Let It Bleed

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Open. Heart. Surgery.

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******blogger’s note*****

One of our editors was recently lucky enough to slowly roast on a bouncy, mechanical floor this close to nearly 900 other Portlanders for a reading (of the third chapter of his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and subsequent Q&A by Neil Gaiman. One of the questions asked of him was, “Can you tell us your writing process in three words?” He replied, “Glare. Drink tea.”

This weekend, we’re asking for you to sum up your own process with just three little words. Give us dry wit, pathos or otherwise. And remember, we like your blood on the page. Put it there.

http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2013/07/trifextra-week-seventy-six.html#comment-form

Please buy my book. I bled all over hundreds of pages for this one.

5 star reviews and a sequel in the works. Get your digital copy of my 1st, The Ballad of Helene, a rock and roll underdog story, on amazon/kindle, smashwords.com or Goodreads. Paperback copy available at Lulu.com or a signed copy from Pound… Publishing headquarters (inquire within). GO…and thank you http://www.amazon.com/The-Ballad-Of-Helene-Troy/dp/1300800216/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373647959&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ballad+of+helene+troy

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Here’s the Stones.

Let’s So Crazy – Twisted Mixtape: 1980s, Part 2

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Participating in my friend Jen’s Twisted Mixtape Tuesdays has reinvigorated my blogging juices. I think she should be on infomercials at two a.m. with “Blogging Bounce House!”

“Tired of strict deadline writing prompts? Sick of overdone blog memes? Lost your thrill of writing off the cuff about your kids? Here’s Jen’s Blogging Bounce House, it’s music! List your favorite songs in loose themes and imagine your friend’s jumping, flipping, and throwing up after five minutes from exhaustion and nostalgia!”

Great, another writing friend making cash while I toil away with my dark “art”…….

This week is the second part of  ’80s. Since most of the second half of the decade was about mega artists like Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson or Prince putting out massive amounts of product and MTV started to suck, fast, I decided to get away from genre and talk about the coming 1990s storm. I’m listing seven songs, two from the last year, 1989, and see if you can hitch your giddy-up on the harbinger of hair metal and party rap wipe outs courtesy of, well, these sonic gems. This is a learning blog; a cynical, sarcastic, whiny, learning blog. Let’s go crazy, literally.

1) princeletsgocrazy Let’s Go Crazy – Prince. Of the 1984 commercial behemoths – Mike Jackson’s Thriller (it was released in 1983 but dominated the first few months of 1984), Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., and Purple Rain by the Mighty Mite of Minnesota, Prince’s record’s the most artistic. The song that captured all the Led Zepplin bombast, Beatles pop fury, and Prince’s Princeness is Let’s Go Crazy. From the preacher start “Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life” (my wife has been instructed to play this at my funeral, Hold her to it) to the guitar virtuoso end, Prince showed all of his skills. This song’s been covered and admired by many artists. I wish I had a shrink called Dr. Everythinggonnabealright

http://www.myvideo.de/watch/7706458/Prince_Lets_Go_Crazy

2 )  thesmithshowsoon How Soon Is Now – The Smiths (1985) I love this song, riff, guitarist, and these lyrics. It’s been called the Stairway to Heaven of the 1980s. I agree. If you can’t relate to this: “You shut your mouth how can you say I go about things the wrong way I am human and I need to be loved  just like everybody else does” then you’re at the wrong blog, and Morrissey and Johnny Marr hate you. The greatest riff ever? Close.

3) beastieboysnosleeptill No Sleep Till Brooklyn – Beastie Boys (1986). Rick Rubin, producer of the white rap punks from New York, hired 80s metal God, Kerry King of Slayer. to play thunderous riffs and solos, then mixed them with the brash nature of King Ad Rock (adam horovitz) Mike D (Michael Diamond) and MCA (the late great Adam Yauch). The merge of rock and hip hop wasn’t smooth until this song and Aerosmith and Run DMC’s Walk This Way during this same year, 1986. ‘Brooklyn brought cultures together to buy records, wear clothes, and force decaying rockers to get a little more fly, yo.

4) u2wherethestreetss Where The Streets Have No Name – U2 (1987). Until their breakthrough fifth record, The Joshua Tree, was released in the summer of ’87, U2 was known for an earnest Live Aid performance, protest songs, and lead singer, Bono’s, hair. They were largely ignored by top 40 and critics were split on their importance. Then the four Dublin lads conquered the states. Their love letter, sort of, to America begins with the opening number, a slow build to bombast. It’s an American rock song done by Irish dudes. And they kill it. They reinvented Arena Rock and gave it a global sheen. From Bono’s over-annunciation “iiiiii WAAAANNNTTT TOOOO RUNNNN” to The Edge’s quicksilver guitar riffs. ‘Streets is a classic in more ways than “One”. That’s a hint for next week.

5) guns-n-roses-poster Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses (1988). L.A. Sleaze and pop metal or hair band music lasted a full decade. It started from the ashes of glam, punk, and metal in the early 1980s and stuck around till, well, you’ll see, soon. To dismiss 10 years of stuff is foolish. Guns’ owed more to the New York Dolls, The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, and Lou Reed than Poison or RATT or Warrant. They were talented junkies who were into chaos as much as tunes. AND they sold millions. The pop hit from their debut Appetite For Destruction would’ve worked in any era because Slash conjures the hell from his Gibson and Axl sings like he’s going to die during the solos. ‘Child is a good song that still works and it reminds me of any and all good and bad memories of my senior year of high school and freshman one of college. I survived them because of this crazy song. Try and NOT snake dance. Where do we go now?

6) publicenemylyricssd  Fight The Power – Public Enemy (1989) – Social consciousness moved beyond the touchy-feelyness of Live Aid. In the revolutionary mics of New York hip hop pioneers, Public Enemy, socially aware music sounded like more than Malcolm X than Martin Luther King Junior. It paved the way for so many artists. Written for Spike Lee’s groundbreaking film, Do The Right Thing, lead emcee Chuck D spat rhymes that shocked and excited Americans of all races. “Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant s*** to me you see straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain motherf*** him and John Wayne”. I wasn’t the same after that. Neither were most “awake” music fans.

7) nirvanaaboutagirlsd About A Girl – Nirvana (1989) The story is as good as the record. An album made for $606.17 from the pocket a guitar player who didn’t play on Bleach and was later kicked out of Nirvana who’d go on to become a war hero. The glum chums of bummed told us what was about to happen and we weren’t listening. Here’s where I show my annoying hipster card. I got a copy of Nirvana’s first album, Bleach, from the radio station I worked at because no one else cared. They all thought Soundgarden and or Alice in Chains was the next big thing. Kurt Cobain spoke my language while everyone else was giggling acid-washed. I was just miserable enough at the time to get what he was sayin’ and playin’. Sometimes you get one right. This is my “hey teacher, I did my homework!” moment. I’ve had very few. And this is a great song. Thanks for the 600 bucks Jason Everman and thanks for the service to your country as an Army Ranger. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2354233/Jason-Everman-Guitarist-kicked-Nirvana-Soundgarden-war-hero.html

Go see Jen and our weirdo music loving fake family at http://www.jenkehl.com and the Twisted Mixtape Tuesday link up. There’s great music and insight.

Also? While I finish the second book, get the first one. It’s music centered, too, about musician born at the beginning of this time, 1984, and her rise to stardom in New York City in 2008. The Ballad of Helene Troy is available, digitally, on amazon.com kindle, Good Reads, and http://www.smashwords.com. You can also get it in paperback from Lulu.com or Pound Publishing Headquarters, signed, like this one: bookpicturesahdddddddddddddddddddddddddkcfb

Tightrope – 100 Word Song

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My wife aka The Bobina wrote this week for Donetta’s great pick of The Beatles, “Don’t Let Me Down” http://mythoughtsonthesubjectareasfollows.wordpress.com/ . It was about me, both the good and the bad, so I had to ask her to choose today’s song. I’m on some new pills that I’ll write about at a later date so I lost track of my days and times.  Remember, you’re hanging out with a crazy person. I also put out on the Twitter to the rest of you for song suggestions. Tar Rah aka @Tara_R said “And She Was” by Talking Heads. That will be later today’s 333 word piece for Trifecta Writing, also a new Soul To Body story episode. The rest of you that suggested songs will be providing the soundtrack for the next few posts. Thank you. Back to Bobina’s selection and to Jake, Violet and Mallory on the Hannas’ front porch with a new Soul To Body for Bobina’s pick, Tightrope, the quirky pop song from Janelle Monae.

Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/100-word-song-dont-let-me-down/

Violet’s angry voice took over the porch.

“Dad, Gus texted she’s on her way with the whole story about how Mallory tried to break up some guy’s marriage because he was in an band she liked from the 90s. Sound familiar?”

Jake knew he should correct his insolent daughter but her word spew about behavioral patterns were identical to what his late wife’s lectures.

“Vi, get back in the house! Let Mallory tell me her story! Gossip is a tightrope walk without a net.”

Jake looked past a tearful Mallory and saw his sister-in-law’s black car arrive in the driveway.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

You have seven days from now to write 100 words inspired by Janelle Monae’s Tightrope chosen by Deana aka The Bobina. Be sure to text, tweet, book o face, google +, pony express, morse code, smoke signal, carrier pigeon and scream you post to as many people as possible. Let’s get double digit posts this week. Use Mr. Linky to show your write-up.

100 Word Song – What’s Going On?

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I apologize, yet again, for the lateness of 100 word song. While I never close the linky and have never enforced the whole ” 1 week to write rule”, I do need to be a better meme daddy. I think Meme Daddy and/or Meme Daddies would make a really lousy southern rock bar band that would heckle on a Saturday night near my house after six beers.

I just returned from five days in the Washington D.C. area. As a result, I conferred with everyone’s favorite 100 word song robot, Leeroy and we decided to choose the tune this week based on a Washington D.C. artist. Thanks again to my favorite Indie music musician friend, Linda aka @modmomelleroy, bandleader of the Jehova Waitresses, for picking last week. The entries were great. I’m sorry I didn’t get to comment them all but I had creepy wax figures to look at and over-priced Alexandria dress boutiques to stand outside of while the 4 women I went with, shopped. By the way, don’t forget to buy my book, currently on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Good Reads and in paperback from Lulu.com – The Ballad of Helene Troy, a rock and roll underdog story; because, trust me, I now REALLY need to the money. Oh, here’s me with Malcolm X, author of one of my favorite books, his Autobiography, keeping it real by any means necessary.

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Leeroy and I chose D.C. native, Marvin Gaye, and his landmark hit, What’s Going On? from 1971.

For my 100, we return to Jake and Violet’s porch, my short story, soon to be concluded, Soul To Body. It’s also teamed with my friend Velvet’s 100 word prompt, “dusky”.

Jake waited for the door to close behind him before approaching Mallory. A hour had passed since the sun had set, the front porch light caught Mallory’s dusky shadow ascending the stairs. Her red hair and tear-soaked face looked harried and desperate.

“Mallory, I need for you to leave. Violet and I….”

Jake caught himself giving away too much information. He’d created chaos by letting Mallory too close. Jake thought about Camille. She could be assertive one, mean even, when the situation called.

The door swung open. Violet stepped out.

“Dad, I just found out what’s going on with her.”

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have seven days, until next wednesday morningishlike, to write 100 words inspired by Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? Don’t forget to use Mr. Linky below then tell everyone about your post. Recruit others. It’s cult-like here, but with better music.

There’s A Light That Never Goes Out

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Being the parent of a seventeen-year-old girl has made me adapt to concepts I consider preposterous. I may write about how horrible teenagers are as people, in general, but my daughter does deserve some of her privacy. Putting all of her business out on the street is kinda sorta maybe wrong, so I’ll just say that when I hear she’s experienced a break-up with her friend who is a boy, I wait a few days. Because they always get back together.

During these times I try to not say EVERYTHING wrong, so after an awkward sentence or three, I tend to leave her be, let the teen dumbness take over, and hope she listens to good music while the temporary pain resides. Of course, for her, that means Taylor Swift or Pitbull or Nicki Minag. But deep down, I wonder, will she find that Radiohead The Bends CD I gave her when she was 12 and let the wash of angst from High and Dry or Fake Plastic Trees wash over her?

This made me think about my music freak friend, jen, over at http://www.jenkehl.com She hosts a Tuesday music meme called Twisted Mix Tape. This week’s clarion is “I Want You Back”.

For my Top Five list for Twisted Mixtape, I did things a little different from Jen was looking for, I think. I decided that if my kid and her teen woe could listen to 5 songs during her periodic relationship departures then these would be perfect.

5) Creep – Radiohead. This is from their first album, Pablo Honey, and the band itself hates the song. But all of us have been in the throes of these lyrics. The jist is, some dude realizes he isn’t good enough for the girl he has, but he’s desperate to keep her. The best line is “Whatever makes you happy Whatever you want”. There’s not a person alive who hasn’t uttered that during the worst of times. Plus this song has that great rerurht! rerurht! guitar thing.

4) Don’t You want Me – Human League. For the most part, I’m anti-synthpop groups. If there isn’t an electric guitar leading the charge, I’m usually out. But Phil Oakley and Susan Sulley put on a show here. The guy’s all defiant, petty, and hurt but still wants her back while the gal’s all hey, we had a fun, but it’s time to move on, so let me pat you on the head and walk away and don’t stalk me. It’s classic with its opening line “You were working as waitress in cocktail bar when I met you”. Also, the band hated the song. Sometimes musicians are just wrong.

3) Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I wish my daughter could identify with lead singer Karen O’s longing, here. The best line is “Don’t stray my kind’s your kind I’ll stay the same wait they don’t love you like I love you”. That’s honest, crazy, and totally relatable.

2) Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – The Police. So many people use the wrong song, the stalker anthem, Every Breath You Take, by The Police during break-up, I want you back times. But ‘Magic is romantic, fun, and completely real, especially when Sting sings “call you a thousand times and ask you to marry me, in some old fashioned way, but my silent fears have gripped me long before I reach the phone long  before my tongue has tripped me must I always be alone?” – PERFECT! Plus, you can dance to this one.

1) There’s A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths. This one does not require analysis or explanation. It’s the emo battle cry of all-time. It’s message is unisex. The feeling is undeniable. Good grief, I wish my kid loved The Smiths.

There you go, my top five list for my buddy Jen on “I Want You Back”.

Also, this blog is nominated for Most Creative Blog at the IndieChicks Blog Awards http://theindiechicks.com/badass-blog-awards-vote-for-your-favorite-bloggers/ Please visit there and vote for this place as well as blogs by my friends, Dawn from The Dawnie Project, Jana from Jana’s Thinking Place, Kat from Kat o Nine Tales, and Damon from Six Fingered Monkey.
http://theindiechicks.com/badass-blog-awards-vote-for-your-favorite-bloggers/

Also, have you bought the book? The Ballad of Helene, a novella about a wannabe rock and roll musician, Helene Troy, is available on amazon/kindle, smashwords, and Good Reads as well as in paperback from Lulu.com or a signed copy from my kitchen table, aka Pound Publishing headquarters.

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Love Is

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She sits seven feet away on an adjacent couch. But her writing is a world apart from mine in style and theme. The words radiate from her agile mind and soft fingers. Her best work are poems that dance like sunbeams on a breezy summer day about light, love and longing.

Inside this book is Pure Love.

*****blogger’s note****

This is my 57 word “Ketchup With Us” for my friends Melissa and Michele on the book I’m reading and recommending.

There are two published authors inside my home. My wife, Deana, known here as The Bobina, who writes at http://mythoughtsonthesubjectareasfollows.wordpress.com was recently published into a poetry collective called Love Is.

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You can find/buy the book with Bobina’s poem, Pure Love, on page 14, here: https://www.facebook.com/bookLOVEIS?fref=ts

She’s a brilliant poet and this is a very good collection of other fine poets.

For today’s song, I went to something with the right title and the perfect amount of sentiment. Here’s Tesla with Love Song and the lyric “Love is all around”.

It’s A Lovely Day

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Happiness comes in small doses; like a deep, sensuous kiss from a beautiful person or a three-minute song full of equal parts passion and skill. I had a lovely day yesterday that started with the former and ended with the latter. My wife provided the start but Saturday Night Live gave me the furious finish. I can’t imagine anything more perfect from an entertainment aspect than the video you’re about to watch.

The guy in the red coat and peroxide hair is Fred Armisen. He’s ending a very creative eleven-year run on Saturday Night Live. The fellow to his left, Bill Hader, and the dude on drums, Jason Sedekis, are leaving the show after eight years a piece. They represent one of the finest trio of performers the thirty-eight year old show has ever seen. As one of the final sketches on a show hosted by much more famous celebrities Ben Affleck and musical guest Kanye West, Armisen got into character as British punk rocker Ian Rubbish, while Hader, Sedekis, and current SNL cast member Taran Killam played his band, The Bizarros. This all lined up as a cool way to have the departing players say goodbye to the show that’s made them able to have movie careers. But then, less than a minute into it all, they’re joined by people who are superstars in the tiny world of indie rock or alternative music. The first two guitar players to climb on stage after “Ian Rubbish” announces “some people who have inspired me over the years” were Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kenney. Then the long gray-haired guy playing a wicked solo, J Mascis, and the ageless queen of Indie underground, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, joined in. Finally, alternative power couple Aimee Mann formerly of Till Tuesday (Voices Carry song fame) and Michael Penn (No Myth song) complete the awesomeness.

Now that you know the lineup, I can explain why all of this was so incredible. None of those extra folks helping Ian Rubbish and The Bizarros are household names. But they should be. If this were a perfect world, all of you would know who they were without my aid, you’d own their records, and love them with all your hearts, as I do. I drank a beer once with Steve Jones in 2003 after seeing a bad Sex Pistols reunion show. He treated me like one of his best friends. Then again, I was buying.

Saturday Night Live will miss Armisen, Hader, and Sedekis. But that moment, the one that lasted less than four minutes, will go down as legendary because Armisen spotlighted six people who should be bigger than Ben Affleck and Kanye West.

Entertainment is subjective. Is there anything really wrong with not knowing who those six amazing artists were without me telling you? No. Music snobbery is easy to joke about but underneath the sneer and eyerolls when you tell me you think Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber are important, what I’m really hoping is you stop by this blog every once in a while, read who I’m writing about, play the videos I provide, then go google my heroes and maybe like a song or ten by them.

I live with four people who don’t know those people. I work, play, travel, socialize with people who are equally clueless. But the fact that Fred Armisen used his influence and massive musical connections to put those artistic heavyweights on stage for four minutes and forever, through the Internet, means that one day, some of you will have records by greatest punk rockers like the Sex Pistols, Sonic Youth, Til Tuesday, Dinosaur Jr., Sleater-Kenney, Michael Penn, Aimee Mann, and Kim Gordon next to or in place of the current lighter fare you collect.

And pick up a copy of my book, The Ballad Of Helene Troy, there are references to some of these people and their music there. So, like Fred Armisen, these people influenced me, too. Available digitally on amazon/kindle, smashwords.com, Good Reads, or in paperback from Lulu.com or a signed copy from my kitchen table.

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What the hell. Let’s watch it again. Ladies and gentlemen Ian Rubbish and The Bizarros featuring Steve Jones, Carrie Brownstein, J Mascis, Kim Gordon, Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. follow them on The Twitter – @JoneseyJukebox @Carrie_Rachel @Jmascis @kimletgordon @aimeemann @mpenn Have a lovely day.

Five On The Five

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Something happened this weekend that will change my life and I’m having a hard time trying to determine if it’s tragedy or a really weird intervention. My second favorite place in the world to be, my home away from home, a used music store called CD Warehouse, closed it’s doors. For the past five years I’d gone there once a week with a five dollar bill and some change in my pocket. Sometimes I would just look, other times I would find a gem and lay down my money. Most of the time I enjoyed the moments alone with music.

The music business hates people like me. I’m a freak to them because I actually listen to entire CDs or albums, and my tastes are way outside the bounds of Top 40 pop, modern country, and rap. So when I wanted to buy something from an Indie band or a 1990s alternative group or get really crazy and replace one of my scratched 1970s or 1980s punk CDs, I’d make the short drive to the place I privately called “The Five”, and make a purchase. I never spent more than five dollars and whatever the change was. I also looked at the entire selections, A-Z. I even made mental notes as to what I might get the next time. I became so familiar with the place that the two guys who ran it knew me by name, color of my car, and even asked about my wife, who occasionally shopped for movies there.

I don’t think I can treat “The Five’s” demise as a death or even a tragedy. It’s a record store. It’s an anachronism. That’s like bemoaning the disappearance of a typewriter repair store. I know I should be buying everything digitally. My teenage daughter does that and she tells me how dumb I am for getting in a car and driving to a store to get bulky CDs. But the experience was as much fun as the music I got. You can probably guess, correctly, that I’ve seen movies like Empire Records and High Fidelity many times. To a lesser degree, I am John Cusack’s character from High Fidelity, Rob Gordon, except that I found the right girl, and I can’t stand hanging out with anyone like Jack Black longer than five minutes.

I might as well confess that when I drove into the parking lot and read the sign “CD Warehouse has closed”, I punched my steering wheel then drove across the street to Target. I had ten bucks and some change on me and I bought an R.E.M. best of 1982-1987 “I Feel Fine CD, and a Three Dog Night greatest hits. They were replacements for old scratched CDs in my collection, and I was just coming off an anxiety attack so the perfect storm was what it was.

I don’t have the first clue what I’ll do now that there is not a used/secondhand music store near where I live. In fact, there isn’t one in my county. I’ll probably break down and have my 17-year-old know-it-all daughter show me how to download music to my computer and I’ll create a library that I can burn CDs from to listen to in the car. My wife will appreciate the little bit of extra discretionary income. So, all in all, the shutdown of “The Five” is a moment of clarity, like if I was an alcoholic waking up in Mexico with no pants on next to a girl named Kitten.

I’ll miss the trips and I’ll miss the fellows that worked there. One time, we had a strong fifteen minute conversation about seeing Pearl Jam at the Fox in 1994. That’s a cool memory. Mostly, I’ll regret not being able to purchase music the old-fashioned way, the way I did as a 17-year-old standing in line at the local Turtle’s Record store in Snellville, Georgia in 1987 when Def Leppard Hysteria came out. That ended poorly too. Hysteria had chick songs on it. Pyromania was so much better. RIP CD Warehouse aka “The Five”. Me and my Abe Lincolns will remember the hours we spent together fondly.

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Today’s song is from an album that played at “The Five” the last time I was there. Here’s The Raconteurs, Five on the Five.

You’re So Vain

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I’m so vain, I probably think this post is about me. Middle-age performs dark magic to a person’s psyche, especially someone like me who pays attention to their feelings and deals with an anxiety disorder. There are things you aren’t told about growing older that can bring you to your knees, especially when you’re naked in front of a mirror. Relax, there will be no selfies in the nasty gleam of a pudgy reflection. Even I have some dignity, not much, but some. But when I realized the shirt I wanted to wear to work this morning needed to be ironed, I set up the board, plugged in the appliance and walked upstairs to make sure 2 of my 3 daughters hadn’t fallen back asleep instead of getting ready for school. They weren’t greeted by Iron Man.

“Really? Can you put a shirt on? That’s unnecessary, ” Said the 17-year-old.

“I don’t need to see that. Go put a shirt on, you’re a dad,” dropped the 8-year-old.

They made valid points. Granted, they were probably just joking, seeing as how I require them to wear shirts in my presence, but the paranoia devil that lives on my left shoulder told me that it may be time to re-dedicate myself to the gym because flab and jiggle have replaced fab and wiggle.

I’ll be 43 in September. I have a real job (communications project manager), a side job (writing books and freelance online stuff), 3 kids, and a wife. You mix in cheerleading, judo, drums lessons, school events, birthday parties with cake and ice cream, and the need to drown my demons (not as much as I used to, and I use Diet Dr Pepper more than whiskey) and the calories add up. My teenager eats more than anyone I know and she’s barely over 100 pounds. My thirtysomething wife and I hate/envy/bemoan the player and her yoga pants wearing high metabolism game. I used to be like that. Around the age of 25 all those wings and beer caught up to me and by 30 I was an unhealthy forty pounds overweight mess. I spent my thirties working it off but as my family grew and I started writing again, something had to give. It was my gut.

I’m what the ancient Romans and contemporary French would call “average-looking.” I’m built like a Guinness beer can; short, stout, dark exterior and all of my weight is in my middle. I wish I could blame my lack of Bradley Cooper looks on my family but all of the men, save one cousin who has my build, are six-foot tall manly looking dudes. This is my late grandfather, whom I’m named after (my first name is Thomas, like his), when he hit the Army at age 19 to help win World War II as a scout.

Private Thomas Arlee Bowen

Look at that tall, dark, handsome son of a gun. He looks like Johnny freakin’ Cash. When he got back from Europe he married a woman who looked like Marilyn Monroe. Why don’t I look like that? I mean, I have his sideways grin, love of fishing, and passion for Atlanta Braves baseball, but good grief that’s a heck of a fella.

I’m 5’8″ and I could pass for a pasta-addicted Italian shopkeeper in the old country who was 2-23 as a boxer and had to retire because my face was hamburger.

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I should be more realistic. My wife is beautiful and so are my children. They are very comfortable with their looks. You should see each of them when they’re in sweatpants, first thing in the morning. They’re stunning.

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How did I pull her and get those kids? I can tell you that blackmail and dark robot trickery are awesome. I do appreciate my 9-year-old (the child in the middle) covering up my midsection. I’d just eaten 37 chocolate oatmeal cookies.

I’m only superficial for myself. Looks fade and how someone is on the inside is indeed what’s important. I have a tendency to think all of my friends, family, and blog readers are model-perfect so if you need your ego boosted ask me how you look. But for myself, I’m not a fan of my “stuff”. This may be due to mental illness, middle-age crazy or it might just be that the pressure I put on myself to be the best I can be sometimes kicks my “need to run more” ass.

Priorities fail me sometimes. Writing my first book, The Ballad of Helene Troy, available on Amazon/Kindle, smashwords, Good Reads, and paperback from Lulu.com or a signed copy from my kitchen table  bookpicturesahdddddddddddddddddddddddddkcfb

…I disgress. Oh yeah, writing as much as I do, especially publishing the first book and preparing a second, Italian Radio, out soon, has done wonders for me mentally but wrecked me physically. I’ve gained 20 pounds, killed my sleeping habits, and grown more gray hair than I care to show. Finding that hour and a half three to four times a week to exercise, before the writing kinda sorta took off, has become difficult. I know those beautiful people in that picture love me no matter what, but I need to find a place for my physical before it starts punching my mental until I’m down for the count.

Today’s song belongs to the namesake of my 8-year-old daughter, Carly. Here’s her musical godmother, Carly Simon with Mick Jagger singing backup.

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It doesn’t matter if you don’t know a basketball from a basket case, hit your favorite search engine and read the Sports Illustrated cover story written by hoops player Jason Collins  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/ . The first line of “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay” is historic because Collins has become the first North American professional athlete, while active, to come out as homosexual. Like Ellen Degeneres in that fake television airport, and former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey in that firestorm political press conference, Jason Collins becomes a pioneer. As with most pioneers, the roads are treacherous and the elements are severe. In Collins case he’s dealing with a Jock culture that’s tunnel-visioned and hypocritical while touting God’s gracious name in every other breath. Less than an hour after the announcement, Collins faced the tweet of 26-year-old Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace.

““All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH  (shakin’ my head)”

Ahhh, homophobia, you’re always a party crasher. Not to be outdone, ESPN tracked down two of their reporters, L.Z. Granderson who is black, gay, and a Christian and Chris Broussard, who is black, straight and a Christian. Both men have won awards for sportswriting and reporting. Broussard is a considered an NBA expert. I know you can probably guess what happened, but what the heck, let’s go to the tape.

Ahhhh, religious misinterpretation and hypocrisy, y’all are like ants at a BBQ.

I’m white, straight and a Christian who not only thinks Jason Collins is brave, as is L.Z. Granderson (sports reporting is rife with bigotry, too) but Chris Broussard is dangerously wrong. Mike Wallace was just dumb. He deleted his tweet and went to count his millions he just received in a free agent deal with Miami. But let’s look at Broussard’s problem, because it’s one that’s hurting the cause of Christianity and the equal rights of gay people.

You may want to get close to your computer screen for these next few sentences because you don’t want to miss a word.

CHRISTIANS ARE INTENTIONALLY MISINTERPRETING THE BIBLE TO BAIT AND SWITCH THE GAY MARRIAGE ISSUE.

If you wish, and while it may make you physically ill to hear their malice forethought attempts to twist God’s word for their own agenda, go look up Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll’s sermons on homosexuality. They represent “the new school” of dialogue, thought, and political presentation regarding the issue of gay marriage and unequal rights for homosexuals. Instead of “gays are abominations and they’re going to hell”, it’s the same stuff Chris Broussard said in his clip, “all sin is wrong, including homosexuality. Homosexuality is no different from pre-marital sex and since any sex outside of marriage is wrong, so is homosexuality”. Wow, that seems straight forward and reasonable, doesn’t it? Time to play a video, and end this blog post……

Wait, allow me to do a Columbo impression…… just one more thing fellow Christian brothers and sisters, why not allow gay people to get married? That way, they won’t be sinning and everyone’s happy.

Silence.

Trust me.

If you drop that question on someone’s holier than thou Facebook page, their head may explode like Michael Ironsides in the movie Scanners.

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Let’s go back to Collins. His announcement was meticulous planned. He waited till after the season so it wouldn’t be a distraction. I’d venture to say the Commissioner and team officials of the Washington Wizards were in on it. Jason Collins is at the end of his career. It’s likely he’ll never play another minute in the NBA as he was with 2 teams this season, Boston and Washington, and put up his worst statistics. Technically, he gets the title as first guy ever, but he may be an ex-player soon. But doing this so close to his playing career will show the almost 200 men he played alongside since high school in the mid 1990s that a gay man was their teammate and nothing bad happened to them, you know, like catching the gay, will ease some tensions and help the next person or ten who come out after Collins’ announcement.

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The biggest issue here is sports tends to unite us. Regardless of political persuasion, religious affiliation, or background, people will stand arm in arm cheering for their favorite teams and sports. Professional basketball has a lot of growing up to do. Have you ever seen The Basketball Wives? The culture is awful when it comes to sex, drugs, and financial problems. Jason Collins is a good man who represents himself and his sport well.

For my fellow Christians, it’s time to admit you’ve lost the argument. The loose interpretations of the Bible to fit your fears and bigotry have got to cease. Gay marriage will happen, anyway. Then, we can all make those moral decrees about what happens away from a marriage. God Bless Jason Collins. His life started today. I hope he makes the most of it and becomes stronger.

Here’s Kanye.