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Turn around bright eyes

Posted June 9th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

It’s been a rough couple of days.  <Dramatic Pause> A button was pushed.

Oft times, a button is pushed deliberately.  This button, however, was pushed accidentally.  The person who pushed the button did not intentionally push the button.  They were completely unaware of the button’s existence.  After the fact, they were unaware a button had been pushed.

In case you missed the symbolism, I’m talking about my tortured psyche again.

It’s honestly no big deal.  Something was said, quite innocently.  Something that most likely would have had no effect at most times, but this time, for no immediately discernible reason, this time it strikes a nerve.  I’m not angry, my feelings are not hurt, I’m just sad.  Sad and paranoid.  In the space of 5 minutes I’ve turned this innocent comment into the first domino in a chain leading to my future despair.

Are we all on the same page?  At this point in the story, I am depressed because I think I’m going to be depressed in the future, the future that I have just made up.  It’s actually damned impressive when you think about it from a certain point of view.

As all of this is happening, there’s a part of me that is watching it happen.  It’s as if I have gained some superhuman ability to be an observer of my own insanity.  I’m aware of what’s going on, but powerless to stop it, as if my observer self was bound by some code of non-interference.  A sort of Psychoanalytical Prime Directive, if you will.

Still, this insight into what’s going to happen carries a certain benefit.  The awareness brings a certain comfort.  You see, I knew that I was going to be paranoid all night.  I knew I wouldn’t sleep well.  I knew I would be tired and cranky this morning, and still a bit stressed over my paranoia, but coming to the realization that it was silly.  As I was coming out of it, I would most likely resist attempts to feel better, avoiding certain pleasurable activities for fear they would break my depression, severing the final ties to my paranoid obsession, which doesn’t want to give up without a fight.  And then it would be over.  This too shall pass.

I knew all of this was going to happen, so there was no sense worrying about it.  I relaxed.  I didn’t get upset.  I maintained.

At or around 9pm this evening, I decided to sit down and write about it… because I’ve learned that that helps.  I turned on some music.  Nothing fit.  My Folk/Americana station is usually my go-to station for this type of thing, but tonight it was making an itch instead of scratching one.  The 70’s rock (think Rainbow, Scorpions, and UFO) was firing blanks.  Nothing worked.  In desperation I dug out one of the stations I had made when I was actively working on Mastodon/Dethklok.  The station for Gary.  Gary has a love of music that’s… flamboyant.  Less about genre, more about style.  It’s a hard station to program.  Queen.  Hedwig.  T-Rex.  Velvet Underground.  Jim Steinman.  Meatloaf.  New York Dolls.  For some reason that damn “Don’t Stop” song by Journey, but he doesn’t like to admit it.  Anyway…

The second song that came on was “Over at the Frankenstein Place”, from the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack.  And just like that… everything was right with the world.

I have a love/hate relationship with show tunes.  I love everything about show tunes, except the fact that most of them are lame.  When someone takes the styles and conventions of the traditional Broadway musical and applies it to something a bit more genre, that’s something I can get excited about.  There’s nothing wrong with show tunes… as long as the show has balls.

But that’s not the point.  Yes, it’s a campy song that makes me want to put a newspaper on my head, flick my bic, and sing along… but it was so much more.  Have you ever paid attention to the lyrics?  Read them with me now.

In the velvet darkness,
Of the blackest night,
Burning bright,
There’s a guiding star.
No matter what or who you are.

There’s a light
Over at the Frankenstein place.
There’s a light
Burning in the fireplace.
There’s a light, light
In the darkness of everybody’s life.

The darkness must go down the river of night’s dreaming.
Flow morphia slow, let the sun and light come streaming
Into my life… Into my life.

There’s a light
Over at the Frankenstein place.
There’s a light
Burning in the fireplace.
There’s a light, a light
In the darkness of everybody’s life.

There is a light in the darkness of everybody’s life.  We could have a long philosophical discussion about the source of that light, and perhaps we will at some point, but not tonight.  No matter from where that light springs, it can reveal itself in the strangest of places.  It can be found in a sunset.  It can be found on a forest trail.  And it can be found over at the Frankenstein Place. Thank you, Richard O’Brien.

We all have our buttons.  Those buttons are just waiting to be pushed.  Think about that.  The little button, just waiting.  Growing frustrated.  Resentful.  Is it any wonder that when he’s finally pushed, he strikes with a vengeance?  We can’t always avoid pushing someone’s buttons.  And they can’t always avoid pushing ours.

And now the love-fest is wearing off.  I can feel a rant coming on about the ass-clown who pushes my buttons on purpose.  As satisfying as that might be, I didn’t sleep well last night.  It’s time to see if I can get it right tonight.  One last dose of Jim Steinman, as Bonnie Tyler explains that she’s living in a powder keg.

And giving off sparks..

Be good to each other.

Theme parks, rain boots, and umlauts. Oh My!

Posted June 5th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (2 Responds)

Hello there.  I haven’t seen you in awhile.

It’s not that I don’t care anymore.  It’s just that I’ve been writing more for the website now, and there have been a few “real world” issues that needed attention.  And I’ve been having fun.  Fun is a priority in my life.  I’ve made it no secret that I have a problem with depression.  Over the years, I’ve noticed a strong inverse correlation between how much fun I’m having and how depressed I am.

As a trained scientist, I understand that I don’t have enough data to state that one causes the other.  One could also make the point that even if there is a causative effect at play here, it’s anyone’s guess as to which factor influences the other.  I personally don’t care either way.  I’m having fun.

Suck it, science.

I was going over Facebook updates before I started this… it’s a little bit of a ritual for me, going over Facebook and Twitter updates before I start writing.  And by ritual, I mean compulsion.  Social networking is all well and good, but I have this compulsion to read everything on my list.  This is all well and good on days where nothing is going on.  Today I was out having fun.  I got behind.  That doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me is sitting down and opening the thing and working my way through… everything.  It makes me want to purge my friends list.  Or ignore some people. And then I feel like a dick for ignoring them.

Did you see what I did here?  I’ve managed to turn Facebook into a quagmire of moral conflicts.  This is where my insomnia comes from.  But that’s another story for another day.  As I was saying, I was going through my friends updates on Facebook, when…

My friend Chris Fuller mentioned that he was going to Six Flags in Arlington tomorrow.  That’s the only real Six Flags, by the way.  The Arlington Six Flags is the original one, and the Six Flags name refers to the six countries that Texas has been a part of.  Hence the name Six Flags over Texas.  It was an apropos name for the park.  And then, out of the blue, there was Six Flags over Georgia?  I’m sorry, but no.  I don’t recall Georgia ever being under Mexican rule.  Or French rule.  Georgia was never it’s own country.  Actually, for all I know, it was.  I don’t know that much about Georgia history.  Why would I?  I’m from Texas.  And I’m just redneck enough to think that’s cool.  I guess I have no real problem with the one in San Antonio having the name, it is at least in Texas, but I do.  Just a little bit.  To me, Six Flags is in Arlington.  Period.  And I want my roller coaster back.  The Big Bend was cool.

I’m digressing again, aren’t I?  Sorry ’bout that.

Chris said he was going to Six Flags.  On a Sunday.  The first Sunday after the end of the school year.  As much as I like amusement parks (excuse me, Theme Parks), I’m thinking I’d have to pass on that day.  Because as much as I like theme parks, I hate kids.  And most adults with kids.  And most adults.  Pretty much anyone except my friends.  And some of my family.

My perfect day at Six Flags would involve the Park only being open to me.  And my friends of course.  And my family.  All of my family, most likely.  I don’t want to deal with the drama of revealing which ones I don’t like.  I don’t have those issues with my friends.  I’m going to be very selective with my friends.

You shouldn’t worry, though.  I like you.  You’re getting in for sure.

One of the other things I’ve chosen to be obsessive about… unnecessary umlauts, sometimes known as metal umlauts.  You do know what I’m talking about, yes?  I’m seeing a few people shaking their heads.  Sigh…

The first use of umlauts in a band name was the band  Amon Düül II.  In this case, however, Düül refers to a character from Turkish fiction, a character whose name actually uses the umlauts.  In this case, they are positively necessary.  The first unnecessary use was by the much more awesome Blue Öyster Cult.

For the slower among you, those two dots above the O in Öyster?  That’s an umlaut.  The word Oyster doesn’t have one.  Or need one.  It’s unnecessary.

Many bands, some fictional, have used the unnecessary umlaut.  Primarily metal bands, hence the sobriquet “metal umlaut”.  That’s enough background.  I return you now to the rest of our story.

Today, two writers for the website submitted an article in which they referenced the band Motley Crue.  Not Mötley Crüe, mind you.  Motley Crue.  The way I see it, if a band cared enough to use an unnecessary umlaut in their name, by god you’d better have the respect to include that unnecessary umlaut when you write about that band.  Even if it’s just Mötley Crüe.

And to wrap this piece up in the most random fashion possible, I truly wish they made these in my size.  I would move to a more rainy climate if they did.

I’m only half kidding.  I also had no idea what they were.  I have since been informed that this is Julius the Monkey, and thus the work of someone named Paul Frank.  None of this meant anything to me.  It’s times like these that I actually feel “old”.  What I really want are these boots with Curious George on them.

Curious George is cooler, by far, than Julius.

And now I must leave you.  I’m off to see The Human Centipede.  Again.  Because I just can’t get enough.  And I’m taking a friend of Tara’s who has never seen the film.  I feel just a little bit dirty.

Be good to each other.

Much monkey on my mind

Posted May 27th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

Have I been neglecting my blog this week?  You could say that.  You could get a punch in the face for saying that, but that’s the chance you take when you mouth off to me…

Yes, I have neglected my blog this week.  I warned you this would happen.  Blogging every single day was good for me, for a period of time.  That time has passed.  And the official marking of that time was this Monday, when the CyberMonkeyDeathSquad went back online, so to speak.

I’m going to be honest, when I started the site I didn’t really know what I was doing. I wasn’t sure what the site should be, I didn’t know exactly where we were going, which made it difficult to know what we needed to do to get there.  I feel like I know what I want to do now, I’ve got a few folks that share the dream, and a few more that are going to give it a shot.  We’ve got a new back-end that makes the site more fluid.  And we have a new front end that I think is as good looking as anything else out there.

My only regret is that, while we were on our rebuild campaign, I allowed the site to get a little stagnant.  There hasn’t been much content going up for the last few months, except for Abraxas.  He’s a rock.

I, however, was burned.  I had lost my drive, I had lost my inspiration.  I blame part of it on the old backend, I blame most of it on myself.

And that’s where the blog came in.  I used the blog to get my mojo back.  I used the blog to get my discipline back.  And it worked.  I’m back, baby, and I’m feeling better than ever.  I’m inspired, I’m energized, I’m excited, and it’s contagious.  Everyone is writing again, and new stuff is going up almost every day.

Can you blame me if some days I write content for the website instead of the blog?

That leaves one question unanswered.  What about the screenplay (or screenplays) I was writing?

I’m going to finish that, I am.  It got sidetracked, and I don’t feel bad about that.  Ok, I feel a little bad about that, but I’m comfortable with it.  I got stuck.  I think it’s probably more hip to say I got blocked… I’m just not that hip.  I got stuck.  I got to the end and couldn’t figure out how to end it.

At the same time, I was quietly cut loose by the people I was working with on it.  I’m still not sure what happened, communications simply ceased.  It bothered me, but at the time I wrote it off to people being busy with other things.  I didn’t want to add any pressure, so I decided to be patient and easygoing.  A few weeks later, I’m told that it was deliberate.  I’m not going to play he said she said with you, there’s no need to go there.  Except…

It hurt my feelings.  I’m man enough to admit that.  It hurt my feelings.  I was essentially cast aside based on a rumor.  No one asked ME if I said what I was accused of saying.  I wasn’t given the benefit of the doubt.  No one even bothered to tell me to kiss their ass.  I was simply… ignored.

At this point, I had a few options.  I could have contacted the person who was ignoring me and asked “what the hell?”.  I could have contacted the person who was ignoring me and told them to get bent.  Instead, I did what I usually do when someone hurts my feelings.  I wrote them off.  I put everything I thought or felt about that person in a little box and set it on my mental shelf.

That may not be the most adult way to handle a situation, but it’s what I do.  And once it’s done, I have a hard time undoing it.  I’m loyal to my friends, loyal to a fault, and when my friends then turn around and hurt me, I withdraw rather than expose myself to more pain.  It’s not anger.  It looks like anger, but it’s not anger.  It’s my own twisted little defense mechanism.  It doesn’t really work.  It works in the sense that they don’t hurt me further, and it works in the sense that I don’t explode at them and make the situation worse.  But nothing gets better.  The problems don’t get solved.

And somewhere in the deepest, darkest part of my psyche, I shut down any work on the fiction front.  None of this is conscious, I’m not 100% sure why i do it, these are just guesses, but here’s what I think happened.  I was already feeling stuck, which doesn’t help my feelings of not knowing what I’m doing.  I’ve written one screenplay.  I’m learning this as I go.  Being cut off by the people who were helping me made me feel like I didn’t matter.  And we all know I have issues with that anyway.  This person, these people, are the people who got me involved in writing fiction.  Did they blow me off because I suck at it?  It doesn’t matter, because now I feel like I suck at it.  And every time I think about working on it again, that wound is re-opened.  So I just don’t do it.  It’s easier to push it to the side than it is to deal with it.  I don’t want to deal with it now.

Dealing with a problem by ignoring the problem.  You might expect a better, more effective, response from a trained psychologist.  You’d be wrong.  We know how to help other people.  We’re all pretty much fucked up ourselves.

Will I get back to it?  Will I write fiction again?  Maybe.  I’m not making any promises right now.  I’m not setting any deadlines for myself.  This is not the time.  This is the time to get the website to some level of respectability.  Fiction distracted me.  I liked it, it was fun, but I started writing non-fiction.  I like writing non-fiction.  I like putting my thoughts out there for the world to read.  I don’t need to write fiction.  I don’t need to make up stories.  I don’t need to write a movie.

I almost believe that.  Check back with me in a month or two to see how I feel then.  For now, I’m back at the helm of my distinctly non-fiction website.  That feels good.  That feels damn good.  Come and play with us, won’t you?

Be good to each other.

Barbacoa. And a donut with bacon. I win.

Posted May 23rd, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

I’m sitting here tonight feeling little left out.  Everyone is watching the LOST finale.  Everyone but me.

I got wrapped up in LOST.  In the beginning.  I made it through the 4th or 5th season, I don’t remember.  When they got off the island.  I started the next season, and I don’t know, I got busy, I got behind, I got distracted, I got further behind.  I knew I’d catch up later, there didn’t seem to be any hurry.

At some point, I stopped caring. And no amount of hype could get me to care.  Even now, I’m not at all upset about missing the show.  I’m experiencing the tiniest pang of regret at missing the shared experience.  There’s something nice about seeing a planned culmination of a show you’ve loved.

I just stopped loving LOST.  LOST did nothing wrong.  Do you hear me, LOST?  It wasn’t your fault.  You’re not like HEROES.  I know this sounds cliche, LOST, but it’s not you… it’s me.  You wanted more from me than I was willing to give.  You deserved more than I was willing to give.

I enjoyed watching the show, I didn’t want to “figure it out”.  I didn’t want to “chase the clues”.  I didn’t want to hear your theories about the smoke monster.  I might care who Kate ends up with.  I don’t care who you want Kate to end up with.  It’s just a show, watch it, enjoy it, shut the fuck up about it.  It’s not like it matters.

How come none of you rat bastards got that excited about Dollhouse?

I had some damn fine tacos today.  Tara saw this cart when she was out shopping.  It was parked in front of our neighborhood convenience store.  She was interested because of the guy who runs it.  He’s tattooed.  Heavily.  She was particularly intrigued by his two legs, sleeved with Simpsons characters.  We decided to walk back over for lunch.  We grabbed our stuff walked home, and tucked in.  I took the first bite, expecting good, and was shocked by the explosion of awesome in my mouth.  That was the barbacoa.  I’ve been eating barbacoa for years.  I’ve had some damn fine barbacoa.  This was better.

Then I started done of his beef tacos, with two kinds of beans, carmelized onions, fresh peppers, and all sorts of other goodness.  Also delicious.

I was so excited, I went back over to talk to him.  I had questions, I needed answers.  Clearly, the cat is a chef.  And he’s not afraid to turn all his gourmet kung-fu loose on something ghetto like barbacoa.  Right?

Indeed.  It’s all true.  I wrote a great piece on it for the website, but since we’re still in the switch-over holding phase, I’ll transcribe it here.

I love food. And while you would never call me hard to please, I am difficult to impress. Especially when it comes to tacos.

I grew up in West Texas, and I live in Austin. I’ve been surrounded by good tacos my entire life. I’m not going to waste your time talking about good, or even great, tacos. But today, today my friends, I met a taco that is worth talking about.

The Taco Taxi. I walk up to the convenience store (yes, like most great tacos, these are sold in front of a convenience store), and I see… a tricycle. A tricycle with an electric hotbox on the back, and a small propane stove. And it’s painted yellow, with a few blocks of checkerboard pattern thrown in for obvious effect. As I get closer, I see the proprietor; a tall man, with blue hair, and tattoos. Many tattoos. Including an elaborate neck tattoo.

Clearly, this would be no ordinary taco.

Brian Birde-Mann is no ordinary street vendor. He’s a classically trained chef who has traveled across the country, and the continent, learning the techniques and flavors of the places he visits. And he’s passionate about food. He believes that taking a bite of food should be like making love.

Yes, he actually said that. And no, he wasn’t engaging in hyperbole. He went on to describe how a perfectly seasoned and cooked meal, with proper presentation, should elicit the same release of neurotransmitters and hormones that other acts of extreme pleasure, such as sex, do. When the preparation of food is treated as an art.

True story. The first bite of his barbacoa taco made me weep with delight.

So what’s a cat like Brian doing selling tacos out of a tricycle in front of a convenience store? Shouldn’t he be an executive chef in a fancy restaurant? That depends on how you look at success. He’s done his time in that world (one gig involved cooking for millionaires at a private club in New Mexico), and he says too often he wound up being forced to cater to the least common denominator. Serving sub-par food for inflated prices to people who didn’t appreciate it. Now he’s trying to do something different.

“Gourmet food isn’t expensive”, he told me. “The talent to make it taste gourmet, that’s what’s expensive”. If he works for himself, he can make great food on a small scale and serve it at a price that people can afford.

Great food starts with great ingredients. Brian is proud to offer a completely organic menu. Brian uses produce from local organic farms, 100% grass-fed and hormone free beef from the Bastrop Cattle Company, and locally raised free-range chickens.

The tortillas. How can I explain the tortillas? Fresh, hand-made, flour tortillas. But they’re a little… brown. It was a bit off-putting at first. And then I smelled it. Cumin. The tortillas are made with cumin.

It’s the little things, folks, that make the difference. It’s the little things that push you from good to great.

His daily menu consists of several different tacos, including a vegetarian option, anticuchos (skewered and grilled meat), and a daily special. Today’s special was barbacoa. He tells me yesterday was sweetbreads.

This food is not to be missed. You owe it to yourself to give it a try. Don’t wait.

Seriously, don’t wait. This guy is one of us. He’s cool. And he’s trying to do something a little different. It’s not easy, man. If you wait too long, he might not make it. If you go now, he might be around for awhile. Be a dude.

You can find him at the Texan Market, on the corner of Amherst and Adelphi in North Austin. Pay attention! Currently, he’s there on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 3pm, and Wednesday from 4pm to 8pm.

lady lascivious and I have already decided we’re eating dinner there Wednesday night.

It was an excellent weekend all around.  Saturday included a screening of UHF , with Weird Al Yankovic in the house. And donuts.  Wonderfully excessive donuts.

How can a donut be wonderfully excessive?  Check this out.

That’s a giant donut, covered in bacon, and drizzled with lots of maple icing.  It was positively decadent.

Weird Al was wonderful of course.  What wasn’t wonderful was the crowd.  The event was at the Paramount, which attracted an entirely different crowd.  I do not understand what it is about a movie theater that leads people to think I care about what they have to say.

Thank you for pointing out that you know what’s about to happen.  I’m proud of you for knowing the film.  I’m impressed with your memory.  Now shut the fuck up, because as impressive as you might be, I’m actually trying to enjoy the movie I paid money to see.

Perhaps this is the way you enjoy the movie when you’re at home?  Look around you… you’re not at home.  We aren’t your guests.  We don’t know you.  We don’t like you.  And one of us might, just might, be a borderline psychopath who could become enraged at your incessant babbling, follow you home, and make a Christmas wreath from your entrails.

Second only to the movie talkers were the morons who felt that the Q&A was there time to shine.  Thank you, random shout man, your piercing screams of “NYUHHHH” when Al was speaking were just what I was hoping for when I bought my tickets.

That was actually funny in high school.  But that was then.  This is now.  That wasn’t your principal, this wasn’t an assembly.  I can see how you might be confused, since we all graduated and you didn’t.

My favorite Q&A questions were the numerous variations of you should do a parody of XYZ.  Want to know why that’s a stupid question?  Because he’s Weird Al and you’re a moron.  The man is the most successful song parody artist of all time.  His career has outlasted most of the artists he’s parodied.  He knows what he’s doing.

Games People Play.  By the Alan Parsons Project.  Really?

I’m surrounded by idiots.  At least my friends are cool.

And you are.

Be good to each other.

Limited Edition LOST posters!

Posted May 22nd, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (1 Respond)

Bernard Gumz is a seriously twisted individual. It’s cool, though; it just makes his art that much more… awesome.

I first became familiar with Bernard when he was kind enough to do the poster for the CyberMonkeyDeathSquad screening of Dr. Infierno back in 2009. I’m sure some of you remember that one…

But that was then. This is now.

Bernard’s latest project is a limited edition series of prints commemorating the end of LOST. There will be 6 prints, 5 of which are previewed above. A select number of buyers will also get a secret Daniel Faraday print. Prints are 8X10, signed and numbered, and printed on high quality archival canvas sheets.

For a complete gallery, and details on how you can order your prints, visit the project web site.

Do I even need to hint what an awesome Christmas present this would make for the Lost-ie on your life?

Deliver me!

Posted May 20th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

Let me tell you something, if it wasn’t for the near crippling depression, today would have been a great day.  In fact, depression be damned, today WAS a great day.

Before we get into that, let’s clarify this:  I don’t really have anything to be depressed about.  There are things in my life I wish were different, but show me someone that can’t say that.  Such is life.  My brain chemistry is a bit off, and some days I’m more depressed than others.  Some days, like today, I have a list of reasons why I should be so happy I have rainbows and unicorns shooting out of my butt, and instead I feel like a sad little black cloud is following me around all day.  You can’t see it, but it’s raining on me right now.  Rain falling like tears from the eyes of a thousand sad clowns.  And I hate clowns.

My dad was a clown for awhile.  It really disturbed me, and I was a grown man at the time.

I don’t know why I hate clowns.  One thing I do know: This piece isn’t about clowns, and I’m wasting precious time right now talking about clowns.  That’s one of the ways they get you.

What was so good today?  Well, first off I’m not sick.  I’ve been trapped at home, coughing and retching, sucking up my PTO and too sick to enjoy the whole “not working” thing.  That alone is reason to rejoice.

One of the first things I learn upon returning to the land of the living is that we have a new writer for the website.  Her nom de plume will be Lola Grier, and she’ll be focusing most of her talents towards film… with a difference.  I could explain it all, but why not let her do it?  Here, in her own words, is what she has planned for you:

Hey, there may be a better option out there for you. Instead of seeing the latest blockbuster, why not see a movie from the 50s, 60s or 70s which did “it” better? I acknowledge the existence of the new film, but spend my time writing about why I prefer the movie from decades ago.

She’s going to start the summer off with a string of 70’s disaster flicks.  You might just want to watch along with her.

And then, the icing on the cake of awesomeness, Tara and I bought tickets to see Deliverance in June.

Right about now, most of you are less than impressed by this.  It’s an excellent film, but why all the excitement?  There must be something more.  And there is.

The screening is the kick off for a new season of the Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow series.  For those of you not in the know, the Alamo has a portable screen, and a truck with a full theater rig in it.  They’ve got a 35mm projector, they’ve got a bitchin’ sound system, they’ve got a generator, everything you need to have a cinema experience… any damn place they want to have it.  We’re going to have a Deliverance screening out in the woods.  And to get there, we have to spend the afternoon canoeing down the Guadalupe River, evading in-bred hillbillies.  Except this is Central Texas, so we’ll be evading in-bred rednecks instead of hillbillies, but still, the danger is real.  And just in case that’s not enough for you, there’s also a pig.  A complete, slow-smoked pig.  I’m salivating just thinking about it.

That’s how we watch our movies in Austin.

Be good to each other.

Bob Dylan is always welcome

Posted May 19th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

This is a strange night indeed.  I’m feeling the urge to sit here and write, and yet, at the same time, it’s the last thing I want to do.

What’s so strange is that there’s absolutely nothing that I would rather be doing.  No, I’m simply dealing with a massive dose of discomfort.  It’s as if I was psychic and could sense a wall of impending doom bearing down upon myself and the ones I love.  This would be cause for concern except for the fact that I’m not psychic and that I have had these feelings numerous times in the past and the vast majority of those times nothing untoward has happened.  Being aware of these realities does little to diminish the unease, however.

Strangely enough, talking about it seems to help as much as anything.   That’s where the blog comes in handy.  It’s a type of therapy

SIDE NOTE:  Pandora is trying very hard to make me like Hayes Carll.  It’s not winning.  I’m finding that whatever charms may have been there on the first listen, they don’t hold up with extended exposure.  I don’t dislike him, but I have no desire to put his music on the iPod.  Then again, to be fair the only time I listen to him is when I’m sitting here writing, and that just might influence my opinion.

I can’t speak for everyone… actually, I can speak for everyone, I’m like a philosopher here, and that allows me a certain latitude to expound on the human experience and generalize my thoughts on to the collective reality, so why don’t we just go for broke and speak for everyone… There are a host of things that we fail to take into account when we make a decision on whether or not we “like” something.  First impressions are powerful things, but sadly they aren’t always accurate.  Our mood at the time we’re exposed to it has a powerful effect, and is itself influenced by feelings about where we are, who we’re with, or what happened earlier in the day.  Let’s go a step further than mood and investigate our mindset.  What am I doing at the time I’m exposed to this thing?  What am I trying to get out of the experience?

There’s music I really like when I’m writing.  It’s usually music that I also like at other times, but particularly when I’m writing.  Then there’s music that I might like at other times of the day, but not when I’m writing.  But even that is too simplistic.  Often times I pick a particular playlist when I write, but there are times when I choose something else.  The music I need to listen to when I write is dependent on the type of writing I’m doing.

Or does it?  Only now do we see that we’ve only touched the surface of the issue.  I’ve made a case that the type of music I choose to listen to is driven by the type of writing I’m going to do.  Which might be well and good if I could swear that I always make the choice of what music I’m going to listen to based on what I’m going to write when I sit down, but that’s not always true.  Often times it’s just what happens to be the last thing I was listening to on Pandora.  I’ve gotten quite lazy of late, and Pandora makes it easy to be lazy.  If you’re willing to invest a little time into building your stations, they do an excellent job of exposing you to some stuff you may have missed.  Particularly if you have the paid service.  I find the free service plays a bit too much of the “sponsored” bands that don’t necessarily mesh with your choices.  But I digress.

I may have picked some music out when I was browsing the web, or catching up on Facebook, or reading some blogs, and then I drift into writing.  At this point, could it not be that what I’m listening to is driving what, or how, I write?  In which case, maybe the actual question is, does how I feel influence what I choose to listen to and write about, or does what I listen to drive how I feel?

Did those kids do those bad things because of the music they listened to?

Would my life be any different if I listened to nothing but “happy” music?

And if it would, is that a life I would want to lead?

They call me the Working Man, I guess that’s what I am.

Posted May 14th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

I just wrote a new piece for the website. It felt really good.

It’s funny, I sat down to write a quick 5 minute piece, a news item to link the trailer for the Rush documentary that’s coming out next month.  5 minutes turned into a full on article, which turned into me fighting to not turn it into a blog post. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I haven’t felt this inspired to write a piece in ages.  That was great.  The topic, however, is one that holds deep, intense, and personal meaning for me.  Rush is a band that has touched and shaped my life in more ways than even I can explain.  And I was there.  Rush played a part in my getting married to Tara.  She told that story beautifully on the old website, I’ll have to get her to repost it on the new version.  For me, it’s not quite a spiritual thing, but then again, it almost is.

And as I’m writing this piece, it’s not even a review, it’s just a promo for a documentary that I think people should see, I’m having a hard time deciding where the line is between my blog, which is “me”, and the website, which is Magnificent Bastard.  How personal can I go there?  Does it even matter?  I don’t know.  These are the things I think about.  For hours at a time.  But that’s not the real issue.  It was Rush.  I realized I didn’t want to have this discussion on the website, which I see as more of a public forum.

Point in fact- I typically never discuss Rush with anyone I don’t respect.

Which is not to say that if I’ve never discussed Rush with you I don’t respect you.  Actually, if you think about it, I’m discussing Rush with you right now.  If indeed I never discuss Rush with anyone I don’t respect, and I am indeed discussing Rush with you at this very moment, then logically I respect you.  That’s a classic syllogism.

I spent the evening listening to a random shuffle of a play-list consisting of Rush’s first 10 studio albums.  I wrote a nice piece for the website.  I pondered deep philosophical questions of no import whatsoever.  It was a good night.

Tommy Wiseau wouldn’t come to the desert

Posted May 12th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

How is one to enjoy all the things there are to enjoy?

That’s just silly.  Obviously, one could never enjoy ALL the things there are to enjoy.  Not to mention the obnoxiousness of the gender neutral third person singular pronoun.  Let’s make this personal, or let’s not make this at all.

How am I to enjoy all the things I want to enjoy?  It’s an odd thing to complain about, I know, but then again it’s really not a complaint.  It’s all part of the counting my blessings thing.  I’m not really a specialist.  I’ve never specialized.  I can’t, because I can’t limit myself.  There’s simply to much to enjoy.  Movies, music, books, TV… so much I want to see and hear.  I live in an area where I’m surrounded by beautiful places to hike and walk and drive.  And there are only so many hours in a day.

It’s a crime, I tell you.  A crime.

I tell you this because I was feeling down earlier tonight.  My movie watching has decreased greatly.  There are TV shows I want to see that I can’t watch.  There are books to read, books stacked up left and right.  How am I supposed to get to it all?

What a thing to be down about.  I’m blessed.  I grew up in West Texas.  I spent 11 years in deep West Texas.  In the desert.  That’s the desert, as in A dry, often sandy region of little rainfall, extreme temperatures, and sparse vegetation.  That’s also the desert, as in An empty or forsaken place; a wasteland: a cultural desert.   I had limited access to good music.  I had almost no access to good movies.  This was in the before time, in the long long ago.  There was no streaming netflix.  There was no video on demand.  These were the pre-internet days.  By the time I got out of college, video rental was an option, but we had no I Luv Video.  We had no Blockbuster.  We had whatever the Mom and Pop video store owner decided was going to rent well.  In West Texas.  Good bands didn’t come out West.  Live music was limited to Country, Tejano, and really bad Metal.

Well, we did have Tommy Gun.  I wonder whatever happened to David Tommy?  I think he was still playing in San Angelo a few years ago.  I realize most of you have no idea who I’m talking about.  It’s ok.  But for a kid from San Angelo, David Tommy could play guitar.  Then again, we were desperate.

And now I’m in Austin.  I’m surrounded by awesomeness, I have a wealth of quality entertainment at my fingertips, I have forests and hills hiking trails and roads and some days I can’r decide which awesome thing to do.  I can’t do all the awesome things I have the chance to do.  In my late 30’s,  I went from famine to feast.  Ten years later, and I’m not tired of it yet.

And to top it all off, I’m finally living an authentic version of myself.  I feel more comfortable in my skin now than I ever have.  I almost like who I am.

Almost.  We’ll get there eventually.

I’m happy.

Be good to each other.

Where’s the Tylenol?

Posted May 11th, 2010 by Mick under Uncategorized (No Respond)

What a good day.

I slipped over the last several day.  I said I was going to do more of the counting your blessings thing, but I haven’t been.  I’ve been stressing.  It doesn’t help that my mouth has been in near constant pain.  Some of the pain is from the recent crown work I had done.  I’ve got a temp crown on now, and I’m not sure if it’s still supposed to be this sensitive.  The rest of the pain is coming from my jaw, which got a sharp jolt a few weeks ago.  I’m starting to think that the crack I took was a little worse than I first thought, but that might just be my natural tendency towards hypochondria.

It’s ironic that the way I control my hypochondria is to avoid health care.  The less i think about it, the less I obsess over it.  I still think I’m sick, but as long as I don’t go to the doctor I can tell myself it’s just the hypochondria.  Which only works some of the time, but that’s when procrastination comes into play, and the circle of rationalization is complete.  But I digress.

The mouth pain is most likely a combination of all the factors, each of which builds upon itself.  Having dental work always exacerbates my TMJ.  My TMJ was already exacerbated from the crack on the jaw the previous week, so this round of “hold your mouth open extremely wide for extended periods of time while I torture you with expensive equipment” did double duty damage.

Pain is a funny thing.  There are so many kinds of pain, but if you want to talk about real pain, severe pain, there are two kinds.  There’s acute pain.  Acute pain… like a fresh gash sliced in your flesh, a snapped leg, a kick in the stomach from a hob-nailed boot… acute pain is a bitch.  It hurts hard.  It’s sharp, it’s intense, it’s piercing.  And then there’s chronic pain.  Pain that’s there all day, every day, day after day, wearing at you, tearing you down little by little, like drops of water on a concrete slab.  A single drop is nothing to a concrete slab.  A million of them, one after the other, can chew a hole right through it.

And let’s offer a big thank you to the mold counts.  I was getting tired of having functioning sinuses.

But those are just excuses.  The blessings are still plentiful.

I was gifted with four wonderful pieces of art for the web site today.  My spiritual brother Javier designed four icons for our main sections.  You’ll see them standing proudly on the home page.  What’s that?  You wanted a teaser?  I really shouldn’t, but… oh alright, you talked me into it.

"Rants & Raves" logo.

I think it’s pretty awesome,  And there are three more of them.

Tara and I drove to Lampasas tonight to pick up an antique chest of drawers we purchased on Sunday for an insanely low price.  That meant we also got to stop and eat at Storms, the home of one of my favorite burgers, The Cordon Blue.  A double meat hamburger with two slices of cheese and a slice of grilled ham in between.  I’d drive the 60 miles to Lampasas just for the burger, the chest was a nice bonus.  Actually, I have a bit of a penchant for old furniture.  It doesn’t have to look good, in fact I prefer it to look well used.  I like furniture with some character.

I’ve got a cast iron bed frame that’s well over 100 years old.  And at some point, it was painted purple.  It’s still purple.  I don’t particularly like purple, but damn if it doesn’t give the bed some character.

I’m not sure where any of this was supposed to be going, but I definitely think we’ve arrived.  Good night, and God Bless.

Be good to each other.

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