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

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 House on Kroeger Street

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.

Enjoy the Regular Roads

Driving to work today along a lonely high desert road, Highway 395 to be exact headed West toward Adelanto, I had another realization about life. We look back and say “It all went by so fast.” To those I say: “What were you waiting to happen?” I think we do this because we don’t pay attention to the road. Paying attention to the road makes time go slower.

It’s so easy to get distracted from the regular road ahead of us. We may see it every day for 10 years and fail to notice something small. When I think about the huge events in my life, it seems to have gone by slowly. Why? Because I was focused on the road, sometimes in technicolor focus. Instead of waiting for these magnanimous events to occur in ones life, it is adviseable to embrace the regular road for what it is. Continue reading Enjoy the Regular Roads

Prepare to Meet the Villain

deceiverDid you ever see a superhero movie where the hero finds the villain’s lair only to hear upon entry:

Welcome. We’ve been expecting you.

Then there is a ghoulish laugh like “bwah ha ha ha ha” or something like that? That scene is pretty common in superhero shows. It’s possible audiences relate with it so well because we all have metaphorical villains that we fear. When our fear materializes it seems composed and set on destroying us. In those scenarios, fear has control, we do not. Wouldn’t it be great if when our fear shows itself we could say to it:

And I have been expecting you!

Preparation to meet our “villain” is the key to good mental health. Sorry if the picture is too scary, but I thought it accentuated my point well. The villain is not for kids. If you go back and read my post on the REBT psychology method you will see that our belief about adversity is what determines our action and consequence. Wrong beliefs about things defeat us. At the present time, these posts of inspiration and good mental health are my favorite to write. If your greatest fear is to lose your job, which is probably mine in all honesty even though I have a pretty secure job, then ask yourself why does that scare you so much. Is your worth 100% in your job? I know mine isn’t. As you begin analyzing that fear and asking “Why?” you can become prepared for the fear when it comes up. Classic example of REBT: Your boss calls you into his office. Do you panic? This is your villain manifesting itself. There is no need to panic if you meet him prepared. Your greatest fear is probably not even going to happen and imagine how much trouble you’ll save yourself by not being so concerned. You can beat that villain and another and another until ideally fear no longer has a hold over you (I am not there quite yet). It’s a great thing when defeat a villain, despite his size. REBT is my latest excitement to blog about, thought it is certainly nothing new. As I close, let me draw your attention to another psychological marvel that shows us really all our collective villains I guestblogged about in a simple list: The 10 Cognitive Distortions. These are the biggies to watch out for. Remember this ‘aint no movie, this is your one shot at a life. Now, go get yourself prepared to meet the villain.


Blog Safari 11-16-14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlog Safari is a speedlinking series where I feature other peoples’ recent blog posts that I read and really liked. Check out my blogroll for these and other excellent blog posts.

Own the Storefront

Owners do “walk-throughs” starting at the storefront. Then, they adjust and repair things accordingly. I have always seen a parallel in a storefront to the self.

When you enter a store, hopefully there is an owner who thinks about you, the customer. If you need something, he’ll guide you to that place. If you have a complaint, or if someone treats you unfairly, he’ll step in to make it right by you. Owners accept everything.

When I was an area coach for Pizza Hut, I used to love to see my managers out in front of the store picking up slips of trash and sweeping. It showed ownership. We as ordinary people seeking self-improvement need to step back and check our own storefront, which is “the self.” Continue reading Own the Storefront