Sunday December 25, 2005



"So this is Christmas and what have you done?"

Here's what I've done today. I went over to my sister's house where the worthwhile folk from my Kershaw County family got together. I was happy to see 'em all. My brother and his wife April celebrated their first married Christmas. My sister and her 3 kids, her husband Dwayne, my Mom, Vern, Grandma, Amanda and I all enjoyed the company, ate and racked up big time in the gifts. Of course, Robbie & Nichole have reached an age where they couldn't care less about the rest of us. As soon as they got their gifts, they took off and forgot about the rest of us. This was McKayla's first Christmas where she could really take it in. Last year, she was only 4 months old. This year, she seemed to have a blast. She was transfixed by an Eeyore that flapped its ears madly. She seemed to also like the puzzle bug that Amanda picked out for her. Me, I was happy with everything. But I was happiest to be there among my family. There was only one important person missing and he didn't exactly have a choice in the matter. Of course, my first stop today was by the cemetary (just like yesterday). I invited him on over. If he managed to make it, he was kind of hiding out in the background. Just like the old days...

After the gift-giving frenzy, we went back out to Grandma's. I actually wound up digging into some of last night's leftover pizza. It really hit the spot if truth be told. Everytime a car would drive by, Grandma expected it to be some of HER family. It never was. I wasn't surprised. They are, after all, completely self-centered and uncaring. How else could you truly explain it after all that Grandma's gone through this year? The funny thing some of them even consider themselves Christian. If and when they meet their God, I've got a feeling they're going to be surprised at all they have to answer for. Personally, I can't even think of them as having human souls at this point. No person could treat family that way. I've quoted it before and I'll quote it again. As Bruce Springsteen said, when someone "turns his back on his family, well he just ain't no good." Period. I still hope everyday that they'll come around and give her some peace of mind while they still can. I still hope they'll wise up before it's too late. She still believes they'll see the error of their ways and come around even though I know they won't. They're not thoughtful, caring or real enough to do that. But even if they do, I'm done with them. Thinking of them doing what they've done in 2005 actually makes me physically ill. I'm just glad that none of their blood runs through me. We share some traces but thank GOD they're not directly related. I would have to be even more embarrassed of them then. The only kindness I'll extend to them is to not name them by name here. Besides, if you know us, I'm sure you know EXACTLY who I'm talking about, right?

Despite them, we still had a good Christmas. All of us did. My only disappointment was that we didn't have any celebration at my Grandmother's. That's the first time that's happened in my entire life and I missed it greatly. 2003 was the first one without my Dad. Last year, Amanda couldn't make it. And this year it ended. I wonder if it'll ever come back? I guess it's fitting, though, that the last one with my Dad was more or less the last one ever.

After dark, Amanda and I took off back to her parents' house for a light meal with her family and Mr. Barron. He and his wife are more or less responsible for Amanda's family moving to Camden. And every year, they try and get together. The Barrons are getting on up there, though, and they've had a hard year, too. So only Walter made it out and his time was limited. I was just glad I made it back in time to see him for a few minutes.

When Amanda's father went off to bed, we watched an Olivia Newton-John DVD with her mom and sister. There was some weird stuff on there. Made me wish I had a copy of it... You'd think it would be pretty straightforward but I guess everything from the early 80s was out of control. When it got to the live country songs at the end, Amanda's mom got up and danced around like it was the 70s all over again. I was happy to see a happy family. What more could you ask for on Christmas? It's a nice change, you know?




Saturday December 24, 2005








So here I am back home in good ol' SC. This day wasn't what it used to be. Amanda and I used to have 6 or so celebrations to attend. Now we have exactly 2. It's kind of sad. So today, we ate lunch at LHOP just like a usual day. I ran into a high school friend while there. It's been years but it was still good to see her. Her name's Paula Jones. Her son has morphed from an baby to a giant since last I've seen him. When did that happen? And her parents seemed to be doing pretty well too. We spoke for a while and I got a CD to 'em. I hope they like it.

Then Amanda and I tried to go visit Grandma but she was still trying to shop (today of all days). So Amanda and I went out to the Buck Hill landing on Lake Wateree and practiced skipping stones for a while. It was nearly deserted out there and very peaceful. The weather was nice too. I don't remember a Christmas Eve this warm in...well...I don't remember.

We still beat Grandma back to her house so I did a little straightening up around the house for her before she got back. Then when she finally did, I wrapped up the gifts for her while she talked on the phone. I noticed that she didn't have much to eat for Christmas Eve supper and we knew we couldn't depend on any of the people who SHOULD be looking out for her on a night like this so we called Papa John's on the off chance that they would deliver tonight. Since no one takes anytime off anymore, they were open and delivering. So that's what Grandma had for Christmas Eve 2005. The person who supplied Christmas meals to anyone who wanted them for decades can't even get a single family member to make the effort to drop by on Christmas to even check in, much less look out for her and return the favor that she supplied to them for years on end. I guess each of them figures someone else will do it. And as long as I'm alive, they're right.

After the pizza delivery, Amanda and I had to take off to go to her parents' house. They always celebrate on Christmas Eve. Tonight was pretty close to the way it always is. And that's a good thing. After a great meal that her mom whipped up, we congregrated in the library and exchanged gifts. The big, unpleasant surprise was that Amanda managed to get stung by a Christmas wasp that flew up out of the fireplace like a demented, stinging Santa Claus.

The rest was all good.

'Twas a not so silent, peaceful night.




Friday December 23, 2005




Alright, everything's done and ready to go. There were still a couple of other things I would've liked to add but I guess that's the way it goes. It can't ever be everything now can it?

Around lunchtime, I went to meet up with Blue to pick up a video he shot of us at the first show with Mike. He requested to meet up at Best Buy so that's what we did. It took forever for us to catch each other as we were both in different areas of the same place. When I did finally catch up with him, I got a surprise. Our show was on the TV screens in the back of the store. It was almost disconcerting but it was kind of cool anyway. "Sometimes I'm Sam" was playing at Best Buy and we were on the screen. Very odd. Then we hung out for a little while. We went back to his truck and he even hooked me up with the final original lineup show from the 40 Watt. So now I've got everything he's shot for us. I watched some of 'em when I got home. It's definitely different watching instead of doing. Stuff I thought was the best was not and some of the stuff that I thought was only okay was really good. The coolest thing was that the first show with Mike (from The Ritz) was shot with soundboard audio. After all these soundboard bootlegs I've been listening to, it was especially interesting to hear us in the same environment. There's some pretty good stuff on that one. As soon as I get a chance to upload and recode it, some of it'll show up here. I'll pull a couple of tracks to finally go on our live audio page, then a couple of video clips and I might even "sweeten" some of the unreleased tracks to go on our Rarities page. I don't know. It's just a matter of time. And when I get back, I doubt I'm going to have much of it.

Well, I've got to hit the road to SC. So Merry Christmas to you if you were brought up like I was. Happy Holidays if you're overly sensitive about others. And happy whatever you celebrate or don't. I prefer the term "Chrismukkahwanza". See if you can figure out why. It does leave out the old pagan winter solstice celebration, though. Maybe it should be "Chrismukkahwanzastice"...



Thursday December 22, 2005


Nothing much interesting to say for the day...

I'm still, in fact, getting ready for Christmas and just tying up loose ends that look a lot like wrapping paper. I got all the rest of the stuff I want to share finished as well as a couple of bonuses from myself. It's really bumming me out that I have so little time to be home this time. That's what happens when Christmas falls on a weekend, though. The crazy thing is, if I had a week or so, I'd wind up going crazy to get back home and to work. It is, indeed, always something.

In the evening, I got a little work done. I wound up setting up one potentially lucrative deal for my photography. It's a series of shoots where I'd be the official guy. The cool thing is that it looks like part of the deal is to get the Critical Darlings on the bill(s).

We'll see I guess...

I also wound up watching a documentary on The Comedians Of Comedy tour. If I wasn't already both disturbed by and a fan of Patton Oswalt, I certainly would be now...



Wednesday December 21, 2005






Today I spent working on my last minute "stocking stuffer" and "personal touch" presents, ie, the ones you can't buy in stores (at least not in the forms I'm giving 'em). All day there were typical problems but by 10:30 pm, I had beaten all of today's challengers. Only a couple more to go...

Store boughten stuff is great but I still like the stuff you can't buy even better!

So today's the winter solstice, eh? It feels like it, too. But it's not too bad. At least I still got a nice jog in at the track last night. I've only been making it out once (or twice if I'm lucky) a week lately. I've got to get back in shape and stay there for the new and improved Critical Darlings Revue that I'm hoping to pull together for '06.

Tonight, Amanda and I wound up at the mall doing a little non-Christmas related shopping. Thankfully, we don't get stuck in traffic going to and from the mall as we live right behind it. Of course, if we want to go ANYWHERE else, we're trapped like everyone else.

Ah, the joys of "nativital insanity."




Tuesday December 20, 2005





Yep, I'm definitely feeling much better today. I had a long phone conversation with our main drumming candidate this afternoon. He sounds perfect. Really, he sounds so perfect that I have fears of it being too good to be true. I got his rehearsal CD's made and in the mail to him also. He should have them by Thursday. Then sometime next week, we're going to get together and jump right into a full-fledged rehearsal instead of a meetup / discuss / audition thing. If he can handle the gig, it's his. Why? I've just got a good feeling about it. Remember, I'd never heard a note from Tom Bavis before we decided to play together. Frank had never played bass before we began. I never heard Christine Reynolds or Tom O'Gorman from Q-Sign before we started either. I just seem to have a knack at feeling people out over the phone. Sure, with all that luck, I'm bound to mess up sooner or later but as long as my track record's better than worse, I'm going with what works. And again, I feel good about this. I'd love to be able to make an official announcement by Janaury 1 and have him ready to go by our Charlotte show on January 13. And again, what are the odds that our first show of chapter 2 would begin on the 13th? Remember, that show got booked when Tom was still firmly entrenched in the band. How could I have known?

All I know is I'm looking forward and ready to leap back in...

With all that we managed to pull off in '05, I can't wait to see what we'll do in '06. As soon as the new guy's in, we're even going to go in and record a song or two in the studio to see if the pieces all fit there as well...




Monday December 19, 2005




Today was tentative but things are starting back up. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I know that things are going to start cooking again as soon as '06 kicks in. I've been in the longest "downtime" that I've had in probably 5 years. It's odd. I needed the rest and sometime to replug but I've had enough. It's only led to a minor depression sinking in.

I went out to officially begin our search for a new drummer today. And guess what? Within an hour, I had someone in the running. By the end of the night, I had two. I have a really good feeling about one in particular. Obviously, I'm not going to jinx it by mentioning specifics too early. You'll hear as soon as the new guy's in the fold. But it is nice to feel like things are moving forward. And they will do just that.

I also got a mood boost from Atlanta's Stomp & Stammer today. They (and in particular their head honcho Jeff Clark) is notorious for tearing everything apart and being just this side of vicious in their comments and music reviews. Somehow, we got lucky. Jeff wrote something overtly positive about us and coming from him, that's huge. I was pleasantly shocked and quite happy about it. If you want to read it, click here. I added it to the PRESS page.

I tried to get Concert Shots updated today, too, but that didn't work as well. I'm still having some problems linking up to my site extensions with the new set up. I guess I'm just going to have to call and get tech support to talk me through it. I don't know what else I can do on my own.

In the evening, Amanda and I dropped into a party with her workmates. It was pleasant enough but it's always awkward with people you're just meeting. Plus, they're all grown ups. And they live like 'em. I may be a legal adult but I still don't get the whole "grown up" thing...

I wonder if they do. Or if they're just playing a role that they think they should be...

Of course, it doesn't matter as long as they're happy with their respective lots. And I hope they are.

Click here for last week with...well, nothing much...