Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Time Marches On

Is it the end of February already? What? Not that I'm complaining about getting out of my least favorite month in one (or at most two) piece(s), but... it seems like it was just New Year's Eve. Oh. Boy.

The last week has been a blur within a blur. Or something like that. Incredibly, I went from finishing background vocals on a couple of songs with Jay and recording two acoustic songs in their entirety two Thursdays ago, to picking up the completed, mixed, and mastered project last Friday... so a total of one week from the end of tracking to the completed CD.

Given my previous experience with the final steps of recording, this timeline is nothing short of inconceivable. (I do not think you know what that word means...) I'm attempting to get some emotional and artistic distance from what turned into more of a wrecking-ball than a record (say it out loud... like reading Finnegan's Wake, only without the literary genius).

I'm very very excited about starting a new BRB recording so soon and trying to use a lot of the things I discovered in this recording process... can't wait.

So to March. Bitches.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Humpin' Towards Deerfield

(That sound? Yeats turning over in his grave.) It's Hump Day. Which isn't even 10% as salacious as its nickname implies. At least not around here in the mid-evening quiet.

Yesterday was just warm enough for me to don some shorts and go for a five mile jog outside... my first jog outside since New Year's Day. After nearly two months of hammering away on the treadmill, running my familiar northside route was a dream even if my legs and lungs were barely up to the task. And now the week falls away with some uncertainty.

I've got a CD of the songs I did with Jay in their final form... all I need to do is approve the mixes and we'll be ready to master (the final step of audio post-production). That's all I'll say about them for now... I've got a big, big entry (so to speak) about these recordings planned but I want to hold off on it to get some perspective on the whole project which has been truly watershed for me as a person and a musician... Although I guess pretty much every recording project I've ever been involved in has been watershed at the time. And I hope it never, ever stops feeling that way.

My emotions regarding the new recordings are conflicted... I'm nervous about what to do with this project and I'm excited about starting the BRB recording so soon, with all the lessons I've learned so fresh in my mind. But I'm also wary of experiencing an emotional letdown similar to the one I went through after Bottle Boy came out... starting a BRB recording immediately should help with that, as will the fact that the whole recording process was so different from anything I've gone through and happened so quickly.

Still... recording and creating and starting and finishing... it's all a beast... A rough beast at best. (Sorry, John Butler)

Sunday, February 18, 2007


It's Sunday. The bright winter sun is making the snow on my front deck sparkle and the blue sky implies warmth I know is not there. I started watching Meet the Press but Tony Snow's aggressive campaigning for Douchebag of the Year compelled me to switch to The Empire Strikes Back. I like fake villians much more than real ones.

I spent the last 3 weeks collecting hangovers. I spent the weekend collecting sleep. Princess Leia: "I love you." Han Solo: "I know." Burn Rome Burn keeps stacking songs we'd like to record when we get started next month with Jay of Buddy Nuisance... looks like we'll have 9 tunes ready with the goal of getting 3 or 4 out of the sessions, which will begin at I.V. Labs, continue in Jay's attic space, and finish at Gravity Studios under the ear of Manny Sanchez.

Luke Skywalker is down a hand but up a father.

The group of songs I have been working on with Jay since late last year is almost done... they will be mixed tomorrow and Tuesday and came together faster and better than I could have ever imagined. Irvin Kershner is the shit. My cat is exploiting a patch of sun on the desk next to me. I've switched to music... Disc 2 of Wilco's Being There... I guess I'm trying to fold mountains over and find sunken treasure...

Here's a short list of things that have been inspiring me lately: Everything is Illuminated 29 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Neon Bible Intelligensia Coffee Spring

And you. That's right, you.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The summer slipped away And with it, our perfect days The nights are getting long I wish I wasn't too strong To walk away Waiting for a change But every week unfolds the same way Another Sunday night I'm left Left alone, holding my breath I have to walk away To walk away I have seen the light break And I have called your name Tried to find a flame Cried The winter's coming soon The stars outshine the moon And no matter what you say I just can't, just can't, just can't walk away I have seen the light break And I have called your name Tried to find a flame Cried Cried Cried


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The week is off to a slow start... Fatigue and illness hit yesterday and today is already marred by a snowstorm... which doesn't make me want go outside. At all.

But alas... some things have to get done and they just can't wait so... I guess I'll bundle up, put my head down, and steer into the wind. February... lousy Chicago February.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Come Undone

Do you believe that the darkness fades away? And every night returns to day? Are you going to blink and come across? Carving a new love out of loss Don't let it go Don't be the one I've opened up I've come undone And in your dreams are you still the one in white? Do you hear the refrain of "Hold on Tight?" When you wake do you see my crystal tears? Should love be enough to burn our fears? Don't let it go Don't be the one I've opened up I've come undone I found myself in the sky and falling fast Thinking every mile would be the last But the sun has a way of pulling back And melting these feathers made of wax Don't let it go Don't be the one I've opened up I've come undone I've opened up I've come undone


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Viva Reno

Last Friday morning, my alarm went off at 5:00 am. Groggy from my 1:00 bedtime, I grumbled and stumbled to the shower for a brief cleansing and then collected my things and headed for the door. You see, I had an 8:00 flight out of O'Hare to the biggest little city in our fair county, AKA Reno, Nevada. 

The occasion? Best friend Ben's 30th B-day and a surprise party on Friday night. Oh. And the Super Bowl or as we came to call it, the Bears' Game. So I braved the A.M. chill and found myself on my way to... Salt Lake City? Damn you (shaking fist), lack of inexpensive direct flights to Reno! After eating a "bagel" as I killed an hour in the Salt Lake City airport while trying to avoid Mormon missionaries, I flew the final hour on to Reno where Ben's sister, Kelley, greeted me at the airport.

The party didn't start until 7:00 and it was noon local time so... we did what you do when you're in Reno and have time to kill: gambled and drank beer. After losing a bit of money (also what you do in Reno) we cleaned up and headed to the party, which was being held at a shooting club near Ben and April's house.

Ben walked in at 7:00 sharp and was shocked by the 40-some guests, and especially by our presence. Much fun was had, much pizza eaten, much beer consumed, and I got to meet and hold Ben and April's twin babies (Austin and Aspen) for the first time. After the party, we went back to the hotel/casino and resumed our video poker marathon... Kelley and I are a deadly pair in that we can both sit at the bar and play video poker and drink "free" beer for hours on end... and Friday night was no exception.

Saturday came and we lurched downstairs to grab breakfast and... drink bloody marys while playing video poker. At this stage, I was down some cash, but not too much. The standard for video poker is that you go up and down and up and down and wind up down but having had a lot of fun and a lot of drinks. Kind of like most of life in general.

After losing more money, we decided to do something healthy, namely hitting the gym/fitness room. Although my workout was a bit weak (owing possibly to the altitude, probably to the video poker marathon and attendant drinking), it felt good to sweat and I augmented my usual physical activity with a trip to the steam room... where a man interrupted my relaxation by practicing Bikram Yoga in the nude.

To quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

After cleaning up, we headed out to Ben and April's house to hang out, play with the kids, and go out to a nice dinner. Following dinner we watched ESPN Classic's football marathon about the '85 Bears and then Kelley and I returned to the hotel. I was fading and exhausted, but Kelley convinced me (with little difficulty) to hang around for a little (say it together now) video poker and a beer.

Imagine my surprise when, within 20 minutes of sitting down, I hit a Royal Flush and won... $1000.00.

I am not making this up.

I was stunned. Kelley was stunned. A man appeared out of thin air and counted off $1000.00 in $100 bills into my hand. I was still stunned. We celebrated by ordering shrimp cocktail and a Reuben from room service and bedtime was approximately 3:30 a.m. local time. I woke up and checked my wallet to make sure it wasn't a dream. And it wasn't.

So... we went downstairs and played a little more video poker before getting our act together and heading out towards Ben's for... the Bears' game. On the way, we picked up In-N-Out Burgers and Deschutes Beer. Yes, you should be jealous.

The anticipation for the game was almost un-BEAR-able (ha!) and as Devin Hester returned the opening kick for a touchdown, we veritably exploded with glee. Too bad that was basically the only highlight of the game... with the exception of Prince's sick halftime performance. As the clock wound down, we pouted. We were sullen. We were depressed. We noted that pitchers and catchers report in 10 days.

Kelley and I returned to the hotel and... I'm not even going to write what we did, because you know. Hint: it rhymes with Pideo Voker. I hit the hay having managed to not lose most of my huge jackpot from the previous night.

Again, the wake up call was a ridiculous 5:00 a.m. and the following 11 or so hours until I reached my door in Chicago included a blurry cab ride, a painful 4 hour flight to Atlanta (at least there were no Mormons there), a nearly 2 hour lay-over, a 2 hour flight to Chicago, and a brutally cold trip from O'Hare to home via train and bus. Whew.

I got home to a couple of frantically happy pets and a bed that has rarely felt more comfortable. All in all, quite a weekend full of video poker, beer, football, more video poker, bearing witness to random acts of naked Bikram Yoga, holding adorable babies, still more video poker, football, petting pugs, and, last but not least, still more video poker.

Also, people whom I love dearly and with all my heart and cannot possibly thank enough for the trip, the party, the laughs, the tears, and the fun.

And I am, most surely of all, not making that up.