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Showing posts from December, 2009

Let's play some jazz

Blogging will be near non-existent for the next few days due to the holidays, so I thought it would be fun to post a fun little clip that I keep watching over and over again. It's Bill Cosby on the Dick Cavett Show talking about a time he drummed for Sonny Stitt. Yes, it's nine minutes long, but if you like Cosby's way of storytelling, it's not long. Happy holidays.

Heavy Metal Drummer

Something that's been brewing for a couple of months that I haven't written about is that I have a new band going. We have no name, no songs completed, no plans to record soon, or any shows lined up. And I can't begin to tell you how great that is. With all due respect to the bands I've played with before, I have the most fun with bands that start from scratch. A couple of bands I played with found me having to learn songs very quickly before a show in a few weeks or a month. Well, as fun and challenging as that may be, having a clean slate is a nice alternative. There's no rush, but there's no desire to just let things lag. Basically, a few months ago, I pitched the idea via a Facebook status update about starting a new band. The message was simple: "Eric Grubbs thinks it's time to start a new band." Luckily, my friend Kyle expressed interest in playing guitar and singing. He's played in bands for years and has been between bands for almost

The calls are coming from inside the house

I don't have many Christmas-themed traditions other than present shopping, hanging some lights in my house, and listening to Christmas music, but I do like to watch a few holiday-themed movies and TV specials. One of the obvious, no-brainers is the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Elf is another one. But being a huge horror flick fan as well, the original Black Christmas is also another one. I've written about this flick for Richard's site , and my opinions still stand. But I'd like to add a few things now that I've seen the film on a bigger TV (42-inch over 32-inch made for a much different experience) and after I've seen the absolutely awful remake that for clarity purposes I'll call Black X-Mas . I never knew how much humor was laced into the original. The humor tends to break up some of the tension of the story, but the humor doesn't derail the story. Matter of fact, it's like you get to take a breath between all those obscene phonecalls and

I wanna dip my . . .

Good news on the taking chances front: I successfully made cake balls over the weekend. As someone who had never baked a cake on his own before, there were multiple miles gained by doing this. Back when I had dryer issues and did a load of laundry at my neighbors' place, I noticed they were making cake balls. Knowing that I wanted to bake something for the first time for a potluck dinner in a few weeks, I figured I could try to make this stuff. Besides, if I had any questions, I knew a few people that knew what they were doing. So using a recipe found in this article, I decided to use a yellow cake mix with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. Making the whole thing involved freezing clumps of cake overnight before dipping them in melted chocolate, but I gave myself plenty of time and plenty of room for error. Thankfully, there were no meltdowns in the kitchen or panicked runs to the grocery store. (But I did have to run to the grocery store before I started when I realized that I

The same person

A short time ago, I heard a critique about Max Brooks' fictional oral history, World War Z , that I have not forgotten: every quote sounded like it was coming from the same person. Even though dozens of people from across the globe are interviewed after this zombie apocalypse, all the quotes sound like they're from one person. I've kept that in mind as I've worked on the second book, but sometimes, oral histories can't help but sound like they're coming from one person, fictional or nonfictional. Two books that I still cite as big stylistic influences for my book are Fool the World and The Other Hollywood . In particular, the flow of the quotes from person to person in Fool the World has been a big influence. With The Other Hollywood , the massive amounts of different people quoted yields to a handful of very fleshed-out characters. In those books, the use of language might sound similar, but the different personalities come out the deeper the quotes go. I

Agony and Irony

I have a saying that I sometimes use in traffic reports: when one major problem clears, another pops up. The deal is, that phrase can be applied to what Matt and I have gone through in the last week. The good news is that the dryer is finally back working. After what one electrician and one washer/dryer repairman couldn't agree on, another electrician found the problem. The dryer is totally fine, as well as the outlet in the laundry room. The problem was how the breaker was wired up, and the fix took maybe five seconds to do. We finally had heat again in the dryer and the dryer worked properly (though I had to flip the breaker twice later that night to finish my load of laundry). Literally one week later, I ran the dryer again and there were zero problems. The breaker did not have to be flipped. The dryer worked like a breeze. And around then was when I noticed we were experiencing problems with our house's heater. For almost forty-eight hours, there was a very loud screech

68

Thankfully as expected, footage from Jawbox's performance last night is now online. (Here's one of many sites that have the main clip, along with songs from soundcheck.) As somebody who never saw Jawbox play live, this was quite a great performance. Keep in mind, I have no frame of reference of how they played between 1989 and 1997. So as somebody who saw J. play with Burning Airlines twice, has listened to the band's discography since 1996, and oh, wrote a whole chapter devoted to them, I'm very safe to say that I'm satisfied. Not to be one of those annoying folks that wants bands to stay together forever, but I hope this wasn't the last we've seen of a Jawbox live performance. I definitely do not think these guys should give up what they've done since the band's breakup in 1997 and tour like maniacs. Rather, one-off live shows would be great, but I don't call the shots on that.

Hey angel

Tonight marks the reunion of Jawbox as they perform on NBC's Late Night With Jimmy Fallon . Chances are high this will be a one-off reunion, so I strongly encourage to check this performance out. If you hate Jimmy Fallon's nervous and fast humor, skip over that and just focus on the end of the show. As I researched POST , it was abundantly clear to me that the members of the band were still on good terms. Of course Bill and Kim were on good terms because they have been married since 1997, and J. and Zach were still in communication with them. I never asked if a reunion would happen, and frankly, it never crossed my mind to ask. I've never been one who pines for reunions, but if they happen, I usually don't object. Seeing the Sunny Day Real Estate and Get Up Kids reunions had a positive impact on their legacies. So I see no problem with Jawbox coming together and playing a show. Now if J. hired three mall-punks, called it Jawbox, and claimed that the contributions from

Life on the other end of retail

As somebody who has worked retail, I know all too well about the perils of holiday shopping. The meanest people come out of the woodwork, and they can spoil everything for the ones that are extremely nice around the holiday season. So that's why I'm very thankful that about 97 percent of my Christmas shopping was done online. I stayed away from shopping on Black Friday mainly for three reasons: I wanted to have a nice lunch with my family before I headed back to Dallas, I spent four hours straight in my car back to Dallas, and I rested for a little while before heading out to Denton for the Cursive show. So I didn't have to brave long lines or sit in traffic. The day after Thanksgiving was just another holiday travel day for me. Between that day and today, I took advantage of Amazon's deals and didn't mind the three or four days it would take to get my stuff in the mail. Everyone on my list has something really cool awaiting them, and I took advantage of some good

Fifty novels, non-fiction books, and short-story anthologies

Even though this happened only a few weeks ago, I can't seem to recall exactly what drew me to check out the Stephen King section at one of the Borders I routinely hit up. Maybe it was because I had a coupon in my hand and I couldn't find anything that I really wanted to read in the music/movies/TV section? Maybe it was because I've seen positive reviews of King's latest, Under the Dome ? Maybe because the ending of The Box stuck to me like the ending of The Mist did? I just can't remember exactly why, but those are all very valid reasons. All I can say is, my dissatisfaction with the size of King's books in paperback led me to a secret goldmine found in almost any Half Price Books. Yes, due to fact that most of King's books (save for the Dark Tower series) come in a size and shape meant to fit in your pocket, I have had no interest in reading a book that small. My eyesight is perfectly fine, but I don't like reading books that have no margins and a

Can't fight this feeling anymore

Some pretty promising news: I've started working full speed ahead on my second book, When We Were the Kids . I've worked on it here and there for the last two years, but I planned on devoting at least thirty minutes a day to working on a first draft starting January 1st, 2010. The deal is, I just couldn't wait. Something kept me from taking a nap on Saturday. I just couldn't fall asleep in my recliner with Victory at my side. So I decided then and there to return to the first seventeen pages I had done and go from there. Thinking about this, I thought I'd share another piece of helpful writing advice: it's better to write when you're inspired instead of when you think you'll be inspired. I know people have their preferences, but it's like you can't fully plan when a child is conceived or born. You can plan to set that stuff in motion, but many other factors out of your control make that stuff come to fruition. In other words, when you feel ins