General Life Stuff

A Weird Al Father’s Day

A Weird Al Father’s Day

Last weekend I spent Father’s Day with my children. Nothing unusual about that. The weirdness came from going to Kettering, Ohio that night to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert:

I hate to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to the concert. Spending about five hours in the car for travel to and from the concert wasn’t fun, but I have to say it was well worth sharing the experience of that concert with my kids. I started listening to Weird Al Yankovic when he first appeared on Doctor Demento back in the 80s. I remember his first albums and first hits. I remember the great music videos when MTV actually played videos. I listened to Weird Al as a teen and loved it.

It’s very cool how Weird Al’s sense of humor and parodies cross generations. The concert itself was very good. My only complaint is the frequency of his costume changes. I get that’s his schtick, and I respect that. The cover during the downtime are a string of videos of Weird Al in various media appearances throughout the years, which was entertaining, but after several breaks it became a bit tedious in my opinion. I much prefer to watch and hear the artist perform themselves, not watch the greatest hits of their media appearances.

As for performance, the band was fantastic and Weird Al is more entertaining than I imagined. He’s quite energetic and puts on a great show.

Though it may sound cliché, or cheesy, the part I enjoyed most was watching my children through the concert from time to time. It was great to share music that I grew up listening to along with music they’ve grown up on.

All in all, I think we all had a weird Father’s Day this year that we’ll all remember.


Writing Mindgames

Writing Mindgames

The past few weeks I’ve been pondering my brain. That sounds peculiar, but hear me out. Since “winning” NaNoWriMo last year and dedicating myself to my writing full force, I’ve managed to establish a writing habit and have been able to write, even if only some brainstorming notes, almost every day. What started me pondering my brain function was the fact that recently in preparing for a jury trial I simply could not write anything not related to my job as an assistant prosecutor. I tried. Despite coming home after long hours I tried, but couldn’t shift gears. Therefore, for the first time in over seven months I went a few consecutive days without being able to write. It bothered me mentally and physically. When I say I have a writing habit, I mean a deep driving need to write. I suppose it’s a healthy addiction at least.

What I’ve discovered over the last week is that writing is good for me and I do need to write. Working in the court system takes its toll despite what television and movies may tell you. Not all attorneys are alcoholics or vigilantes. However, the prevalence of mental health issues in the legal profession is a very real concern. Facing some of the things we have to deal with daily can impact a person if you let it. For me, I think focusing on my writing has become the best therapy available.

Writing fiction allows me to work toward and hopefully achieve a mental equilibrium. I have to admit it’s sometimes challenging to work on an appellate brief using legal reasoning and the side of my brain, then coming home and switching over to the right brain to create characters, dialog and plot story arcs. Alas, that’s why I need to write. I need to be able to balance the opposing forces between the hemispheres.


Something Rotten!

Something Rotten!

I discovered Something Rotten! during the most recent Tony Awards broadcast.

I was a History major in college, and I focused on Medieval and Renaissance history. I immediately fell in love with this musical and purchased the Cast Album. I’ve been listening to quite a bit over the last few weeks.

Oh, how I wish I could get to New York to see this production in person!

I can’t help think of my Medieval History class in college at Capital University, long ago, in a . . . (I’ll stop there. Don’t want to owe Disney any royalties). Our magnificent professor, Kay Slocum, had never seen Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. Our class introduced her to it and convinced her to watch it on VHS (I said it was a long time ago!) in the media center of the university library. We had a great time and it made for a wonderful educational and bonding experience.

What’s not to love about the entire concept of Something Rotten! The cast album opens with Welcome to the Renaissance setting the premise of a musical in Renaissance England, the time of William Shakespeare, who also figures prominently in the storyline.

The Black Death always makes me laugh. (Not a phrase you hear, or get to say everyday) Will Power is a riot and Christian Borle’s Best Featured Actor Tony was well-deserved.  The entire cast album is just plain fun. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Influences Life Stuff

A Farewell to Kings

A Farewell to Kings

Rush Clockwork Angels Tour
Rush-Clockwork Angels Tour-Columbus, Ohio 2012

June 8, 2015 Rush played Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio opening the second leg of their R40 Tour marking their 40th Anniversary as a band. I was privileged to take my wife and two children and share a special evening with Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, and Geddy Lee. Given the recent articles, interviews, and rumors, this is most likely the last major live tour Rush will undertake, so for me the evening was bittersweet at times.

I write this post as part review, part ode to the biggest musical influence in my life.

I’ve been following Rush since 1989 when a college buddy introduced me to the band. Once you hear these three masters play live your life changes, at least mine did. That first concert during the Presto tour hooked me for the rest of my life. Though I admittedly didn’t yet know the lyrics, and probably couldn’t understand most of them either given Geddy Lee’s high-pitched wail, there was magic in their music. Rush is the epitome of professional and they are truly masters in their craft.

For the past 26 years, I’ve not missed any Rush tour; I’ve seen at least one concert on each tour since 1989. Last night I overheard a guy behind me talking about the spiritual experience of watching “The Boys” live, and I couldn’t agree more.

Throughout college and the course of the last 26 years, Rush has provided a soundtrack for my life. My kids have grown up on Rush music. The Rush 40 concert was the third I’ve shared with my daughter, the second with my son, and they’re both under the age of 15. The guys sitting next to us complimented me on bringing my kids to share the experience, and there were quite a few families in attendance at that concert. Musically Rush reinvents itself every album they record. Lyrically, Neil Peart composes some of the richest poetry there is and the stories and philosophical thought packed into those words are all a part of me, and always will be. It’s impossible to fully express the effect Alex, Neil, and Geddy have had upon my life.

The Rush 40 concert was remarkable. The setlist, which travels back through time as a retrospective of their body of work is close to perfection. The only thing that could have improved upon what they played last night for me personally would have been the addition of at least one song from Hold Your Fire, but that’s a minor point. Hearing  Jacob’s Ladder, then an abbreviated version of Hemispheres and 2112 with Xanadu thrown in for good measure was a dream come true. If this is in fact the last time I get to see Rush perform live, they did not disappoint. Their performance last night was Rush in peak condition and they still sound better live than any band should ever have a right to sound.

Thank you Alex, Neil, and Geddy for your creativity, your professionalism, your work ethic, your sense of humor, and most of all for sharing your talents with me for all these years. I’ve learned many things from you three gentlemen, and I’ve been able to teach my children many things from your music, and your example as human beings.

“I hear their passionate music
Read the words
That touch my heart
I gaze at their feverish pictures
The secrets that set them apart

When I feel the powerful visions
Their fire has made alive
I wish I had that instinct —
I wish I had that drive”

Mission from Hold Your Fire

Lyrics by Neil Peart