| Sunday September 26, 2004
Got up later than usual (after being out of late night practice), talked to Grandma for an hour or so and then Frank showed up!
At least I managed to get the They Might Be Giants photos edited while I was on the phone.
So - I let him hear the new songs. I'm so happy that he likes what I did to "Wide Bicycle." I really did take some major liberties with it. That song's been sticking in my head a lot lately. I guess that's a good sign.
We rehearsed from 4 - 7 and got a lot done. The mix was better than it's ever been (perhaps due to Frank finally having his own bass rig) and in general, we played better than we ever have. The energy was better (although I still left my eyebrows in my back pocket - at least I brought 'em this time in case). For some reason, "Sometimes I'm Sam" sucked and we had to go through "It's Never The Same" twice but that's small complaining out of 24 songs. Even string breakage during "Scared Of Myself" didn't slow us down.
"Until The Road Ends," "Into My View," "(Save It For) Another Day", "Goodbye Tuesday," "Down," "Skyward," "Twist," "Taking Its Toll," "Colors In Black & White," "Everyday", "Give Up Town" and "Deuce" were all better than they've ever been. The other stuff was alright, too.
I'm actually satisfied. Tom's timing seems to have improved dramatically since our talk and Frank's a lot more confident. When they've got that going, I play infinitely better, too.
I hope we're ready for the shows this week. We're going to try to suit them to each environment this time since we've got the material to do it now.
Tuesday's show will be slightly more low key.
Saturday's show will bring the rock.
The only lowpoint to rehearsal was that the guys wanted me to go out to TransMet with 'em for after practice "strategery meeting." I was exhausted from last night and just didn't feel up to it. I think I may have been a little shorter than intended with Tom before we left. It was unintentional as I was extra amped up from a good rehearsal and have a tendency to be even less diplomatic than usual when I'm in that frame of mind. I hope it's just my imagination and that no one else took offense. On the way home I realized that some of the things I said may have come across wrong. What can I say? I've never been that subtle. I hate it when it's unintentional, though.
I'll talk to him and explain what's up when I get a chance.
Also - to me, the day is the one year anniversary of the last time I spoke to my Dad. By the calendar, the date that actually happened will be the 28th but it was 52 weeks ago today. I always talked to him on Sunday...and this is the closest Sunday to it for me. It feels like this is a year. The Monday that followed was the day that my life changed forever. So I hope I get no phone calls between 11 and 12 tomorrow. Of course, I'll also be feeling it cave in around me on the 28th / 29th as well. God...a year.
And most of it's still unresolved.
That whole thing's another reason I just didn't feel like going out tonight. I hope everyone understands.
| Saturday September 25, 2004
They Might Be Giants in Atlanta.
Today I did a little mastering on my computer of the new recordings. I just thought I'd tweak 'em a little bit since my VS-880 isn't doing all it's supposed to do these days.
Amanda and I went to our first concert in exactly 3 weeks today. That surely must be a record for this year...at least since it got warm! On the way, we did dinner at Provino's in Lawrenceville. 'Twas a great dinner.
Thanks to Amanda's new found knowledge of her way around Atlanta, we got to the Variety Playhouse without a single problem. We even managed free parking directly beside the building.
The show started later than I would've liked but it was worth it.
Corn Mo opened. This guy's a hilarious Texan who should've / could've been the frontman for a hair metal band back in the '80s. He plays weird little personal songs on his accordion. He's got an unbelievable voice. He did a completely straight and dead-on version of Queen's "We Are The Champions" that wowed the crowd. He's super cool (and also apparently a member of The Polyphonic Spree). Check out his stuff here. I wish we'd've bought his CD now! Do yourself a favor and listen to some of his mp3's.
TMBG was exactly what you'd expect. In mentioning them, one has to mention the word quirky. They had special guest puppets, a robot parade, the wave, confetti and a slew of great tunes. They only crossed the line to irritating about twice. The rest of the time was alternately hilarious, insightful, barbed and poignant. The whole place exploded for "Birdhouse In Your Soul." Personally, I preferred "Bastard Wants To Hit Me" and "Older." Great stuff all the way around. Full review will show up at Concert Shots...well, hopefully before we all die.
| Friday September 24, 2004
Well, it's done. I spent almost all of Friday getting demos done. In the process I managed to fry my portastudio, too. I've had it for 6 years of heavy usage so I guess it had to be expected. The EQ's are not working right anymore. I got 4 demos done, though. So (including "I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)") there's 5 new songs to work in by the end of the year. That'll give us about 25 originals to choose from for shows and for an upcoming album.
As always, a couple turned out better than expected and a couple turned out worse than hoped. See if you can figure out which is which.
I'll be uploading one a week for your auditory disturbance.
Here's "Everybody's Trying."
| Thursday September 23, 2004
Sting & Annie Lennox declare their togetherness Thursday night.
Today I bounded around tying up a slew of loose ends (this diary for instance). I feel kind of bad 'cause I still have several emails that I haven't had a chance to respond to yet. I'll try to hit 'em tomorrow.
I got my guitar back from Musician's Warehouse (the behind the mall location) and it seems fine so far. I haven't plugged it in and wailed on it yet but it was certainly enough improvement to justify $30. At least I can use it now. What a friggin' relief!
Amanda went out in the evening to rehearsal for a new musical that she's got the female lead in. (Yep, she's going all Broadway on us). So while she was out doing that, I dug through a couple of songs I've been kind of working on. I was surprised to find out that the one I thought was the best, "Feel It," is actually the worst. It's still a good one (and I went on and finished it) but right now it's my least favorite new song of '04. One called "Everybody's Trying" is actually pretty freaking cool. The biggest shock to me was another DeFreese-McKay composition. "Wide Bicycle" was just kind of languishing unfinished. Last night when I heard it, an entire melody, lyric and arrangement popped into my head and (no kidding) I had it recorded 5 minutes later. It's turned into quite a trippy little lounge-like piece. I can't wait to get all these in. So far since April '04, I've finished:
1. Colors In Black & White
That's almost an albums worth of material. If you add in stuff I wrote late last year, you've got around 13 good songs. That's an accomplishment for me 'cause I no longer even finish songs I don't think I'm going to like.
The coolest part is that all of these were written with this lineup in mind so "our sound" is coming along nicely. I can't wait to work the other 5 in. The first two have already become staples of our live show!
I'll be posting a flood of them soon. Which means I'll be removing a lot of the "lower" songs on the RARITIES page. If you want any of them for future reference, I suggest you download 'em now, 'cause they'll probably never see the light of release!
I'm also planning on updating the MUSIC on a lot of the other pages, too. So again - if you want what's there, pull it quick!
| Wednesday September 22, 2004
Frank came over around lunch time and did a little more work on the guitar. We wound up taking it to Musician's Warehouse for repair. I tried to take it to Kitchen Table to throw a little business Roger's way but it was closed so it was off to the big music store for me.
Frank and I worked on "I'll Be Fine." He had some good ideas that I would've never thought of and I got him to play a lot more harmony around my chords. I added in bass notes the likes of which I haven't used in years to layer the sound. It's nice. It should definitely sound more full than a 3-piece. Now, we just need the right beat.
In the evening, we reconvened for rehearsal.
Somehow, I forgot my pedal board so it was really old school for me. My Fender Strat blasting through the Fender Deluxe amp with no pedals or effects of any kind. I had that whole white-boy-blues tone. I couldn't resist going over the top for "Emotions To Free." It just seemed so much more bluesy that way. Thankfully, everything was much better tonight as a whole. My repair work on the amp seems to have been a complete success. That's a huge weight off of me. "Skyward" is still hit or miss. Tom's having trouble with sticking on it. It's especially difficult at the end where he's supposed to be doing 32 notes on the hats while singing in perfect high harmony! Oh well - that one won't be played next week, I guess. Frank blew the solo, too. He said he got overly confident and just slipped. That happens. His new bass was also going in and out which was fairly frustrating, especially after my technical problems lately. My big embarrassment was the solo in "Phony." That thing is so hit or miss. It's really reliant on my effects for that out of control feel. Tonight, it was just lame. That being said, this was kind of a goofy, fun practice. I left my eyebrows at home but I saw Frank's and Tom's poke out occasionally. A much better feel over all.
We need at least 2 more full-out practices before the show next Tuesday. And at least one more before the Hamdogorama show.
| Tuesday September 21, 2004
Alright, so now maybe I should mention what I did on Monday since I took up my entry with politics.
I spent a chunk of the day doing precious little other than fretting (pun intended) over my guitar. I tried to do more to it but still didn't help it any.
Luckily, Frank came over in the evening. He jumped right on it, God bless him. He fixed most of the bad stuff. He got it playable again and even intonated it for the most part. He took it from the piece of scrap wood that I rendered it up to a $150 pawn shop guitar. It was a minor miracle.
And that was Monday.
Today's Tuesday, right?
Well - today I tried to do even more work (to no avail) on my guitar. AAAAACCCKKK!!!! It's driving me crazy. Fittingly enough, while I was checking intonation, I stumbled across a little guitar part that I really like and crafted a song out of it within an hour. It's called "I'll Be Fine" and it may be my favorite song since "Colors In Black & White." I'm going to try to have Frank come in and add his style to the bass line so it feels more band like. I think I'm too tied to the guitar on this one to write an objective bass part. That's unusual for me. Hopefully, we can make a whole arrangement out of it that does the bittersweet, depressing, almost rocker justice.
In the evening I got together to "jam" with Matt Thompson and a drummer-guy named Jonathan. I have nothing to say other than that it was a fun time until Jonathan showed up (2 hours late to his own house for rehearsal). I enjoyed blabbing about nothing with Matt while we waited, though.. He's got great ideas for a for-fun-project but I sincerely don't think Jonathan can do any of what Matt wants. Let's just say that I wound up playing drums for over half of the time...and it was far steadier. Maybe Matt and I can figure out a way to work together - but working together won't work if it's that much work!
It did make me appreciate my own band more (even in all of its inconsistency). At least I know my guys will eventually get over the plateau.
Monday September 20, 2004
First off, I'm going to get into something I don't usually get into in my diary. I've got to say something, though or I'll feel like I'm shirking my responsibility as a citizen of the planet.
I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I believe that President George I was the right man in '88. I believe that Clinton was right for his time. I might've even voted for McCain over Gore if I'd had that option. But I can't stomach what Americans have allowed to happen to their country.
What follows qualifies as a rant. It won't be particularly well-spoken. But it's how I feel.
George W. Bush is an evil moron genius.
He must be defeated in November.
He has organized the most irrational, psychotic administration to run this country (into the ground?) that I've known in my lifetime. Can you imagine what he'll do in the next 4 years if he doesn't have to worry about re-election? Suffice it to say, the world will be far scarier. I say the Democrats need to pull out every dirty trick they can think of to get that ass out of office. How can I say that? Well, because that's what the Republicans do. The Democrats have protected their so-called honor at the cost of being able to accomplish anything for too long. And what's with this honor anyway? They're politicians! It's brutal. They need to attack the Republicans with everything. Remember, I live in a state where Max Cleland was voted out of office because the Repubs cast the illusion that he was "unpatriotic and unamerican." Somehow, they convinced Georgia voters that a man who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam was less patriotic than Bush-Cheney who "had other priorities" during that war. Are they serious? Of course not. They're just convinced that the American people are idiots and will buy into anything they say! They've convinced a huge portion of America that the prosperity, peace and stability during the Clinton years never happened. They've convinced Americans that lying about something that was none of our business in the first place (Lewinsky) was somehow worse than absolutely destroying all foreign relations, invading and dismantling a sovereign nation, blatantly lying about the reasons for starting a war and giving all the rebuilding contracts to old cronies while collecting more money than ever for themselves and their friends as American soldiers die in piles in the desert. Who could have believed it but so far, that underestimating of American intelligence has worked brilliantly. Look at the people you know who are supporting Bush. Ask them why. Ask them how they feel about our "catastrophic success" in Iraq (that's the way Bush himself described it). Ask them what they support about him. Ask him what they don't like about him. Then ask him for why they DON'T like Kerry. The trivial answers are bound to surprise you.
I've yet to hear of anyone who supports Bush in the majority of his policies. And this whole "consistency in wartime" line is insulting. That's the same line wannabe dictators have used for thousands of years to scare people into supporting them.
People are losing their jobs after expressing displeasure with Bush. People are being arrested for peacefully demonstrating. AK-47's are legal again in the U.S. Americans are dying by the dozens daily. U.S. citizens are losing their heads literally and figuratively.
I have to believe that we are smart enough to fight that.
If I didn't have so many close family and friends in America, I would seriously consider moving to Australia. I'm embarrassed by what we've become. And using 9/11 as an excuse is all the more insulting. The terrorists have succeeded. They wanted to rile America into invading Muslim countries so that they could justify their insane ideologies and extremist positions to the rest of the world. That's exactly what they did.
Look - I'm not one of those people who thinks he knows politics inside and out. I do know one thing and that's that George W. Bush is wrong for me. He is wrong for everyone I know. He is wrong for this country.
If you are supporting Bush, you have been had.
If he's making you think that a vote for him is a vote for Jesus or your God, think again - unless your God is the same as Osama's. 'Cause it's a milder form of the same sickness, they way he's using God and country as his excuse for destruction.
The Christian bible that Bush alledgedly believes in so dearly is (to my understanding) absolutely anti-War. It's absolutely anti-arrogance. It's absolutely anti-Bush. I'm tired of psychotics using religions, which by and large are designed to administer comfort and peace, to justify mayhem, murder and terror.
If they believe in Hell, there will be a special place waiting for them there.
For me, it's not even about religion. It's about looking at something with focus and clarity. There's no way to clearly and with focus say that Bush has done a good job on ANY front. It's not about that. For him and Cheney it's basically about loss leaders and profit margins. Not what's right for you and your families.
Do you really feel comfortable with your hard-earned dollars being used to kill thousands of innocent children and civilians just to hit a handful of "insurgents" and "possible threats" in a country that we've illegally and (for all intents and purposes) unilaterally invaded? If you do, you will get what you deserve as well. If U.S. soldiers invaded my house, I'd want to fight back, too, and I respect America and what it's supposed to stand for.
Here are some stats from Congressman Charlie Rangel:
"When it comes to the nation's economy, the Republicans have failed us. Under Bush's watch, America has lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs, a record 45 million Americans have no health insurance and more than one in six American children live in poverty.
When it comes to the management of our armed forces, the Republicans have failed us worst of all. We have lost a thousand men and women in Iraq, almost 7,000 are wounded, and there is no plan to bring them home. According to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, we do not even know we are not creating more terrorists than we are killing.
Add to that the shameful environmental record, the erosion of civil liberties, and cuts of educational and even veterans' programs and you have a very strong incentive to fight for the defeat of President Bush in the November elections. "
And this is a kind worded way of saying it.
Please get out and vote. I know a lot of you think it's a waste of time. I know a lot of you find it an inconvenience. I know most non-Conservative liberal types are (in a word) lazy. That's why the country is where it is. The conservatives are almost on a religious (albeit blind) mission. They will be voting. It's time to fight back by ballot.
Hmmm...just ran across this too. Although I think Michael Moore goes too far sometimes, I agree with this statement absolutely whole heartedly.
"Put Away Your Hankies...a message from Michael Moore
Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying! Do I have to come there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans are laughing at us. Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!"
Hell no. It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.
They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them -- they just simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.
Look at us -- what a bunch of crybabies. Bush gets a bounce after his convention and you would have thought the Germans had run through Poland again. The Bushies are coming, the Bushies are coming! Yes, they caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat thing. Yes, they found the frequency in Dan Rather and ran with it. Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY IS FALLING!"
No, it is not. If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run -- and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.
Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president -- Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have. Oprah just gave 300 women a... Pontiac! Did you see any of them frowning and moaning and screaming, "Oh God, NOT a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were happy. The Pontiacs all had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal. You want more than that, well, I can't help you. I had a Pontiac once and it lasted a good year. And it was a VERY good year.
My friends, it is time for a reality check.
1. The polls are wrong. They are all over the map like diarrhea. On Friday, one poll had Bush 13 points ahead -- and another poll had them both tied. There are three reasons why the polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely voters." "Likely" means those who have consistently voted in the past few elections. So that cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and a ton of non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second, they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary phone. Again, that means they are not talking to young people. Finally, most of the polls are weighted with too many Republicans, as pollster John Zogby revealed last week. You are being snookered if you believe any of these polls.
2. Kerry has brought in the Clinton A-team. Instead of shunning Clinton (as Gore did), Kerry has decided to not make that mistake.
3. Traveling around the country, as I've been doing, I gotta tell ya, there is a hell of a lot of unrest out there. Much of it is not being captured by the mainstream press. But it is simmering and it is real. Do not let those well-produced Bush rallies of angry white people scare you. Turn off the TV! (Except Jon Stewart and Bill Moyers -- everything else is just a sugar-coated lie).
4. Conventional wisdom says if the election is decided on "9/11" (the fear of terrorism), Bush wins. But if it is decided on the job we are doing in Iraq, then Bush loses. And folks, that "job," you might have noticed, has descended into the third level of a hell we used to call Vietnam. There is no way out. It is a full blown mess of a quagmire and the body bags will sadly only mount higher. Regardless of what Kerry meant by his original war vote, he ain't the one who sent those kids to their deaths -- and Mr. and Mrs. Middle America knows it. Had Bush bothered to show up when he was in the "service" he might have somewhat of a clue as to how to recognize an immoral war that cannot be "won." All he has delivered to Iraq was that plasticized turkey last Thanksgiving. It is this failure of monumental proportions that is going to cook his goose come this November.
So, do not despair. All is not over. Far from it. The Bush people need you to believe that it is over. They need you to slump back into your easy chair and feel that sick pain in your gut as you contemplate another four years of George W. Bush. They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't windsurf and who was just as smart as we were when WE knew Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam planning 9/11. It's like Karl Rove is hypnotizing you -- "Kerry voted for the war...Kerry voted for the war...Kerrrrrryyy vooootted fooooor theeee warrrrrrrrrr..."
Yes...Yes...Yesssss....He did! HE DID! No sense in fighting now...what I need is sleep...sleeep...sleeeeeeppppp...
WAKE UP! The majority are with us! More than half of all Americans are pro-choice, want stronger environmental laws, are appalled that assault weapons are back on the street -- and 54% now believe the war is wrong. YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO CONVINCE THEM OF ANY OF THIS -- YOU JUST HAVE TO GIVE THEM A RAY OF HOPE AND A RIDE TO THE POLLS. CAN YOU DO THAT? WILL YOU DO THAT?
Just for me, please? Buck up. The country is almost back in our hands. Not another negative word until Nov. 3rd! Then you can bitch all you want about how you wish Kerry was still that long-haired kid who once had the courage to stand up for something. Personally, I think that kid is still inside him. Instead of the wailing and gnashing of your teeth, why not hold out a hand to him and help the inner soldier/protester come out and defeat the forces of evil we now so desperately face. Do we have any other choice?
So there you go - the longest diary entry ever. I had to do something to ignore the obviousness of 51 weeks.