Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Just Keeps Getting Worse

To say that 2016 has been a bad year for losing the great artists of our time is not only cliché, but a gross understatement. I’ll say it anyway. It’s been an absolute shit show. In fact this year has been so bad that if you start typing “artist deaths” into Google’s search engine, Google won’t even let you finish. The year 2016 just pops up. That’s right, even my computer knows the deal. And it doesn’t seem to be getting better. Yesterday Prince Rogers Nelson, known simply as Prince, died. He was 57. As far as icons go he was the real deal. 

I’m still processing this devastating news. Still crying. Still in disbelieve we all have to go through this yet again. Like Groundhogs day, it seems that in 2016 we’re destined to relive the same nightmare over and over. I know that collectively we’ll all get over the pain, anger, and sorrow, but it won’t be easy. In Psych 101 we learned about death and which ones were the most impactful starting with spouses, then parents, then siblings, and on down the line. I don’t remember rock stars or musical icons being on the list. They should have been.

This then begs the big question we’re all asking ourselves in times like these. “Why do we grieve so deeply over the loss of someone we never knew personally?” Then I realize that question almost answers itself. Through their music, these icons shared the most significant piece of their spirit on a very personal level. The emotional impact music has on our lives is just as much a part of our souls as that of our family, friends, and close acquaintances. In some cases, especially for other musicians, even more.

I look back at all the things I said about Bowie on his death just four short months ago. I’m now forced to repeat myself. Just as I was forced to repeat myself when Keith Emerson died a few months later. And Merle Haggard. And Glen Frey. And Sir George Martin. The list keeps growing, but the passing of Bowie and now Prince have hit me particularly hard. And the same thoughts keep popping into my head. These creative powerhouses, these spirits from another world, these beings who shaped and changed our lives have now left us choking in the dust. And those are just some of the most notable names in the musician category. There are more. Artists. Actors. Entertainers both in front and behind the scenes. Names you may know. Names you may not. Famous or otherwise, they are all significant to our collective way of life.

Back in January, through my grief and tears I wrote this about David Bowie and never put it out for public consumption partly because it’s part of much larger work and I was too lazy to break it up into something easily digestible. Time passed and in some ways I felt I had missed an opportunity to contribute my thoughts along with the countless others who shared their personal reminiscences to a world in mourning. Because of the parallels shared between Bowie and Prince as our now fallen Gods among men, it makes sense to revisit the following snippet, as it is just as appropriate when memorializing Prince:

“I’m sure my feelings aren’t unique among not just those of my generation, but—and this is what is truly remarkable about the man— extend, and will continue to extend to my own children, my children’s children, and on and on ad infinitum until the planet implodes upon its own self-indulgences and civilization as we know it no longer imposes its will. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere out there in the vastness of the galaxy, there are alien lifeforms enjoying his work right this very moment. I can’t think of a better barometer to gauge the man’s genius.”

I have this theory, one that conflicts with my spiritually ambiguous path, but when icon after icon keeps dropping off the face of the earth, one grasps for any sort of explanation. And while this theory may be perceived as a bit wack-a-doodle and will probably make me sound every bit my age and then some, it’s simple. The Universe is taking the greatest artists off the planet in a recycling effort to replenish its stock of talent in order to counter the disparity being force fed to the masses across today’s airwaves. That’s right, I said it. Today’s music, at least what’s being passed off as such by corporate monkeys still trapped in the decaying paradigm of an industry that’s long lost the very reason for its existence, has none of the stamina as the music of previous generations. In a word, it sucks and needs to go away. And while it may take a few generations for this recycling effort to replenish humankind’s artistic soul, our icons spirits that are being ripped away from us will eventually make their way back to this green earth in some form or another and save civilization from mediocrity.

Or maybe it’s not that complicated. Maybe it’s just God, or the Universe, or whatever deciding that amongst all the bullshit distractions cluttering up our heads these days, we need to be reminded of what really matters. Iconic art trumps politics and false celebrity every day of the week. So for now let’s take this opportunity to appreciate the voluminous catalogs these icons have left behind and relish in the memories their music has scored, because you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Progressive What?

A few people (very few) know that I've stepped away from my sci-fi/fantasy world to work on a memoir/progressive rock manifesto. Since this type of writing not only is new to me, it also lends itself well to posting excerpts from it on this here blog site thingy. The other day I participated in a discussion on Facebook that circled the drain of the age old question, "Who were the original progressive rock bands or artist(s)? Since I had already spent the energy addressing this question in my book-in-progress, I felt well qualified to provide a few answers. But it's an intricate study, one that is too big for Facebook. And while this question resides in the "How long is a piece of string?" bubble, considering my credentials (or perhaps my stupidity) I had to at least make an attempt to come up with an answer. Keep in mind this is still in rough draft form and I have also edited out a bunch of swears so as not to offend everyone. Anyway, here it is in full, offered up as a sacrifice in all its vulnerability. 

 So where did it all begin? Well…who can say, really, how, when, or where the sweet baby who grew into this monstrous musical behemoth was born?  Was it Robert Fripp and his creation, King Crimson? Maybe Syd Barret and Pink Floyd should get credit for their experimental innovations. Sure, if you listen to that early Floyd material you’d be hard-pressed to navigate the maze that leads to Prog nirvana. But it’s there. Believe me. Maybe Pete Townshend and his orchestral approach to rock composition influenced others to open their sphere of influence and turn rock into a more formal pursuit. Certainly Tommy is labeled as a “rock opera” and Quadrophenia expands in that tradition. But The Who are firmly implanted in classic rock, perhaps one of the best rock bands ever. After all, they won the war they were thrust into between Mods and Rockers, and would probably sneer at the idea of being considered Prog cornerstones. Led Zeppelin is sort of in the same boat. They introduced us to a whole new sound when it came to rock, with Robert Plant’s piercing vocals, Jimmy Page’s blues-based electric guitar, Bonham’s wild-man drumming, and John Paul Jones showing us that bass-players are more than just frustrated guitarists. They were heavy. They were intricate. They were at times emotionally beautiful, and so much better than your average rock and roll band. But again, they’re pillars of classic rock and heavy metal, who at times displayed some progressive leanings. In other words, Prog did not, and cannot define them. To get to the real roots of Prog you have to dig down further.

So is there a more direct, clear cut path from the British Beat scene of the 60s to the psychedelic and Prog scene of the 70s? I’m talking as the crow flies, is there one titular act leading straight to the moment that blew the lid off the Pandora’s Box of rock and roll and opened the door to something future Prog enthusiasts would glom on to? I don’t claim to be a music historian, although I always thought that if I ever got into academia I could throw together a pretty damn entertaining history of rock and roll course, with a lot of begets and flow charts and family trees and such. For example: The Nice begets ELP who begets Asia, who begets the beginning of the end for real progressive rock.

The aforementioned King Crimson begets a brain of great artists including ELP and Yes (and for that matter post-Genesis Peter Gabriel, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, David Bowie, but now we’re really pushing across borders). In essence Robert Fripp is like the Godfather of one of Prog’s most prominent families, and I'd go so far as to say that without his shadow looming over the genre it would have been an entirely different, less colorful landscape.

But is that where it started?

You may or may not know the name Arthur Brown. Here’s a hint. He’s the God of Hell Fire as authoritatively stated in his biggest hit Fire. In the late 60s Arthur Brown combined pop music with theatrics, doing all kinds of crazy shit no one had ever dreamed of before, like including pyrotechnics along with unique costumes and elaborate staging. No wonder Peter Gabriel mentions him as an influence along with several artists later associated with Prog. He even worked with the likes of Hawkwind, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Frank Zappa. But as far as Arthur Brown goes, he could just as easily lay claim to the Godfather throne of another prominent family more closely associated with Shock Rock or Metal.
Stay with me here. If you wanted light reading pick up a Stephen King novel or something by Dostoyevsky. 

To get back to the question at hand, if British pop, psychedelic rock, classical, jazz, and folk music had this mutant baby (I’m not sure how the biology of that works but just go with it), who’s responsible for planting the seed? If you ask a group of self-proclaimed “Proggers” expect a wide-variety of answers, lots of name-calling, and perhaps a few thinly-veiled threats that wouldn’t pack much weight outside the halls of a comic book convention because let's face it, most Prog enthusiasts are, in fact, nerds. I’d bet good money that at any given time there’s at least one debate in progress on the social media pages (you know, the Facebook, the Twitter, and the like) where Prog fans are eagerly voicing their opinions on the origins of the genre.

“Class, who came first?”
Several hands eagerly shoot up in the air.
Nerd number one. “Ooh, ooh, I know.”
Nerd number two. “Pick me! Pick me!”
Nerd number one slugs nerd number two in the shoulder.
Nerd number three simply blurts out the answer without waiting to be called on. “Moody Blues.”
Teacher pulls out a Glock and puts a bullet between Nerd number three’s eyes. “Not quite the answer I was looking for.”

In truth the answer is as convoluted as the quest to discover the one true religion; there is no single answer. Prog has several sects and schools and such and as in spiritual beliefs, I choose not to declare emphatically which is correct, but simply provide an overview of their differences and where their paths might cross. So just as the very definition of Prog can get a little wibbley wobbley, with multiple facets cut into the genre, it took multiple pieces and parts all coming together in a swirling vortex of musical and cultural synchronicity to create the birth of a new genre of rock music. 

Having said all that as long as I’m here and this my book, I’m going to go out on a limb and spill who I'd put my money on, a wager that might be surprising but not without legs.

It was the Beatles. Who else did you think it would be? The Beatles started everything when it comes to pop and rock. Like Jesus split the timeline of our calendar, you can look at modern music (the stuff those fool kids listen to) and argue that the Beatles built the wall that separates everything into a before and after scenario. And just think about this for a moment. Had the Beatles not gone all supernova at the tail end of the sixties, what kind of music would they have carried over into the 70s? And don’t tell me to look at their solo work as an indicator (although if pressed I would say some of the stuff Paul did with Wings is borderline progressive). John, Paul, George, and Ringo did some great stuff individually, but their collective work is as different as American football and that game the rest of the world calls futbol. My theory is that the Beatles, had they stuck together, would have become one of the seminal progressive bands in the rock era of the mid-to-late 70s. Had that have happened maybe Prog wouldn’t have been left in the annals of rock history as something that never went beyond cult status. 

I also have theories on Hendrix, the Doors, and Buddy Holly as well, but, again, those are for another book (don’t hold your breath, this non-fiction shit is hard). 

Monday, May 11, 2015


The mind of the musician being analogous to alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, and drug addicts is almost too obvious. Except alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, and drug addicts have those meetings you find in church basements across America with coffee and donuts holes, and people with names like Bob or Janice anonymously laying bare everything their addiction cost them and their loved ones. Supposedly it makes them feel better. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never heard of an organized support group for musicians, which isn’t surprising considering how pathetic we are at giving a shit about anything that goes on in church basements unless there’s a crap-ton of instruments ready and waiting with the end game being to make as much noise as possible until the pastor comes and throws you out.

Try to imagine a passion burning inside you that takes priority over everything else in your life. You wonder what it’s like to function in the real world so you walk the fine line between your artists’ soul and holding down yet another pointless and irrelevant day job. Like most musicians your passion doesn’t pay the bills, so you try to conform only to discover most everyone you come in contact with can't possibly understand what’s really going on inside you. Relationships at home are strained, especially of the intimate variety. At some point, after years of inner turmoil, you long for a little normalcy in your world, so you push your musical fantasies aside and try to walk away, put on a tie and blend in. That's when you learn the foolishness of turning your back on the one thing you love. The musician gene is tenacious. At some point an opportunity invariably comes along and you think, “What harm could there be in playing a one-night stand?”

Next thing you know you’re back in the throes of it all. Having spent all your hard-earned money buying back the equipment you pawned, you’re left shivering in the cold, wandering the streets in search of an open-mic night, or a jam session with some heroin addicted hair band making god-awful noise in a musty industrial park storage unit. You use the Penny Saver like hopeless singles use, looking for like minds to bring affirmation to your addiction. It’s a grim scenario, but when you’re fondest memories are those acquired from countless nights huddled outside the back door of some shithole-in-the-wall nightclub, chain smoking Marlboros in between shots of Jack and snorts of baby powder, reveling in those final anxiety-ridden moments before you climb on stage and bust out your chops to a room full of half-coherent drunks. The adrenaline rush from the smell of bleach and cheap booze, from losing yourself in a performance, from mind-melding with your on-stage brethren, from the gluttonous feeding frenzy off the energy buffet in a room jammed wall to wall with writhing flesh; it’s as hard to explain as it is to forget. Certainly your audience can never fully comprehend why you’ve slit a vein and spilt your blood simply for their amusement. “Give me two liters plasma, stat. They want an encore.” You can’t buy this euphoria from an Indiana trailer park meth lab, that blow to the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, that je ne sais quoi, that right there is worth all the doubt, the debt, the depression, and busted relationships that litter your broken past. That right there is living.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Psychedelic Jellyheads

It's been a year since Eldin died. At that time I began work on what will one day become a memoir of an obscure Prog Rock band in the 70s from the perspective of the keyboard player. This is the opening:

So the instance that sticks out in my mind is the night Dad and I got into a general discussion that began innocently enough about nothing in particular then—after a couple of bourbons—went roundabout until finally he began reminiscing on his involvement in one of the biggest bloodbaths this planet has seen. I wasn’t a kid. In my mid-twenties I’d already moved out of his house, back in, back out again and probably back and forth a few more times just so he wouldn’t get too relaxed in his empty nest. Not that I had any great desire to live in my dad’s house, but I didn’t want to live in an alley out of a shopping cart either. Whether this was one of those times where he had me as a forced roommate or not is something I don’t specifically remember, but it was after my rock star days and before my married guy days.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that during this time I got along well with the old man. I wasn’t a complete juvenile little prick and having retired from the insurance game, Dad had become a bit more chill as he aged. In fact, as I recall, he’d just gotten back from Europe—his first and last visit since bombing the shit out of the place during WWII; literally, he was the guy who pushed the buttons that dropped the bombs.

The conversation drifted, as conversations do, and we veered into politics. That night I learned my father—a life-long Republican—had become a pacifist—very much opposed to the idea of war—and was coming dangerously close to straying into liberal territory, although back then the divide between the two sides of political ideology wasn’t rigged with all the booby traps it is today. Somewhere along the way my dear old dad had developed a newfound appreciation of peace, he told me, which led to his experiences in the military. And that’s when the tears started. And while I’m sure I squirmed in my chair a little as he opened himself up to me, our relationship grew exponentially that evening.

There may have been other instances where I witnessed his emotions splayed out on the autopsy table. Like when my mom died. I’m sure he cried then—a lot—but never openly in front of me. A lot of people cried when my mom died. She was a beloved piano teacher; the best in the city. But during that period I was so wrapped around my own grief and addictions I probably missed a lot.

I’m also sure that my uncomfortable reaction at stumbling into one of my dad’s dark places isn’t uncommon. Maybe not universal, but not weird either. Certainly not weird. And when I say dark places, I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. We all have them. Admit it. You have them too. Those places you don’t let people into without a good vetting. Treasure them. Embrace them. Run around naked in them. It’s good for you.

All of this, however, has little to do with the story at hand—or anything else for that matter—outside of the fact that today my son saw me cry. For him it’s not the first time. I’m not ashamed to admit I get emotional over a good story, whether it’s from a book, movie, or even a TV show. My masculinity is secure enough that given the appropriate moment I can crank open the water works and let them flow. And my son, being a twenty-first century, enlightened little fucker, didn’t have the same uncomfortable reaction I did toward my father that night. He simply gave me a hug and we shared a moment. I’m a product of the “Leave it to Beaver” era where nothing bad ever happens - at least not out in the open. My son on the other hand lives in a world where bad things are in your face on a daily basis. With the planet heating up and personal interaction cooling down, it’s a very different world than it used to be. I pray this change is just another one of humanities growth spurts and we’ll all come out the other side bigger and more enlightened than before.

But back to the topic at hand, as in the day I got the terrible, horrible bad news that for several years I had hoped would never arrive (I live perpetually, and very comfortably in a state of denial). Eldin Green, one of the most important and, I dare say influential, people in my life was dying. He was and always will be one of my best and oldest friends. The first word was there was no hope and each hour that passed could easily be his last. In fact, for the rest of this story, I’m going to go ahead and write as though he’s gone and has been gone for some time because that will be the case. Hopefully by the time I’m ready to share this with the rest of the world the pain of losing him will have crawled deep enough below the surface that it will rear its head only on rare occasions.

Add another item to the inventory of my dark places.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


First off, thanks to those of you who commented either here or on my Facebook page regarding the opening scene I posted. Most of you thought it was good so I'm keeping it (with a few more tweaks because writers never stop tweaking). The encouraging thing about that little exercise is that some of you actually wanted to know what happens next.

The answer to that is "A lot." While I haven't checked the page count lately, I can tell you this is the longest first draft I've ever written. Per my usual writing style the second draft came down quite a bit. I tend to write long. But I'm sure it's still longer than my other two completed books. So yeah, it's a wild ride and I'm excited about sharing it with my readers. Given that, what happens next is a loaded question, but bare with me and I'll post the next scene.

First let me tell you what I've learned working on this project. That's the important thing, because when it comes to developing a skill, you should always be learning something new. This project has shown me that not only are openings just as important as the swampy middle or the grand climax, they are hell to write. So much to accomplish in so few words. A writer has a tiny window in which to grab a reader's interest and if you don't take advantage of it then it doesn't matter how good the rest of the book is, no one will ever get that far.

This hasn't always been the case in literature. Books used to have endless prologues, introductions, and long opening scenes describing things like the color of autumn leaves or a gentle summer breeze. But these days, with fast food, high-speed internet, and On Demand TV, our attention spans are not much better than a tree squirrel's. And while I lament this age of constant stimulation, my firm belief in the natural progression of things and faith that all things are always as they are supposed to be, wins out over my urge to get on a soapbox and scream at people about their brains turning to oatmeal. This is the world we live in. I choose not to fight it, but to embrace it.

Now I realize some, if not all of you have probably skipped over the previous paragraphs in order to get to the following excerpt. That's okay. I don't blame you. I bore myself sometimes.

Here's scene two (If you haven't read scene one yet, please do so now):

A small window offered a rare glimpse of the world outside. Pierce stole glances through it while the monitors in the chapel displayed drones lowering his brother’s body into a cement box. Outside it didn’t matter where you looked, nothing had changed—white on white, like stink on shit, if both stink and shit were white. And while Pierce didn’t want to be here burying his brother, there was nowhere else he’d rather be.

“The mahogany casket’s a nice touch,” Remmy commented. “And that granite monument…top notch.”

“Yeah,” Pierce replied. “Just like everything else Bright Light makes; beautiful on the outside.”

As Paul’s interment progressed, he turned his attention back to the ceremony. Everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else to get up and say something. Pierce contemplated the relationship he and Paul had and thought of his mother’s voice issuing instructions before they went out to play. "Take care of your little brother, Paul. Make sure Pierce doesn’t wander off, Paul." Now, for the first time in his life, he was the one that needed to step up and ensure his older brother was being taken care of.

As the drones completed their task, Pierce broke the silence and said his final goodbye. “So long brother, maybe now you won’t be so cold.”

He looked around the room at the eleven others in attendance comprised entirely of Section D’s pit crew. Paul’s crew, all sitting with heads bowed showing respect to their fallen leader. Again he got caught up staring out the window, this time wondering what Paul would have said about the view. Just two days ago they’d talked about the weather and together they checked the forecast out of morbid curiosity. That seemed like an eternity ago; before Paul’s death changed everything. Yet outside the window nothing had changed. It all looked just like it had the last time he’d seen the surface; a frozen wasteland that could slice you up and rip your guts out quicker than any wild animal; that is if any wild animals had survived.

Now it didn’t seem to matter if he ever left the Pit. The plans he and Paul had made to provide wilderness tours to those who’d survived the damn ice age would never see the light of day. They’d even talked about the t-shirts they would sell to their customers. T-shirts that read, “I Survived the Damn Ice Age.” They’d had a lot of fun thinking about all the people clamoring to be outside after living in a pod for so many years. It had been a great way to pass the time. Now time could go take a hike.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Does This Interest You?

If you're reading this it's because you have been kind enough to take an interest in something I love. That is I love to write and as a writer I mostly work in a vacuum. Occasionally I need to empty the bag and let others see what I've been doing. This, of course, opens me up to severe criticism, which in my heart I know is necessary, but it also blows up my fantasy that everything I write comes out like golden turds and readers will marvel over its beauty. Of course that's not the case. Not with me. Not with any writer. It's a long and difficult process to get just the right words down in exactly the right order. And in order to do this I need objective opinions from people who aren't in my head.

The following is the opening scene of my latest sci-fi novel. It's just under 800 words so it shouldn't take long to read. I'll say no more about it. It would be really neat if you all could comment on whether or not you're pulled in enough by this opening to want to read on. For me, the opening is the hardest part of writing a novel. I'll admit, I've struggled with this opening scene quite a bit and have rewritten it several times. Let me know what you think, and don't be afraid to be critical. Please note, nothing here (other than the first three lines because I'm convinced they're perfect) are set in stone.

Chapter 1

He took the red pill first. Sure, any fool could follow the company’s prescribed pill-taking sequence—green, blue, yellow, and then red. He may have been a fool, but he wasn’t their fool. Used correctly the pills were designed to keep him alive. Abused correctly they could drive one insane, which would be one way to get out of the monotonous twelve-hour shifts he endured day after endless day monitoring meters and gauges that never changed; meters and gauges millions of desperate people bet their lives on.

His brother’s voice came over the comm. “Pierce, it’s been a long night. Can you be here on time for a change?”

"Sure thing," he replied, wondering why the hell he hadn't turned his comm off the night before. As his superior in the Pits, Pierce hated the idea of disappointing his big brother, Paul. So for now Pierce would take the company’s pills in moderation, albeit not in the right order, and show up for his shifts like a good little soldier, which meant he needed to get his ass in gear and get ready for work.

He stripped down and walked through the quick-cleanse, effectively killing off whatever underground bacteria might be nesting on his body. When he got out, he settled in front of the mirror. The face that looked back gave him pause. Something about this morning was all wrong. He grabbed the lower half of his beard and gave it a tug, then grabbed a pair of scissors and began cutting. Then he went at it with a razor until there was nothing left but a short stubble. Still not satisfied he began shaving geometric patterns into the remains of the beard before moving on to the close cropped hair on his head.

His friend Remmy’s voice came over the comm just as he was putting the final touches on a swirly design above his left ear. “Hey Pierce, I got something big cooked up for this afternoon. Stop by my control room when you get a chance.”

“Shit. What time is it?” He looked at the clock on his comm device. Twenty minutes late and his face and scalp were a bloody mess. After a quick wipe with a wet towel he slapped tiny pieces of tissue over the bleeding nicks and pulled on his coveralls. Then he popped another red pill in his mouth, and ran out the door. Already his morning had gone to shit and the day had barely started. Dashing down the hall he jumped into the elevator and pushed the middle of three buttons several times before the door closed.

A sexy female voice came from speakers in the ceiling. Welcome crewman Pierce to the Big Sleep; the most extensive social networking event ever. You are now twenty six minutes and eighteen seconds late.

He mouthed along with the greeting stopping just short of the reminder of his tardiness. Pacing as the car made its ascent to the next level he almost wished it would keep going until it reached the planet’s surface; crazy thoughts that vanished as soon as the doors opened.

Thank you for your service crewman Pierce. Have a nice day.

He rolled his eyes and tried to act casual as he hurried out of the car. But as the doors closed behind him he heard something unexpected from the voice in the elevator.

No need to hurry. He’s already dead.

Shaking his head he raced down the hall to the security door of his control room where lifted his hand to the palm reader for access. He was shaking. Something was definitely off this morning. Maybe he shouldn’t have taken the red pill first because his thoughts kept getting crazier. If he didn’t get in the control room soon, Paul would ream his ass faster than he could flick a bugger. But first he had to fight through this sudden panic attack. From down the hall he heard the elevator’s voice again.

He’s dead. Don’t go in there.

He covered his ears and squeezed his eyes shut. Sure he’d been late before, but he’d really been meaning to turn things around. Taking a couple of deep breaths, he forced his hand onto the reader and opened the door.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hey Brother, can you spare 41 cents?

If you guessed this post is going to be about change, then I suppose you can give yourself credit for being a quick thinker - or at least as obscure a thinker as I am. So there are a few reasons I'm writing about change today. The most immediate is that when I woke up this morning, got my coffee, and settled into my morning, I opened up Facebook and saw that the layout of my page had changed. Okay, no big deal. I've dealt with far worse to start my day.

But it got me thinking. In fact, lately my days have pretty even keel. I so much as told this to an acquaintance of mine (okay, a close acquaintance) who seems to be struggling right now with things. Yesterday we were having a conversation (mostly a monologue on her part I admit I didn't have the energy to listen to) and in reply to her remark that she needs to talk herself down and not do anything rash I mentioned how lately I've had no desire to stir things up in my life. I'm okay with where I'm at and I've no reason to make any changes.

 She replied by saying change is inevitable.

 Of course it is I replied. Change happens whether you like it or not. And there certainly are times when it's appropriate to force a change in your life. If you're in an abusive relationship, or your habitual behavior is causing you to suffer you should definitely look into doing something about it. But in your quest for enlightenment don't you think that if you reach a plateau you should jump on the opportunity to take a breather? Should I feel guilty that I'm not trying to force myself to grow as a person right now? I'm just not interested. I mean don't I do that naturally anyway?

 One never knows when life has been setting you up with fastballs and is about to send a split-fingered slider your way. You're not looking for it, nor should you. It's too exhausting. But it doesn't hurt to keep the possibility in the back of your mind either. Then when it happens you'll at least have a shot at laying some wood into it. (Okay, I'm done with the baseball analogies. If I've lost you please understand it's summer and baseball is a symbol of the season. You have to at least appreciate that. Now keep reading and let's be adult about this.)

 Change hits you when you least expect it. Thirteen years ago I knew change was coming. I had a son on the way. I would soon have two children. Our family dynamic would never be the same. So I prepared myself for it. Did all the things expectant parents do, some of which I didn't do the first time around. One week after my son was born we found ourselves in Boston Children's hospital listening to doctors explain over and over what was wrong with our son's heart with me half-listening and understanding even less. It still tears at me to think of it. All I knew was that they were going to cut my infant son's chest open like a melon and rubber band something together. This would fix things for a while but as he grew they made it perfectly clear that we'd be back for more. This is the kind of change you can never prepare yourself for. Like the day I came home from work to learn my dad had massive heart attack and died on the way to the hospital. Nope. Didn't see that one coming either. You will never, never, never be able to avoid change, nor will you be able to anticipate it. OF COURSE I KNOW THAT.

So here's what I've learned in my 57 years of life. If it ain't broken...yeah, you know the rest and that sounds pretty trite. But it's true.

So about the title of today's post. The other day I was walking down the street and one of the growing number of homeless people stopped me and asked for exactly 41 cents.

I gave him fifty.
Hee Haw