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Monthly Archives: October 2004

ghosts

Continueing with Six Feet Under:

Every episode begins with the Fisher’s (sorry, that’s the name of the funeral home, Fisher and Sons) client for that episode dies. It’s not uncommen, then, for the person spread out on the embalming table to wake up and talk to one of the main characters and help them work through whatever life struggles they’ve got going on in that episode. I think it’s an effective and interesting gimmick replacing the recorded voice-over of the the character’s thoughts going through their head…

Nathanial Fisher, the father that died in a car wreck in the first episode, pops up and talks to various “live” characters on a regular basis. The last episode that Holly and I watched played out a year later in time since the Christmas dad died. Throughout the course of that episode, each member of the family conversed with the dad about the last time they saw him alive.

I know from personal experience that the dead tend to show up for a long time. This coming February mark 11 years that my own dad passed away. He just didn’t wake up one Sunday morning. We’re pretty sure it was a stroke.

I don’t remember why, but we couldn’t have the funeral until pretty late in the week like Thursday or Friday. I was in college at the time, barely married 6 months, and hadn’t spent that much time in my home town for quite awhile.

Dad showed up a lot that week. There were a lot of people in and out of our house that whole week. Lots of friends and relatives stopped in and offered their love and support and expressed how much they were going to miss Dad a long with us. I remember all these people sitting around our living room and everytime I’d hear the front door start to open, the thought would flash through my mind before I could stop it: “Oh good. Dad’s finally home…” Then, when the door opened, it would just be another friend/mourner to add to our number.

After the funeral, he kept showing up a lot. The strongest was a couple of weeks after Holly and I got home when we went to our first Murder Mystery Party. My dad had always loved Sherlock Holmes and used to watch all those murder shows on TV like, Murder, She Wrote, Father Dowling, Quincy Adams, etc. So, he kept tickling my ear all night long about how much he would have enjoyed this little game. Then, to top it all off, I figured out the mystery! (If you’ve ever been to a murder party, you know that they’re usually so ludicrous and stupid that it’s almost impossible to actually figure out the final story.) The whole way home, all I wanted to do was call my dad and tell him about the game and brag to him that something about watching those mystery shows on TV must have sunk into my psyche.

My dad’s funeral happened just a month before my very first recording became available. He never heard any of it. I’ve released 5 albums of my own and have produced a number of albums for other artists. With every one, I so wish to show it off to my dad.

When he died, I had no idea what my life was going to be like, or what my career was going to be. I knew I wanted to write and sing, but I had no idea I’d actually make a bunch of records for myself and others. I had no idea I’d end up producing for other people. These are all things that I want to tell him. I want him to be proud of me. I want him to be impressed with my knowledge of computers and recording and music and songwriting.

Mostly, I’d just like to tell him about it. But the ghost that haunts me, while present, doesn’t talk back like the ghosts on six feet under.

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Posted by on October 30, 2004 in Uncategorized

 

Six Feet Under

Back in January 2004, Holly and I cut off our satellite TV. When we had satellite, we didn’t really know what was going on in the world of TV because we’d watch things like VH1 and Discovery and Comedy Central instead of the networks. Since we don’t have those channels anymore, we have watched a lot more of the networks and have realized something: TV Sucks!!!!

This is one of those things that I don’t know if a) TV has always sucked and I just didn’t know it as a kid (A-team! Knight Rider! Airwolf!) or else b) it truly is more horrible than it has ever been. I suspect it might be a little bit of a) but mostly it’s b). Between all the totally lame sit-coms, crappy, over dramatic and un-original reality shows and the next city to be another setting for CSI, there is not a single show that I make a point to see other than Seinfeld re-runs at 11:30pm.

The fact that TV sucks has led me to checking out a lot of DVDs and videos from the library, and when I’m not being as frugal, I’ve tried some TV shows out on DVD that I can rent.

A couple of months ago, I rented the first DVD of the HBO series Six Feet Under. I’d heard about it, and I knew that critics really loved it, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

It’s the story of a family that own a funeral home in California. In the first episode, the father of the family dies in a car wreck on his way to pick up the older (prodigal) son from the airport. The younger, uptight, gay, (good) son fumes when the will of dear dad leaves the family business to both brothers. Prodigal son/brother decides to stay home and help run the business that he ran from earlier in life. Other characters include severely repressed mom, angsty younger sister, psycho genius girlfriend of prodigal son, and policeman love-of-good son.

All that to say, I am in love with this show. It’s not for the faint of heart, mind you. Remember, it’s an HBO series. Everybody in the show utilizes a colorful vocabulary with the f-bomb and all its forms being the favored adjective/adverb/verb/silence breaker. The good son’s homosexuality and conflicts and struggles inherent to that lifestyle are dealt with often and frankly.

In spite of all that, I find the show profoundly provocative. The characters are so believable and the situations that arise in the funeral home are both weighty and human. Many episodes have helped me look at different life situations from very different perspectives and have stirred up memories and feelings in my own life.

Who cares? I think many people have issues with somebody spending a lot of time watching a TV show or Movies or reading lots of books and getting really into them. If you spend too much time considering these things, it can be easily seen as wasting time and being lazy. I would contend that movies, music, books, TV are the art of our culture. True; most of it is crap and is a complete waste of time. But to search out and discover the worthwhile examples of art speaking truly of the human experience seems more worthwhile than many of the things that vie for our attention.

Which is more worthwhile: Gaining some empathy for somebody completely outside my situation by experiencing a movie or “getting ahead” at work? Reading a book or watching a baseball game? Listening to music that inspires and broadens my thinking or watching the Bachelor/Boss/Model/Fear Factor reality show?

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2004 in Uncategorized

 

Mozilla and the new plan

Holly and I have been living in the the new world of high speed internet for a couple of weeks now, and life is very good. Although I hated bowing to the evil empire of SBC, I’m loving DSL. Since I am now paying homage to the evil empire of SBC, I’ve decided to try to thwart other evil empires.

Just tonight, I downloaded Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird and I’m going to try them out as my new browser and email client respectively. Not only is this my own little silly way of sticking it to Bill Gates, but I’ve been hearing about how using any other browser/email client other than IE and/or Outlook significantly cuts down on the crap the internet has to offer. (Mac users tend to bring up this little bit of knowledge as well…)

So many people use the Microsoft stuff, that the scum of the earth writing/distributing/propagating internet popups, viruses, (viri?), worms, hijackers, spam etc generally only create it to attack the MS software. So I’m giving it a try. So far, I’m digging firefox, but I’ve only been using it about 30 minutes.

Dark Tower Update:

I know I’ve not mentioned it since trying to get the Boston saga blogged, but I just finished the 3rd book, the Wastelands, this weekend. I’m enjoying it a lot now. For anybody else who read the Gunslinger and has friends telling you to just push through and give the following books a shot: believe them. It’s worth it.

Final thought:

Watch out for that stomach flu that’s going around! Last Thursday morning, I woke up and my stomach just hurt! I never threw up and never had any problems out the other end, but my stomach has never hurt like it did for that whole day. By the next day I was feeling better, which I guess is one good thing about this stomach flu, it only gets its claws in you for about 24 hours.

Anyway, be safe out there. Take care of each other.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2004 in Uncategorized

 

Boston: The last day and the return…

Monday morning, we got up early and caught a free shuttle from the hotel down near Copley Square. I was pretty excited to see the Boston Public Library, but since it was Labor Day, we only got to see the outside. Copley Square has a little park with some funny little statues of the tortoise and the hare which we took some funny pictures of James and Melissa “riding”. We also saw the Trinity Church (under renovation) and the John Hancock tower. There was also a fountain that we decided we should take a picture in front of so I started looking around for somebody on the street who would take our picture.

There was this elderly couple that looked nice, and after making it clear I wasn’t panhandling, they agreed to take the picture of all of us. It turns out they were from the UK and were just visiting as well. So, I handed him the camera, we posed and…he couldn’t get the camera to work. This took about 4 tries, the last try being my fault because after checking the camera (again) I forgot to set it back to actually take a picture. Anyway, they were a funny couple and wouldn’t you know it: we forgot to take a picture of them…

From Trinity church we walked down to the Public Gardens. It was such a beautiful day with lots of flowers blooming and all kinds interesting trees in the park. We thought about riding around in the Swan boats, but decided that was lame. We made our way to the other side of Boston Common where I waded in the FREEZING wading pool just long enough to say that I did. We then walked around the North side of Boston Common and took pictures outside the original Cheers Bar. We also walked along Common Wealth Avenue and saw Berklee College of Music. It’s strange because it’s just this block of houses on a normal street, but each house has a sign on the door saying what kind of classes meet there. It was weird.

We didn’t have much time left before the shuttle would be coming to pick us up, so we stopped about a block away from the pickup spot to eat lunch at Solas Irish Pub. James and I both had a Guinness and Shepherd’s Pie. I shouldn’t have had the Guinness because it’s just too heavy. The Pie was good too and I thought I was going to burst. I’ve been craving that Shepherd’s Pie ever since…

So, we caught our shuttle back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and took a Taxi back down to the Waterfront where we were going to take a water shuttle over to the airport. Well, first off the cab driver dropped us off about a mile away from where the shuttle was supposed to be. So we were dragging our luggage all along the waterfront trying to find the pickup spot for the water shuttle, which nobody really seemed to know where we should be looking. Finally, we find a sign and find the spot only to find out that they water shuttle doesn’t run anymore! Argh! We could pay $10 a person to have a ferry take us over, but the shuttle didn’t run anymore. We were all pissed off that nobody at the hotel or the cab or anybody told us this information before. So, we had to track back the way we had just come to catch a subway over to the airport. It was very annoying.

The trip back was pretty uneventful. We were all pretty pooped, but we had lots of fun. We’re glad to have friends like the Powers. And that’s about it for the Boston trip. Stay tuned for real blogging soon.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2004 in Uncategorized

 

Boston: 2 months later: Reader’s Digest version

I know. I suck. I’ve got to start blogging again, but I can’t get this Boston trip out of the way. So, here are the things I remember the most from the whole trip:

The 2nd day we went down to Harvard. We ate lunch at a place called “Fire & Ice” which they referred to themselves as “An Improvisational Grill” which basically means it was a Mongolian BBQ, without the pretense of being solely oriental. It was good except we ate outside and I scarily narrowly missed putting something I didn’t recognize in my mouth from my plate that turned out to be bird poop.

There was also a weekend long acoustic festival going on at a club/coffeehouse down by Harvard. It was like $8 to get in, and none of us really wanted to spend the money to hang around there a long time, but they had speaker piping music out onto the street and a huge picture window framing the stage. So, while the other 3 spent some time in a Harvard shop, I sat on the curb and listened to a few people. I was most disappointed in that I was completely un-impressed with anybody I saw. Other things I remember about that day: street musicians with battery powered PA speakers, James finding a record store and going nuts, seeing two homeless guys having some kind of emotional argument, lots of Harvard architecture that my feet hurt too much to care about at the time.

That day we walked a lot and my feet really hurt. So, by evening I talked everybody into going to an art theatre and seeing Garden State which I’d been wanting to see, but hadn’t come to NW AR yet. I liked it. It was weird in this art theatre that barely anybody got up and left when the movie was over until the very end of the credits. We ate dinner right before the movie at this pub around the corner from the theatre and had just about the worst service of the trip.

Sunday, Day 3:

James and Melissa wanted to go down to “the Old North Side” which is the Italian part of town. I had a canoli (sp?) for the first time for my breakfast from a real Italian bakery. It was a pretty cool neighborhood with the buildings really close together and stuff. James and I had seen the movie “Mystic River” together which was set in this area of Boston, and it was really interesting. I was tired and my feet hurt, so I was pretty grumpy. And Holly wanted me to be in pictures which I am not very patient for, so we had a little spat when I told her I wasn’t in the mood to model. It’s pretty funny that the one picture she got, I have the most annoyed look on my face.

There were some really cool cement parks and churches in this area of town. We walked through the church that lit the lights signaling to Paul Revere.

We ate lunch at a real Italian restaurant that none of us were really impressed with and I think we were all a little disappointed. We toured The Constitution which is the oldest commissioned ship. I liked all the ropes and wished that I was still a kid and could climb like I used to.

Then we walked back to where we were to be picked up by the hotel shuttle and stopped into The Green Dragon pub for a beer while we waited for the shuttle back to the hotel.

There was some kind of special promotion going on at our hotel all weekend that included free ice cream, free bicycle rentals, and free ferry rides. So, when we got back to the hotel, we ate ice cream and went to rent bikes. Now, James had been resisting this all day because he hadn’t been on a bicycle in so long. We finally talked him into it and we all had a blast! The bikes were all kind of lame, but there’s a cool walking/riding trail all along the river and walking/biking sidewalks across the bridge and really pretty park all along the trail on the other side of the river coming back. It was a GORGEOUS day and there were lots of people out sunbathing, sailing, sailing remote control sailboats, walking, riding bikes, roller blading, etc. It was a really fun way to see lots of pretty parks and people watch and I think we all would say that was the most fun thing we did on the whole trip. I’d guess that we ended up biking about 3-4 miles altogether. The only problem was that Holly and James complained that their butts were pretty sore that night.

When we got back from the bike ride, we hot-tubbed and swam a little at the hotel, rested, and then went on the free ferry ride down the river. That was nice and relaxing and the city was pretty to see as the sun went down.

Finally, my friend Ezra told me that we should go to eat at Legal Seafood which we did that evening. It was really delicious, but also the most expensive meal we had on the trip.

One more day to go: stay tuned…

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2004 in Uncategorized