't be me, I am far to lazy for that. But maybe I inspired one of you with my latest "million dollar idea". If I did please cut me in on some of the proceeds.

Helloween - Nabataea

Oh ya!! The coffee is flowing through my veins and now the Helloween is pounding through the ear buds. You have got to love it. I know that I do.

While I like my new haircut...their are times when I miss the Lebowskiness of my long hair. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013



                                                                “Don't be ashamed to weep; 'tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.” 
― Brian Jacques, Taggerung

It has been three months since the event and sleep continues to elude me, oh sure there are some nights where the illusion of sleep has been there and their are mornings when my brain forces me to lay back down and get a quick nap in. But that is not true sleep. There has not been true sleep. There has not been deep untroubled sleep. There has been the tossing and the turning of the troubled and the distressed. There has been the tears and the questions and the desire for peace that even mediation will not bring because nothing can be fixed. There has been the hope and faith...two things that you have never been good at that things will get better and that you and the other people that you care about will survive this things and be able to continue to live this life that tastes of ash in your mouth.

There have been moments of distraction and escape that are ever so fleeting and while you try to hold on to them you know that they are going to slip away and you began to wonder if that is going to be the nature of life now. The up and up and up of the distraction followed by the plummet downward into the dark abyss of despair. The abrupt shock of a television show or movie making a joke that three months ago you would have found humorous and now you find horrifying and wonder of you are ever going to truly find anything amusing again. You are becoming a good actor and getting increasingly better at saying the right things and making the jokes and putting that smile on so that you don't bring them down with your concerns and worries.

You lose yourself in music and the hug of others. That seems to work surprisingly well. But like anything else it only lasts for a certain amount of time. You are supposed to be looking for work and to be a productive member of society but you are finding that increasingly harder to do and the reality of the pointlessness of life is becoming harder and harder to ignore.

“It's easy to cry when you realize that everyone you love will reject you or die.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk

This seems to be truly what I would like and sadly I seem unable to get enough of either. 

Something Unheard Before....

I listen to lots of music and I read about lots of music but I by know means have listened to all of the music that ever was and will ever be. But, despite my awareness of that I still tend to get a little cynical at times about the state of modern music or even older music. It doesn't seem to matter to me as far as when it was created I can get pretty cynical about the commercialism of music in general. So it is nice for me when I am surprised by finally actually listening to an older band that I have heard of before but have never actually listened too and for me, today that band is Captain Beefheart I am not sure why I have never bothered to listen before. But I did today thanks to my good musical professor Steve and let me tell you, I am really enjoying it. It is just so pleasant to listen to. Why don't you go ahead and refill that coffee cup and take a moment and give them a listen. I will wait.

Sugar Bowl - Captain Beefheart

The album I am listening to is called "Unconditionally Guaranteed" and came out in 1974 and it is hard for me to pin down but I am really just enjoying both the musicality of the instruments as well as the, in some cases, wackiness of the lyrics.

Happy Love Song - Captain Beefheart

This song really makes me think of the some of the Billy Joel stuff from the late '80s. I am almost positive that he was inspired by this song.

I Got Love On My Mind - Captain Beefheart

There is just something simple about this song that makes it work for me. He has love on his mind and he can't make up his mind who to love. I like the phrasing of that.

Peaches - Captain Beefheart

I just like the big band sound of this one and the use of cowbell because there can never be enough cowbell. I really do like this band even if I think that their name is some sort of fart joke. I am not sure but when you say it out loud it sounds suspiciously like it may be just that.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Stopping and Starting

I think that I have started and stopped about three or four different posts in the last few days. I am not sure what is going on but I am just not feeling the motivation to write anything right now. There is not a desire to get worked up about something and use that to somehow motivate myself to lay something down on the page. Which would be okay if I had the motivation to fill that time not spent writing with something else. But I do not even have the motivation to do that.

Well I stopped writing last night and I am trying it again on Thursday evening. I am down at the Coffeeshop and hoping that maybe writing in the evening instead of in the morning will help inspire me a little bit more. I just really do not know what is going on with me.They do a Farmers Market here on Thursday nights from 4 to 8 pm and there are a fair amount of people around. There is a couple different local farms one that is selling lamb and the other that is selling pork. There is a flower vendor and there is a man selling both sweet and savory crepes as well as hot pies. I had a chicken curry pie that was actually very tasty and the week before I had purchased some lamb sausages and grilled those and they turned out very well. It isn't a big event but I think people are going to continue to attend it and I hope that it generates some more momentum in the coming weeks.

There is a different crowd in here in the evenings then in the mornings. A little bit older at least right now and perhaps a little bit more churchy but it is hard to say. It is however like most crowds in Salem and in the Pacific NW pretty much all Caucasian. I know that there are places in Salem that are not all that way but it seems like that is the case here. As I look around the room I can count the different nationalities on one hand. This is not a value statement it is just the reality as I look around. There is a study flow of automobile traffic passing by outside and since it is now 5 to 6 the rush hour in Salem has stopped.

It looks like they are setting up for some live music and to be honest, that doesn't excite me at all. I don't dislike loud music or live music for that matter. But I like it a little bit quieter when I am in the shop. I like to be able to read or converse at normal volume and listen to my own music. But, I am sure that there are plenty of people who really enjoy the guitar stylings of "Jimmy Jam and the Jamaican bros". I just made that band name up but I think that any band with that name would be pretty awesome. I imagine there would be a mix of SKA and Calypso. There would have to be steel drums and perhaps two sets of steel drums for double the awesome.

I am actually pretty excited about that. Thanks for letting me free associate folks. This felt pretty good.   

Friday, July 05, 2013


The book in the picture above was given to me by Eric. He gave me three books that are very important to me and impacted my life at the time and continue to impact my life. These books were Stephen King's On Writing, and Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, and Searching For God Know's What.

Sodom, South Georgia - Iron and Wine

Now there are a lot of people who know that I like to write and their are a lot of people who know that I spend an inordinate amount of time wrapped up in my head space being conflicted about my person and who I need to be in this life. But only one person has ever given me a gift that covered all of those things. Only one person seemed to fully get what I had going on within. That was Eric. He in the space of a year gave me three gifts that completely turned around my thinking on writing and God and Church and in doing so my life also changed.

Calamity Song - The Decemberists

I was excited when I found my well worn copy of On Writing I can't fully emphasize the importance of this book to me. But once that initial excitement faded, the sadness snuck back in. It is just a really shitty feeling to know that there is literally nothing I can do now. He is gone and I can do nothing to bring him back and that when I want to have a conversation with him about any number of subjects it is impossible for me to do so.


and there is not enough distractions to keep me from freaking out on a weekly basis.

Sunset and Soon Forgotten - Iron and Wine

Why is that not an option? Instead I feel everything over and over and over. Sick of it . . . 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

SKA - 4- EVA!!

I am sure that I have written about this before. But I love SKA and I really do love all the cycles of SKA from 1st wave to 3rd wave. There is not type of music that can bring a smile to my face and a tapping to my toes. There is just something about it. I also feel like it is the perfect summertime music. It is a great experience to take nice long drive and just have the SKA blasting as you go.

Return of the Ugly - Bad Manners

This is basically a late 1st wave early second wave SKA band but they also were considered a skinhead band but not a racist skinhead band.

Ska All Over The World - Jimmy Cliff

This is just really, really good 1st wave SKA and Jimmy Cliff in general is so good. Such a great song.

Melancholy Sally - Loafers

Another solid 2nd wave SKA band. They appeared after the Two-Tone Movement of the late 80's. The bouncy beat is great as well as the horn lines in this song.

To Much Too Young - The Specials

One of the greatest of the Two-Tone revival bands and this song is about safe sex basically. It is a solid song.

The 3rd wave of SKA had a far more punk aspect to it and while there is some controversy because some old school SKA fans just do not care for the 3rd wave stuff, I think some great bands came out of the era and I still enjoy listening to them today.

The Final Countdown - Frank Furillo

This is a SKA cover of the Europe classic "The Final Countdown" I really enjoy it. But I realize that it may not be for everyone.

Somebody Hates Me - Reel Big Fish

This is a 3rd wave band that lots of people really, really did hate. I liked their first couple of albums but after that they kind of went downhill in my opinion. But when I saw them in concert they were very cool to me and we hung out for a bit after the show.

Sunday Morning - No Doubt

This band, when it broke, had a much more pop then SKA sound but the SKA elements were still their. The cool thing about this album Tragic Kingdom is that the majority if not all of the songs were written by Gwen Stefani after she had broken up with the band's bassist Tony Kanal. I can't imagine being in his shoes and touring the world night after night playing songs about how much you suck.

That is it for today. I hope you enjoyed the look back at the world of SKA.

Torrid Tuesday....

I am not sure what that even means but it is hot today. Actually now that I think about it, I am not even sure if the word Torrid applies. Lets check out the dictionary definition shall we. Well according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition is "Parched with heat especially of the sun" and is an adjective. So I guess that it works. What is funny to me is that when I think of the word Torrid I think of a romance novel of some sort. You know the type the shirtless and well muscled hero holding the female protagonist who has fainted or is feeling the vapors or some such thing. Also her bodice is probably ripped open so that her heaving bosom can be seen.

Just like that one. But I wonder, just like the lady is, what happened to that mans pants. He must be cold and I would think that the hay would be scratchy on his exposed legs. But maybe he is just manly enough to handle it.

Drop Dead Legs - Van Halen

That seemed an appropriate song given the picture. I hope you all agree. I am a little concerned with myself right now because I seem to have stumbled upon a treasure trove of romance novel covers that some witty person has added their own captions too. I may be in a bit of trouble here but I do not thing I am going to be able to resist sharing some of them with you.

I am not sure that this is really the correct book title but I applaud it.

Master of the Wind - Manowar

A book cover like that deserves to have some masterful metal behind it. In fact as I think about it, perhaps more books should come with a themed soundtrack.

I am pretty sure that there is some symbolism at work here but I just can't put my finger on it. I am not sure that I could even grab it with both hands because I am sure that it is probably some pretty large symbolism, probably large and hard...to figure out.

Rising Power - AC/DC

Something is rising on that album cover all right and I think it would probably make me kind of uncomfortable.

Well I think I am going to have to stop there. I hope you all got a little laugh out of todays post. I know I amused myself and honestly that is all that I really care about. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada day and a good friend from the north mentioned that I should put up some Canadian songs today to honor my many friends from Canada. I thought well that sounds like a fine idea. So here we go.

I know that for most music fans the obvious choice for this would be Rush and they will be included but I honestly think that for me I have to go with Neil Young as my first choice. I like that his music seems to evoke the Canadian prairies. I honestly am not sure why I feel that way but I do.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - Neil Young W/ Crazy Horse

There is just something about his music that evokes the idea of Canada for me. Another Canadian artist that really enjoy and I had not really thought about him being Canadian is Leonard Cohen.

Going Home - Leonard Cohen

This is a supremely sad song. But it is also lovely and I feel like it speaks to a couple of things that I will choose to keep to myself. But if you know me you most likely know what I am talking about.  So for me the meaning is a deep one and a good one even though listening to it does pain me.

The mightiest of all Canadian bands is of course Rush and for me the song that speaks of Canada is "Lakeside Park".

Lakeside Park - Rush

I know nothing about the location of this park or what it means to the guys in the band but the song is obviously evoking a memory of the time and the place and that makes me enjoy listening to it.

I would be remiss if I didn't include a couple of lovely Canadian ladies on this list as well so here we go.

Building A Mystery - Sarah McLachlan

I haven't listened to her in a long time and I had forgotten both the era of music that she was part of as well as my enjoyment of her singing. I always liked her voice and the overall tone of her music.

Sweet Surrender - Sarah McLachlan

I had to add another one and while some may find it overwrought I enjoy it. So deal with it.

My Humps - Alanis Morissette

I had to add this beautiful cover of a horrible song by the Black Eyed Peas. Her version is both poignant and sad. But it is such a good version.

Now I am sure I left many fine Canadian artists off of this list. But these are the ones that came to mind for me. I hope you enjoyed it.