Sunday, November 29, 2009

COUNTERDICTION

"Don't counterdict me, Rob." my Dad used to say.

Of course, he meant contradict. Just like he used to use "irregardless" which was exactly the opposite of what he thought it meant. All the same, I knew what he meant, and disregarded the faux pas.

But in a very many ways, I do "counterdict" myself. I come from two different directions in so many ways, on a mental and physical level. If it wasn't me I was talking about, I would find it much more amusing.

Let's do this in an "outline-ish" type way, since I'm one of those Rob Gordon "High Fidelity" list types, anyway.

Here are my contradictory ways.

1. RESEARCH, (or info-digging): Many have pointed this one out. My mind is a steel trap, at least when it comes to certain areas. I can remember names, years, sports stats, albums, movies, actors, directors, producers, etc. They call me the "Encyclopedia of who gives a shit". It's all tedium and minutiae, really. I can find shit. Almost anything, even without the benefit of the internet and plastic. Movies, books, albums, any kind of product someone's looking for, give me a couple weeks and I can track it down. I'm a regular fuckin' Columbo.

Then why can't I see my car keys when they're right in front of my face? Why can't I locate the pants I just took off 15 minutes ago, and where are my goddamn socks?

2. NEGOTIATION: When tempers arise at work, I am more than privy to the art of keeping calm while having someone scream in my face. I'm not saying I like it, that's fuckin' sick. I can just keep my cool. I can lay back when someone is being an asshole to me. I can step between two people fighting and bring about some sort of an agreement.

Then why do I get into a screaming match with my son about whether or not we should go to Taco Bell? Why can't I keep from arguing with my dog when she won't come to the door? It gets nasty, people. I love her furry ass, but it's 2:00 AM, cold as hell, and I'm in sweat pants. Get your canine ass in here!

3. AGILITY: I am fully capable of pulling off a pratfall that would make Chevy Chase jealous without hurting myself. I can make a diving catch of a frisbee seven feet off the ground on a brilliant football style down-and-out pattern. In martial arts training I have had an instructor use my roundhouse kick as an example of perfect form, and hold my foot up at my classmates cheek for damn near a minute. My teacher also used me as a demo for a tricky spin kick called a "hurricane", which if practiced too frequently will result in nausea-induced vomiting.

Then why can't I walk down the hallway without steamrolling the cat and scraping the side of my face on the textured drywall? And how do I manage to slamdance with the cupboards when rushing through my kitchen to show my son the frog that has planted itself of on the exterior glass of the patio door? Seriously, people I slid through the kitchen like Pete Rose heading for home and removed a cupboard door with my shoulder in the process. Do you call that graceful? Contradictory.

4. CHIVALRY: I have been known back in the day to give up my bus seat to elderly women on the bus on the way home from school. I often open the doors for strangers at restaurants, and pick up items women have dropped while in the checkout counter of the grocery store.

Then why can't I offer my sweatshirt when someone's cold? Why can't I help people off the sidewalk when they've fallen without laughing first? And why the hell can't I remember to rinse the syrup off my plates before putting them in the sink resulting in them turning into sweet Maple concrete?

5. MEMORY: I can tell you where David Whitehurst, the non-legendary backup quarterback of the Green Bay Packers in the 70's went to college (Furman). I can tell you what legendary band Robin Trower was in before he went solo (Procol Harum). I can tell you who directed the original "Piranha" (Joe Dante).

Then why can't I remember my Mother's birthday? Why can't I remember to take the trash out before I'm halfway to work? And why the hell can't I recall where I left my wallet?


These are just a few of the big questions I have to ask myself day in and day out. But instead of trying to solve these things, there are bigger unanswered riddles that plague my mind during the doldrums of the day....

1. Did "the Dukes of Hazzard" have jobs?
2. Whatever happened to Corey Hart? (Not the Brewers right fielder)
3. Did Gerald Ford find it as funny as I did when he fell down the steps after getting off of Air Force One in Austria?
4. When is America going to see the genius of the Knack?
5. Does Mick Jagger know he's hideous?
6. Does my wife think I'm as big a geek as I think I am?
7. Will my son surpass Todd MacFarlane as the greatest comic book illustrator of all time?
8. Well I ever get out of printing?
9. When will "Manhunter" be recognized as superior to "Gone With the Wind"?
10. Where are my socks?

Now you know what I'm dealing with.
Please Help Me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

SARCASTIC THANKSGIVING

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to thank the following:

1. John Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and Edward Teller for turning my childhood into a paranoid nightmare.

2. The handful of girls in high school that made me feel like "Igor". Picture me hunched over, shuffling away, uttering "I mean you NO HAAAARRMMM!!" Thanks for the self-confidence boost. Cheers.

3. THE CHASM OF DESPAIR, for sucking out my soul on a daily basis and running it through a wood-chipper.

4. Bullies. Eat shit.

5. The indifference of good men. Without which so many awful crimes would be stopped.

6. The local book store. Thanks for not carrying anything worthwhile and taking 6 months to get in a mass-market paperback. You rock.

7. William Friedkin and Wes Craven, for making every corner have a vivisectionist rapist or possessing demon behind it.

8. The 1982 Brewers for breaking my heart.

9. The music industry for not having a frickin' clue.

10. Farm equipment driven on highways. That's pretty awesome.

HAPPY TURKEY DAY EVERYONE!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TED NUGENT : All American or Sanctimonious asshole

I recently read Ted Nugent's manifesto, "Ted, White, and Blue" and I came away doing one thing.

Shaking my head.

First of all, yes, he's a ferocious guitar player, and his style and work is exemplary. A true pathlayer. Ask anyone from Henry Rollins to Slash, they'll back that up. He's a peerless live performer. Having seen him several times, he's flat out amazing. Obvious from his political activism, and articulate nature, he's highly intelligent. Overbearing and obnoxious, but highly intelligent. There's no question that Nugent has a good set of core family values, he is family-oriented, through and through. At least, nowadays.

Shit, I grew up listening to "Uncle Ted". His first 5 or 6 albums are heavy metal royalty pieces. The people he surrounded himself with, Derek St. Holmes, Rob Grange, Dave Kiswiney, Charlie Huhn, all fantastic vocalists, bass players, et al. His first album should be dropped in ANY time capsule.


But, Ted has the most narrow world view of any outspoken, well-known celebrity I have ever seen. He has created a small box that I call the "Nuge Cube", which he seems to want to jam everyone into, and if you don't fit in that cube's living criteria, you're worthless. There's no gray area with Ted. He's among the most black and white people I've ever read. He takes nothing into consideration. Not everyone is raised in a nurturing, healthy, supportive family environment. Not everyone recovers from financial mistakes. He refuses to take mental illness or societal pressures seriously as affects on a persons life. These are REASONS, people, not excuses for being waylayed by life.

Great, Nuge, you had a paper route at 14. What do you recommend as work for someone that age in South Central L.A.? Particularly for one whose parents are on crack? Ted, you lean on hunting a lot as the answer for life's ills. Maybe that kid should get up off his lazy ass, steal a bow, and take a whitetail over in Compton?

Please.

First of all, not everyone's interested in hunting. I agree it's a necessity for the health of the herd, and should be managed by good stewardship of the DNR. But, I find it one thing to hunt an animal and feed your family with the meat, another to treat the dead creature like a volleyball trophy. You'll forgive me if I don't want to dance in the presence of death.

He bashes "fat" people. His scrawny 120 pound ass has probably never seen cellulite on it. Again, a person that knows not of what he speaks. He just groups the overweight into the same group as people who just sit around doing nothing all day, chomping chips, playing video games, and urinating in gallon jugs. Again, with the "Nuge Cube". I've seen him and his wife do this on television. Come on, man, you cannot be that shortsighted. I shouldn't find it funny that a person who spent the better part of the 70's sticking his weiner into anything with a skirt doesn't have a little better angle on what is right and wrong appearance-wise publicly.

A man who legally adopted a 17 year old girl, frighteningly with the permission of her parents, so he could have marry her probably is not a good example of having the right angle on how to view the opposite sex, especially.  He's even admitted sex addiction,....with a grin.

Doesn't our country have a bad enough self-image as it is? Our mass-media fed idea of what is "beautiful" is ruining kids as we speak, and you go on tv and bash "fat kids"? Weak sauce, man, people look up to you. I once did.

We are owners of a gun problem. In my eyes, black market mass distribution of weapons is the issue, not your average gun-owner with a .30-.06 or a .22. I'm with you there. But going on tv howling the praises of assault weapons as your friend is not helping the causes of either side. Less is better on the AK-47s, Mr. Nugent.

And to say that hip-hop isn't a viable form of music? They said the same thing about the blues, the same thing about Rock and Roll, the same thing about punk. All of those genres are thriving. That close-mindedness does nothing for anybody.

I consider myself neither a liberal or conservative. I do agree with a lot of the ideas Nugent has in his book, for every thing I side with him on, there's two that make me want to smash something.

I find myself changing ideas as I grow older. The 30's were an awakening. I've grown sympathetic towards people and groups I was hardened to for a long time. I feel if we're going to survive together, we have to accept each other first. Not tolerate, accept. This manifesto is not a guide to either.

It's a public vomitorium of my way or the highway. That isn't democratic at all.

I used to look up to Ted Nugent. His records just don't sound the same anymore.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

BULLIES & THE REVENGE FANTASY (Part 1)



I was bullied a lot as a kid, man. No doubt about it. This was a result, most likely, of a lack of confidence in my ability to defend myself, and the lack of anyone at home that wanted to show me how. There was really no one there that was practical to turn to for advice on that topic at the time. No one's fault, just the way it was.

I really had no tangible reason why I was bullied. other than the fact that I was a chunky kid with a floppy head of hair. Apparently, despite my sense of humor and generosity, that was more than enough of reason to taunt me. Some kids can be inherently bastards. They tried to intimidate me with comments, and try to get it to lead to violence, which usually began with shoving, and the classic non-sequitir, "Bring it on, Man, right now!!" . I usually just tried to talk my way out of it, which usually worked. It did not, however, take away the sting of humiliation as I walked away with a broken sense of honor. Tail firmly planted between my legs.

In the late 70's I caught a late night telecast of the movie, "Billy Jack". This film was mostly an awful liberal-minded movie about Indian kids in a special school getting intimidated by local wealth-merchants, authority figures, and mean-spirited kids. The title character (a green beret half-breed played by Milwaukee native Tom Laughlin) acted as their protector and one afternoon in the town square deals out some martial arts justice to a powermonger and his henchmen until the sheer power of numbers becomes too much.

However, the scene lit a bit of a fire in me. Hit me like a bolt out of the blue.

I went to bed that night fantasizing, what if I could dole out those kicks and punches, volley aggressive action from others into armtwists and hence, force them to apologize. It was fun to think about and made me feel a little bit better. Sadly, I would awaken the following Monday just to trudge back to the same school and hooligans who would deal out the verbal abuse that I was too afraid to respond to, due to plain black, cancerous fear. My mind would go back to those imaginary ass-kickings, and at least draw a crooked smile. Eventually.

I think that it was in 1980 that I discovered Bruce Lee and the movie, "Fists of Fury" (known as "The Big Boss" in his homeland) and I was awestruck. The quickness, power, and grace that Lee displayed was so much more fluid and powerful than the seemingly pedestrian supporting cast members abilities. Lee quickly became a hero of mine, largely because in "Boss" as well as in his other films, he stuck up for the little guy, the put-upon, the helpless. I could respect that.

My efforts to get my parents to enroll me in martial arts classes fell on deaf ears. It seemed that they really didn't realize the potential for violence I was dealing with, despite the knives at school, the right crosses to the cheeks I had taken, and the violent tosses to the ground resulting in abrasions and stiff and aching muscles. The pudding contained no proof.

In Junior High I had to ride the public transit system to school every day, because the school district was apparently too cheap to pay the school bus transit companies to do their fucking jobs. So the students from my school would be intermingled with civilians. One morning I offered my seat to an elderly lady, and thusly ended up standing for the ride to school. I was feeling pretty good about myself for my selfless gesture, until the bus hit a pothole the size of the sea of tranquility and i was jostled forward and slightly bumped into another kid. I quickly chuckled, and uttered, "Sorry about that.", to which he replied, "I'm gonna find you and kick your fuckin' ass after school."

Now hold on a minute. What kind of psychopath finds a reason for a fight in a slight bump on the bus? I didn't elbow him in the balls. I didn't make a pass at him. What's going through the dude's head? For the next couple of weeks whenever this cat would see me around the neighborhood, he'd start following me around, usually with one of his half-brained apish "goons" and try to start fights which I would generally somehow avoid. This kid had a vendetta. A low rent Luca Brasi. He was the only 13 year old person in the world with a death warrant on someone's head for bumping into them accidentally on a motherfuckin' bus. Unreal.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

STOPPED UP

Writer's block, it's called.

Constipation of the brain. A creative bottleneck.

I sit here, wanting to write more than I have in a while, the white screen of my blog set-up glowing back at me mockingly, with absolutely nothing to say. Now, if you wanted to talk to me, even in my depressed state of the moment, I could probably yap till my mouth fell off.

I want to write.

I don't want to toss off any more of that "Whinin' Naff" poetry for a while, because it's boring the only person listening, and that's me. I haven't even had a movie inspire me to write a piece since "Redbelt", and haven't felt kooky enough to dredge one up from the midnight childhood eyeball rub-a-thons for my "Movies I Stayed Up Late For". The book I'm reading is epic, and it's gonna take weeks to finish. No embellishing on that, the one I just finished, "Crooked Little Vein", is so sick I can only discuss it in select company.

Haven't bought any new CDs in some time. My day-to-day life has been riddled with the above mentioned poetry fodder, so I'm not going there any more for a while, it makes it worse.

I want to write.

Is it something as horrible as having nothing to say? God, I don't think I could handle that right now, but it seems to be the case....

So I guess the only thing I have to say is "I have nothing to say."

Hey, I just said something.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I STOPPED MEANING IT

I brought along my iron-on smile,
My fresh-out-of-the-box plastic greetings
are nothing but lies

they have hollow, thoughtless meanings,
hello as good as goodbye

I brought my tatooed innuendo
I'm a lost and wounded soldier
a former cryed-on shoulder

my conscience, broken against the rocks
I've forgotten you before I've turned
My sentiment crashed and burned

This is what I've become
Wrap around hugs of prescription drugs
Waves and Nods, followed by shrugs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oblivious and arrogant




He's gotten that raise
and he's fallen in love for the 50th time
things can't get better in his life

across town, a man is beating his wife
somewhere a serial killer's sharpening his knife

He raises a glass to the night

It's outside the window, trying to claw it's way in
It's on the other side of his tv screen
It's waiting on the exit he's never taken

Together for Thanksgiving dinner
he picked the fifth horse, a winner
he can't lose, everything's right

A terrorist's finger is on the button
and his best friends head is in the oven

He raises a glass to the night

the pink slip he handed away won't be dealt with again
and neither will his wife's unseen sin
it's waiting at the exit he's never taken

seeing things his way
things handed on a silver tray
he's raising a glass to the night

looking out a window
he's seeing a fire
not hearing that blind bum's painful desire

He says "salud" and turns to his wife
kisses her neck as he turns out the light
and raises a glass to the night

his quarterly earnings are in
and she's not thinking of him
this shit's the farthest thing from right

WHEN I WAS 15 I WAS SURE...............by Rob Will

1. Ronald Reagan was gonna remain president and keep us safe from the commies and aggressors forever.

2. Huey Lewis was the next Elvis Presley.

3 I would marry Joan Jett and father many children with her.

4. The Green Bay Packers would win many championships.

5. I was going to do something worth large quantities of respect and adulation.

6. Punk scared me, but I was oddly drawn to it.....

7. Girls would sooner shoot me in the face with a high caliber weapon than look at me.

8. John Mellencamp would continue to make great music for decades.

9. Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, and Eddie Murphy were the trifecta of greatness.

10. Grape Flav-or-Aid would be around forever.


Ah, youth.....

VINYL POOPY PANTS (I warned you) LET THERE BE ROCK



WINTER 1981

I wasn't living in a cave. "You Shook me All Night Long" was all over the radio. Excruciatingly. Oddly enough, not as much as it is now. Speaking of which, how is it when a band, AC/DC for example, can have a 30 year plus career, release nigh on 20 LPs yet the corporate radio bastards can only select from, say, 6 songs to program?

I'm digressing again, my apologies.

At this point in my life, however, "Back in Black" was the only AC/DC LP I had been exposed to. That all changed in the upcoming summer.

Staying at my sister and brother-in-law's place I was told not only did the Aussie band have prior LPs, but with a different lead singer. Shit, sir, surely you jest.'

Nah.

Rob Will, I introduce you to "Let There Be Rock". Consider me befuddled. This was the time period between my dabbling in classic rock, and my self-guided immersion into the emotional kick-in-the-nuts known as punk. Let's call this my musical growth "Half way point". As close as it gets, anyway.

First of all, that cover. What the hell is with that sky? It looks like a looming apocalyptic thunderstorm is approaching, yet heaven's ray's are emanating down onto a young and scruffy looking Angus Young. The rest of the band is darkly, and yes, even creepily half lit. The arms reaching from the audience onto the stage are greenish/blue like the crayola crayon of the same name.

The title of the record is in a font similar to what you'd think would be etched in the stone of biblical times' laws. And of course, this was the introduction of the signature AC/DC red/yellow sharp-edged logo. One of my all time fave LP covers, as you can see above, I've framed.

Martha Stewart, kiss my nuts.

The tracks.....right. Having heard only "Back" thus far, Bonny's voice was from Mars. That took some getting used to. A mid-tempo song from AC/DC? "Overdose"? Brilliant. The one that really got me was the title track. 1976 and the bastards were almost leaning into thrash metal territory.

I don't have to mention the standbys, you all know they're there. "Rosie", "Problem Child", and "Rocker". But for my money "Hell ain't a Bad Place to Be" (Satan-fearers, believe what you want, but it's a love song of sorts) is the kicker here.

I rediscovered this one on cassette in Waco, Texas, circa 1986 and wondered how I had lived without it all that time, and never made that mistake again.

Yeah, it's framed up on my bedroom wall. But they got these things called CDs now.

GREAT STUFF: Clu Gulager



"Return of the Living Dead" was a movie in my early to mid-teens that I was afraid to watch. The commercials and trailers never really gave it the "horror-comedy" vibe that the film actually carried with it. Shame that. Mind you, make no mistake, the movie has scary moments, and gory as hell, but some very great laughs, albeit some are of the uncomfortable vibe.

But, as I always do, I digress.

I have a habit, which movie geeks do, (which I am not, I consider myself and, um.....informed fan) of frequently following movie commentaries, especially of my favorite movies and film-makers. Bruce Campbell/Sam Raimi doing "Evil Dead II" is hilarious and informative. John Carpenter and Kurt Russell's commentaries of any of their collaborations are really good stuff. Especially "The Thing".

When listening to the com of Dan O'Bannon for his "Return", he frequently endorses the performance of Clu Gulager, the male lead in the film, for his professionalism, performance, and despite his veteran status of the "old school", his ability to "get" the tone of the film after not doing so initially. Then he made the bombshell statement that Gulager during filming, punched O'Bannon in the face. He said it almost like a description of someone throwing a balled up piece of paper at another. It was so matter-of-fact, I found myself chuckling alone in the dark, empty living room.

Gulager was a successful "method" actor dating back to the late 50's doing both frequent movie and television work and finding plenty of that. He's one of those actors you recognize immediately and feel like a strange sort of what I call the "familiarity comfort" when seeing him. It's the same vibe I get from seeing Rory Calhoun, Christopher George, and Cliff Robertson.

By the mid 80's his career had come full circle and here we was starring in a low budget zombie movie, in a brief era when those weren't being made. God love him.

Even in his 80's, he's still popping up, most memorably in his son John's horror film, "Feast", playing a full-on, ear-ringed, bar-tending bad-ass. That's just plain awesome.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

FAIL YOU'RE IN (or FAILURE INN)

I promise you a story
about faded glories....

Neon crosses
Dirty water from cheap faucets
stained and wrinkled sheets
broken from underuse heat

People once liked to visit and stay
before my decline chased them away

this is what I've become
a mess, but not quite undone

Used to be somebody
drew laughter and smiles
had the effect of honey
now just drawing flies

There were those who looked up to me
they're now looking down at me
I put poison in the attics
Now I know what the rats see
I put poison in the addicts
Now I know what the rat sees

I promised you a story....
You know I'm good for it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

IGNITION

The goddamn alarm.

The thing is a bitch. I've been waking up to it for over 30 years, and how I haven't taken my "Easton Assassin" to it is beyond me. Even as my muscles would tense to the point of snapping, with every downward swing of the aluminum spirit crusher, I could just imagine the psychic relaxation. The easing. Is that a word on a metaphysical level?

If not it should be.

That just starts it. That brief fantasy, (if you could call it that) fades with whatever horrible nightmare I may have had. What happened to good dreams? Even the dirty ones? They left me about 10 years ago, I think. Now it's twisted Chris Mars meets Glenn Fabry imagery of hellish fates and incomplete reaches for heaven.

Shake em off, bro. Gotta get up.

I stand in the shower without moving. Sometimes I cry. Oddly with the water pouring down my face, this is the only place I could get away with crying without people knowing. Generally, you shower alone, so the potential disguise is wasted.

I don't even look in the mirror anymore.
I tie my hair back really hard in an effort to feel something. Pain, perhaps? The fading youth that comes with the length?

Duke makes me smile. He sniffs at my hand as I leave the bathroom and head to the kitchen to gather a bag full of caffeine. He sits before me, soft eyes studying mine with his unconditional love.

I usually rub his head and tell him goodbye. He leaps into the recliner to watch me out the window. It's a futile exercise as the sun will not be up for some time.

The stereo will be loud. It has to be, because the closer I will get to the chasm, the more it's balm will be needed. The news makes me angry, so I pass a few minutes on the windshield. Late fall brings pasty frost on the glass, the kind that requires a scraper, the kind that makes horrid screeching noises as it's peeled off the glass.

Once I'm in the car, the news is flicked off for something else. Anything else. Despite the hatred for where I'm headed, anger is not what I want. I reach for my cd book and leaf through. For a time, it's not a disc binder, but a history book. My past flapping by me as I search for a chapter of my life, a snippet of my being encapsulated in a digital collection of 1's and 0's.

"Suicaine Gratifaction" it is. Paul Westerberg's album has been the morning ride for better than a month now. It doesn't anger me, or incite rage as punk and thrash do, it just identifies with me. I still have to clench my teeth at times. Knuckle the hard vinyl of the steering wheel with fierce and negative anticipation of where I'm headed. The music will eventually settle me enough.

Enough to put the key in and turn it.

God, not again.

MY OWN WALL

I feel as if it's there
to mock me, but it's just concrete
Or is it there to reflect me?

If it was only made of glass
It'd be a lot easier to smash

Knuckles bled, cracking bones
My heart pumping out of control
If I'd known why it would be there

I could have stopped it from being built

I've been known to argue
with myself,
about the things I love
I've been known to argue
with the things I love

Why can't a sentence
Why can't a scream
Why can't a thought
Tell someone what I mean?

Because I don't know

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

THE BAR AND THE TRINKETS

We all deal with pain in our own way.
Grief is a bastard, and we usually react instantaneously, grasping as one waist deep in the quicksand for that thing that most easily and quickly, (even if temporarily) has the answer.

Dad died. No secret there, fearless readers, and we as a family, as a collective unit, stumbled along in our own ways. People, drained of color, wandering in circles like elderly people mall-walking, or one of the zombies in a George Romero movie.

There were different answers for everyone, at least varieties of answers. My elder siblings found solace in their own ways, my mother as well.

In that situation you have to, absolutely have to, do what you can. We had crutches. All of us. We fought as a family. Sometimes we swung those crutches at each other, but sometimes we loaned them to each other to prop ourselves up.

I think we did it. We emerged from that three year period of bleakness, emaciated, bloody, angry, but still deeply loving of each other.

I spent a lot of time alone there. A kid on the weekends, often left to his own devices learns to talk to himself, which eventually I did well. I wandered the back yard, rehearsing speeches never to be heard, singing songs never to be written. I constantly reorganized my baseball cards, carrying my favorites wrapped in a rubber band in my back pocket.

Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, and Jim Aparo created the four-color heroes that emerged from my 35 cent comic books, that always had a new angle every time I read them. Make no mistake, these things lost much of their sheen after Dad died, but they still held the power to spark my mind.

Still do.

We deal.

For a time, I thought "The Bar" was a giant beast that swallowed my loved ones whole and belched out stumbling, bumbling, mush-mouthed versions of themselves, that for the first time would have the power to grieve out loud. By morning, they were themselves again, and the outward angst was gone. That slow-steam building anger at the world for removing one of our own, temporarily silenced.

A few years later I discovered the gains to be had in alcohol, and whole-heartedly engaged in them myself. The forgetting it created, which eventually led to catharsis. It was purging, artifical, but purging nonetheless. There's nothing for anyone to be ashamed of. I even convinced myself of that.

Anyone.

I can never blame any one person for using what was there for band-aiding the cuts that never seemed to stop bleeding. But in a 3 year period, my family had been tied together with a barbed-wire twine, dropped into a hole with a high-powered explosive, and left to wait for it to detonate.

Which it did.

We're still fucking here.

I love you guys.

Monday, November 9, 2009

WHAT'S THAT LIKE?




ROB WILL'S DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS FROM HIS LIFE (Revised, 3rd edition)
help'less--(adj.) ineffective, dependent, hands and knees in shower, screaming "GIVE ME MY HEAD BACK!!"


SUMMER 1989

Before I was diagnosed with epilepsy in August, I was a huge boozer. I had been up drinking until 5:30 in the morning, and got up at 11:00 to go pick up books for the upcoming first semester of school. Not a good idea even if you don't have a neurological disorder, which at the time I didn't know I had.


MY "Is it safe?" MOMENT


About a mile and a half from home, the lights went out. I woke up screaming, being restrained by complete strangers trying to force an oxygen mask over my face, and calm me down. EMTs obviously in an ambulance, but to me they may as well have been Joseph Mengele's away team. I think they shot me up with a sedative, because in my brief insanity, I almost got away.

That "light's out" isn't the worst part, for I've been asked that question many times. What's a seizure like?


JOKE? WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?


I often joke, "I don't know, I'm not there." Har-de-fuckin-har.

See, in many cases, epileptics experience what are commonly referred to as "auras" before the seizure occurs. Mine feel more like "twitches", minute moments of what feels like a weak "jerk" and the closer I get to the impending seizure, the stronger and longer they get. Sometimes there's a brief blackout. As Christopher Walken said to Dennis Hopper in the famous "True Romance" banter between the two, "It ain't any kinda fun."

The jerking and the twitching aside, the real problem is the anticipation. Once those brief electrical pulses reach an intense enough point, you know it's coming and you're unlikely to stop the bitch from pulling you in. That's the worst part. Knowing that at any second, maybe 10 seconds from now, maybe an hour, you're going to have your damn lights turned out and when they're turned back on, you're gonna be breathing funny, and have people hovering around you, lowering you to embarassment's ass-end of helplessness.

You won't be able to answer their questions. Not even your name. These people bring their faces in real close. You can smell their breath, but you can't say how bad it is, when you're not sure what day it is.

Most people who've seen me come out of it, say I look "crazy". Again, I joke, "...and that's different how?" har-de-fuckin-har.

A couple of times, I've beaten the seizure. The twitches start, I find a quiet place, focus on a real or imagined "pinpoint" and breathe. Several times, my mind cleared, I could think without cloudiness or the jerks, and all returned to normal. A couple other times, I was no match for my brain's need to shut me down, and I was reduced to a disgraced stand-in for a corpse that appears to be hooked up to electrical wires laying in a mud puddle.

But still, through all of this, what's my favorite joke?
What do you do when someone has a seizure in a bathtub?
Throw in your laundry.

Har-de-fuckin-har.

THE NIGHTMARE RESEARCH CHRONICLES

Well, in the wake of my unfortunate back pain issues, I've decided to try to distract myself and further investigate my infamous "Robert Johnson" nightmare. See here: since this host won't let me insert a blog link, it's called "The Stones, Nightmares, and the Delta Blues", and can be found under "Nightmares" on my "What the hell I am talking about" side panel.

I have limited means to do this at the moment, as outside of his recordings there's not a whole lot of tangible information and documentation on Mr. Johnson.

Reading a companion booklet to the definitive "The Complete Robert Johnson", I did come across the fact that before they met, eventual Robert Johnson mentor, Son House, did some blues recordings with some other stalwarts in Paramount studios in Grafton Wisconsin.

According to Google Maps, said Grafton is about an hour straight east from here. I believe about 10 years ago, I applied for a job there once. Hmmm. This keeps getting slightly more interesting. I shall dig further.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED SOMETHING GOOD TO HAPPEN

Tomorrow I return to the chasm of despair, knowing that I will get a faceful of shit over the Packers loss to the toilet cleaners of the NFL. That's fine, I've gotten used to it over the last couple years. I can even live with it.

But there's a universal filing system someplace that is filled with invoices of bad things that whomever is in charge requisitions to happen to those of us walking this scarred dirty marble. I once believed, in my stupid, shrinking, rotting, naive little heart that there was another cabinet in that system. See, my mind is still not working in computer terms, I guess, despite my blog about the opposite. It still envisions giant metallic HON cabinets brimming with triplicate forms on all of us. This second cabinet is used to organize the other things, the nice things, or at the very least, the benign.

I don't think there's an even balance there. I've had 3 funerals in the past 6 months, very good people, those. There's been no less than 4 major pieces of household equipment failing since March, no matter how I batten the hatches, and a house that is ill more often than not despite it's brave and relentless battles with it's disease.

Now I've gone into a funk.

I keep waking up grumbling, usually tripping at least once on my way to the restroom, but still thinking, "Today may be that day. That magical day, when that thing, whatever it may be in it's mysteriously vague nature, happens."

That's what I was thinking on Friday. This despite the fact that at first, I thought I had the day off, until my rather rude wife broke the glass on that fantastical hope. I was running late because I set my alarm ahead a half hour in my fugue state of believing I did not have to get up yet. I slipped in the shower and banged my elbow. Despite the warmth of late, I had to scrape hardened frost off my windshield, and the coup de grace, Fog appeared at the end of my driveway. Not just patches in low lying areas like usual, but thick Linda Blair-esque, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, don't go out onto the moors, FOG all the way to work.

That was just the first 35 minutes of my day. Days like this continue to pile up, I get down, my kid gets me back up, or tries to anyway, and I can sometimes work a smile up my face. Maybe even joke a little.

My sister brought something up to me the other night. You know that feeling, that sigh you get just before you start to cry really fucking hard? I haven't broken up in pieces since I put my German Shepherd down 3 years ago, but I've been feeling that way my sister described more often than not. I almost want to, if not for anything, but the relief.

I keep looking for that thing. Whatever it may be. It could be small, it could be huge. It could glow like E.T.'s fingertip. I don't know.

But it better show up soon.

For the time being, I'll have to enjoy the shine on what I got.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

GREAT STUFF Vol 3: Talk Radio



Back in 1990 a film was released entitled "Talk Radio". Unfortunately, It was a box office dud. Over the years, however, my top 5 movie list has shifted and twisted with the tides, yet "Talk Radio" is the only film that has remained constant. It ws written by playwright Eric Bogosian (a stage performer, now playing the chief detective on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent") and director Oliver Stone. It's directed by Stone himself (among his lesser known films, shame that)and based on the stage play scripted and played by Bogosian primarily solo in theatre stages. It should be noted here that "Talk Radio" is loosely based on events in the life of Denver radio host, Allen Berg, whose controversial on-air nature led to his unfortunate and violent demise.

Bogosian plays the lead role of Barry Champlain in the film, a late night shock jock-call-in talk show host of a Dallas radio program called "Night Talk". The movie takes place primarily over one night, albeit with character building flashbacks that are extensive. At the outset, in the midst of his shift, Champlain finds out a representative of a major media outlet is present at his station, watching with interest as he's thinking of syndicating Barry's show nationally.

The rest of the film is, succinctly, riveting. Champlain, a very difficult person to say the least, feels like he's "auditioning" for his own job due to the circumstances and begins taking foolish chances on the air. Chances including answering phone calls from potential rapists, engaging neo-nazis in chilling banter, and even inviting a borderline wacko teenage caller to join him in the studio, are among the radical stunts he begins pulling live and broadcasting it out into the Dallas night. All of this is very entertaining, but it all eventually leads to a stark, raving realization for Champlain that starts with that crazy teenager's line, "It's your show, Barry."

Champlain then realizes with some shock that his show is just that, a show, an entertainment. The viewer sees here that surprisingly, Barry is caught off guard by that revelation. He seemed to think that "Night Talk" was much more important than all that. He then displays astonishment and nausea when he realizes his listeners are weirdos, creeps, freaks, and potential psychopaths and tears into his audience with one of the single greatest on-screen monologues I have personally witnessed. The truth of the nature of his pro9gram isn't quite enough to blow him away as much as the knowledge that he is the unpleasant listening demographic's ringleader. He spews into the Texas evening airwaves all the self-hatred that made him a ratings giant in one surprisingly non-vulgar, eloquent, emotional, hilarious, sad, seething blast of venom that is all the more amazing due to the visuals going on behind him that are beautifully orchestrated by Oliver Stone.

During the course of this evening's program, barry is gradually becoming overcome by self-doubt and anxiety as his engineer, (a wonderful early performance by John C. McGinley) his producer girlfriend, his program director, and yes, even his ex-wife are on hand watching his show crumble to the ground around him, largely at his own hands. Alec Baldwin, consummate character actor that he is, is fantastic in a scene where he tells Barry he's dragging it all down, but that it's up to him and him alone to make this venture succeed.

Bogosian is terrific in this flick as he seems born to play the character he created, having both harsh vindictiveness and a puppy-like softness in his eyes tht represent perfectly the dual nature of his character. He has loved and been loved, only to stomp on these positive aspects of his life in the end. Not to mention the killer on-air pipes that Bogosian possesses, he has a voice that is cut and dried for radio broadcasting, and that indeed lends another degree of authenticity to the proceedings, as if the film didn't carry enough of that with it already.

To be down to the point, "Talk Radio" is a character-study drama that as the pacing and feel of an action film. it moves so fast and Bogosian carries it all the way. I will never forget the complete success this film had in impressing me, as at the time I saw it I was a beginning radio broadcasting student. Looking back, it makes me wonder something?

Does the audience hurt the media, or does the media hurt it's audience? Or, which one does more damage to the other?

NO FEEDBACK

The chatbox is at zero
the inbox is full of dust
Your email gives off the sound of crickets and whistling wind
Twitter hasn't tweeted in weeks

There's nothing on YouTube you haven't seen

What time of year is it?
Did the sun come out today?
Do you feel the chill
or does it come from the temp. on the taskbar?

There's noone on blackbook you haven't clicked

sleep will come eventually
and beforehand you will pray
you payed the electric bill

THE NUCLEAR WARHEAD AND ME, The 5th and final installment (thank goodness, eh?)

The sheer sizes of atomic bomb detinations were never really fully comprehended by my teenage mind. Yes, I had seen the photo of Hiroshima's mushroom cloud in it's black and white terror hundreds of times in my life. Indeed, I had seen grainy stock footage of tests, albeit from the dusty shelves of network newsroom film libraries.

A couple years back, I purchased a DVD of the film, "Trinity and Beyond", a retrospective look at the testing and development of the atomic bomb, and it's subsequent continuing growth. What I wasn't prepared for was the actual film footage. "Trinity" was made by Peter Kuran, a legendary special effects developer who had worked on such cinematic titans as "Star Wars", "RoboCop", and a couple of "Star Trek" films. Kuran retrieved declassified films, and footage from both China and Russia.

Here's the kicker: Kuran developed an Academy Award winning film restoration process that can make old film almost appear as if it was shot yesterday, on 35mm of course.

The majority of these clips are devastatingly effective. During these tests, it is apparent that the explosions were shot from a variety of angles, both on the ground and from planes. It was a shock to see actual celluloid images of things I had read about in history books. Creepily reminiscent of the accidentally caught moving images of Anne Frank leaning out of the window of her hiding place to overlook a wedding gathering, or the flaming deathdrop of the Hindenburg. They're simultaneously breathtaking and stomach-churningly disturbing.

The filmed "detonations", haunting in their obvious ability to eradicate life and inanimate objects, are somehow eerily dazzling, as they colorfully and gracefully rise up into the open skies. There's a menacing beauty there, much like Mother Nature's A-bomb, the F-5 tornado. Peter Coyote, the vibrant-throated narrator of National Geographic's doc, "Cyclone", described twisters as having the appearance of "the delicate dance of ghosts". This applies here. Even an unfortunate young eyewitness to Hiroshima's blast described it's multi-colored appearance and beauty. The shame is the horrendously revolting artifacts these masters of destruction leave behind. There is a subtle parallel there, as tornadic images also are not strangers to my evening slumber either. Although, that's a different story, for a different day.

Now in the wake of 9/11, there are rumblings of terrorists achieving nuclear capabilities in the form of potential "suitcase" bombs. Although experts claim the ability to weaponize nuclear material, either stolen or purchased from the fallen Soviet bloc, is unlikely. Though it was spookily illustrated in the BBC film, "Dirty War", that a "dirty" bomb, an explosion meant only to release dangerous radioactive material is more likely. Again, moviewise, "Right at Your Door" illustrates that terrifying concept in Los Angeles.

Incidentally, "Dirty War" was shot a year before the London subway explosions. Art preceding Life?

There is also the possibility of further nuclear nemeses in the distance as North Korea and Iran both display rumblings of pursuing that dark path. There's whispers on the wind that Brazil if feverishly developing a possible nuclear capability. The end result of this information in my youth would probably have resulted in me having a cardiac event.

Now as I've loaded myself with knowledge on these subjects, I'm more baffled at the "whys" involved than the ifs or whens. I no longer fear nuclear devastation. Why? I don't know the full answer to that question. Is it that knowledge is power? Maybe. Or is it that as awful and possibly needless as Hiroshima was, that my faith in mankind helps me to nurture a belief that maybe, just perhaps, even sixty years later, we've all learned our lesson.

I can only hope the activity existing today is merely sabre-rattling.

Hope, not fear, being the key word this time around.

Friday, November 6, 2009

THE LAZINESS OF MOTLEY CRUE

I know that my diatribes have been bleak lately, at the very least, downers, so I thought I'd share somethng humorous that recently was discussed in my life with a dear friend. We were discussing the notorious LA strip band, Motley Crue. You'll forgive me if I dont include the goddamn umlauts.

I was saying in this discussion that I thought I remembered the Crue rhyming "kicking ass" with "kicking ass" and that, to me anyway, was tantamount to lyrical laziness. Really. I've rhymed better than that, and I'm hardly Dylan Thomas or Robert Frost.

For posterity's sake, here's the lyrics, for better or worse.

"When we started this band
All we needed, needed was a laugh
Years gone by
I'd say we've kicked some ass

When I'm enraged
Or hittin' the stage
Adrenaline rushing
Through my veins
And I'd say we're still kickin' ass,"

So, technically I was wrong. They rhymed "kicked some ass" with "kickin' ass". Obviously a huge difference. As my friend and I discussed this tripe, (thanks for the word, Chris) I was thinking that with that attempt at prose, that they didn't even make an effort.

And it reminded me of the classic 80's film, featuring the criminally overlooked actor, Casey Sziemaszko, "Three O'Clock High". Wherein Casey's character pays a hulking bully stolen money not to fight him after school. The bully, Buddy Revell, one of the most intimidating high school bullies I've ever seen portrayed, (gotta give the props to actor Richard Tyson.) of course takes the cash. Then he leers at Sziemaszko in a weather-worn, disgusted face, complete with a voice showing ultimate disdain, and says....

"You didn't even try, how does that feel?", before sauntering off. That line always stuck with me. I applied it to Milwaukee Brewers management during the all-star break and trade deadline non-highlights, but that's neither here nor there.

Geez, Motley Crue, kicked some ass, with kickin' ass? You, on your fourth platinum album, with hundreds of sold-out shows around the world, and your vast experience with the band dynamic, could'nt find something that rhymed in the neighborhood of ass?

No matter how hard you looked, you couldn't find something between the four of you?
Or did you bother to try?

How does that feel?

NIGHTMARES CAN GET BENT.

THIS DREAM WAS FROM A COUPLE WEEKS AGO, BUT IT WAS THE ONE THAT STARTED IT ALL......

That morning I awoke from a dream in which I had recently suffered a seizure that wiped out the previous 4 months. Upon returning to work, I found my position as press operator had been given to someone else. I was however offered a job cleaning fish.

I went to the mirror, looked at myself and asked directly, "Do you have anything left to say?"

I succinctly replied, " I got nothing"

Scared the hell out of me.

GREAT STUFF VOL 2: Chris Thomas King

GREAT STUFF: VOL. 1: Chris Savage




Check out the new band he's in: MIC THE TIGER
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Mic-The-Tiger/10060257975?ref=ts

ROB WILL, PROFESSIONAL NEW KID

That's how I used to introduce myself. In the fall of 1987, when I started my sophomore year of high school, that is. North Central Wisconsin. Mmm. This was the last stop in the grandiose tour I mentioned in an earlier blog about the Replacements, so I won't pontificate on the specifics of said stroll through the heart of the U.S.

I wasn't an army brat, but there was enough "starting over" to make that above statement in bright green true. Professional indicates a mastery, or at least, "goodishness" at something, to the point that you can be titled. I was an established new kid. I had that shit down.

Make no mistake, I wasn't disappointed in the lack of "female" reaction I was getting. I'd learned long ago that just cause you're new, it does not cause a scent of mystery and allure. The new guy, drawing whispers and glances from the established female student body as he strolls down the hall. That shit only happens in the fuckin' movies. Or if you look like Johnny Depp.

Well, chances are, you look like Depp, it has happened somewhere. And often. But I'm gettin' off track.

So yeah, I played the role a bit. I grew out the hair, wore dark clothing. If it was cold I wore a hooded sweatshirt under the dark clothing......pretty much dressed the same way I do now. I threw dirty looks about the place, outside of the classroom, I kept to myself.

It definitely wasn't the movies. But that works in two ways. See, I didn't have the looks or that Hollywood air of mystery that drew in the ladies, but I didn't get my ass beat down every day by the big and the stupid either. So I can't really complain if I didn't see one side for neither of the double-edge sword.

The problem was where to fit in. As you know, fearless readers, 'tis my problem to this day.

The jocks wouldn't have me. I didn't have the height, size, or self-absorbed nature for all of that football nonsense. (The lack of a Friday jersey didn't help with the ladies either....who says girls aren't obsessed with status) The "nerds" saw me as an outsider. I wasn't smart enough, or at least didn't "apply myself" enough to ring in with that crowd.

Have B-, will travel.

The "skate crowd" only liked me because I had an Husker Du sticker on a textbook. For all their clamor about isolationism, and bitching about the "popular" people and their obsession with status, my induction into their ranks, simply because I listened to punk, would have been just as superficial as all that.

So in a way, it was like the movies, I guess. Only I didn't have a beleaguered and hilarious best friend that kept me up straight when the world was falling down around me. I didn't end up bumping into this mousy, yet gorgeous underneath the glasses and the brains, chick who saw me "for who I was" and a whirlwind romance ensued. I didn't kick the shit out of the school bully, or free the put-upon of the high school from the chains of bureaucratic horseshit in some phenomenal display of speechitude that had everybody starting a "slow clap" as they came to their senses.

No I was just a kid.

Or the movie wasn't about me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AFTER A SMALL HIATUS, THE 'MARES RETURN

Often, in my dreams, the place I work at is an amalgam of former locations of employment from the facilities on down to the co-workers.

Last night, not only was this true, but I found that upon starting my "dream state" work shift, that everyone that I love and respect, look up to, and even am friends with were now fellow grindstone-nosers. The problem was, they treated me like crap. A local radio personality I admire was on me "to get my shit together", my wife concurred. Several friends shook their heads at me in beleagured disappointment and disbelief.

It was hellish.

I was locked into some sort of paperwork maelstrom that was a quasi-vicious circle of getting nowhere, and I could get no help from anyone. When the people who MATTER to you, become the people you just TOLERATE because you work with them, where do you go from there?

That's a lonely damn thought.

PRINTER'S LAMENT ---Rob Will



One would think the colors
that I see every day
would fit nicely on the pallete
of beauty's heart

but when they come from a bucket
and wind up on your face
yellows, reds, and whites become dark

and it's the furthest fucking thing from art.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

THE TOP OR THE BOTTOM?

Discovering what your goddamn problem is, is indeed much like getting to the top of a mountain somewhere. You're out of breath, angry, sore, and in need of rest. But as you stand at that peak, and the swirling snow briefly wisps a clearing, you see you're standing at the base of another gigantic mountain perched precariously on top of the one you've just damn near killed yourself in an effort to scale.

That one? Mt. Figure out what to do.

Shit.

Monday, November 2, 2009

WHAT MY SIBLINGS GAVE ME Vol 1:Dan

During the tumultuous times shortly after my father's death, my big brother Dan became a prevalent figure in my life. He hadn't been too much previously, due to a 10 year age gap and the fact that he lived in a different county. Didn't affect the love. I love all my brothers and sisters, especially now more than ever, because I have learned so much in the last decade. I can never repay what they've give and the warmth they've pored out, even when I haven't deserved it in my blackest and most self-absorbed moments.

This is hard for me to write, as the words are blurring before me now, cheeks dampening, but I shall press on. I need to get this out.

Dan introduced me to music. Not the country and western/WMAQ/Patsy Cline/she-bop shebop my mom was ingratiating me with, although that stuff is fantastic. I keep Sam Cooke, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Roy Orbison around due to her, and that will never change. But my brother brought me the CRASH.

The stuff that had me thinking, "Holy shit, what's this?" Long before I arrived at the doorstep of punk, this was my initiation in the fact that music had FORCE. It started with the Who's "Who's Next". From the opening bars of "Baba O'Riley", on through "Love aint For Keeping", (a personal fave), to the forlorn "Behind Blue Eyes", and "Won't get Fooled" which has to have the best effin' rock scream ever recorded on it.

Pete Townshend is monster. Entwistle a dream, Keith Moon was, well......Keith Moon.


Danny introduced me to "Welcome to the Machine"...."Have a Cigar", of course I am speaking of Pink Floyd. I used to use "Dark Side of the Moon" to meditate, in high school. Before pharmaceuticals came into my life, it was my only means of "toning down" my high-strung nature. Lights out, blanket, Side one.......soothing the savage beast.

Dan brought me more, much more, Led Zeppelin II and Jimmy Page's first take animal riffs, Boston I, which may be the closest thing to Phil Spector's "wall of sound" done in it's wake.....Now mind you, I don't like everything Dan does, I eschew his ponderous joy with Steely Dan and Supertramp, but no one, including myself, is even close to perfect.

But I just wanted to take this opportunity, publicly, and in prose, to thank my big brother, and tell him I love him. For his music he so graciously shared with me...and for his companionship.

Fellow siblings, fear not. I have much to share about you as well. You have all shaped me, whether you know it or not. And I will be bragging your exploits in turning me into one strange, yet hopefully memorable individual. Stay tuned.

TRAFFIC WOES

I dropped my boy off at school today, as I often do, as it gives us time together in the wee hours, when our minds are just warped enough to have us laughing uncontrollably before we get halfway to school. The morning minds have come up with such classics as "Grandma McDelbert's Whistling Fart Machine" and "The Island that floods weekly, and the natives language is composed mostly of lies."

You can see why we enjoy this early am "slap-happy" time.

This morn, though it was ruined on the way home by some inconsiderate, petulant child, who felt the overwhelming desire to tailgate the crap out of me, despite the fact that I was going three miles an hour over the speed limit. I had gotten cranky because after Aidan got out of the car, my mood dampend, I was overcaffeinated, in need of anti-anxiety meds, and had Fugazi's "Steady Diet of Nothing" blasting out of all four of my cars speakers.

That's a cocktail for doom.

I started to consider brake-tapping, which would have led to honking, then to gestures, eventually to me pulling over and ending this shit once and for all, for it was also boring me. But I held it in, I perservered, because I breathed deeply, thought of the nonsense between me and my kid just merely moments earlier, and when that mental jackmidget passed me, I merely glared.

Hard.

You see, it's gotten hard to let go.

Aidan's done a piece on Dylan Thomas poetry for school lately, and "rage" is a big fixture in some of his most largely known works. It's also a word I find myself rolling around between my mental fingertips.

This isn't a good thing. I don't want to be a virulent, reactionary, violent person. I don't want to bark, snap, and retch bile at those who wrong me, even if they may deserve it. Don't get me wrong, crabbiness has had a tendency to be part of my modus operandi from my teenage years on, but this is different.

This is black.