12-26-04: What a nice Christmas I had; I'm so lucky to have the friends and family that I have, it's sometimes easy to take them for granted. So if any of you friends and family read this, I want to say Thank You so very much for all the beautiful gifts, the candy, and the great dinner and holiday junk food! I'm getting a little too insulated for the Winter, esp. since this week is going to be in the 60's. (Thanks, Mother Nature for that nice gift--maybe I won't freeze so much at night). 

One of the coolest gifts I received was my new kitty; he (or she--I haven't checked yet) was one of the homeless kittens I was feeding for the last few months, and when it started to get really cold last week, I took the 2 remaining ones in; one went to a friend, and the other stayed with me. A third cat I named Homie, who was slightly older and from a different litter, got smashed in the road...it was pretty bad. I didn't want more Casualties of Country life, so in came Patty and Dinky. Dinky rode with me to KC this weekend, and went to a good home. Patty stayed, and this morning was the first time since the end of September I woke-up to a cat sleeping on my bed...even nicer was coming home from Mass to be greeted at the door! I kept this guy over the other because he was a little more mellow, and looks a LOT like Skippy--even acts like him.

I guess the only thing that would have made this Christmas complete would be to share it with a single lady. Well, I'll stop looking so hard, as that seems to be the unanimous advice I get from everyone on this subject.

12-20-04: Don't ask me where this came from, just enjoy the Christmas Spirit it brings to you!

O Holy Night  (2 MB)

12-15-04: Went to the dentist this morning, and he drilled away; no pain until @ 3pm, after the Novocain wore off. Still, it wasn't what I wanted to go through at 9:30. Talk about another day of lows and highs: 3 more forwards today, but off-set by 4 rejections (1 today and 3 yesterday); remixed the "Hope Springs..." tune--it was kinda bass-heavy; much clearer now, but still need to tweak a few spots. I hope the director gives me a chance to send him the new mix. 

12-14-04: Didn't pull the all-nighter, but was up late enough, then got up early enough to finish "Hope Springs Eternal"; I'd change a few things if I had more time, but it may work as-is. It's for a dispatch listing for use in a documentary; the required sound was something like Enya's "A Day Without Rain". Oh, and that double-layer pepperoni pizza I got on Friday was gooooood!

12-10-04: Got a post card today; 3 more Taxi forwards! Now,....now I can relax--sort of; more like take a breather, maybe get a big ol' pepperoni pizza tonight at the 'Espresso Cafe', which is a good frisbee throw from my house... My goal was to reach 7 forwards, then to start expecting them--it's now more business than before. And to survive, I must produce music better than what I think is possible. On a low note, my "Hollywood..." song was returned, but had the feedback/harsh criticisms I was looking for. Will have to work much harder.

12-7-04: Got another forward! (this will never get old, no matter how many I get). "Ode to John 'Gus' Mathews" made it to the East Coast engineering firm. The all-nighter paid off.

12-3-04: Man, I haven't pulled an all-nighter in a while. It's now 5am, and I've been working on a Taxi Dispatch listing than came into my e-mail Wednesday afternoon. I started it this evening, and thought, "this is another opportunity, so let's see how serious I am..." and decided to work on it until finished--no, "finish it in the morning" logic; that did nothing but assure an 'Incomplete' on countless assignments throughout high school and college. I'm still totally wired; my eyeballs are on fire, and my ears are ringing; may as well see how long I can go without sleep (haven't been able to sleep much anyway).

11-26-04: Got yet another Taxi forward today! "Portrait" was another Conservatory piece (string quartet); I believe this was written in the Fall of '90. 

11-15-04: Man, this video ROCKS! watch Falluja.

11-11-04: Now that I have local channels on my Sat.TV, I was able to watch 'Morning Barf with Katie Couric'.  Why I tune-in to see her is a mystery; I guess it's like slowing down to look at a car wreck.  The arrogance just kills me. She told Dr. Phil, "With all due respect, kids are going to drink, so why not make sure they do it in a safe environment?" Brilliant observation, Katie! Okay, here's what we'll do: put you in charge of personally handing out rubbers to all the Seniors next Spring for their Prom. While you're at it, you can rent-out 1,000 hotel rooms for the kids after the dance. Hey, if they're going to drink, then they're gonna have sex, so why don't YOU make sure they are safe about it. Uhhgggg...she really makes me sick.

Well, gotta get to bed earlier tonight so I can watch more of the train wreck tomorrow. This way, I can fully appreciate all the truly beautiful minds on my XM radio.

11-9-04: Finally, another Taxi forward! "First Kiss" (orchestrated version) made it to a music library for consideration. Not the biggest of possibilities, but a step in the right direction. A little trivia on this piece: I wrote the piano version first, then a couple weeks later orchestrated it for the student readings while at the Conservatory in '92. I remember the teacher saying there were 'too many Db's...' (D flats--one of the black keys on the keyboard). Later I brought it to a local radio station and they laughed at those comments made, since they liked it enough to use for some little background break in their talk-show. Anyway, 14 years later, I dug up the original score and transferred it into my studio.

11-1-04: Typed the lyrics to the 'hidden' song below the picture.

10-24-04: Sorry; I don't know why I enjoy this so much, but I do! 

video of Ashlee Simpson being revealed a fraud  2.9MB

10-19-04: Thanks to all who sent cards and e-mails offering their sympathy--it really helped make things less difficult. Now, back to work, sending 7 demos this week alone, plus almost finished with a new song. The title is what's on the home page

Speaking of the new home page, that's the tentative cover for my next album. Who knows when it'll get finished...may not be until after Christmas, but I thought it was time for another 'Tommy' record, since it's been 2 years since the last one. I do know it won't be another Sacred Music-type CD, or anything to do with royalty-free music-for-magic. But most great songs start with a great title, or story, and "...Hollywood" has a nice ring to it. So why not write 12 more great titles, then cut the record?

The latest Elliott Smith CD came out today, but I won't get a copy until I'm in KC again. I always find it incredible that when an artist passes away, there's all this great 'undiscovered' work he left behind. Nick Drake died in 1974, yet I bought another one of his new CD's last month. October 21 will be the1-year anniversary of Elliott's murder (or suicide--still under investigation), and there's even a new biography about him. So is someone cashing-in on these deaths? Seems a bit in bad taste, but I'm just as guilty, 'cause I'll get whatever I can from these 2 artists. And my 3rd all-time favorite band--HEM--has received some wonderful praise from a Rolling Stone review. 'Eveningland' is a beautiful record, but falls short in duplicating the magic present on the first CD, 'Rabbit Songs'--easily one of my top-5 favorite records. I have to laugh because now it's just a matter of time; this band will be all over the radio in a few months (probably the song 'Jackson'), and all the yuppies will swarm to Border's to get a copy, just as they did almost 1 year after the first Norah Jones CD finally became in vogue. Last year you couldn't find anyone that heard of Howie Day, but I was so proud to have his 1st record, and an imported EP. It's a bands worse curse: they want to be unique, yet hugely popular at the same time. And the poor fans want their band to do well, but also want to say they were there first--before they were popular, and lay some sort of personal claim on them. And once the band makes a top-40 song, the fans go, "I knew about them 2 years ago...where were you?!?!" (hey, I'll admit it--I'm guilty of this!) What's worse, a great number of loyal followers will make the inevitable claim of 'selling-out', as though it's a crime to make enough money to move to a bigger apartment, with a functioning A/C unit, and real, unspoiled food in the fridge. I won't accuse HEM of doing that, but the new CD does smell a bit like someone diluted enough songs in order to access a broader fan base. 

10-2-04: Rest in peace, little Skipper. You've been the best company a lonely guy could ask for. Always there to greet me at the door, kept my neck warm at night, and sang-out loud when I played the piano. This is goodbye.

10-1-04: Skippy's diagnosis was pretty bad; not the first time, though. 10 years ago, the vet told me he wouldn't last 48 hours after a serious urinary tract infection. So yesterday, the blood test results came back. Using some scale (???) he told me "anything over 30 is horrible, and Skippy's is at 89...he has total kidney failure". So I thought I would just keep him comfortable for another 24 hours. Last night, he got pretty wobbly, and I thought this might be the last night he'll be here. But as of this morning, he's doing his tub jump (to get his water) great, he's eating again, and just getting around fine. I don't know what to do. He's in his house now, but as soon as I start recording, he'll probably run up to the studio. Can't put him down now.

9-29-04: Poor Skippy; September is his birthday, and he's now 17 years old (got him as a present in October of '87). he's having problems with his hind legs, so I'm taking him to the vet this morning for X-rays. Yesterday, he slept all day in his house, so the weather is finally cooling down. Even the studio is at normal temps now. When it's above 80 outside, it's close to 90 up here; when it's 90 outside, it's 100 inside. I wonder how cold it'll get this winter. Some say a mild summer brings a hard winter...I got my space heaters ready.

Ravens update: MondayNightFootball: October 4th, Ravens vs. Chiefies, in Baltimore. This should be better than the last time they met. KC is 0-3--could they go 0-4? not likely, but that would mean my team would lose. But the Chiefs have no defense, and the Ravens offense is better than last year. Pretty evenly matched teams (and for the record, I think the Chiefs are better than their record shows; they did play Denver away, then faced last year's SuperBowl runner-up, and a solid Texans team). Also, the two teams have faced off 3 times in Baltimore, with the Ravens losing all 3 times. So much for home field advantage. This is a tough one, but I'm going to predict a Ravens win (surprised?!)

Computer update: I ended up getting a new Gateway monster of a machine: P4 3.4GHz, 250 Gig SATA HD, 2 Gig RAM, DVD-RW+-CD/RWburner, CD/DVD drive, 13,249 USB, Firewire and media card ports. No excuses now!

9-20-04: The latest 2 Taxi pieces got put on the rejected list; gotta keep trying, though; I've put too much into this 'dream' to stop now. On a high note, a minor miracle has occurred.... I lost my cell phone in Houston the first night I was there...thought it was dropped in the street when I was running thru the pouring rain. I get back home a week later, and my dad called telling me someone called from my phone to let him know it was found, and how to get it back. How this was possible, I'll never know. After missed calls and messages left, I finally got the guy's work number, spoke to him, and he gave me the address (I shipped him a postage-paid box to put the phone in). He called Thursday to let me know he received the box, and was going to mail it out. And today, it arrived. (thanks Bobby!) This little act of kindness has restored my faith in humanity. He had no obligation to call me, a total stranger, and spent a lot of time trying to track me down. Guess there are still a few nice people out there.

Also, my music-only computer chewed-up another motherboard (yes--another....that makes 2 boards in 8 months). So with frustration setting in, I begged the tech guy to help me out in whatever way he could. This morning, he called, telling me he explained my situation to the store manager, and agreed to exchange the dud for a brand new one (store credit, actually, so I'll most likely get something that cost a bit more than what I paid in January). Still, this is a great deal...if I spent $1,000 on a computer in January, I'd get a 2.8GHz whatever, but now I can get an Athlon64. I'm really not out anything, except the gas it's taking for the 2 extra trips to Kansas City. In my mind, it's a pretty good deal.

9-14-04: Looks like hurricane Ivan is heading straight for New Orleans...

9-13-04: Spent Saturday in K.C. getting supplies and a train set! Bob's old O-Scale train is now here, and I'll be setting it up this week. Today I finished another Taxi piece, and uploaded that with 'Exotic Air' for the latest Dispatch listing.

9-11-04: Returned from the T.A.O.M. convention in Houston Wed.; I did okay there, considering the lack of attendants. Now I'm working on another Taxi Dispatch due on Monday....I'd like to finish it up today so I don't have to worry about it tomorrow (Ravens season starts!). So glad to see Kerry imploding, and all the people in the media frantically trying dig up anything on Bush; Kerry's finished--it's over....you can hear it in the voices of the pukes on America Left (xm radio). But I don't think they're as sad as they'd like you to believe. Everyone knows it's Hillary in '08, so Kerry going down in flames is a vital part of their master plan. 

8-22-04: Man I'm getting tired of this country song I'm trying to finish. It's called 'Never Let You Down', and it'll be a big let down to the folks at Taxi. But, I must finish it. This was suppose to be an experimental piece anyway...something to practice recording on VST/32 while using some new virtual instruments. These things are amazing, and I can see that it'll really make a huge difference in getting pieces done faster (once I get the hang of it, that is!). It looks like I'll finish this piece, then do some custom work for an Opus 1 customer. Once I finish that job, I'm off to the magic convention in Houston. Then,....then I can start the HEM-Elliott-Drake songs.

8-16-04: Anyone watching the Olympics? Neither am I. I did hear that one of the things the city has been doing in preparation was to scatter poisonous meatballs abound town to kill all the stray cats and dogs. Cats were killed almost instantly, but it took up to an hour for some of the dogs to die in total agony; one trash man tossed a poor dog --still-- alive in the back of the truck to get crushed by the compactor. I'm no PETA guy, but I do feed the birds and squirrels around here; there's even a little kitten that likes coming around to meow at me (even when I don't have food for her). So what's going on in Athens is, in my opinion, inexcusable and disgusting. The only good thing about the games is the fact that ratings are way down, and the USA basketball team already lost.

On a (much) happier note, I watched one of the funniest episodes of The Chris Isaak Show, and in typical Clouseau fashion, I didn't have a tape ready, since I didn't know there was going to be a show tonight (there hasn't been one in over 2 weeks, so I thought they were done with re-runs for a while). Oh well, as is true with all the other episodes, the only person I could think of was Becky. We used to laugh pretty hard at some of his shows. We laughed pretty hard at a lot of things. The whole relationship was, ...hard to explain. Don't think I'll ever understand what happened. I'd call, she'd call; we'd get together for movies, Chris Isaak Shows and/or burgers, then I'd put my foot in my mouth, feel like an idiot, then wouldn't call,.. she wouldn't call. We both wouldn't call, and would play this kinda strange Mexican stand-off, and see who would call first. One time this went on for over 5 months! I missed her the whole time, so I had to call. It was so great to see her again. To laugh with her again. Then I took her out for her birthday, which was followed by the busiest week in my life, and wasn't able to call her for 4 days. I thought she knew of all the things that were going on. I thought wrong. Painting long days, followed by major music projects that kept me up half the night. It was complete madness --for that 1 week. Sometimes I get angry inside, but mostly I just feel sad it had to end the way it did. I mean, I just took her to a nice dinner, and was talking about taking her to Caesar's Palace--for no reason--just to have a some mindless fun. So what happened? Honestly, I have no idea. I've replayed the sequence of events that led up to that week a 1,000 times and still haven't been able to figure it out. I would admit to anything stupid I did, but I didn't do anything wrong this time. I relished our 'new' friendship, and was enjoying her company all over again, this time in a way that seemed more relaxed, and much more, well, comfortable. God, what happened

8-13-04: Gearing up for the big convention in Houston; still a lot left to do--CD's to print and assemble, brochures to design, coupons, displays, etc. Watched part of the Ravens pre-season game last night! That was cool. And if you think it's sad that I get so excited over a pre-season football game, come visit me in Appleton City, and you'll understand.

8-5-04: Worked on final versions of 2 Taxi Dispatch listings today; yesterday, I found a listing for '...soft, instrumental pieces for a European Wellness Hotel...', whatever that is. After I listened to the samples they suggested as examples, I thought I should do a few. So I fired-up Giga, then 'wrote' 3 pieces in 10 minutes. 

7-23-04: Well, the new songs won't be up until next week. I know I won't get them done by tomorrow, and Mike D. is coming to visit on Saturday afternoon thru Sunday afternoon. I should be able to get the instruments done by tonight, but I know it'll take a day or 2 for the vocals (5 million takes and endless editing)...but if you want to hear some new instrumentals, I'll be posting the new Opus 1 'freebie' late tonight.

7-20-04: So what is beautiful? The sound of thunder/rain, a sunset,... kids in the yard laughing? For me, it's a contradiction. I love cloudy, gray rainy days, snow-covered fields, smokestacks on the horizon of a small steel town in Ohio, a barge passing through Dubuque, Iowa, and the smell of leaves burning at dusk on a Sunday...oh yeah, the in-town scenery in the "The Deer Hunter" is absolutely breath-taking...at least thru my eyes (hey, watch the movie sometime if you haven't seen it in a while--or at all). I don't like the beach, totally sunny days, and crowded city streets. The most beautiful music to me is considered sad and depressing by most. Melancholy, I suppose. Rachmaninoff's 2nd and 3rd piano concertos, Cowboy Junkies, This Mortal Coil (!), Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut", and of course Nick and Elliott. That's the conflict. I love hearing stories of those who beat all the odds to be successful; positive messages and lessons through homilies on Sunday mornings at Mass, and the movie "Rudy" is always a great pick-me-up, and it reassures me that I made the right decision in moving here to pursue my dream at all costs. I listen to conservative talk radio because it makes me feel good; liberal radio can be funny at times, but I feel bland and kinda worthless after more than an hour of The O'Franken Factor. I'm definitely a minority in the music business by listening to Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins tapes, reading Bill O'Reilly and watching Fox News. God, I don't even have a single tattoo or piercing, and have never been stoned or drunk--ever. But when it comes time to write, I feel most comfortable speaking from the 'dark side'. Not the Alister Crowley, horned devil evil; just those feelings that all of us have, but only a few of us will ever acknowledge. Those closest to me know I've survived some seriously bad times. I would assume that most of us have some major issues at heart, but unless you're an artist, you're careful not to tell anybody about these things for fear of being ostracized by your superficial co-workers or in-laws. I guess it's a strange dichotomy--writing about a past I'm supposed to leave there, yet should never forget, so as to learn from it.

7-18-04: Iron Maiden is on XM's "Boneyard". Wow, what memories that brings back, plus the good feelings that come with those memories; trying desperately to re-MIDI the studio, so I can get the scratch tracks done for the newest song. I'd like to get the keys, bass and guitar done by Tuesday, so I can start the vocals on Wednesday, and have the song done by the weekend. I'll post it here first. This is the first of many new tunes to come, unlike what I've done in the past. This time, I'm doing it the way I always wanted to, with a little influence from Nick Drake, Hem, and my all-time favorite songwriter, Elliott Smith. I'm not trying to sound like those bands (nobody ever could),  just trying to learn from their abilities to convey what's inside. 

7-17-04: I tried to watch the morning news the other day, and almost went postal on the TV, so I ordered DirectTV...they said the installer would come on Saturday between 1 and 6pm. So why was I surprised when I got a call at 7:55 this morning from the installer saying he would be there in an hour? Hey, shouldn't complain, and I'm not, really. just thought it was kinda funny. Can't wait til football season! I'm getting the NFL package so I can watch all the Ravens games. Yee-Haaaa!!

7-15-04: This morning, I'm listening to "Air America" on XM radio's 'America Left'. I've actually heard something I agree with them on. These little bed-wetting whiny pukes are talking about moving to Canada if Bush is re-elected. They're actually giving out website addresses for info to move there. I say, "Good! Get the hell out of this country if it's so bad!" I'm sick of hearing you complain about how 'oppressed' you are. Grow-up! and remember what your mama told you when you were a kid: what you do and who you are in this world comes from decisions YOU make. It doesn't matter who's in office--Kerry, Bush, Hillary--this is the land of endless opportunity; the greatest country on Earth. And those who don't like it should move out AND never come back. In fact, after I achieve the financial means to do so, I'll pay for your ticket outta here: One-way, anywhere on this planet you want to go, as long as you sign a contract stating you shall never set foot on U.S. soil again. I'll even fly you 1st-Class. This country will only benefit from your departure. If you move to Canada, enjoy paying double the taxes you are paying now (that's how their health care is 'free'); move to France or Germany, and you'll have government-paid doctors botching your next operation; Wanna move back to the 'homeland'? Great! South Africa has the highest population of AIDS victims in the world. Move anywhere you want--just shut-up and get out.

6-30-04: I should finally get a normal night's rest tonight...the house in KC finally closed at 3pm today. By next week, I should have some more food, diet coke and might even buy a new sofa. I'd like to get Direct TV, though that may be a distraction from recording. But I'll have to get something--even extreme-basic-cable, for having only 1 channel is driving me nuts...and that 1 channel only comes in during the morning hours (4am- 8am), then it slowly starts to fade out to snow. Sometimes in the evening I'll get ABC, but that's only if it's really clear out. If it's raining, forget it. At least the house is closed--done deal. Today, I started going thru the 'Cubase Power!' book, all the way from page 1. I got this VST/32 program a few years ago and never learned how to really use it, so I thought I'll read the instructions when I have time. Man, this program is deep. It's the PhotoShop of audio; some people who've had it for years haven't used all the features. But spending time on it should keep me from buying a newer, "easier" program. Major CD's have been recorded on this software. I know it's great, just a pain to figure out. Anyway, I have a week before I need to start on the next Taxi pieces, so this would be a good to time learn VST. Opus 1 people: your next 'freebie' is almost finished; will have it up this weekend 

.Oh did I mention the house closed?!?!!

6-28-04: The squirrels here are kinda weird looking; they look like they've been dipped in a jar of self-tanning oil. I'll have to check the squirrel web site to find out what kind they are. They also do more walking than hopping...I need to get some peanuts to see if they'll come up to me. The house in KC still hasn't closed, and I'm thinking this whole dream may be over just when it's getting started. I'll know in less than 24 hours what's going on...sleeping is virtually non-existent, maybe 3 hours a night. Good thing I pulled all those all-nighters in college to prep me for the all-night recording sessions, or the up-all-night-worrying sessions. Needless to say, this hasn't let me concentrate fully on music, though I have completed 2 more pieces in this last week (for Taxi submissions) thru sheer determination. Once the house closes, I should be cranking out 1 hit song a week. I want that black Lamborghini Countach by next year. Hey, all things are possible.

6-18-04: I got a Taxi forward!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, sorry for the over-excitement, but this is a huge deal; it's the main reason I moved here. I guarantee, if I were in Kansas City, last weekend, I wouldn't have been able to finish this piece.. would have been painting somewhere, fixing something for someone, or just going a little crazy at the old house. I'm here just over 3 weeks, and my first Taxi submission gets: 1) written, 2) polished and 3) forwarded for consideration on a major cable network sitcom. 

6-8-04: Last night, around 1am, I went out on the deck and looked straight up into the Heavens...I saw just about every star created. It's so clear out here....can't see anything in Temporary Tagville. I'm clueless about astronomy, but I saw very clearly the Big Dipper (or Little Dipper.. how can you tell? Guess I'll have to get one of those little chart dial things you look thru--I'll look on the back of cereal boxes tomorrow at the Food Fair grocery store). Anyway, I feel totally spoiled here, but still don't feel once ounce of guilt for not painting...I just don't even think about it. What I am thinking about is getting my first Taxi forward. Not many details left on the unpacking part (well, actually there's tons left to do, but I'm now able to fill orders easily since I got the office part of the studio set up). Still testing gear; in the software stage, and to my complete surprise, GigaSampler96 fired-up and spat out the notes I triggered from my X3. WOW! Now that has never happened on the first try...always some stupid driver conflict.. I think I spent more time getting Giga to recognize my S-80 when I recorded "Hail Mary;Gentle Woman" and "Ave Maria pt 1",  than to actually record the parts. (I used my K2000R with a little 16MB Sweetwater Young Chang sample CD for the other piano stuff on the Sacred Music CD) (does anyone really care?!?) So everything is working. I guess this only means one thing: (in the words of Steve Martin from 'The Jerk'), "...Things are going to start happening to me now..." 

6-3-04: Man, the new Lenny Kravitz stuff sounds sooo much like the old Kiss (what you might hear off 'Dressed to Kill', 'Destroyer',..'Rock and Roll Over' (my first ever album)...anything pre- 'Dynasty'); Well, I got 75% of the studio running last night (oh yeah, I'm officially in my new house!). I'm waiting to hook the rest up after I get a couple new patch bays....nothing major left: a Sony DAT, BBE 482, Aphex 104, UltraDyne 9024 (don't laugh--it's pretty cool, actually), misc. processors, a cassette deck, etc...The amazing thing was that all the stuff worked the first time--that's never happened. Usually, there's a bad cable somewhere, a major hum from a bad ground...this time--nothing wrong! I did have to rewire about 6 outlets before hand, but the positive and negatives were switched, so no big deal. Next week I'll be getting all the guitars out for cleaning, stringing, and tuning; Still trying to find all my stuff..everything's in tubs and boxes, upstairs, downstairs, formal room, kitchen, and in the rec room (yes, a frickin' rec room almost as big as the entire Ruskin house!) What the rec room needs is a pinball machine. I've promised myself that after I get my first Taxi deal, I'm gonna get that Space Invaders pinball....a game dealer in Pennsylvania has an original. Speaking of Taxi, just printed out the latest industry listings today, and there's one I might start to work on tonight....that is why I moved here, so I better not waste too much time; Haven't painted in over a week, and though it's been totally sunny and upper 70's the last few days, I haven't felt guilty about not 'working'...this was to be the biggest challenge (more on this at another time), but so far I feel like this is absolutely the best place for me right now, and certainly the nicest place I've ever lived, in the nicest town, with super nice people. Nice, huh? Even nicer is living right behind the Chief of Police for Appleton City...talk about a killer security system!

5-19-04: Getting very anxious to move...my new house is really beautiful, and it's soooo quite being out of the city-- 2 hours away from everything,... in a town of less than 1,400...I just can't wait to get up everyday and hit the record button, and crank out more music then I ever have before...And when I get tired of that, go out on the upper deck and crash in the shade from the giant Maple tree...then after I'm tired of resting, I'll go back inside and record some more. Yep, this will be like I've died and gone to Heaven.

5-12-04: Being raised a Catholic, I was taught (and still am trying to learn) to love one another. Christ, while dying on the cross, forgave those who condemned Him, spat on Him, and hated Him for doing absolutely nothing. This is the kind of love that I don't think I'll ever understand; seeing Nick Berg getting beheaded made me burn inside with the most anger I've ever had. I'm supposed to forgive, and have love towards these bastards for cutting off an innocent mans head. Slowly, a large knife sawed it's way thru Nick's neck, spine, then out the other side...he felt this pain...it wasn't quick. And I'm supposed to forgive the murderer's for doing this. He was screaming. They thought it was what Allah wanted. Same with the 9-11 muslim hijackers Yeah, we're suppose to love and forgive them. 

5-8-04: Found a house today...and bought it!!! I'm gone from here in less than 3 weeks.

5-6-04: I sure have picked a sick way to end my painting career; the house I'm working on now is destroying my hands--literally. Every day, I add a new bandage to one of my fingers because I keep slicing them on the trim, trying to scrape off the old paint. There's more blood on the house than primer! I'm trying desperately to look at each day as one day closer to the end, instead of the overwhelming difficulties (and splinters) involved with this house. And it's right off Brush Creed Blvd, just a frisbee throw from the wonderful Planned Parenthood. Yep, I get up on the 100lb, 40-foot ladder, and there are the letters, "Planned Pa..." (a tree blocks the rest of the sign), but no amount of trees could block the ear-shattering noise coming off that road. This should make my next house hunting trip to the country seem that much sweeter, even if the house sits off of a main road (of course a main road in a small town usually means about 1 car every 5 minutes). Anyway, if you're in the Plaza/Rockhill area, honk when you drive by, and try not to laugh too much...moving that 40' ladder around all day doesn't leave me with much energy. Still a lot of packing to do, and time is running out--less than 3 weeks to a new life. Trying to perfect my Tapioca pudding recipe; trying a different brand--'Tropical'; I goofed tonight's batch by dumping in the sugar, instead of adding it gradually over a low heat--yep, I scorched the sugar as it went straight to the bottom...and adding vanilla is no longer a part of the mix--it overwhelms the Tapioca flavor. I'll get this down yet, but will probably go back to the Kraft brand. Skippy still goes nuts when he hears Kate's voice on "A Prayer"; now he even knows the song right from the beginning...as soon as the woodwind intro starts, he looks up at me, stretches, comes over and starts meowing non-stop. He's a modern experiment--Dubois' Cat. I watched the last couple episodes of 'Friends' , and over the last couple weeks, had the misfortune of watching a few re-runs in their entirety (hey, when you don't have cable anymore, there's less crap on TV to choose from). I've watched bits and pieces of that show in the past and thought, "...this is the stupidest show I've ever seen..." So, in an effort to be fair in judging, I decided to watch at least 3 or 4 shows--from beginning to end--including the final episodes. Now instead of suspecting this to be the stupidest show, I now know with 100% certainty that this IS the stupidest show I've ever seen.

4-30-04: Someone made an offer on my house, and I accepted, so it looks like the house is sold (less than 2 weeks to sell it....not bad, esp. for Kansas City); going to Garnett, KS tomorrow to check out some more homes, including this really cool place in a tiny town called Centerville...The Butler home is falling of it's foundation, and the real estate guy is putting pressure on me to buy it, claiming it's on the verge of foreclosure. Well, I'm not going to rush into buying a house that has a bad foundation, so I may just walk away from the deal. Kinda sad--it was THE perfect location, but a better house, at a better price may be discovered tomorrow.

4-19-04 Every week, and a couple days for the updates, I guess(!) Well, I took a look at a house in Iola, KS, and a couple in Butler, MO; thinking about getting out of the city for a year or so to focus strictly on recording...kinda go on a little retreat. The Iola house probably won't work out (too much electrical work to do for the sake of the studio), but the Victorian home in butler...wow.., this place need a little work, but it has the room, and updates to the plumbing and electrical have been done; all I'd have to do is repaint the outside, replace a few doors, do some repair work on the porch, redo the entire yard (it's ALL weeds), replace a few windows, put on a new roof and gutters, add a driveway and garage, and it'll be perfect; it's on a double lot, so lots of room in the yard to throw the Frisbee around when friends come to visit. This upcoming week is going to be the busiest yet; house is almost done fixing up, and will have to be ready by Sunday, since it will be open from 1 - 4. I put a big chain around the real estate sign, attaching it to the tree (someone stole it and the signs from the 2 other houses right across the street...whadda ya gonna do with a frickin real estate sign?)

4-7-04: Okay, enough delays in getting this journal updated more often....at least once a week from now on; Still getting the house ready to sell, though almost done; The new Opus 1 CD is getting great response; I'm going to add a special Deer Hunter tribute page this week (there's this really cool DH message board I found, and one fellow has some pictures of where a few scenes were shot--cool). I've rediscovered tapioca pudding--MAN, this stuff is good! not too hard to make, either...I'm making a batch every week now. Dare I say, almost as good as a Fast Break candy bar??? Maybe, of course I can't really compare now, for I gave up candy bars for Lent....I think I'm going to die. 3 more days...3 long, painful days.

3-13-04: Well, as you can see, there hasn't been much of a renovation at this site. BUT, the new Opus 1 CD is finished, and honestly, I feel this is the best of any of them. I've never been this excited and nervous about any of the CD's I've released, and hope that all the magicians who hear it like it as much as I do.

3-5-04: With all the work going on in getting the new Opus 1 CD ready and fixing-up the house to sell, I've neglected this poor site; I'll try to do some minor (if not major) renovations this weekend.

2-9-04: The new Opus 1 site is running.

2-5-04: Didn't make it into the computer store today (we had about 8" of snow, and the road reports were mixed: everything from, "...it's the end of the world ..STAY HOME!", to "....it's not that bad, so get out and enjoy it!" I chose to shovel the neighbor's driveway and do some recording.

2-4-04: Going to take my 'new' computer in for service tomorrow; I've had it for a whole 2 weeks, and it's had nothing but problems. Try recording a CD is becoming impossible when your machine restarts right in the middle of what you're doing, for no reason! They sold it to me as 'new' even though the motherboard was replaced. I think I got a lemon of a computer...this thing just completely sucks.

1-19-04: Busy, busy, busy!! Today, I replaced the brake hoses on my T-Bird (that went just as I thought it would: 1 hour to do the first side, and 5min. to do the other!) Started recording tracks for the new Opus 1 CD last week, and uploaded the first sample/demo of it at the site...this CD is going to be sooo different from anything I've ever done (different from Opus 1 or the Tommy stuff); I'm really excited about releasing this project, but a bit nervous as to how it might be received--the magic community has liked what I've done in the past, but I don't want to keep putting out more of the same...Moby did that with his "18" CD, and while it's a good record, it suffered from terrible reviews because it was simply a continuation of the "Play" CD. Anyway, the new Opus1 CD won't be just for magicians, as I'm going to start producing CD's for the TV/Radio commercial market.           Mike D. (and his dog!) came up last week to record some fiddle parts for a Taxi demo,...session went well; more Taxi demos to be cranked out in the days ahead....

....this will be the year it all happens

Music of Tommy  No longer across from the school in Appleton City, MO

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