19 September 2008

18 September 2008

So Friggin' Excited

Oh my god, Diarist! It's 03:40! Why aren't you in bed?!

Something amazing happened this afternoon. During a break from writing the Document With No End, I picked up my guitar and strummed a few chords. They were simple chords and I've played them so many times I've lost count. But something about them being played in a bit of an off-rhythm and in a key I don't normally play turned on a little bulb in my head. And I was reminded of something that a friend gave me a few months ago.

My friend E. Darryl Johnson, whom you may remember from a certain post from a few months back, told me about some lyrics he had written and asked me if I could put them to music. I told him that my style of music is a bit different from his and that I couldn't promise anything, but I would try. So he emailed them to me the following day. I read them over. They had promise but the structure was odd and some of the words didn't really work as song lyrics. So I saved the file. I looked them over from time to time, waiting for inspiration to strike, but the well was dry.

Until today, when I strummed those chords. I powered up my PowerBook and opened GarageBand. I figured I could create a backing track to the chords I was working. Two hours into the process, I realized that I could do the whole thing on the laptop; if I wanted to strum along on the six-string, I could. But it certainly wouldn't be necessary.

Kids, I haven't even attempted to write a song in nine years. I just haven't had the heart for it. But that July thing happened and I found myself being pushed back into music again.

It took almost eight hours, but I laid down a pretty good demo.

Oh. You want to hear it? I'll see what I can do about that. I think I should talk to the co-writer first before putting this on the net. I'm sure he won't have a problem with it. And if he doesn't, I think I know what Tuesday's Random Music selection will be.

For now, I have been too hyped up in my rekindled love of music to get any sleep. I can't wait to get started on the next track!

16 September 2008

Random Music: "Supper's Ready" by Genesis

Genesis had three incarnations: The Peter Gabriel Era (a.k.a The Prog Years), The Phil Collins Era (a.k.a. We Are Everywhere), and The Ray Wilson Experiment. If you don't remember the final studio album with Ray Wilson, don't feel bad. Most people don't. It's not that it was a bad album because it wasn't. It was actually a fairly passable album. Trust me, I've heard, and owned, much worse.

But this post isn't supposed to be a history lesson on the Genesis library. No, we want to focus on one song. What I've chosen today is by far the longest song ever recorded by the band, clocking in at 22 minutes 58 seconds on the album version. We're listening to the live version, taken from their album Seconds Out, in which Phil Collins is at the vocal helm. I prefer this version more because the band is tighter and Collins' vocals are just a bit stronger and more sure than Gabriel's.

Supper's Ready is an epic song about the Apocalypse written in seven parts.
  1. Lover's Leap
  2. The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man
  3. Ikhnaton And Itsacon And Their Band Of Merry Men
  4. How Dare I Be So Beautiful?
  5. Willow Farm
  6. Apocalypse In 9/8 (Co-starring The Delicious Talents Of Gabble Ratchet)
  7. As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)

Each part is a chapter of the whole suite. What does it all mean? Hell if I know. This site has as good an explanation as any, I guess. They also provide the lyrics, after their interpretation, so you can read and decide on your own.

My only objective in this post, and every other Random Music post, is to expose you to something you may have never listened to before. Perhaps you'll enjoy it and discover other such music. Perhaps you won't enjoy it and wait for me to post something other than music and pirate jokes. (And I will.)

But this song deserves a chance. It's bold. It's complex. It's bloody good fun. And it might just open your eyes to other ways of looking at music. So pack a lunch, get all good and comfortable, and give this tune a go.

Suppers Ready - Genesis

12 September 2008

Pirate Joke Of The Week

Q: What do you call a pirate with two eyes, two hands, and two legs?

A: Rookie!

11 September 2008

September 11, 2001 - A Remembrance

I was working in Chantilly, VA on that fateful day. I remember going in to work early ... 0800 ... because I had to install a server patch before the software testers came in at 0900. One tester was already in by the time I arrived. I started my install when one of my system administrators walked in. He and I made some small talk and discussed the work ahead of us that day. A few people started to trickle in shortly after 0830. By 0845, six of twenty-four of us were at our desks in our cramped room.

Shortly before 0900, someone ... maybe one of the developers ... popped his head in and said a plane flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

We were all a bit shocked but didn't think much of it. We discussed it and our consensus was that there had been some sort of technical malfunction in the plane. I mean, people don't fly planes into buildings on purpose.

And just as we reached that conclusion, another blur of a face popped into and out of our room stating, "They just hit the other tower!"

They? Who they?! And with what? What is going on?!?!

But we couldn't find out immediately the answers to our questions. The internet suddenly crawled to a stop. We had no televisions or radios in our room. A couple people scrambled back out to their cars to find out what happened. Within thirty minutes they came back, pale.

"Another plane just crashed into the Pentagon," was what we were told in a dead voice by one of our testers.

Everyone picked up phones and attempted to call loved ones to make sure everyone was okay and to see what was happening where they were. Initially, we were able to reach people. I was able to reach Tuffie, who was working near the Capitol Building. He told me that all the buildings were being evacuated and there were people and cars everywhere and no one was moving; he wasn't sure he would be able to get home. I told him to go to a friend's house in Dupont Circle and to call me when he got there.

But I never got his call. The phone systems were crippled by the weight of cellular traffic. Everyone was worried and all but two of us left for home. I knew that traffic would be a nightmare. And since I didn't know anything else about what was happening, I decided my best option was to stay where I was. So I did. And I worked. Because it was all I could do to keep my mind off of what might be going on.

Later in the afternoon, I received a call from Tuffie on my office phone. He made it to our friend's safely. To say I was relieved would have been a massive understatement. I told him I would meet him at JRs.

Around 1600, I started on my way home. I didn't know what to expect. Would the streets still be choked with cars? Would roads be closed off? Would emergency vehicles be moving about all over the area? It was enough to cause a panic attack.

What I did encounter was so eerie, so movie-like, and so fantastic that it will stay with me forever.

During my drive from my office abutting Dulles International Airport to JRs on 17th and Church Streets, NW, I saw one ... one ... car. But that, my faithful readers, wasn't the most terrible thing. No. Although I could see the smoke from as far away as Landmark Mall, it was my approach to DC from I-395 N, rounding the corner at Ridge Road that I saw the image that is eternally emblazoned on my memory.

The fire was still raging at the Pentagon. The bulk of the jet still lay broken on the ground. Emergency vehicles and equipment littered the west parking lot. A thick column of black smoke lay across the highway like a toppled colossus.

I slowed the car to just over 40 MPH in order to take it all in. A chill crawled across the back of my neck. A tear raised in my eye. I said a silent prayer. Once through the smoke, I resumed to normal speed and joined Tuffie at JRs. After holding him for what felt like a lifetime, we shared stories and drinks.

Every 9/11, I remember. I remember the lives lost. I remember the fear. I remember the fire. I remember the smoke. I remember the relief. I remember the love.

The love for my Tuffie. The love for my friends. The love for my family. And the love for my country.

09 September 2008

Random Music: "Never Alone" by Luke Brindley

Luke Brindley is a busy man. Not only does he write, record, and sing as a solo artist but he does the same with his brother Daniel as the Brindley Brothers and the brothers own and operate Jammin' Java in Vienna, VA. Throw in the fact that Luke is a local act (via Jersey) and this song was a shoo-in for this week.

What grabbed me first about this song was the horns. (Love horns!) Upon subsequent listenings, Luke's raspy, soulful voice stood out. Finally, the song's simplicity impressed me. This is the type of music I want to do, I thought to myself.

Take a listen, and I think (those who know me) you'll agree.

Never Alone - Luke Brindley


I apologize for the ten-day silence but when you've issues you must address them. I seem to have righted my ship, as best I could, and cruising along much better now. Thank you for your patience during the past several days.