Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meme Part II: Seven Other Gangs of Four
Warning: certain Meme sections resulted in bonus tracks of thought (btot) listed separately.

Four movies I can watch over and over
1. Garden State. I haven't tested this theory, but when I saw it in the theater I really enjoyed it and it just seemed so mellow and it struck me that it would be a movie one could watch over and over.
2. Star Wars. duh.
3. The Empire Strikes Back. see (2.)
4. The Usual Suspects. The complexity and twists of the plots and characters make this a movie I had to see at least twice.

btot: If you said "What about Return of the Jedi" I say to you "I hear you and accept you, but it's just not that good, especially the DVD version with the alterations that give new meaning to the word 'craptastic', which word had a pretty clear meaning to begin with."

If you said "What about 1999-2005 Star Wars trilogy?" I say to you "Jar Jar step in Poo Poo!"

I also want to mention Python's Holy Grail, Amadeus, and Lone Star – all movies I love, but am not sure I could watch over and over.

Four places I have lived
1. Mellby 324. St. Olaf College. 1993-94. I got a single room on a quiet floor my senior year. Then I turned it into a mini recording studio, much to the annoyance of my neighbors. I am sorry about that, but I had to do it. Please forgive me and contact me if you would like a free copy of the CD I made from those recordings.
2. Fairport, NY. August 1975-August 1986. A suburb of Rochester where we knew all our neighbors and there were a ton of other kids to play with. It was great.
3. Silver Spring, MD. August 1986-September 1990. See (2.) substitute D.C. for Rochester. Home of rock band Suburban Decay.
4. Northfield, MN. September 1990-May 2003. Home of acoustic duo Great Uncle Helmer. Three room, third floor, numerically aligned and satisfyingly large apartment housed fairly elaborate and well-equipped digital recording studio for final six or seven years. Saw successful recordings by Great Uncle Helmer, Jubilant Dogs, Doc's Kids, Evan Johnson, Siobhan Meehl, Eric Rohn, and others.

Four TV shows I love
1. Angel. Especially season five with Spike.
2. Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Especially season two with Angel going evil.
3. Seinfeld. There can be no debate that this is the best sitcom ever. Only possible challenger Curb Your Enthusiasm.
4. The X-Files. Sorry, Moonlighting. Mulder and Scully stayed good longer.

Four places I’ve vacationed
1. Ibiza, Spain. May 2003. Sweeeeet. Honeymoon of a lifetime. The food, the myriad swimsuit optional beaches, the mini-golf on wildly unpredictable concrete. Plus - honeymoon. Sweeeeet.
2. Iasi/Codaesti, Romania. October/November 2000. Working in a clinic for children whose parents could not afford to care for them. Totally different but equally satisfying to (1.).
3. Virginia Beach. (A few times, including September 1997) Nice house on the beach. Bodysurfing, saltwater, family, seafood, seagulls, snapshots, tennis, journal writing, playing cards, mini-golf. Very relaxing. The vacation you think of when someone says "vacation". Excellent.
4. Excalibur Hotel, Las Vegas. July 2005. May it Viva forever. What an exciting town. Once you find a cheap source of gatorade, that is. We were also blessed with a terrific native friend to guide us to the best places to go.

btot: I feel I must break the rules and mention my favorite other vacations ever so briefly – Colorado Springs (3x), Hawaii, Madden's Resort in Brainerd, MN, California (3x). These "eight of four" were not necessarily listed in order of quality of vacation. Plus various road trips to Kansas City, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells have been pretty great. And the many enjoyable vacations I took primarily to visit people are not listed at all.

Four of my favorite dishes
1. Pizza. duh.
2. Mock Duck Pad Thai.
3. Anything my wife makes for me
4. Anything my family makes for me

Four sites I visit daily
1. Yahoo! (news & e-mail)
2. Amazon (CDs)
3. Blog by Chazz Vader: http://chazzvader.blogspot.com/
4. Blog by Prosecutor/Mommy: http://prosecution.blogspot.com/

Four places I would rather be right now
1. In a recording studio where I have all the time and money in the world, several clones of myself, Kent, Andy, Dave, Stu, Karl, Justin, Ben, etc., and a sympathetic, knowledgeable producer (Scot?).
2. See also vacations listed above.
3. Visiting family.
4. Near interesting people – people I know but also maybe people I don't. Is "near Paul McCartney" a legit answer to this one? I think so.

btot: Where I am at any given time usually ranks from acceptable to excellent since leaving the banking world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Meme Part I: Four Jobs

1. Full Time Dad. Best job ever. Highly motivated to succeed. Benefits too numerous to mention. Large challenges, but I enjoy meeting them and finding creative ways for Baby and I to rise above.

2. Bank Teller/Lead Teller. This job was almost completely not primarily about what I thought it would be about. I'd always liked sorting baseball cards and other such obsessive/compulsive activities. I thought I'd be great at it because I thought it would be a lot of keeping track of pieces of paper, numbers, and working on a computer. And I was great at that.

The thing I didn't know it would be about was SALES. I don't know why anyone would go to a bank teller these days when everything is available online or at the ATM. But people do, and when people do, they are supposed to be offered a new banking product or service EVERY TIME they do. That is the official policy of my bank and prior employer. And what surprised me was that I was also really great at that.

I studied the various products and services the bank offered – who knew there were so many and such variety? And most of the people who came to the bank could have saved time, made more money, and paid fewer fees with new or alternative bank products, so suggesting these things to them based on my extensive product knowledge was good for everybody. I made about 15-20% more money than my regular wage and won trips for two to Hawaii, Colorado Springs, and Madden's resort in Brainerd. And for every septuagenarian who was annoyed at being offered online banking or an ATM card for the 3,000th time (and, btw, I have no sympathy) there was at least one person who ended up saving hundreds of dollars in fees they didn't have to be paying.

Still, the whole time I felt like "Why the hell am I (just) a bank teller?" The job didn't pay that much, and while I was really, really good at it, it didn't really play to my skill set or use my education. In fact, one of my coworkers, when we were talking about our backgrounds and I mentioned my college degree and revealed my relatively advanced age said something like, "Don't take this the wrong way, but why are you working here?"

I thought to myself, "A lifetime of truly colossal underachievement and breathtakingly poor decision making." I actually said something about being burnt out on guitar teaching and wanting to earn more money, which was also true. Still, the general public, at least that somewhat deficient cross section of the general public that still uses actual live bank tellers, often uses them as venting targets for deep seeded "my mommy never loved me" style oedipal rage. I now hate the general public. When I got the call at work that my wife was in labor and my daughter was being born, I walked out the door knowing I would not miss the industry in the slightest and I haven't.

3. Guitar teacher
This was intermittently an extremely rewarding job. There was about a three-year learning curve for me during which I learned to a) teach fast or slow according to a student's background and ability to learn and b) charge people when they skipped a lesson. After that I had my part down and it all depended on the skills, habits, ability and desire of the students. I had some great ones who went on to make their own music they shared with me and I feel very proud of them.

I also had some complete duds, but the fact that I was a complete dud as a teenage piano and voice student then went on to enjoy making music more than anything else in life is encouraging to me. The money was inconsistent, however, and I did get burnt out after nine years so was not too sad to leave. I enjoy music more when I'm not teaching it – especially teaching theory, which a person should learn thoroughly, teach for a while to fully internalize, then actively, consciously forget and just get on with it. Still, I may go back to this someday.

4. Camp counselor
This job was a lot of fun, as I loved the kids and I am basically just "the world's tallest nine year old" as my friend Evan once called me. The drag was the bosses. I can't remember exactly why or what precise stupid things they would say, do, and suggest. I did it for two summers and have a lot of good memories. This was the worst paying job of the three paying jobs I mention here. At the Christian Church camp I think I made about $15 a day – which was because I was working for the Lord. Uh-huh. Amen. The following year at the YMCA I made $5/hr. There are a ton of stories from these two years – more than I have time to go in to here.

I got the idea for this blog entry from a blog by a friend of mine. Check her out if you want. Maybe I will finish the rest another time. Hope that was interesting to someone. Meffis out.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

As so many of my blogs begin with "Had a very enjoyable show with Karl last night at blah, blah, blah" I thought I would start this one differently so I have. But only because I wanted to start it differently for the sake of starting it differently. I really did have a very enjoyable show last night at Minneapolis' Freight House Dunn Bros. in the historic Milwaukee Depot area just north of downtown. The staff and patrons were friendly and helpful. The group that assembled for the show was very special and included many family members and friends. The room was pretty full for the whole show as Karl and I had hoped it would be.

Karl and I rehearsed extensively and prepared some special new material for the show. We worked from a set list to keep the show flowing and as tight as possible with a GUH show. We had Pete Rivard (a.k.a. Banjo Man, Mr. Accordion) playing and singing with us. As such, there were several highlights for me.

"Bass Guitar", is a new song we wrote the chorus of at our latest rehearsal. Then Karl and I wrote verses separately this week. When we played the song at last night's show, we played the chorus together, then my first verse, chorus, Karl's verse, chorus, my second verse, then a final chorus. At the show we were hearing each other's verses for the first time. My verses went pretty well and Karl's verse was excellent. I am excited about the possibilities of that song.

Another thing we tried for this show was bringing new life to familiar GUH material by changing or adding new instrumentation. One of my favorite moments of the show was the look on my mom's face after my operatic take on Karl's song "When Will I Be Alive" with Karl playing guitar. She looked sort of amazed and said "What was that?!" We also switched the lead singer on "Kansas City, Nebraska" and "(Today I Don't Mind Livin' in A) Small Town", two songs that I think of as being strongly associated with their original authors.

We added me on bass and harmony vocal to two of my favorite Kaptain Karl solo songs, "Introducing the Door" and "Stop, Drop, and Roll". This was very enjoyable. The entrance of the bass in the "tranquilizer set to stun" verse of "Door" is shaping up to be one of my favorite live musical moments. Does it ruin it if I talk about it? I doubt it. We'll see at the next show. I hope to add "It Won't Go Away", "Don't Remember Me", and possibly "KFC Hell" to the GUH set list for our next shows.

A big thank you to everyone who attended and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Here are some links I have chosen not to embed in the text of this blog entry but rather to include at the end rather like the "read more about it" moment at the end of an after school special.

Set lists (planned & actual)

Bass Guitar lyrics & info

Official GUH Site

Performance calendar

Kaptain Karl Unofficial Fan Site (maintained by Memphis Evans)

Official Kaptain Karl Site (under construction)

Official Memphis Evans Site