Do They Still Make Geritol?

And if they do, could I buy some ? I don’t care what it’s for…please, just sell me something…

They do, sadly. Different packaging. I just found that out.

If you remember Geritol from years past, then you ‘ll understand this little rant very poignantly.

 One of the worst moments in the life of a 50’s-60’s kid was the dreaded Lawrence Welk Show. This meant an excruciating hour each week where  life was absolutely devoid of any meaningful input, and our typical Disney-driven landscape was unceremoniously stripped away, laying bare a world of bleak, colorless alien culture, and patrons who were apparently in desperate need of vitamin supplements.

And Geritol was the only thing they bothered to advertise; a brownish liquid goo that smelled like old, old sneakers. I actually don’t know that for a fact, but come on, what else could it have been?

Yes, I agree… no one should ever have to know what was really in there. ( Or still is…)

But regardless of all that… I want to buy some. I really do.

I don’t want it. What I want… is to once again feel that a corporation is even remotely concerned with my buying demographic. I don’t have a porcelain bathtub, never mind two, and I’ll be damned if I’d be dragging them out onto a nearby beach… so I’m not buying that stuff.  With my luck, I’d probably misread the label, take a double dose, and end up in the ER where an emergency amputation would have to be performed. And have to take Geritol twice a day for the duration of my miserable existence.

I often relay to  friends and associates variations on this theme; Old Guy Goes To The Guitar Center. I am convinced that I could appear there wearing a Santa hat, a leopard-spot thong, and roller skates with lights on the edges. There is nothing, nothing that I can do to get waited on in a Guitar Center. I have re-arranged stock, played all the expensive do-not-touch-without- a -salesperson-in -attendance guitars, and glared derisively at everyone in the building. Nothing works. I have to buy stuff online because there is no alternative. I am truly invisible. I am an economic persona non grata.

No one cares if I buy musical stuff anymore… or cars, or clothes, or skis…shoes, most food, lawnmowers, TVs, …well, okay, the skis are a bit of a stretch, but it’s the principle involved. I can buy Cialis, and Poly-Grip, and AARP. No-risk insurance- no salesman will call, and that’s because they don’t give a damn where I live anyway. And Flomax ( can you believe that some ad guy somewhere actually thought that up, and got paid for it…). But I don’t want to take a canoe trip with weird guys that smile way too much. They won’t sell me the canoe to begin with.

So can I just buy the damned Geritol? Hey, look… there’s a coupon on the box from The Scooter Store…


Published in: on September 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Enemy Amongst Us…

Checked in at the Opera House in Leadville this morning. Expected the place to be very, very quiet.

Not at all. You just can’t keep the dead down on the farm. They have grown too fond of the high mountain climate. They may not be much anymore for deep breathing, but they can certainly remember the sensation.

This morning’s topic? Shaq in a Celtics uniform…Classic Satanic Misdirection? Discuss…

Not to mention Jermaine O’Neal… or Rasheed Wallace, for that matter… Rasheed turned out to be quite a hero in the end. Who’s to say?

 The Celtics held their first practice at Salve Regina yesterday, and apparently Doc Rivers was not overly impressed. He’s already got Big Baby by the scruff of the neck… Anyway, this would be a very good time to go hang on Thames St. in Newport… they’re cut loose for the rest of the week. Maybe even find a parking spot on Spring St…have a Guinness at the Astor Bar, where people still whisper behind cupped palms of one A. Mouzas… few were ever late for the 0900 sales meetings…fleeting images of college kids plummetting down the back stairs of the Inn On The Harbor…that’ll teach ’em to be late for work. Who could forget the aroma of brisk salt air mixed with the coppery tang of fearful perspiration?

The English Queens have requested a state visit to a Newport mansion…the Breakers, or maybe Rosecliffe, preferably during the holiday season. All at the Opera House are in favor, especially Chelsea…still hasn’t been out of Leadville yet…and  her only a few hours old.

 She has also been trying to drum up support for a Leadville sequel, or prequel, or Nyquil, or any old kind of quil. A tranquil sequel, she seems to prefer…

Can You Believe That?

It worked, just like Eddie said it would. Amazing.

After arriving early, setting up, running a little sound check, and tweaking a few last-minute problems….. the pre-amp on the guitar itself malfunctioned after only five minutes in. Didn’t see that coming.

Played the whole thing straight up.  A guy with a classical guitar in the middle of a pasture…very pastoral…would make a great oil painting. They pretty much couldn’t hear me, which was fine, because the wind kicked up just enough to keep blowing the music off the stand and into the woods. But now that bears in rural Massachusetts have discovered a packet of Guiliani etudes, I’m sure they’ll be holding guitar studies of their own real soon. The Westport Institute for the Advancement of Hunting, Gathering, Foraging, Classic Guitar, and Hibernation. I’m already pretty good at two of those things…They’ll call it AHGFCGH for short, and that’s what the emblems on their brown corduroy blazers will say…very Haavaad.

At any rate, a complete success overall. I was the hero. Have a request for another in December, but I think I’ll do better if I always play outside…don’t want them to hear too much…

Thank you, Mr. Izzard. Who better to advise on human nature, bridesmaids, and bears than an Executive Transvestite?

Remember What Eddie Says…

I have a wedding to play today, on very short notice. Was originally approached about playing classical guitar for it almost three months ago. I said I would be glad to, just let me know definitively ASAP, because I don’t play that much these days, and would need some time to shape up for it. I love the music, but I’m a total hack at it, and that is a style that you absolutely have to be in the zone for. But I didn’t hear from them, so… assumed they had made other arrangements.

They called me on Monday, to make sure if I was still on for it.

So what part of ” definitively ASAP” was unclear…? This is why agents are always worth their damned 10%.

So…I’ve been slamming Bach, Guiliani, Legnani, and anything else I can handle for three days now. I hate them all, they hate me back, I have no real business doing this at all, who the %$#@ do I think I am? Segovia? No…how about Segovia’s eighth bastard cousin on his illegitimate father’s side, twelve times removed. Plus, could I work up some Beatle songs, too. Sure…want to know what Eleanor Rigby was really thinking while she picked up the rice in the church where the wedding had been? Ha! Didn’t think so.

So, off I go. Will be fine. Just have to remember that it’s just like Eddie Izzard says…” It’s 90% how you look…5% how you sound…and 5% what you say…

So they’ll see a well-dressed old guy who seemed to know just what he was doing. I’ll just make sure not to talk, and smile through sounding like Christopher Parkening with stomach cramps.

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 10:22 am  Comments (3)  

There’s A Signpost Up Ahead…

Two, actually. Two big anniversaries, although several worlds apart.

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the departure of one J. Hendrix, one of the best ever. Regardless of what slant you may take on music in general, Jimi rules us all. After all this time, I still can only respectfully hack my way through his stuff, and can still ponder ” Are You Experienced” with shock and awe. If I had a Strat plugged into 3 100-watt Marshall heads I might find my way into the neighborhood, but even then that would be akin to letting me do some touch-up work on the Sistine Chapel. Not that good of an idea. There’s an awful lot of inferior Hendrix material out in the world, and even through that, the genius always manages to shine through. All Hail Jimi. Really.

The second; today marks the 148th anniversary of the battle of Antietam in 1862. Or call it Sharpsburg, if you are of a somewhat rebellious slant. Still stands as the largest single-day casualty total in US history ( 3600 dead; 26,000 overall ). It was a marginal Union victory, and more importantly, prevented General Lee from foraging his army at the expense of a Union state during the harvest season. That really hurt.

Antietam was such a big battle that it can only be studied by section and time of day. The Cornfield, East Woods, West Woods, the Sunken Road, Burnside’s Bridge, Dunker Church, Otto Farm… each one is an amazing microcosm of what humans can do under stress if they really believe in what is at stake. Phenomenal bravery. Any normal person would just run and run. ” You want us to what? Are you out of your #@!%^# mind?”

On a personal note, I actually had two forefathers on the field that day. I suspect that many people could make the same claim, but I’ve gone to the trouble of researching it, so I will impart my findings to …you. You’re not actually a captive reader; you would have already x- ed out of this if you were that bored.

On my dad’s side…James Coyne with the 2nd RI Infantry. They were held in reserve for the entire day, and were not put in at all. George McClellan  did not commit his reserves when he should have; historians have been arguing over it ever since. He still managed a default win anyway, but that was more circumstantial than anything else. He lucked out. But James, having just seen his first actual combat a few days earlier at South Mountain, had to spend the entire day waiting for a call that never came. Close enough to hear countless cannon and musket volleys, and watch whole companies breaking out of line and running, only to be shot at by their own line officers. ( Another fine tradition we got from the British- this is why the Redcoats were so efficient; they were much more afraid of their own sergeants than the enemy. What was in front of them ( Colonial Militia?…phht) was a lot easier to deal with than their own NCOs, who would gleefully kill them for “turning their coats”.)

Anyway… I’m sure that James’ experiences on that day more or less led to his bolting from camp as soon as he could  manage it in December. Miserable yellow slime-ball that he was, but he was half of the team that got my miserable yellow slime-ball ass onto the planet, so…c’est la vie.

On my mom’s side… a somewhat better read. Patrick McDermott was with the 4th RI Infantry, and they were  positioned by the Otto Farm late in the day. They were totally green, and were likely absolutely terrified. They, and the equally green 16th CT, were tasked with crossing a large open expanse that led directly into the center of Sharpsburg. They would have set out in line of battle, meaning a long thin line that is only two ranks deep; great for delivering musket volleys and bayonets, but very slow-moving overall; but ala the British Redcoats again, very intimidating. One did not want to find oneself in front of a bayonet line if one could arrange to get the hell out of Dodge.

And now, things get a bit fuzzy. ( We history guys love this crap.)

On the other side of the open expanse waited the 1st South Carolina. Accounts generally agree that the Union forces were repulsed, and that the Confederates gained control of the Otto Farm area. The interesting bit is that those unit’s regimental histories offer two totally different versions of how that came about.

According to the 4th RI, the despicable rebels waved a Federal flag in the smoky distance to draw them  into an ambush, and it worked; they didn’t spot the deception until it was too late to back up. In the ensuing fight, RI lost their regimental colors to the enemy. Nonetheless, they gave a good account of themselves, and withdrew from the field in good order ( meaning they did not run, and did not ‘ turn their coats’. So they lost, but honor was still intact.)

According to South Carolina… they met the yankees head-on, beat their asses well beyond an inch of their lives, took their flag, and chased the remnants off the field like frantic schoolgirls. They did wave a flag at them; it was their flag, because they had just captured it.

 Mind you, these are fully documented accounts, regimental histories available from several sources, and in the reference sections of local libraries. They just have a few small inconsistencies…

Someone is lying through their regimental teeth.

I just love American history. So full of holes that you can drive trucks through, and yet we are so totally comfortable with it. Of course someone’s lying- how else could everyone look good for future generations?

At any rate, both my guys survived the battle, and now my miserable yellow slime-ball ass is here to cast dispersions on my ancestors. Hell, if I had been at Antietam, I probably would have been shot for crying hysterically. ” Shot for Excessive Annoyance”, as it would read in the regimental history.

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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All Quiet on the Writing Front…

In recent weeks, I have uncovered some intriguing points concerning my writing skills, or almost complete lack thereof.

Much like a frantic dog confronted with an electric fence, I will apparently endlessly repeat the same futile gestures until I pass out. And having forgotten the fence in the meantime, will begin anew upon awakening.

I have also come across a few writer’s workshop blogs. In way of correction, they all seem to suggest a similar vein of action. All well and good, save that Fido will  resist all efforts; I will charge the fence once again, but this time it will be different.

I come up with a decent idea, get about 1000 wds in, and then go back and start editing as I am still trying to move forward. It doesn’t work. I have re-started the same piece several times, re-writing as I go, and leave off for a few days; perfectly satisfied with where I left it. But when I pick it up again, either I or it has changed perspective, and it stalls completely. Someone moved the electric fence. So Fido starts to bark, and salivate, and run around in circles, and then starts editing some more. If Fido had thumbs, he could pick up a revolver and just shoot the damned thing. What Fido really needs to do is grow thumbs and shoot the bastard who installed the fence to begin with.

That would be me. I did it. I installed the fence. How pompous can a pompous ass get if a pompous ass installs an electric fence? Pretty freaking pompous, let me tell you.

One of the blogs sheds  light on the difference between writers and authors. Writers are everywhere. I’m a writer, you’re a writer, a grocery list is writing, blog writers write blog posts. Blog readers write comments, once in a while. Hell, the second-grader trying to keep his cursive in between the lines is a writer. We’re all the same; some are just a little more pompous about it, is all. So what’s the difference, then? Ready, Fido?

Authors get published. And even make a bit of money at it. As opposed to …you. Take that, you pompous fence-installing punk. How do you like me now?

Ok , that’s enough self-flagellation for one day. And stay awake, because if you forget all this you’ll be barking at the fence again tomorrow. So what do the writer’s blogs recommend?

They say to keep on going with a first draft, and never dare to  touch the backspace bar. Do not go back for anything.  Until it’s done, no matter what. No editing or corrections of any kind. This is very difficult for Fido. He just loves to circle back around and clean things up a bit. Even though he knows he’ll get zapped by the fence…again…again…again.

Here’s part of the problem. I’m a musician. And I see a great similarity between the various aspects of music and written words. If I’ve come across an author who writes in a certain sort of rhythm or cadence, I’ll absorb everything they’ve got. How it flows  actually becomes more important than what it says. Case in point; Patrick O’Brian. He wrote twenty consecutive serial novels about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era, and it’s the best use of language that I’ve ever seen. It flows so well that it just absorbs you into itself.

The rub here is that I’m always messing around with punctuation, trying to establish a cadence. A comma is like a quarter- rest in music; it just slows you down for a second. A semi-colon slows the reader for a little bit longer, a full colon even more so: and a period for a full stop. In England, a period is actually called a full stop. It’s all about phrasing, just like music is. I’m always trying out different tempos, messing around with the flow.

None of that is a bad thing, per se; it’s what I like most about writing. I just have to learn to resist the urge to backtrack myself to death, until the idea loses focus. I can’t work it and re-work it at the same time.

So far, I’ve got a nice bunch of  1000-word novels. Maybe I should try to sell them as a boxed set. Fido’s Short Attention Span Collection…Read them again and again, you won’t remember a thing! Act now, and receive a free electric dog collar with your order!


Published in: on September 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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All Things Must Balance…

Too much heavy stuff can make you crazy. The boneyard fight is over; a few degrees of separation were established by a last-minute intercession from Warren Zevon and Roland. Warren pointed out that the UFO/Scorpions/ MSG camp is actually quite far removed from the Maiden camp, and there’s no need to fight about it at all. Different thing altogether. So just when things were calming down, somebody brought up Ritchie Blackmore and the whole Sabbath/ Dio/Rainbow coalition, and off we went again. But that issue will have to wait for another time.

In the spirit of fair play, it seems that I should shed a bit of light on a few guitar guys from the other end of the spectrum. Sort of a George Harrison- universal equality kind of sentiment.

First up; Willie Nelson. I heard a ” Fresh Air” interview the other day where Willie did ” Crazy“, and accompanied himself with his 5000-year old Martin nylon-string with the holes in it and all.

He’s a much better guitarist than I would have thought. He used some really sophisticated 40’s style chord changes that were smoother than my right cheek at 0550 hrs, Mon-Sat. ( shaving time). Gorgeous. Check it out on the NPR site.

Second up; Andy McKee.

Some people think so far out of the box, it’s like they never even knew there was a box. He plays fingerstyle on steel-string Lowden guitars, handmade in Ireland. You could play an open chord on a Lowden, put it down on the ground, walk around the block, and it’ll still be ringing when you get back.Course, at those prices, it should bring you your robe and slippers when you get home, too. And make you a cheeseburger.

He also plays a  harp guitar. Very popular around the 1890’s to 1920’s. Greatly extended bass range. They’re making a bit of a comeback lately, too.

Andy plays unlike anyone I’ve ever seen.

This clip was pulled by Andy’s label ( Candyrat) after it had received over 9 million hits. Here’s one on the harp guitar;

See what I’m saying?

So things are a bit more balanced out now. I feel better. But Ronnie James Dio just showed up at the Opera House, and he wants to be the next featured dinosaur. Warren says I’d better get over there. Dickinson says ” over his dead body”. Dio says that can be arranged.

Published in: on September 4, 2010 at 8:32 pm  Comments (1)  
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Stuff I Like…

Dinosaurs generally suffer from short attention span, combined with murky, hazy, subjectively unreliable memory. Objectivity slowly becomes a distant concept, as opposed to a discipline. But we always believe that our recall is reliable, so it’s all good. At least to us.

As card-carrying nearly-extinct bipeds, we typically assume that our preferences in musical taste are, of course, infallible. The ravages of time will eventually expose our chosen heroes to have feet of clay, but a true dinosaur will admit nothing right up until the moment when his toes are hanging over the edge of the nearest gaping tar-pit. And even then he’ll likely have a damned good story to back up his outlandish claims.

So…here’s a damned good story. And I can back it up with facts. Subjective facts, but remember, it’s all good to me, so…

I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately concerning Michael Schenker. Michael has always been ” the Guy” in my paleolithic world view.  An often sadly misguided ” Guy”, but his spot in the Big Rock Pantheon In The Sky is still assured.

Michael inadvertently wandered back into my worldview a few weeks ago, in the midst of an MSG 30th anniversary tour. He had been reportedly fading steadily for years,  due to all manner of distractions. To my surprise, he did a great show and played at a level that most people never really get to witness too many times in this life. But we now have this infallible subjective fact as proof; give a hundred Flying V‘s and Marshalls to match to any hundred assorted guitar players, and they will all try to play Michael stuff. They have to. It’s in their dinosaur DNA. Like baby turtles trying to get across the beach to the ocean. Some of the glory is in actually making it, and some is in just giving it your all.

 It is quite as if there is certain glorious stuff that can only be played on V’s and Marshalls, and Michael is the champion of that. So ultimately, it’s kind of a ” Sword in the Stone” thing.

To me, that’s proof enough. Michael’s clay feet have given out several times over, but he manages to survive. And still plays glorious stuff. And my own  clay feet have done no better, but when I pick up my V…well, let’s just say that I’m not pulling the V out of the stone anytime soon. I’m just another turtle in the end.

Speaking of glorious stuff…. Walk on Water, a 1995 UFO album with guess who on guitar….great writing, great production….why UFO never seemed to clear the hurdle into the American market is totally beyond me. In dinosaur hindsight, this might be the best  band that came out of that whole decade.

” Hold on there” the dinosaurs howl. ” Are we forgetting Iron Maiden?”

Uh oh. That kicked it up a few notches. Fight brewing in the boneyard. Gotta go.

Published in: on September 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm  Comments (1)  
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