Thursday, July 31, 2008


Well, that wasn't so bad. Which might not sound like high praise, but, really, I was mostly entertained, and the film was surprisingly restrained, in line with the original show. Really, it should be watched on television, and in two halves, since it's more like a vintage series two-parter than an actual movie.

But I admired it for sticking with the show's sometimes almost comically cerebral tone, and for having one of the most anti-climactic climaxes I think I've ever seen in a mainstream thriller.

Anyhow. Bubba hated it, and he was more of an X-Files fan than me, but my mom liked it (as did Yesenia), and my mom was a pretty loyal X-Files viewer herself, so make of it what you will.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


One trip I always make sure to make while in Rhode Island is a visit to one of my favorite of all used record and CD stores, Round Again Records, over on Wickenden Street. And so we did, and I picked up about twenty records, most from the 3/$1.00 bin.

One of those was an album I've been really interested to hear for quite a while: Manassas, sort of a supergroup effort cum solo Stephen Stills album. And I should say in advance of this that Stills's star has been laying pretty low for me the last few years.

And upon listening to this: the man is, for the most part, a hack who peaked early. I'd swear to God, there isn't a single song on here that doesn't feature the word 'girl' intoned over and over again. It's a pretty rare thing for me to get offended by, but this album did the trick: Stills's half-assed hippy sexism is genuinely offensive, especially when spread out over four album sides.

That's right - Manassas is a double album. Really, I didn't even get to side four. I listened to sides 1-3 while assembling some prefab furniture, and as soon as I was done with that, I shut down the stereo. By that point, the only two bright spots on the album had passed - two songs co-written and with partial lead vocals from Chris Hillman, who really is the selling point here, for me. And he does class up the joint - his Flying Burrito Bros. and bluegrass pedigree bringing a desperately needed note of authenticity to some of the most synthetic country-rock I've ever heard. But even Hillman can't save this thing.

All of side two is given over to some kind of weird straight-up country jamboree, but all of the pedal steel and mandolin in the world can't transform Stills's bloated arena ballads into warm, living country tunes. And by 1972 - the year Manassas was released, Stills's lyrics had passed into a post Love the One You're With self-parody from which he never recovered. And for those who wonder why I'm focusing so much on the lyrical content? It's because there isn't a single memorable melody to be found over the course of the record. Painful to hear how a once skilled and soulful writer squandered his gift.

And really, the backing tracks are just dull. Maybe it was too much music to learn and process for the band in the allotted recording time, maybe Stills dictated arrangements, maybe everyone was just collecting a paycheck, but whatever the reason, aside from having the usual early seventies totally tasty engineering, there's no life to be found even in the very samey playing over the entire set.

Really, the only enjoyable song is the Hillman co-written Both of Us (Bound to Lose) that closes out side one - and even that doesn't get where it promises to go, because Stills comes in halfway through and "Girl, be my girl, drifter girl's!" up the joint.


Mystery Solved, Wound Salted

Well, we opened my RISD transcript, today, and it turns out that I did slightly better that I'd feared. Very, very slightly: my GPA was 2.73. And I can tell you that a lot of it was largely deserved: I was, for the first couple of years at RISD, a lackluster student. Not, I should point out, a lackluster artist - but I was up against both my own social awkwardness and my sudden application of lousy work ethic to art homework. When in high school, I blew off all other work to focus on doodling and drawing constantly - I was very focused and productive. But when all of your homework suddenly becomes art homework, it's no longer the escape. It's then the thing that you need to escape from.

Little wonder that I started to seriously become a musician when I got to RISD.

The thing that turns my crank is that I actually got a 'D' in Drawing, in my first semester of Sophomore year. Which is, if you'll excuse my ego trip, fucking outrageous. There are few things I'm good at: I can't work in color for shit, so a 'C' in painting is justly deserved. In art school, you don't get points 'for trying.' I can't design so well (although I make my living at it), I'm a pretty poor photographer (to my endless chagrin) and I definitely can't sculpt to save my life. Yet I received an 'A-' in Design, a 'B+' in Photography, and even a 'B' in Sculpture.


I can fucking draw. And I could draw much, much better when I was 18 than I can now. So, unless I blew off every single assignment and then raped the male model during life drawing, I can't even imagine what the insane requirements were for getting on in that class. I can't even rage against the teacher so much: Mahler Ryder was (unbeknownst to us) dying from cancer while teaching the class, and in fact, died sometime the following semester.

I suppose it would be easy to blame my lousy grade on his deathbed crankiness, but I understand that he was just a harsh grader all the time. I wish I could remember the class better - I do know that I was given an seriously hard time for my figure drawing, being that I was a cartoonist and exaggerator well above being an illustrator. But even still: I've seen my figure drawings from that period and there's no way it's 'D' work.

But maybe that was it. I do recall a pretty strong bias against cartooning in the Illustration department. Of course, now RISD actually offers something they call a 'certificate in Comics & Sequential Art' - fucked if I know how that differs from a BFA in Comics - so I'm guessing that some of that bias has gone away. But I got seriously pounded in critique - by both teachers and students - anytime I turned in an assignment in my cartoony style. Doubly so if it was in pen and ink, which is kind of the bastard step-child of drawing media in general, and one that gets little respect anymore.

(I see that I received a 'C' in Pen & Ink Scratchboard second semester of my Junior Year, so ha-ha on me.)

Anyhow, I'm glad to see that my major, major hang-ups about drawing after I graduated from RISD were, at least, justified. No wonder I gave it up for over a decade; who amongst us likes to be told that the thing that they believe they're best at and most passionate about in this world is in fact the thing they suck at most? And to add insult to injury to insult, I stupidly neglected to get with the program and still insisted on doing my senior thesis as a comic in my full-on Dave style. I knew I was in for it when the one guy among the review group who was at all familiar with comics told me that I should do it more like what he took to be the pinnacle of the form, a syndicated strip named Apartment 3-G.

I ask you: if you're presented with this:

Do you say to yourself and the person who made it, 'No, no, you're doing it all wrong. You should draw it like this:'

Jiminy Fucking Crickets on a Slice of Christsucking Motherfisting Rye Toast.

And for my senior thesis? That's a 'C+' you're looking at, right there. All 40 pages of it.


Sunday, July 27, 2008



(smiles, deep breath).

Nothing better at the end of a busy weekend than a quiet Sunday on the lake, with the rain coming down and nothing to do but nap.

The drive back was uneventful, as good drives are. We hit the road about 7 and got in a little after 10, only hitting a little traffic around Guilford. These days, our journeys to and through New England leave out the bit of Route 95 that runs from New York to New Haven, about which I had this to say last year:

"As it turns out, they've now entirely dispensed with the pretense that there's some kind of goal or end in sight to the repairs on the Connecticut stretch of 95, some point at which the repairs will be considered 'done' and the build-team will be able to relax and have a beer, hopefully somewhere up high upon Connecticut's tallest peak, where they can look down upon the whole, shining, unbroken and unblemished ribbon of the Interstate, as the traffic flows like playful otters flashing up and down the river of tarmac. No. The army of robot slaves has been set to the task of constant labor, rebuilding CT/US-95 over and over and over. When the Earth finally explodes and the hunk of it that used to be Connecticut exits the Solar System at a 17 degree angle to the elliptic, they'll still be toiling away on that bit just before the first Northbound Bridgeport exit."

Anyway, we now take Route 15 (which will always be known to me as the Merritt Parkway, despite the fact that it only bears that name for part of its length) to avoid that clusterfuck. It's not as if it's any safer, but it's a damn sight faster, and at least there's no trucks - which I regard as a major, major plus.

I'll get some pictures up, and perhaps even a poorly stitched-together movie of our weekend later this week. In the meantime, Yesenia is out of the shower, the cat is curled up at the foot of the bed, and I'm still in a fuzzy, vacation-y frame of mind. See you tomorrow. For some of you riders, I mean that literally.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Midday Edition

A short note from the road - or, rather, from the big-ass new library that RISD has, built out of the carcass of the old (old!) Hospital Trust building in what used to be hideous but is now truly lovely Downtown Providence.

That's right: Rhode Island, again! Got a problem with that? Yesenia and I have the old summer camp down in Coventry to ourselves (photo to come), and we're basically bumming around the state. The only official business I had is already done, and it's the reason we're on campus in the first place - picking up a copy of my RISD transcript. It's sealed, and I'll admit to having some interest in what the contents have to say, but in a kind of rubbernecking way. I know I had a less-than-stellar academic career while at RISD, and I don't think it will make me happy to be shown proof-by-numbers after all these years. Especially when I've clearly gone to so much trouble to bury that information in the back of my brain.

Is it possible that I had a GPA of 2.6? That figure is looming mockingly familiar when I try to think back on it.

Oh, well. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Perhaps traveling companion/sex slave/wife Yesenia has something to add about the trip so far? Yesenia?

Hi folks, Yesenia here. Well we almost had an emergency on I-95 last night as I choked on a mouthful of water. According to Dave, all he could hear was gurgling and all I remember is not be able to breathe, but all is well now. Johnson's Pond has not lost its charm. I always seem to forget how gorgeous it really is until we arrive. It's kind of quiet at camp, which is bizarre for July, but at the same time also nice to have the place to ourselves.

Just a little advice: if you ever decide to come to Providence with Dave, don't let him drive. You'll end up with vertigo.

Well, kids, it's been fun, but the Koppermans must continue with our adventure. More from the road later...rock on!!

Yeah, the water thing was a little scary. Sort of a choking/coughing/drowned sound that went on and on.

I would be perfectly happy to let Yesenia drive, BTW. Just pointing that out. And I drive Providence like a fucking pro.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Missed Opportunities for Product Tie-In

Last night's Rambler was the 409th, which, lamely, was something of a milestone I'd wanted to celebrate. Especially when you consider that this week was cleaning week at #49 (my street address), so the numerological possibilities were seemingly endless.

Well, no. I guess 'two' isn't exactly endless. Unless you're a decimal place, in which case, more power to you.

The big storm of the day just came and went for something like the fifth time. I'm enjoying the rain, but I'm a little put out that we don't seem to be getting just a nice, steady, rain for a few hours. It's just gray, heavy and muggy, and then all hell breaks loose for about ten minutes, and then it's back to the threatening behavior. You know what might take care of that? Some fucking Formula 409©!

No? Too late?

How do I get my hands on some of that Dow-Corning money? I'd hate to resort to blackmail. Not because I'm morally opposed to it, but because I'm too lazy to go and dig up some actual CEO dirt. (409!!)


The Bad Guy

Is it possible to be both the hero and the villain in your own life's story?

I suppose it is, especially if no-one else wants the position.


Monday, July 21, 2008

A Jewish Carpenter

What? It's me. Who did you think I was talking about?

A day of mostly successful house projects. Borrowed Jim's miter saw and finished the screens for the front windows, and did a second patch on the front steps. Nothing beautiful, but all functional, which is the real goal.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

He's Batman

Saw The Dark Knight today - but it's too hot tonight and I'm a little behind on a couple of radio spots I have to write. Longtime Rambler passengers might ask, aren't the radio spots the things I'm always on deadline with?




Your Weekend Listening • 7/19/08
Ergotism • June, 1996

Firstly, apologies for the unbelievably lo-fi quality of the recording. That's becuase this was committed to ethnographic record on a field archival trip by Alan Lomax when I was living out in a shack in western Mississippi in the late Spring of 1928, and the only way we could get power to his wire recording machine was to run a line out of his Hudson truck battery, into a single pole Echo IV-2 mic.

Ha, ha. I fucking kid. Actually, I have to confess some serious annoyance at the quality of this recording, because you'd never guess it was put together in the priciest studio I've ever recorded in. And the major source of annoyance is that somewhere out there is a perfectly clear mixdown of this, and chances are good I'll never get my hands on it.

See, this song was my last minute desperate attempt to get a composition of mine into the full-month sessions that were booked for the Lizard Music album. I won't go into depressing detail about it, but suffice it to say that this wasn't the most approved-of use of our studio time. Nor was I allowed use of the band, so I ended up doing a solo recording (save for some very nice backing vocals from Erik and Chris) in as short a time as I could muster. Which is all fine and good, except that the point of being in a band is to be able to avail yourself of the arrangement and performance skills that reside in the band as a whole. Sadly, Ergotism as multi-tracked by me is only proof that I wasn't ready for prime time. Which may have been the point.

The only history you need to know is that I had desperately hoped to be welcomed as a songwriter in the fold of the band, and came to the realization slowly - due to the incredibly dysfunctional communication among the members - that it wasn't ever going to happen, and I was just there to shut up and play.

I certainly can't defend Ergotism as a lost work of genius on my part, but I find that upon hearing it for the first time in about a decade, I still rather like the overwhelming sense of melancholy that comes from one of the saddest extended periods of my life.

I invite you to look up the meaning of the title. One of those cases where I would get obsessed with a word or concept and found myself compelled to fold in into a creative piece, whether or not I could really bring it home. I definitely didn't here, but I guess I own the name, seeing as how no-one else ever got the brilliant idea to use it. A fairly straightforward portrait of the regret that follows the true end of a relationship.

About the only compositional thing that bugs me is the use of the phrase, 'a candle I forgot to put out,' which strikes me as somehow (if such a term applies) lyrically inaccurate. But the whole thing was a rush job, a quick attempt to write and arrange a song that I could pull off in an acoustic context in the limited time available.

None of which really annoys me - frankly, I was asking for too much to be afforded any use of the studio's resources, and I'm amazed and grateful that I was able to pull even a couple of hours out of the full month of sessions. The thing that does annoy me is that when I asked for a dupe of the CD master of the full recordings, the bass player (who lived in a group house at the time and decided to dupe my copy late at night) gradually kept turning the output sound to the tape lower and lower over the course of the dub that by the end, there's more noise than signal.

Perhaps perversely, Ergotism, which is 28 out of 28 tracks on the tape, is quieter than any track before it, by a very wide margin.

It's episodes like this - fighting for a small bit of respect and not even getting that in the end - that made me realize that the only way I could function musically was to head up my own project, for better or worse. Even if the music I made outside of Lizard Music was never at the same level of invention or tunefulness as what was being produced by that remarkable band, at least I would be able to hear my contribution.

Curiously - or not - it turns out that I'm the only Lizard Music alum who hasn't gone on to a decent career in music. The member I replaced went on to play keys with Wilco; the leader is now the bassist with Cat Power, and the rhythm section each went on to play in somewhat successful acts. Someday, when the history of alternative music is written, I hope to be a footnote somewhere to that effect.

Let none of the above suggest that I regret my time in the band - I loved the music and learned a lot. And I strongly recommend the band's three albums - particularly the two without me. The band's chief songwriter, Erik Papparozzi, had a truly distinct and genius voice, the rhythm section was truly on fire, and Mike - the one I replaced on keys - brought a real sense of jangly modality to the proceedings that's the exact kind of sound that I enjoy. Track down Fashionably Lame, or Lobster T, if you can.

Or heck, just ask me. I'll be happy to burn you a copy.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Big Empty

Played a show with Putnam tonight up in Woodstock - a giant room with only the next (solo) act and the older couple who Putt was staying with as an audience. Definitely a bring-down from the crowd up in Maine, that's for sure. Also, the room was so boomy that it was almost impossible to really hear just what we were doing.

Still, Putt's performance was good, and I'm starting to see the form of the new material he's been writing. I'm definitely proselytizing for a chance to produce it, but I know he's (wisely!) never going to take me up on that offer.

Anyhow, home, and tired, and time for bed. See you suckers anon. I think I'll also get a Weekend Listening going - you lucky stiffs.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Cleaners

Putnam circled through town yesterday, as part of his Summer tour. We did a lot of work around the house. Nothing huge - just clean up, weeding, all that. But I felt so much better when it was done - and I've managed to carry some of it through today, finally tackling the giant jungle of crap that is my old office. It's still in the primordial, paper-strewn state, but at least I've made headway.

Ramblers like this are, I think, exhibit 'a' in the argument that I am not a normal person. Normal people don;t get completely cowed by their own mess. They either stay on top of it in the first place, or they just get in and deal with it without the giant cloud of anxiety that hovers close by, ready to burst at any moment. No shit - I can (and frequently do) become completely paralyzed with inaction by my mess.

Ever since Yesenia and I moved into the house (back in 2002), I've slowly been whittling in down, but enough is enough: mess no more!

Maybe that's my motto for 2012.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Never Mind These Bollocks, Right Here.

Well, I was going to continue the Ralph Bakshi discussion - which has erupted into the lengthiest and perhaps most contentious comment section in the year-plus history of the Rambler, but now I'm thoroughly exhausted by the topic. The story so far: I was wrong to make fun of Fire and Ice because it's just a misfire by a great American filmmaker, but not a great enough filmmaker to treat his misfires as if they're worth commenting on as if he were a real filmmaker on the order of Michael Cimino. Plus, Grindhouse sucked, except perhaps it rocked instead. Also, if you happen to like any film that anyone else ever disliked, you've lost the authority to declaim on the merits of any other film.

I think that roughly sums it up.

Now I know why Pauline Kael was so famously cranky. Thank God the poor woman didn't live to see the era of the comments thread.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lightly Sleepy

Houseguest tomorrow,

House is a mess.

Rambler to follow, when?

Anyone's guess.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Fire and Ice





You're fucking kidding, right?

Holy shit.


Day by the River

Yesenia and I spent the afternoon making dueling watercolors of the Hudson River, as viewed from a Haverstraw park full of such views, as well as plenty of Orthodox Jews and Hispanics, meaning that Yesenia and I fit in perfectly. I really felt my race-pride kick in when a Jewish mother came over to look at our paintings, and asked if we were doing them for money.

Here's my view, totally overwhelmed by my intractable Illustrator's eye:

And here's Yesenia's, courtesy the artist:

Click on the images for stupid-huge versions

I vastly prefer Yesenia's, both for her softer, less insistent textures and her more well-observed palette. Yesenia definitely nailed those colors - the sickly green/brown of the river, like the color of a rec-room carpet from 1974 and the pale swirl of the sky. When I started mine - from the top down, of course - I had it in mind that I might actually be making a comic out of it, so naturalistic color was pretty far from my mind. Which is really a poor excuse. The truth is that my color eye is terrible, and on top of that, my use of color is always timid, so I decided for better or worse to really go at this painting - regardless of its final form - with a full-on color approach. Naturally, I lost my resolve about five minutes in, which is why the rest of my palette is so subdued.

Oddly, I thought I was getting the colors somewhat right, for a change... and then about three-quarters of the way through the painting, I made the mistake of taking off my sunglasses. Yeeks. Let that be a lesson to you: never paint with UV protection on your eyes.

There's a new Vomit Comic up on a similar theme (either today or tomorrow, depending on when they post it), and my painting makes another appearance over there, as supplemental material, and slightly more commentary. Do drop in.

Actually, it's an old Vomit Comic, one that was posted on the Rambler over a year ago - but now it has expanded commentary, for those who live for yet still more Rambling.


BTW: Tonight's Rambler title is actually a deep-reference private joke. Anyone get it? Ansley and Bran, I'm mostly looking at you on this one.

BTW, BTW: This is Rambler number 400. Keep on Chooglin'!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Sorry for the lack of Weekend Listening this weekend - I've been trying to focus my spare energies on cleaning up the large pile of comics, laundry and unfiled paperwork we call a house, with some limited success. The feature will return next weekend, hopefully with something both tuneful and with an interesting story attached. On the other hand, a total fiasco with a dull backstory could also fit the bill. One never knows!

Spent the bulk of the day at a party for friend Jim's 38th birthday - Yesenia and I were only able to present him with a rain check for his gift, a book which was supposed to have been released in early June (and I've had on order from Amazon for about two months, now), but was just postponed to early August. Not sure what's up with that, as there's no note on the publisher's site, nor the author's.

The book in question is a retrospective of the work of foundational comic artist Steve Ditko, most famous for Spider-Man, but that may be the most atypical of his moody, intense work. I've also ordered a copy for myself, so I'll no doubt be reporting on it - either here or over at Vomit Comix - some time in the next few weeks. Since Ditko has had little or no contact with the press in almost fifty years, and only two photographs of the man are known to exist, it should be interesting to see just what kind of biographical info the author can come up with.

Frankly, it will probably be more than enough if it were as Ditko himself would prefer: let the work speak for itself.


Friday, July 11, 2008

The Struggles of Quark

I honestly don't know why I don't just give up on Quark, already. It's such a pain in the ass.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Maine Illustrated Diaries

As noted earlier, over the weekend, I went up to Maine and accompanied my friend a Putnam Smith for a show of his as the North Star Café, in Portland. We were the middle act, so I decided to take the opportunity to sketch the opening and closing acts.

The opener was Brooke Brown-Saracino, a young singer-songwriter with a sweet voice and what she essentially described as a suicidal set of songs. She swapped back and forth between steel-string acoustic and an old ukulele, with the guitar being a little big for her and the uke (as is seemingly its job) being comically small.

Don't forget to click the pictures for big goodness!

I filled in the bulk of the curtains later on, just to give the drawing more heft. I'll probably send her a copy - before her set, I asked to buy a copy of her CD, and she said that she preferred to trade, so I took a copy of her CD with the promise that I would mail her Selling the Downtown Dream. I hope I made it clear to her that Copper Man - while plenty whiny and depressing - was not folk music, so the trade might be uneven from her POV. I'm glad I had her CD, though - it kept me company for the Maine and New Hampshire legs of my drive back on Sunday night. Good voice, nice tunes.

Above her, you can see a little bit of the Putnam sketch I started before deciding to more fully render the drawing of Brooke, as well as a little note to myself about the tuning for a folksy arrangement of Pink Floyd's Fearless that I was playing around with a few months back. I was trying to show it to Putnam, but it had been long enough that I'd forgotten the tuning and most of the picking style and had to relearn it. This time, at Putt's suggestion, I wrote the damn tuning down. I also made a quick GarageBand recording of it, with Putt playing some fiddle, which I'll give a listen to and see if it's worth posting at any point.

The closing act was a band led by and named for lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Christian Cuff, who had a line up consisting of himself on steel-string acoustic, a stand-up bass, a cellist, and - in case you can't tell from the drawing, a didgeridoo player. I realize the sketch is kind of... well, sketchy, but I challenge anyone to do a fully photo-realist oil painting of this band and make it clear that those two log-like things were didgeridoos. It's just not a concept that leaps easily to the Western eye.

Obviously, no rendering on this one - the goal was to get all of the scene in. Apologies to the cellist. In reality, she's a pretty girl of Asian descent, and was not - contrary to the evidence presented in this drawing - wearing some kind of Martian Death Mask on stage. Still, the didgeridoo player liked it enough that he requested I email him a copy. Perhaps he was drunk?


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fish One

My father has taught college math since before I was born, and every Summer he has an an anxiety dream about the upcoming school year.

A favorite of mine is the 'Fish One' dream - a simple and straightforward anxiety dream as ever was dreamt. Dad goes into school, is told he's teaching a new class - about which he has no concept - called Fish One, given the syllabus, and dropped into the classroom. The classroom has an unfortunate design, in that the first ten rows lead straight out in front of the stage, but then the room takes a 90º turn and the last 100 or so rows are completely obscured from the podium.

I suspect that the secrets of the universe are in that dream somewhere.


The Night Watch

Yet another goddamned mailer for the agency. My creative roadblocks with these things are becoming a serious joke. A seriously unfunny joke.

Anyway, for those who don't frequent it, there's a new Vomit Comic up over at Walrus Comix, and this time, it's a pretty good one - done during, and about, my recent visit to Maine. Go check it out. There, at least, is proof that I can open up the creative taps with minimal effort and still come up with something at least mildly nice.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Riding Out the Summer

How is it that it's only July 8th, and I already feel like the Summer is over? That's either a sign of encroaching middle-aged melancholy, or merely poor scheduling on my part.


Monday, July 7, 2008

To the Lowlands

Back in the R.C., close to 2 AM. No sleep 'til Rockland, as they might say, if they were from Rockland.

And since I am now in Rockland? Sleep.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Remote Feed

Sorry it's been a little spotty this week - as noted, I hotfooted Wednesday after P.C.M.A. for a trip to the Maine woods, to visit Putnam at his new log cabin. When he'd originally spoken of his dream of owning (building, in fact) his own cabin, he'd spoken with something like quiet hope about the fact that it was going to be completely off the grid. No plumbing, no electricty, phone, etc. So you can imagine the relief I felt to arrive Thursday afternoon to find a charming, comfortable, wired and plumbed log cabin.

Really a great place. Hot water showers and everything. Sure, he has some new homeowner's woes - the upstairs sink had been leaking on to the hot water heater and shorted it out, and the toilet ran, and the sump had failed and the house had been built in a drained swamp, so that was something more of a problem that it would have normally been, but by this morning, the toilet, hot water heater and bathroom sink had been repaired, and we also put up some shelves in the kitchen, so the whole place was becoming homier by the second, and Putnam put aside a lot of anxiety as it did.

Apart from being a desperately needed vacation, a primary reason I came up here was to accompany Putnam at a show of his at a nice club/café in Portland called The North Star Café, and I'm writing this as the night winds down post show, courtesy of the North Star's free WiFi. It ended up being something of a ramshackle set, since we didn't get quite as much practice in as I would have liked, but the crowd apparently really liked the set, and I'd have to admit that our voices blended pretty nicely on the songs that we'd especially focused on the vocal parts.

I also played a solo acoustic version of the P.C.M.A. song Neutrino (which normally features a Moog loop with the usual P.C.M.A. instrumentation of Rhodes, electric bass, brushed drums and electric guitar) with Putnam layering some nice Mandolin behind it. Frankly, it's a hard song to maintain my composure while singing, and I found my face twisting to force the emotion down. But the crowd - a pretty sizable one - was fucking stone silent for the performance, so I guess the sight of a man with a guitar trying not to cry is a watchable one. Afterwards, a man about my age came up and told me that he cried during it, so I guess I forced the emotion down so far that it accidentally leaked into someone else.

The rest of the set was Putnam and I leaping around instruments, with him variously playing nylon string guitar, the aforementioned mandolin, banjo and Rhodes (which I'd lumped up to Maine for the show), and myself playing my crap-ass Ovation steel string, electric bass and the Rhodes as well. The Rhodes threatened to throw a low G, which made for a few comical moments in the set, as when a Rhodes string (tines, they're called) is getting ready to break, it starts to make weird, wonky noises and vary widely in timbre and pitch. Since the tines are rated for about 4,000 hits, I told the audience that we were taking bets if the tine broke during the set, for a prize to be named later.

There was plenty of witty banter, especially milking the satirical gay panic vibe on his love songs that we harmonized on. All in all, a good show and a nice weekend, and I even got plenty of drawing done and made pancakes for Putnam, myself and some other houseguests.

Anyway, signing off from Portland, Maine. Hope your Fourth was as decent as mine has been.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Journey Halfway

Left Karl's at around 11 PM, and now I'm writing from room 119 of the Comfort Inn in Vernon, Connecticut - it's close to 1:30 AM and I have an 8:30 wake-up call (I note with some alarm that the phone is on the other side of the room), so I'm packing it in.

Note to Christine: I make it a rule not to blog about P.C.M.A., as it tends to curse the results.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Countdown to 400

This is Rambler #390. i wonder, is that impressive, or just kind of sad?

Spent a good portion of the day rearranging Yesenia's office, as part of a larger scheme to move myself out of there. The big move is yet to come - I haven't yet worked out where I'm going to move, but since I was only supposed to be in there temporarily and it's already been two years, both Yesenia and I are itchy for me to be working somewhere else.

Maybe the living room?


Dropped Signal

Not much Rambler in me this evening, sorry - late practice with Floyd/Not Floyd, and I'm going to try to get a little work-work done tonight.

In the meantime, I direct you again to my Vomit Comic over at Walrus Comix. This is now a weekly feature - so every Monday, go there and you may get some entertainment. Or maybe not - those things are really total crapshoots. As this week's entry will attest.