Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Unrelated Information

1. Last night Mom, Frog, and I sang karaoke at Pipa's Asian Tapas Bar. If you haven't been to Pipa, you are really missing out. They've won the City Weekly "Best of Utah" award for best Asian fusion, and it is well deserved. From standards like BBQ pork and lettuce wraps, to exotic dishes with shark and eel, Pipa is hands-down the best 'chinese food' I have ever ingested. You're life is sorely lacking if you haven't experience the culinary masterstroke of their Snowball Shrimp. The new karaoke night, Thursdays from 7-10pm, is a lot of fun too. I tore up The Cars' "Just What I Needed," Mom nailed "I Will Survive," and Frog even stepped up to do an especially accurate rendition of Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places".

2. Tonight, Genre Zero is putting on a very special dinner show at Sun and Moon Cafe. What is it that is going to make this show special? We're going to break out all of our current material, and maybe even a few of the newer songs that we've been working out. Also between our two whole-band sets our bassist, the legendary Remodel Man, will be performing a solo acoustic set. Following that, I'll be dusting off a few of my most personal and poignant songs, before the band rejoins me to crank out our dazzling electric set.

3. Though I don't attend any more, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't stop by The Peoples' Market this Sunday, for their annual Animal Appreciation Day. This has been one of the most enjoyable days at the market in past years, featuring dogs and cats up for adoption, various animal advocacy groups, and the pets of vendors and customers alike. Perhaps if a certain someone has cooled off enough to no longer consider my mere presence an act of harassment (as the police advised it could be construed - hence my lack of participation in the market this summer), I might even stop by briefly, as I am looking to adopt a kitten...

Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

War Story Wednesday: It's Not so Simple...

For this week's installment of War Story Wednesday, I wanted to elaborate on my previous description of the small-mindedness and naked aggression often present in the military, and to offer a counterpoint to some of the responses I received. The feedback I received regarding the write-up from last week, while thankfully free of any hateful personal attacks against myself, was entirely one-sided and also overly simplified. I would hope that by offering my (few) readers a deeper insight into my own wartime experiences, and by extension the military culture and lifestyle in general, they might be inspired to engage their peers in an informed dialogue. This same hope was one reason why, during my street performances this summer, my guitar case displayed a sign reading: "Iraq War Veteran Musician - ON TOUR - tips greatly appreciated!" The other reasons for the sign were more selfish in nature, namely the possibility that pedestrians who might otherwise pass by would see the sign and instead stop to listen, and perhaps be more willing to leave tips. The sign worked: one listener, who I can only assume was a veteran himself, left me a $12 tip! However a rival busker, already upset that I had arrived early and taken "the best spot in town", saw the sign and seized on it as a point of contention. I had the suspicion that he was just trying to run me off, but he was a Vietnam-era veteran himself, and he hostilely questioned me as to what being a veteran had to do with music. I tried to explain to him that my identity as a veteran is just as important to me and as relevant as the identity of being a musician; many of my songs are specifically inspired by either my own service (such as my love-letter to the stateside base where I spent most of my enlistment), the inspirational service of others ("Folded Flag", an older recording of a song written when my friends were deploying yet again while I was left behind), or the aftermath (the previously mentioned tribute to Dan Lessig). He finally left in disgust, calling me "low" and "shameful". In the moment, shocked by my accuser's bitter recriminations, I forgot to tell him what I have said here - that I aspire to keep the cost of the recent wars in the public consciousness, to keep the dialogue going, and to help people better understand the veterans that they know.

What I am trying to get across with the story of the accosting busker is an illustration of the intent behind these long-winded, emotionally exhausting, and sometimes scathing posts. What I am not trying to do is merely glorify myself, show off, say "look how cool I am and look at all the bad-ass stuff that I did". Honestly, I didn't really do anything 'bad-ass'; I was a truck-driver, and not a very good one. When I told the story of preventing the beatings that my fellows desperately wanted to mete out to civilian detainees, I wasn't trying to put myself above anyone, nor was I fishing for compliments or sympathy. Rather I was trying to present my view of what happened, how I handled it, and how it continues to effect me.

Further, while I did not condone and certainly continue to oppose unnecessary violence, I do understand where the anger was coming from. My deployment was fairly representative, I think, of what the vast majority of our troops experienced during the majority of their deployments. That is, long periods of boredom punctuated by short periods of extremely grueling and physically demanding work, all under the shadow of seemingly unending mortar and rocket attacks and the looming unseen threat of roadside bombs. Of the entire reenforced battalion stationed at our forward base, only a handful of Marines ever even laid eyes on a known insurgent who was actively engaged in hostilities. Rather, mortars land inside the wire, the Quick Reaction Force rolls out to investigate...and find abandoned mortar tubes, if anything. Convoys and combat patrols range the freeways night and day, often without event, sometimes spotting IEDs which Explosive Ordnance Disposal comes out to defuse, and sometimes they miss those IEDs...usually with no enemy to retaliate against. Intelligence operatives spend weeks gathering information and cultivating informants, only for the raid mission to inadvertently search the wrong town.

So...I fully understand the anger and frustration, the ceaseless fear and stress, and the feeling that here they are, we have them...this is the enemy! We've finally got them in our grasp! Only most of the time, it is just not that simple...

Echo-Four-India, out

Monday, September 24, 2012

Do A Good Turn Daily

My preferred routine for writing this blog, typing it up earlier in the day following the first few cups of coffee,  was interrupted this morning by heading out to do a good deed. Frog and I had gotten word over the weekend that our close family friend was having car trouble - specifically, her sturdy grandma van wasn't starting. The problem had been ongoing, and even after getting a jump from our godly mutual friend, the battery would not hold a charge. 

She had planned to take the van to a mechanic, asking us only for a jump and a ride in to work. However, after looking the van over, we gauged that the most likely cause was simply a bad battery. We went ahead and gave her the ride to work, removed the old battery, and installed a new one. The Voyager roared its return to the realm of running automobiles, and I drove it over to the HUD apartment complex she manages. 

This lady is pretty selfless - working extra unpaid hours each week to go above and beyond in aid of the complex's mostly refugee population - and it was my pleasure to help her out this morning. I am an Eagle Scout, after all, and the 'scout slogan' is "do a good turn daily". Consider today covered!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Illogical Ideations

1. I believe in ghosts, but not in the way you might expect. I think that when we actively remember a person who has passed, the chemicals and electricity in our brains making up the thoughts and memories related to that person form the 'ghost'. When we are faced with a decision and contemplate how the deceased would have handled it, or draw upon an inspirational person who is no longer living, that is the ghost 'speaking' to us. I know, kind of strange, but I am a strange person I guess. One of the songs I do, Shut Your Mouth, is my abrasive tribute to a fallen classmate and fellow veteran whose death was mocked and used as fodder for gossip by many of our more immature and insensitive peers; I like to think that live performances of this song are a kind of seance.

2. I've been struggling lately to find a good balance between promoting my music and being a pushy, tiresome, overly zealous used car salesman. On the one hand, if I do nothing to 'push' the tunes on people, no one is going to hear them. On the other, I have had a fair amount of people on the dreary facebook get upset at me for inviting them to all of our shows, and especially for posting about the shows on their profile. Ashlee"Pay attention to my blog that's all about promiscuous sex and my eating disorder so I can feel better about myself"Raggle even called me an internet troll and un-friended me because I 'shared' a couple of our show pages on her facebook wall. It's my belief that as an artist I have a bit more leeway that the average huckster. That is what I consider my music - art. I do like to have a good time when playing, and I hope the audience does, but I go to great lengths to write meaningful lyrics, and I aspire to write interesting, creative, worthwhile music as well. For me it is about something very different than just shaking asses, impressing babes with swagger, and getting free drinks.

3. In the same vein at the previous item, I have often been accused (lately even more so) of taking myself, life, and generally everything too seriously. I am constantly being told to lighten up, take it easy, get a thicker skin, not to worry about things, to stop making a big deal out of it, et cetera, etc. There have been some situations that were supremely frustrating, because these were things that I felt really deserved to be 'taken seriously', yet my carefree companions kept to their lackadaisical disposition and continued to encouraged me to do the same. A prime example: several months back while on a weekend shooting trip, the guys were doing several things that violate the four basic weapons safety rules, and when I stopped them to give them some instruction, they kept interrupting me with funny anecdotes about shooting accidents...all while they continued to wave their guns around with fingers on the trigger (although I had made them unload prior to my safety lecture). Now I am not trying to lay judgement on those dudes, I certainly wasn't trying to ruin their fun, and one of them did eventually speak up on my behalf and helped to reign in the others. But it was my strong impression that when I insisted on shutting down the shooting to give them a safety talk, they were thinking something like "Oh god, here he goes again. I've handled guns a lot before, why can't he just lighten up?" But seriously - that is how people get accidentally shot! Oh well...I am probably just over thinking all of this and taking it all too seriously.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

War Story Wednesday: Still Catching Hell...

I was up at the VA Medical Center yesterday, and while waiting to see a doctor who was unfortunately unaware of my appointment, I struck up a conversation with a fellow Iraq veteran. For the most part, our chat followed the typical model for these kinds of casual introductions: what branch did you serve with (mine is of course the Marines, his the Army), what was your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS - mine being motor transport/LVS operator, he claimed 'recon'), where you deployed, etc. However, when he initiated the obligatory trading of war stories, I was painfully reminded of why I don't generally seek out my fellow veterans or have many veteran friends. What with his being infantry, and belonging to a scout platoon, he had much more exposure than I did to actual combat. Or, at least he claimed to - I'm not trying to call the man a liar, but, when I meet younger veterans from the Army they all claim to have been some kind of sniper, ranger, special forces, or otherwise deadly bad ass. Where are all of the Army truckers, cooks, and engineers? I know that the Army is big, but, they certainly aren't all snipers...

Anyway, in an attempt to find common ground, I truthfully stated that most of the 'action' I saw was in the form of raids - missions to seek out and capture potential enemies or disrupt suspected insurgent activity, based on either human intelligence (i.e. information proffered by informants), or less frequently as the result of hostile behavior observed first-hand by friendly forces. The Army vet happily volunteered that he had been a party to many raids, taking many prisoners, and was also quite happy to share the brutal manner in which he and his unit handled said detainees:

"Yeah, we'd lock 'em down, zip-tie and blindfold or bag 'em, kick the shit out of them - a little or a lot, you know it depends man; maybe get our translator to interrogate 'em some, if we thought they were lying we might kick 'em in the ribs or maybe just slap 'em around a little. Then we'd pile all their dirty asses in the back of a humvee..."
Now, I would have been mildly appalled by his description, except that I've been 'over there' and seen this go on myself, many times. One of my earliest missions was a late-night raid to an isolated homestead that was suspected of producing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Now, I'll admit that it was kind of cool and very exciting the way our vehicles swept down and surrounded the compound, an assault team breaching the door and tossing in flashbangs (stun grenades, for the uninitiated) before securing the main house. Word flew quickly that we had indeed found what we came for: a whole bomb-factory setup. However in reality the search had turned up no guns (save one pistol for which the owner produced a license) and no bombs, but, a substantial length of wiring. The 'wiring' uncovered in the search consisted of a spool of telephone cord and a box of cut and crumpled wires, loose wiring terminals, and phone jacks. I want to stress that this is not something that came to me after the fact as hearsay; the infantry platoon commander had me setting up my truck to transport detainees and so I was right there when the results of the search were relayed to him. I saw the single pistol; I saw the box of wires. I was right there when the interpreter questioned the compound's head Iraqi male, who stated that he and his family had been wiring their house for phone service.

Here is where it starts to get a little disturbing.

Deciding to err on the side of caution, all of the males except one old man were to be detained and taken back to our base to be questioned more thoroughly by our battalion intel shop and the Human Exploitation Team (HET), so those males not already zip-tied and blindfolded were prepped and loaded into my truck. Two of the infantry Marines were chosen to ride in the back with the detainees, the platoon commander explaining that there had been instances of prisoners escaping by jumping out of moving vehicles. The infantry Marines chosen were somewhat upset by their assignment, expressing their concern over the filth and stench of the Iraqis and worried that they might 'get pissed on'. Someone, I don't remember who exactly, assuaged their trepidation by encouraging them to deal with their discomfort by beating the detainees. Further, I was instructed by the two infantrymen to make it a rough ride. Having finished the loading, our vehicles assembled and drove back to Camp Korean Village. I am ashamed to say that I went along with the excitement of my assistant driver and gunner, hitting every pothole in the road, slamming on the brakes when the convoy slowed, and making abrupt jarring turns...while we guffawed like madmen and cracked jokes about the pathetic natives that were our cargo. When we arrived, the situation turned from unpleasant to downright awful.

The rest of the vehicles from the raid proceeded to the 'fuel farm' to top their tanks while I drove my truck over to the camp's small detention center. We were met by the detention NCOIC, a Staff Sergeant that I didn't know, who showed the guards who had ridden in back and myself how to get the detainees down from the truck bed; MTVR 7-tons are rather large and even without being handcuffed and blindfolded one can have difficulties dismounting. We unloaded the first detainee by having him sit on the edge of the bed while a Marine on either side supported his legs and back and lowered him to the ground. The Staff Sergeant then demonstrated proper detainee handling: with one hand on the zip-tie cuffs and another firmly on the arm, the detainee is sort of 'pushed' along, given a nudge to indicate any steps up or down. However, this Staff Sergeant took twisted pleasure in his job: he guided the first detainee to the detention center steps, but didn't nudge him in preparation, letting him fall on his face as he tripped over the step. He helped the detainee up, but at the next step, gave him a vicious knee to the back of his thigh, yelling "STEP UP!"directly in the man's ear. Upon reaching the detention building, the Staff Sergeant purposely tried to shove the detainee through the doorway off-center, ramming the man's left arm into the door frame. He did this repeatedly, each time screaming at the detainee "GO THROUGH THE DOOR, STUPID! GO THROUGH THE DOOR, STUPID! YOU'RE TOO FUCKING DUMB TO EVEN WALK THROUGH A DOOR!" The infantry Marines on guard detail found this highly amusing, each rendering their own variations of the Staff Sergeant's performance, further humiliating and battering the Iraqis - who each emerged from my truck with conspicuously fresh blood and bruises not present when I had loaded them in. When we had unloaded about half the detainees, the Staff Sergeant approached me with a maniacal grin, asking me enthusiastically "hey, you wanna take this one?" as we lowered him down out of the truck. I obliged, but I did it the right way: with a firm grasp to maintain dominance and discourage resistance, but without brutality. After I had escorted the Iraqi into his cell, the Staff Sergeant actually berated me for not being rougher with the "terrorist rag-head". I passive-aggressively refused to help after that, with the excuse that I badly needed to take a piss. When the unloading was finally, mercifully  over, the infantry Marines and my gunner left the assistant driver and myself to return the truck to the motor pool. As the assistant driver walked out in front of the truck, guiding me back to the staging area, I started to cry...until I sucked it up, pushing those thoughts waaaay down and out of my mind; better to bottle it up for later than let it overwhelm me in the present, when I still had the majority of my deployment to muddle through. It was then, as I wiped the tears away and choked down the sobs, that I started to acquire the hard resolve that results in the fabled "Thousand-Yard Stare".

Back to my conversation with the Army vet: I actually didn't relay the above story to him. I told him about a later raid wherein we drove through the night to search an entire small village, but upon arriving shortly after dawn, the Captain in command of the mission realized we were about fifty miles too far north and consequently at the wrong village. Figuring that we had lost the element of surprise, and that the time it would take to drive the fifty miles to the correct village would allow insurgents there to flee or otherwise cover up their activity, he decided to go ahead and search to village we were at anyway. It was an all-day affair, the women and children separated from the men, and the men questioned one at a time. While the infantry searched each building, and the intel boys interviewed each detainee in turn, us motor transport Marines were tasked with keeping vigil over the males awaiting their turn to be questioned. I told the Army vet (omitting the previous story above and how the barbarous handling of civilians had so impacted me) that my fellows had wanted to brutalize this set of detainees, but that what with it being the wrong village, I intervened and stopped them. To which he replied, with an incredulous look:

"Why the fuck did you do that? They're all the same over there, fucking scum. They all deserve a beating..."
 While he halfheartedly accepted my reasoning that the village was not our intended target and the search revealed no contraband, I could tell from his expression and the changed tone of our conversation that he had lost any respect for me. This isn't the first time I've ruined a fellow veteran's perception of myself with this story, but, at least this guy didn't call me a faggot or a pussy. So I can be thankful for that. 

Still, it discourages me from being involved with my veteran peers when I am still catching hell for behavior that they perceive at best as simply 'being soft', or at worst as 'aiding the enemy'. I want to make the distinction, though, that 'detainees' are NOT the same thing as 'prisoners'. A detainee is a civilian who is, for whatever reason, merely detained for some period of time so as to be questioned - comparable to the difference between one who is taken in for police questioning and one who is sentenced to prison. In both the raids I've described, no outright damning evidence was found to incriminate the Iraqis, nor were they captured whilst involved in an action against friendly forces. In the case of the earlier raid, with the telephone wiring, I found out later that further investigation confirmed their account of wiring the house for telephone service. In fact, most of the phone cables found in their compound were a type not really suitable for wiring artillery shells into IEDs. The second raid I described, on the wrong village, turned up no weapons, no explosives, and no practical intelligence. None of the males that were questioned were further detained - everyone was released at the end of the day as we left the village. Imagine how we would have turned that village against us if, in addition to disrupting their day, we had beaten and brutalized them? 

It is not "scared little bitches," as I've been formerly derided, that give the military a bad name - it is overly zealous, prejudice, indiscriminate meat-heads like the Army vet I spoke with yesterday. And one last idea along that point: it has been my experience that people who eagerly present themselves as "recon" or "S.F." or "sniper", who indulgently talk up how many they've killed, and like to use words like "bitch," "pussy," and "faggot" to describe everyone who doesn't fit their idea of 'manly'...they are probably lying. Everyone I've known that is legitimately some form of warrior elite is haunted by the lives they've taken, speaking about it only with great difficulty, with the purpose of illuminating the horror of war rather than glorifying their own person. 

But who knows, maybe that Army vet from yesterday isn't a liar...maybe he's just a sociopath?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Musical Madness

As they say in Utah, oh my heck! The show at Urban Lounge was easily our best yet, owing much to a greatly improved violin rig and a deft setup by the house's sound man. In case you were wondering, our fiddler used the pickup I got in Tucson and played through our drummer's amp, which was miked along with everything else and fed through the house PA. Other factors contributing to the high quality of the sound included miking the drums (the kick in particular), and the best monitor setup we've played through yet. Every member of the band had their own dedicated monitor wedge, and the engineer made specific mixes for each of us. For example: the drums and bass had mostly each other in their respective monitors, the makings of a tight rhythm section, while I had a little bit of everything and a lot of my own mic. I can't stress enough how great the sound was on stage; pretty much every other show I've played has found me straining to hear the band, and especially my place in it. In the past I haven't been able to hear my voice, resulting in my pushing it too far, hurting my throat and the audience's ears. Thank you so much, Urban Lounge, for your professional stage and sound!

We weren't the only ones who benefited from the exceptional audio. The bluesy band that followed us, Candy's River House, sounded just like the gun-slinging pros that they are. The Wild Ones, seeming to disregard the owner/soundman's concerns about recent noise complaints and excessive stage volume, blasted the crowd with a sonic assault more evocative of a festival or stadium than a nightclub. The next group was an amalgamation of recent transplant Ammon Waters, who was releasing a single, and The Red on Black, and they sounded great as well. Everyone involved had a good time, sounded great, and even got a little bit of pay.

While I am beginning my job search in earnest today, I am also going to continue working on my home recoding projects. Last week, on the eleventh anniversary of "9/11", I recorded and posted some of my songs relating to my military experience. There are several more, and I'd like to get them polished to a high sonic sheen, with hopes of releasing them this coming Veterans Day in November. Also in the works is a bumping, thumping, sardonic punk song to be performed with The Wild Ones' energetically bad-ass singer. Stay tuned for a demo!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

War Story Wednesday: Panic! at the Garden

What with yesterday being the eleventh anniversary of 'September 11th', it is taking a great deal of my willpower to resist flying off the handle and writing out a manic diatribe indicting all of the people who pay lip service to 'the troops' and tragedy to make it look like they care. So, instead, I will share an anecdote from my recent life that can perhaps give you some insight into why I get so incised and consumed with the desire to go on mouth-foaming rants.

Last week, at the monthly First Friday 'community gathering' (because wine-fueled hippie party doesn't have quite the same ring), some hooligans used the giant sunflowers surrounding the garden as cover to lob apples into the crowd. Maybe they were just some teenagers getting kicks but the community garden there has been the target of some criticism lately regarding said giant sunflowers obstructing sight lines, making the intersection unsafe for motorists, so I suspect perhaps these were aggressively shitty and spectacularly immature activist cowards. The first time that their projectile produce came down on the crowd, I thought perhaps ripe apples were merely falling naturally from a tree. When one hit me in the shoulder, with a clearly thrown-not-falling trajectory, I realized that there is no apple tree in the garden.

Now, I am all for shenanigans, tomfoolery, and semi-illegal, good, clean fun. But when I was the only one actually hit with a projectile, and no one else around me even noticed, I felt like a target under indirect fire. Now, as my fellow veterans of that certain hostile-takeover-but-its-not-about-the-oil can surely attest, indirect fire was a near-constant occurrence that became very unnerving over time. Sure, the further one gets into a deployment, the less they seek cover when mortars come flying into their base. But the constant harassing attacks, by an unseen enemy that you are unable to return fire on, cause a lot of frustration and feelings of helplessness. It was that frustration, and also the fact that everyone around me was oblivious to the incoming fruit bombs, that made me acutely feel my differences from 'normal' people.

I felt suddenly like the butt of a very cruel joke, that not only had I been assaulted via food, but that if I made others aware of what had happened, they would merely reprimand me for being uptight - which some asshole did when I informed the hostess what had happened. It is this kind of thing that I have to deal with all the time - not just the panic attacks, the subtle flashbacks, the difficulty in social interactions that stems from an acute knowledge of mortality and human frailty - no, it isn't just that, or the difficulties other people have relating to it. It is the constant stream of condescending claims that people do understand and care, the laughter that erupts when an unexpected BANG sends me sprawling onto the ground, and worst of all - that people see me react to being threatened and then somehow jump to the conclusion that I am dangerous.

If you really want to 'support the troops' how about taking down your yellow ribbon sticker, and instead, just be in your veterans' lives without trying to fix them. Thank you, that is all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are You Ready to Rock?

Our good friends The Wild Ones hooked us up with this show; in fact, they were originally going to have us headline, but circumstances changed and now we'll be opening. I'm not complaining - Urban Lounge is one of the hottest venues in town, and, our mostly middle-aged-working-stiff fanbase will be more likely to see us if we play earlier in the evening. Doors open at 9:00, we'll go on around 9:30. Not sure what the cover charge is, but I assume there is one. While I assume that we won't get a piece of it,  the more people who show up and pay early in the night will help us look good. The same talent buyers run Kilby Court, and we'll probably get more promotional backing for our upcoming show there if we make a good impression this Thursday. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Methuselahn Musings

So I've mentioned my affinity for Vampires before, from reading about them in the novels of Anne Rice to role playing them in Vampire: The Masquerade. What I have not revealed until now is that in my strange brain, the mythical immortal bloodsucker functions as a great analogy for how I perceive myself and my close friends in relation to all of the human masses. Sounding weird? It goes like this:
  • Vampires are forever mourning and trying to reclaim their lost humanity, to the point of becoming 'more human than human', loving more deeply and feeling loss more keenly than mere mortals. While I have not (yet) been accosted in a dark alley, drained of my vitae, and doomed to a life of eternal hunger and darkness...I have experienced a few major tragedies which have left me feeling, at times, distant from the happily well adjusted masses.
  • Preternatural senses are usually attributed to vampires, ranging from merely heightened human sight and hearing all the way up to near god-like omniscience via telepathy. I have often been accused of being hyper-sensitive, usually with a negative connotation, but I believe this to be one of my greatest strengths and the source of my artistic insight.
  • Another common ability of vampires across folklore and fiction is the ability to hypnotize or otherwise influence humans. This is a bit of a stretch, but I feel like I sometimes 'hypnotize' (or at least thoroughly confound) people with my music, or more simply when I turn on the charm.
  • Being powerful immortals, fueling their great power by literally sucking the life out of others, these are creatures possessed of great physical strength. While I am not going to win any weight-lifting contests, in moments of distress or anger I am able to summon up a level of strength far beyond what my small body would suggest. Just ask my friends: you are probably only going to snap me with a towel or engage in some other variation of 'grab-ass' with me once, because doing so will bring down my altogether frightening and surprising wrath.
  • Finally, vampires are usually depicting as being very well dressed, albeit in an old school way. While I am not clinging to the styles of old in an attempt to stay connected to a former existence in a bygone era, I do embrace the classics of style, and look with disdainful pity on those who get swept up in the passing trends.
Now, I want to be clear - I am not delusional, I don't desire to consume blood, nor do I (ultimately) believe that I am really all that different or better than anyone else. Rather, I believe that The Vampire is a relatable monster...a character with which I am able to consistently identify. At least the sexy, stylish, beautifully-tortured-soul kind, lamenting each kill while simultaneously acknowledging that nature is a far deadlier mistress.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Finally...Friday Unrelated Information

1. All of us big-time gaming nerds let out a string of collective "ooohs!" and "ahhhs!" a while back when this video of a life-size Warhammer 40,000 Rhino APC made the rounds. Created as a promotional item for the PC game Dawn of War II, this 'model' is actually a functional vehicle. Now, while seeing one of our tiny toys enlarged to human scale is plenty cool in itself, imagine how much cooler it would be to see this tank engage in a demolition derby with some similarly life-sized xenos vehicles. Well, that geek's wet dream may make the transition from our imaginations to the plane of physical reality sooner than expected. Madd Matt recently returned from Burning Man 2012 to report that this year saw a new theme camp added to the party on the Playa: Warhammer 40,000 Orks, replete with madly-engineered 'wartrukks' and 'warbuggies', green body paint, and trophy Ultramarine heads. While he wasn't able to get any photos, and we've yet to track any down online, I believe that Space Marines and Orks will be staging full-scale mock-battles in just a few short years. Keep your eyes on You-Tube!

2. I am now back home in SLC. Tuesday night, Genre Zero practiced for the first time in over two months, and while we a were all definitely rusty, it was a great relief that no one had outright forgotten songs. We've got several shows coming up, stay tuned for specifics. Also, I showed the band two new songs that I finished while on the road. I was able to record some partial demos with Mr. Bombs (who is thankfully out of the hospital and doing better than ever) which I plan to finish up over the weekend. I've rearranged the loft the create a cool home studio space. Check it out:
It's kind of set up in stations. From left to right: the "Leads & Overdubs" station at the desk has my first instrument ever, a crazy Yamaha keyboard with synth-style controls for custom sound-sculpting, the center is the "Control Station" with the mixer, monitors, and laptop, and on the right would be the "Main/Rhythm" area with digital piano. Okay, so I know it is silly to think that my little music area is cool and any kind of 'studio'...but it IS cool and it is the best studio I've got at the moment.

3. I know that this made the internet rounds a long, long time ago, but John Waters is still right.