Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Moving/Music Blog

My alarm went off this morning, and was answered by a round of cursing which could only be described as encyclopedic.  I'm not particularly a morning person anyway, never mind the morning after I've consumed a staggering amount of tryptophan.  I count myself lucky, though, because with all that's going on in this economy, I have a job that requires I work the day after Thanksgiving.  And it doesn't hurt that I'm also not at the mall being shot or pepper sprayed by idiots who are willing to injure others in order to get half off an Xbox.  It's a goddamn TOY, stupid.  Get some perspective.

This weekend sees the completion of my (and Finn's) move to the Woo.  Most everything has been packed up in boxes.  we're getting a moving truck to get everything we can out tomorrow, and then getting the last of it and cleaning up on Sunday.  Considering the difficulty I've had with the landlord (oh yeah, he never did fix the toilet, garbage disposal, front door, porch light, or leak in the roof), I'm not holding my breath to get the security deposit back.  Which doesn't mean I'm not got going to try and collect it.  I think he knows by now that I'm fairly well versed on the laws in this regard.

But that's not what I'm concentrating on.  I'm focused on the move, settling in, and keeping things rolling in the right direction.  I've been offered a short solo set in December (details to follow), and I'm adding more songs to my repertoire.  I'm definitely being influenced by guys like Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan, not to mention Billy Bragg.  My song choices most certainly veer towards classic punk and alternative.  I know that's not necessarily groundbreaking, but I've never claimed to be any kind of pioneer.  I like what I like.

And today, for those of you keeping score at home, is day 180 without a drink.  Six months.  This calls for a song.

Happy weekend...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Left Bank of Central Massachusetts

I forgot to mention the other day that, after reading up on the rules for Movember (15 days left!  Save the Nuggets (TM)!), I had to modify my entry, because a Van Dyke doesn't count.  It has to be a mustache.  So what I did was eliminate the hair directly under my bottom lip to create what I like to call the "Lemmy" look.  Of course, my daughter was able to bring me back to Earth by telling me I look like Hulk Hogan.  Thanks kid.  Oh, and by the way, you're gonna be a commuter next semester.  Not so funny now, are ya?

I was at my therapy appointment last night, talking about my upcoming move to Worcester, extolling the virtues of the burgeoning arts scene there, when the realization struck me: I'm actually getting very enthusiastic about this.  Not that I wasn't looking forward to living with Jess already, not to mention how grateful I am to her and her roommate for even offering me this option.  But in the last few months, I've gotten to know some of the more active participants and organizers in the area, and it seems like people are just bursting with enthusiasm about how they can get everyone together and really make a combined effort to promote arts, music, theatre, and local writers.  Given my rekindled interest in nearly all of these things, it's like a perfect storm of opportunity for me to really dive in and make it happen.

Sunday's event would never have happened for me if I weren't in a relationship with Jess, so I feel like I have something of a head start.  I also have experience and, if I do say so, a modicum of talent.  So Jess helps get my foot in the door, and then it's up to me to get the rest of me over the threshold.  It doesn't hurt that she's been a very enthusiastic champion of mine from pretty much day one (Thanks, beh-beh!).

Long term, I think we're both still planning on ultimately settling back in North Attleboro Center (but not the same house, natch), but Worcester really is going through a kind of arts and culture renaissance right now, and it's not a little exciting to think that we'll be a part of it.

I know I've mentioned the title "Whisky Witch" when referring to Jess, and I did happen to note that she was pouring at the event on Sunday.  But I really should throw a plug in here for her services.  If you're someone who wants to learn about whisky in its various forms and styles, or even if you're someone who's an old hand and wants to find something new, you really need to get in touch with her.  She is to whisky what Wine Spectator is to wine.  I'm not even exaggerating.  I've seen more than one person who firmly stated that they didn't like whisky walk away with a new drink of choice.  She's that damn good.  And she has a blog that is in desperate need of updating (because she's also a very good writer), so I'm going to link it here in order to light a fire under her butt about it.

Don't worry, I haven't fallen off the waggon (180 days as of a week from this Friday.  That's six months for those of you who don't believe in long division.), and she actually doesn't drink all that much, either.  She's a connoisseur who does her research well and responsibly.  Look her up, she will teach you something new.

And with that, I say good day, sir...

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Week Full of Saturdays

Back from vacation.  A very nice, slow-paced, relaxing vacation.  A week full of Saturdays where, for the most part, I didn't have anywhere I had to be at any particular time.  Originally, there was a trip to Ireland planned for the week, but that had to be scrapped for financial reasons, unfortunately.  So it became a welcome opportunity for me to just relax, recharge, refocus, and re-a bunch of other things.  Jess was off as well, so we were also able to do some planning and preparation for the move in two weeks.  I also got to spend some time with my daughter and hear more about the incredible things she's doing in college.  I really shouldn't be at this point, but it seems I'm still wowed by her continued accomplishments.  And I have no problem with that.

My Movember campaign started off well, but has sort of lost steam.  After an initial flurry of contributions, nothing for the last week.  I understand, the economy is tough, and this time of year in particular is chock full of different organizations vying for your charitable dollar.  Hey, the whole reason I'm doing this is because I don't have the money to give to any or all of the very worthy causes that are asking for help right now.  I wanted to do something, and this seemed like an interesting way to do it.  So I'm not going to pound down anyone's door asking for money, but if you have the means, I'd really appreciate it.  I'll post a picture of the 'stache on the page later today.

One not exactly bad, but still kind of sad thing happened last week as well.  I made the decision to leave the Gobshites.  There's no acrimony or animosity, I'm not angry at anyone or full of spite or anything like that.  I think I just need to strike out on my own for now and see what happens.  I'm learning a lot of new instruments and writing lyrics, and I have some idea of what I eventually want my sound to be.  So I figured I'd explore that and try to develop it.  Am I a bit melancholy?  Sure, the last three years have mostly been a blast.  But I'm excited as well.  I will always be grateful to the Gobshites, and Pete Walsh in particular, for reigniting the musical fire that I feared was buried for good a long time ago.  And I've had the pleasure and privilege of playing with and meeting some fantastic people who've played a huge part in my growing self confidence, self esteem, and recovery.  Thanks to everyone with whom I've shared a stage, a memory, or a pint.  You've all been a huge influence, and I look forward to sharing my new direction with you.

Speaking of which, last night was my first ever solo performance, at Secret Society Tattoo and Art Gallery in Worcester.  My nervousness manifested itself in a pounding headache that showed up just as I was about to start.  How did I do?  Well...everyone told me it sounded great.  Unfortunately, all I ever hear are the mistakes.  I think it was good that I was more or less the background music for the art exhibit, because it helped me get the first one under my belt without the additional stress of having the entire focus on me.  I tried to make it a mix of traditional Irish songs and tunes, as well as some punky folk stuff.  And Jess joined me for a couple of songs as well (in between commanding the attention of the whisky connoiseurs in the crowd), which for me were the highlights of the evening.  I'm working up a list of songs I'd like to cover, as well as starting a couple of new songs of my own, and trying to pluck out some music for the two I've written so far.

I've also got my fingers crosed at the possibility of new employment in a much more creative atmosphere, and I'm working on getting caught up with everything, packing, and weeding through the crap that I've been lugging around for years, both in the physical and metaphysical sense.  I think it's going to be an interesting 2012.

Oh, and the cat says hi...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Happy Movember!/Friday Music Blog

Okay, so I'm taking part in a fundraising effort called Movember.  Each November, men grow their mustaches to help raise awareness and money to benefit men's health issues, specifically prostate cancer, and other cancers that affect men.  I even have my own page for the cause here.

I've decided to go with the Van Dyke, because I think just a mustache on me would look goofy.  Also because my beard shows the red highlights, which people don't get to see too often.  That's the Irish Viking in me.  I haven't posted a picture on the site yet, but that's coming soon, probably even later today.

Now, lest you think this is just an excuse for me not to shave for a month, let me tell you my motivation.  In 1997, my father was diagnosed with throat cancer.  After getting all of his options for treatment, he chose a very rigorous course of radiation which, over five weeks, completely nailed it.  It left him both physically and emotionally drained for a while, but he beat it.  In 2009, a spot was found on one of his kidneys.  They couldn't get to the tumor itself, and so the kidney had to come out.  This year, another spot was found in his lung.  This time, they could remove the spot, which they did.  Each time, it was a different cancer, unrelated to the previous occurrences.  Each time, they got it all.  Each time, he had some part of his body invaded; first by the cancer, then by the treatment.  Each time, he took it like he takes just about everything: Quietly, determinedly, with little to no complaint (that I ever saw, anyway).

Cancer took his older sister when I was 14, and his youngest brother a few years ago.  He was eight years older than I am.  Two years ago, because of my family history and at the recommendation of my doctor, I had a colonoscopy which found a polyp that, had I waited, would most likely have become cancerous in a few years.  My family's got skin in the game, literally.

So I'm growing my Van Dyke for November to try and help.  I know the last few years have been a financial train wreck for a lot of folks.  If you can, please click on my link and donate.  Or get involved yourself (yes, women can participate too).  If you can't, I completely understand, and you don't have to avoid eye contact with me.

And now, for your dancing pleasure (and because I saw him at the Middle East this week, plus he's mustachioed/bearded as well), I give you Frank Turner: