Sunday, April 30, 2006

Keith looses his coconuts...

I'm glad Dave missed this story since he would have assuredly been sick with worry and more than likely would have ruined his day of Chad eating. No worries though, looks like just a little concussion.

A tribute to the guys survivability: He got up, dusted himself off, and went jet skiing only to get into another accident.

Keith and cockroaches...

Katie's Future Husband Recognized...

For those who somehow missed last week's addition of the News of the Highlands, Tyler Wilson (center row right), Jackson's nephew, and Kaite's future husband was awarded the prestigious People Respecting Others (PRO) award presented by Principal Dr. Maureen Lamb of the Fort Montgomery Elementary School.

Tyler's a good kid and a most worthy recipient. He'll make an excellent son-in-law.

Following Katie's graduation from West Point in 2023, the couple will be married at the Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel, site of Katie's parent’s nuptials

Friday, April 28, 2006

What's the difference between a Guatemalan refugee and Black Sabbath?

I don't know, but this guy seems to have discovered some similarities.

Is it me, or has it been a metal dominated news week or what?

All we are saying, is give peace a chance...

The U.N. has it's hands full attempting to broker peace between sabre rattling Iran and the rest of the nervous free world. Our best diplomatic and military forces are stretched thin engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting an uphill battle for stability. With the worlds best negotiators tied up in these global hotspots, who’s left to arbitrate this most important and influential dispute? Ramifications are enormous.

This stalemate will surely top the agenda and be the cause of lively debate at this critical conference. Stay tuned...

(Thanks to Yoda Jacket for peeping me to this)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Unchained Melody...

The other night as I watched the six remaining contestants slog through another week of American Idol performances, I got to thinking about the music I like and what aspects draw me to it. A few things come to mind right away: sincerity and conviction--I like when artists mean what they say. Yes Jackson and Chrispy, even protest songs. If you mean and feel what it is you are singing or playing I’m going to listen. I like energy--whether it be loud and proud distorted guitars or, a well placed piano twinkle. If it adds energy to the song I’m going to listen. Emotion--of any kind, anger, love, loss, joy, etc... If you can convey it well enough for me to take notice I’ll listen. I have not mentioned virtuosity on purpose. Virtuosity, while noble and worthy of constant pursuit is not essential to making a great song. Many artists can simply imply what they are trying to do and be successful. We can all name plenty of great artists and song writers that are not virtuosos, but on account of what they can make you hear with suggestion, where they want to go with it if you will, they can make your ears fill in the blanks. There are more but, these top the list of prerequisites to my particular listening taste. Having said that, by far what gets me to listen the most is a good vocal melody. Amercian Idol singers take note.

My mother is a life long musician. She plays or has played many instruments throughout her life, but what she is best at is playing piano and singing. She has a great singing voice. All our lives my brother, sisters, and I have listened to her play and sing. When my dad was away in Vietnam and later on a hardship tour in Korea, she played and sang a great deal at night after she put all of us to bed. Singing was just a normal thing in our house.

As a kid, I listened to a ton of top 40 radio in the seventies and the songs always had catchy vocal melodies. My first pop idol back in fifth grade was Elton John. I wore out the grooves on Yellow Brick Road, Honky Château, and Capt. Fantastic. Even after I moved onto hard rock, a strong vocal melody was a requirement for me. While Kiss Alive! was never far from my turntable back then, Destroyer solidified my obsession with them. There’s a lot of great singing on that record.

During my metal mania years this factor continued to ring true. I was always reluctant to jump on the bandwagon of many bands my friends and bandmates were digging at the time if I thought that the singing lacked crafty enough melody. Conversely, I caught a lot of grief from this same crowd when I’d let on to liking some more pop oriented tune of some sort (ah, the metal head days…). While a huge fan of great guitar playing, I’ve always thought that great guitar players alone cannot save a band without a good melodic singer out in front.

It’s more than likely that I feel this way because of this conditioning and it’s why I’ve continued to enjoy a great deal of pop music. It’s got to be one of the reasons why I vainly attempt to sing myself. I’m in awe of good pop singers, not the fake autotuned Ashley Simpson’s, but guys like NSync. I saw them do an acappella version of a tune called “I Thought She Knew” on Saturday Night Live years ago and was blown away. They may not make much music that fills the other prerequisites listed above, and I own none of their records, but the guys can definitely sing.

I also spent a year or so of weekends interning at a pretty big recording studio during my senior year in college. The place was owned by a couple of journeymen staff songwriters formerly of CBS records. I sat in on many sessions where the owners and producers would be crafting tunes to sell to major recording acts including Whitney Houston. The studio's session singers they’d bring in were amazing to listen to in their own right. I spent a two week spring break working there while Bon Jovi came in and did song writing and preproduction work for their New Jersey album (There's a track recorded at Chalet Sound that made the album titled "Love For Sale"). While not a huge fan, I was still simply blown away when John and Richie Sambora would go in to track their vocals. I couldn’t believe it when Bruce Fairburn would make them track something over. He’d say, “That was flat” and I be thinking, “That was fucking perfect”. Bottom line was that these guys could write and and sing a helluva vocal melody.

It’s also why I enjoy country music. If you can’t write or sing a melody, you simply can’t play country music.

This may be blasphemous for Chrispy and Dave, but I traded Rush’s “Caress Of Steel” for the First Starz album noted on my sidebar back in 1977 and by a long shot thought I got the better end of the deal. The guitar riffs on that Rush album are fantastic and I liked them then, but when Geddy kicked in with the screeching, he lost me. By contrast melody, or Geddy’s ability to find it vocally, is what drew me back to Rush with later recording efforts like Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, both most excellent albums.

Still, a good vocalist who can sing melody cannot make a song worthy on it’s own. Songs still require some combination of good lyrics, good subject matter, and well crafted instrumentation to endure. Basically, singers need good songs to sing. It’s the difference between Bad Company’s debut album and Straight Shooter and all others subsequent.

Certainly my own experience has been that a good vocal melody is the hardest part of writing a song. I’m a terrible guitar player, but on occasion I can put together a pretty cool riff and sometimes a complete song worth of parts, but when it comes to attempting to place a melody on top of it the struggle begins. This short fall is one of the reasons I like collaborating a lot. I am completely amazed of those who can just whip something up after only hearing a G chord strummed for a few bars. To me, it’s like they have a piano in their heads or something.

My favorite singer song writer of all time? Hands down, Peter Case. Fronted a pop band called the Plimsouls in the eighties after living through the seventies on the streets of San Francisco writing and playing folk tunes. He’s ridden the wave of fame a couple of times before settling into his quite life of brilliant and melodic song writing mostly of the folk and blues bent. He writes in a tune called “Hidden Love”:

Far from the fields, the bright lights, and the boulevards
In this empty room a guitar make a band.
Our last conversation still echo’s off bare walls
Like child’s painting of everything we planned…

Conversations accompanied by guitar, I like that. A most awesome singer, singing great songs, with great stories to tell. Who could ask for anything more.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ready, Aim, FIRE!!!

Surely there have been many in my life, but there are two incidents in particular that qualify for “Most Embarrassing” status. One was the time during the opening face-off of the first game of my bantam league hockey season in which our starting center had to be called off the ice on account of the lace of his skate being undone. The coach signaled down the bench for me to get out there and get the game started. I immediately threw my leg over the board and when my skates met the newly surfaced ice, I fell directly on my ass in front of a bunch of my school friends, including girls, who had come to watch the game. To make matters worse, my stick sort of bounced around and slid past the visiting team’s bench and beyond the blue line into the offensive zone. I had to quickly right myself and skate down to retrieve it and then come back to the face-off circle to lineup directly across from my opponent who was having a good laugh at my expense. That blew.

The other, I was most recently reminded of by a group of hooligans commenting on Misanthrope’s blog. Yes, there was an incident during my childhood in which my butt got stuck in a cannon, more specifically, an eighteenth century howitzer originally from Fort Ticonderoga. As Dave was quick to point out, getting your butt stuck in a cannon is better than a cannon being stuck in your butt. In all actuality, I haven’t had one stuck in my ass, but having lived the former I couldn’t really tell you that one is more embarrassing than the other. Here’s what happened…

From 1969 to 1971, my dad was assigned to the Math Department at his alma mater West Point after returning from Vietnam and completing an advanced degree at RPI. He claims these as his salad days. He was young, newly promoted, living back at West Point with his family and many of his classmates/friends, doing a job that required little hard work on his behalf (teaching math). But the best thing about it, what he’ll tell you at least, was the sports. There is NO day during the school year when some sort of athletic competition isn’t going on at USMA whether it be an NCAA contest of some variety, or one of many intramural sports the cadets and staff participate in regularly. My dad’s love of sports, particularly Army sports is beyond obsessive, so being there at West Point at this age of his life was like being in heaven.

On this particular spring day in 1970, my brother and I (I was five, he was six), road down to my father’s office with him for reason’s I can’t recall. Afterwards on our way back home, we happened upon (you don't have to be Oliver Stone to read my dad's motives for having to pop into the office here) what was more than likely an intramural lacrosse game underway in one of many fields across the street from West Point’s famed Trophy Point. My dad took the opportunity to get absorbed in the game and since my brother and I had little interest in it, he sent us across the street to play on the rows upon rows of historical armaments on display there. Spring time begins the busy tourist season at West Point, so plenty of folks were milling around taking advantage of the beautiful vistas for photo opportunities as my brother and I climbed all over the cannons. At one point, I decided to take a rest and sat down in the bore hole of an upward positioned howitzer. The longer I sat relaxing in it, the deeper my folded body slid in. When my brother indicated that it was time to go back across the street to find my dad, I had slid so far down the bore that I was into it up to the middle of my rib cage.

ABSOLUTE PANIC ENSUED!!! I could not apply enough leverage with my arms to hoist myself out, and the more I panicked the further I slid in. When my brother finally stopped laughing hard enough to see that I was in peril, his attempts to pull me out only made matters worse. What was left for him to do, but to leave me there and go find my dad and that’s exactly what he did. Me, with my ass in a cannon, Japanese tourists walking by pretending not to notice me screaming like holy hell. Five minutes later, my brother returned with my dad in tow and after my dad had his turn having a laugh at my expense, he placed one hand on my back and the other under my knees, squished my back towards my legs and pulled me out. No chance that it would ever be a secret amongst us men, it became the family story for the ages.

When back in the area last year, I took the opportunity to photo Katie by the very same cannon which I've posted above. I’m sure she’ll enjoy telling here kids the story someday.

So, there you have it. I guess having this story is some consolation I guess. Enjoy.

The Banana--The Atheist's Nightmare.

Contained within an evangelical pamphlet handed to me at the mall this weekend. Page one reads:

Note that the banana:
  1. Is shaped for human hand
  2. Has non-slip surface
  3. Has outward indicator of inward contents: Green--too early, Yellow--Just right, Black--too late.
  4. Has a tab for removal of wrapper
  5. Is preforated on wrapper
  6. Bio-degradable wrapper
  7. Is shaped for human mouth
  8. Has a point at top for ease of entry
  9. Is plaesing to the taste buds
  10. Is curved towards the face to make eating process easy

To say that the banana happened by accident is even more unintelligent than to say that no one designed the Coca Cola can.

There's just so much that could be said that, well... I'm left speechless. I would suggest that the Ministers at The School of Biblical Evangelism check the web browser history's of their 7000 students. It would appear that some of their activity on the web might be affecting their work.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cartoon Hotties...

Since blogging is all about transparency, why don't we all just come clean and admit it: Everybody has their own cartoon hottie. It looks like both Hue and I have expressed some shared affection for June on Little Einstein's. My wife is quick to point out exactly how sick this is since she's supposed to be like six years old. Now, if they were supposed to be only six years old, how are they able to fly a rocket ship I ask? They're at least teenagers in my book, and judging by her advanced dancing skills, June is eighteen at a minimum. (high five Hue).

While June might be a cutie, she is not at the top of the list. This MILF like vixen is:

This is Stanley's mom. She's a dentist and if something was to happen to my wife and I was left alone, I would do my damnedest to woo her away from her cartoon husband, who also happens to be a cartoonist, and that weird kid of hers who carries around a fish bowl everywhere he goes and...

Okay, shut up you sick bastard.

Hue also mentioned Mrs. Jettson, nice call. I'm sure she's held up well through the years. How 'bout it? Anyone else got any animated amour?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Treasure Trove of Memories (or Nightmares)...

I searched far and wide, but could not find photo's of Jackson and I at the prom which we both attended. Maybe the pictures will surface at a later date at which time I'll post them. The Misanthrope has fired the first salvo in the "War On TeHairor" in reference to my most outdated hair style in my wedding picture. Never one to shy away from anything and since this blog needs a little lightening up, I'll post the photo's that I did find...

Me before my Junior prom 1981. Hate to disappoint girls, but I'm spoken for. Sorry. The dog on the right was one of the greatest doodle dogs to have ever walked the earth.

Another prom (not Mrs. Alva)...

Never prouder of my little sister than on this date. She wanted to make sure I attended her Basic Training graduation at Ft. Dix along side my full Col. dad to piss off her drill instructors. I was totally used, but was glad to accomodate her. My hair served a purpose beyond being a chick magnet that it was.

Lastly, who's this Flock Of Seagull's guy? The one guy who has had more strange haircuts than any other human being.

UPDATE: Re: Dave's comment, proof of doodledom. Me, my brother, two of my three sisters, and our new dog Lara circa 1970 West Point NY. (Note: the one in Diapers is the same one in the photo above graduating from basic training).

"After the 5th Symphony premiered, no one asked Ludwig to send a resume and audition tape..."

Michael Yon speaking more truth here. It's a long dispatch, but definately worth the read.

"True, I am anti-war, but I recognize that at this juncture in human history that refusing to fight in many parts of the world means that we agree to be beaten to death, or we agree to allow airliners to ram into our buildings. War is a pitiful human reality that we must face, and we are far from finished with facing this demon. We live in a rough world where strength is rewarded, weakness is penalized."

"... If we leave, all vestiges of progress will be lost and those Iraqis who risked their lives to work with us to gain that progress will no longer trust Americans. If we run, the enemy will follow us. They will kill us. They will not stop until we stop them. I might be anti-war, but I am much more anti-terrorist."

- Michael Yon "Of Words" -

Tragedy Over at Iraq The Model...

Horrible news from Mohammed who writes "Iraq The Model".

You got me tied down with battleship chains, fifty foot long with a two ton anchor...

Yep, that picture is ten years old today. My hair style is even older than that. I have lost some pounds though...

I woke up this morning pretty much the same way I do everyday. I'm rousted from my slumber to a bazaar fisheye view of a cat snooter(s) as they come up on the bed, purr, and sniff my face. I flip on the news to see what I missed in the seven hours I've been a sleep, my daughter comes in shortly there after with a loud and earnest "GOOD MORNING MOMMY, GOOD MORNING DADDY!", crawls into bed and immediately asks me to change the channel over to "Little Einstein’s". After holding her off until I can catch a weather report, I abide her wishes and get up to start my day.

This morning however, as I look at what transpires during the above mentioned half hour routine and with overwhelming emotion, realize how happy I am that I married my wife, or better yet, how lucky I am she said yes. She is responsible for everything I am and everything we have together. She gave me my daughter and I don't know if I'll ever be able to repay her for that. I would simply be lost without her. Happy tenth anniversary dear!!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Long String Getting Shorter...

I picked this story up clicking through several links over at Balloon Juice (why this didn't make Nat'l desks somewhere I do not know).

Look, I know they're just kids. I was one too a long time ago. I know they have a lot to learn about a lot of things, but I think they ought to learn about the law first and foremost by either their parents, UCSC administration, or by the authorities. The law was UNANAMOUSLY upheld two years ago in the Supreme Court that states that any institution that accepts federal dollars must allow equal access to recruiters and ROTC organizations to campus facilities. This ruling came as a result of Harvard's attempt to restrict ROTC drill from occurring on campus. I'm quite certain these organizers knew this as well. What they ended up doing was perpetrating censorship in the worst kind of way: through the use of terror and mob rule. Nice.

Enough is fucking enough. The schools chancellor should be put on notice that if this happens again (it happened the previous year and soldiers property was damaged), funds will be withheld. The next thing he ought to do is convene a hearing to expel these student organizers. Not for protesting the war but for breaking the law. If it was the first time, I'd have been more willing to let it slide with a strict warning, but this is a repeat performance. They failed to keep their event peaceful at a minimum, promoted the aggression more than likely. Where are the parents of these kids on this?

Oh Tony, that's an over reaction isn't? Well, what makes this any different than the asshat leadership of campus fraternities who force feed pledges vodka or any other heinous behavior they condone or promote getting handed their walking papers? Don't they get held accountable for their lapses in leadership? There is no distinction.

Funny, all they wanted to argue about over at Balloon Juice was who was the bigger jackass Michelle Malkin ( a very big jackass some times) for republishing a press release the Students Against War had published themselves which included phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the student organizers (as sure as the sun comes up, they received death threats from kooks and the like), or the online pundits that “get so worked up” over stories like this. Wha?

Forget the blogosphere added vitriol, read the damn source story. Two uniformed members of the military carried out their duty they were ordered to do, they set up a table at a job fair on a campus that the law of the Supreme Court allows them to do, sat down and waited for students to arrive. Then, a bunch of student antiwar protestors arrives. steals their literature, gets antsy, threatens violence, damages their property, all culminating in the soldiers being escorted off the premises by campus police (remarkable restraint demonstated by these two soldiers I might add).

How can anybody not be ashamed of the actions of these students? It the same contempt I have for the assholes who stand outside abortion clinics intimidating patients.

Here’s tip for the student organizers, something my parents I'm sure muttered to themselves about me more than once: WHY DON'T YOU JUST GO TO FUCKING CLASS!!!

Who Cares 1.1.1

Can't wait to hear this. I think I'll listen to it after I go see Basic Instinct II. At least the movie will have boobies in it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Can we dance wiff your dates?

My sister sent me this...

I went to three proms in my youth. The best one was with Jackson and his crew. There was no orgy that followed, but there was a big bash back at Jackson's folks house and fun was had by all. If I remember right, there were three or four limo's that carried a few couples to the venue, but for the most part it was an archtypical event for the times, and that's why I can't relate to what proms have become these days. I gotta side with the principle on this one. It goes beyond just proms. Parents today are so much more apt to get dragged into the whole status climbing thing in their kids lives it's simply rediculous. There is no doubt they are attempting to live vicariously through them. The last paragraph is telling:

"We go to all the parks with our friends," he said just before hopping into his jet-black Infiniti and driving off to meet friends for an after-school snack.

Are we not leaving anything for these kids to work for by buying them Infiniti's to drive to highschool in, or paying $20K for prom events?

I had a 1974 Ford Pinto and it was slightly nicer than Jackson's orange Chevy Vega which both his older brothers drove to school in before him. My kids going to hate me when it's time, but she'll drive whatever she wants to pay for herself, or she'll get a hand me down VW Beatle.

$20,000 for a beach house rental for one night. Do they have any idea how much studio gear can be had for that amount?

UPDATE: I know you guys are going to want to see pics from the prom me and Jackson attended. Thankfully, I don't think any photo's exist of me, but I might have one of Jackson and perhaps one of me at my junior year prom. If I can find the one of Jackson I'm thinking of, well... let's just see what I can find. Stay tuned.

If You Like Music...

More specifically, if you like Guns and Roses (think Appetite, not Use Your Illusion) and early dope addicted Aerosmith you'll like this new Silvertide disc. Since I don't get a chance to explore much new music, I like getting advice on what's new out there. This selection came from one of my employees 17-year-old son.

With records like this as testament, I guess there is some hope for the future...

Monday, April 17, 2006

I'll read yours, if you read mine...

Perhaps some who refer to me as a Republican would be surpirsed to discover my feelings on many of the larger topics that mark the traditional distinctions between blue and red. For instance, I doubt my view on a womens right to choose would get me invited to any Republican fund raiser even after I won the Megamillions Jackpot (which I will be this this evening BTW). Add my distain for the faith driven political machine and creationists I'm pretty sure I'd be excluded from even waiting tables at the event.

Having said that, what shapes my opinion most on current events and issues is reading about them. I'm always open to learn another angle on any topic. That's why reading blogs appeals to me so much. It's a great platform to read and share different opinions. When I was first peeped to the blogging thing, I made a deal with myself that I would take advantage of the transparancy that that the blogosphere offers to balance my reading between red, blue, and green blogs. I feel that, for the most part, I have kept my word. I enjoy them all immensely. Tom and Jason are obviously very intelligent bloggers and I have a great deal of respect for their talents. I visit their sites everyday despite Watson's nauseating love for the NY Mets. I also like the fact that John Cole, a moderate conservative, has added Tim F. as a writer to Balloon Juice this year for a more balanced view of current events. A ploy to boost readership? Perhaps, but it has certainly heated things up over there.

But I wonder if everybody's taking advantage of the blogosphere's transparency the same way, or do most read the political blogs that share their particular partisan beliefs. I was turned onto to blogging at the beginning of the last presidential campaign and I never imagined that the partisan rhetoric could be at any higher a volume nor did I think it could be sustained beyond the election itself, but alas I was clearly wrong.

My bantam league hockey coach once told me right before he sent me out to play goalie for one practice (that’s all it takes to discover you NEVER want to be a goalie), “…The key to minding the net is to ignore your first instinct”. Translation: When the puck is coming at you a 150 MPH don’t dive out of the way like most sane people would do, rather put yourself between it and the net. That’s the attitude that I try to envoke when it comes to political debate and reading current events, ignore my first instinct. Try to reserve an opinion until more facts are made available. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not, and emotion gets the better of me. One thing for sure, the level of partisan rhetoric has to be ratcheted down in order for us to solve our problems more effectively.

This article is one that I like. I think the theme is timely. It makes me think of the dream sequence in The Last Temptation of Christ where one of the apostles is preaching about Christ dying on the cross in the town square. When a very much living Jesus confronts him and says, “…but I didn’t die on the cross, I’m right here”, the apostle retorts something to the effect of, “...It doesn’t matter, that’s what they want to hear and believe”. Sad, but true isn't it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

These Kids Are Freakin' Good...

While at M&P's house for Easter this past weekend, I picked up some Catholic Archdiocese fish wrap that was lying around and when I cracked it open I saw this (whole article here).

This is the chant choir I recorded with a couple of Studio Projects C1's, a 16bit ADAT, and my ART stereo mic preamp. Chrispy did the mastering at Smoke & Mirrors and the final product was most excellent.

These were the kids that came in after I set up my stuff and with the first chord they struck just blew my secular self away.

Franck Launay-Fallasse, the groups director, is a Taize native. He has taught these kids more than just how to sing this repetitive chant style choral music, but its essence as well. It was hard not to get swept up in it. This truly amazes me since the only "essence" I could understand when I was their age was Ted Nugent's "Motor City Madhouse".

The group is gaining quite a bit of notoriety around the Georgia Archdiocese and abroad apparently helped along by the success of the record we made.

From what I've heard, they've sold all of their first pressing and are on their second. Not bad for $15.00 a pop. Maybe Chrispy and I should have held out for points on the backend gross. They could have at least mentioned one of our studios, right? Rumor has it the alto section has an Axl Rose complex and wants to go solo. I hope they can keep it together for the next record.

Take it easy, just kidding. You heard that right God, I was just kidding. Heh, heh. You know a little post Easter humor?

UPDATE: God has allegedly forgiven my trespasses, but Jackson has not. With the utmost sincerity I apologize for excluding Theo in production credit for this record.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hit the studio, cause I'm paid in full...

"Your horoscope is telling you to invest in something small and absurd. Like a recording studio."

- Advice from Chrispy to Misanthrope -

Absurd indeed. Count it amongst the few things we can all agree on, nothing is more absurd than owning a recording studio.

Since my humble beginnings in Munich Germany back in 1964, I have had the pleasure of being a partner in four multi-track recording studios. The first one was an analog eight track room called The Coal Mine, so named on account of the control room being located in the old coal room of my parents basement in West Point, NY.

Once I made the move to Georgia, I re-partnered up with my old friend Brain and couple of other guys in their rented house. We operated a 16 track (Tascam 38 locked to a Fostex Model 80) room called The Mountain Home. With four guys worth of gear, this place was slammin'. What we didn't have we impulsively went out and maxed a credit card to get. Ah, those were the days.

The third was the unnamed studio that was never to be. It was the one we were constructing in Brian's basement before he died. That sucked.

When my wife and I decided to build a house, she'd bring home many drawings of the models the company she worked for at the time were building in the area. While she weighed the finer aspects of square footage and the need (or not) for a formal living room, all I really cared about was what the basement was going to look like. It was there that I was going to build my own studio.

Work began almost as soon as we moved in. I finished out the basement entirely on my own with the help of only Mrs. Alva and my six foot tall sister whose height came in handy while hanging 12' sheets of drywall on the ceiling. (Lesson one: Like cockroaches when the lights are flicked on in your kitchen, so goes your friends when it comes to help on a project like this. Make sure you're prepared to do it all on your own). Alas the results gave birth to Grey Cat Sound, co-named for me (my hair had gone this sexy color by my mid twenties), and my beloved gray tom cat that used to hangout many a late night at the Coal Mine critiquing mixes and eating Doritos that would get dropped on the floor. Mrs. Alva suggested the "Grey" spelling since it sounded snootier.

Grey Cat was indeed a labor of love, but by it's completion my life had already begun to change. Same was true for my many music friends who went on to get degrees, get married, have kids, take on careers, etc... Not much more than some of my own tinkering got recorded, some remixing of some historically recorded stuff perhaps. Good fortune came my way with runaway market speculation during the dot com boom and I was able to make some pretty nice upgrades since first unpacking the old gear. I've added some nice pieces from time to time up to it's current outfit.

Since the re-outfitting, I've really only had three or four big projects: a Christian Rock record that Jackson and Chrispy helped with, another in similar vain, and some work I've done with a local singer song writer. With all that I have going on in my life, the place is severely under utilized and I'm determined to change that. I love recording music and don't get to do it enough. I’ve got some spare time available to take on some projects with my center closing at the end of this year. As you can tell with the whole blogging thing, time is not in short supply.

Any ideas on how to get some spec work in the door? I am opening Grey Cat up to anybody who'd like to do a project. Anyone you know who might want to try their hand at putting together a recording of some sort send them my way. Can put up guests if required.

Vital stats on the studio are:

Tascam 32x8x2 3500 series console, Alesis HD24 Harddisc recorder, 24 track ADAT Blackface, Tascam MS-16 1” analog tape machine w/Dbx NR, Tannoy and NS-10M monitors, Focusrite ISA preamp, Neumann mic, and Studio Projects C1’s, and much more.

May add a DAW if project warrants it.

It’s a pretty big recording space too, with a hardwood floor for drums (have an in-house kit), and multiple rooms for isolation.

If you know of anyone who’d be interested by all means pass my info to them and have them contact me. I loved to do a project in which we tracked to the 16 track analog machine. That would just simply be da bomb.

"I don't just like pretty things Daddy, I like cool things too..."

Those were the words my daughter uttered when I opened a newly arrived package and this was what I pulled out of the packing popcorn.

Since I'll be on R&R tomorrow, I'll leave this photo for you all and wish everybody a happy Easter!

P.S. Katie picked the shirt out herself. On her way through the department store she saw a young boy her age wearing a Yes t-shirt getting beat up by some 2 year old girls. She went with the one she's wearing...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Potata Tomata...

Tonight was girls night out so Mrs. Alva and Crazy Neighbor Lady went out cruising strip clubs leaving me at home with Katie. We played Mr. Potato Head.

Here's Kaite's:

Here's mine:

Mine is the obvious clear winner. It'll be awhile before she'll have the mad skillz to take the old man down in a round of 'Tata Head.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Pot? This is the Kettle. You're Black..."

TEHRAN, Iran - has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a landmark in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday. He insisted, however, that his country does not aim to develop nuclear weapons.

In a nationally televised speech, Ahmadinejad called on the West "not to cause an everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians" by trying to force Iran to abandon uranium enrichment.

The guy who could easily light up each of his countries cities like Las Vegas on pennies a day with all the energy his country sits on needs nuke power this bad.

I'm not worried though. I'm sure Ahmadinejad has been careful not to cause any everlasting hatred of us by any of his own comments or actions.


IDM Quiz Number 2...

Disclaimer: This contest is open to New York metro area readers, and non-Georgia residents ONLY.

This is a photo from a couple of year's back at the Georgia vs. Georgia Tech football game after consuming more alcohol before noon since... Well, since the last Georgia vs. Georgia Tech game.

The question is: From the picture below, which women does the bra in my month belog to?

Hint #1: It's not my wife's (she did not attend).

Hint #2: It's not mine or the other guys.

Bonus Question: Where did the bra ultimately end up?

The winner will receive 100 hours of free studio time at Grey Cat Sound.

Monday, April 10, 2006

IDM Quiz...

Are these pictures of Augusta National's famed Amen Corner, or are they the hanging gardens of Babylon?

In fact it's a trick question. These are pictures of the Alva back yard in the absolutely fantastic spring we're having down here in Georgia. In the South, spring comes early and is over very rapidly. Normally, it goes from cool springtime temps to 90's in the span of a month and a half. As a newly minted old guy, one of the indications of achieving this status comes when you wake up one day to discover much to your dismay, that you're obsessed with how your yard looks. When we built our house ten years ago, the builder gave us the standard Bermuda sod in the front and side yards, seeded Kentucky Fescue in the back. This mixture of grass species is not the best way to go here in the South.

Kentucky Fescue is a cool climate grass which goes dormant in the heat of the summer. It appears to die and nearly goes to hay, so fescue looks it's best in the spring and fall.

Bermuda on the other hand, loves the hot temps and heavy humidity. In the winter, it goes completely yellow. It looks like yellow steel wool during this time. While the Bermuda requires little to look good in the way of maintenance, the fescue is a bitch and I've only had one or two years where it's met with my satisfaction to any degree. Based on this, there are only two times during the year in which the whole property looks tip top: briefly in the spring, and during our gorgeous fall. This year however, it appears that I've knocked it out of the park with a little help from my friends at True Green. Not only does it look nice, but my little one and her friends are of the age where they can make good use out of a nice yard full of green grass.

While the fall is great for so many reasons (College football being the most important), spring is great too. The azaleas and the dogwoods are something else and they’re everywhere around our property. If New York owns the most beautiful falls (and it does), then Georgia boasts the greatest springs. As golf fans out there can attest, The Masters is an opportunity to show the world just how beautiful a Georgia spring realy is. This one is shaping up to be particularly spectacular.

UPDATE: All due props to Crazy Neighbor Lady for the flox seen in the picture on the left. It is indeed beautiful (that's the little lavander colored ground cover for all the non-yard obsessed).

Friday, April 07, 2006

"Go. Do What It Is That You Have To Do..."

Far form being a devout Catholic, or devout anything for that matter other than a lover of Rock & Roll music, I am absolutely fascinated by religion. I think I even had my folks worried when I studied it with such zeal while in college. I know I must have bored them to death more than once at the dinner table with my musings on the Bhagavad-Gita, or whatever it was that we were reviewing that week. When I read this weeks big news about the discovery of the 1700 year old transcripts of the gospel of Judas Iscariot, well I was as excited as hearing that Keith Richards was coming to dinner (okay, that’s probably an exaggeration, but as Jackson would say, it’s my blog).

While I’ve not been able to review all of what these texts contain just yet, it would appear that the major excitement surrounds the relationship Judas enjoyed with Jesus as a favored apostle, and the shocking revelation that Jesus may have instructed Judas to betray him.

Now, I am no student of the Catechism and maybe my father who will be inducted into the Knights Of Columbus this weekend can better explain it all to me while we play eighteen on Sunday, but two things came to mind right away after I read this story.

First, this is NOT the first time I have be exposed to this characterization of Judas. In Martin Scorcsese’s Last Temptation of Christ, this is exactly how Judas was portrayed. He was lion hearted, if not more than a little skeptical even cautioning Jesus, “I will be your most fateful follower, but if you step out of line I’ll kill you…”. Judas is true to his word as is Jesus of course, and their relationship blossoms. They become very close, closer than any of the others. In the film as well as in the book the film is based on I imagine, Jesus relies on Judas as his trusty lieutenant. It is Judas that demands they wait for Jesus when he goes out to the desert. He is the voice of authority when the other apostles are freaking out. It breaks Judas’s heart to have to betray his friend and master. As one who places a high value on loyalty and friendship almost to a fault, this is the films most emotional scene for me.

Second, this version of Judas is one that makes the most sense to me from a Christian perspective. If all things were prophesized, a manifest destiny if you will, then why wouldn’t Jesus ask one of his apostles, his most loyal and trusted apostle, to do the deed? I really have no idea why the Catholic church, or any other Christian leadership would take issue with this gospel. It changes dogma and doctrine so little in my lapsed
Catholic point of view. And that’s my beef with most Christian belief. So hung up on the specifics that the message gets lost. The message is more important people.

Jesus lived in the most politically charged times the world has ever experienced (well, until now that is). I find it fascinating to read and learn more about Jesus within the framework of the places and time he walked the earth. I will continue to devour as much as I can about the historical Jesus and bore my old man with it until he either quits inviting me to golf with him, or I am able to distract him enough with heretical chat that I’m able to beat him again.

Tony Alva Asks the Experts: Are these Doodle Dogs?

This is picture on the left is Winnie. She is my neighbor's gulooty(sp?) chocolate lab who loves to eat his friend Sam the cat's food, chase any ball thrown, and is capable of finding any hidden puddle of mud to roll in no matter how obscure. When she wags her tail (which is alot), she bends herself in half.

The picture on the right is Molly the Jack Russel who lives across the street. Molly thinks she's the Queen of the cul de sac, and as mighty as any pitbull. She'll lick your face clean off.

So I ask you all knowing experts, are these dogs doodles?

It's all Just Bricks In The Wall...

No matter what your opinions are on the ongoing immigration debate, there seems to be one single facet that everyone seems to be in agreement on: all solutions begin with the need to stop the unfettered flow of more immigrants into the country FIRST. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer says it best today.

Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It’s simply ridiculous to say it can’t be done. If one fence won’t do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put cameras. Put sensors. Put out lot’s of patrols.

Can’t be done? Israel’s border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined then mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the last 50 years.

Krauthammer states that border security is the responsibility of the federal government, not employers. While I agree with that statement, I’m still not willing to let employers off the hook.

But the rest of the article I believe rings true. Krauthammer believes that once you’ve stopped the bleeding leveler heads will prevail on all sides with what to do going forward. Amnesty believers will have a better time making their case to the hard liners with the comfort that the problem isn’t still a run away one. He concludes the piece with this:

…Full amnesty – earned with back taxes and learning English and the like – with full border control. If we do it right, not only will we solve the problem, we will get it done as one nation.

We put a man on the moon, I'm pretty confident we can build a freaking mammoth wall as Charles describes. Let’s get it done…

Terrible News From West Point...

Maggie Dixon, Army women's basketball coach died suddenly Thursday night from an apparent heart ailment. The story's here and here at West Point is a small tight knit community and this has gotta sting. She appears to have had the cadet women back on track gaining their first ever invite to a Div 1 tournement, and won the Patriot League title. All this after taking over the team only eleven days before the season started. Such a tragedy...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Call To Arms: Autism Awareness Week...

There's some good dialog going on around Tony Alva's blogroll with regard to autism. My good friend and esteemed blogging colleague Hue B. Mooksuki is the father of a young autistic boy. In addition to Hue being one of the funniest guys I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, he is walking encyclopedia when it comes to this affliction. After reading many of his insightful posts on this topic you get the impression that getting informed and staying on the forefront of this disease not only helps him better address the issues his family faces raising their son, but I can only imagine it also helps him stay focused on what really matters vs. getting sucked into the world of magical cures, hysterical speculations, etc… that must run rampant in these circles.

In the past two years I have learned an awful lot about autism and the children afflicted with it. As Hue will say, there is a good chance every one of you knows someone who has a child with autism. How true. I’ve also come to understand the power of awareness and what that really means. So check it out and get dialed in. Read Hue’s blog, check it out on Chrispy’s, or Dave's. Read the comments too. This is what Hue and other families want to see this month, people talking about autism. If you have any questions, shoot Hue an e-mail or post a comment. I'm sure he'd be happy to share what he knows with you, and by all means keep reading...

Blog Post For Ted In His Absence...

Ted is on the road to South Carolina and I'm sure he would not have wanted to miss this so I'll post it in the manner of all things Ted. Here goes...

The Rolling Stones have arrived in China for a series of shows. When was the the last time (insert name of your crappy favorite band) played stadiums in China?

Apparently, according to the article, the Chinese government has cut "Beast of Burdan" and "Brown Sugar" from the Stones Forty Licks greatest hits collection for the Chinese release. This blows, but there is one positive, if not humorous, aspect to this. Can you picture a delegation of Maoist cultural police pricks sitting around a big conference table with their headphones on listening intently to Rolling Stones songs for lyrics that offended their communist sensibilities? "What is this 'tent show queen'? We can't have this in China...".

Lastly, how did "Start Me Up" get by these geniuses? (see last two lines of the lyrics here)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Michael Yon...

Just got a message from Michael Yon that he's headed back to Iraq as we speak after a couple months hiatus. Micheal is my most trusted journalist covering the war. This time he'll be reporting "outside the wire" vs. being embedded with a combat unit as he was last time. Frankly, I think he's nuts, but look forward to reading his posts from the front again. Check him out at Michael Yon's Online Magazine.

It's Contagious...

This is Kelsey. She's Katie's best friend and next door neighbor. She is the daughter of Yoda Jacket and Crazy Neighbor Lady. Yoda Jacket just fired up his own blog here check it out.

Every time she hears a story about one of my past youthful indiscretions, Crazy Neighbor Lady responds, "Your kid is going to burn down your house...". I normally retort, "Yes perhaps, but more likely it will be be Katie and Kelsey quietly pushing the Alva mobile out of the garage for a midnight beer run".

Let's hope we’re both wrong...

Incompetence 101...

Yep, the White House and FEMA did their fare share to screw up the Katrina recovery out of the gate, but the sad state of New Orleans prior to the storm rests soley with the worthless, corrupt, and inept state and local government. This latest move is proof positive of that (thanks to Yoda Jacket for linking to this) .

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Clarkie's Right About One Thing At Least...

In response to Jackson's posting a photo of my kid on his blog Clarkie wrote:

"You are in for it, Tony Alva. God help you in ten years."

She's never been more right. My wife just sent me these.

I'm doomed...

UPDATE: Use Name: Tony Alva

Password: Pink_Floyd

Cynthia McKinney: "I am a dumbass and I'm sorry..."

At least that's what she would say if she had an ounce of intelligence, but no. We're going to have to endure her circus charade as she attempts to right her wrong by blaming everybody but herself for the predicament she's in.

I saw her on Anderson 360 or MSNBC attempting to spin an explanation and when he called her out on a few comments she made she sounded even more foolish. I’ve always wondered how anybody could vote for this moron, but she gets folks to turn out on the strength of a well campaigned conspiracy platform, and lack of any other viable candidate in the district. She’s so awful, Republicans turned out enmass to vote for Denise Majette, a fellow liberal Democrat, when she challenged her in the election before last. Even hardcore liberal Democrats are distancing themselves from her.

Read this…

I recall vividly Al Sharpton and C. Vernon Mason when they were acting equally as foolish and that is why they lack any real relevancy now.

I guess this’ll dominate the news until something better comes along like another GOP swindler caught with his/her hand in the cookie jar...

Stupid Decisions Part I...

Last week, I came to work and performed my regular morning routine as I have done for the six years we've been in this building. Listen to v-mail, fire up PC and Log on, go make coffee, read e-mail, read blogs, read news, start work. Takes about 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, I also discovered for the third time that the brain trust of our newly merged company has made a command decision that directly effects my life. The first, the decision to close my center by the end of the year. The second, to charge us more for our benefits and reduce our coverage, and third, to now prohibit the running of streaming video on company computers. The first two I can understand as critical to many things financial and have fully accepted, but this last one I gotta ask:

What the fuck? We own HUGE fiber networks with shit tons of spare capacity, and you don't want us watching fat cat video's on CNN?

Don't get me wrong, our pre-merger company was slowly becoming a bloated behemoth of bureaucracy before the merge, but I have been with them from the very beginning when we were four months from bankruptcy, when there were less than a thousand employees on the payroll. It's been a great ride. One of the many things that has kept me here for so long is that our former company defied the industry experts by consciously NOT becoming one of THEM. THEM are the historical wireline companies in which all you need to know about your job is available to you in a big binder when you come to work on your first day. Forget about doing things differently or trying to make improvements, you’re to do exactly what the binder instructs. All hail the great binder!!! Our former CEO, having made a name as chairman of one of THEM prior to coming to us, drilled it into our heads: “Do NOT become one of them”.

Well, one of THEM bought us. Our former CEO has stayed on, and we’d hoped that the spin given to us following the merge announcement, that THEM were interested in how we defied the odds and became a real competitor and Wall Street darling in less than ten years, had some truth in it. We tenured legacy employees had been optimistic up until January or so, but with this kind of shit happening to us more and more frequently, the writing seems to be on the wall and it is becoming a THEM company slowly but surely. That, my friends, sucks.

UPDATE: Just got back from lunch with a supplier and one of my employees commented that they've restricted access to Ebay. Just tried to access my account and she was right. Incredible...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cha, Cha, Changes...

I've been monkeying around with the look of my page here, and will continue to do so until I'm either satisfied, or not as bored here at work.

Let me know what you think so far...

Dave Cavalier's weekend of landing practice...

All on board survived this crash piloted by Misanthrope's own Dave Cavalier. FAA investigators claim that the crash occured when Dave spilled his bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 all over the console while fumbling around looking for his Genesis Abacab cassette tape that had slid under the seat.

Sir, Have you no sense of decency...

I really wanted this gig to work out for ole Diamond Dave, but it looks like the bell ringer is being awaken from his slumber and handed a piece of paper with Dave's name on it. That's too bad.

Next stop, MTV's the Surreal Life. It's worthy of note for those unfamiliar with the show, that this season stars Poison's CC Deville who quite remarkably is the most sane component to the current cast. If Dave does elect to do the show, they'll have to dig deep to create a situation where he's the most sane house member. I'd say the only way they could make that happen is if they cast his former bandmate, Eddie Van Halen along side him. Eddie is without a doubt MORE insane than Dave.

Here's a simply request, Take some Prozac, find a studio that has enough isolation booths so each guy gets one, rehearse VH ablums one through four, get individual tour buses for each band member, hit the road and put an end to all this foolishness.