Sunday October 23, 2005



Today was my official birthday celebration. And fittingly, it was at my Grandmother's. My Mom came out and cooked an amazing southern dinner (that's lunch to you Yankees) for us. By the time I got there, my neices Nichole and McKayla were there, along with my nephew Robbie, their mom (my sister in case you don't feel like figuring that out) Missy, my brother Benji and his wife April, Vern, Dwayne, the Bag-O-Nut (don't ask) and Richard Ammons & His Amazing Riding Mower. Including Amanda and me, that's makes 13 (hmmmm....). But only 12 came inside. Still, in that little house, that's a lot.

I was glad to see the neighbor out there cutting the grass again. It means a lot to all of us that he's looking out for her that way. Of course, if I'd've been doing it, I'd wonder why all these people can show up for a party but none could cut her grass. I wonder if he knows that a chunk of us live far, far away.

And with this group of people there, my one and only real home was home even more (huh?). Just like always, there was just one person missing that I wish was there. But I'm afraid I can't open that door yet!

I had a good time hanging out with McKayla, Robbie and Nichole. Nichole's 13 and trying her best to get behind the wheel of a car. She needs to stay away from it 'til it's her time. Let's just say she ain't equipped to handle that responsibility yet. Unfortunately, she's proven that over the last year. Robbie gathered pecans in the backyard (utilizing the now infamous Bag-O-Nut) and McKayla shared everything she found with anyone who would share. That kid has gotta be the happiest baby I've ever seen. And that happiness is infectious when you're around her.

For the most part, Grandma, Dwayne, Vern and Amanda just hung out in the background. But, what would my birthday celebration be without some melodrama? First off was THE FIRE. Yes, my Grandmother's kitchen had flames shooting from it as the grease fire ravaged a pan of chicken. (It wouldn't be a Southern meal without it I guess). And then, there was the broken car window not long afterward. Apparently, a rock flew up from Richard's mower and made a bee line directly toward Missy and Dwayne's front passenger side window, shattering it totally in the process. Obviously, Dwayne was very upset about it. But since homeowner's insurance should pay for something like that, we hoped everyone would keep their mouths shut (Richard never realized he did it) and not say anything since it was clearly an accident and if he was called on it, he may not call on Grandma's yard again. I mean, he shouldn't have to pay for a car window for doing the family repeated favors. Well, enough about that. Let's just say that eventually Dwayne pulled it together but Richard's wife found out anyway. God, I hope this doesn't chase off the good samaritan in Richard.

The dinner itself was fabulous. I'm not just saying this 'cause she's my Mom but her fried chicken is the best on the planet. I kid you not. The local Shoney's even uses some of her recipes on their "Country Buffet" (although not her chicken 'cause no one else can master it). Man, it's been a long time since I've had such a tasty meal. And then to follow it with cake and ice cream? How commonly decadent!

By now, Benji had to take off to get to work. I wish I could've seen him longer. I was home for 4 days and maybe had about 10 minutes with him. He does have his own variation of Concert Shots up now. Check it out. It's called Music Live Wire. If he follows it up, he can make something out of it. Well, if he can keep it up better than his blog anyway. But look who's talking, eh? I'm still missing 3 weeks in August right now (to come relatively soon).

Pretty soon we had to hit the road back to Georgia. So we bid our fond adieus to another SC trip. I think I'll always remember this one. Maybe it's because for four days, we had the best, most beautiful weather EVER. Maybe it's just the bittersweetness of another year gone and the nature of reunions. Maybe it's the fire and broken window. Or maybe it's the Bag-O-Nut.

You decide.





Saturday October 22, 2005

JKA Reunion 2005






Today was the reason we came back home this week. Amanda went to a private school in Camden called Joseph Kershaw Academy from the time she started school until her sophomore year in high school when it closed. Today was the first reunion of JKA. It was really strange 'cause almost no one from Amanda's era was there. I guess since they didn't graduate from there, they consider Camden High their school or something. So of the couple of hundred people here, she only knew a handful. The rest were (ahem) a LOT older than us. The school began in 1965 or so and let's just say that most of them were from the first decade. We were in the minority born in the latter half of the 20th century!

The reunion started at a park in Camden for lunch. We dropped by for a while but there wasn't much to see or do. When Amanda's Mom got there, I ditched her and her sister to go out to my Grandmother's. I brought her car keys back now that the doctor's given her the okay to drive but the car had sat dormant for so long that the battery was totally dead. Luckily, Mike and I were supposed to get together today. I asked if he had jumper cables, he did, he came over and voila! While the car charged, I talked to him about filling in on drums for our upcoming shows. It's going to be incredibly difficult for him but he says he'll make the effort if Tom's not willing to see out the obligations the three of us made together. I hope Tom will come through on these last few but I've just seen too much lately to believe he'll do the right thing. I guess we'll see. But then (again), "I've been right about too many things I'd rather be wrong about." And this won't be the first time Mike's rescued us. When Q-Sign's original drummer wound up leaving less than a week before the recording of the album was to start, Mike stepped in and saved us then. He later became Q-Sign's drummer. I wonder what's going to happen this time. We'll keep looking locally, though, because I'm not willing to do the long distance band again. That was just too much of a strain on everyone / everything.

After saving Grandma's car, I dashed back to pick up Amanda and her sister (who shall remain nameless and faceless in this diary from now on - at her request) for the official JKA reunion. Yep - the young 'uns were just as sparse here. It was slightly awkward but Amanda took the bull by the horns and represented the last students there well. She even helped lead the alma mater and several dances. Near the end of the night, she even managed to drag me out on the floor for the requisite "Brown Eyed Girl." I can't dance, though, so I was more of fledgling tree blowing in the breeze while she danced around me.

And then it was done. They say they're going to have another one in 5 years. If we go back, I hope they manage to squeeze more familiar faces in...




Friday October 21, 2005



Today Amanda and I had the unfun task of laying our beloved Pinchy to rest in her family's makeshift pet cemetary. We got him a glorious, fancy, middle-eastern looking "coffin." We had to have something befitting that good friend's majesty. We'll miss him. The Crabitat will never be the same. The original Destiny's Crab is together again...

Then it was off to my Grandmother's. Today I dragged her out of that house and took her on a tour of all the things she needed to get done. At least three of 'em involved medication. Then another trip to get the garbage out (it shouldn't take 2 days to do it, but it did). I even got her out to the cemetary today. She always says she wants to go. But I don't think she's actually gotten out there since that day. It was a strange sensation driving her out there. When I was very young and for years, she and I would go out there with her behind the wheel. We were going to visit my Grandfather. Now, father and son are side by side and while I always have those childhood memories every single time I drive through those gates, it's the still fresh ones that hurt. The childhood ones are bittersweet. I didn't quite understand then. Now I do and all too well. I still walk by the trees and bushes that I used to climb, play and hide in. Now there's no hiding. But she and I are there now just like we were then. If only for this once...

After that we had to swing by K-Mart to pick up more prescriptions. We ran into my brother there. He gave me the "day late" birthday greeting and we small talked while she got things taken care of.

In the evening, Amanda and I went to LHOP with my Grandmother. She wanted to take us out to dinner for my birthday. I can't speak for them but it was quite nice for me. Again, it was a revisiting of times past. When Amanda and I first started dating, Grandma would take us out pretty often. And it's been impossible to get her out and about for the last several years. I think she's appreciating being able to a bit more than she was before the August 4 accident. I hope she keeps pushing like this. If she does, she'll wind up better than she was before 8/4.

To cap the evening, we went over to visit our friends Shawn and Lori. We took their kids CD release posters, too, just in case they're as intrigued by the flying fish as I would've been at their ages. We watched some Ali G interviews from his TV show. I will say flat out that I'm NOT an Ali G fan but I loved his trip to the South (Savannah / Charleston) and some of the other stuff. This was much better than the full-length movie.

Of course, if Shawn likes this, it makes me think I've got to turn them on to some I'm From Hollywood or other Andy Kaufman stuff.

As usual, we stayed later than we meant but still, we were home by midnight. 'Twas a long day.



Thursday October 20, 2005

Happy Birthday to me...with champagne, music DVD's, toasty clothes, cash and a new musical gadget, oh my!


Well, it's my birthday again. According to my MySpace page, I have crossed into year 92. Personally, I think I'm holding up pretty well for my age. What do you think? Anyway - I got up this morning in my hometown of Camden, SC and did just what everyone longs to do first thing on their birthday. I went to the cemetary alone to "visit my Dad." In the over two years since I left him there, I have yet to spend a full day in town without going by there. I don't intend to let it change now (not willingly anyway).

Then I headed on over to my Grandmother's place. I spent a few hours there and eventually ran some errands for her that my brother didn't have time to get to yet.

In the late afternoon, I hooked up with Amanda's family who took me out to Sacura (I think that's how it's spelled) for a wonderful "Japanese" dinner. I put that in quotes 'cause they're not actually Japanese and even though I'm not sure what nationality those wonderful people are, the food falls into that category.

After loading up there, we all went back to Amanda's parents'. There I partook of cake, champagne and a few very, very special presents. 'Twas alright. It was weird that I hadn't heard from anyone in my family but it's alright. I did get a call from my Mom about 10:30 pm. She was on the road in Georgia (ironically?) with Nichole, Robbie and Vern. I got the well-wishing from each of them just in time for me to hit the sack.

There's still one voice missing. And I always will miss it...and I can't NOT think about it.



Wednesday October 19, 2005






I'm trying to set up a massive update. I want to change out a lot of the songs, update "the store", change some of the photo areas and generally juggle the stuff around. I've even got a video ready to post. And while the changes have begun in the background, it really feels like it'll be forever before they get where you can see 'em!

And today, I'm heading back home. So after a Picadinner, Amanda and I made the jog back to SC. We got in around 10. Her Dad was already in bed but we saw her sister and Mom for a few before our own crash...



Tuesday October 18, 2005





Not much news today. But I did get Concert Shots updated again. This update includes my favorite show of the year (so far), Duran Duran plus Stimulator, Carole King and Donna Summer. Check it out, peeps.

'Tis the anniversary of the very first concert I ever saw but I'll keep the event a secret known only to the ones that were there (that's you, Lori).



Monday October 17, 2005




Well, I got the updates from last Friday's show up today. There are also updates on the pics pages of The Band, Frank, Me and Tom. And speaking of Tom, the obvious has happened. He called me this morning to say that, yes, he's leaving the group. After our long talk yesterday, I had no interest in trying to say anything else. I hate it. I want him to stay in the group and I'm extremely disappointed. At the very least, I hope he has the decency to do our next show. It's only a couple of weeks away and it'll be next to impossible for us to get someone worked in that quickly.

I think what it boils down to is that Tom is listening to a committee instead of himself. He's weighing his own opinion in, sure, and we have had our share of problems lately but the truth of the matter is that I know he's listening to others over his own heart. That's his perogative and business but no matter how many people have advised him to leave, he's making a mistake. And he will know that someday. Probably sooner than later. But you see, that's a big part of the problem. He likes to go by committee, meetings and votes. Frank and I are more individual. We make our own decisions and we're not afraid to take major chances with our lives. We've both done it and had it pay off. I've never heard Tom tell a single story where he's done something like that. Tom needs constant reassurance, comfort and coddling. Neither Frank nor I are capable of providing what he needs. Still, I had hoped that he would see clearly. When we talked yesterday he admitted that this has become a "self-fulfilling prophecy" due to his own suspicions and fears. He also acknowledged that we agree on 90% of everything. He, in fact, brought that up. If he thinks he's ever going to find a better outlet for his own creativity, I believe he will be disappointed.

That being said, the door is still open for him to be our drummer until we name a permanent replacement. Then, it's over. We'll keep the name Critical Darlings until this album's sale cycle is over but expect the second record to bear a different band name. Creatively, "The Critical Darlings are dead." And to that I say, "Long live the Critical Darlings."

Frank and I have a brand new batch of songs and there may even be as many as 3 "new" faces in the picture. A bump in the road won't stop this car...even if we are airborne momentarily from going too fast. When we land, we'll right the vehicle and speed on down the road...maybe even faster...

When O'Gorman and I disbanded Q-Sign, I wrote a song called "Looking For Home." It's apropos again. So here are the lyrics...

"I'm staring down the future
With my hands tight on the wheel
Up ahead there's a curve and I can't see around it
But I think I'll be alright this time

I've got my history in the backseat
Sometimes it gives advice
I don't always listen and I don't always care
But at least I'm not alone for the ride anymore

And I feel like I can make it
And I know I'm moving on
And I finally feel at home

I've been through so much trouble
I've lived through so much stress
But I'll pass the time, and I'll pass this test
And my marks aren't perfect but I'm not finished yet


And I feel like I can make it
And I know I'm moving on
And I finally feel at home
Where I never thought I would -
“Looking for home” is the place that I belong
And that's where I am now

And I'm steady moving on
Crossing the bridge, chasing the sun
And living ahead of the curve

With so many miles behind me
And so many left to go
I'll face the next turn with some fear and regret
And a lot of excitement at what's up ahead

Repeat Chorus

And I'm steady moving on
Taking my time, setting the sun
And I'm not afraid anymore.

No, I'm not afraid anymore

I'm going to be alright."

And the band will be alright, too. Stay tuned...

Click here for last week with Stones, Rock and heads as hard as either...