Posts Tagged ‘birthdays’

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Backstop

11/09/2015

Hello again.

A lot has happened since the last entry I wrote here, and much of it involves details I will not go into. Suffice it to say, there have been a lot of issues that I have been facing lately that have made 2015 one of the most difficult years of my life. Without my family, I really don’t know where I’d be.

Back in March, right around my birthday, Cody had a cancer scare that created one of the worst weeks of our lives. Severe hip pain had him in the pet ER two days in a row and subsequently in surgery to remove tissue that was compressing his spine. The doctors were 95% certain he had cancer in his spine and that we would be looking into oncology and chemo. Through a stroke of sheer good fortune, and in one of the most bizarre cases the doctor had ever seen, it turned out to be nothing more than inflammatory tissue that would not threaten Cody at all. This past September, Cody had a mass in his ear, that we previously never noticed, rupture. Cody was forced to have a TECA (total ear canal ablation) and had a rather rough recovery, but, thanks in no small part to his wonderful surgeon, he has returned to himself and despite the ear surgery, is living a normal, happy, goofy life.

Back in June, I had my identity stolen, but thanks to some diligence and proactive notifications, no harm was done. Two accounts were attempted to be opened in my name, fraudulently, and they were snuffed out before anything could go wrong. Still, a stress I didn’t need. Further checks and security have shown that there have been no further attempts to defraud me.

Being a father is still the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done with my life, and watching the Littles grow is nothing short of remarkable. This doesn’t come without fears and trepidation, however. With kindergarten looming on the horizon, my fears of the public school system and Eric’s sojourn into formal education are piqued. While I would love to send him (and Emily) to private school for the entirety of their careers, financially that is a herculean task. We will have to investigate further.

These past few weeks have been hectic, which both kids’ birthdays coming around, parties being thrown, and lots of activities going on. I can’t believe the kids are 5 and 1, now. It blows me away.

This past Friday, MB and I had an evening to go get some dinner ourselves, so we chose a nice restaurant in Monkton called The Manor Tavern. We’ve been there many times before and wanted to go back. Originally we intended to snag a booth in the bar, but all were either taken or reserved, so we relocated to a table in the back dining room. MB started with an amaretto sour, her go-to drink, while I was in a less-than-common mood for a red wine. I was vacillating between the more economical glass-by-glass approach and the indulgent bottle order (which, if ordered, I knew I’d be finishing myself) when common sense and practicality won out over indulgence. I went with two glasses of a pleasant and wonderfully smooth 2013 Amado Sur, an Argentinian Malbec. It seemed to compliment everything it went with, from the hot cheese crab dip we split for an appetizer or the bison osso bucco with squash and potato that I had for my main course. MB’s Maryland crab pasta was good, though slightly spicy for her palette. We skipped dessert that night, already feeling overly full.

While dining, we were regaled with the overtly negative and vitriolic “conversation” from the woman at the table behind us (I put conversation in quotes because there was only one side of the table talking; hardly a conversation in the traditional sense). I hadn’t heard so much concentrated complaining, negativity, and self-righteousness in a while. Nearly everything that came out of her mouth was in some form of complaint, from how long it took for their entrées to be delivered (hardly a long wait, from what we observed), to how “awful men are at planning anything”, to how difficult her life is with her child wanting to go “a concert for some band called White Chapel, awful heavy metal shit.” She appeared to be treating her mom to a nice dinner, and when her mother offered to put some money towards the check, instead graciously declining the offer, the daughter said, “Take me to breakfast sometime soon, for all the shit I’m doing.” They left before we did, and their dinner conversation ended with the daughter berating the mother for not “holding up her end of the conversation” because she wasn’t telling a story to her satisfaction. While this gave us some mild entertainment, we found ourselves bristling at what we overheard and were quite glad when their check was paid and they filed out.

Saturday was a very busy day. We had an appointment at the house, then I had a haircut. MB and the kids came with me and we grabbed a small bite to eat before heading back home before Eric went to a birthday party that evening. The party was fun for everyone, but we were all completely beat when we got home. Sunday was more of the same, as Eric had another birthday party, and not long after that, we all headed to Columbia to exchange a pair of Eric’s shoes (damaged in wearing, even trade) and grab some dinner. It was a successful day, if not still tiring.

Back to the grind of the week, with more to come. Until then, my friends.

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Miscellany

02/17/2012

It has been a while since I’ve contributed anything to my little corner of thought here so I figured I would try to squeeze some blood from the proverbial stone today. I figure today’s ponderings might come out more as a wave of thoughts and words instead of a more composed, concise summation of ideas.

The Grammys came and went, and while I did not watch them (my bitterness toward what the music “industry” has now become is only exacerbated by this award show) I did note some results and comments that I wanted to touch on. Firstly, the only category that caught my eye was the Hard Rock/Metal Performance, which was, of course, awarded pre-show and without any fanfare (yet more proof that metal never has been and never will be part of any of the public’s eye). The nominees included Dream Theater, Mastodon, Megadeth, Foo Fighters (?) and Sum 41 (they still exist?!!? Really??!?!). Now while the prog nerd in me wanted Dream Theater to win, partially to shove it in Mike Portnoy’s pompous face, and the music snob in me wanted Mastodon to win so perhaps the public might get a better idea of how good they are, the realist in me knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that The Foo Fighters would take the aware. And they did. So what does that prove? Firstly, it proves that the music industry has no real clue what metal is as a genre. Sum 41 and Foo Fighters do not belong in the same category as the other three. Say what you wish about your personal musical preferences, but those two acts sound NOTHING like Megadeth, Dream Theater or Mastodon; rock and metal are not the same thing.

Secondly, the Grammys show that they are no longer awarded based on merit, musicianship or creativity; they are awarded based on popularity and record sales. This is what is fundamentally wrong with the music industry. Music as it is promoted by big media is no longer an art form, but a business. New artists are cultivated not for their new ideas, methods and sounds but for the bottom line they potentially can bring to the record companies. When is the last time a new artist that hit major airwaves and media popularity actually did anything revolutionary? The creation of reality music competitions have contributed to render the creative musician all but extinct. Look back to the Beatles and the British Invasion of the 60s. This was a new sound, a new look and a new genre that kicked everyone in the ass. It took the country, and ultimately the world, by storm and changed the face of music. Nothing had come before or since that sounded like that. Then there was Motown. Before that there was DooWop. Follow those up with the funk movement in the 70s, punk, metal bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and you have groundwork being laid for the evolution of music. Led Zeppelin had a sound. The Beatles had a sound. Parliament Funkadelic had a sound. They were unique, they were original and they inspired countless acts to follow. Bands like Rush, Def Leppard and the like are so unique you would be hard pressed to find anyone that could even remotely resemble them.

Since it is a band I am so familiar with, I will use Rush as an example, even though I would never consider them at all mainstream. When Rush started out in Canada, they put out their self-titled debut album and stormed across the country, but they couldn’t break into the US. One day, in Chicago as the story goes, a radio DJ was looking to play some “bathroom music,” aka they find the longest track on an album and play it with the hopes they can take a bathroom break and return before the song ended and they faced dead air. The DJ at the time selected the longest track on this new album from a band called Rush, titled Working Man. She returned from the bathroom and the phone lines were lighting up with people demanding to know who the artist was, what the song was, when they were touring and all of that stuff. The music, the lyrics and the sound had enthralled the listener base and almost overnight got the band a United States recording contract.

That simply doesn’t happen anymore. Music nowadays is farmed and cultivated to appeal to the lowest common denominator and bring the largest amount of dollars. It is no longer about self-expression and creativity but about appealing to the masses to win the almighty dollar. One has to look to the indie scene, be it indie rock, electronic, rap, metal or whatever genre, to find the artists that breaking ground in their styles. These artists are expressing their musical desires and signatures rather than writing for contracts and record deals and is that inherent musical nature that is utterly absent in the popular music scene.

Of course, that is just my opinion.

The other point I wanted to talk about relating to the Grammys was the sheer ignorance of the younger generation. Now, I’m not going to wax nostalgic and wave my cane at a bunch of young whippersnappers, but I do know this: when I and the rest of my generation were growing up, we knew what our parents listened to as kids. We had heard of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and all of the “Oldie” acts. We may have even liked them. But like or dislike, we knew about them. We knew what came before what we were listening to and what might have laid the foundation for the music we were currently enjoying. And that is what is painfully absent today. If you looked around Twitter after the Grammys, you would see kids, 14, 15 and 16-year-olds tweeting “Who the hell is Paul McCartney and why is he at the Grammy’s” and “I don’t know who the fuck Paul McCartney is, but he sucks.” Sorry but one of the most influential musicians and songwriters of the past 60 years is performing onstage and these kids aren’t even aware that he was one of The Beatles? I’d bet good money most of them don’t even know who The Beatles were. There are no roots anymore; the knowledge of what came before is essential in understanding what is here now and what will come in the future. I think that is true for many things, not just music, but it has become brutally clear that the current generation of music listeners is completely detached from what came before and exist with blinders allowing only the current to be heard. We knew who came before and can appreciate what has come since. Unfortunately, that knowledge is slowly but surely being flushed down the toilet.

Wow, that was a hell of a diatribe, wasn’t it? I wasn’t expecting to write so much on that subject. I’ll see if there is anything left in this cavern I call a head to add anything else to this post…..

In personal news, since his surgeries, Cody has gained 20 pounds of muscle in his hind quarters and it up to a lean, but meaty, 104 pounds. He is stronger, more powerful and more comfortable than ever.

Eric is talking more and more and is growing so much. He runs around the house and smiles with this freedom and uninhibited joy that only serves to make me smile wide. His hugs are heartfelt, his laughs are genuine and the adoration in his eyes when he looks me, MB or Cody is heart-melting. I can’t believe I had a part in creating him.

Number 30 is approaching and I almost find myself looking forward to it. In reality, the milestone isn’t important to me; age has never really meant a ton to me and I certainly don’t fear growing older. I’m noticing more and more that things I enjoyed in my childhood are quickly becoming “classics,” “oldies” and “vintage,” but it doesn’t bother me, despite the occasional groan of realization that, yes, it really has been 25 years since Sweet Child O’ Mine was released, or something of that nature. I look at it this way: I have a beautiful wife I love, an amazing son, a wonderful dog, a great family, a job I enjoy and a roof over my head; as long as I have those things, growing older can’t be too bad.

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