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Third attempt at a second try

If I'm remembering everything correctly, I'm on my third attempt at a second draft of When We Were the Kids . How is that possible? I think it's when tinkering leads to more tinkering at a later date. I'm happy there have been no overhauls where entire plotlines and characters get zapped. Chapters that were lean now have more meat in them. There are still many, many speaking parts and I don't plan to change this. If you read a quote from someone that either sounds like someone you knew in high school (or was you), then I've made a connection. Spending a few days in the suburb this is kind-of based on was great. Things came into my head driving around looking at Christmas lights and businesses that are still there. I aim not to mock the suburbs; I'd rather look at the good and the bad. What also helped was playing guitar through my new amp. Since all of these bands in the book are fictional, I've often wondered what their sound might be like. Reminded

Dog park

Something I've wanted to do for months was take Victory back to a dog park. While there is a fancy, large, indoor/outdoor place about fifteen minutes away via a car ride, I prefer the smaller outdoor one about eight blocks away from home. Yesterday was a perfect day to go (and introduce Diana to the place as well), so we went. For as long as I've owned Victory, I've wanted her to have a place where she can roam around without a leash on. She's still a fast little one at six years old, so I've been hesitant to let her run around with other dogs surrounded by a small fence. I threw all caution away yesterday and let her roam. The thing was, she was incredibly obedient like she went to dog training school or something. Many other owners brought their dogs out, but there was still plenty of room to run around. All the dogs wanted to do was sniff Victory's butt and move along. She wanted to do the same. Gotta love dog handshakes. Victory stayed close to me the ent

Rest

I hate the term, "staycation." Yes, you have the week off from work but you don't go anywhere. Hopefully that means you take your mind off of the things you think about during the other 51 weeks of the year. Myself, I have the whole week off and have no plans to leave town. I went to Houston for Christmas, but now I'm back. Diana has to work, as does Matt. Instead of making definite plans for the week, I'm merely taking things hour by hour. A goal I have in mind for this week is to do another pass on When We Were the Kids . I've found my time to devote to writing and editing is much looser since I have 40 extra hours freed up this week. Some of that time will be devoted to sleep. Others will be to anything else I want to do, like watch movies and read books. (I know I normally do that during the week, but I don't have to schedule anything this week.) The key for me is to be productive. I've had a very long year with certain things in my life, but al

My first show

Roughly ten years ago, I did my first band interview. The band was Slowride, a pop-punk trio from Dallas. Even though I wasn't impressed by the first time I saw them play (opening for Strung Out at the Galaxy Club), I was glad to have them on my radio show on KTCU. All these years later, and many interviews later, I interviewed Dan from Slowride again, only this time, talking about his current band, True Widow, and the first show he saw. My piece is here .

You've been in my life so long, I can't remember anything else

Whenever I get the flak about never seeing a popular movie, I usually have at least a few minutes of explanation. I try not to be testy, but not every person has seen every popular movie since the silent era. In the case of Alien 3 , I think it was worth waiting until this year to see. The original version came out in 1992. Only now can the proper director's cut be viewed in the Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set. Meaning, the original vision David Fincher had for the film as well as the all of the scenes properly restored, visually and sound-wise. Any prior version just doesn't cut the mustard. When I was in college, Alien and Aliens were paramount in terms of the four films. Yet when I would talk to fans of the franchise, I was advised to stay away from the third and fourth installments. So I did, until now. I recently watched all four in sequence (not in one night, mind you), and while I'm not really compelled to watch Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection again right away

Breaking Bad

Technological failures can lead to great surprises. As I watched the credits roll for the last episode of The Walking Dead , a promo teased a weekly marathon of Breaking Bad . Every Wednesday, two episodes from the show's three-season run would be aired, in order. This would have been perfect for me, since I've never seen the show and have heard only positive things about it. Praise has come from from a slightly-drunk friend at a summer barbeque to my friends Donna and Noel (who have covered the show for the A.V. Club), so curiosity has been knocking at my door for a while. I set my DVR last week and plopped myself on the couch on Thursday, all ready to watch. Alas, I look through my DVR menu and there are plenty of episodes of The Walking Dead , The Office , 30 Rock , Community , and Mad Men , but no Breaking Bad . I checked again and again. Still nothing. I distinctly remember confirming the taping. Something must have happened, so I blame technical error. Luck would have

Winter's Bone (to pick)

I don't like to play the "I just don't get this" card every day (or every week on this blog), but a movie has come into many people's orbit and I'm rather lost about its appeal. Winter's Bone is a film I heard raves about from critics that I trust. While I still trust these critics, I wonder if we saw the same film. The film that I saw was a drama with a noir sort of bent and a very authentic depiction of backwoods life. That's about where my opinion and other people's opinions stop. Beyond that description, I found the film to be sorely lacking in terms of drawing me in. There's a slight (and I mean slight ) mystery element and there's a sorta-climax, and then it's over. I was curious about the main character's "journey" and that's why I kept watching. When the credits hit, I was very frustrated. I read glowing reviews online afterwards, and I'm afraid I have to admit that this film is raved about because of w

2010 in music

If I had to choose my absolute favorite record of the year, from start to finish, it would be this one Spoon, Transference This record came out early into the year, and by my third listen, I was sure this would be my favorite record of the year. Something clicked in me that didn't when I heard Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight . I got a sense of things with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga , and all things fell into place with Transference . A number of lyrics from the album also strongly registered with me, like certain lines from "Mystery Zone," "Trouble Comes Running," and "Got Nuffin'." Simply, it's a record that sounds like my year. Not as great as their last record, but still a great record The Dillinger Escape Plan, Option Paralysis One of the best show experiences I had this year was seeing Dillinger at the Granada and walking out to fluffy snow coming onto the ground. Snow is rare here in Dallas, but when it comes, there's always a

Rock Action

After not listening to them since college, I'm happy to let Mogwai back into my life. There was never a point where I didn't like the Scottish five-piece -- I've merely spent a lot of time in the interim years listening to bands that were influenced by them. Whether it was Explosions in the Sky or This Will Destroy You, I somehow decided to not rope back around to the elder statesmen. Now that Ryan, Diana, and I have something cooking music-wise that's in the vein of moving post-rock, bring on the Happy Songs for Happy People and so on. I wouldn't say I burned out on hearing Rock Action or Come On Die Young . Given the choice of listening to Sigur Ros at any of time of day over Mogwai at night (a time perfect to listen to them), I went for the stuff that I didn't have to be in a particular mood for. I still find Mogwai's music to particular sort of mood, yet I find myself in more of a mood for their stuff as of late. The band is coming to town in May. A

They're marching to Bastille Day

Much in part to the fantastic documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage , I've had a hankering for completing my Rush collection. What's strange is that my "collection" is really bone dry. So completion is a bit of ways away. Back in middle school, I remember my friend Tim talking about the Chronicles compilation. He didn't describe what the band sounded like; he only spoke of it as an awesome sort of thing. I was curious. His tastes were very much in line with mine, and still are to this day. Eventually I'd have my own taped copy of Chronicles as well as Roll the Bones , A Show of Hands , and their current record at the time, Counterparts . I would foolishly sell Roll the Bones and Counterparts in college (something I regretted until I heard they had been digitally remastered and reissued a few years ago) in order to create shelf space. Now I'm at a point where my digital copies of Spirit of the Radio and Permanent Waves are simply not enough. I

A tree and a toilet seat

For the first time since college, I'm happy to see a real Christmas tree in my home. Not in any way am I slighting people that put up a fake one, but there's something fun about getting the real thing. Even the sap. On a fluke last week, Matt and I talked about getting a real Christmas tree from a local lot. We picked one out on Saturday with our respective girlfriends and decorated the whole thing last night (before The Walking Dead , of course). Positioned underneath my TCU toilet seat and in front of the fireplace, there's a seven-foot tree with a tree skirt like one you'd find in Whoville. I can recall when the most amount of Christmas decorations I put up was a strand of lights that draped over my sliding glass door. Coming from a house that was filled with decorations to that was very deflating, but I didn't really see the need to go all out. I understand there are people who think Christmas is a bunch of phony materialism, but I've always enjoyed the w

My first show

This week's edition features an interview with Jon and Ken from the Posies, a band I have loved since the mid-90s. Since I have to work on Black Friday, I'm sticking around in the area and having Thanksgiving with various relatives. The upside is that I get to see the Posies tonight.

Old Fangs

Ryan, Diana, and I saw Black Mountain and the Black Angels play at the Kessler Theater. This was the first time we had been to the venue, and it certainly will not be the last. Great intimate place with spectacular sound. Here's my review of the show.

It's the transfer

As I hear a few rumblings about 3D Blu-ray coming down the pike, I'm not making any plans to replace any titles I already have if and when it comes to fruition. As for Blu-ray itself, I'm still quite happy with the format and still choose to buy copies of new movies or reissues. I have replaced a couple of DVDs with BDs, but not many. If I've learned anything in my two years as the owner of BD player and a high definition television, it's the transfer that's most important, and not necessarily the disc itself. I recently watched the standard Criterion DVD version of Videodrome and I found the transfer pretty stunning. The Blu-ray version is due to come out in a couple of weeks, but I'm not going to double-dip on this one. I'm perfectly satisfied with the version that I have. (Plus, all the standard DVD's supplements have been imported with no new, high-def features.) A couple of months ago, Diana and I watched The Sure Thing , an 80s road movie that

My first show

In this week's edition , I talked to the drummer from the Octopus Project about the first show he saw. Since I clearly remember when Weird Al put out Off the Deep End (because I listened to it quite a bit when I was in middle school), this was a great little reminder of how awesome Weird Al is to youngsters.

Drum Basics 1

While a number of the campers at Rock N Roll Fantasy camp got to play with some of their idols from their teen years, I had a chance to meet a guy who was quite helpful in my drumming skills early on. It wasn't like meeting Dave Grohl, Lars Ulrich, or Stewart Copeland, but I came to know who Sandy Gennaro was by Christmas 1994. Sandy was featured on a VHS tape called Drum Basics 1 , something my father got me for Christmas. I had started playing a drum set earlier that year and my dad thought the tape would be helpful. It was to a degree, but it was really designed for people that had never sat down behind a drum set before. The degree that was helpful involved playing straightforward beats as solidly as possible. That's something I still find a useful technique. I had a chance to meet Sandy about seven years ago when he played with the Monkees at Billy Bob's. As I stood in line to get a picture with Mickey and Davy, Sandy walked by all sweaty and tired. I decided to let

They call me the breeze

You can read about my experience doing Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp here , but I wanted to add something that I briefly mentioned. Aside from the Pull Tabs playing a bluesy rendition of "Strange Fruit," I had no real experience playing blues or southern rock. But when it comes to the blues, plenty of it is in jazz and rock music. I might have never listened to a Muddy Waters song in my teenage years, but I definitely learned a lot of his swing and bomp from Led Zeppelin. So I essentially learned a portion of the blues by default. Like a truncated history lesson if you will. I enjoy playing the blues, but I'm not about to rush and grab as many blues songs to hear. If ever I'm jamming with somebody who wants to play the blues, I'd be happy oblige. Matter of fact, when I first sat down in the room with my fellow Shotgun Brothers, I offered to them that I can "play anything." Since the two guitarists were more comfortable playing songs by the Allman Brothers,

My first show

The plug on Staff Trax was pulled last week due to low readership. I'm happy that it ran weekly as much as it had. The reach of DC9 has always been way more than Theme Park Experience's, so the chance for me and fellow writers to share what we shared was great. Replacing the column is My First Show, a chance for me to interview bands about the first show they ever saw. No matter how embarrassing or unhip the show was, we all have a story. In my case, the first live show I ever saw was the Indigo Girls at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I saw plenty of local shows after that, along with seeing REM and Radiohead (with my parents) and the Cranberries and Toad the Wet Sprocket (with my dad). The first national act I saw alone (I can't remember if I paid or not) was Metallica at the Summit. The first show with a national act that I paid money to see (and went alone) was Shudder To Think in 1997. (Brainiac opened and only a week or so later, their singer was killed in a c

Guts

Two episodes in, I'm very happy to say The Walking Dead is all that and then some. As much as I am a fan of the comic, I'm loving how it's been adapted for television. Given the show's large ratings ensuring a second season, I look forward to seeing how the show progresses. Especially knowing where the comic goes, this could be really interesting season after season. Given the nature of the comic, I'm quite happy that the show has kept up a very similar tone. That said, I'm amazed at what is OK to do on a cable TV show these days. Not that I'm a prude; I'm just a little too aware of those TV watchdog groups whose sole function is to go after shows they think are corrupting people's minds. When you have a show where zombies are shot in the head, it's pretty much a guarantee that it's going to turn people away. Since Mad Men is priority watching in my household, I don't blame Matt for politely passing on The Walking Dead . As a fan of g

Naked Lunch

Last year, in the middle of the holiday shopping season, I decided to take a leap of faith I rarely take: buy a DVD of a movie I have never seen, but I'm sure its commentary track will be worth hearing. Prior to last year, I had done such for True Romance when I saw that Tarantino had a commentary track on it. Prior to that DVD, Tarantino only showed up as a guest on commentary tracks. He had a desire (and I believe still does) to not do commentaries for the movies he's directed. Since he only wrote the script for True Romance , I'm guessing that an exception had been made. And I'm glad that it was because it's a wonderful track. I bought David Cronenberg's The Fly on Blu-ray for less than $10 last year. I remember hearing about the film when I was in elementary school, but I never got around to watching it. I knew Cronenberg did fantastic commentaries with thoughtfulness and a calm demeanor. I think I learn a lot when I hear him speak. A recent listening to

Body clock

It's understandable to have jetlag for a few days after you come back from a trip in a different time zone. Your body will take a few days to adjust -- when you normally would have lunch, you're thinking about hitting the hay for the night. But what if you are used to a certain work schedule (because you've worked it for a few years) and it takes months (even years) to adjust body's clock? A few weeks ago, Matt took a promotion at work and started working a shift that was the exact opposite of what he worked before. Instead of waking up at 3am to be at work at 4:30, he goes in at noon and doesn't come home until 8:30pm. Sleeping in until 9 or 10 doesn't work for him. He still wakes up a few times around his previous wake-up time before deciding to get up for the day. I remember how it took my body more than a year to get used to having two days off in a row. I had worked six or seven days straight for a couple of years before working the schedule I've work

No candy (in review)

For the past two years, Halloween was on nights that I could go out and stay late. To avoid the surge of families coming from other neighborhoods to get a lot of loot down my street, I usually went to the movies and then went to a Halloween party. Knowing Halloween was on a Sunday this year, I knew I couldn't do that kind of thing. Essentially, my street is barricaded by police from 7:30 until 9:30. That's how big of a bonanza Halloween is on my street. Getting in or out of our driveway is a pain, so I simply braced myself for a few hours of feeling like Robert Neville in the I Am Legend novella (and not the various movie adaptations). I can't say I enjoyed leaving those candy seekers hanging. Again, I'd love to pass out candy if I didn't have to shell out an entire week's worth of groceries on candy. If I answered the door once, more people would come and more people would come. Plus, since Diana had to work, Matt was visiting family for the evening, and ou

Staff Trax

This week's edition is on Tim Kasher's solo record, The Game of Monogamy . Like the Good Life's Album of the Year , don't listen to this if you're really down in the dumps about relationships in general.

No candy

Not to a Halloween version of Scrooge, but this year, like the last two years, we will not be handing out candy for trick-or-treaters. When I live on another street someday in the near future, I definitely will pass candy out. But for as long as I live at this residence, it's not going to happen. I hope that I am not bragging here, but I live on a very long street where 70 percent of the houses are worth a lot of money. As in, high six-figures. McMansions, if you like call them that. Where I live with Matt and Diana, along with five other residents, things are very affordable in our various apartment/duplexes. We don't have the kind of money to throw around like our neighbors down the street, including when it comes to shelling out for Halloween candy. The last time that Jason and I gave out candy (along with our upstairs neighbors), we gave out almost twenty bags of candy in two hours. That is insane. When we gave out candy growing up, we still had plenty left over once all

Scary as Hell

There's a movie that came out last weekend, and it's a sequel to a movie that really caught on this time last year. You know what movie I'm talking about if you follow what takes in the most at the box office. The line on its predecessor was that you had to see the movie in the theater. The line also pertains to the sequel. Since these flicks can scare the crap out of you, there's something fun about experiencing them in a room full of strangers. Well, as much as it can be fun for others, I'm a little aware of how these movies can be foil for ridicule. And when the laughs come, that's pretty disruptive and annoying for me. I opted out of seeing the first film -- which is set completely in a house -- in the theater and saw it on DVD at home. Not since I saw The Brood had I experienced such difficulty going to sleep that night. Nerves were rattled as I had difficulty distancing myself from what was CGI and what wasn't. I can handle horror movies that are sh

Crimson Ghost

Something I'm really looking forward to this Halloween weekend (besides the parties and The Walking Dead series premiere) is carving a jack-o-lantern. I haven't carved one in a couple years, but I'm very much of the attitude to pick things up again. Our friend Amy has hosted pumpkin carving parties before, but now that she lives in a place where there's no room for a party of that size, we're having it at our house. With those plans in order, I've thought about what I could carve. The idea didn't hit me until earlier today as I looked online for designs. After numerous Octobers of listening to select tracks from the Misfits' box set, I figured it was time to at least try to do the Crimson Ghost logo. Yes, the design that has become bigger than the band itself, I want to spend my time on Saturday cutting and trimming that into a pumpkin. In no fault of my mother's, the designs found on our front door step growing up were always the standard design

Tomorrowland

Sunday night, Matt and I stayed up a little later than normal to watch the Mad Men season finale. Matt has seen all of the episodes the show as produced. I, as I've previously mentioned, only started watching the show this season. I don't have anything against the show's previous three seasons. I really wanted to watch something with Matt where I was the newcomer to the show. The same applies to watching Alias with Diana. I've been the LOST and Fringe geek telling people about various tidbits and story arcs. I like reversing the roles; it helps me understand how to tell somebody about a show beyond the "You just have to watch this from the beginning" excuse. With what happens in "Tomorrowland," I was expecting some bomb of a cliffhanger. Instead, it was a point of pause. I'm not so sure this is a show that needs to have a character get shot by a mysterious person or a major forward of time in the last few minutes of the episode. No, if there

Digital

I'm still going through my CD library and ripping as much music as possible into my iTunes. Lots of great songs that I've never heard before randomly come up and play. That makes for all the hours I've spent loading CDs to be ripped. Of course, this gets me to thinking about the true effects of music more in a digital setting instead of a physical setting. I can recall where I got almost all of my CDs. When, where, how -- I have some kind of story. With MP3s, I have less stories, but what matters more is that I still like the music. It's nice knowing that I don't have to wait in long lines, ask people to set aside a copy for me to buy later in the day, or stay up until midnight to purchase an album. Those days are done and saved for stories to tell to younger generations that get into music. Stories that I hope don't sound like crotchety tales of "When I was your age," but rather friendly, by-the-way mentions. Something I'm very happy to see go

On the bass

What happens when you lose a bassist in a band, but know of somebody who wants to learn to play the instrument? Well, you do your best to get that person a bass and you better know how to play the thing. That's what has happened in my current band project. Mike from the Pull Tabs politely decided to leave the current project Ryan and I have had going since the Pull Tabs played for the (possibly) final time a few months ago. The music is pretty different and the approach is different, but I'm still enjoying it. And we're doing it from the luxury of my house. A while back, an idea floated around with forming a doom metal side project with Diana on bass. She had the interest and the desire to learn, so with Mike out of the picture on bass, we decided to teach her the bass first and foremost. Whether or not we actually will play doom metal is moot at this point; we want to play what we want to play. The thing with bass is that neither Ryan nor I are proficient on bass. I thi

Golf!

Six years ago, I started blogging about the progress of my first book as well as reposting links of stories I found interesting. Today, I'm writing about my foray into golf. Yes, golf -- that sport that involves men in ugly pants walking. That one. Since my housemate Matt enjoys playing the sport (and I hope to get some of my own golf clubs soon), I've received some helpful starting points from a few visits to a local driving range. Though my last two trips resulted in pulled back muscles that hurt for days, I still want to stay on the proverbial course and get better. I've been on a golf course before, way back when I (along with other Boy Scouts) volunteered to carry score signs at a local golf tournament. But as far as playing the sport, Putt-Putt was my ceiling until a few months ago. I know there is a stigma to the sport, being something rich white dads with plenty of time to kill and no artistic drive do. For me, there is an exercise element that is a good alterna

Staff Trax

Not to be super-cryptic, but I've enjoyed contributing to the Staff Trax column as well as help edit it together. I wrote a quick little blurb about Disfear this week.

Can I Say

From time to time, I like to update things I covered in POST but had no way of updating since the book came out two years ago. This little item came from John Davis, formerly of Hoover, Corm, and Q and Not U. He was someone I had to pleasure of getting his perspective on growing up around Dischord in the eighties and nineties. Since I keep in touch with many of the people I interviewed these days via Facebook, I noticed this link today on John's page. After years of availability as a bootleg, Shawn Brown's very brief tenure with Dag Nasty is finally getting a proper release. Back then, the band was set to release a 7-inch with Dischord, but Shawn left the band and the band got Dave Smalley to sing on what became Can I Say . Since guitarist Brian Baker wrote most of the lyrics in the band, what Shawn sang was almost exactly what Dave sang on the record. For the collectors and hardcore folks, this is a great snapshot of a band in its infancy. Although Dave's tenure with

At the foot of my rival

When it comes to football rivalries, I am definitely not an expert. How or why they start, I usually have no clue. And why there is a rivalry still in effect, once again, I have no clue. The big UT/OU game was on Saturday and Dallas was again the midway neutral territory area. Plenty of out-of-towners came and pumped piles of money into the local economy, including some of my favorite bars in Fair Park. (That is a great thing.) While coming back from dinner with Diana, Ryan, and Matt, an SUV filled with dejected (and drunk) UT fans moaned, "OU sucks." After politely telling these people that everybody in my car did not go to OU (there was one TCU alum, two from UNT, and one from Southern Illinois), they kept moaning how much OU sucked. The idea of rivalry at TCU is really a joke. As far as what I saw in my four years there, the tension between SMU was more or less about which school was snobbier. Yup, that's it. No spraypainting each other's property. No fistfights

For Me This is Heaven

In this week's edition of Staff Trax, I mention the greatness that is Jimmy Eat World's two Capitol records, along with their commercial breakthrough. While I also like Futures , I cannot say the same about Chase This Light . Now that they have a new record out this week -- and a couple of my friends have reviewed it and liked it -- I'm still not sure about Invented. I'm one of those people who can go on and on about why Static Prevails and Clarity are awesome. But when it comes to Chase This Light , I can only say a few things. It's bland and does not demand repeat listens. Seeing them perform a number of tracks from it a few years ago did not make me want to give it another shot. I'm not going to retro-actively denounce my love for earlier Jimmy Eat World records. Hell, most of my college experience had a soundtrack filled with their music, including all of those songs on comps and 7-inches. I just have hesitation about certain bands when it looks like t

When dog and cat unite

A few weeks ago, I hoped that my dog and Diana's cat could be civil under the same roof. I'm happy to say that we tried brought them together and they get along incredibly well. Prior to adopting Mimo, the Siamese cat was a stray that kept hanging out around our place. Diana decided to take him in, give him food, and eventually took him to the SPCA for updated shots and exams. Looks like he's going to stay, and I'm quite happy he's stuck around. The only question was if he could get along with my dog Victory. By a drunken chance encounter, a party guest decided to bring Mimo indoors a few weeks before Diana took Mimo in. According to Diana, Mimo got along with Victory, as Victory didn't bark or attack Mimo. Flash-forward a few months later, while we're in between batches of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, we brought Mimo over. Thankfully, there was no barking or intent to maul by Victory. It was more or less Mimo strutting in and scoping the place out whi

Dittohead

After many years (and chances) to see Slayer, I finally saw them on Friday, along with Megadeth and Anthrax. You can read what I thought of the show over on DC9, but I wanted to point out something a little more personal here. You see, when I was a teenager, saying you liked Slayer was like saying you really enjoyed reading Mein Kampf . While other metal bands sang about gruesome things and Satan, Slayer was the pinnacle of all of that to those who were easily scared by that kind of stuff. It was one thing to be a fan of Metallica, but Slayer? That was super-hardcore. Maybe it was the bad reputation metal had with Tipper Gore and her fellow housewife friends. Maybe it was exactly what your parents didn't want you listening to based on sheer sonics. For its various reasons, Slayer was dangerous. Or so people claimed. I can definitely say I was creeped out when I heard stuff like "Dead Skin Mask" and "213" when I was a teenager. I can now definitely say that

Book #3

I have an idea for my next book. Amazing how last week I wrote that I don't have a book project lined up after When We Were the Kids . Inspiration strikes when it does, no matter how silly the idea might sound at first. About a month ago, while talking with my editor at the Observer , he jokingly suggested a book idea that sounded really silly. I threw in something more silly to the pitch and we had a good laugh. Fast-forward to last Friday night, while standing with Diana in the check-out lane of a Barnes & Noble, I thought this previously-silly book idea could actually turn into something. Something, I don't know what, and something don't want to divulge its topic just yet. Since I'm a part of a writing-for-fun group with my old housemate Jason and some other friends of ours, there's a desire to bring something new for each monthly meet-up. I have an opening scene in mind to write for Book #3, so I thought that will be my writing piece for the next meet-up.

Carry On

I braved the elements and saw KISS over the weekend. Here's my review . I knew that KISS would be spectacular, but something that really surprised me was how great Pat Green was too. Yes, Pat Green. You can read in the review why I was impressed, but I think it's important out something else that I didn't bring up. Whenever I've mentioned the guy's name around people, people (who are not fans of him, country music, or frat/sorority life) groan. Seems like part of rush week in college involves a conversion to Green's music. So any connection to that world when you detest Greek life deserves damnation. Well, damn me for liking Pat Green. I've felt this feeling before with Journey. Once detested as a flag-waver of corporate rock, any self-respecting musician should never profess an admiration beyond guilty pleasure. Since I still stick behind the notion that there should not be any guilt in pleasure, I remain a Journey fan. Green seems like he avoids the p

190 pages

I kept to my word: I have a rough draft of When We Were the Kids . This is not the final draft, but at least I have my bearings straight about where things are going. The current page length is 190 pages in Word, but that will definitely change. Whether or not there will be more or less remains to be seen in the next few months. Plus, page length in Word is almost double what the print length will be. The big question mark is how will this be released. If I self-publish, it will probably come out next year. If I get a book deal, that will take longer. I'm trying not to be overly-pessimistic or overly-optimistic, but I'm a little too aware of how a book proposal can be sold a little better than a book that's almost done. I'm committed to the style and presentation of When We Were the Kids . Any suggestions about drastically changing that will meet with a lot of resistance from me. Another big question mark is what I will do after this book is done. I had a really good

Filed autobiographically no more

After nine years of filing burned CD-Rs in spindles, I finally got around to alphabetizing them last weekend. In what could have been a major undertaking, I followed an idea Diana had and I was done in only two hours. What prompted such was my ongoing efforts to update my iTunes with way more music than before. Since my current computer holds more gigs than any of my previous computers combined (with a few hundred gigs left over), I've tried completing albums or entire catalogs on stuff I only had on CD-R. Trying to find those CD-Rs filed in a loosely autobiographical kind of way just didn't cut it anymore. Diana had brought up how she would have alphabetized them and that inspired me to do my own version. I grabbed CDs from every letter of the alphabet and stacked CD-Rs on top of them with their corresponding letter. Now I can find something way faster and more effectively. As I look at the size of my physical library of CDs and CD-Rs and look at how much I can store in one

Z

I have to vent. About zombies. Again. I have plenty of reasons to watch George Romero's recent flicks. I enjoyed Land of the Dead , but ever since then, I've found his flicks to be on par with Day of the Dead . This is not like Romero's worst films are better than an average director's best films. Films like Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead rubbed me the absolutely wrong way. Diary of the Dead has an interesting premise: a reboot of the zombie apocalypse in the day and age of YouTube. The premise doesn't really come to fruition because of stock, one-note characters. Given that Romero used unknown actors for Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead , the same technique doesn't work for Diary or even Survival of the Dead . Survival is more or less a hokey western, complete with rival families, and oh yeah, there are zombies hanging out. I know not every director can hit it out of the park with every movie. All I'll say is that if you wa

Hit Somebody

As I look at what I have in my first draft of When We Were the Kids , I have begun reading a book on somebody I barely knew and barely knew his music. Warren Zevon, the subject of the book, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead , is the person. Other than "Werewolves of London" and his final record, that's all I really knew about him going in. That's why I'm reading the book. As a writer, you can engage your readers way more when you go beyond talking about how awesome somebody's music is. All opinions are subject, so do you really want to devote a lot of space in a biography talking about how awesome the second album is better than the first album? There's a place for that stuff, but I don't think large chunks of space should be devoted to that in a book. I still stand behind the notion that you should examine more about the people you're profiling instead of the music. The music should be mentioned, but this not a glorified essay meant for liner not

Wallpaper hangin'

A few years ago, Kev did a blog post about a "wallpaper" gig. As in, he was playing music meant to be in the background. Over the weekend, I did my first DJ gig as a wallpaper artist as well. My aunt's 50th birthday party was Saturday night. She had an entire restaurant in downtown McKinney rented out for the night and she asked me to provide music for the party portion after dinner. She had suggested music from her college days, like the Go-Gos, A Flock of Seagulls, and Talking Heads. Since I have a vast library of songs from the '80s (popular and not-so popular), this was a piece of cake. I wanted to keep the music peppy and recognizable. You can't be a punk purist about everything in life, you know. And when you're DJing something other than your personal playlist, you have to understand that you're not the only one listening to the music. I might know how awesome "One in a Lifetime" sounds in Stop Making Sense , but the average listener pr

Superfans

Sometimes being around a superfan can be a great thing. Recently, an old co-worker of mine (who lives and works in the Cayman Islands, no less) came into town and visited our house. Catching up on things, I had to ask about her fandom of Coheed and Cambria, and what she thought of their latest album, Year of the Black Rainbow . I knew she was a fan of Coheed back when we worked together (which was around In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 ), but I was curious if her fandom remained. Turns out, she is still a big fan and spoke highly of their side projects as well. Since my friend is a sane person and knows what's good and what's bad, I have to admit that her fanaticism rubbed off on me. I had a few Coheed records already, as well as a DVD of their first four albums performed live, so I decided to round out my collection. As I wrote in my Staff Trax write-up last week, I am still not so sure I could ever comprehend the saga told in the lyrics over their five albums. I'

To sink or swim

I've played in many bands in my life. In only one of them I knew going into the final show that it was the final show. That band was the Pull Tabs as of last Friday night. The great thing was, the show wasn't an awkward, painful, or estranged sort of matter. The band got together as a fun outlet for playing music and I'm happy to say it ended that way too. And I'm really happy to say that the door is still open for Mike and I to play with Kyle again. When that will be, I don't know, but I'm glad the door is still open. Many years ago, I distinctly remember the first time I felt a certain sinking feeling about a band situation not working out. I was at a large pro audio place with my father as he looked at buying some gear for his business. There was a lot of time to wander around, and there was plenty of space to wander about. I kept thinking about this "band" I had going where three guys I knew came over to my house with guitars and we jammed. At n

A dog/cat's life

There was an ongoing joke in my house growing up: if I ever wanted to tell my mother that she wasn't welcome in my house, I should get a cat. Because of allergies to cat hair, my mom would have a hell of a time withstanding a visit. I kept that in mind but I always wanted to her to visit me. I never wanted a cat growing up. We always had a dog when I was growing up. The dog was a wire-haired fox terrier and he stayed outside. From J.W. to Rocky to Bailey, there was a dog in the backyard. Now that I've lived in a house for six years always with a dog in the house, I have a different sense of closeness to a pet. I've never as close to Victory as I have been with any other dog. And as of the last few weeks, I have never been so close to a cat. Diana recently took in a stray cat that had been hanging around our area for the past few months. The cat, an 11-month-old male who has been dubbed Mimo, really clung to Diana right away. I liked him too, but I've always been cau

First draft

Still keeping in mind my September 15th date to have a first draft of When We Were the Kids , I have to take a step back and wonder what exactly is a first draft. What constitutes it? Should it really reflect the final draft? Given the scope I have of this book, this proposed first draft is more of a look at what I have so far. What more should I add to the story? What should I subtract from the story? I still think you should have a lot to work with in the editing process instead of wishing you had more to work with. In other words, editing down 400 pages is better than editing down 100 pages. So far, I have the main outline of the book fleshed out. There are key events that happen, hopefully giving a sense of closure by the end. I also have plenty about what happens in between those events. A house isn't just a slab and a roof, you know? Writing any story, fiction or nonfiction, is easier to finish when you have an end in mind. I keep wondering whenever I read something, "

Staff Trax

This week's edition spotlights a song by Love Spit Love, a band I heard about back in the 1990s, but didn't get around to listening to until a year ago. As I went through Jason's CD library before he moved out, I found "Fall On Tears" on a CMJ compilation and it really struck me.

Vs. the World

This past Friday night, I did something I had not done in ages: see a movie on its opening night. I've seen a few matinees of films on their opening day, but the whole, see-it-with-a-packed-primetime-audience thing had been a while for me. (I think the last time I did that was when The Two Towers and The Return of the King came out.) The film in question? Scott Pilgrim vs. the World . While it was on people's minds yesterday that the film did lackluster business at the box office, that was definitely not on the mind of the packed audience I saw it with on Friday. When Diana and I, along with a couple of friends, pulled up to the theater, I was surprised to see long waiting lines for Eat, Pray, Love and not for Scott Pilgrim . This is a teenager flick with all sorts of modern and vintage (read, circa 8-bit Nintendo), right? And what do a lot of teenagers like to do on a Friday night? See a movie, and preferably not a soon-to-be-forgotten Julia Roberts star vehicle. Only o

On ice

Last week I got a phone call that has traditionally meant that I'm fired from a band. I've received that call a few times, where a bandmate that I don't normally talk to tells me I'm a great drummer but still has to fire me from his band. Turns out, Kyle (who I talk to regular outside of band stuff, by the way) called to tell me that he had landed a job in Oklahoma City and would move there in a few weeks. In short, that means the Pull Tabs are on extended hiatus. I can't say this is a permanent hiatus because I'm still friends with Kyle and completely understand his predicament. He landed a pretty good job in a place that he has friends (and it's not too far away from Dallas), so it's not like he's moving to New York for the rest of his life. As sad as it is to put the band on ice for the moment (or, maybe permanently), I'm not going to make negative, revisionist statements about my experience. There was no waste of time or hurt feelings. If

Library surge

Roughly two weeks ago, I looked at the handful of shelves nailed into a wall in our reading/sitting room. Filled with many books by Stephen King, along with a few books on mixed martial arts, as well as The Passage , I Am Legend , Let the Right One In , and The Ruins , I decided I had enough books to read for a number of years. Aside from a one-off purchase here and there, I thought that's all I needed. That was, until last weekend. Whenever I go into a Borders or a Barnes & Noble these days, I hit up the bargain bin and stock up. I don't think I'll ever have a lack of curiosity about books, and when decent-to-mint copies are available for less than five dollars, I can't say no. Even though my library has grown significantly in the past year, I really like to have a variety of options when it comes to the next book that I read. I can't read Stephen King all the time. Rather, it's nice to have an alternative to this stuff, like a Joe Strummer biography or

This ain't no nostalgia

As I dive into finishing up the first proper draft of When We Were the Kids , there's something I want to make abundantly clear: this is not some nostalgia trip. Nostalgia trip in the sense that everything was so much more innocent back then and everything is horrible today. I might think a lot about the past, but I strongly disagree about its supposed "better time." I want to put forward how certain things were different from today, like how teenagers got into bands that weren't on the radio. Whether through seeing a T-shirt, hearing a song on a Sunday night radio show, or having a record that someone's older brother had, I think there is value in talking about those pre-Internet days. But I don't want to wallow in those days either. What I'm aiming at is the idea of playing in a band that "never makes it" in terms of mainstream or even underground success. If playing to hundreds of people in a big bar and selling a few thousand copies of cass