Thursday, February 28, 2008

A View

Not much to report, a wee bit of a cold. Wellness Formula is a miracle, and so are digital cameras. Living in the Bay Area makes it pretty easy to take purty pictures!

The one below was taken near my home in Albany. Decided to stop there after work one day and found that the view pretty much summed up my inner being as of late.

I swear....the sun is trying to peek through!!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Yes! The San Jose Sharks finally pulled the trigger before the trade deadline and got a superb, puck moving defenseman, Brian Campbell, for Steve Bernier. I hate it when any Shark player moves on, but Bernier has been somewhat marginal this season, and Campbell will add greatly to the Shark’s quest for the almighty Stanley Cup. Go Sharks! Please!

I’m also stoked because I just ordered 3 early Gentle Giant CD’s (Gentle Giant, Acquiring The Taste and In A Glass House). I have these on LP, but our home stereo is crapping out on us (for the last 10 years!), but that’s cool. These are for blasting prog-rock sounds on my excellent car stereo during my commute. I also informed Stacey that I would be needing the new Black Crows CD, so she’ll be on the lookout for me at Amoeba. Again....Yes!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Plastic Oscar Boy

As usual, Stacey and I watched the Oscars last night. I have not seen any of the nominated movies, much less the winners. One big ZERO! Still enjoyed the show, though.

The moment when Jon Stewart brought back Marketa Irglova so she could say her “thank yous” was very exciting. I wonder who initiated this unprecedented Oscar moment? Thank goodness those wretched Disney songs did not win! I thought they were all weak and horrible, but I will give props to the folks that performed them.

Tilda Swinton was very cool! She sort of reminded me of Pin Ups era Bowie. When she won, I mentioned to Stacey that she really must have thought she wouldn’t win because she didn’t put any make-up on. That’s ok, though...I think she is beautiful in a very other-worldly manner. Mars?

Even though I didn’t know about half of the “stars” that won, I still cry whenever a winner seems genuinely touched that they won. Seems I cry at just about anything these days, especially award shows, and I think it’s due to my past showbiz life. It’s really good to be liked. Sally Fields was on to something!

Here’s a photo of a poor little plastic boy chained to the ground. He is in a yard up the street in North Berkeley and he’s got a good message. It's best to be slow.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Back To Back

Well, it’s been a week since I saw the perverted doctor that touched my beer-belly, and I realize he didn’t really offer any sort of treatment (or good drugs!) for my neck and shoulder pain, other than not lifting and walking 45 minutes a day. I have not been lifting, and I’m walking as much as the weather will permit, and while the pain seems to come and go (sorta feels like whiplash), I’m beginning to think I would like some sort of therapeutic treatment.

When I injured my lower back (at the same workplace) 19 years ago, I found a wonderful chiropractor named Irene Lamberti. Her ad in the Marin County Yellow Pages screamed at me: “I take Worker’s Comp. cases!” Not knowing what else to do for a lower disc injury, I drove down, she examined me, and performed back and spine adjustments for me for about a year and a half. For free! (There was an unfortunate claim settlement I had to get a lawyer for, but that’s another story, another day...)

Irene was a very..Marin... healer. Very New Age (she hosted a “spiritual movement” show on PBS; see the photo above!), but effective, nice and a total babe! Initially I saw her 3 times a week, settling down to twice a week as I slowly got better.

She left the Bay Area many years ago, and I found out through Google that she and her...spiritual husband now reside in Idaho. Too bad! I would love for her to do her kind, healing magic on my poor back! Come on baby! Put those electro stimulators on my lower back! Climb over my back going for that oh so satisfying lower back crack! Pop it! Pop it!

I think I may start looking for a new chiropractor, and I hope I can find one that I can have confidence in. Also, it would help if they would agree to bill the State (my 1989 settlement gave me “reasonable lifelong back care”). But I fear 2 things:

1. I hate neck adjustments. Doesn’t feel good at all, and I tend to tense up during that procedure. It’s like wringing a chicken’s neck. It may be necessary though, due to the injury. Sure hope thousands of tiny blood vessels and capillaries don’t rip causing me to stroke out or even die!

2. Fear of farting. Yep. It happened to me and Irene one session. I was all relaxed, face planted through the hole in her chiropractic table and the sequence went exactly like this: “Crack!” - “Ugh!” - “Fart!” - “Cough!”. It all happened so fast....for some stupid reason I thought my...”cough” would cover up the sound of the offending fart. Thank goodness I was face down because I’m sure my face must have been crimson. I prayed I wasn’t...running rich..that day.

Speaking of farts, here’s something silent, but deadly (funny)!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Peek Inside Atom-O-Rama Studios!

My hopelessly outdated Tascam 8-Track Cassette Recorder. I paid a lot of money for this back in the day. I also have a stockpile of blank cassettes that better not rot on me!

Here is the Reverb Unit that helps my vocals sound better than they really are. Next to that is what my drum set looks like in the modern world (circa 1995, that it..) I must say that I've gotten pretty good at programming it. It also takes a trip through the Reverb Unit for every recording.

These are my usual guitar effects pedals. I always run my vocals through the Compression pedal. Sometimes the vocals go through the Digital Delay. All the guitars get compressed and I lean very mightily on the Turbo Over-Drive pedal to help achieve a crunchier guitar sound while recording at low volumes.

This is my guitar amp - a Fender Princeton Reverb. I bought it new 32 years ago. I love this amp, but wish I could crank it up during the recording process!

Here are some lesser used pedals and the always used microphones. the Shure SM58 is used for vocals, and the Shure SM77 is used to mic the amp. I bought these around 1980 for live shows with The Happy Eggs.

I use my 30 year old home stereo to help mix my recordings. Bass frequencies get eaten up in our living room, so I always take a burn of a mix and listen to it on my Saturn's stereo, pictured below. Bass booms in my car, so I try to use the 2 references to get something in between.

Oh yeah! I have no studio monitors, so like a dumbass, I mix on my nice Sennheiser headphones that Stacey gave me.

So there you go! This is how I Am Atomic Man! was recorded, and unless I win the lottery, this is how I will continue to record. Glorious Mid-Fi, baby!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Pain In The Neck

Well, I knew this was coming... The resurgence of the mighty (heavy) LP has taken it's toll on me. I've had a gradual build up of pain in the left side of my neck that travels a very...gnarly path to my left shoulder blade. I'm sure that over-compensating for my lower back problems helped bring this on. It came to a grand conclusion Wednesday while I was in he middle of checking in our biggest Italian import haul yet - 3570 lbs.! I could barely move my head.

I stopped and told the warehouse manager I couldn’t go on. I then went to some other higher-ups and they told me that they didn’t want me lifting anything anyway, and that I needed to delegate and manage. Yuck. Finally, I went to the owner's wife and suddenly and quite unexpectedly, got emotional telling her that I just can’t do it anymore. She thought about who we could get to help out and I mentioned that I want to go to the doctor first, get a diagnosis, and move on from there.

Yesterday I went to the doctor and after a pretty thorough examination, he told me that he didn’t think it was anything too serious, but no lifting for about a month. He liked the idea of delegating the physical stuff to other folks. Double yuck. As hard as it is, I really love that part of the job. I enjoy working fast and efficiently. I love knowing the details and quirks of each vendor’s shipments. I can see a problem, a shortage, and non-scanning barcode a mile away. I do it so well!

Something kind of weird happened at the doctor’s, though. As I was sitting up on the examination table, with my shirt off (sorry!), he gently patted my beer-belly and said that I needed to walk 45 minutes a day. It will help stress, my neck, and shrink down the gut. Gross! Give me all the prostate exams you want, doc, but hands off the beer-belly!

Below is the wonderful Richmond-San Rafael Bridge that I drive over on my commute to work. I love the fog, I love my commute. It’s just all the other crap that is a pain in the ass..oops! Neck!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Back To School

Special Notice! I am now going to incorporate my "My Life In Music Blog" on MySpace into this blog. I decided to start with my 24th(!)entry. I may re-post some of the earlier ones with added photos, video and maybe even some mp3's! If you would like to view the first 23, please go to my site on MySpace:

At some point in the mid-70's I went to college. This made mom very happy, and since I was more or less roaming around between bands with nothing really sticking, I figured why not? Aside from making mom happy, (and for me to find some sort of path through life), it was also profitable. As long as I met the required course credits, Social Security would send tax-free dough my way! Every month!

I was not quite ready to leave the nest yet, either. While the usual flare-ups between mom, myself, and my girlfriend still occurred, I enjoyed living at home for free, spending time with my girlfriend and pals whenever I felt like it. The best of both worlds, it seemed.

The school was Charlotte’s community college; Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). It was basically a vocational school, and while I knew mom would have preferred that I went to a real college, it seemed like a decent compromise. It had a good commercial arts program and I was somewhat talented in art, thanks to art-genes I inherited from dad, who was a very talented and...unique... painter in his younger days. I also did well in art throughout school, so commercial art seemed a natural way to go.

I lasted one semester in that program. The money was nice (no need to work!), but none of the classes inspired me one bit. Photography in particular was very difficult and the art classes were dull. It was also a bit unsettling to have Vietnam vets as classmates. Not that there’s anything wrong with that...

After I bailed out, I had to quickly come up with another course of action. I was very happy to learn that I could take any classes the school offered, but since I was no longer in a set program, I really had to load up to get the required credits to keep myself rolling in the free money that the gov’t so graciously offered. (Actually, my deceased father should get the props for working so damn hard and paying all those Social Security taxes!)

I went with music courses, and since they had, I had to take almost all of them, plus one or two heavy courses such as Political Science and Business Math. It was a good decision. The political science teacher was very smart and entertaining, regardless of the omnipresent bit of spittle that would alternately trade places between his lower and upper lip when he really got going. Business math was a bust, but “Understanding Foreign Film” was a life changer. It was in that class that I discovered the magic of Federico Fellini! I also discovered that most Vietnam vets get very angry at art films. Not a pleasant movie going experience, setting next to a burned out vet watching Resnais’ Last Year At Marienbad!

I loved all of the music courses. I learned so much, and it came at the perfect time for me. I wasn’t alone, either. It seemed that almost all of Charlotte’s young musicians were digging into the books and being inspired by CPCC’s wonderfully gifted teachers.

Piano - this was taught by the school’s music director, and I was stunned when he told me he had taught my family’s maid - Hazeline!

Guitar - taught by Danny B of EBENEZER! How weird is that? The class was a breeze.

Music History - Miss Pascal was the definition of homely music nerd. She had big teeth, thick glasses, not so pretty, but I have never had such an enthused and brilliant teacher! You could see her eyes radiate with love and excitement during her lectures. There was a girl in the class named Liz that I had a pretty big crush on. She was not my type at all, but she had that strange and forbidden geekiness about her that turned me on...

Music Theory - this was a tough course. We had to learn to sight-sing, and there are not many things on this earth that can put the fear of the lord in you as the anxiety one feels when called upon to come to the front of the class and sight- sing. Even the smart ones hated it. I enjoyed learning about harmony and counterpoint, though.

Recorder - Led by the effervescent yet geeky Miss Pascal, I truly loved this! I played tenor recorder and eventually ended up in The CPCC Recorder Consort. We actually performed a few shows at local churches and such. We played some difficult stuff ranging from early music, Bach and a couple of modern pieces. It didn’t hurt that Liz sat next to me, also on tenor recorder. Other members included some of the local heavy hitters in the rock and jazz scenes that I’ve mentioned many times in the course of this blog. Jimmy Duckworth and David Powell were members. Blows my mind that in some ways, I was now their equal!

I met many people during my 1 ½ or 2 years I spent there. Most were musicians, who like me, felt it was time to expand and improve our musical abilities. I fondly remember intense discussions about all types of music in the school’s cafeteria. (I also ran into ex-RODENTS bass player Billy S.! I had not seen him since 6th grade, and I was not very shocked to discover that he had spent some time in prison for car theft!). 2 guys that most of my lunch time was spent with were a guitarist named Clark P, and a keyboardist named Sammy B., and it was Clark that would eventually give me a call once we all decided it was time to get back to playing, but this time, to make a living!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Take Your Picture?

About 2 years ago, Stacey's dad sent us a pretty nice Fujifilm digital camera. After a quick browse through the manual, I decided I could not comprehend anything regarding the use of the camera, so as I usually do when faced with my intense manual-phobia, I let it all just sit there. Someday it will magically click and I will join the billions of other regular folks out there that seem to have no problem taking pictures.

I know 2 great photographers (my buddy Robert & my ex-wife), and they offered advice and guidance, but I found myself glazing over the info-load. Not that their lessons were over complicated, I just couldn't slip into the mind-set of just letting it happen.

Well, it finally happened. I just started taking pictures. Sweet Jesus! Most of the instructions seemed to be for advanced picture taking, and I realized I didn't need all of that.

I did need to read about downloading my photos into my computer and adding the FinePix viewer software. Again, the manual must have been written by a crazy person. Fortunately, once I stuck the disc into the computer, it told me what to do in very simple terms! Gimme another Sweet Jesus!

My desire is to become a decent photographer and to add photos to spice up this blog, so beware. I am the camera!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

This Blows

Yesterday at work, the owner's wife walked into the warehouse and found me on my hands and knees, sorting through 1000 LP's of some stupid title that one of the buyers thought would be a good deal at $1.00 each. There was a problem; most of them were warped and I had to painstakingly go through them and find 200 that were somewhat saleable.

Upon seeing me in this position, the wife said she was going to buy me some knee-pads.

I think I should try to learn to make clothing out of balloons.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Surge Overkill

It's Super Tuesday! Candidates are surging, as our troops are. The stock market is surging the wrong direction. Gomer won West Virginia, so he must be surging, too. I did not make up my mind for the Democractic presidential candidate until about 2:30 this afternoon, after a 10 minute conversation with the mailman.

Stacey loves voting by absentee ballot, while I prefer to actually surge on over to my local polling place. Oddly and ironically, it is on the campus of the Orientation Center For The Blind.

Who can clean up this mess? Who knows, but I do know it ain't gonna be Gomer.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Just Look At That Face.....

How can you not love that hockey face? Meet Jody Shelley - the San Jose Sharks acquired him this week from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is not a skilled goal scorer, or a defenseman. His job is to "make players on the other team uncomfortable" (quote from the Shark's head coach Ron Wilson). What that actually means is that if someone is taking advantage or roughing up one of our players, Jody will go out there and bang bodies around, and if necessary, kick some butt. That is his sole job. It's part of the game, and the Sharks will need this to compete in the very physical Pacific Division they are in. I have no problem with that.

The weird thing is that I hate this guy! Several years ago he pounded the Shark's Brad Stuart in the back of his head so badly, Stuart was out for months with a bad concussion. Stuart no longer plays for the Sharks (he's with the L.A. Kings now), but many think his game has never been the same. I saw that game on T.V. and was disgusted with Shelley's dirty play. Now he's a Shark.

It may take a while for me and other fans to warm up to this guy, but you better believe I'll love it when I see him protecting our star players. But really, don't you just love that face?