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Monday, April 30, 2012

Major Boredom singing . . .

It was around this time back in 1997 that I first heard Ben Folds Five. Thanks to 120 Minutes airing the "Battle Of Who Could Care Less" video, I would soon fall in love with the music made by Mr. Ben, Darren, and Robert. Whatever and Ever Amen was a major part of my soundtrack for the rest of my senior year, as their self-titled record became in my sophomore year of college, and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner would a few years later.

Enjoying the hell out of Ben's first two solo albums, but losing interest after Way to Normal, I always hoped I could see Ben live, either with the Five or solo. For whatever reasons, I kept missing my chance. Again and again. (Maybe his music has meant so much to me that I didn't want to share it in a room of "Whoo"s. I'm not sure.)

Thankfully, that chance finally occurred on Friday night at Bass Hall in Fort Worth.

Coming off the joy of seeing the Beach Boys on the previous night, I expected things to be enjoyable, but I wasn't expecting to get misty-eyed a handful of times. The experience of seeing him live with a full orchestra, playing great song after great song, and keeping things spontaneous.

Ben's the best kind of dork -- he's funny when he wants to be funny, and he can be serious when he wants to be. So when he wanted the audience to sing along to "Not the Same," I gladly did. When he wanted the audience to clap along to "Annie Waits," I partook. When he played songs like "Brick" and "Landed," I sat and enjoyed in silence.

Certainly helped that the whole crowd was passionately involved with the performance. Every song ended in the kind of applause usually suited for an encore. And there were two encores: one with the orchestra (complete with an impromptu version of "Rock This Bitch") and one alone with him and the piano. Ending with "Rockin' the Suburbs," I got my fill, as did the crowd.

Not to brag, but this show, along with a handful of other shows, are all fighting for spots in my favorite concerts of the year honors. Shall be tough once November comes around.

Until then, I can now safely say that I've seen another one of my all-time favorite artists live. Now to see about seeing Springsteen . . .

Friday, April 27, 2012

You're So Good to Me

I was fortunate to see the Beach Boys last night. This one joined the ranks of my favorite shows of the year, along with the Jealous Sound show, At the Drive-In show, and the Chris Botti show. Here's my review.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My first . . .

My First Show is undergoing some tinkering. It's more My First . . . these days, and my first guest is Edie Brickell. Read the whole thing here, including the part where she interviews me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Got to get in to get out

My inner grammar Nazi comes out frequently. I can't help it, especially after a decade of being chased by other grammar Nazis. Such is the route I chose with delivering information via the radio and TV, along with researching, writing, and editing.

Lately, there's a phrase that I'm battling with: stepping out of my comfort zone.

I have no problem doing things I don't normally do (and am not adamantly against doing), but I have tremendous trepidation towards doing things I would never do. I will book a flight to Chicago, but I won't go skydiving. I'll bike nine miles around a lake, but I won't bike around downtown during rush hour.

So, what's the difference between stepping out of my comfort zone and expanding that zone? I'd prefer to expand because throwing all caution to the wind usually makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

In terms of expanding the zone, I recently took up a friend's invitation to do a night of contra dancing. Like mixing square dancing and polka, this is a bit more involved than dancing freely (and drunkenly) at a wedding reception. Luckily, my friend gave me pointers and set me up with experienced dancers. This put me at ease instantly, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Did I really step out of my metaphoric comfort zone? Yes and no. I danced with a number of women I didn't know, but everyone was dancing with people they didn't know. There was no pressure during the evening because it was all about dancing and having a good time. No mind games, no second guessing.

Given how much my feet hurt by the end of the night, I literally stepped out of my comfort zone. I'd do this again soon, but I have to let me legs and feet rest. And contemplate when my next nine-mile bike ride will be.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Get Smart

Sometimes, I cave into society's pressures with technology. First, the iPod, then texting, then Twitter. Now I'm thinking about getting a smartphone in the near future. (I won't buy one until I get something called a steady paycheck, affording me a liveable wage -- which is something I definitely see happening in the near future.)

But whenever I get this (Android or iPhone, I'm not sure which at this point), I will do my best to avoid the trappings that come with one. As in, claiming my "life" is in this small portable device. My mind is inside my body, and my life is at its best when I'm around good people.

A smartphone would have come in handy during my recent Chicago trip, but thanks to a tourist's map and helpful friends giving me directions, I came out of the place in one piece. The trip could have been easier if I wasn't so stubborn, to be honest.

Hesitation towards technology is nothing new for me. Especially with smartphones, I find people eschewing human interaction for the sake of reliance on information found on the Internet. I certainly don't want to give up talking to people, asking questions, and receiving feedback. Besides, the Internet doesn't hold the secrets to enjoying life, but it can point to them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Comeback Kid

DC9 has a double dose from me today: another edition of My First Show (this time with the Taylors from Zhora) and a review of last night's Sleigh Bells show. I might have been a fish out of water with the show, but I had a good time. Certainly helped I was with friends who dig the group.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Just One Person

Aside from some major transportation woes, my trip to Chicago was exactly what I needed. That's right, MIA late-night taxis and morning storms closing DFW airport didn't spoil the trip.

Though I didn't take any pictures on this trip (I took plenty of scenic ones on my previous trips), I think this one that Amy Mueller took of Eric and me sums a lot up. As in, lots of meaningful conversations with good people. Didn't matter if the conversation was in a loud bar, comic book convention, or a living room -- the conversations were more than talking about the weather and public transportation.

Being around good people in a place 1,200 miles away from Dallas felt great. Certainly adds to the number of people I enjoy being around in Texas. So, a return trip to Chicago this year may very well happen.

What I took away from this trip was how to take the next step in life. I want to be in better communication with my friends, whether or not they live here in Dallas or thousands of miles away. If people want to know what I'm up to and I want to know what they're up to, then I should converse more. No matter what.

Also, I need to focus more on the people who are in my life more than the people who aren't. I don't want to erase those who used to be in my life, but there are those I should keep at a distance. There are reasons why people part ways, and it can be pretty amazing if paths should cross again in a friendly way. And that could very well be a good thing.

Alas, life changes have made me want to take different directions. Not necessary radical ones, but directions that embrace adulthood instead of denying it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hulahoop Wounds

I was extremely lucky to see At the Drive-In last night at Trees. My review hopefully reflects that. Sure made up for the last time I saw them in 2000.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Get Out of Dodge

It might sound laughable to take a small vacation during a post-layoff period, but that's what I'm taking next weekend. A layoff isn't necessarily a vacation anyway. Alas, when a random invitation for a get-together in Chicago came my way, I decided to go. Finding a good flight and hotel deal, I decided to take the leap.

I've heard of people who drive across the country or backpack all over Europe in hopes of "finding" themselves. I don't look down on that, but it's not something I've considered doing. Getting out of town for a few days is good, but not more than a few days. I can't leave behind a good homelife with plenty of new opportunities brewing.

There are days when I'm climbing the walls at my house. I have plenty of books to read, movies to watch, and albums to listen to, but as plum as that might sound, that's the kind of stuff I can experience any time. When life is going on outside of the walls, I'd be foolish to pass that up.

Leading up to my departure flight on Friday morning, I'm taking in a couple of big shows and hanging out with friends. This will be a full week of activities, and I hope to come back from Chicago with a clearer head. Besides, sometimes we need to step away to understand what's happening next.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Inventory

I'm only speaking from my experience, but something that has helped me through this heavy grieving period is keeping a daily inventory. Not an inventory per se of numbers, but more of keeping in mind the good things in my life and matters that make me happy every day.

To me, if you don't look at that part of your life, you're overlooking a lot.

So I keep things in mind like my family and friends, my dog, my drumming, reading, writing, and exercising. Those are there every single day. And while I lost a lot and have been thrown for a loop about what I'll do in the future, I have to keep the constants in mind.

When you only look at what's missing from your life, of course your overall life will be lacking. I've been down that road before, and it's not worth it in the long term. Plus, worrying about the whens and wheres of the future tends to prevent you from enjoying the now.

I'd like to enjoy the now, even if it feels like a rollercoaster ride.

My first show

This week's edition is with Dominic Hand from Jonquil. No, it's not as long as my Chuck Ragan interview, but I think Dominic gave me some great answers. Falling asleep during Jet is just too funny.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Weight is a Gift

Just as I felt like I was making progress in my grieving, another wave of anger and sadness came over me as the weekend began. The really difficult part was how this was even harder and unrelenting than I've felt before.

As I looked at what could have been a long weekend sitting at home pouting, I decided to get out of the house and make a lot of plans.

I knew my mind could go into destructive and dark places, so I wanted to find the opposite by various means. I wasn't in denial or running away, and I know life passes you by when you stew.

Keeping that in mind, I made phone calls to friends, hung out with some of them, biked all nine miles of the White Rock Lake trail for the first time, saw The Raid: Redemption in a theater, and booked a flight to Chicago for a mini-weekend vacation in two weeks. This was certainly more than I usually do with my time on the weekends, but this wave was a catalyst.

I also kept in mind a meme that floated around Facebook a few weeks ago. Featuring a picture of Will Smith, the words were, "If you're absent during my struggle, don't expect to be present during my success." The people I contacted and vented to this weekend will all know about when I come from under this emotional boulder. For the few that bolted when the shit hit the fan last year, they will have to watch from a long distance.

"Maybe this weight was a gift," goes a Nada Surf lyric. I concur. Shitty things happen in life. I get that. But it's important how we respond to them; they direct us to our future.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Say It To Me Now

When it comes to communicating with other people, I prefer talking in person or on the phone above all else. There is a rhythm to talking and illumination to the words by the tone of voice used. When you communicate that way, you don't have to use your imagination; you interpret what you heard and saw instead what you read in your own voice.

Frustratingly, it's easy to misconstrue intent, meaning, and/or objective when you don't hear the tone of voice. (I'm well aware that this is a blog entry, but this isn't a one-on-one conversation.) And is it ever difficult to understand intent, meaning, or objective when your primary form of communicating is via e-mail, texting, and/or instant messaging.

It's not new to me about the concept of the Person That's Hard to Get On the Phone. Not everybody likes to regularly catch-up on things, also known as bullshitting (a label that I've never been one to call my conversations, even the most casual). Yet it's hard to dig deep with someone you want to dig deep with when that person doesn't like talking on the phone or is too busy to make time to see you in person. Or there are those where you want to ask a simple, but very time-sensitive question, and the chances are small you'll get a response in a timely fashion.

Blame the growth spurts of technology with the Internet and cell phones as to why we're a society of multi-taskers. Blame the convenience of texting or IMing while you're balancing other tasks at hand. Hell, blame the reputation of the iPhone, something that's great for all kinds of things except talking on the phone.

But I've found the most meaningful kinds of communication are when you're not glued to a cell phone or computer. Those kinds of things lie deep in our memories. You remember the first time you met someone who would later be a major part of your life. You remember stuff like the place, the date, et al when that someone said, "I love you" for the first time. They're experiences beyond black letters on a white background.