Friday, September 30, 2011

Tonight is tomorrow

Since I'll be busy with the Merseyside Derby in the morning. Shopping in the afternoon, and the Doctor Who finale at night - here is what I've been listening to over the past few weeks.

He's coming to Columbus on Wednesday. Just him, and a guitar. We're going.

I know very little about the Eurovision Song Contest. I've been finding some very interesting songs on youtube from it and am thinking of doing a weekly feature here. Again, I know nothing about this, but digging around one can find the scary, the plain weird, and the amazing. I really like finding international music through youtube, you learn a lot.

Case in point.

Stevie Jackson, the guitarist of Belle & Sebastian has just released his debut solo album, and it's pretty darn good.

Been listening to 12 Songs, always loved his original version that Three Dog Night turned into the hit.

I was going to post something off his wonderful new record, The Old Magic, but stumbled across this video, which I had never seen before. Listened to a set of his from Maryland last Sunday. He opened for Wilco and sounded sweet. This man has a deep catalog of great songs that have been long ignored and overlooked. He's one of the best.

That's what's been on in the car, and in my headphones.

From my subconscious to you

Woke up at 4:30am, somehow remembering these ditties.

We were in the Short North, my wife was in one of the restaurant and a pan handler asked me for money for the bus. A dollar I think I knew this person already had a bus pass, and I did not have a dollar anyway, so I said no. Said person then went inside and asked my wife for a dollar, and she, being the soft touch kindest person in the universe, gave the person the money.

In another Kafe Kerouac was now some sort of wine bar/bistro. There were higher tables and at one of them we joined another person, who I think was a blogger, who had a bottle of wine and was drinking it by herself. I asked her what it was. She told me it was a carignan then proceed to pour me a glass while she spoke in French.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Is there an app for toilet training an autistic kid?

My mother bought an iPad for my son. It arrived on Tuesday night. Set up the iPad for him. Did not add anything for my personal use. I do not need another gadget to be addicted to.

It is sleek, easy to use and had amazing video quality. The camera is still a piece of crap.

Gave it to him, and he spent most of the morning watching the same video over and over on the PBS app. I took it offline, knowing I'd put it back. I'm trying to figure out a way to use the iPad as a tool in toilet training. Something has to motivate this kid.

Later, he handed me the iPad on the screen that shows the homepage of the PBS kids app. The one I took off. The one he wanted me to put back on. No sure how he found it, but he did.

Last night, he was at his mother's and asked her where it was. Later, she said he was looking at an app for learning Portuguese on her iPod. Great, another language he can learn that we will not understand.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Proportion does not matter when they will add up to millions

Trying a new look here. Any opinions?

Last night I drove up to Mount Vernon for my feature with Joe Suarez. Had an unexpected detour that involved bridge construction but I got there in plenty of time. Pleased to see this outside Sips Coffeehouse.

First of all, my name was spelled right - and I got top billing! I've been trying to get Mark to book me for one of his nights and I'm glad he finally asked.

You never know what to expect when you read to a new audience. Read a mixture of work, most of it serious, some of it about autism.

The crowd was very, very quiet throughout. They did not even clap between poems. Not what I'm used to. Had no idea if they thought my work was any good or not.

Did a little whining about it on Facebook until Paula L. said that is how the crowd is, and that they will come up to you after and praise your work.

That is exactly what they did. Got some good feedback and conversation. All the people I spoke to had an autism story. Their grandchild or niece's son has autism. Everyone is being touched by it now. What to do about it?

Here's the set list.

It Was an Old Book
After Birth
David's Rock
Hearing Projection (new: read off iPod Touch!)
The Tall Man Tries
Jungleland: Praise and Response
Nobody's Poet

It was great being there with Joe to have someone familiar in the audience, and to exchange a knowing look when a certain guitar playing poet took to the mic.

Got some gas money, sold a few cds. Yes, it was a success. Drive home was dark, rainy and scary. My eyes are not good in the dark, and no one was on the roads behind me. When cars approached, the headlights were a bit overwhelming. Freaking age.

In other news my son now has an iPad. I set it up for him, downloaded some apps. All he's doing right now is watching videos on PBS Kids. How to use this as a toilet training tool?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Is it a trap game?

One of the first things my stepfather said to me today, after seeing me in my Bills polo shirt, was, "You still root for them?"

The day was so busy I was not able to watch the Bills/Patriots game. My parents were in town this weekend, so I had go swim with my son in the pool at their hotel so Grandma can see her Grandson swim duty.

It wasn't a bad gig.

We had some other errands to do and went out to eat at a non-sports bar. My idea. Did not want to be distracted and agitated if the game was tense.

Turns out it was. We got home and the score was tied late in the game. The Bills had come back from being 21 points down. Put the game through the internet radio feed so we could hear John Murphy call the game. The local television affiliate here shows either the Cleveland or Cincinnati games, and the Browns game was not over. But for the life of me when it was over I could not believe they did not immediately switch to the Bills/Pats game as it was very exciting.

Eventually they showed the game, and we had to turn down the radio because the feeds were not even close to being in synch.

Man, that was one crazy finish but seeing the Bills finally beat the Patriots, which they had not done since 2003 was sweet! Belichick losing his cool and losing a time out, Brady intercepted four times, and unable to rally his team to a last second comeback because the Bills won the game on a last second field goal was icing on the victory cake!

How many games were the Bills on the negative side of the win/loss column dealing with last second field goals over, say, the last five years.

I'm celebrating and taking this win, but knowing that 3-0 is only 3-0. There are thirteen games left, all of them tough. None tougher than next weeks game at Cincinnati against the Bengals. If this team is serious about being taken seriously, it is a game that must be won.

Eight years, fifteen games of defeats against New England is finally over. While there are more important things happening in the world, it's good to have a victory beverage or two taking some comfort in the end of a losing streak.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If I send it to you you've got to promise to keep it whole?

I wrote this during the day, now I'm posting it to keep my mind off the state of Georgia and blood lust.

If you listened to college radio at all the in the 1980’s you could not avoid R.E.M. I’m trying to remember where I was when I first heard them. It had to be the Chronic Town E.P., sometime at WCVF during my sophomore year, fall of 1982. I had to look that up because I thought it was sometime in the spring, but it looks like the record was not released until October of 1982.

In the spring of 1983 I went to a college radio convention in Washington D.C. and they made an appearance. A meet and greet to sign autographs. I did not see them but managed to get one of their early press photos. I still have it, found in the basement. Sorry if the scan cut off the top of Michael's head.

Then in the spring of 1983 Murmur came out and it was like Thriller for independent music. It changed the indie music sound, brought back the jangly guitar and influenced a lot of kids. They were the perfect alternative band, could rock when necessary, and kept it quiet when they could. They were MTV friendly, a bit surly or engaging during interviews; a group of four mysterious characters, yet accessible all at once.

Every year through my college days and Fredonia years it seemed that the band released a new record. They are one of the groups that definitely provided the soundtrack to my life during that time. I remember being in the recording studio at WCVF with the new copy of Document and the looks on the faces of the people in there with me, listening as this great new record was being played for the first time is a good memory. I think the station, as thanks for your support from the record label, received an autographed copy of the album cover that was stolen.

I was obsessed with Life’s Rich Pagaent. Played it over and over, then the house was robbed, along with my turntable. That was a sad time.

Green alienated me a bit, I can't name any song on it other than the mediocre Orange Crush, but Out of Time brought me back into the fold. Loved Me and Honey and the work they did with Kate Pierson. Automatic for the People kept the streak going then Monster completely lost me. Guitar noise, What's the Frequency Kenneth was a grab at pop culture they missed. After that, the band and my life were headed in two different directions. They, along with 10,000 Maniacs (who had their own connection to R.E.M.) and U2 will forever be my Fredonia bands. Maybe Columbus, myself, and the band could not connect?

There really were not many of their songs that hit me over the last ten years. At My Most Beautiful is probably my favorite of anything they recorded during that era. Never saw them live. Never really wanted to after hearing a few of their shows, they did not impress me as a live act so I did not think it was worth the effort. Maybe in time I’ll regret this.

They gave it a go, and had a good run for over thirty years. Not many bands can claim that longevity while sustaining success. They could have called it a day in 1999, or when Bill Berry left and I’d have written the same thing then as I am now. Heck, U2 can break up today and I’d be writing the same thing. It’s sad that it’s finally happened, but they did well, very well, and we can celebrate the great music they left us. Perhaps Mike Mills can put out a solo record now?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pushing the Button, Again

Gambling is not something I do. You want me to place a bet on a team, go opposite. The west side casino is not someplace I'm going to visit.

There is one thing that is hard to resist though.

Let me change that. I do not put money into any skill crane, just the ones with frogs in them.

You see, my wife, she likes frogs.

The Kroger we go to has a skill crane. As we leave I check the skill crane for frogs and, more importantly, their position in the box. If they're at the bottom, hiding underneath a pile of unnecessary plush, I walk by. If I do not have any quarters in my pockets, I walk by. I do not carry rolls of quarters to the skill crane. So if there is a frog in an attainable by claw position, and I have a couple of quarters, I'll put them in and try my luck. This usually happens a couple of times a month. Most of the time, the frog does not get grabbed by the claw and I'm out fifty cents. Life goes on.

I've pulled a frog out of a skill crane once, two years ago I was alone, tried my luck and brought home a wee frog.

But if no one sees you do it, did it really happen?

Yesterday we did our shopping and walked through the vestibule where the skill crane is. I looked in, assessed that a big frog just may be ripe for the picking, put in my fifty cents, lined up the claw, and pushed the button.


Now, as we're walking to the car after I won her the frog she's going on saying that the machine, the claw, is set to work only every so often. She's saying the machine is rigged.


Why do they call it a Skill Crane?

It's skill that won her that cuddly frog friend. My skill. There were no electronic shenanigans in play here. Why can't she accept that her husband is occasionally adept in the use of the skill crane and leave it at that?

Friday, September 16, 2011

To Migrate?

After years of waiting and rumor, Yuengling Beer is finally going to be distributed in Ohio starting next month. I say Huzzah to this! My introduction to it came years ago at my sister's college graduation in Williamsport, Pennsylvania at a small neighborhood bar she took us to. We had it on tap, while it is far from the best beer I've had it is quite flavorful, and the price point is excellent.

I'm a bit disappointed that the Lord Chesterfield Ale is not going to be sold here, probably because they do not make enough of it, there will be plenty of lager happily consumed. Never been a fan of their, or any, black and tan.

While at Kafe Kerouac the other night I noticed they had some Columbus Brewing Company's Festbier in the cooler. Made a note to have some before the night was out. Gina came into the room with one, sat next to my wife and told her to tell me the beer was excellent. Now when Gina says a potent potable is good, it's good. Went and got one before finishing my Italian Soda, and ended up having two bottles. It's impressive. Good amount of malt, appropriate for the style and enough snappy hop flavor to make it interesting. Well made. Hope to find some in the stores because I prefer it to the Oktoberfest by Great Lakes this year.

Thinking of moving this place over to Wordpress. Kicking the tires over there, not time to check out how easy it is to use, yet. Something I'm going to ponder for a few weeks before making a decision.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chasing the Waterfall

Earlier this week, we received our staff appreciation gift. A similar item is in the photograph above.

I received a copy of the recorded CD last week. After listening to it, I discovered it needs a couple of edits. My producer is out of town until the night before the feature. Looks like I'm going to go into Garageband and attempt the edits myself. Oh boy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In fifteen days

I will have a feature reading at Sips Coffeehouse in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

You can find the event link on Facebook HERE!

If you do not have a Facebook account, here's more information.

Ed Plunkett will be a featured poet during this reading, with Special Guest poet Joseph Suarez.

Ed has been reading his work in the Central Ohio region for over five years. He is a member of the Writers' Block Poetry group and represented them in the Individual World Poetry Slam in Berkeley, California in 2009. He has published one chapbook, "Nobody's Poet" and is working on a CD that will be completed by the time 2011 ends. Ed writes about the challenges of raising an autistic child and the lighter and darker sides of life's foibles. A goal of his is to read in all of Ohio's 88 counties. He has a long way to go. Ed lives in Columbus with his wife and son.

Here's what Joe has to say about his craft -

I was introduced to the world of Poetry thru a friend 3 1/2 years ago after being invited to tag along to go to a Wednesday night Poetry Reading at Writers Block. Just 2 weeks following I performed my first piece ever in public at Writers Block during Open Mic; after that I was hooked. Most of my Poetry is based on real life observations and experiences - some funny and some serious. Poetry has been a great outlet for me and has enriched my life in more ways than ever imagined and has been a true Blessing. I have met so many great people thru this experience who have offered their support, many who I call friends. I am a proud father of 5 children and Grandfather of 3 and currently live in Marion, Ohio. Columbus is my hometown.

Starts at 6:30, on 9/27, at Sips Coffeehouse, 101 South Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Hope you can show up.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Scotland, the Last

I had a couple of days on my own as my wife and her sister spent the days together shopping. Friday was the walk around the west end. Tuesday, the final day we had in Glasgow, had me taking a walk, in the rain, towards the east end.

It was a very pleasant walk. There'd be a sheet of rain, that would stop, start up again, then the sun would try to make an appearance. Unlike Friday, it did not.

Glasgow Green is the oldest public space in Glasgow. It's a lovely park that has the People's Palace, a neat little museum that depicts the history of the city.

In front of the museum is the Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world. It's very impressive.

The Anderson Shed was used as a bomb shelter during World War Two. Glasgow and the surrounding areas, including Clydebank, were heavily bombed due to their shipbuilding capabilities.

Perish the thought!

I did manage to drink several fine whiskies during my stay, and was given an old bottle of Glenkinchie from my Father-in-law.

After my tour of the People's Palace I walked a bit on the east end and found the Barras, a part of the city that is filled with character among the small shops and stalls that are only open on weekends. These shops have reputations for selling dodgy, pirated merchandise and I'm guessing things that came out of the back of a lorry. Next time I want to see this place in action.

Met up with my wife and S-I-L at Rogano's, a very classy place that has been around since the mid thirties. It's art deco style is based on the Queen Mary, and the food is top class.

I'll be eating at the bar next time.

It was a short walk from here to The Lighthouse, a school of architecture and design. It contains a very cool spiral staircase.

It was designed by Charles Rennie McIntosh and was a part of the Glasgow Herald's offices.

Before climbing the staircase, I needed a comfort stop.

The views of downtown are worth the climb. Had to hang on to my hat, it was windy up there.

It's a great city to visit, easy to navigate, and I still have not seen everything I want to, and that includes a soccer match. Still have not seen The Mitchell Library, or taken a distillery tour, or seen a gig. So much to do, and outside of the city is Loch Ness, Millport, Aberdeen, the northern islands and on and on.

It was a long trip home. This will be the last time we take a two connection flight. We got out of Glasgow late, out of Amsterdam late, then missed our connection in Detroit. We got rebooked, that flight was late due to the weather. It's all good and fine, but the extra waiting is very tiring.

Had a wonderful vacation. Now back to the real world.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Auld Reekie

The only time I was in Edinburgh was in December 2007. The winter sun blinded me as we exited Waverly Station, the wind was persistently cold. The walk toward the castle was an intimidating tourist trap of age, bagpipes blaring out of every shop window and history.

Sunday's visit was different. We took a cab from Waverly to our B&B, got the key from the owner, put our bags on the bed, stopped at a shop for some snacks and went to Arthur's Seat

That was the view from the window of our B&B. I'm just going to post a few pictures here to depict our ascent. We took the hard route, which we probably should not have, but we did not know any better. We did not know about the relatively easy path on the other side, the one we took down!

Some things you have to work for, and the wife and I worked hard for these pictures.

If you look there, you see Emma doing some rock climbing. She did the rock proud!

As you see it's a clear day, it was also a lot warmer than we expected. Going the tougher route really took a lot out of us. But we continued and prevailed.

Em' decided not to make it all the way up, but I continued, only to be rewarded by a Midge attack. As you see, I'm happy, but being swarmed by the beasties, as was everyone else up there.

Em's down there somewhere.

There's the path down, which eventually led us to what is alleged to be The oldest bar in the U.K. The refreshments were well needed, and we beat the crowd.

The image above is of the legendary Heart of Midlothian. That is not my spit.

We were in the city on the last day of the Fringe Festival, and I have to say the service workers in bars and restaurants were more than a bit surly. I get that they wanted it over, but there was one wanker bartender who did not seem to want to sell us the refreshments we wanted. I'll call him a tASShole.

Here, they were nice.

There's something about the city that gives me bad vibes. Sure, there's plenty of history but the citizens have to realize that tourism is giving them work, and not a reason for them to act like douches. Oh, the guy who sold me Buckfast (more about in an upcoming post), he was cool. I was respectful the whole time and nearly had my head handed to me when I made a wrong turn in the B&B and put my head into the owner's private quarters. It was not just bad luck, they're not as friendly a bunch in Edinburgh as they are in the rest of the places I traveled to in the country. I think it's time to go someplace else during our next trip over.

Bards of the Round Platform

The last few days in Scotland were quite busy and I did not have much time to update here. We're back in Columbus safe and sound.

Let's go back a few days and refresh.

Saturday afternoon we headed to Tollcross Park to take part in a monthly poetry reading I found on the internet. Did this on a whim, was not sure if the group was still active, or what to expect.

Took a commuter train there, got to the station just in time to catch the train to Tynedale, which was a short walk and one asking for directions to the park.

While headed up the road there we heard a marching band just down the road. Had no idea what was going on. Was it a rally for the Scotland/Czech Republic match?

Turns down, it was a political march. Take this wikipedia entry with a few grains of salt, but this was the gist of the march.

As we got closer to it I asked Emma if I could take a picture without getting beaten up, "Do it discreetly," She said.

At the end of the parade, I noticed someone taking video of it with an iPhone. Quite the culture shock.

The park itself, is quite lovely.

We got to the place for the reading a bit early and asked the worker at the Winter Gardens where the poetry would be read. He pointed is us in the direction of the Secret Garden.

While waiting here we discovered that Poet's Time exists in Glasgow too. One poet showed up, we introduced ourselves and about a half an hour later the rest of the group showed up.

"You're the American that's looking for the group?" I was asked by Colin, the organizer. I guess word got around at the Winter Gardens.

A small group of poets were sitting in a park in Glasgow on a not too bad Saturday afternoon sharing their work with each other in what I'd say you could call a cypher. Only eight people were there so we read in a round robin fashion. It was great. Funny work, political poems, personal. I got a few asides asking if I could understand the accents. We discussed our disgust for neo-cons and the Chicago School of Economics. The group has been together for about eleven years. Attendance was small this particular day due to a few illnesses and a football match.

It was fantastic. I ended up reading: Pantoum for a Child with Insomnia, Gaythiest, David's Rock, For Daredevils, After Birth and Nobody's Poet. A mini-feature.

I asked Emma to get a picture of me reading, and the group forced me to get up on the platform where people would read if they had a better crowd. So I did.

At the end we exchanged names, emails and I vowed plan my next trip around the first Saturday of the month, when Bards in the Park meet at Tollcross Park.

Our next stop was the Parkhead, we were given a ride to Celtic Park by one of the poets, a very generous and decent man.

After the photo-op we got on the bus and headed into town for a bite to eat before headed back to Lenzie for dinner. I'm glad I finally got a picture of this.

Still recovering from a long trip home yesterday. More to come.