Marching on

I have a friend whose son is in a marching band. This is something my Manhattan High School without a football team lacked. Maybe that’s why they fascinate me so much. Especially when I learned about the massive competitions some of these bands participate in. The competitive vibe may even top that of overbearing horror-moms painting their 5 year olds up like pole dancers to vie for some plastic crown in an airport Hilton.

Not saying I’d like to participate. Not even admitting I shopped color guard flags at wwbw a little. It’s just… neat. at least for the uninitiated.


You ever heard that saying about the sucker in the room? It goes something like ‘if you can’t pick out the sucker in the room, it’s probably you.’ sometimes, as a volunteer, I feel like I’m in a room full of people who think they’re awesome and generous and super special, but me… I can’t figure out how I got pulled into such a mess. You can get a map and a compass, but it won’t lead you to a bigger sucker than me. You can buy Louis Poulsen lighting, or drag the whole situation out onto an International airport’s tarmac under the blinky blinkies… but the biggest sucker you see will always be me.

Personality Test

Are you more of a “how to clean hard drive” person or a “which hunk of metal do I hit repeatedly with an 8 pound maul” sort of person? I kind of think I’m more of the latter than the former. Do you think that makes me a bad person? I mean, not the part about smashing things with a big heavy hammer. That’s just an inner-Hulk rising sort of thing. It’s more the “if you smash it you probably won’t recycle it” part of the equation. I mean, I don’t want you to think I don’t care about the environment.


I’ve started giving guitar lessons in our little local library. It’s a small group setting and my community service vibe is totally on. In a weird way, I’ve developed a tiny clinical-type voice in the back of my head. I guess talking about all the basic details of something that’s been so close to me for so long has me thinking a little differently. It’s like parenting burgeoning rock and rollers or something.

Of course, seeing the passage of time and realizing that some of my instruments are legimately vintage (not in the ebay “I bought this used so it’s vintage” sense, but actually 25 plus years old). I am actually impressed with the great shape most of my instruments are in considering the time I’ve owned and cared for them, but the little in-case humidifiers and things I occasionally use are not what I imagine many years ago.

Those were the days when I saw the classic Van Halen story about having M&Ms with all the browns removed on their rider. Such rock and roll eccentricities prompted my to imagine a demand for an R.L. Stine title at each gig or something equally ludicrous. In that same mindset I imagined a larger than life (Rosemary Caine fans can chuckle) humidor of sorts with large double doors, opening on a cedar lined, temperature controlled room lined with the classic guitars in my collection.

Ahhh… there’s still time, right?


The great thing about historical fiction, like that presented in the Outlander books is that a reader needn’t worry about the issues that plague us in the modern day. It’s actually pretty fascinating in the Outlander books, because the primary female character starts in the first book as a nurse from World War II who accidentally goes back in time in Scotland, and ends up a few years before the Stewart rising in the Highlands. She later returns to the modern day and becomes a doctor. then, 20 years later she heads back in time to find her true love, who is also 20 years older. It’s very sweet, really.

And when she goes back to the 1760s or so, she does so with a lot of modern medical knowledge, much of which is somewhat useless. Sure, if you want to treat Mesothelioma with a bleeding by leeches or maybe a pill made of pulverized horse droppings and spider webs, yeah…there are shops for that, but a proper pharmacy…not so much.

One of my favorite passages in the fourth book is when the Doctor, Clair, is trying to grow penicillin. She leaves out dozens of slices of bread, hoping against hope that one of them with naturally develop the mold that we know as penicillin. Of course, her greatest barrier to success is neither circumstance nor bad luck. It is a combination of vermin (rats, mice, roaches and other pests) and her nephew eating her starchy ersatz petri dishes off the kitchen counter.

Titular oops

I realize that in my last post I never actually explained the title. This is a common failing of mine. Sorry. The thing is, in historical fiction from the couple decades before the Revolutionary War, there may be no need for apidexin reviews, but there was one key substance that needed serious, regular abuse. Sort of.

What was that? Well, in the Scottish portion of the books it is definitely whiskey. And since a “modern day” character in the narrative hits the Lagavulin in a passage, nodding towards the time traveler for introducing him to such spirits, I’m thinking the whiskey they hit is seriously peated, smoky and killer in flavor.

I’m listneing to the audio version of the fourth book right now, Drums of Autumn, and the crew is in the colonies, roughly a decade before the Revolutionary War. They have developed a little community thanks to some land grants, and a handful of Scottish ex-pats that survived the Highland Rising are there. Out primary character, Jamie Frazier is, among other things, running an illegal still and making some serious white lightning in the style of old school scotts whiskey. It’s illegal because of the crippling British taxes on spirits production (one of our Revolutionary inspirations, of course) and he, being a Highlander, really f-ing hates the British. More than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson combined. I’m just wondering at what point he’s going to skip out on paltry wheat and go for a corn mash, successfully inventing bourbon.

I wouldn’t even mind if that’s how it played out. I guiltily love these books so much (even knowing they would be super duper chick flicks if they were movies and Hugh Grant would end up playing the bad ass Scott) that I wouldn’t mind if this dude was actually portrayed as the inventor of Bourbon. It beats the Jim Beam/Booker Noe assertions that their family did it, after all.

Strong drink

I  am an audiobook addict. This, I have gleefully and willingly confessed many times before. Sometimes, though, I listen to a book (while mowing or snowblowing or driving to the office or doing the dishes or…whatever) that is, from a traditional mucho-macho masculine standpoint…a little embarrassing. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is my embarrassing chick book series.

I mean, I’ve listened to a couple of breathy thrillers that were clearly written for a female audience that is a step above romance novels. Not terrible necessarily, but the cowboy-ish main male character and the incredibly strong female executive who somehow needs to fold into her cowboy with sobs at key points in the story…yeah, it is a formula. And not really my thing.

Admittedly, there are such characteristics in the Outlander books, but they are fairly well seated, along with the occasional gratuitous sex scene. The payoff for enduring such moments, however, is so much fantastic historical fiction about the Highlander rising in Scotland, the liquor importing business in France circa 1760, life in the Carolina colonies in the decade before the Revolutionary War. Seriously, very enjoyable. Piracy, planting, potatoes to whether famine, dimensional time travel through mystical stone circles, old world witchcraft and new world shamanism…and everyone is slim and struggling to survive. No need for strong diet pills here. And since each book read unabridged is around 40 hours, that’s a whole lot of dishes I can wash.

Holiday Spoiler

If you expect to receive a present from me this holiday season, guess what, I have a big surprise for you. Right here, right now, I’m going to spill the beans. I’m going to tell you exactly what you’re getting. Yup. Something to think about huh? What could it be? Will you need extra space in your garage to park this wonderful gift? Will you need high-end A/V cables to connect it to your television? Maybe a wall mount or even an ipad warranty? What will it be? What will it be?

Well, this season I’ve decided to give the most precious gift of all…a great big hug. Enjoy it you greedy, materialistic SOB.

Just kidding.

I’m saving the hugs for people who get me something first.


I mentioned a while back that I want to do a site for my favorite comic shop, and it made me think of something. See, whenever I talk about my renewed love of comics, I get some nonsense from some people. Actually, most of my friends either think it’s cool (because many of them were into comics at some point in their youth and now miss them) or they just pretend it’s okay. After all, most people have some sort of hobby that seems weird to others. Like macrame or model ship-in-a-bottle-building, or…I don’t know, but comics are cool, so shut up.

Anyway, even though I am a new comic lover, I have to admit some stereotyping. Even I, a comic lover, expect a certain…character type in the shop. And to be straight, I don’t see it. No, the shop is not a haven for Star Trek geeks and super fatties and kids that need to be scanning the acne treatment reviews. I mean, yeah, there are some total freakazoids in the comic shop, but I would probably count myself pretty high among their ranks. Still, these comic-loving dudes have nothing, and I mean NOTHING, on the horror show that shops at Wal Mart, so there.

Dressed For Success

You know what you just don’t see enough of these days? Animals wearing bow ties. I mean, I’m not asking for too much, am I?  Once in a while I’d just like to see an animal, in its natural habitat, putting on the ritz a little. He doesn’t have to wear a tuxedo. She doesn’t have to wear a ball gown. I just think that once in a while it would be really great to see a raccoon with a bow tie. Usually you see him scrambling into the sewer, he turns and looks at you before slipping out of site, those eyes glowing opaque yellow from your headlights. It’s not the prettiest or most welcoming thing, but if he was wearing a little bow tie…don’t you think that would be a little better?