I’m seven!

beautiful, blogging, funny, music, sad, true No Comments »

It’s probably time for a drumroll or whatever.

This is the seventh birthday of BFS&T, and it almost went by unnoticed.  By ME, I mean.  It’s easy for no one else to notice, because I haven’t written a damn thing in six months, but you’ll be glad to know that I do at least consider writing once in a while, or I’ll have an interesting dream that I think about sharing, for about one second before I roll over and go back to sleep.  It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s that I want to share things—good or bad—that I think are compelling, and whether it’s a case of writer’s block or the financial stress and lack of self-confidence that extended under-employment brings, I haven’t felt capable of creating compelling content lately, so I’ve continued to lie low.  The good news is that I’m not trapped under the black cloud of full-on despondency, like I was when I wrote the previous entry.  What a strange time that was.

One thing that can potentially get me back on track is if I write about music.  For some inexplicable reason, when I started this blog I didn’t intend to write about music too often, if at all.  I figured there were (and are) many people who wrote (and write) about it much more eloquently than I ever hope to be able to, and that’s fine.  I’m happy to create music, and to make a meager living at it; I don’t necessarily need to write about it.  As the famous saying goes, “Writing about music is like dancing about art.”  That being said, music is what I care about more than anything.  I also probably know a lot more about it than most people do.  Having the opportunities to play so many instruments with so many people in so many styles and in so many places, I feel I have an interesting perspective.  I guess we’ll find out together whether or not I actually do.  The tricky thing is that this blog is quasi-anonymous (unless you’re friends with me on SocialNetwork), so I may have to get clever about the way I describe and pseudonymize people, but that’s definitely a challenge I’m up for.

I’m not going to make any promises here.  There may very well be another extended hiatus.  But I haven’t forgotten about this creative outlet that I love, and I’m certainly not giving up on it.   I can’t believe it’s been around for seven years.  Seven is a good and supposedly lucky number.  Truth be told, I thought it was six—and at first I even called this entry ‘I’m Six!’—but then I looked back and remembered that it was migrated over from that other blogging platform in 2006, not 2007, and that this is now 2013.  Phew!  All that to prove that my skills at simple addition remain intact.

I should probably wish you happy holidays, too, in case I don’t get back here before then.  I hope your season is filled with any combination of joy, love, friendship, family, travel, and fun.

‘Til next time, then.

See you soon.


putain, fais chier

blogging, cello, music, sad No Comments »

Hello again.

I felt I should write about a more serious subject for the first time in what seems like quite a while, and it’s the reason I haven’t been writing as often as I have in the past.  The problem is motivation.  I’ve been really frustrated with myself and the state of my life for the last few months, and I just can’t seem to pull it together.  Eight solid months of constant financial difficulties have created a sense of foreboding and despondency that is, while not entirely new to me, certainly at an all-time high.  That kind of stuff isn’t fun to write about, and neither is it fun to read, so I’ve kept quiet.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, and I don’t want to you to worry about me.  Incidentally, ‘I don’t want you to worry’ reminds me of a funny thing one of my friends said recently.  He said that he’s going to start saying, “I don’t mean to–” and then say that very thing.  As in, “I don’t mean to be rude, but you look really fat!”  I responded in kind with, “Pardon my French, but ‘Putain, fais chier!’ ”  But I seriously don’t think you need to worry.  Actually, you can if you want, or not; I can’t really stop you.  But at least you know what’s going on.

In some strange news, two people have died very young recently.  One of whom I knew only slightly—a friend of a friend kind of situation, but he was a great guy—and the other I didn’t know at all, but who was my close friend’s brother-in-law.  Both men died from sudden heart attacks, and both men were in their thirties. I don’t really know what else to say, but my heart goes out to all involved.  Things like that freak me out, and with the news of the airplane crash in San Francisco and the nightmarish runaway oil train that derailed and decimated the heart of the little town in eastern Canada, it’s a miracle I get any sleep at all.  There are a myriad of things to ruminate over.

I’ve hardly touched my cello in months.  It never seems to get any easier, even after playing for almost nine years.  I play a ton of other instruments, and eventually I’ve gotten to a certain comfort level with them, but that comfort level on the cello continues to elude me.  It probably doesn’t help that some of the better cellists in town have either lived before or currently in my same apartment building, which has led me to be a bit self-conscious at times about practicing here, but that’s my own issue.  Learning the cello (and probably any other instrument) is a series of plateaus.  You strugglestrugglestruggle with one technique, and then it finally makes sense and you take a little step up.  You stay there for a while and strugglestrugglestruggle with another technique, and so on.  This is perfectly natural.  But when is it going to seem like I know what I’m doing on it?  My vibrato is terrible, I never sound or feel relaxed, I’m sure I have about a million bad habits, et cetera, et cetera.  By comparison, it only took about 2 years to feel comfortable playing the guitar, and about a year or two to feel comfortable on the accordion.  Drums, although I don’t play them very often, have always come fairly naturally.  Mandolin took about a week, but that’s an unusual situation, since it’s the same skill set as the guitar.  Cello is still, by far, the most difficult and frustrating instrument I’ve ever attempted.  I don’t need to be Yo-Yo Ma or join an orchestra or anything—although that would be great—but it would be nice not to cringe every time I hear a recording of myself playing.

That’s all I feel like writing at the moment, but I’m going to try to write at least a little more regularly.  Here’s hoping the despondency and foreboding dissipate before too long.  If and when they do, you’ll hear from me more.  If they don’t, then. . .well, I guess you won’t.  And you’ll know why.

See you around.



blogging, pictures No Comments »

Well, it seems to have happened again.  I lost my writing momentum.  This is not the first time this has happened, as you’re well aware if you’ve spent any time sniffing around the blog.  Despite being unemployed and having neither a wife nor a family to take care of, I have a very busy life, and sometimes I’m just not sure how much of it—good or bad—I want to share with the Internets.

I do know that a good way to get the momentum going again is just to start typing and see what happens.  Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Worth mentioning is the fact that I seem to have developed a pinched nerve near my right shoulder blade, which makes my index finger numb and causes occasional fits of shooting pain through my arm.  This makes things like driving a car, playing musical instruments, and using a computer (in other words, most of the things I do with my life) much less fun than they normally are.

I was housesitting for almost two weeks for FrenchSinger and his wife, keeping their three cats company while they were on vacation in Canada.  In addition to the cats, they have a good-sized television, and all the major movie channels, and a Netflix subscription, which meant that this was the primary activity for the majority of my time at their house:


It’s not exactly the greatest picture in the history of pictures, so if you can’t quite make out the details, it’s me lying on my side on the sofa, with two of the cats perched on my leg.  A couple of times, I could swear that vegetable matter was beginning to form between my other leg and the sofa, as I watched marathons of shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Top Gear.

I also got my passport, at long last.  A couple of my friends who live elsewhere in the world have been bugging me to get one for years now, but the hassle and expense (years of underemployment are taking their toll) of ordering my ‘real’ birth certificate as well held up the process a bit.  I had the same problem that Barack Obama did, with an unofficial copy, which used to be perfectly acceptable until the world went crazy.  No more, however, since my shiny new passport is here in my hot little hand.  Well, not in my hand right now, but you know what I’m saying.


The brochure that came with it says on the front, “With your U.S. Passport, the world is yours!”  So it would seem.  Now all I have to do is use the thing, as much as possible.  The first place will be beautiful Vancouver, B.C., for a gig in a few weeks.  The most likely places after that are Switzerland and France, although who knows; I may get a random jonesing for Iceland or Japan or somewhere like that.  I’ll keep you posted.

I’ll leave you with what is currently my favorite piece of music.  I came across it in a documentary film, and looked it up in the credits, and have been obsessed with it ever since.  It’s “Nimrod”, from the Enigma Variations, by English composer Edward Elgar.  It’s absolutely stunning, and well worth the four minutes it will take you to watch this video of the excellent (and very stern-looking) Daniel Barenboim conducting.

There, see?  I told you.  Beautiful, noble and epic.

Incidentally, I’m still taking submissions from guest bloggers.  I had three or four people say they were interested, but I suspect that my own lack of blogging momentum was contagious to them, and the interest seems to have temporarily waned.  So come on.  Let’s all ‘fire up’, as they say.  Actually, I’m not sure who says that, but let’s do it anyway.


some news

blogging, Portland, sad No Comments »

A thought occurred to me last night; while it’s true that I’ve been good about keeping up my blog lately, it would be nice if I had some help.  That thought led to, What if I recruited some of my friends, all of whom are creative and intelligent in their own right, to contribute a story every once in a while?  Brilliant.  A bunch of new and (hopefully, ha ha) compelling content for BFS&T, and my friends get to have an occasional outlet that most of them don’t normally have.  Not to mention the fact that I get to find out something new about each of my friends who contributes.  Everybody wins.  So don’t be too surprised (or do, if you want) if some guest bloggers appear from time to time.

On the home front, times are still really tough.  I’ve applied for about a million jobs (okay, a few hundred), which have led to exactly one interview and not an ounce of success.  The problem is that I have plenty of skills in music, but precious little going for me outside of that.  The types of jobs that I’ve gone to in the past have evaporated in this slowly-improving-but-still-crappy economy, and by the colossal number of un- or underemployed people here in MyFairCity.  To add insult to injury, quite a few gigs have cancelled in the last month or so (due to ‘lack of budget’), which has left me with essentially zero income.  If not for my family’s intervention, I would be on the street, in my car, or in any number of other untenable situations.  I was struck down the other night by feelings of utter hopelessness, which is a new and unpleasant trend lately.  I could use some good thoughts, or advice, or prayers, or whatever parlance of your choice.

I’m trying desperately to maintain my famously indomitable spirit, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult in the face of the constant and crushing feeling that my life is careening out of control, and I’m going slowly crazy.  Suffice it to say that anxiety and depression are off the charts.  Creativity is practically nonexistent.

It seems to be a season for suffering.  A week before Sandy Hook, Portland had its own gunman shoot up Macy’s in the nearby Clackamas Town Center mall, which traumatized the city.  A couple of weeks later, one of my bandmates and her wheelchair-bound significant other were struck by a car that blew through a stop sign and blindsided them in a left turn as they walked across the crosswalk.  They were only slightly injured, thankfully, but it’s now been quite a few weeks since the accident, and they’re still dealing with the physical ramifications, the emotional frustrations, and the insurance issues.  A very well-known musician friend has been recently diagnosed with cancer.  Particularly cruel is the fact that it manifested itself in his neck, and he’s a singer.   The support shown by the community has been absolutely astounding, but he’s far from being out of the woods yet.  Here’s a link to his story, and how to do what you can to help.

Be all that as it may, this was not intended to be a pity party, I just felt I should let you in on the magnitude and severity of the things I (and others, whose issues definitely put my own in perspective) have been dealing with lately.  But it ain’t all gloom around here.  More frequent breaks in the weather—as well as the longer hours of sunlight—are proving to be worth their weight in gold (Can time and light be worth their weight in gold?  ANYWAY.  Moving on.), and I’ve been going for long walks almost every day.  I do have a couple or three music production projects scheduled for to begin in the near future, and that’s the best way I know of to improve my spirits and slough off the yoke of dark thoughts.

So that’s the news at this point.  I appreciate your continued support and good ‘parlance’ in these stressful and difficult times.  Here’s hoping they’re over soon, and dare I say it (albeit in a Tiny Tim falsetto voice), may God bless us, every one.


best of BFS&T, 2012 edition

blogging No Comments »

Since this is the first entry of 2013, it must be time for a recap of the better entries from last year.  It’s always fun to go back and revisit some that I may have forgotten about in the intervening months.   To wit:

Yakima’s Little Secret

Vinnie Vincent, part one

Vinnie Vincent, part two

eight seconds


dream of a doomsday cult

Not a lot to choose from this year, since I wasn’t exactly ‘on my game’ on the blogging front, but these are a good representation.  I’d forgotten about the doomsday cult dream.  Craziness.  Makes me want to go through and re-read (and/or re-post) some of the other vivid dreams I posted over the years.  Or you can do that yourself, should you feel so inclined, by clicking here to the ‘dreams’ tag, which will bring up every single one I’ve ever posted.  Not on one page, don’t worry.

So, on we go to 2013.  Here’s to a fitter, happier, more productive BFS&T, in a cage.  On antibiotics.