Thursday, July 27, 2006

Burn Run Burn

You can't spell "fucking running" without the word "fun." Actually, I guess you can't spell the word "fucking" without "fun" either. I have recently committed myself to running a half marathon in October, so the last few weeks have been spent getting into a training schedule that will allow me to complete this endeavor with some measure of success, i.e., not passing out or throwing up in the course of said race. So far, so good.

I was already running a bit this summer, so I started pretty far ahead of where the training schedule dictated. Essentially, you run or do some sort of cardio 5 days a week, culminating with a "long run" on Sunday. I've also been working in a couple days a week in the weight room for good measure. The long run for last Sunday was supposed to be 4 miles, but I've been running 4 miles pretty consistently, so... Terri (our tenant who goaded me into signing up for this race) suggested we run down to Carmichael's Steak House where Dave (her husband) works.

It's about 6.5 miles down there, but as a reward we could eat a steak, drink a beer, and hitch a ride home. We set out just before 8, right at sunset, just as the temperature was dropping from its daytime highs in the upper 80's to the much cooler upper 60's. We strapped on our iPods and turned east on Irving Park, headed southeast on Lincoln, and then south on Ashland. Right away, I could sense that this was going to be a good run. The week's training seemed to have really expanded my endurance, and the Gomez pumping in my ears coupled with the wind cooling my skin had me feeling great. We pushed through the halfway point and then strange things began to happen.

Just north of Division, we bumped into Burn Rome Burn's web designer, and then a block later happened upon my sister and her fiance. Talk about serendipity. Buoyed, we set off southeast down Milwaukee, going slightly out of our way to Halsted where we cut south, and finally finished with a two block sprint back west on Madison.

As we walked up to Carmichael's, Dave notified us our 24 ounce Porterhouse steak (with sides) was ready, and the bartender added a Guinness and a glass of water to the spread. Then (I kid you not), Ozzie Guillen walked in. All in all, quite a successful little jaunt. And my runs this week have been more or less strong so I feel like if I can keep this up I should be in pretty solid shape for the race in October.

Remember, you can't spell half marathon without the words "ham hat."


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fortunate Son

You ever have one of those things happen that makes you want to call the people you love just to hear their voices? And go home and hug you spouse and your dog and cat? My sister recently had a friend who was robbed while she was home sleeping. Luckily, she wasn't hurt but still... if makes you aware of how easily things can happen to people you love, people who are integral parts of your life and heart.

Take, for instance, this Friday. I got to work expecting that my boss would be out of the office and therefore Friday would go by quickly, efficiently, and without incident. Instead, at about 9:30 a.m., we got an email that she would be coming through the office in the afternoon and then out for half of next week, the reason being that her brother had died of a heart attack at the age of 56 on Thursday night. The exact circumstances are so heartwrenching I'll spare you the details... but it really hit me like a ton of bricks.

My life has been one of incredible fortune when it comes to the well-being of those closest to me. I have two living, married parents. I have three living grandparents. The fourth, my paternal grandfather, died in the 60's when my dad was in his late teens. Of a heart attack. I believe he was in his late 40's. I just can't imagine having somebody that close to me walk out of my life one day and never come back. I just can't.

Living with whatever was left unsaid, whatever was left undone, whatever stupid fight or disagreement will always be the last memory you have of someone you love. I know life is loss and everyone will have to deal with loss at some point in his or her life. I know that anyone, anyone, no matter how old or young or sick or healthy can be gone in the blink of an eye. I know that I should try and live life with this in mind, to let this guide the way I treat my relationships and the people I love.

Hopefully, I can embrace it fully and head off regret at the pass. Hopefully. And now, back to your regularly scheduled bullshit.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Come Home

It's been barely a week Since you left me to fight alone So I face down the nights and then Watch the sun rise again And I sing myself sick Lose my voice to the swollen sky When the rain hits an open wound The pain let's you know you're alive I know you're coming home I know you're coming home I hope you're coming home Come home... Come home...


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Misc. Filing

File this one under the category "Apocryphal Stories about Artists." 'Cause you have a file for that, I'm sure. I remember hearing that Tennessee Williams would get up and write from 5am to 7am every day, regardless of where he'd been the night before (a bar) or where he had to go that day (often to a day job).

Now... do you think there were times he stayed in bed and slept off his drunkenness? I would say so. But the point is... work ethic. Craft. Regimentation. Discipline. I've been hung up the last few weeks thinking about art and specifically songwriting as a craft. I've really been struggling with finishing songs... a lot of good ideas, a lot of things I like, but few complete songs.

And I realized that I just haven't been putting in the cold hard time to finish these ideas. Which is frustrating. So this week, I decided to really focus and grab every little bit of time I could towards writing and practicing. It helped that on Tuesday at rehearsal we put together a new song, St. Scarlet, which I'd had lying around for a bit. I wasn't sure if St. Scarlet was any good, but we nailed down a strong arrangement almost immediately, managing to incorporate a number of elements we haven't really used in previous songs.

So that fact helped me take the rest of Tuesday and yesterday to really hone a couple of other songs and the results have been good. Tuesday night especially, I stayed up until about 2 woodshedding lyrics and working on a tune called "You Were." Even fell asleep basically sitting up with my pen in my songbook.

And Wednesday, I did my best Tennessee Williams impersonation (including a hangover) and got up early before work to try to crystallize "You Were." It worked. On my train ride home from work yesterday, I sketched out the words for the bridge and then started working through the entire tune tweaking the lyrics. And the beauty of songwriting is that, just by doing it, just by having a guitar in your hands and by getting words out onto the page, you often wind up with new ideas that aren't necessarily good for the particular song you're working on, but might inspire a new song or a new idea. So it's been a good week so far. The results...

YOU WERE So I'll try and stay At least until the dawn Until the stars give way And the dark is gone And when I leave you in the morning I'll always think of how You were You were And how the light embraced you while you breathed The songs I wrote for you Won't see the light of day They're just ghosts in blue That rise and float away But if I catch one in the morning I'll always sing of how You were You were And how the light embraced you while you breathed (bridge) The ending came without a warning But I've never felt so sure That if I catch you in the morning You'll still be just as You were As you were As you were As you were


p.s. Happy anniversary to my mom and dad... 37 years! Holy crap, that's impressive.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Digging out

So it's not that I haven't been writing posts. It's that I haven't been posting them. Kind of the blog equivalent of writing songs and then never playing them. I guess. And... frankly, the posts have been shallow and hastily written so... (you're saying "how is that any different from the usual?")

It seems like I've just been having trouble dialing in coherent, cohesive thoughts. Mostly it's that there's been so much going on... so much to do and think about that it's been completely mentally and physically exhausting and not conducive to then sitting down and expending energy crafting my usual witty missives.

Ha. Ha.

Anyway... I'm back, bitches.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Memo to Self

Ian Scott is a defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears. Scott Ian is the guitarist for Anthrax. They are (as far as we know) not related. jbg