Sunday, August 31, 2008

9/14/08

Dear Rob,

Will you play drums with me on Sunday, September 14, 2008? Please let me know.

Friday, August 29, 2008

School starting

Marci and I went to Haley's new school orientation thing last night. It was important because the school is brand spankin' new from the ground up. They tore down the old school that was on the site (where Marci and I used to work about 100 years ago) and built a new one on top of it.

It was kind of cool to see this place, even though they aren't done with it yet. They're putting on finishing touches and, with any luck, school will start on 9/2 (and that's provided that the teachers don't go on strike).

As we're sitting there last night, the 1st grade and kindergarten teachers all introduced themselves. One of them was assigned to talk about how the parents should leave their kids at the classrooms. That was all well and good, since it's new to all of us.

She then went on about how she's going to leave her kindergartener and, evidently, has a script all set to go. I couldn't believe how contrived and silly it sounded.
"OK, [insert name here], Mommy's staying for 6 minutes. Now, I know you're going to have a great day and I can't wait to hear about it. Here's your desk and where you'll be sitting."

"Mommy has 1 minute left, then she's going to have to go, but you are going to do so well today and it's going to be fun!"
I paraphrased, but you get the picture. It was really lame. And this is her second child! I'd think that after sending one to K, that sending the second one wouldn't be so tricky.

Anyway, we'll see how the transitions go next week. If they're anything like they've been this week (Marci's been getting Haley up early to get ready), well, we're in for a long year.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Forgotten Arm

This is such a great CD that I can't stop listening to it. I admit, I am a bit (ok, a huge) of an Aimee Mann fanboy, but even if I wasn't, I think I'd be in love with this record. I've been listening to this CD since it was released a few years ago and it is never far from my ears.

I knew of Aimee from her 'Til Tuesday years, of course, but I wasn't a fan. I just knew the song "Voices Carry". It wasn't until she guested on a Rush record, singing backgrounds on the song "Time Stand Still" from Hold Your Fire, that I looked her up.

I was in college at the time, living in the U-district with a couple of dudes from the dorms. We lived below this giant Hawaiian or Samoan who would stomp around all the time. We'd poke the ceiling with a broom handle to get him to stop. He'd just stomp louder. I think it was a game to him 'cause he knew we wouldn't go up to tell him to tread lightly.

Anyway, somehow I bought a copy of Aimee's first solo record, Whatever, and really dug it. I think I was turned onto it by a copy of Tower Records' in house magazine, Pulse, after a decent review.

The songs on Whatever were great across the board. There was tasty pure pop, like "I Should've Known", and melancholy tunes, like "Fourth of July". I played that CD a lot and she moved into one of my favorite artist positions.

Getting back to The Forgotten Arm now. This is such a great record! It's a bit of a concept album, if you will, where all the songs are tied in to an overall story. The melodies are simply beautiful. Listen to songs like "Goodbye Caroline", or "That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart" (probably my favorite song from the CD) and tell me those aren't gorgeous hooks.

Also, the producer deserves credit. The recording is deep and lush and, best of all, live. It sounds like he set up a few mics, had the band count off, and pressed record. There's prominent piano, which really jumped out at me when I first started listening to the CD. The guitars, bass, everything just works so well together. There are killer harmony vocals and, if you couldn't tell already, I am in love with this recording.

I'll stop now. I sound like a broken record. But, if you like singer/songwriter stuff, do yourself a favor and check out The Forgotten Arm by Aimee Mann. Seriously. It's that good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Still here, don't worry.

As if anyone was...

Not much is new since last week. It's rained a whole lot. There was lightning and thunder tonight. In the sky, that is.

I've started working out again. Doing a different ON Demand work out, this time with a ball and cardio. It's pretty cool. I hope to be in swimsuit shape for next season.

I'm sorely missing playing bass. The Lunds have been on a break with summer and all, and the Scheme is still just once a week or so. I hope to have some shows soon with the Lunds, but none of the clubs have gotten back to me yet.

Football is starting and that is AWESOME. I just finished watching SEA vs SD and, despite the result, I was encouraged by the play of Charlie Frye and our running game. Bring on the regular season!

I've also joined a fantasy football league. I have no idea what I'm doing. My team is the Invisible Sandwiches, so beware.

Haley is gearing up for school next week. Her school is brand new, from the ground up. They are still working on building it as we speak. They should be ready, for the most part, by next week. There's rumors flying around that the teachers may strike, so I guess we'll see what happens with that.

Speaking of Hairley, she's been quite the gem the past few weeks. Her brattiness appears to be a thing of the past, so much so that when she is a brat, I'm really thrown for a loop. She's back to the girl I know and love and that is so good for me. She does start her school routine, though, and that may make it a huge mess. Ask me again next week.

In breaking news, Marci just got home from the store and presented me with a...

PED EGG! For Men! I'm gonna give myself a pedicure! SO Fabulous!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Riley

My man Riley turns 4 today. It's kind of funny. 4 years ago, we were able to pick a day on which we wanted Riley to be born as he was a planned C-section. Because Marci was of "advanced" maternal age, we had to keep a close relationship with our OB/GYN. Because of some health issues, it was decided to have Riley via C rather than via V.

I remember that summer was pretty dang hot. Like last week, only for longer periods of time. My father-in-law, Ted, was in town with us for several weeks as Marci was on bed rest and not allowed to do anything but grow a baby. It was great having Ted here. Marci and Haley got some much needed grandparent time and I was able to work without worrying about Marci staying off her feet.

Anyway, Rye was plucked from the womb in the am sometime and I remember he cried quite vehemently, as if he didn't want to be plucked from the womb yet. Little did we know what we were in for...

As we got him home, Haley was super excited about her little bro. She never developed the jealous sibling thing; rather, she loved being with him and being his big sis.

Throughout the years, it became more and more clear that Riley preferred his mother to me by a long shot. We had SO MANY STRUGGLES with bedtimes and separation. Even as recently as a year ago, Riley and I (can I really blame him? He was barely 3!) were fighting nearly every night. We'd have a good day, then, when it came time for bed, all heck would break loose. It was a horrible time for me, and for the family, I think.

Not only that, as Riley grew older, we (Marci, mainly) began realizing that he had certain issues. Most of them I've documented before, but suffice it to say, Riley's seen more doctors and specialists in his 4 years than I have in my entire life.

Thankfully his situation isn't dire. We know autistic kids, kids with deformities, kids with issues that make Riley's look like a walk in the park. So, for that, I suppose we are lucky. Doesn't mean I'm looking forward to his surgery, but you know what I mean.

What's been fun most recently is Riley is he's such an eager boy. He's funny and has a definite sense of humor. He has a lot of things he just LOVES, like Tom and Jerry cartoons, macaroni and cheese, monkeys, playing UNO, and his mom. He loves being with us, which can be annoying at times (sometimes you just want to be alone!), but seeing him shuffle down the hall in the morning for his hug is one of the highlights of my day.

I don't know what turned him around. He's finally able to sleep through the night and that has made a huge difference in our lives. He's finally to go to bed without fighting us (though I think that has more to do with us figuring him out than anything else).

I love Riley how he is now. I love how he talks. It's so cute and endearing, but, ultimately, that's a selfish thing for me. I know that to go through his life with nasal emissions and mispronounced words will lead to heartache and anguish for him, so getting that "fixed" is high on our list of things to do. Throw in giving him the ability to drink water, or use scissors, or not have sinus infections anymore and it makes his surgery a (no pun intended) no-brainer.

I know he'll be a more functional little dude when this is all over. I am excited to share a root beer with him. That excites him quite a bit. He's aware of what's going on and, so far, he doesn't seem worried.

This has been a pretty rambling post. I wanted to celebrate Riley's 4th birthday and I guess I just started rambling. He's super-excited and is so cute when he holds up his 4 fingers to show how old he's going to be. A year from now, he'll be 5 and we'll be talking about how he's about to head off to kindergarten. That's pretty incredible.

And I'm turning into a big sap.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lakland Skyline Duck Dunn Signature P Bass


I've had a chance to take the Lakland for a spin twice now. Once with the Lunds and once with the Scheme last night. I'm already confident that this is a purty bass. Who doesn't like candy apple red with black? Add in those ivory inlay fret markers and a matched headstock? Yum Yum.

But, when I got it home, it just didn't play right. The strings seemed to lay down on the neck, from the first to the 5th fret. I did some web research and attempted to adjust the truss rod (increases or decreases tension in the neck, allowing the neck to get straighter or bow a little). The way the strings were led me to think the neck was too tight, and needed to be loosened. So I cranked it loose a little and let it sit.

After a few hours of sitting to let the wood in the neck settle, I tried it again. Same problem. Flat strings and it didn't seem to have changed at all.

Fast forward to Monday and I called Mike Lull's Guitarworks, where magic happens. Roger was working and I told him about my predicament. I took it in and he took a look at the neck. Apparently there was a hump right at the nut (far end of the neck), and then again at about the 7th fret. I asked if adjusting the truss rod would help that. He said maybe, but it wouldn't be long before there were more issues. He suggested plugging the neck into their Plek machine.

The way I understand it, the Plek takes the guitar's neck and levels all the frets by 1/1000th of an inch at a time. This way, it's much more precise than a human could ever be and it results in an emminently playable neck. The trouble is, the service starts at $250 and I wasn't ready to nor wanting to shell out on this bass.

But, of course I did.

Anyway, I picked it up later in the day and Roger told me that not only was the neck a mess, but some frets were loose and needed to be glued. WTF? All my research on Laklands indicated that one thing they had were killer necks. Well, this one didn't, but it appears that the Plek made it so.

The other weird thing was that the previous owner seemed to not notice, or care, that the neck played so low. I mean, the action was super-low, to the point of me taking it in as I did. Even if I was into low action, I think it was too low for that. And as I like my action higher, I just couldn't play it as such.

So off to practice went I with the DD. After having played the SB-2s almost exclusively for a year now, I found the DD to be a different beast, definitely. First off, the neck smelled nice! Roger, in a setup (like a tune-up), had redressed the frets and must've oiled up the fretboard. Plus, as an added bonus, the neck played SUPER smooth. Don't know if it was me feeling it because of the $$ spent, or if it was real, but it definitely was nice.

Then there was the sound. With the SB-2, I get a really dirty, growly, snappy and twangy sound. It's super-agressive and full of attitude. Since the DD is lacking the J (bridge position) pickup, it loses a little high end. But, it does have a tone control, something the SB-2 doesn't. What does all this mean? Well, the DD has a nice fat, round, bottomy P-bass sound. It's passive (like the SB-2s) and it definitely growls. But, the zing is gone. It doesn't match the "meanness" of the SB-2.

The tone control is really wide in its range. It can go from no treble at all, resulting in a really dull, vintage thump, to an almost hissy high, where all fingerslides and squeaks are heard. The output seems to be pretty hot, too, but not as hot as the SB-2.

I think overall, I am a fan of this bass. I don't think it'll supplant the SB-2 as #1, but it'll make a fine #2, with an occasional start when #1 needs a break. Now I just gotta get some gigs lined up. Any offers??

I am a big baby

I cannot handle this heat.

At work, I'm in front of a fan. No A/C. It sucks. In the car, A/C is on, or the windows are open. Which is better for MPG, anyway? At home, if I'm not in front of a fan, I'm running around with no shirt on.

I just took a nice cool shower and guess what? Sweaty already. Gotta love that.

Though I suppose it could be worse, right? My folks are in Houston and they're clearly insane. But at least they have A/C there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Riley's blog

I've started a separate blog for Riley and our ordeal with Chiari Malformation. If you are interested in that, you can click here. Or, if you're not, don't bother.

I don't plan on doing any cross posting, so if I do, someone kick my butt.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The date is set

Riley's surgery has a date. Sigh.

3 months from today.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I done did it

Last month I entertained trading away my beloved Music Man Sterling bass for another G&L SB-2. The Sterling has been with me since about 1996, when I plucked it off the wall at Bass Northwest. When it came time to pull the trigger last month, I just couldn't do it. The Sterling is such a beautiful bass and as it had been with me so long, I decided to nix the deal.

Fast forward to yesterday. I keep a bass search bookmarked at Craigslist. I check it every day, just for fun. I happened to see one for a bass that I knew nothing about, yet I had to have.

The color was beautiful, the black pickguard just looked great and it had a matching headstock (same color as the body). The seller wanted $825 for it and since I didn't have $825 to spend, I offered up the ol' Sterling to see what would happen.

Well, he was interested. After a few emails back and forth, we decided to meet today. I cleaned up the Sterling and packed it in its case for a quick trip to Bothell.

Matt (the seller) and I hooked up and we tried out each other's basses. We told each other about each bass' history and issues. The Lakland was beautiful in person and played really well, though the action was a bit lower than I like. I think Matt was really pleased with the Sterling.

We ended up chatting a few minutes, then we went our separate ways, both with new basses.

He should have no problems with the Sterling. Even though I couldn't trade it away last month, it just ended up hanging on my wall downstairs. With the Lakland (Duck Dunn Signature Model), it'll definitely get some play. I think I've turned into a P-bass kind of guy over the past year. The SB-2s have definitely spoiled me, but I'm really looking forward to taking the DD for a spin tomorrow night.

Goodbye, old friend!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lund Bros. @ Facebook

Be a fan of my band, Lund Bros., on our Facebook page. You can click here to check it out:

LINK

That is all.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

They live!

Marci called today. They are out of cell phone range, as I suspected, not abducted by deranged Mountain Men.

Carry on.

Curse of the Cell Phone

I've been watching a show on On Demand called Mad Men. I'm sure many have heard of it. It's based in a New York advertising agency and takes place in the early '60s and it's been pretty fascinating. For all intents and purposes, it's a soap opera, but the time period makes it really fun to watch.

In one of this season's shows (it's in its second season), the main character's wife, Betty, is driving her car to pick up her daughter when it breaks down, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. She gets out and flags down the next car. It's determined the passengers of that car know nothing about cars, so she asks them to have Esso (a nearby gas station) send a tow truck. She then sits back and waits. In the dark. All alone.

What would happen these days? You break out your cell phone, make a call and off you go.

Unless you're in a dead spot, that is.

Marci and the kids left again yesterday for a short road trip. They headed down to Mt. St. Helens or thereabouts to go camping with a friend and her two kids. Apparently they were staying in what's called a yurt, which is not as bad as sleeping-bag-on-dirt, but not as advanced as a log cabin. I think it's basically an enclosed shelter.

Anyway, I'm assuming they made it there fine. I'm assuming they're having a super fun time going on nature hikes, eating granola and looking for bears. I assume they're not stuck in a ditch somewhere, hoping some passerbys hear their cries for help.

You see, they haven't called me and I haven't been able to reach them.

At this point in time, there's no reason to panic. Back in the day, I wouldn't have heard from them until they got back home. Until I see a Breaking News story about something horrible, there's nothing to worry about, right?

I have a fertile imagination. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Update on Riley

We had an appointment today at Children's Hospital with Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, who, among other things, is an expert with regards to what Riley has, Chiari Malformation. This appointment was to basically get more details about what's going with Rye and to confirm whether or not we need to have brain surgery for him.

Dr. E said Riley has a size 10 brain in a size 9 skull. He said the extent of Riley's CM (not Arnold Chiari Malformation, as we thought before) was pretty severe. He said that we could opt to not operate, but he predicted Riley would be in a wheelchair at some time in his life.

Think of where the brain meets the spinal cord (not the spine itself) as a cork in a bottle. That's kind of how Riley's brain is. It is down 35mm and, as a result, is blocking the flow of spinal fluid. There is some discomfort associated with it as well, especially if he's straining himself (think heavy lifting, etc). The blockage also creates syrinxes (cysts) in his upper/mid back, which, if left untreated, can grow in size and cause big problems down the road.

So what does all this mean? This means Riley needs brain surgery.

At this point, Marci and I are going to do the surgery and now, it's just a question of when. Waiting doesn't do anyone any good, it just allows Marci and I to put off the inevitable. We're thinking that if we have the surgery in the near future (within 2-4 months), that gives him almost an entire year to heal up before he heads off to kindergarten. Dr. E said that Rye should get most of his functionalities back (swallowing, talking, fine motor, etc). The only restrictions he'd have would be limited to things like football, where there are impacts involved.

In talking to the doctor, he was very confident that he could help us. He did say several times that Riley's condition is quite severe. He also outlined the inherent risks with brain surgery and though no one likes to hear about death or infection and the like, the chances of those happening are pretty slim.

I feel pretty good right now, considering the circumstances. Marci and I are thinking about the eventual outcome, thinking about when I can share a bottle of root beer with Riley, thinking about other people being to understand him when he talks, thinking about him leading a normal life.

After all, isn't that all anyone wants?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Last night at the Skylark

When I planned this show, I knew I wanted the Doll Test on the bill. I just love those guys! Scott was kind enough to oblige, so then it was off to find a third band.

I was having a hard time getting a third. I could've asked one of the Unsmashable crew, but we've been playing with them a lot lately and I wanted to branch off a little (though it could be argued, if it ain't broke, don't fix it).

Anyway, I asked Sgt. Major but they were in studio or something, so it was a no-go for them. Luckily, Jessie @ the Skylark had someone named Adam Marsland email that he was coming to town, so she offered it to him.

Move forward a few weeks, we got a cool poster from Byron, and we were good to go.

It turns out, the show was going to be the CD release party for the Doll Test. This was most excellent news. To me, of all the Seattle bands we've been palling around with (Sportsmen, Riffbrokers, Tripwires, Small Change, etc), my faves have been the DT. I figured it would be a swell show.

Upon arrival, I ran into Adam Marsland on stage. Of course, he called me "Juan", then after correcting him that it was "Gwon with a G", he proceded to call me "Juang". Awesome. Though I was able to recorrect him later.

I saw Jim from Llama/Paul Lynde Fan Club in the back of the room and said hi. Turns out he was there to drum for the DT as Graham, the original drummer, had moved to Montana to be closer to family. Jim said he'd only had a week to rehearse the tunes, so he was a little nervous. I guess the bassist Boyd had also backed down or something. He and his wife had a baby recently and apparently he'd sold his bass rig for some reason. Filling in on bass would be Heather Riffbroker. So, the line-up would be Jim, Heather, Nick on guitar and Scott fronting. In other words, it was the Riffbrokers with Jim on drums doing Doll Test songs. Or something like that.

Pretty soon, the Unsmashable crew and others started showing up. Me, Sean, Chuck, his friend and bad influence, Gary, and Andi (a LB friend/fan from way back) all hung out in the back, enjoying Adam's acoustic set. Though I thought it was a bit underwhelming, I'm listening to his CD (Daylight Kissing Night) right now, and it's quite fantastic.

After Adam's set, we took the stage. I had a case of the cold ass hands for some reason. But, once we got started with Feel, then a new one of Chris' (Such a Ride), things were going well. Incredibly, as we played, it felt pretty good for a change. We'd been having pretty rough shows since, it seems, our show at the Swiss way back in March. The wheels fell off then, and, I'm happy to say, 5 months later, they got back on.

We weren't perfect, but I felt really good about how we played. All three of us, did, in fact. I did have a flub or two, but it was nice nonetheless. People seemed to enjoy it and were all quite nice afterwards.

I was a bit bummed to find that instead of 2 blisters like I got at the High Dive show, this time I had three. Right now they're a nice purply-brown and not as painful as last night. Don't know what my problem is. Apparently I'm digging the heck out of the strings when I play. Maybe I need to invest in in-ear monitors so I can hear myself better? Who knows. I mean, I stand pretty much directly in front of my rig and can definitely hear it, but I think I really go for it on a song like Headhunter.

Well, we had a good time and I think others did as well. Doll Test followed us and they were great. The normally statue-like Nick Riffbroker really enjoyed himself last night. I think he even struck a rock pose or two! Heather held down the bottom end and Jim was his usual stiff/frenetic self behind the kit. Scott was great, what can I say. He has this Gene Wilder hair thing going on and he just kills up there on stage. The new songs were fantastic and the new CD, Mosque Alarm Clock, is just sweet. Do go pick it up and enjoy the super new tunes.

Next up is nothing. I have a couple feelers out, but nothing set in stone yet. We'll keep working on tightening up the tunes and hopefully get something worked out for the upcoming CD/S.

Great show tonight

Finally. We played well. But having 3 blood blisters on my right hand (index, middle and ring) sucks. It's weird to type (no feeling) and they're bubbly.

In other news, I had a rum & Coke and someone bought me a shot of Jaegermeister tonight. Wow.

I'll recap later...
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, August 01, 2008

My shirt stinks

It was clean and in the dresser. I folded it, I put it away. I put it on today and it smells like feet.

I don't remember if it was in the batch that may have gotten left (wet) in the washer for too long...

Ugh. I was gonna take a PMS (poor man's shower: cologne) this morning, but, alas, as I don't wear cologne, I was out of luck.

P. U.

It's 12:30. Why am I still up?

Well, part of it was because I was watching Mad Men. I got hooked into the hype for season 2 and I figured since the show was On Demand, I'd give it a try. So far, I'm 5.5 episodes in and I really like it.

I've been bumming around a little the past few days. I don't know what my problem is. I think part of it has to do with Riley and his impending doctor's appointment. It's on Monday and afterward, we should have a better idea on what we'll need to do. Surgery may be imminent, but we won't know for sure until Monday.

I think part of it also is just feeling lonely. I don't know what it is, really. I have a loving family. My job is fine, I suppose. I got to see friends when my wife and kids were away. Who knows? Maybe it's just being tired and 12:33 that's getting to me.

I don't know. Don't think that I'm depressed or anything... far from it. I think I'm having a bout of the self-pities right now. I'll get over it.

Happy Friday, everyone!