Your daily dose of sunshine* (*not available during the eclipse)

Today is the Great American Eclipse.

(Because apparently every semi-major event needs an official name…. and logo too!)

It’s exactly as the prophet Roger Waters foretold in Floyd 73, Chapter 10, verse 6: “Everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”

The official ISO-certified Great American Eclipse viewing glasses are sold out. You can probably still get some counterfeit versions that’ll fry your retinas (not recommended), or you can make your own pinhole projector.

I think I’ll try to dig up my welding mask from when I failed shop class in high school. Damn you, Mr. Nicholls… damn you to hell!

You’ll also need some sort of safety eyewear to view this piece of dazzling brilliance from several years ago:

Happy viewing!

 

How my mind works… or doesn’t work

When I’m taking my afternoon walk at work, and I see a license plate that reads TSE…

… I immediately think of The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Never heard of them? You’re not alone. We played a few of their songs when I was a DJ at 97X back in the early 90s, and while I’m not much of a hip hop guy, I did like their tunes. One of the founders of that band was a dude named Rono Tse.

So now can you see (or Tse) why I think of them when I see that license plate? You more literary types can conjure up thoughts of T.S. Eliot when you see “TSE” but I’ll stick with Rono.

The other founder, Michael Franti, has gone on to bigger things, and has had a few hits performing as Michael Franti & Spearhead. And jazz guitar great Charlie Hunter made his debut with DH of H. But what about Mr. Tse? I can’t find any recording info on him past 1995. And I miss him.

I just wish the license plate were from California.

 

And they’re off…

Here are my three youngest kids waiting at the bus stop yesterday morning on the first day of the new school year.

Leah (9th grade) was “so excited” that she couldn’t sleep the night before. (To be clear, the excitement stems from seeing her friends, not from the classwork.) Peter (11th grade) just had to have his four eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, to stay on his weight training plan (I think it’s called “suns out/guns out”). Andrew (7th grade) had the trepidation you’d expect from someone attending their first day at a 7-12 school with a big campus, a confusing classroom layout and 2000+ kids.

They all survived. Live and learn.

 

Back to school, so uncool

If you believe the funny Staples commercial from the 90s, back-to-school time is fun for parents.

Obviously the dad in that commercial wasn’t the one responsible for waking up two teenagers and a twelve year old every school morning… at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. They have to be at the bus stop at the end of our street by 6:30, which seems like it could qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment” for kids who, at their current ages, are biologically wired to stay up later and wake later.

During the summer, I can “sleep in” until about 5:50 a.m. That gives me enough time to do a bit of morning exercise (love those kettlebell swings), eat breakfast (it involves sauerkraut – don’t judge), take a shower and maybe check email before my bus to work arrives at 6:45. But the school schedule is a game-changer. Now every morning becomes a fire drill. Especially with our youngest starting junior high – so he’s now on the same wake-up schedule as his older siblings. And we only have two showers in our house. I figure I’ll have to start getting up at 5:15 or so in order to keep up with my exercise regimen, wake the kids (it takes a few tries), make them breakfast (it ain’t gourmet) and get them to the bus stop (a.k.a. the 100-yard mad dash).

On a couple of weekdays, my wife can drop the kids off at school on her way to work. Which seems great in theory, but in reality it just makes “bus days” that much more painful… because when mom drives they get to sleep in an extra 15 minutes, so she’s a hero, and when dad wakes them for the bus he’s a zero.

How many days until Thanksgiving break?

There’s a tear in my beer

“Follow your dreams,” they say.

“Find your passion.”

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

By all accounts, Scott LaFollette did just what the ‘Follow Your Bliss’ playbook told him to do when he opened a local brewery called Blank Slate in 2012. And here’s where it led him on Monday:

Closed abruptly. Social media accounts shut down. No response from Scott to media requests for an interview.

I’m no beer connoisseur, but I’ve tried most of the local brews, and the Blank Slate beers were consistently a notch or three above the competition. Blank Slate got great reviews too.

Other local brewers looked up to him, respected him, admired him.

“We had long talks along the way about life, business and beer. No one has ever done it the way you (LaFollette) have. No one respects the craft the way you do. No one is a better guy in the industry than you, Scott. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family,” — Kevin Moreland, the former head brewer for two local breweries.

“Scott has been a great friend to the brewery since he started. We are two breweries that have always been the underdog. So we have shared a lot of common bumps along the way. We have collaborated on more beers together than I can even remember. He is always willing to put down what he is doing to answer any/all questions someone would have about beer.” — Jason Brewer (yes, real name), GM of Listermann Brewing Co.

“There were few things that weren’t special about Blank Slate,” Breeden said. “Beyond the fact that Scott was a super nice guy, he was also super creative. He was kind of like Cincinnati’s ‘mad beer scientist.’ I would say Cincinnati truly lost one of its most artistic voices when Blank Slate closed down — in beer, art or otherwise.” — Chris Breeden, GM of local bar Arnold’s.

Here’s a tweet from MadTree Brewing:

MadTree recently expanded and opened a gigantic $18 million bar/brewery. Scott closed his doors forever on Monday, probably with a fistful of bills, and likely with tears in his eyes.

What now, O Mighty Dream Peddlers? What do you do when the dream blossoms, and then withers on the vine and dies?

Guess we’ll have to take solace in the words of the Gnarly Gnome, who insists that Blank Slate didn’t fail.

Blank Slate Is Closed – Now What?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a vicious cycle… actually it’s a gentle bicycle.

I like weird music that no one has ever heard of. I listen to bands that don’t even exist….

…We interrupt our regularly scheduled boring blog post for an even more boring Public Service Announcement:

46 days from now, I’ll be participating in the Cincinnati edition of the Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life Event.

This is my third consecutive year riding and raising funds to fight CF. I’ll be doing the 32-mile route because that’s all my ancient bike and my even-more-ancient knees can handle.

Don’t worry, I’ll wear a helmet with my bowtie.

If you feel so inclined, please considering making a donation to help find a cure for this insidious disease. You can do so at my page. Your contribution is fully tax-deductible, and more importantly you’ll have my undying gratitude. I will name my first son after you (provided your name is Gabriel).

Thanks for considering it.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming…

… and I still like those bands.

 

 

7tdS4QO

Sunday morning scripture… #millennialstyle

This is one of the funniest pieces I’ve read in a long time, a Millennial version of the creation story by Sara K. Runnels

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/and-god-created-millennial-earth

And thanks to my daily interaction with my teenage kids (which is admittedly limited – they are in their rooms most of the time), I actually got most of the references.

Happy Sunday!

The end of June = the end of an era

No, I don’t have a faulty calendar. I’m talking about June Foray, who passed away recently at the age of 99. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps this will help:

She was a flying squirrel.

She was an Eastern European spy.

She was Dudley Do-Right’s girl.

She was Mr. Magoo’s mom.

She was Tweety Bird’s owner, Granny.

She was the cutest Christmas kid ever.

And she was the scariest talking doll ever. Just ask Telly Savalas.

June Foray was a voice actor extraordinaire. One of the best… in fact, the late great animator Chuck Jones, who did the Grinch work you see above and worked with Mel “Man of 1,000 Voices” Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, et al.) on hundreds of classic Warner Brothers cartoons once said:

“June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.”  

High praise indeed for a voice actor. And June deserved it. I’ve always admired folks who can bring multiple characters to life with just their voice. When I grow up, I want to be Harry Shearer, or Hank Azaria, or Billy West, or Seth MacFarlane, or Mike Judge. But even in my wildest dreams I could never be as good as June.

Thanks for all the great voices, and all the great memories, June. You gave us something we really did like.

 

 

Uncle Jesse… no, not that one… not that one either…

You can keep your heartthrob John Stamos from “Full House”

You can have the proud elder statesman of the Duke family on “Dukes of Hazzard”

And I’ll stick the Jesse Malin, the glam/punk rock/singer/songwriter/poet, the pint-sized dynamo who has been entertaining audiences with his music since he was 12 years old, and continues to perform with the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager at the age of 50.

I’ve seen Jesse Malin live in concert four times now, and each of those shows has had two things in common:

  1. An enthusiastic, entertaining, uplifting, energizing performance from Jesse
  2. A sparse crowd

This past Saturday night, I saw him at a tiny club in Columbus (yes, I drove 100 miles to see him, well worth it), giving it his all for an audience that was 50 people strong at best. He even joked from the stage about at least having more folks in attendance at that night’s show than at the Last Supper.

The lack of a crowd just doesn’t make sense. His music is brilliant, and runs the gamut from introspective songwriter tunes to garage rock to punk rock. His stage performance is as high energy as anyone I’ve ever seen, including Springsteen. He’ll crack jokes, tell great stories, hop into the crowd, whatever it takes to make the performance memorable. This past Saturday, that included dancing on the bar while singing a cover of the Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail.”

And Jesse has friends in high places, too. Ryan Adams produced his first solo album. Springsteen sang a duet with him on his 2007 release. He was in a side project with the members of Green Day in 2010. By all accounts, he should be packing theaters instead of playing dives. I think he does better in Europe, and closer to his home base of NYC, but he really deserves a better fate commercially. Just check out this song, the one he opened up with this weekend, a sizzling slice of Stones swagger:

But instead of worrying about the size of the crowd or the Billboard charts, I should just channel my inner Jesse. He clearly doesn’t let it get him down, and I respect the fact that he gives it his all every single night. He does what he does with passion, and unleashes his creativity into the world… what the world chooses to do with it after that is out of his control.

Keep rockin’, Jesse, and I’ll keep listening and watching and appreciating.

Music and Magic

Would you want to run into this guy in a dimly lit bar at 11 o’clock at night?

If you like great rock and roll music, the answer is a resounding “yes!”

His name is Tim Showalter, and he and his fantastic band perform under the name Strand of Oaks. I saw them last night, in a free 10 p.m. show at MOTR Pub near downtown Cincinnati. It was well past my usual bedtime by the time they hit the stage, but I can always catch up on sleep, and I’ll probably never see a show quite like last night’s. The band was fantastic, sure, but there’s more to it than that.

And halfway through the show, they introduced a guy whom they had just met. A local singer/songwriter who had emailed Tim earlier in the day. He has a tumor in his chest that needs to be removed, but there’s a 50/50 chance that the surgery might damage his vocal cords. So in “Make a Wish” fashion he wanted to play on stage with Strand of Oaks, as it might be his last singing performance. Heavy stuff.

Strand of Oaks not only brought him up on stage to play one of his songs, but also had learned another song of his prior to the show and served as the backing band on it. 

The moment was truly moving…I’ve been to hundreds of shows in my life and never experienced anything like it. It also shows what a big heart that Tim Showalter has. He may look like he belongs in a biker gang, but he’s a music lover, not a fighter. Here are a couple of quotes from recent articles that prove it:

I’m giving hugs and shaking hands and sweating with everyone at our shows. I love making records and writing songs, and I’m already writing for the next record now, but what I love most are the concerts — getting to hang out with cool people, sing, play for my friends, have some good drinks and stay up late. I’m a simple guy, and whatever size the show is doesn’t matter, as long as my guitar works.”

[Read more here.]

We’re not living in the day and age where you can sell 5 million records, but there are still people hungry for it and that is the best thing about it. You can never duplicate the experience of what it’s like to go to a concert. [emphasis mine] That’s priceless currency in this world. You can never take that away. It’s my favorite thing to do.

[Read more here.]

Strand of Oaks latest album is called Hard Love. Check it out.