Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Pal Jamie

Man, I'm tired! I spent the last 2 days unloading and receiving 2700 lbs. of LP's at work. Here's a fun video bit featuring my pal Jamie Hoover with Steve Stoeckel (both of the Spongetones), performing She's Leaving Home. On ukuleles.


Saturday, January 26, 2008


Crazy, baby! In December I was asked by my friend Bradley if I would be interested in writing a guitar surf instrumental for his band, The Bye Bye Blackbirds. They wanted something peppy like this to open their live sets with. Holy crap! I was severely stunned yet extremely flattered.

After a few moments I decided that yes...I must do this! Sounded like a very fun challenge, and I do love the genre. I warned him that knowing my work habits, this could take a while, but he was fine with that and off I went.

I have several surf instrumental compilations on CD and immediately started to listen and absorb as much as I could. I have a little used Aria Pro II Strat copy guitar with a whammy bar and knew this was the instrument that had to be called into service. Twang time!

Fortunately for me, I discovered that most of these tunes generally consist of a few standard progressions. I needed to figure out how to play them, and then start interjecting them with a few twists of my own. The first thing I decided was to put it in a minor key. That would give a bit of flavor that I thought would be unique. The second thing I felt compelled to do was to add a bit of dissonance. Always a good thing, and I relied on my experience with The Happy Eggs for inspiration.

Using the song Pipeline as a starting point, I was off and running. The intro just had to start with that patented descending guitar run! The main riff came easily after that, and since I wanted it in a minor key, it seemed to automatically come out a little creepy. I liked it, and hoped the band wouldn't mind it being a mixture of Vic Mizzy’s Addams Family meets Link Wray meets The Chantays. The end of the song was more or less a stock rock and roll riff that reminded me vaguely of some Beatles’ song... maybe Back In The U.S.S.R (?)

So there it was - a 2 minute peppy instrumental, but by now it didn’t seem very surf-like. Maybe if I added bongos to the drum program my problem would be solved.... Bongos! Of course! I put them in every time I did the descending guitar run and it worked like a charm. Hang ten baby, we’re off to the beach! Shake that sand out of your shoes!

I was determined to not get bogged down during recording, but as usual, I couldn’t help it. As relatively easy it is to play the parts, to do them cleanly took a while. It also took a while to come up with the bass part. The recording process also gave life to the song by letting me experiment with layering the last part of the song. Worked out quite well, I think - it’s always a good thing to end big!

I sent the mp3 to Bradley and sweated out the time it took for him to respond. I gave him plenty of leeway by making it clear that if he wanted to change it in any way, or out right reject it, all would be good with me. It was a very fun challenge, and I am extremely honored that I was asked. This was so cool! And even cooler than that, Bradley loved the song!

So here it is. I don’t know how to link a mp3 so if you are interested, please check it out on my MySpace site. And Bradley; thank you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Here are some pix of my desk at work. Impressive, huh? It's not really as depressing as it looks tho, I still get to sit there. Cool poster!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Way To San Jose

I love hockey. I love the San Jose Sharks and have probably watched most of their televised games in last 5 years or so. Everyone says that in order to fully appreciate the game, you need to see it live so I was thrilled when I was given 2 free tickets for last night’s game - San Jose Sharks vs the Detroit Red Wings! I had seen a live game once a couple of years ago (oddly..vs Detroit!), and I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience. Too much going on.

This time I went with Stacey (who actually likes hockey somewhat...I think it’s the Scandinavian and Eastern European cheekbones - I do think hockey has the best looking players of any sport!), and we were pretty stoked about going. She got off work early and we headed out about an hour down the road to San Jose. We parked in a lot for $20.

We found our seats (darn good ones) and then cruised around looking for something to eat (and in my case, to drink - 4 beers..$24)! We both decided on Chicago dogs (Stacey usually does not eat meat, but this was a special occasion) and I got to say they were awesome! Stacey loved them, too. Next day...not so much. Another $20.

There were a lot of Red Wing fans, and we ended sitting next to some - a man and his very pregnant wife. I found it interesting that he had his cellphone out the whole game, apparently timing her contractions. At the end of the game (Red Wings won 6 to 3), I heard the husband tell his wife he better get the truck now - the contractions were coming 6 minutes apart!

Anyway...while it was fun to be involved in the communal cheering and booing, I much prefer watching the game on T.V.. Matter of fact, I’ve been to baseball and football games and while I think baseball translates pretty well live, I think the others are better served up on the glass teat. I like seeing the action. I like commentators analyzing the game. I like slow motion replays, and perhaps most of all, I enjoy getting another beer or going to the restroom without waiting in any line whatsoever. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dental Damned

I went to my annual teeth cleaning and exam yesterday and I’m happy to report that there are no major problems with my tooth that sorta hurts and wiggles. The tooth is crowned and the gums bleed at the slightest provocation, but my dentist thinks it’s ok - just sensitive gums. Praise Jesus.

For some reason, I flashed back on all of my previous dentists and I’m shocked that in all of my 51 years, I’ve only had a total of 4 dentists! Weird. I guess they are like restaurants in that if I like one, I stay with it. Not a bad trait, but they have all been characters and I feel the need to write about them. How exciting is that?!

Dr. Irwin - He was my childhood dentist that I saw probably up to age 20 or so...He did the deed for my whole family for years and the fact that he and my mom once dated creeps me out to this day. He was a bald guy with a very high pitched southern drawl. He would greet me by saying "Hi Gibert" (no "l") and I would crawl up into his chair and anxiously await the belt driven drill as it bored through my little, young teeth. I’ll never forget my first filling; he clamped a metal clamp on the offending tooth but he did not realize that he got a bit of my tongue in there, and assumed that my screams of pain were just a bad case of nerves. Until he saw the blood. "Sorry ‘bout that Gibert!" After every visit he would give me a coupon for a free ice cream cone at the drugstore on the first floor. Nothing beats repeat business!

Dr. Baker - He was my first California dentist and hands down my favorite. Aside from meticulous and skilled work, he also had a great sense of humor and absolutely loved the fact that I used to play in a disco band. He loved disco! It was actually fun to visit him, even if he was putting a $400 crown (back in the day!) on a decimated tooth. Once he gleefully announced to his assistant that he could "Make my alimony payment because Gil needs another crown!" I thought that was the funniest thing, and to this day I appreciate it. He went back to school in the late 80's and I haven’t seen him since. Great guy...

Dr. Mengele - Not really his name, but this guy was the worst goddamned dentist I have ever been to. He was a HMO dentist, so his thing was to get me out of that chair as quickly as possible. Body parts be damned. I should have known something was...wrong with this guy when he confessed to me that he "doesn't really like music". Christ! A warning sign I should of heeded! While Dr. Baker would spend hours beautifully crafting and grinding down my tooth for a lovely gold crown, this guy would literally grab my head and grind the poor tooth down in about 5 minutes. Once, after a particularly brutal grinding session, he said "It looks like I nicked your tongue a little bit...but it should heal quickly." WTF!!!! You bastard! There was also a dramatic moment when he was fitting the crown on my tooth and it went flying out of my mouth onto the floor. He retrieved it, washed it off in the sink and then put the damned thing back in my mouth. Smooth.

Dr. Friedman - He is my current dentist and he is the cousin of my boss. He likes music and does good work, but after I told him the story of Dr. Baker’s glee regarding my crown, he looked horrified! Jeez! Lighten up Doc! Those crowns are now more valuable than my stock portfolio!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Your Meat Be Glowin' ?

The Feds have decided that cloned animals are OK to eat, but they want to give us a little time to get used to it. Great. What could possibly go wrong? Will my digestive tract now glow in the dark? Mmmmm...glowing meat! Or worse!
Of course there are no photos yet of glowing steaks or hamburgers, and while I personally do not eat kittens...well, you get the idea....

Saturday, January 12, 2008


A couple of nights ago the power went off in our neighborhood. It happened around 7:30 pm while I was on the computer. No big deal really, it happens every now and then.

The condos I live in have fire doors that automatically shut in the hallways and unfortunately, the garage doors shut and stay shut, so if one wants to enter or leave in your vehicle, you're out of luck. Oddly, the front gates automatically open when this happens; "Come on in criminals, but good luck getting to our precious vehicles!"

I searched around and found some candles, and called Stacey to tell her that if the power is still off by the time she gets off work, to call me and I'll meet her out front and we'll go out to eat. Blackouts can be fun!

Oddly, within 30 seconds of the lights going out, my new upstairs neighbors (with the thunderously trotting toddler) started playing Silent Night on their piano! Weird!

In the meantime I decided to get out and walk around the building with a flashlight to see what was going on. To my surprise, I found lots of folks doing the same thing. It was comical seeing all of the little points of light being given off by flashlights as the Bridgewater Condos Zombie Horde were out in full force, doing what I was doing - wandering about aimlessly!

Many were bitching about the garage door situation. I suggested that they call the maintenance guy or the Homeowners Association. The woman zombie that was bitching the loudest complained that the lights would probably be on by the time the maintenance guy could get here. Fine lady, deal with it!

As I was talking to her, another zombie wanderer was heard struggling up the stairs. He's an older guy that smokes and it sounded as though he was going to have a heart attack. This pissed off the bitchy lady zombie even more; "See! It's dangerous!" Yep, sure is lady. See ya.

I found it..disturbing that I seemed to be a magnet that drew the zombie horde to me. One by one they approached either bitching or asking questions that I could not answer. I did not know when the lights would be coming back on! I did not know how to open the gates! I did not know how to convince an old smoker to not smoke!

I went back to my place and blew out the candles, then went back out to wait for Stacey. As I got down to the entrance I couldn't help but notice that a firetruck had arrived, and the firemen were talking to another annoying (but nice) man whose name I think is Dan. He is always stopping me to talk...and talk...and talk, and he addresses me as "Tarheel!". I asked if every thing's ok, and he tells me that his neighbor lady didn't know how to open a fireplace flue and that there was just a smoke problem. Hope it wasn't near the old smoking man!

Stacey arrives and I notice one of the zombie horde had reached her, so I interrupted by telling her we had to split and go eat before the restaurant closed. We escaped and of course went to our new favorite Chinese restaurant that was robbed a while back.

I took a few photos during this, but until I figure out how to install and download photos (soon!), this will have to do.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Yikes! I'm doomed. According to other folk's blogs, this is Read An Assload of Novels month. I'm gonna lose this contest. I mean, I like reading and all that, it's just that it takes me forever to get through a book! I like to read in bed, but by then, I'm so...."tired" I seem to only get a few pages read and then I'm off to sleep. As far as I know, I have no reading disabilities, and I'm not retarded (not that there's anything wrong with that), it's just that I get so..."tired".

I love 50's & 60's sci-fi pulp paperbacks. I have a ton of them, and they are easy reads. I like space stuff, hate fantasy stuff and if I glance through the book and see characters are named Xzgoerz or Hemoinieth, I will not even try to read it. If I can't pronounce it, screw it. I will be bugged every time I come across it.

Not a fan of multiple parallel realities, either. Keep it simple, or see ya later! Maybe I am retarded. The last book I read was Clifford Simak's Cemetery World, and I loved it! 158 pages and it took me over a month to finish. 3 or 4 pages at a time. I just get so..."tired" late at night.


Friday, January 4, 2008

When The Rain Comes.....

Had a bit of a storm today on my morning commute. I drive from Albany to San Rafael and I must cross the Richmond-San Rafael bridge in order to get to work. Normally, it's a pretty cool commute; beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, Marin's Mt. Tamalpais and every one's favorite prison: San Quentin! You are looking at a picture of the Richmond-San Rafael bridge this morning. Still scenic...but good-god-almighty-I- thought-I-was-gonna-die on the damn thing!
My Saturn station wagon was loaded with a full tank of gas ($3.56/gallon) and I was still getting pushed around by the wind as I crossed it. Slowed down to 40 mph and wondered if they were going to close the bridge. About 5 minutes after I got off it, they did, due to the fact that 4 big rigs had just blown over. Scary.
The power went out at work about 10 minutes after I got there. Kinda cool, upsets the routine, but we were basically trapped there because another part of the freeway had to be shut down, leaving few options for those of us that needed to get back to our beloved East Bay. After hanging around for a couple of hours, I decided to get the hell outta Dodge, so I took my chances and went home....The Long Way. We call it a 3 Bridge drive out here; through Marin to the Golden Gate Bridge (not closed), through San Francisco to the Bay Bridge (ditto) and finally back to Albany. Surprisingly, it all took just over an hour.

Best thing about all of this is that my dentist appointment was cancelled. Always a good thing!

I will leave you with an appropriate song, performed by the strange version of Game Theory. We all switched instruments, and I look pretty damned lost on the tambourine, but a neat-o video. Thanks, Robert!