About Damien Riley

I was born in 1969 and I write about all I have seen. Not quite a hippie but I share some of their cultural sensitivities, like peace. I'm a married teacher with 3 kids. This blog is a free flow sharing of blog posts, hand-picked statuses, and photos. I also post to Twitter as Cre8nNov8. Thanks for reading.

When Daddy’s in Charge, a Poem

IMG_0769My daughters, 7 and 9, have taken to playing with makeup and getting into things they’re not supposed to when I am watching them. Their mother has noticed these types of things don’t tend to happen when SHE is in charge. I thought I’d have a little fun with a post I have so named, “When Daddy’s in Charge.”

When Daddy’s in charge
We’ll slide down the stairway
And get into makeup
And paint the closet door

When Daddy’s in charge
We’ll get into chocolate
Daddy will let us
if we let him find out

When Daddy’s in charge
we’ll use all the markers
And most of the paper
Then leave our mess out

Wait a minute, Daddy’s coming …
“Are you girls getting into things again?”
No Daddy, it’s our lipstick, we’re allowed
Daddy would come to find out Bella cut Julie’s bangs
And all they will say
In the grand timely march
That things tend to happen
When Daddy’s in charge.

Chris & Pitts Days

1949-lineupBack when I lived in Anaheim, I used to get the best barbecue on the planet at a place called Chris and Pitts. Now you may have seen the sauce in grocery stores as well as in other amazing restaurants. The sauce is top shelf but that isn’t why they because famous. Chris & Pitts restaurants were always dark inside. You felt like you were in the home of an alcoholic who was nursing another hour of dark before typing one on again with family and friends. Yes, it had a tacky element like that. There were big booth seats that appeared to be leather hand sewn. There was always a wait. Give the people what they want and that begins to happen. Though highly sanitary, the place always had an unkempt air about it. I don’t know how much of it was intentional or not.

cnp_food02In those days I would order a steak well done. I was usually with someone who got ribs we would exchange bites. I’ve always done that in my family. It’s a sloppy good way to be let me tell you. We’d enjoy a meal watching Roseanne on the tv. There were beer company signs behind the bar and all throughout the two huge dining rooms. If you can’t think of what to make tonight, why not head down to the store and pick up a couple steaks. Then, you can see if you find some Chris and Pitts sauce. It won’t be cheap. You can channel the spirit of the Anaheim location which is now long gone. You can do your part for trashy Americana that keeps the wheels turning in this here big blue world. I know what I’m having tonight!

Peace Like a River Flows – The making of …

Since this is a recent song of mine that was actually mentioned by a blog friend in Vancouver on Facebook (without my prompting), it could be a keeper that others might like. That’s why I’m going to attempt to record it on a good friend’s nice equipment.

I’m supposed to record this at my friend’s house tomorrow (no pressure on the friend) so I’m reposting for posterity’s sake, the “making of” if you will. I haven’t recorded on something other than my iphone for about a year so it should be interesting. It’s a very good friend!!!

I completely bailed on my lyrics in this one. It would be easier to teach people at a bonfire with this one. Nonetheless, the lyrics are sound and they really came around (rhyme?) So check below for how they REALLY go.

Peace Like a River Flows
Key of E
Style: Lively Spiritual, Beach Bonfire, Campfire, Singalong, Camp Song

Lyrics:
E
Peace Like a River Flows

Don’t everybody know
A (A7)
That we’re talk bout peace
E
flowin over the stones
(As cold as a stone)
(through hearth and home)
(by our love that is shown)
B7 E
And peace like a river flows
G# A
Hello lonely road
G# F#
That you have to hoe
E B7 E E7
There is peace oh to get you home
G# A
When all the people go
G# F#
You only know what you know
A B7
And I know
peace like a river flows
E

Here’s the first version. A lot stiffer but I got the words right.

Surreal REM Special

import_photos_440I’m not sure when or how my favorite band REM became the stuff of MTV specials. When I first heard them I was no more than a bow. Probably 12 or 13 as I recall. I first heard them on MTV is a blurry video for Radio Free Europe. After that, I remember hearing them on the Dr. Demento show. It made little sense because that was a show of funny songs and the tune they played that night, “Can’t Get There From Here” wasn’t funny. It was “fun” though so maybe one word is a derivative influence of the other. Before long I owned three albums of theirs that would become the soundtrack of my adolescence and beyond. They were mediocre musicians but they were focused of the project. That’s how I’ve seen myself even to the present day. The show said Murmur were voted “best album of the year” even above Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Wow. I remember picking up that mammoth sized LP and buying it with money I’d earned being a good son or brat, I don’t remember which. That album is still a Magical Mystery Tour for me. I love it and it influenced my guitar playing heavily. I would sit next t my turntable playing it for hours and hit every alternate picking and strum by Peter Buck note for note. You could say they made life worth living for one teenage kids, as well as likely millions besides him.

I liked them so much. Everything I did in music, which really isn’t much by most musicians’ standards, was derived from them. They were my sense of cool. Much later and in fact in my early twenties I worked at Pizza Hut and I recal many night mopping the hell out of the floor to the tune off Document, “Finest Worksong.” They were motivating in an unassuming manner. They were doing what they wanted the way they wanted to do it. I am sure life on the road all those years as likely lonely. We saw it take the life out of so many entertainers. Whitney Houston is just one that comes to mind currently. REM managed it. It wasn’t for us though. They were like the big brother in a leather jacket and a mohawk going to a punk gig: “Look kid, you can’t go with me but here a few cassettes to get ready when you’re old enough.” They were the rabbit all the greyhounds chased. They patterned much of their music after the Saturday morning cartoons like the Banana Splits. REM did what they wanted and left an influence of neither bad nor good. Instead, they inspired activism (in the later albums) and awareness of ones self. I can say that everything I’ve done in my life had a little REM in it, from teaching to deciding to shave my head. Yes indeed, it was a surreal REM special today.

 

The Late Great Relaxed Worker

summer-workerHere’s another post against the workaholics. I argue it is irresponsible to be as such. Bill Murray was quoted this year as saying, “The more relaxed you are, the better you are.” I knew there was a reason I liked this guy all the way back to Meatballs. A responsible person does things like: exercise, take insulin or other medication, go see the doctor, take a sick day, carry a container of ibuprofen for those killer headache days, etc. This person guards their resources and monitors her/his health to be more productive. It’s a paradox because the more you practice self care, the healthier and more effective you become at work. I’ve met so many people in the years since I’ve been old enough to work who I call workaholics. They make no apologies about their quick talk and ordering of others. They rarely practice self care and they make me afraid to mention if I am feeling under the weather. They are judgmental.

I picture the 70’s as the ideal decade for self care. I don’t imagine workaholics were a thing then. Everyone was talking about being “free to be you and me.” They were preaching peace, love and happiness. I remember cutting out a popular craft back then called “Shrinky Dinks” with phrases like: “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” The songs on the radio were long. Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd are two bands who had hits that were over 5 minutes long. Organic food and Macrame are two symbols of the 70’s. Long hair and beards were indicative of the time. I wish more people valued rest and relaxation the way I do and apparently the way Bill Murray does. I am a better teacher when I’m relaxed. I do prep reading for my lessons more effectively and intuitively. Why do workaholics mistake rest and relaxation for laziness? I suppose in some they may look the same but rest and relaxation makes most all of us better. If you know you are made better through relaxation, trust in the way you make yourself relaxed. If you don’t take care of yourself, and rest and relaxation is just one way, You will under perform at work. If you need to take a sick day, you really should do it. Not only do you owe it to yourself, you owe in to your circle of friends, family, co workers and the ones you serve with your work. We make diet and exercise plans but what about a regular time each day to relax? Take time to relax or get sick, the choice before you is plain.

What the Wind Can’t Blow Away

Influence
As I watch the wind up here in the desert, or its effects rather, I can see that it blows most unfastened things away. It’s time to tie things down for the Winter and its harsh winds. The wind blows away so much. For example, a child can litter their Baskin Robbins cone in a parking lot and quite soon after the wind will take it far away. Converesely, there are some things even the high force winds up here cannot simply take away. In some cases, I am glad. In others, it’s a pity they remain.

What the wind doesn’t blow away is influence, it stays until it leaves of it’s own accord. I think of musical influence by a singer named Neil Young. Here is a guy in his late sixties whose music has influenced me now in my early forties and the music of nearly every hippie type you see today with an acoustic guitar. My best example is the way my rock heroes the Alarm covered his “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” back in the 90’s. When I heard Neil first do that song I was impressed. At any rate, when the Alarm “kids” did his song, I was mesmerized. Both remain a strong influence on my music and daily life. That will not fad in the way that say, some random religious artist influenced me back in the 80’s or before. Singing about the sepulcher is a mixed bag. People may hear your tune and buy your CD but ironically, music about the rock of ages blows away quick in the human background.

True influence isn’t such because it is rooted in old books. It affects the lives of others because of its truth and sincerity on its own. This is something we should all strive to create in our lives while we have this wonderful random chance to be alive. Influence grows on its own and lives on on its own. Even high desert wind doesn’t blow away influence.

On Summer days, I find myself sometimes thinking about what gets blown away now in life and even after my death. I suppose that list of thing are what is worth looking into.

House on Kroeger Street

122212_0456_TestofaBlog1.jpgFrom my earliest memories I was told about the “Kroeger Street” house. My parents reminded me of the big sycamore tree with a tire swing and our dog, Friday. I remember as an older child hearing it and barely remembering. Now I remember the street all too well from all the telling. I spent the first 4 years of my life there. In the pictures they showed me it had a white picket fence and a white wooden look to it. It must have been built before the days of “stucco” because it was all wood. It had a front porch and as I said a tire swing attached to a large sycamore tree visible from the street on the side. It was a place an open mind would come from.

They told me of another boy I used to play with next door. They told me of Mrs. Fitz. Apparently her last name was longer . . . Fitzpatrick or something, but so the kids could say it, they called her Mrs. “Fitz.” She was elderly and in a wheelchair but whenever we would go over and knock on her screen door she would say: “Well hello, here comes Damien!” and give us warm apple turnovers. We would sit and listen to her tell us stories. That part I remember vividly. My brother is 14 months younger than me so I doubt he remembers Kroeger street more than I do. Nonetheless, we have 8 millimeter film footage of he and I in the grass with the cat and dog. My mom looks so young, it’s really amazing to see those pictures now. My dad always had a Freud-like beard. He was wild and wacky in those days (and you see it in the film). He’d throw me up in the air and put my face right in the camera lens. He was, and still is, so proud of his family and kids.

When I would close my eyes and envision Kroeger street I’d see gutter flowers, grass growing through sidewalk cracks, the house as they told it to me, and of course the people they told me loved me while we lived there. Continue reading

Turkish Coffee

This post is from a series here called Coffee Vocab Tuesdays
coffee vocab
Okay, so I went into my favorite Starbucks this morning and had a new adventure in caffeine. I joked in “Coffee Vocab pt. I” about how I usually say: “If I can’t chew it, it’s not coffee.” Well, I kid you not, the guy in front of me literally meant that when he ordered something called “Turkish Coffee.” In a 10 minute wait, I learned a new term, and got a new drink!!!

I’m such a line eavesdropper. That’s one reason I don’t mind waiting in them. I usually opt out of the fast pass at Disneyland, because to me waiting in line is part of the ride: based on the STUFF YOU HEAR! Anyway, at Starbucks, the guy was Middle-Eastern and spoke with a heavy accent. The girl didn’t seem familiar with it. Poor thing, she was really cute too. She showed wisdom when she asked a fellow barista for some help in preparing it correctly. Another came over, guided her through a series of steps which I watched in dumfounded amusement. Finally, with trepidation she gave him the strange concoction. He drank it with questioning relish and said: “That’s good, I can almost chew it!” I was in shock. It was my clever line! Yet it wasn’t clever, it was APPLICABLE!

I of course had to break with my routine order of a mild-coffee-of-the-day black with no room for cream to get a TURKISH COFFEE! Have you ever had one? If you have, you know that there is indeed a coffee drink out there in the repertoire of drinks that indeed . . . is chewable.

I need a new line now that mine is no longer outrageous . . . any suggestions? I like to make the baristas laugh. Can’t fail to please ya know?

The Notion of Blog Audience

Aristotle and Plato wrote of the importance of the audience in rhetoric. If you want to communicate something, you ought to consider the receiver. In writing a college essay, the audience is clear: the professor. In writing for a magazine, you have a focused idea of the demographic you are appealing to. Most every writing situation has an audience you can imagine, outline, and write with respect to but not so the blog.

Writing a blog can be like a diary. Once while looking around at blogs, I found MANY “online diarist” blogs at Live Journal and other free hosted sites. That makes sense, it’s called a Journal, so nothing bad there. But blogging can be a wide array of other types of writing. The blogosphere contains diary blogs and blogs about bands and blogs about (insert blog topic you know here). Blogging, like all writing, will benefit through audience consideration. I’ll give you a few ways that I think good writers do that:

#1. Take the time to think about your intended audience. This will depend on your purpose and the subject of your post.

#2. Outline the typical reader in this audience, then form your words around that person. List her/his needs and interests.

#3. Use their vernacular. We live in an exciting culture full of sub-culture phrases and idioms. Write a couple down before you start and use these in your post.

#4. Guess some questions the reader might have and answer them in your post. This is an important part of audience consideration.

Just thinking about your audience will make your blog (ironically) universally more coherent and effective at persuasion. And if you are thinking “I don’t write to persuade.” Then I must respectfully reply to you that all writing is persuasion, just ask Plato and Aristotle. So many bloggers never think about their audience, be different and be more effective and conveying thoughts through blogging.