My Long-Distance 24-Hour Call-Back Heckle Prank of Doug Stanhope

INTRODUCTION
This was totally unplanned. I thought of it at the last minute, and it relied heavily on audience participation.

Before I get to that story, a little setup and history is required.


GO ALL THE WAY BACK TO 1985
In 1985, there was no famous comedian named Doug Stanhope. He may have been just getting started. I’m not sure.

What I DO know is that in 1985, I was finishing my second year of college in Muncie, Indiana at Ball State University. There was this man who owned a record store called Repeat Performance. He was very invested and helpful with regard to the local music scene. Everyone who played in a band loved this man, Jon Rans.

The late Jon Rans: Drummer, musician, and friend of the Muncie music community. RIP

Jon even opened an all-ages club that featured music but did NOT serve alcohol, called The No Bar and Grill. I would often go there and check out bands.

On occasion, the owner’s son Ian, who was only 8 or 9 years old at the time, would stand on a milk crate with a megaphone, introducing the bands.


The Beertonez: late 1984

FLASH FORWARD TO 2005
In late July 2005, I started working at MySpace. One big mistake I had made right off the bat was letting everyone know that I worked there.

On my profile, I would post some pictures and stories about my time in Muncie in 1984-85. My posts caught the attention of Ian Rans, the once young boy who had grown up to become the host of his own talk show, “Drinking With Ian,” or “DWI” for short.

Ian found my posts, since he was [and still is] the keeper and curator of all things relevant to the Muncie music scene when his dad was there. He was also deeply entrenched in the comedy scene, as well as entertainment in general.

May 2006 in Panamint Springs [Death Valley]: I’m dressed as Hunter S. Thompson, and Ian showed up as Ian. This was our first time meeting after 20 years.

Ian wrote to me on MySpace. “Hey, my good friend Doug Stanhope is having trouble with his private group on here. Can you look into it?”

A skit called “The Lone Skanker,” from Ian’s show, Drinking With Ian

Since I was a Quality Assurance Engineer at MySpace, I decided to take this as a challenge. I worked to replicate some problems, got the developers involved, got a fix in place, tested it, and had it deployed.

The Man Show

Shortly after I fixed it, Doug Stanhope himself contacted me and invited me to his annual get-away in Panamint Springs, California, an area of Death Valley where you can get away from everything.

I was familiar with Doug Stanhope, since he had taken over The Man Show with Joe Rogan when Season 3 started, replacing Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel.

I would later attend a total of three Panamint Springs outings. This was where we could party hard and have no connection to the outside world. This meant NOT being on MySpace for a full week.

May 2006, Panamint Springs: My first meeting with Doug Stanhope

At the end of the week, we would all drive to Las Vegas and go to a club named after the owner, Tommy Rocker. Doug and some of his comedian friends would do a set at Tommy’s, which would put a nice cap on the entire experience.


WHAT IS A CALL-BACK?
Now that you have the history, let’s get into this long-distance call-back prank.

What is a call-back?

L-R: Me, Tommy Rocker, and Lil Ronnie P. Ronnie was a comedy club bouncer who pushed Doug Stanhope up on stage, thus launching his career. Ronnie became a dear friend who passed in late September 2007. A memorial to Ronnie is tattooed on my right bicep.

This is something comedians do. They will tell a joke or story at the beginning and move on. This is called “the set-up.”

Panamint Springs with Doug Stanhope, 2007

Later, they’ll have another story or joke, and the punchline will reference that first joke. That’s the “call-back.”

Now we can get into the actual call-back prank.


THE SET-UP
Doug was opening for Artie Lange in Las Vegas in 2007. A bunch of people were going out to see him, so I decided to drive out with my girlfriend and go see him. Since Artie was the headliner, I had to buy $60 tickets for the show.

Stanhope was the last opener before Artie Lange took the stage. He was trying to do his act, but the crowd wouldn’t have it. They were chanting the entire time he was doing his act.

“Artie! Artie! Artie! Artie!”

Stanhope got pissed, and rightly so! He yelled at the audience about how he didn’t need this shit, and he was going to head over to Tommy Rocker’s to get drunk off his ass. In true Stanhope form, he told the audience to fuck off and walked off the stage.

My lady and I stuck around a little bit for Artie’s set. I hate to say it, but it was boring. It was just him repeating things he had said on Howard Stern over the years, with the audience saying it along with him. We left after about 20 minutes and went to Tommy Rocker’s.

mid-2007: In Las Vegas at Tommy Rocker’s for a meeting of the presidential cabinet members for Stanhope’s run for president in 2008. I am standing in the back, to the right of Penn Jillette.

While at Tommy’s, Doug mentioned that he was going to be doing a show the next night at a club called Spaceland. He had to do this because he had a special coming out on HBO and he wanted the LA Weekly to promote it. They said they would do that, but only if they could put a local angle on it. Hence, the Spaceland show.

We had a wild night in Las Vegas, hit the sack, and headed back to LA the next day. I timed it so that we could get to Spaceland in time for the show before going home.


THE CALL-BACK
By the time we got to Spaceland, the club was already getting rather full. If nothing else, you can call Stanhope’s fans loyal and energetic.

There is no explaining this.

We sat down and I ordered a beer. Right after my beer was brought over to our table, I had this crazy idea. Most of the audience wouldn’t get it, so I’d have to explain, and fast, because I had to get EVERYONE possible in on this in order to pull it off.

I start approaching people at tables, explaining the prank, and asking them to participate.

After about 10-15 minutes, my job is done and I sit down. I can’t recall if there were any opening comedians that night. But eventually, it was time for the main event.

The Emcee took the stage. Noting that their next act was “fresh from Las Vegas” and mentioning the HBO special, it was time for the main event.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big LA welcome to Doug Stanhope!!!!”

People start clapping, as he starts to walk on the stage. But then the crowd starts chanting after he gets on the stage.

2021: My Stanhope political lawn sign, on the wall.

“Artie! Artie! Artie! Artie!”

They keep this up for just long enough. After it dies out, Stanhope looks around. He makes eye contact with me. I give him an evil grin.

Before he explained this Las Vegas incident to the audience, he says, “Fucking DrumWild.”

Below the announcement is a Stanhope video featuring one of his MySpace bits. It’s only appropriate.


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When I Was Happier [IDTAP]

If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild


This is going to be complicated, so I expect that I’ll probably forget some details and maybe have to write a follow-up. I also expect that it might make some people unhappy. Fortunately, I’m here for myself and not for others.

As I have written in the past, I have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder [MDD] for my entire life. While I knew that I was depressed, I didn’t know what to call it and had no idea how serious it really was.

Fall of 1982: At grandma’s house, drinking a Colt 45, shortly after having a wild night at a Rush concert for their Signals tour. I would be 18 in a few months.

All the same, some moments in my life were better than others when it comes to the measurement of the happiness that I got to experience.

When was I the most happy with my life? In my retrospective analysis of my past, there is a four-year window from mid-1981 to mid-1985. This time period spans across a pivotal time in my life, starting with the last two years of high school, and ending after my second year of college.


HAPPINESS FACTORS: THE FIRST HALF
There are many things I can point to, as either contributors or situations, that contributed to this happiness. Remember that this is mid-year to mid-year.

Summer of 1981: Working, dating, drumming, and looking forward to the future. Nothing could stop me.

In late 1980, I got my drivers license, which spelled freedom to a high degree. I had purchased my own car. But in the summer of 1981, I also had a summer job so that I could actually afford gas and going out.

Living in a small town of 1,200 people with no internet, no cable TV, and few friends was very stifling. It did force me to spend time on my musical abilities, so I am grateful for that. But being free to go somewhere else when I wanted gave me opportunity to build more life experience.

I did not abandon my musical instruments once I got my car.

A vehicle and money helped expand my horizons.

Having some money and a car also gave me the ability to acquire more music, attend more concerts, and attempt at engaging in social situations, like skating at Star Skate.


HAPPINESS FACTORS: THE SECOND HALF
College got me out from underneath the rule of my parents, as well as the pains caused by having to deal with my siblings. My younger brother and sister did not really like me all that much, so being away from them felt good, as did being out of my old bedroom in the old family home.

Late 1984: Playing bass with my college band, The Beertonez. We were in high demand that year. It would end up being the year where I made the most money with music in my entire life.

It was an adventure.

I went to college, gave it a shot, and pretty much wasted the second year away after coming to the conclusion that this was a racket that wasn’t going to get me anywhere. A degree in Percussion Arts would get me maybe ONE good butt wipe. Then what?

But there were other things that I figured out.

I was able to make a good deal of money with my college band. An apartment off-campus back then was $35 per month. If the band played only TWO gigs per month, my cut would be in the hundreds of dollars.


THE HAPPINESS FADES
The things I learned and the things I knew would end up chipping away over time.

In school, you are taught a lesson and then tested. But in life, you are first tested and then taught a lesson.

The first harsh lesson I learned revolved around the group project, or depending on others. I was attending my T-Comm [Telecommunications] classes. There were two segments: Radio and Television.

I got stellar scores in Radio. But I failed in Television because of the group project, when the rest of the people in my group decided they were either changing majors or quitting school. They didn’t care about the project, so I was left on my own.

I would fail in the Television segment because of this, and my grades in Radio were invalidated by this.

Shortly after this, when the school year ended, I learned the hard way that I was the ONLY one who took the band seriously. Everyone else just left like it was no big deal. Not even a goodbye. There goes the idea of earning a living with that band.

This experience soured me a bit on the idea of bands. Even to this day, I struggle with being involved with bands or jam situations. I might have a unique view of bands and musicianship.

In the fall of 1985, life mostly stunk. I was playing guitar in a band called “The Switch,” which I enjoyed. Even though the band had a manager, I still was uneasy about staying in Indiana. I had always wanted to go to California to give it a shot with regard to being discovered and gaining entry into the music business.

So when my mother gave me a one-way ticket to California for Christmas 1985, I was all over it. I left The Switch and moved to California.

I didn’t really know what it took to live on my own, even though I’d technically done so in college. Student loans paid for everything, so I didn’t see a steady flow of bills. And I paid off my student loan with some of the money that I made from just one gig.

That’s not how anything works in reality.

After a few years of struggling, I met a woman who I thought would be on my side. Instead, she worked against me every step of the way from 1988 to 1998.

Long story short, I got older, gained weight, became unemployable, and now here we are.


TRYING TO FIND HAPPINESS AGAIN
Now that I’m an old fart, and I think that’s the scientific medical term for it, I have been trying to find happiness again. For a short while, I thought that I had found it when I reconnected with an old girlfriend from 1982. But that was nothing more than a lie she sold to me, and ended up being a big mistake on my part.

This showed me that what I have to do is find my own personal self-contained happiness that doesn’t rely on anyone else. This means, of course, that things like being a musician in a band must be regarded as happiness supplements. In other words, they can’t be the primary source of happiness for me.

I will NEVER give another person the power to fuck with my happiness.

I have been taking Wellbutrin for the past month, as I wrote about recently, and I feel like my head is clear enough to take on this challenge.

As I look back on all of this, in an effort to see if I can bring any of these elements back to recreate my happiness of old, I realize that there was something I forgot to add to the list. This thing wasn’t something that I was doing.

Rather, it was something that I was not doing.

That thing, as it turns out, is politics.


BECOMING POLITICAL
Although I would vote, I had never considered myself to be a political person. My suspicion is that this changed for me shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. George W. Bush was president, after he technically “won” the presidency. He spoke like a moron. It was clear that he got his job thanks to his father.

I found this to be very disturbing.

L-R: Dan, Cathy, Kevin, Glenn, and me. Kevin and Cathy would leave the band after Glenn and Dan decided to start making and releasing political content. I stayed on because it was creatively fulfilling at the time.

I had been drumming in Noodle Muffin for a few years, when they decided to start making political albums. The bass player, a Republican Catholic as it turns out, decided to quit the band, along with his wife, for this reason.

The “band” was then comprised of three active members, and some writing partners in other places.

Final Noodle Muffin Performance, January 21, 2009: The drums and other instruments were on backing tracks.

It didn’t really feel like a band. Due to the departure of 40% of the band, we ended up doing lots of recording, but not much in the way of gigging.

Our last gig was on the night after President Obama was inaugurated.

Noodle Muffin, January 21, 2009: Performing “Balls,” the only song critical of Democrats. It’s a fair criticism.

Although I like some of those songs, and I am proud of my work on those albums, I seriously doubt that ANYONE is going to want to go back and listen to songs about George W. Bush. I’m going to include videos of the few songs from this time.

I thought that Obama would do a good job. He did in some regards. He wasn’t a buffoon, he didn’t sound like an idiot when he talked.

Operation Regime Change, and Long Live The Spin. You can find them and listen to them on YouTube. Don’t feel as if you have to buy them. I don’t see a penny from any album sales.

Republicans would attack him for wearing a tan suit, not having a flag pin, saluting with coffee, and putting his feet on the desk. There would also be conspiracies, like the Trump-led birther conspiracy, the idea that he’ll take our guns and put us in concentration camps. They said a fly had landed on him, meaning that he was satanic. And, of course, the rumor that his wife Michelle was once really “Michael.”

Rehearsal Video: Christian Taliban. Some nice bass work, even if I do say so myself.

This is when I found myself in a horrible situation, because I knew that Obama had ramped up drone strikes. I knew that these strikes were killing innocent civilians. By “horrible situation,” I mean being alone in my observations and thoughts regarding these drone strikes.

Rehearsal Video: Bush in 200 Words.

Democrat voters whom I knew didn’t have anything negative to say about any of that at all, and maybe it was because they were trying to avoid criticizing him. That’s utterly wrong.

Republicans didn’t have anything negative to say about things Obama did, like these drone strikes, because they agreed with it.

In other words, most of the people around me and those I would see in media and online had little to say regarding this actual issue. There would be reports on it, and then the story would just go away.

Innocent people killed when their wedding party gets a drone strike? To me, it seemed like nobody cared. And there I was, caring about it, when there was really nothing I could do about it. If Obama hadn’t done it, then his Republican opponent would have done it.

Then we get Trump, and it’s a horrific four years. He is a terrifying monster. We released a song and video about that just before the election.

This is a good song, and I am proud of my contributions. Will anyone really want to listen to this again?

CURRENT TIMES
Now that we have Biden, I’m totally numb. I think the Republicans will continue to obstruct, continue to filibuster, and Manchin is helping them.

I feel NO hope for the world right now. Conspiracies are believed over facts. Trump and Q have infected my mother, and subsequently ruined our relationship to the point that we cannot talk about anything because everything has been politicized, including the public health crisis COVID-19. Beyond that, tens of millions in the country have also been infected by these bullshit stories.

Too many people doubt too many things. They’re believing people who have a motive to lie, and they don’t question it. The news reports something one year, and then takes it back the next year. Their “correction” of the story feels like a Taliban hostage video.

People who aren’t scientists are given more attention and credibility than actual scientists who have dedicated their lives to what they do. A mouth-breathing Karen in Walmart can pretend to talk about something in scientific terms and get believed over actual scientists.

A few weeks ago I found myself in a situation where some rednecks wanted to talk politics, and I had to try to find a way to avoid the conversation and change the subject because they all had guns holstered.

People drive around with flags on their trucks that are intended to invoke fear. Intimidation and threats have taken precedence over actual policy. And yea, I don’t want to get shot. Living in a small town of idiots, I don’t want people to find out that I’m not one of them, so I keep to myself.

The two sides who are supposed to work together for our benefit now view each other as mortal enemies. They get NOTHING done. Our infrastructure is rotting, and there is nothing I can do about it. Those who have the power to do something about it are too busy jerking off on each other.

I got rid of cable television 15 years ago. Now I use primarily YouTube. The majority of what they recommend is political, and I hate it.


IT’S THE POLITICS, STUPID
As I lament the current political state of it all, I think back to that four-year span when I was at my happiest.

The world was falling apart. There were fuel shortages. The Cold War was winding down. AIDS was ramping up, thanks to that idiot Ronald Reagan. Osama Bin Laden was still considered an “American hero” who was doing work for the CIA.

It was the beginning of the end. A vote for Reagan was a vote against your own children.

As messed up as the world was back then, I paid absolutely no attention to it at all. I didn’t watch the news. I didn’t “stay informed.” I didn’t follow any political stories. I didn’t identify by any political labels. I didn’t perform much in the way of political songs. The most political my performances got was when we played the song, “Summertime Blues.”

“I can’t help ya, son, cuz you’re too young to vote.”


A NEW APPROACH?
And you know what? I was fine. I lived. I thrived. I kept my focus on what was in front of me and was resourceful. When something didn’t work, I’d try to fix it. If I couldn’t fix it, then I left it behind. When something did work, I appreciated it.

What am I going to do about this?

It starts by focusing on those things that I can control.

I’m going to stop paying attention to politics, as well as the news in general. Being involved in political and news stories is a case of me putting too much time, energy, and emotion into something over which I have absolutely no control.

I can’t change anybody or anything. I struggle to change myself.

As I gave more thought to this, I couldn’t help but wonder why I need to remain informed in the first place. Informed of WHAT? Something over which I have no control?

And I will admit, I didn’t really vote FOR Biden, so much as I voted against Trump. I don’t like anyone who is currently involved in politics. They don’t represent me, and they never have.

A local politician emails me all the time. “We need your help,” which is code for, “We need your money.” I got tired of it, so I wrote back.

“We voted for you so that you could work on this shit. What are YOU doing about it? Why do you need MY money, when you’re already getting paid WAY TOO MUCH to do this ‘job’ that you have? Why does your position even exist?”

I think these are fair questions. It would be like me getting a job as a coffee taster, and then standing on the street all day asking people to taste coffee, and then emailing everyone in my district about their personal coffee tasting habits.

Meanwhile, nobody knows whether or not I’m actually tasting any coffee at all.


SO DONE
I am absolutely fed up with American politics. I’m also fed up with American religion, which is almost the same thing, since the two topics are now conflated and being merged into one.

I’m tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of talking about it. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of worrying about it. I’m tired of others trying to inform me on how I should feel about shit.

I’m tired of the lying, the conspiracies, the arguing, the idiocy, the childish behavior, the stupid non-arguments, and the celebrity of it all.

I’m tired of feeling sick to my stomach about something over which I have absolutely NO control at all.

As much as I enjoyed the bands I performed with in the past, it’s still a stupid fucking group project effort. Maybe I’m done with that as well. Who knows.


SOLUTIONS?
I can’t go back to the first half of the 80s. I can’t be young again. I can’t go back to college and have the same experience. I can’t get an apartment for $35 per month.

However, if I can get another job, then maybe I can get a better car. Maybe I can sit with music and writing on my free time. Maybe I can cultivate my own situation, where I live my life and keep to myself.

I could find some new adventures in Oregon, since I’ve not really seen most of the state yet. I could get lost in nature. I could find a club that features some interesting musicians.

I could write more. I could do just about anything I want to do. Most of what I want to do comes with little-to-no expense, beyond gas and food money.

I’m already off of ALL social networking, so I have a head start on this. Avoiding the news and getting YouTube set up in a way where I can achieve this will be a challenge. I’m confident that I can figure something out, and I haven’t written off the idea of leaving YouTube behind as well.

I may not know much, but I do suspect that not worrying myself over things that I cannot control will greatly improve the quality of my life.

The biggest thing that I can control is what I think about and what I talk about. My plan is to NOT write about political issues in the bog anymore. Not only does it agitate me, but it might agitate others. Plus, I might think that I’m “informed,” but later discover that the information that I had received was incorrect.


DEALING WITH THOSE WHO WISH TO TALK POLITICS
What do I say to the average person when they want to get political?

You want to talk about politics? I’m not a political expert. I didn’t study Political Science. My guess is that you didn’t, either. This would be a pointless discussion. A person’s political opinions might very well be the least interesting thing about a person. I might still vote, but I won’t talk about it.

You want to talk about global warming? I am not an environmental scientist, and neither are you. I’ll still do my part to cut down on pollution. I just won’t talk about it.

You want to talk about COVID-19 and the vaccine? I am not a virologist, and neither are you. I’ll still get my vaccine [as I did] and wear a mask. I just won’t talk about it.

You want to talk about human rights and marginalized people? I’m not a Sociologist, and neither are you. I will support basic human rights for all, and will do what I think is right to help others who are disenfranchised. I just won’t talk about it.

Do you see a pattern here?

Voting is like taking a shit. I don’t have to right now, but I will later. I won’t talk about it before I do it, and I won’t be talking about it after I do it, either.

IDTAP
I just came up with this. What does IDTAP mean? It means “I Don’t Talk About Politics.” Pretty straight forward.

No, I’m not talking about the IDTAP hashtag, which is sexual shorthand for “I’d tap that.”

I don’t talk about politics anymore. I just don’t. The hard part will be communicating with people who have followed the previous president, because they have successfully politicized EVERYTHING.

If they can’t keep politics out of the conversation, then I leave the conversation. This might be difficult, should I end up getting a job. All I can do is stay strong and stand my ground.

I don’t talk about politics.


IN THE END
This entry may very well be the final entry I make that has any political content. Yes, even talking about not talking about politics is talking about politics, to a degree.

The late, great George Carlin once said that he didn’t vote, stating that voting does not matter, and if it did, then they’d be trying to stop you from voting. As I write this, Republicans most definitely ARE trying to stop certain people from voting.

I have no certainty about whether or not voting really matters. The wealthy who are in charge own both sides of the team, so they will always get what they want no matter what.

I may very well keep on voting. I have never voted Republican, and never will. They cater to the stupid, who are easier to scare. Maybe I’ll keep voting Democrat, a.k.a. “the lesser of two evils.”

Voting doesn’t take any time. Just go down the ticket, pick, and you’re done. Free to get back to your life.

Your life.

You know, those things that are important to YOU.

In calling back to the shit analogy, it would be silly to talk about what kind of shit you’re going to take for years, then take it, then talk about it for a few years after.

Just politely dismiss yourself, go take a shit, wash your hands [you filthy animal], and then get back to living.

You get only ONE life. Spending it by putting a great deal of time, energy, and emotion into something that you cannot control does not seem like a wise decision.

I’ll feel more healthy. Heck, this could even contribute to me beating Type 2 Diabetes. Feeling better, being more well rested, being more active, and striving to be more social will be positive for me on all fronts.

So that’s it. IDTAP.

I don’t. Not anymore.

As Dave Mustaine sang in his 1994 song “Elysian Fields,” “The world don’t want to be saved. Only left alone.”

And as Paul McCartney once sang, “Let it be.”

Music: Studio Recording vs. Live Performance

INTRODUCTION
This is a cautionary tale about the differences between studio recording and live performance, as it applies to the musicians who are recording. These differences did not always exist, at least not to the extent that they do today.

In the past, before the age of Pro Tools and computer recording, bands would typically record in a linear fashion. That is, they wrote a song, rehearsed it over and over, and then would record “live on the floor,” much like recording a live performance.

Limitations would force this. Bob Marley’s big album had its main tracks recorded on an 8-track tape. The problem was they had 40 members playing. They rehearsed for 8 hours per day for a full month before recording. They were as tight as they would ever be. That tape was then sent to England, where the “Western” instruments and elements were added in a bigger studio.

With computer recording, many people will come up with ideas in pieces. They have a main riff, a chorus, a bridge, and come up with an intro and ending. They play the main riff once, and then copy/paste.

These two different recording techniques would bring about a major divide between recording and performing, over time. Being in Los Angeles for 33 years, I encountered this problem more than once.

Today’s entry is about one of those challenging times.


THE “BAND”
I will NOT be naming the band, even though chances are good that they are no longer together. This isn’t about shaming them, but rather about warning others regarding this problem. It’s my story to tell.

This “band” was a handful of people who got together on occasion. For a few years, I would go record with them. They would let me know what instruments I would be playing. They’d either email me a scratch track of what they’d hobbled together so far, or give me a CD of the same.

How they wrote and recorded their songs was precisely like the second example noted above. They’d have an idea, record a few bars, get it nice and tight over the course of time, and then copy/paste. They would get some good results.

One of them told me that the band should try their hand at live performance. I warned them that this was a completely different beast from what they were used to addressing. The “band” leader set up the rehearsal, and I warned him with two words.

“Be ready.”

I probably should have been more precise, but it wasn’t my band and I was already overstepping my boundaries as a person who would be invited to track on occasion.


THE FIRST REHEARSAL
I was ready to go, since I sat with all of the songs for several hours the week before the rehearsal. The keyboard player showed up with notes and scribbles, so he was ready. The bass player would share notes with the keyboard player, so she was ready. The singer had lyrics printed out, so he was ready.

But the guitarist showed up with nothing. As he said, “I wrote these songs, so I should know how they go.” Fine. Let’s do it.

We start the first song, and right away the “songwriter” was having a problem. He couldn’t remember how his own songs went.

Why?

Because he had never played them in their entirety in a linear fashion before. His way was always about coming up with parts and recording the parts. The rest was studio magic. He never really sat down and learned the songs.

He tried looking at the keyboard player’s notes, but he had no ability to read music.

So here I was, as the drummer, picking up his guitar and showing him how his own parts to his own songs went. He said at one point that he wasn’t too happy with this situation. I commented that I wasn’t either, because I had warned everyone to “be prepared.”

I suppose he didn’t know what that meant, either.

This rehearsal was in a big rehearsal room that was costing by the hour. It was a total wash. While I lost no money, it was still my time and energy that was wasted. And it put me in a position where things between him and me were becoming combative and tenuous.


SUBSEQUENT REHEARSALS
We had a handful of rehearsals at his condo. I called them “The Unplugged Sessions,” because we all used acoustic instruments and I played bongos instead of drums. If I were an ill-prepared drummer who knew nothing, then they’d be in big trouble because I would be losing important time with those rehearsals.

Luckily, I would go rent my own space and get some intense practice in.


THE SHOW
We played the show. I didn’t record it, because I had very low expectations. My instinct was right. As it turned out, I was the most prepared out of anyone in the entire “band,” and it wasn’t even my band.

I was the most prepared because I was the only one who had live performance experience. None of them had live performance experience. Not only that, but none of them had ever played the songs through in linear fashion before the announcement that we’d be playing a show. Luckily, they were by far superior musicians to the guitarist and owner of the “band.”


SESSION AFTER THE SHOW
The guitarist never recovered from this degrading experience. His ego was severely bruised, possibly beyond repair.

A few months later, they called me in to record some drums. We had a rented room and I was ready to go. Their sound engineer / producer was on the DAW and board, and the guitar player / owner was sitting in a corner. He was on his laptop with headphones on, listening to music.

Keep in mind that he could NOT hear the playback to what I was drumming with. He had no idea what was going on at all.

I start playing and the producer stops recording. He says, “The intro was a little loose.” Fine. I’m used to this happening at times. It happens to everyone. We just start over.

But as soon as the producer said that, the guitar player chimed in. “Hey, that was a little loose there. Get your act together.”

There would be a few other incidents. The producer would say something, and then this asshole would repeat it, adding his own personal jab, as revenge for the embarrassment he felt when I had to show him how his own songs went.

Again, he wasn’t listening to the tracking, so he had no idea what he was talking about. He wasn’t being productive or helpful. He was just being an asshole.

The next time he made one of his duplicate asshole comments was the last. I’d had enough. I confronted him and asked him why he was doing that. He replied, “What’s the problem? You’re the one who’s always messing up here.”

Ah. Because four whole mistakes while recording amounts to “always messing up.” He was trying to make my small errors out to be worse than him not knowing how to play ANY of his own songs that HE wrote himself.

I gave him a reality check. “I understand. This is your band, not mine. I’m not even a band member. Hell, I’m not even being paid to be here. The ONLY reason I’m here is because I found the experience to be enjoyable.”

His eyes widened. He knew what I was going to say next.

“This is NOT enjoyable. Since enjoyment is my pay, and I’m not getting my pay, I think that’s a clear sign that we’re done here.”

He got mad and begged me to stay. As I was packing up, that attitude changed to, “Get the fuck out of here now!” I wasn’t going to leave any gear behind, because I didn’t want to have to return to get it. We were DONE!

I never talked to him again.


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO…
Word has it that this guitar playing songwriter, who didn’t know how to play his own songs, ended up quitting his music pursuits. He moved back to Alabama, took a job in his family business, and got married.

I would stay in LA for another 15 years, with a grand total of 33 years, before I’d decide that there are other things that I’d rather do. When you’ve played the Sunset Strip with dozens of bands over decades, there reaches a point where you want to do other things.

That’s why I’m currently in the middle of nowhere, writing this. I no longer feel that I need to be in LA to do whatever I want to do.


IN THE END
Over the course of my life, I’ve been in bands that record in a linear fashion, “on the floor,” meaning the entire band performs and we get the recording in one solid linear take. I’ve also been in bands that record in modular fashion, putting things together.

On my own, I have recorded using both methods, linear and modular. Most of the time, I’ll record the entire song on one instrument, and then record all instruments in linear fashion.

I’ve even engaged in “comping.” This is where you record a passage several times over, or you record several bits, and then you can pick the best one, pick pieces here and there to create a performance, or you can string the performances together.

The last example was how the ending solo for “Comfortably Numb” was created. David Gilmour just comped a bunch of passages, and the producer strung them together to create one of the most epic guitar solos of all time. In other words, he did NOT write this in linear fashion.

Performing the ending solo for “Comfortably Numb.” Having this solo in my life for the past four decades has made it part of my DNA.

There is no shame in any of this. If it’s good enough for David Gilmour, then it’s most definitely good enough for me.

However, the thing is that David Gilmour had to, at the very least, sit down and learn the solo before going out on tour. That said, I’m willing to bet that he took the comped version of the solo, learned it, and re-recorded it for the album.

Not that he would have to do that, but that’s my educated guess. Considering the fact that they were working with tape, I think that I might be correct on that guess.

So if you’re sitting around at home, writing and recording a bunch of songs, then that’s really cool. I dig it. Make music any way you can. Do whatever works.

But if this is all you’ve ever done, and you later decide that you want to gig out, please understand that this will have great implications for you down the road.

Ask yourself whether or not you’d pick up a guitar, or whatever instrument you play, and perform the song in public at a coffee shop. If the answer is “yes,” then you will probably be fine in your preparation methods.

But if your answer is “no,” then you are nowhere near what we call “gig-ready.” You’re a musician. Maybe you’re a writer. But you are most definitely not a performer. At least, not yet. Don’t give up. Just understand that it’s going to take a great deal of work on your part.

After all, there’s a big difference between recording bits and pieces in the privacy of your bedroom studio, and playing a full song, front-to-back, in front of a big audience.


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Becoming a Value-Added Drummer

If you’re a drummer and you are looking to increase your chances at getting the gig, then this post might help you. In fact, some of this will be helpful for other musicians in general.

These are details that come into consideration when you’re auditioning for a gig, and the others who auditioned are also solid drummers. There has to be something that separates you from the crowd.

Late 2009: Drumming as a hired gun at The Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip.

Like everything else, these details will not guarantee anything. I’ve done all of these things, and sometimes wouldn’t get the gig due to other factors, such as age, looks, height, weight. Yes, those in the industry can be hyper-picky about these strangest of things.

Now that I’m old, I don’t care about those other concerns. What I do care about is being able to perform to the best of my ability. Having these value-added attributes in my arsenal make me a worthy contender, if nothing else.

Before I get into these value-added details, I will give you a brief overview of my background.


BACKGROUND OVERVIEW
I had lots of formal training, even though it was determined that I had a significant level of natural ability. I studied for a few years with John W. McMahan, author of “Readin’, Ritin’, and Rudiments.” I would later study with Richard Paul during my high school years, and my studying with him would continue when I went to college as a Percussion Arts major.

While I was taking drum lessons in grade school, I was playing trumpet in the grade school band. I would switch to drums and play drums in the high school band, the marching band, pep band, and theater orchestra. I also played lead guitar in the jazz band. Get involved with as many things as you can during your early years.

In college, as a Percussion Arts major, I would obviously study drums and percussion, but would also be playing piano, marimba, and string bass. Also required were classes in Music Theory, Ear Training, and Advanced Composition. Yes, a drummer should have these things under their belt.

1987: Playing keyboard for The Robin Baxter Band at Club 88 in Santa Monica, CA

Later, when I was in LA drumming and playing other instruments with a variety of bands, I would do some one-off lessons with other drummers, such as my friend Nick Menza. I took a one-off lesson with Chad Wackerman to learn the foundations of The Spivack Method. There is ALWAYS something to learn from someone else.

During my 33 years in Los Angeles, I would play drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards in a variety of different bands in different genres.

From mid-2017 to mid-2018, I took guitar lessons from a classical player named Rogerio Peixoto, as well as Bill Harkleroad, aka Zoot Horn Rollo of Captain Beefheart.

This is my musical foundation. Some of this gave me some value-added attributes as a drummer, which I will detail.


VALUE-ADDED SKILLSETS
In this list, I am going to assume that the reader is a drummer who only plays drums in a band setting, and nothing more. Again, as noted earlier, some of these tips will work for ANY pop/rock musician, regardless of instrument.

late 1985: Playing guitar in The Switch, at our rehearsal space in Spiceland, Indiana

Playing to a metronome/click: Practicing with a metronome is essential, so that you can be even in your division of beats. Later, when you find yourself in a studio, you will more than likely be asked to perform your drum tracks to a click track.

A click track is just that, a track that goes click click click click. This helps keep the tempo solid for the duration of the song.

The weird thing about drumming to a click happens when you get really good at it, and the click disappears, blending in with everything else.

Beyond recording, some bands perform with a click. This is especially true if they have backing tracks. So when you go see a band like Steel Panther, and you hear a synth [they don’t have a synth player], you’ll know that it’s on a backing track, and that the drummer is performing live with a click.

I know how these backing tracks are made, which will be its own entry later on.

2009: Playing fretless bass with guitarist Logan Grusso in the band Black Hole Bindhi at Club Good Hurt, Venice, CA.

Learn to play at least one other instrument: Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez, drummer for Oingo Boingo, said it best when he noted that, “Drummers who don’t play a second instrument are boring.”

What he is speaking about is in reference to the drummer’s ability to “play for the song.” A drummer who knows how to play other instruments has a solid understanding of how those instruments interact with each other.

You don’t have to become hyper-proficient with your secondary or tertiary instruments. Just get good enough to play a few easy songs. Once you do this, it leads you to the next item.

Learn to play for the song: Some drummers will want to show off and fill every available spot with some kind of impressive drum licks. This is not a good habit for a drummer.

I liken it to one of the first times I went to a club in LA. It was a Gazzarri’s, and there was this band on stage. The problem was they didn’t sound like a band. What they sounded like was FOUR individuals fighting over who was going to get the spotlight.

As a band member, you don’t want to steal the spotlight. If you have a drum solo in a song or show, then that’s fine. Have at it and tear it up during that piece. But what you want is to be able to play in such a way that you complement the other instruments, making the other players and the song itself sound good.

Playing for the song is a valuable talent.

2015: Laying down a banjo track for Noodle Muffin in Los Angeles, CA

Learn to sing while playing: A singing drummer can bring harmonies, or even lead vocals to the fold. The first singing drummer I had ever seen was Gil Moore while drumming with Triumph.

Learn how to run samplers, sequencers, and multimedia presentations while drumming: Dang, that one took up more than one line! That’s because there’s a lot to take in.

With samplers and sequencers, it is important to learn how the electronics work, how triggers work, and when and where in the music you will be implementing these things. When I was drumming live with Noodle Muffin, I would also be singing backups, triggering samplers, and also triggering sequencers.

My good friend and fellow drummer Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz has been drumming for “Weird” Al Yankovic since the beginning. He provides some backup vocals during performances. He might also have samplers and sequencers, but he does something that I’ve never done, in that he runs the multimedia show that runs on the big screen behind him while he’s playing.

Mid-2019: In Bend, Oregon with Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, drummer for “Weird” Al Yankovic. We spent a good portion of the day running around to pawn shops to look at what drums and cymbals they had.

Learn Music Theory and arranging: Most people do not know that Alex Van Halen has a strong Music Theory background and was in charge of Van Halen song arrangements. Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock, you should be familiar with at least some Van Halen songs. Their quality, as well as their durability, speak for themselves.

Contrary to what you will hear, Music Theory WILL NOT ruin your creativity. It’s mostly about naming things and learning about their relationships with one another.

Early 2020: Playing a few songs I wrote on acoustic guitar at the now-closed coffee shop, Pressed, in Dallas, Oregon.

Writing lyrics: Everyone knows that the late, great Neil Peart wrote the lyrics for the songs in his band, Rush. You can learn this talent through taking writing courses. If you love to write and have a knack for lyrics, then make sure that it’s NOT your best kept secret. Submit some lyrics and see what happens.

Percussion: Learning other percussion elements and implementing them into your arsenal will go a long way, especially in the recording studio. I once saw a drummer in the studio who fell apart when the producer says that he wants a tambourine in a segment of a song. They ended up having me do it, because this guy didn’t know the first thing about how to make the tambourine do what you want it to do.

2016: Tracking lead guitar with Noodle Muffin, Los Angeles, CA

Other talents: There were other things that I did for my bands that were outside of the music itself. Booking gigs and building relationships with promoters. Creating, printing, and distributing fliers for shows. Booking rehearsals and recording sessions. Running the website. There are lots of things to be done for a band that go beyond the realm of writing, recording, and performing music.

The greater your contribution, the greater ownership you can claim. Of course, this is assuming that you’re not a hired gun. If you are a hired gun, then only do what you’re paid to do, and nothing more.

I would drum, sing, and trigger samplers or sequencers, as a hired gun. However, I would NOT go out of my way with things like fliers, unless I was being paid extra for that. And most definitely, NEVER contribute to any rehearsal costs.


IN THE END
Everyone has heard the joke.

What do you call the guy who hangs out with musicians? The drummer.

2008: Drumming with rap artist Casanova Jones at Paladino’s, Los Angeles

This joke falls flat with anyone who has an understanding that the drummer of the band typically does way more than just beat the skins. The same is true of those who have the idea that the drummer should never write music or lyrics. They should, so long as they can do it, and do it well.

In an audition setting, when it comes down to who the band is going to hire, they will look at you more favorably if you have more abilities in your tool box than the other people who are there auditioning.

Remember that there is no such thing as knowing too much, and nobody got hurt by this. If anything, it can hurt your chances if you have major gaps.

The drummer who only plays drums and nothing more truly does have less to offer.


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Depression, Medication, and Creativity

Depression exists on a spectrum. There’s Major Depressive Disorder and a host of other types of depression of lesser values and intensities.

I have Major Depressive Disorder, which is one of the heavier types of depression. But, for me, it is even worse. People who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a lifetime rate of depression that is nearly 4 times greater than that of the general population. Depression in ASD is shown to greatly impact quality of life.

Before I go any further, I should note that I AM NOT a doctor or psychiatrist. I’m an Autistic adult who suffers with MDD as well. I’m also a musician, so I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences based on this.

I dedicate this to anyone who is going through depression and who is on the fence about whether or not to take meds because they fear a loss of creativity.


MY SITUATION
I’ve had very severe depression for my entire life. Much like my insomnia, it is drive by my Autism. I didn’t know that I was Autistic until I was 53 years old.

My life has had many creative moments, as well as very dark moments. I won’t be spending too much time getting into deeper details of this.

My goal in writing this is to show how these meds can work for you, what you can try, what to expect, and so on.


LINKS TO CREATIVITY AND DEPRESSION
So far as I can tell, there is no solid link between creativity and depression. However, one of the hallmarks of my depression is called Rumination, and there is a link between creativity and rumination.

The idea that you’ll lose your creativity if you take depression medications is not backed up by any solid ideas.


BEFORE MEDICATION
My depression is always there, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Much like my Autism, it can get in the way of things I want to do, as well as personal relationships that I’d like to maintain.

I would sit in a room full of guitars and other recording gear, and not feel like doing much of anything. Since my break-up with my last girlfriend in late 2020, I haven’t picked up a guitar all that much. I’ve done some writing, but could do more.

I would listen to some of my old recordings and feel disgusted.

I would listen to other musicians, compare myself, and feel despair.

I felt no respect for myself or my abilities. Anything I could do, I would write off as something that anyone can do.

With regard to creativity, there wasn’t much inspiration coming from the depression. What little would show up ended up disappearing quickly.

Jordan B. Peterson once said, “The thing about depressed people is that they’re depressed about everything.” This is NOT true. The hard truth about depression is that it is about nothing.

If it were about something, then that something could get attention and the depression could be fixed. I think Peterson conflated “depression” with “sadness.”

The depression is about absolutely nothing. And there’s this invisible 800-pound gorilla that sits on my chest and says things like, “Oh, so you thought you were going to be creative today? Newsflash: You ain’t doing SHIT today, son. Give up. You’re an idiot. You’re worthless. Just lay there like I tell you.”


WHAT MAKES THE DEPRESSION WORSE
There are several things that can contribute to making it worse, even though it’s already there. A sudden life change can cause it. My most recent sudden life change was when things fell apart between me and my last girlfriend. This life change opens the door to depression.

For people with MDD like me, being immersed in a state of helpless, debilitating depression can be a type of comfort zone. People stay away from you when you’re depressed. I’ve lost countless friends to my depression.

The latest victim of my depression is a friend who lives in Australia. She used to encourage me and write often. She even made videos where she would talk to me. Not anymore. She has not written back to me in quite some time, which means that friendship is now lost forever.

To be fair, engaging on any significant level with someone who is in a dark bout with depression can be exhausting. This latest round was the last straw. She will be missed.

Poor diet, dehydration, lack of exercise, and poor sleep can all make depression worse. I’ve also suffered life-long insomnia. Thanks, Autism!

MEDICATIONS AND SIDE-EFFECTS
The first medication I took was Fluoxetene [10mg], which is a generic for Prozac. This medication was what helped me move 1,000 miles from California to Oregon. Previously, I would fear going outside and walking 40 yards to the dumpster to take out the trash. I’d negotiate with myself about doing it later.

When I first started taking it, I felt as if I were covered with greasy, oily sweat. Even right after turning off the shower, I’d feel as if I had been sweating and hadn’t bathed in a week. It was very uncomfortable.

That side-effect went away after roughly two weeks. Remember that your experiences may vary. You might experience other side-effects, or maybe won’t experience the ones that I did. It is important to understand the possibilities.

Also remember that they don’t start working right away.

I stopped taking it shortly after the pandemic started, because I felt like my life was going well. In looking back, my stopping of these meds was probably not a wise idea. When my relationship crashed, this might have made the blow less impactful.

When you stop taking antidepressants, it is important to do so with your doctor’s guidance. With this Fluoxetene 10mg, the doctor said this was the minimum dose they prescribe, so there is no need to gradually take lower dosages in order to wean myself from it.

About 3-4 weeks ago, I started taking a generic for Wellbutrin 150mg. These meds cannot be compared as apples-to-apples with regard to dosage. Wellbutrin 150mg is roughly equivalent to Fluoxetene 20mg.

I do not know if I will need to wean myself from these meds. That said, I think that I will be taking this medication for the rest of my life. My depression is simply way too destructive, oppressive, and powerful.

The side-effects I was warned about included headache, weight loss, dry mouth, trouble sleeping (insomnia), nausea, dizziness, constipation, fast heartbeat, HOSTILITY, AGITATION, and sore throat.

Outside of having a slight sore throat one night, I did not experience any side-effects from this medication.

THE DIFFERENCES
Earlier I gave mention to Rumination and its link to creativity. Rumination was also a major player in sparking my depression. The two seem to be very closely linked in my case.

Before taking these new meds, my rumination would be automatic and ongoing. It would never stop. I’d think about the strangest things and they would occupy my days and nights.

Now, not only does rumination not happen automatically, but it kind of feels like a chore that I can easily avoid. At the same time, it feels like I can call upon this if I needed to do so for creative purposes..

Now I sit in my home studio and start to have ideas. I can sit and record them.

I listen to some of my old recordings and feel proud of my past work. I don’t compare it to anything else, including my always-improving musicianship.

I listen to other musicians and enjoy their work without feeling the need to compare.

I have a greater sense of respect for my own abilities. I have confidence in my abilities, as well as general confidence in myself.

I don’t feel medicated, or like I’m on “happy pills.”

The things and situations that stunk before still stink now. The difference is that I can do something about some of them now. Before, there was that invisible 800-pound gorilla.

Yesterday, I picked up a guitar just to see if I could still play something, and ended up playing for about two hours.


WORDS OF WISDOM
This is for anyone who is creative, depressed, and afraid of taking medication for it. It’s vital to ask yourself some sincere questions, and to answer truthfully.

  • Do you really feel creative?
  • Are you able to act upon your creativity?
  • Do you create something and then destroy it because it wasn’t good enough?
  • Do you question your abilities?

For me, creativity is a mindset that I have to foster. I have to actually do things to get into a creative mood. Depression gets in the way of this.

Depression also hinders my ability to act upon my creativity.

When my depression is at its peak, I will create things and then destroy them because I don’t think they are good enough. In a more healthy mindset, I will take those raw creations and save them for later evaluation.

I would often times tell myself that I wasn’t good enough when my depression peaked. Now I realize that I’m the best version of me that has existed to-date. Tomorrow’s version of me will be even better.


IN THE END
As this new medication kicks in, I can sense certain changes. No more rumination, no more beating myself up, no more despair about the future. It is truly a game changer.

Yes, most creatives are “messed up,” to use more primitive terminology. However, it is important to note that there are lots of “messed up,” depressed people who ARE NOT creatives. This fact leads me to conclude that my depression really isn’t all that important with regard to my creativity.

I’m not sitting in the home studio, recording songs, but I can tell that I will be in the near future.

If you are dealing with depression of any kind, from Major Depressive Disorder on down, you feel that it’s causing you harm or getting in the way, and you’re concerned, then I would encourage you to write these concerns down and take them to your doctor. I work with a therapist, in conjunction with a doctor. My therapist suggested and encouraged it, and my doctor helped me make decisions on it.

Write down your questions and concerns, and get them addressed by a professional. Just as you shouldn’t take MY words as medical advice, also do not take the advice of friends, family, or internet strangers. Whether they have anecdotal evidence, as I am presenting here, or they’re anti-meds, remember that NONE OF US are doctors.

My big message is that if you’re creative, depressed, and afraid that you’ll lose your creativity to being medicated, then visit this concern with your doctor or therapist.

Now that my depression is in check, I have the sensation of having more energy to dedicate to life. This includes getting up in morning, practicing proper hygiene, taking proper care of myself, staying hydrated, and putting more focus into creative ventures.

In other words, it is improving my capacity for creativity.

A Duh Moment: To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before

It happens to me on occasion, where somebody will say or write something and it will strike me in a profound way. I call this “a duh moment.” The subject will usually be something so blatantly obvious, and yet it will also be something that I did not consider to stop and think about.

This happened to me yesterday, after reading a comment on my last post, in reference to an ex-girlfriend.

This got me thinking about some of the problems I’ve had with those darned wimmens folk, and lead me down a path where I performed an actual retrospective on my history with women, what it got me, what harm it caused, and what I should consider doing about it.

The retrospective was high-level in my mind, so let’s dive in and figure out this mess that has plagued all men in history.


A ROCKY START
I’ve heard that being a teen and dating is difficult for regular guys. I did not know that I was Autistic until I was 53, but there was something about that condition that left me open to some trouble.

01 Nov 1995, New York City, New York, United States — Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin and alligator “Irvine” pose together at the Central Park boathouse. — Image by © Najlah Feanny/Corbis

That is, if someone said they liked me [as a friend] or loved me [as a girlfriend], I would project myself onto them. For me, if I liked or loved someone, I would NEVER hurt them. So I would assert that they would have the same attitude. Why would they hurt me?

This lesson would hit me in high school, but I would not learn from it until recently. The reason why I did not learn from it was because I would attribute this behavior as a personal defect of an individual, and not recognize it as a basic human condition. Like lots of guys, I wrongly believed that women are kind, caring, and innocent. Those were the days.

While I won’t be naming names for everyone, I will name some of the more despicable ones.

Such is the case for a girl named Linda Lippmann.

I had trouble with girls at my school. The problem was that they did not want to be associated with me. This would force me to go girl hunting at other schools once I had my license and car.

But before that, there was this slightly older girl who was new to our school named Linda. She seemed to be interested in me rather quickly, which is a big red flag that gets obscured by all of those tingly teenage boy feelings that are so overwhelming.

She was the one who proposed the idea that we “go steady.” Wow, I finally had my first girlfriend. I was so happy and proud of myself that I broke through that barrier. And it was a girl in the same school as me! What were the odds.

But there were some problems.

One of those problems revolved around the not-yet-known reason of why she was suddenly going to our school instead of her old school. I would later learn that it was because she was sleeping around and got pregnant. Her hyper-Christian parents sent here away to a home, where the child could be born, be adopted out, and the whole problem would magically “go away,” as is the case with people who are professionals in the fine art of denial.

The problem was that her ways had not changed. She had learned nothing.

So while we were going steady, nothing really happened. We kissed a few times, but we never did anything.

We had this arrangement where she would have some “girl time” during lunch with her friend, Sandy Perkins. On those days, I’d hang out in the gym, throwing a basketball around. I usually would play basketball by myself if there was an open goal. Linda would go hang out with Sandy or some other girlfriends to do “girl stuff,” whatever that might be.

One day, while I was shooting hoops in the gym on a “girl time” lunch break, I looked up in the bleachers and saw Sandy Perkins. She looked kind of depressed. I went up to talk to her.

“I thought today was girl day? What’s wrong?”

Sandy told me that she felt badly about what was going on. As it turns out, Linda used Sandy as a cover-up for her sexual shenanigans. Sandy told me all about it. She also told me that Linda was at the dugout with a bunch of guys.

I snuck out there and found out for myself. There she was, at the dugout, with some guys in line, while one of them was getting a blowjob.

For being my so-called “girlfriend,” it felt weird that Linda had some type of sexual contact with just about every guy, except for me.

We got in a big argument about it, of course. But she didn’t want to go out without first having some type of upper hand. So she invited me to go with her to the movies in Anderson, a town about ten miles away. Her parents would drive out to where I lived in Lapel, and they would pick me up and drive us to the movies.

Fine.

They pick me up and it’s an awkward ride for the four of us. She’s holding hands with me in a sneaky way, as her parents don’t even approve of that. They dropped us off so that we could go see Xanadu. It sucked in a weird way.

After the movie, her parents showed up, but they would not let me get into the car. They told me that I had to walk home. Such good Christians.

So there I was, in Anderson. I couldn’t just call my parents. So I would run around, looking for people I might know and asking for a ride home.

I don’t really remember how I got home.

Anyway, Linda’s situation blew up at school and it wasn’t long before everyone knew her for the loose woman she was.

She actually tried to weasel her way back into my life in 2001, finding me on AIM and messaging me. She started to get demanding of my time, so I told her to fuck off. I should have said that from the get-go. I was probably in a nostalgic mood, which I have recently learned is dangerous for me.


MOVING ON
In late 1980, I would get my drivers license. I already had my car, from six months earlier, after working all summer. I bought a 1972 Pontiac LeMans from a prostitute my factory worker/cop dad was dating. She had to take it to a shop and get everything looked at and fixed, and I purchased this amazing car for $400.

I met a girl at another school, which was how I had to do things. We dated for a while, things got serious, and we lost our virginity together. I considered it a serious connection.

She started acting weird in the summer. Suddenly, she couldn’t talk on the phone and would have to go. I wondered why her behaviors had changed so much. As is usually the case, one of her kind girlfriends who saw what was going on and felt badly for me decided to call to let me know.

She was not available when I would call, because she was having sex with her paper boy, Sonny.

So one day I pretended that I was at work and called her. She said she had to go take care of her parents, so I hung up. Then I drove over and walked up to the house. The screen door was unlocked and the door was open.

I quietly walked in. There she was, naked on the couch with Sonny. I cleared my throat. Never saw a guy jump so high in my entire life.

This was the first time I heard the phrase, “It’s not what it looks like.” This is denial, gaslighting, and an attempt to change my perception. I broke up with her, right on the spot.

She would try to get me back in college, but I wasn’t having it. The last time I had a serious conversation with her was in 2003, when I had to return to Indiana for my father’s funeral. She contacted me and told me, “I’ll be there for you.”

I was at my father’s funeral alone. She never showed up. She didn’t answer my voicemails, my emails, chat requests, nothing. She would later say that her car died, which does not excuse the lack of communication afterward. No apology.

There is something rather dastardly about someone who goes out of their way to tell you they’ll be there for you during a time of need, and then not show up.

That was pretty much it for high school. College would be a different story.


THOSE COLLEGE GIRLS
My first year, I met this girl who was a senior, while in the Ball State University marching band. I thought she was cute at the time. Once I found out that she was related to a teacher at my old high school, I guess that gave me a sense of connection, so we became an item.

She was a Journalism major, and would often tell me that she needed me to type her papers for her. I would carry my typewriter through the snow, up to her little apartment above the book store, and type her papers at 4am.

By this point, I had gotten her a little ring.

After one of our sexual encounters, she asked me how many women I had been with. Yes, I had a low number, and I was honest about it. She had a high number to report in response, even though I didn’t ask.

Her point was, “The difference between us is that I am forgiven, and you are not. You need to go to church.”

Wow.

That’s a red flag, when someone does something that they believe is wrong, go get forgiven, do it again, get forgiven again, and then keep on. It’s an idiots justification.

She pushed and pushed me. She would pick fights, ultimately taking off her ring and holding it up to my face with a threat. “That’s the way it is, and if you don’t like it, I’ll give this ring back.”

I didn’t want to go to church, so I decided to split the difference and go with her to bible study. This didn’t last long. I was dressed as my punk rock self and showed up in those clothes. I didn’t have khakis, polo shirts, or a suit.

The guy I sat across from stood up, pointed at me, and declared, “I REFUSE to study the bible with this…. this HEATHEN!” Ah, yes, because that’s the same attitude Jesus had about prostitutes and the poor. Good job.

The situation had gotten so bad that I was in a friend’s room talking with him about it, when she called his room. He handed me the phone.

“Are you talking about us? You better not be talking about us?”

I told her that I’ll be right over. I had something important to do.

So I went to her apartment, and a very predictable fight broke out. She took off her ring and gave me her standard threat.

I snatched the ring from her fingers and told her, “I’ll give it to someone who deserves it.” I then pawned it and bought a shit-ton of beer. Fuck it.

There was one other, during my second year. It’s not worth its own section. She basically lead me on, messed with my head, and nothing of any significance ever happened. It was weird and surreal.


ADULT TIME IN LA
After my second year of school, I moved to LA. My life was such a mess and struggle that I didn’t have time for women in general.

By mid-1988, I had completed my first attempt at a music career. Things fell apart and I was trying to figure out my next steps. This was when a girl I knew in college started calling me. She was friends and roomates with the other girl who was leading me on.

We were talking a lot. It started to sound serious. So I made a plan where I would move back in with my mother, work to save up money, and would then move to Chicago, where we would get married and start a life together.

The day I left my rental room to move in with my mother, I got a letter from her. She had been invited to The Virgin Islands with some guy she kind of knew. She had mentioned him a few times, telling me that he wasn’t as good of a guitar player as me.

Anyway, she went with him to The Virgin Islands, where he proposed. She accepted.

Things were serious enough between us that I called her mother to ask what happened. “I don’t know. I guess she was in a really big hurry to get out of the house.”

I have since forgiven her for this. We have emailed a few times in recent years. The interactions felt cold, so I stopped writing with her. She’s divorced now, and enjoying it. This is an observation that got me thinking about this topic as well.


THE FICKLE FRAU
So I moved back in with my mother, even though my sense of purpose was gone. I went out to the clubs a few times. Hanging in a club was not for me.

I met a girl at the club who had some similar work experience as me, so we started talking. I thought that things were going well, until this rich guy in a cowboy hat cut between us. He invites her to the boat races, to sit in box seats and watch a boat that he owns. He accidentally pulls out a giant wad of money before finding the tickets. She becomes instantly interested in him.

I go to take a leak, and then try to leave. The old guy yells out at me, “Hey, boy! Where’s your balls?” Everyone in the club is looking.

I walk back over, tell him, “They’re in your mouth, you fat fuck,” and I punch him in the face. I remember how pissed I felt that he ruined my evening in that way.

His body guards grabbed me, dragged me outside, roughed me up, threw me against a limo, and told me that they’d kill me if I ever came back. I believed them, and stayed away from there.


SCARLET O’HARA
I went to a bar in a hotel. Taking my mother’s advice, I put on a suit. As it turns out, my mother would give me lots of horrible dating advice. This is because mom never dated women, and women are counter-intuitive.

I go to this bar, I think it was called The Red Onion.

I see this super-attractive woman, so I walk over to talk to her. “Not to be too forward, but may I buy you a drink?” She has this accent that sounds kind of fake and introduces herself as “Burgundy O’Hara.”

At the time, as a color-blind guy, I didn’t consider the close relationship between the colors Burgundy and Scarlet. And the last thing on my mind was Gone with the Wind.

We get into my mom’s car, and I have my last $60 on me. I decide that we’re going somewhere classy, so Red Lobster it is!

During the drive, she kept looking behind us, as if we were being followed. We get to the restaurant, sat down, and ordered.

She is looking at me like I’m the cutest thing she’s ever seen. It’s not because I’m attractive, but rather because I am naive.

“You have no idea what’s happening right now, do you?” she says to me. I set down my drink, and ask her what she’s talking about.

She clears her throat and tells me, “I’m a prostitute.”

Oh my!

She asks me what I do for a living. I tell her that’s a boring story, and we should talk about what SHE does for a living. So we talked about that.

I let her know that I spent my last $60 on dinner as we drove back to the hotel. She hands me her number, says that she really likes me, and tells me to “call next week for a freebie.”

I did not call.

I met a second woman there, an older woman. She said that she wanted to get together sometime. She pulls out her checkbook, removes a check, tears it in half, and writes on it.

The piece of the check she gave me had her name, her husband’s name, and her address. Handwritten were her phone number and some days and times. “That’s when my husband is at work,” she explained.

I stopped going to that bar.

FUTURE EX-WIFE
While moping around the condo, my mother gave me $17 and told me to go out and have fun. Wow. So I go to the third and final club that exists in that town.

I was 24 years old, just one month short of 25, when I met a woman celebrating her 38th birthday. I bought her a beer and we had a drink. I was out of money, so I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride on my motorcycle. We rode around, went to her place, and things happened very quickly.

We would later move to LA and have some big problems.

She would end up poking holes in my condoms and getting pregnant so that she could force me to be connected with her. She had a host of mental health problems that were made worse by the fact that she took no responsibility for them and would even deny that they existed.

I met her in late 1988. We officially split in late 1998. She still causes me trouble, to this day. Without a doubt, the worst and most persistent stalker in all of history.


THE MYSTIC DANCER
In 1994, when the above woman got pregnant, we weren’t even living together. I moved back in with her for the sake of our son, but I made it clear that I didn’t even like her as a person, and I was going to do whatever I wanted.

In late 1996, I started writing an album with a singer from the Philippines, who was here in America working as an exotic dancer. We had a fling the entire time we were working on the album.

Ruby Cassidy, aka “Mystica”

After our first song demo was completed, we were listening to it. She said, “The song is so beautiful, I could make love to it right now.”

Not being one to pick up subtle hints, I replied, “Yea. It’s pretty good.” This was when she decided to be blunt, dragging me to a cheap motel room, where she unmistakably drove home the point.

I have written about her before, so I won’t get into too much detail. Bottom line is that once the album was finished, she dumped me in a very weird and hurtful way.

I didn’t think of her as an exotic dancer. I thought of her as a fellow musician who was working to get a break in the industry. I thought that this would make us a solid pair. Obviously, I was very wrong.


THE TESTER
This was a girl I had a crush on when I was in grade school and junior high. She found me online and wanted to get together. I was pumped up about it, so I made that happen really fast. We seemed to hit it off.

But then she decided that she wanted to test me. I didn’t know that I was being tested. She gave me her email login credentials and told me that I should go read her emails at random.

Okay.

So I did just that. I found an email that she had written to a gay friend of hers, who oddly enough is related to the person who left me the comment that inspired this entry. She wrote about how she “did a little bump” so that vacuuming and house chores would go by faster. She also noted that she was looking forward to that night, where she was going to go out to “get some choco-cock.”

I called her to confront her about going out to “get some choco-cock.” Her response was, “Ah, so you don’t care about the cocaine, but you care about that.” I told her that I cared about the whole fucking thing, and that none of it was any good if we were thinking about a relationship.

She told me that she was just testing me. I felt disappointed by the whole thing, so I replied, “Ah, well, in that case, I failed your test. Looks like we’re done.”

She cried and cried. I spent an hour on the phone with her. It was the last time we talked.

She ended up marrying her “choco-cock.”

But the truly ironic part of it all was that she is the niece of the last woman I was with, Annie. Small world.


A MORE POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
In early 1999, I met Catherine on the LA Times personals ads. We met in-person, got along, and started dating.

Life was chaotic for me at the time. I had my stalker ex-wife. I had a son who was four years old and I spent time with him. I was always struggling with work. And I would be drumming in 1-3 bands at any give time.

Catherine was like a second mother to my son, which was cool. She was also a very good drum tech, thanks to being a quick learner. She would help me with my musical pursuits.

As a result, we didn’t have much time for romantic behaviors

When my son turned 18 in 2013, he suddenly was not coming over so much. My drumming gigs started drying up. Not long after that, in early 2016, my work prospects shriveled into nothing.

When we had nothing left but our relationship, we started to realize that maybe we weren’t really a romantic couple. Maybe we’re just really good friends.

Some denial would come into play when Catherine proposed marriage to me. It felt forced and simply not right.

THE FINAL BOSS
The denial would hang on until late 2019, when I met Annie. I wrote about that situation in my previous blog, so I won’t be getting into any details here. Long story short, she lost her mind, and I’m lucky that I wasn’t killed in my sleep.

But at the same time, I felt that it transcended sexual attraction or sexual activity.

She most definitely was not honest with me. To be fair, I may not have been honest with myself.

RIGHT NOW
All of this leads to this very moment in time. As I think back on my sexual and/or relationship pursuits over the decades, I wonder why most of these women were flat-out shitty human beings. The exception, of course, is Catherine, although we are also not a romantic couple and never have been [we just thought we were].

As I write this, she is sleeping in the other room. She’s a dear friend, reliable, and someone who cares about me as a person. She has known me since early 1999. Even though we are not a romantic couple, I consider her to be family.

In thinking back on it all, none of my romantic pursuits seemed to really care about me as a person. Meanwhile, I cared about them a great deal, and always saw things as being about more than just sex. I viewed them as people with whom I’d want to be around.

THANKS, AUTISM
Over time, after I got my Autism diagnosis, I started to learn more about this neurodivergence. The knowledge that I gained from this has lead me to conclude that, generally speaking, I attract horrible people. Very horrible people.

Yesterday, I described it to my therapist as having a giant flashing neon sign that says, “Easy target! Come and get it!”

When I am being myself, I feel like I project a teenager’s attitude about life sometimes. In fact, my interests have not really changed since those times. The only thing that has changed is that I am finally able to see the things that have been wrong for my entire life. That, and I can no longer ride a skateboard, because if you don’t use it, you lose it. My balance on wheels sucks.

The easiest way to put it is that telling me to “just be yourself” is probably the worst advice that I could possibly receive. This is because being myself leaves me open to so much exploitation, damage, and pain.

This leaves me with a question: Is changing myself worth it?


THE OLD MARINE
I have probably told this story before, but it is relevant to this topic.

During my first year in college, when I was 19, my roommate took me to his brother’s house for beer and pool. His brother was 40 years old and a Marine.

He gave us a tour of his house before we landed in the sealed-off garage, where he kept the pool table and beer fridge. I had made a comment about not seeing any sign that he has a wife or girlfriend.

He decided to spell it out for me. He told me the truck and motorcycle out front were his, as in he owned them outright. He also outright owned his house. He had cash, gold, guns, and it was ALL his. EVERYTHING there was all his.

He put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a painful squeeze. He looked me in the face and said, “People are pieces of shit, and they deserve to be obliterated.”

Although I could tell that he was referring to everyone, the context of the situation points to the fact that he was talking about women. All women. Yes, men, too. Humans in general. But this entry of mine is about women and the pursuit of them.

While I am NOT in the business of “obliterating” people, the first half of his statement has always remained at the forefront of my memories. Why didn’t I take it as a serious warning?

Well, I didn’t take it that way because I figured he was old and jaded, and that MY life experience was going to be more positive.

In other words, I thought that I was different.


MY ATTITUDE TODAY
When people tell me, “act your age,” I tell them that I don’t know how because I’ve never been this age before.

There were certain biological changes that drove me to act like a teenager with regard to sexual activity. Now that I’m older, there have been some other biological changes that are changing my attitude about it all. These changes are causing me to act more like an old fuddy-duddy, even though I still have most of those teen-like qualities in my personality.

Pictured: A simpler time.

A big part of me wants nothing more to do with women. No, this is not a declaration that I’m turning gay. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. I’m just not gay. Besides, being in a gay relationship would still be the act of being in a relationship with a human being. And human beings mostly treat me in a way that an old Marine had once warned me about.

I think back to those old days as a pre-teen, when I used to play drums, guitar, and other instruments in my bedroom.

I didn’t do it for girls. I didn’t do it for any other reason, except that it made me happy. Yes, I had aspirations of being a pro musician one day, and this was preparation. All the same, I loved every single minute of it.

I remember telling my parents that I had no use for girls. They would laugh and taunt me, “Oh, one day you’ll like girls. You’ll really like them.”

I assume by “like” they meant “wanting to shove my wiener in them.” That’s a weird thing to want for your pre-pubescent son, but okay.

That sentiment did not represent my approach. In all cases, I thought that I actually liked them. That is, until I got to know them. The hard reality is that I liked them when I barely knew them at all.

It was a case of me liking what they were presenting to me. It’s that “best foot forward” thing, which I think is SO dishonest, even in job interviews. Once I got to know them, trouble began.

As these relationships go, the trick I’ve observed is that you present your best at first. You hide your flaws and horrible parts. Get the other person invested in you, and then drop those bombs strategically. Bonus girl points if you can present these flaws as your victim status.

To me, this is what a vampire would do. They want you to like them and trust them, so that you’ll invite them into your home. Once they’re in, then they start going through your drawers while you’re in the bathroom. They learn things about ME while I’m being flat out open and honest in true Autistic fashion, which helps them figure out how they can present themselves in a better light.

To me, romantic relationships seem like a type of strategy war, where the goal is to get what you want at the expense of the other person. Of course, I’m only seeing it this way now. In the past, I saw it as two people meet and they take things to the next level if they genuinely like each other.

I don’t think most of my ex-girlfriends ever really liked me as a person. The one exception is Catherine, who ironically never was a romantic pursuit in the first place.

So yea, none of my romantic pursuits ever really liked me as a person. Funny, considering how we guys constantly get lectured about objectifying women or “only wanting sex.” That’s bullshit propaganda.

Yes, back then sex was very important. It’s a biological directive, so it’s important to just about everyone. But now, the drive is not so strong. I don’t care about that as much as I used to care about it, back when I was a teenage hormone factory.


THE FUTURE
I don’t know what I’m going to do. Catherine and I get along just fine. However, she is thinking about the possibility of pursuing a romantic encounter. She doesn’t have anyone in mind. It’s just an idea.

At the same time, she has said to me recently, “Maybe we are supposed to just be friends who live together.” This is a very real possibility, considering the fact that we’ve done that for over 20 years, with that 11-month interruption at the end of the 20th year. The world is too expensive for any one person to go it alone.

Maybe we older people have those “friends with benefits,” where we get together on occasion to rut like pigs, but then live in our respective homes where we’re comfortable and don’t have to put up with the problems that come with having another person in the home.

Or maybe sex isn’t a part of the picture at all. I’ve not felt sexually compelled since things with Annie started falling apart. The way that situation ended really put me off and gave me a reason to pause and give this subject some sincere evaluation.

Even if I met someone tonight, the possibility that they’re a crazy stalker who will kill me in my sleep will be forever playing in the back of my mind. Would it be worth the risk? More and more, my thinking on that question produces the answer of a solid “No.”


IN THE END
There were some other women in the past with whom I’d had encounters, who are not noted above. We would meet, have our encounter, spend some time, and then conclude that things weren’t going to work out. In some cases, it was the women who wanted a one-off experience. Yes, women use men for sex, too.

I have slept with every woman I have ever wanted. If I were a pick-up artist, or a macho manly man who needs validation to offset his own insecurities, then this would be a hefty bragging point, although it’s not a really high number. However, I view all of this as a big collective failure in a way, because I never had a successful romantic relationship, ever.

In that regard, it’s sad.

I try to see it as a case of collecting experience, and in some cases learning lessons the hard way more than once.

In school, you are taught a lesson first, and then tested. But in reality, you are tested first, and then taught a lesson.

And it’s about time that I started this inventory, where I am finally learning what I should have learned a long time ago.

Humans are shitty hairless primates, and I’m one of them. My problem is that I don’t think like them, and don’t move about like them, thanks to my neurodivergence known as Autism.

My views are different, my expectations are different, my approaches are different, and my results have been messy. I suppose it could have been way worse, so I won’t be complaining about it. I am not having any depressing feelings while writing about this.

I realize that any decision I make about myself, my future living arrangements, and my future in general, is not set in stone. It can change later. However, I’m not expecting a second round of puberty any time soon.

At least for now, I feel done with the idea of pursuing romantic encounters. The complication, the heartbreak, and the very real danger of it all simply cannot justify the 10-15 minutes that would be spent in the sack.

The added complication of my Autism is also a very real consideration to take into account. As I noted above, it leaves me open to attracting negative and/or destructive people. I don’t have what it takes to weed them out, and don’t know if I ever will. If I can’t figure it out, then this would also block me from making new friends in general.

It is a sincere concern that I am looking into. The risk simply is not worth the reward.

There will always be something wrong. If she’s not a religious person, then she will be a Republican, or she’ll have a crazy ex, or she’ll have weird adult kids, or she will have some exotic disease. This is know as “the price of admission,” and the 15 minutes of fun is simply not worth it when these problems are brought into the fold.

Who knows. Thinking about this is new territory for me, as is being in my mid-50s.

With all of this, I do have a goal in mind. Forget about the past, don’t sweat the future, and make mindful decisions in this very moment. Set boundaries and respect them. Observe and respect red flags. Don’t be eager. Don’t “want” anything, and instead be aware and work to see things for what they are, even if it means the possibility of losing something new.

I think Mick Jagger said it best 40 years ago [1981]. “Makin’ love and breakin’ hearts… it is a game for youth… but I’m not waitin’ on a lady… I’m just waitin’ on a friend.”

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Emergency Dental, Commodore 64, and an Ex-Girlfriend

EMERGENCY DENTAL
I have an early afternoon emergency dental appointment to deal with some pain in my lower left back molar.

When this type of pain shows up, the last thing you want to do is the idiot dance that occurs when you’re dealing with making a dental appointment. They make these appointments THREE MONTHS OUT! You have to tell them that it’s an emergency, and describe the pain to be AT LEAST a 7.

From a 2018 molar extraction I had, where the tip of the root was curved. Removal of this was worse than any wisdom tooth removals.

When my tooth started hurting two days ago, I called the only dentist who can help me on my insurance. They have a 2.5 star rating on Google, which is not comforting at all. The 5 star ratings all say, “I don’t understand the low ratings, everything was fine for me.”

The did not answer their phone, so I left a message. I called then the next morning, yesterday, at 8:30am. They told me that they take emergency visits, but that you have to be one of the first to call in and get someone on the phone. So I had to wait all day yesterday, hoping my tooth wouldn’t hurt.

Called them this morning at 7:57am and got lucky. So now I have my appointment.


COMMODORE 64 AND THERMAL GREASE
A while back, I had an issue with my Commodore 64, where certain keys weren’t working. I did some online searching and found that it needed a new treatment of thermal grease.

I opened it up and could see the dried up white stains where the old original thermal grease had been. So I got some new thermal grease in the mail and just applied it over the top. Problem solved, for the time being.

The C64 started having trouble again, where I’d be typing and suddenly the screen would get flashing red characters. I opened up the C64 to check the capacitors for bulging, and they were fine.

Arctic Silver 5 is the second-best thermal grease on the market. Both the Thermal Material Remover and Thermal Surface Purifier work magnificently!

I removed the heatsink and could see a space on one of the chips where the old white thermal grease stain was visible. This means that a bubble developed in the thermal grease, allowing heat to build. You cannot allow any bubbles.

Assuming this to be the problem, I ordered more thermal grease, as well as a cleaner and treatment product. Those arrived in the mail yesterday, so I went about removing the old thermal grease, including the stains from the original thermal grease, cleaned and treated the tops of the chips, and then added more thermal grease.

I did not take any photos from yesterday, as it got messy and I had thermal grease on my hands. I didn’t want to get it on my phone. However, I have photos from the first time.

Don’t mess up like I did. Be certain to remove old grease and have a clean chip surface before applying new thermal grease. Do NOT scrub vigorously!

The above photo is of the board before the first treatment. The stains on the chips are from the original application of thermal grease from 1984.

Do not apply your thermal grease like this. Doing it this way uses way too much of it, and allows for air bubbles or pockets to develop over time.

This is what it looked like after I applied the first round over the old stains. I spread it around on the chip with a tool that is included in the package of thermal grease. The chip on the far top left didn’t need the grease.

According to what I’ve seen on YouTube, this is not a good way to do it. Gaps and bubbles can be present, which can allow heat to build up.

This video shows how to apply the thermal grease using the “pea method.” It’s a rather comprehensive video for being so short.

I put a pea-sized dollop on the center of each chip, after confirming exactly where the heatsink makes contact with each chip. Below is the system with the heatsink installed, the photo of which I took the first time I did this.

Once all of those pea-sized dollops were carefully place on the center of each chip, it was time to install the heatsink. I held it above and eyeballed it to make sure that contact was imminent. Then I pressed it down, held it down, and screwed it into place.

If I remove the heatsink again, then I will have to touch up the thermal grease.

So far, the system is working just fine. No typing or gaming glitches to report.


CREEPY EX-GIRLFRIEND DISCOVERIES
For those who don’t know, in late 2019 I went through a break-up with my then-girlfriend of 20 years, Catherine. We are still friends, and we still live together, thanks to the pandemic.

But in late 2019, I invited an ex-girlfriend from 1982 to come out for a visit. This visit turned into her staying. It did not end well.

These creepy discoveries require that you know the back story.

THE BACK STORY
At the end of 2019, I invited another old girlfriend, Annie, to come out for a visit. She bought a one-way ticket, so we decided that we’d discuss her return. She painted her ex as a dangerous man, so we decided that she would stay.

During happier times: Catherine, me, and Annie at the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon, celebrating the start of 2020.

None of this was planned, so it created a weird sittuation.

Catherine moved out in April 2020 to Rhode Island for four months. After this time, she called us to ask if she could come back on a temporary basis until she found work. Annie and I talked about it, agreed on it, and Catherine returned.

Catherine’s return hinged upon two very important things. One was regarding boundaries, and her understanding that she would be staying with both me and Annie. Catherine respected this boundary.

The other was that Annie had to be okay with it. She gave Catherine the go-ahead to return, and even seemed excited about it. Annie would later say that the only reason she agreed to Catherine’s return was because I was, as she put it, “suffering from separation issues.” I don’t know what this means, and I don’t appreciate her attempt to pathologize me.

Everything seemed to be as if it were being handled by three sane adults.

Things seemed fine for a while. But then Annie started acting strangely. She would never eat with us. She was always in the bedroom behind the door, facing inward toward the closet. I would later learn that she was eating candy out of a shirt pocket, which explained why her weight went from 140 lbs to 85 lbs.

She started talking in paranoid terms. One time while Catherine was making dinner for the three of us, Annie and I went outside for a walk. That’s when she said, “Well, that settles it. Catherine is trying to poison me by putting plastic on the silverware.”

I still don’t know what that means.

She flat-out accused both Catherine and me of “fucking with” her medications.

Things got worse after her divorce was finalized and she was waiting to receive her $60,000 settlement check. She dialed 911 on two separate occasions, alleging abuse. The reasons why they did not arrest me was because her stories were “way off,” according to the police, and they were “constantly changing.”

One time they took her to a hospital and claimed that “four doctors saw her” and said she was fine. Then they released her at midnight, without a car, her wallet, and just about anything else. She had sent me a few weird texts that didn’t make sense.

She stayed at a shelter over night in Marion County. They drove her back to Dallas in the morning, where she went and cleaned out our joint checking account. I was in a panic about it, because I wasn’t certain if she was safe, if she was abducted, if she was robbed. I was truly kept in the dark.

On my drive to the bank to deal with the situation, we saw her on the streets. Catherine asked, “What are you doing?” Annie screeched like an animal and darted into traffic. Catherine called 911 while I went inside the bank.

The police had her across the street from the bank. They asked me strange questions, such as, “Why were you following her?” To my concern regarding her just running into the street without looking, they asked, “Did she get hit by a car? Did any cars swerve?” This was them showing a lack of concern, which indicated that officers were believing some elements of her story.

One cop played “nice guy” and told me that Annie wanted me to go to her therapy session. Once we got to the therapy session, I quickly learned that this was a big lie. I told her therapist that Annie needed to be in a real mental health hospital getting help, as she was throwing me out of the office.

By the time the police brought her to the apartment, I was officially afraid of having Annie there. They said they were taking her to a shelter at first, and so I let her get a few things. But then they changed the story to asking if she could stay here. The “shelter” was then described as “guaranteed rape and death” for her.

When I changed my mind to say that she could stay, they got childish about it. “Nope! Too late! You had your chance!” They drove off with her in the car, taking her to Salem and dumping her on the streets outside the mental health halfway home. As Annie put it, the officer told her, “I don’t have time to babysit you for another 8 hours.”

Of course, Annie called us, acting afraid, so we drove to Salem and picked her up. She was muttering, mumbling, and being incoherent.

When we got back to the apartment, she wanted to have sex. I was not in the mood, given the events of that day. I was exhausted, afraid, concerned, and generally freaked out. She would later tell her therapist that I was “using sex as a weapon.”

The next day, she needed to talk to me, so we spent 35 minutes talking. She wasn’t making much sense, and I had to go to a doctor’s appointment. I told her that we would resume when I got back.

While I was gone, Catherine told me that Annie just walked out. She left without her phone, her ID, her purse. She just walked out. We would later learn that she walked to a church and asked them about a shelter where she could stay.

No goodbye. No discussion about that. Nothing. She just up and left.

I had no idea where she was, and I needed to get her things to her. This included her phone, which I purchased, her Social Security card, drivers license, other paperwork, and her $60,000 check from her divorce attorney.

Eventually, she got all of her personal items. She had hoarded free clothes from the church’s charity closet. This included 19 winter coats and over 150 pounds of shoes. These are items that other people could have used, but she was hoarding them for some unknown reason.

It took us two days just to pack what was in the closet. Before long, we had all of her things staged in the garage. I had to beg her for about two months to get her things out of the garage.

I saw her twice after she left. One time in a coffee shop parking lot, where I gave her the purse, check, and other things. The other time was when she showed up with a young man who lives in her building to get her things.


THINGS START MAKING SENSE
After a while, I started to realize that I didn’t really know Annie at all. She would “mirror” me, which is where she basically works to figure me out, and then pulls a “me too” in agreeing with me.

This means lying about who and what you are.

Annie lied to me about not being a Christian after learning that I was not a believer. She said that she was “forced” to go to church and didn’t really consider herself to be a Christian.

Annie lied to me about voting for Trump, after I asked her about her re-tweeting his posts. She told me that she didn’t know anything about him, and just voted the way her husband voted out of fear. Related to this, she lied to me the last time I talked to her, when she told me she “did not vote” at all. She posted on Facebook that she did vote.

When I told Annie that I had Autism, she started telling people on Facebook that she was diagnosed with Autism.

Weirdest of all, Annie knew that I was a musician and had dabbled in stand-up comedy. She wrote a poem and told me that she was “also a songwriter.” She later claimed that she was also good at stand-up comedy.

Then she said, “See how much we have in common?” And I was blinded to it all, simply because I truly wanted it all to be real. More about that later.


OTHER STRANGE THINGS
Annie had FIVE different Facebook accounts. Why? Because she believed that she needed one for her desktop, then a separate one for her phone, and a separate account/login for each device.

She does not understand the concept of accessing one account from multiple devices, and thinks that everything is device-relevant. This was confirmed when she deleted all of her emails one day from Gmail. She said, “I just deleted them on the computer. They’re still on my phone.” Everyone knows that this is NOT how Gmail works.

She deleted her emails because she though that I was controlling her. This wasn’t the case, of course, when she gave me her email login and asked me to clean up her emails, and to help her keep track of emails that required a response. This was after she asked for help with texting on her phone, and I saw that she had almost 60 texts that required her to respond, and she had not.

So I helped her with this every single day, like a personal assistant. She called it “helping” when things appeared fine, and “controlling” after.

Annie loved to constantly remind me/us that she was hit by a car when she was 3 years old. Sometimes she would just blurt out, “My dad raped me,” or “My brother Greg raped me.” She said that all four of her ex-husbands from her five marriages raped her. The one who supposedly raped her the worst was the one she married a second time.

In looking at this, I can bet that she has added me to her “rapist” list as well. She is a perpetual victim, and she will remind you of it several times per day. One time, as she was cooking dinner, she blurted out that someone had raped her, as if she were saying there was no mail today, and carry on as if this were normal.

One big red flag that should have warned me was back before she moved here. We were talking on the phone and had a VERY minor disagreement on something. I don’t even remember what it was, but it was as mundane as her liking pizza with everything on it, and me not liking pineapple on pizza.

She suddenly sounded fearful in her voice. I could hear a recoil. Then she cried, “Please don’t hit me!” Of course, I was confused, not just because hitting women [or anyone] is wrong, but also because she was 1,000 miles away. There’s no way I could have hit her, and yet she was afraid that I was going to do that.

I ignored lots of red flags, which I will explain later. Of course, the biggest red flag was in 1982, when her dad tried to kill me with a wrench because he found out the hard way that his 16-year-old daughter had a boyfriend. We dated over the summer of 1982, and she never told her father.


CREEPY DISCOVERIES
Before I gave Annie’s phone back to her, I took out the SD card, which I had given to her previously. I didn’t know what was on it, but I didn’t want to just hand over the phone without knowing what was on the card. We both shot lots of video and took many photos during our months together.

I dumped the contents onto my external drive and gave it a once-over in a high-level fashion. I wasn’t digging deeply. I saw photos she had taken of me, where I was undressed. Those were easy to spot in the thumbnails, so I just deleted those.

Yesterday, I realized that I had not yet checked the videos that were on the SD card. I did that. It was disturbing. She would set her phone to record video, set it down, and shoot silent video of herself folding clothes. Some were in the dark, where she was recording us while we talked.

Others were hand-held, like a video of her talking with me in the bathroom while I’m seated on the toilet.

There were also videos where we were hanging out and talking, and I didn’t know she was recording. When I’d look away, she would give a weird, almost evil-looking glance into the camera, as if she were pulling something over on me. She believes herself to be the smartest person in the room at all times, in true Dunning-Kruger fashion.

These videos were creepy. Previously, the creepiest thing I had seen was topless photos of Annie that were taken by Catherine, when they were having fun and bonding on the porch. Annie even wrote a poem that night about how much she appreciated Catherine. Catherine has said that she regrets taking those photos, as well as all of the photos and videos of us that she shot in the early months.

This was enough to convince me to dig into the photos and see what else was going on. I spent 3 hours going through everything.

She had photographed Catherine’s voting documents, which included the last four of her SSN. She had a photograph of Catherine’s signature, which was odd.

One thing that I found upsetting was a picture of a piece of paper with a business card from the Marion County mental health facility stapled to the top. This paper had instructions, which included telling her to empty out the joint checking account. It was a guide that they dictated to her, which she wrote down.

Then there was a paper that had a poem that she wrote for Catherine. The signature included a heart and “Thank you.” It also said, “Junior You Rock I had SO MUCH fun last nite :).” Catherine’s nickname is Junior.

But the most disturbing thing that I found was a paper where she wrote in rambling terms. It was difficult to figure out what she was saying.

One part showed her being upset that Catherine and I were eating together. The THREE of us were supposed to be eating together. Annie just wasn’t sitting down in the living room anymore, and had opted to secretly eat candy out of the closet instead.

The truly craziest thing is something that I’ll type out as written, and then analyze.


THE WEIRD NOTE
The note is written in a way where arrows will try to connect pieces at the top or middle with pieces at the bottom. This part, however, does not have any continuance arrows, but has one referential arrow, so I’ll type it exactly as it appears on the paper.

“Daniel S*** and his “Alias” wife Catheryn [sic] J*** | aka Junior are murderers. Daniel would talk about how ‘certain’ women would fuck his head up after they told him, Dan, that they didn’t love him anymore, and then tell me that they died from cancer.”

That is a LOT to unpack and figure out.

To the first point of Catherine and me being “Murderers,” it is unclear what she is talking about. However, I do have a hypothesis.

The original note. Even her memory about the spelling of Catherine’s first name is off. She spells it just like the clothing chain that recently went out of business.

The “certain women” part seems to be in reference to only ONE actual woman, named Kristen Hines. She was the person who pretended to have cancer from late 2013 to mid-2014, who took Catherine and me for an emotional roller coaster ride that ended up costing us $40,000.

At one point in that horrible adventure, Kristen would profess her love to both Catherine and me. But at the end of the scam, we learned the hard way that she didn’t really love either of us. And for those who either care or are concerned, the romantic part started a few months after we started helping her. The whole thing started out as us wanting to help her with her cancer treatments, and nothing more.

Yes, I know that this is an indictment on my “relationship” with Catherine. More about that later.

As for them “dying of cancer,” Kristen the cancer scammer died in mid-2019 at age 40, but the cause of death was never revealed. This lead me to conclude that she either died of an overdose, or died from suicide. She did NOT die from cancer.

After realizing this, the only place where the “murder” claim can fit is when I told Annie this story about the cancer scammer. At the end of my story, in which I note that Kristen had died, I said, “and I’m glad that she’s dead. Not so much glad, as relieved.”

It’s natural to have feelings like this toward a person who lied about having cancer and messed with you for financial gain, especially when it destroys your life as you once knew it. Yes, I am highly relieved that Kristen Hines is dead.

This is the ONLY thing I can think of that would lead her damaged brain to conclude that both Catherine and I are “murderers.” And I say “damaged brain,” not as a personal jab. She was actually run over by a car when she was a child, and sustained some brain damage as a result. One area of her skull is a bit flattened by the accident. She struggles to comprehend things, to remember stories, and to function in life.

This explains the failure of all five of her marriages. She needs serious help, and I hope that she gets it. I had high hopes for things between Annie and me. I really wanted things to work out, which was a big piece of what allowed messes like this to happen.

As a side note, before I quit Facebook, I saw her profile on Facebook. She has gotten friendly with Steve, the guy she had divorced last year. They were married for about 15-16 years.

I think she’s working to get back into his good graces. Why would she be friends with someone who was, by her own words, abusive, neglectful, and who left her to die in a hospital parking lot because he didn’t want to incur another medical bill?


ABOUT CATHERINE AND ME
Catherine and I are still here in the same apartment together, although our relationship has been redefined as “very dear friends,” while we work to figure it out. Clearly, something was wrong when we were self-identifying as “boyfriend and girlfriend,” so simply stepping back into that place would not be a good idea.

We have separate sleeping arrangements, as we work with our individual therapists to figure out whether or not we should be a couple. If it turns out that we should not be a couple, then we will move on like adults and remain friends. Until then, we are doing just fine as being responsible, adult friends.

She is, after all, the closest best friend that I’ve ever had. She’s been here through a lot, even though we have never been a romantic couple who never went through a “honeymoon phase.” Things were never romantic between, and we had always mistakenly considered that to be a positive sign.

For now, we’re both okay with being friends and living together. She can give me rent money and knows that I’m spending it on rent. We continue to work together as we have since 1999. And neither one of us has anyone else whom we can lean on during these difficult times. Neither of us can afford to live alone.

The episode with the romantic cancer scammer in 2013-2014 AND this incident with Annie both point to a major hole in our relationship. It signifies a problem. The problem, it seems, is simply that we are not a romantic couple. We were together and defining ourselves as “boyfriend and girlfriend.”

We were forcing it, when it wasn’t true.

We had even planned on getting married at one point, which in looking back I feel that was a case of us really wanting to certify that which was not true. We would make for a bad husband and wife, at least on the romantic side of it.

But we do have the “friends” thing figured out, and that works fine. This is where we excel.

We are probably going to be together as roommates at least until the end of the year, or until we get on our collective feet. There is no urgent emergency due to any stress or negative feelings. There is no discomfort, because we are honest with each other with regard to what’s going on.

Both of us have expressed interest in moving on, should our therapy results conclude that it’s best for us.

My approach is that I am not desiring either outcome. For me, this poisons the well. If I really want to work things out with Catherine, then I’ll do whatever it takes, which includes ignoring red flags and ending up in another bad situation. If I really want to live alone, then I won’t work on figuring out whether or not we can have a relationship.

In other words, let the chips land where they may, without a desired outcome, and then accept it. That way, I won’t be actively trying to make either scenario happen. Either it works, or it does not. And worst case, we will always be dear friends. If that’s as bad as it gets, then I’m okay with all of it.

That highlights my problem within the context of my situation with Annie. I wanted it to work so badly that I was willing to ignore all red flags, because those got in the way of what I wanted. I wanted things to work between Annie and me, and by gosh I was going to make sure that was excactly what happened.

As it turns out, ignoring red flags is a very, very bad idea. This is but one of many things that I am fixing via therapy.

IN THE END
We’ll see how it all turns out. I hope the dentist is relatively painless. I hope that the C64 is truly fixed and stays that way for a long time. And I most definitely hope that the future turns out good for me, for Catherine, and even for Annie.

I want everyone to be in a good place. I hope that Annie gets her act together, even though I have officially washed my hands of her. We’re not even friends.

I hope that Catherine has the life that she wants, including romance, if that’s her thing.

As for me, I’m not certain. While I am not desiring any specific outcome, my main concern is to be safe. Between Kristen the cancer scammer, the wild Annie adventures, and the harsh realization that Catherine and I were never really a couple, I am having a hard time trust both women AND myself.

I don’t trust people in general, which is an issue. It’s hard to trust people when I’ve had so many horrible experiences with other people [thanks, Autism!].

One thing I can do is set boundaries, stick to them, and trust them. Beyond that, I can drop the practice of “wanting” something in a woman, and instead keep an eye out for red flags, and then respect them when I see them. No writing off. No making excuses. No justifications.

Respecting self-set boundaries and red flags may be the only way that I can continue to function in our horribly broken, dysfunctional, mentally unwell American society.

When the CEO Screws the Company [and other issues]

It was late 2000 and I had been working for this company for about one year. I had my performance review and was told that I would be receiving a 5% pay raise. I had been working jobs since 1980, when I had my summer job. This would be my first-ever pay raise on the job.

It would be.

About half-way through they pay period, before I’d see my first new-and-improved paycheck, I came in one day and the office was very quiet. Too quiet. Certain people weren’t there, and it was too many of them for a traffic issue, or calling in sick.

I settled into my desk and attempted to ignore the uneasy feeling that something was horribly wrong. At 9:00 we were told that there was an all-hands meeting in the main conference room. This was our first-ever all-hands meeting.

Knowing the room was not big enough for everyone who worked there, I was surprised to see extra space in the room once everyone was there.

They had this guy we had never seen before, standing up front to talk to us. He gave us a 15-minute dramatic speech about “The Fog of War,” and how there are times when things can get chaotic, you don’t know what’s going on, and you have to trust that the people around you have got your back.

Then he told us what happened.

Our old CEO, whose name I will be leaving out, had been leaving sexually suggestive messages on the answering machines of his two Administrative Assistants. One of the older, sexist guys in the office referred to them as “high-mileage hookers, desperate to cash out.” Regardless, those messages should not have been left by the CEO, because he should not have been doing things like this with both of his assistants.

Of course, both of his assistants rightfully decided they were suing him and the company. However, the remaining THREE YEARS of this philandering CEO’s contract still had to be paid out, and the new guy who talked to us was our new CEO.

Our new CEO concluded the story, “And that is why we’ve made a 30% staff reduction, and everyone else who is here will be taking a 5% pay cut.”

Goodbye, raise.

He concludes the meeting by handing out a copy of a book titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” When a company gives you a free copy of this book, it’s a sign that you need to run like your life depends on it.

Instead of running, I went back to my desk in the Marketing Department. As I’m sitting at my desk, sweating about how my workload is going to increase and what’s going to happen, I can hear my boss on the phone. His door is open.

He’s telling his boyfriend about the 20% performance bonus he just got.

So I walk in and interrupt, “Hey, glad that I could take that 5% cut in pay so that you could get your bonus. There is nothing more important to me than YOU making more money. I can starve. But YOU, you need that desperately. Gucci doesn’t pay for itself.”

Yes, I was abrasive. These were abrasive times.

It was about to get worse for me.


ANOTHER PROBLEM ADDED
About one month later, I went on my lunch break, as I do. I had just mailed checks to pay for all of my bills. I went to the bank to get cash for lunch and some Christmas shopping. My bank was across the street from the office. It wasn’t just a branch; it was their corporate headquarters.

I go in to make a withdrawal, and the teller informs me that my account has been put on hold. The teller said that I needed to have a seat and a manager would be out to speak with me.

The manager looked pissed.

He sat down and told me that my account was closed due to fraud. He says, “We have record of you going into the Santa Monica branch, cashing a bad check, and then moving on to the next branch. You did this six times before we caught on and locked your account.”

I told him that I didn’t do that, and I was at work all day long. He said the person had an ID that matched mine, so it HAD to be me. When I asked how long this investigation would take, he said “six months.”

This meant that I couldn’t get cash for lunch, my bills would bounce, I had no money, and I was labeled a criminal. My life felt as if it was over.


HOW THIS HAPPENED
Back then, whenever you would write a check at the grocery store, the clerk would ask that you put your drivers license number on the back. The front already contains my name, address, and account number.

The person who did this made a fake ID. Then they fished out some expired checks from dead accounts out of the trash. They would go to a branch, pretend to be me, and have a check made out to me. They’d cash it and move on.

I got angry with them and had an Autistic melt-down. I was yelling, “I want my fucking money RIGHT NOW!” as security was dragging me out of the building. I got thrown out of the building, like I was some kind of bum.


REALITY SETS IN
I went back to my desk, without lunch. I was worried about the checks bouncing. I was worrying about whether or not I’d be able to get my next check in physical form, because stopping automatic deposit back then took time and paperwork.

I tried to do my job, but I couldn’t work.

I got on the elevator and went to the top floor of the 48-story skyscraper. I went wandering around, looking for access to the roof, as I considered jumping off the building to a guaranteed demise.

Roof access was locked.

Dammit.

I went back to my desk and sobbed over my work that wasn’t getting done. My boss wasn’t there that day, as he was probably spending all the extra money he’d received with his boyfriend. I was alone in my department.

5:00pm quitting time came and went, and I couldn’t even bring myself to go home. How would I explain this? What would happen? What would I do? How would I sleep that night?

It was starting to get dark by the time I decided to leave the office. I was walking to the elevators, when the Vice President of the company saw me. He asked why I was staying so late.

I couldn’t lie or contain myself, so I broke down in his office and told him what had happened. He says, “But you were here all day long. I saw you. I know you didn’t do this. Hold on. Let me make a call. Don’t worry about it.”

He calls his friend, who is an executive at the bank where I had my account. His office is in the building across the street, in the Penthouse Suite.

He explains the situation to his buddy, tells him that I’m a good worker, that I was in the office all day and didn’t commit check fraud. He explained how this was crippling my life. He read my ATM card number to his friend. After a few minutes, they hung up.

The VP looked at me and said, “Within one hour, your paycheck will be in a new account. Your ATM card will have access to that new account. Checks you wrote will be forwarded to that new account, as will your automatic deposit.”

Wow.

I thanked him. He ended up being the reason why I would stay at that job for another year.

A TRANSFER
At some point, I told them that I really needed that raise. They replied, letting me know that there was a special opening at one of their newly-acquired properties, where I’d work on-site with two brokers.

I knew these guys.

I had worked as a TEMP for them when they were working for a competitor. I’d overheard them talking about how they wanted to get a mock website of the property, when they were presenting to win the bid, but this would cost them $10,000.

I went in and told them that I would do it for $5,000.

After they won the $30 million contract, I asked about my $5,000. “Oh yea, about that. The thing is, you’re already getting $11 per hour from the agency. Speaking of which, we called the agency and no longer need you, so you can leave right now.”

I really needed the money because of a child support order. As the Commissioner put it, “I’m going to base your income on what I feel you should be making as a white man.” I would not earn that amount until 2005, so this was a struggle.

I accepted and transferred to work for these two guys who had ripped me off. That’s how messed up things were.

They remember me, but conveniently forget how they ripped me off, as we stood in the office space of the contract I helped them gain.

The job went okay, although it had sickening moments. These brokers would openly plot on how they would hide money from their wives. One of them bought his wife a $20,000 tennis bracelet and gave it to her, completely with appraisal and insurance paperwork, because she caught him cheating.

Classy guys.


I GET AN OFFER
The CEO of the other company, the one where I helped with the mock website, had heard that I was in need of money, so he called and asked me to meet him at a steak house.

I showed up and he had a job offer for me. It was $5,000 more than what I was making at the time. I told him that I would think about it.


WORD TRAVELS
I take the bus to work and walk a half mile, as I do every day. When I got to the office, the two guys I worked for were standing outside the front of the building. One of them had a baseball bat.

“We know that you met with X last night. We know you’re looking for work elsewhere. We no longer trust you with our client information. We’re removing you from the property right now.”

I was forced under threat of attack with a baseball bat to get into one of the guy’s Porsche. He drove me half-way home and threw me out. As I got out of his car, my bus fare fell out of my pockets. He grabbed it with his hands, saying, “It’s mine now!”

I had to walk five miles home.

I would start the new job within the next few days. However, he was starting to have second thoughts after screwing up my life, so I only worked there for a few months.


IN THE END
Capitalism makes people do some horrible things. This story leaves questions, such as why the original CEO’s contract didn’t have a morality clause, or why my boss got a 20% performance bonus after 30% of the staff was let go and the survivors took a 5% pay cut.

I did later run into the guy who dumped me on the road from his Porsche. It was 2011 and I had started a new job with a new company. He was the broker who ran the trashy building we were renting.

He gave us all a tour, to talk about improvements they were going to make, but never did. This explains why we moved a few months later.

I don’t think he recognized me at first. He was busy being careful with his leg and ankle, moving around with crutches.

I looked at him. “What happened? Did the baseball bat get YOU?”

His eye widened. I leaned in. “This building is a stinky piece of shit, just like you.”

He got afraid. I never saw him again.

I hope that his wife got smart and dumped his corrupt ass.

Toxic Work Environments

Toxic work environments are destructive to workers. One would think that the Board would want a work environment to not be destructive, because it may impact profitability. However, when there is corruption in management on up, they may give the appearance of being profitable at the expense of the workers.

Today, I’m going to tell a handful of stories about toxic work environments. I will be either omitting or changing names to protect the guilty.


CO-WORKER KERFUFFLE
This was a small landscaping company where I worked with the owner, the office manager, and the landscaper manager. On the surface, it looked like a dream job.

That is, until one day when I was at my desk and the office manager and landscaper manager wanted to see some numbers on my computer. I’ll call them OM and LM, for short.

Below is a transcript of an actual conversation that happened at my desk.

OM: Tell LM that I don’t like these numbers.

ME: But he’s standing right here.

OM: Just tell him.

Owner: [rushing in, taking me aside]. Look, we have a situation where they aren’t allowed to talk to each other, so you’ll have to repeat everything they say to each other, as if you’re relaying the messages.

Me: Okay, I’ll give it a try.

Me: LM, it seems that OM doesn’t like these numbers.

LM: You tell OM that these are the numbers we need, end of story.

Me: [repeating what he said]

OM: Well, you tell LM that I’m going to fight him on it.

At this point, I’m getting uncomfortable with the conversation, so I blow up at the owner.

“Look, I don’t know what happened to cause this situation. I don’t know who has naked photographs of who. I don’t get why these adults can’t have a conversation. But it seems that you’ve got a shit situation here. When you clear this childish problem up and are ready for real business, with real employees, let me know. Tell OM and LM to fuck off.”


MANAGEMENT DEMENTIA
The manager of this office was in charge of raising millions of dollars via donations from wealthy people who would come into her office. There was an expectation of me that was not disclosed when I took this job. I’ll refer to her as MGR.

The fax machine was in my office. MGR yelled at me, “Bring me the faxes!” I do it and go back to my desk. Less than one minute later, MGR yells, “Bring me my faxes!”

I go in and tell her that I already brought them in. She asks where they are, and I point on her desk. She picks them up and I go back to my desk.

I don’t even sit down, when I hear more yelling, “Bring me my faxes!” I run back in and she demands that I “quit messing around” and give her the faxes.

I point out that she’s holding the faxes in her hands.

This song-and-dance went on for two hours. Eventually, I found that that my biggest responsibility, as a TEMP worker, which they did not previously disclose, was that I would be held personally responsible for every check they receive from a donor.

A donor came in. It was a husband and wife. The husband looked beaten down. The wife had her husband write a check for $750,000.

I quit and called the agency, letting them know that I’m not going to be responsible for large sums of money when that responsibility was not disclosed for this $11 per hour assignment.


THE HELP DESK
This temp job involved working at a help desk at a major university. I was at this highly-public help kiosk with a woman who was a full-time employee.

“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. I need to get this filing done, but people keep coming up and asking for directions to various buildings. Your job is to help them out while I focus on the filing.”

I asked her if there was a map of the campus. When she told me there was no map, I told her that I had NEVER been to this campus before, so I know less about it than the students and visitors.

“I know. Just ask me if you get hung up on anything.”

This was a flat-out guarantee that I was going to get hung up on something.

Five people came up in the first 20 minutes. Every single time, I had to interrupt her for help, because I had NO information. They gave me NOTHING. And every time I had to ask her, she got very irritated.

I had the feeling that this was getting worse, so I grabbed my motorcycle helmet and told her, “I have to go get something out of my car. Be right back.”

Then I left.


1984-STYLE MANAGEMENT
This was a media company That spied on workers at night to see if they were drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Anyone who was caught would get fired instantly.

As their Quality Assurance Engineer, I went through 11 supervisors in just under 2 years. The shortest time a manager was there was 45 minutes.

In this case, we were told that we had to test some software, where we had no prior knowledge, no documentation, or any prior involvement. Proper QA requires that QA be involved in the Software Development Life Cycle, or SDLC.

This new manager wrote an email, “Effective immediately, QA will not be testing any items unless we are involved at the beginning of their development.” He kicked back and said, “I just solved 95% of our problems.”

Three minutes later, two big guys in Italian suits with baseball bats showed up and escorted him out of the building. They walked him all the way to his car and threatened him to never come back. He was crying the entire time, “What did I do? What did I do?”

I could go through all of the bosses, including one who was a paranoid schizophrenic who had just gotten out of jail for threatening politicians at a town meeting with an axe. He was easy, because I convinced him that “they WERE out to get him,” and that his only salvation would be to quit immediately and never come back. He did just that.

Everything about the place was corrupt, all the way up to the CEO. These days, he teaches a course at The Learning Annex on “How to be a CEO.”

But before that, his company fell apart shortly after I quit, because his financier got arrested for running a $25 million Ponzi scheme.


THE UNETHICAL JOB INTERVIEW
I worked as a temp in an office as an Admin Assistant. One day they said that they would be hiring full-time for the position. However, they didn’t want to just hire me straight-out, even though I was doing a good job. They wanted a little competition, so they brought in a candidate who said that she had “computer experience.”

Remember that for later.

This job interview was the strangest thing I had ever encountered.

The first step of the job interview involved handwriting analysis. This was where they had unlined paper with 2-3 questions per page. What I had to do was write my answers. The answers didn’t matter, so much as the handwriting.

After we were done, we gave our handwriting samples to famed handwriting analyst Anne Silver Conway. I’m making an exception for leaving out names in this case.

After Conway reviewed our handwriting, our handwriting samples and resumes were given to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, so that he could meditate over them and make a decision.

The next day, I was given the results.

They decided to go with the other applicant, based on what Anne Silver Conway told them about my handwriting sample. I always print, and Conway told them that, “People who print do so because they have something to hide.” She effectively called me a dishonest person for printing.

The other person was given the job.

A big part of the job involves updating a 37-page Excel spreadsheet that listed properties, prices, and other real estate information.

The company called me in a panic.

The person they had hired, who had “computer experience,” freaked them out when they handed her a print-out of this 37-page Excel sheet, and she opened a new spreadsheet and began typing from scratch.

They asked her why she wasn’t editing the document that was saved. She replied, “What is saving and editing?”

They relayed this information and begged me to come back. I told them that I could not work there anymore, because I have something to hide, I’m a dishonest person, and I’m really not one to be trusted. I then told them to never call me again.

This was a hard thing for me to do, because I really needed that job.

A few minutes later, my phone rang again. It was handwriting analyst Anne Silver Conway. She asked me if I wanted to work with her.

Yea, she actually fabricated a reason for this company to not hire me, so that she could bring me on as a freelancer. I worked for her for a while, building copyright infringement cases for publishers of mathematics books. But she ended up being so slimy that I eventually quit as soon as I found something else.

Here’s a tip: DO NOT betray me and then ask me to be on your team. I did it for a while, for the money, but will not ever do that again.

IN THE END
There are many other stories that I could write about, but these are three of the simplest ones to tell. I may write in the future about one situation that was very big, where some crazy things happened as the whole world was watching.


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Pursuit of the Dream

Today’s entry was inspired by a piece written by Johnny L Brewer. Click his name to read.


Spring 1966

My dream of being a musician started before I was 2 years old. I would sit in my own seat behind the drummer of my uncle’s band, The Sounder. They played around Indiana, and had bands open for them, like Johnny Cougar.

In first grade, we had to go up to the front of the class and tell the class something about ourselves. I took the teacher’s pointer and pointed at Hollywood, California, on the global map that spanned across the wall, above the blackboard. I told the class, “When I grow up, I’m going to move to Hollywood and play drums.” They all laughed, of course. That changed nothing for me.

School was a place where they did their best to crush any dreams or creativity that I had. They gave it their best go. I must admit, it’s what they do best. Teaching certainly isn’t on that list. Fortunately for me, they failed miserably. Thanks, yet-to-be-diagnosed Autism!

What was called “just a phase” persisted throughout my entire life. After high school ended, my dedication to marching band shifted to the dream of a standard rock band.

Time flies…

I had gotten a taste of what that was like in the winter of 1982, when I put together a rag-tag three-piece band to play just one song.

It wouldn’t be until the fall of 1984 that I would join my first real band in college. The Beertonez was a band that had a great deal of potential as a house party band, and I did what I could to see that potential through. On our last gig, we made enough money that I paid off my student loans for that year. It would end up being the period in music where I would make the most money.

First gig with The Beertonez, Halloween 1984

I had big plans for the band, which included taking the act to LA to give it our best shot. Yes, this was somewhat naive. This was 1985, and I would later learn that Metallica had gone to LA at that time, and then ran back to San Francisco, crying about how nobody liked them because Glam was starting to take over. I had no idea.

Unfortunately, I was the only one who was up for tackling this idea. When the school year ended in the summer of 1985, pretty much everyone in the band just went back home. To me, the band was everything. But to them, it was just something to do.

Rehearsal with The Switch, fall 1985

There were other factors that lead to my decision, but my drive to be a musician was too great. So I quit college and decided that I’d work while staying with my grandparents and see what happens.

I joined a band called The Switch in late summer of 1985, as their guitarist. We would play some big gigs. The band had promise.

Audio: TIME IS FOREVER by The Switch, final live performance November 1985. Video: Me driving the moving van from California to Oregon.

And then, my mother invited me to move to California. But before this move, I had an important discussion with my grandfather. He was a man who played something like 14 instruments. He played so many that I lost count.

Grandpa with his guitar, 1938

He had also been really rough on me about my music pursuits. He would say, “That’s nice and all, but how will you pay your bills?” He was this super-practical guy who always did what he needed to do, and saw no use for such folly.

I told him that mom had invited me to move to California, and that this was my chance to pursue my dream of being a musician.

This was his cue to give me the hard talk about how I was wasting my time “chasing such nonsense” as music. He pushed me far enough that I barked back at him. “What do YOU know! You’ve never had a dream to pursue.”

Things suddenly got hauntingly calm and quiet. He told me that when he was young, he wanted to be a race car driver. He learned how to fix cars when he was a kid [and cars were a relatively new thing back then]. He knew cars inside and out, and wanted to be a race car driver. He really wanted to go for it.

Grandpa with another guitar, 1938

But then he met my grandmother, they fell in love and got married. When my mother was born, he decided that it was time to put his dream aside and start working. He joined the Army, fought in World War II, and later worked in an auto factory [Delco Remy] for about 40 years.

As he told me this story, he fought back tears. There is something unique about a WWII veteran. They cry only when they truly mean it. This was the first time I had witnessed it. Heck, this was the first time I’d witnessed an emotion coming from him that wasn’t a chuckle at a dirty joke.

They were tears of regret. It was unmistakable.

That’s when I knew that I had no choice but to move to California and give it a go.

1987: Playing keyboard with The Robin Baxter Band at Club 88 in Santa Monica, CA

I would call him a few years after I got there and tell him about some of my adventures. Of course, he asked what I was doing to make ends meet, and I told him that I worked days and played out nights.

His responses to my stories sounded somewhat proud. He was glad that I set out to pursue my dream. Without saying it outright, he admitted that he was wrong to be so rough.

Just a few years after that, my grandmother would have a stroke, and grandpa would end up in a hospital for the last two years of his life.


One night, I was playing with one of my bands at The Rainbow on The Sunset Strip, when I thought back to my first grade class, and how they all laughed at my dream. Now, here I was, in Hollywood, on The Sunset Strip, playing drums in a rock band, and I actually got paid.

I was actually doing what I said I would be doing. Who’s laughing now?

I never forget.

I spent 33 years in California, pursuing my dream of becoming a professional musician. Of course, it didn’t pan out, as is the case for most musicians and artists in general.

Now, I’m an old man. I’ll be 57 this December. I left California two years ago, which was bittersweet in its own sort of way. I don’t have any fame or fortune. No top 10 hits. No big record sales. No popularity.

I also don’t have any regret.

Sure, I could find some regret if I tried. If I had stayed in college for two more years, I might have been active in some other bands. I might have been there for the heyday of a club called No Bar & Grill, owned by record store owner and fellow musician Jon Rans. I could have been there to perform with bands like Big Black and Modern Vending.

That would have been cool.

Roadmaster ticket from 1978. Check out those “special guests!”

I also could have stuck around in Indiana after college. The Switch was a solid band, and it could have lead to a situation where I would have been a big fish in a little pond, like Faith Band, or Buccaneer, or Henry Lee Summer, or Roadmaster. I might still be gigging in Indiana today as some kind of legacy act.

When I was 15, I wanted to quit school and go audition for Henry Lee Summer [he was looking for a drummer]. I assumed that I’d get the gig, and then I’d be all set from there. I let that idea go, since I didn’t even have my drivers license yet.

Late 2009: Drumming on stage at The Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, Sunset Strip.

There are lots of “could have” scenarios that I can cook up to generate regret. Who knows, those might have been some good times. I have no doubt about it.

However, what all of those potential scenarios are lacking is the act of going to Hollywood to give a big career a shot. Had I taken any of those other paths, then I would have been left wondering, “What if?”

I don’t wonder that today, and I’m grateful for that. With those other scenarios, I don’t have the “what if” issue because I have a good idea of how that would have gone down. And all of those situations would have left me in Indiana, which was the last place I’d ever want to be.

I could have bet half on the future. Instead, I bet it all. Everything. Went for broke.

2003: Drumming with WHIPLADS

All I have to show for it is a few recordings, a few videos, a few photographs, and a ton of stories about gigs, bands, venues, musicians, rock stars, and wild nights.

Whether people believe the stories or not is none of my concern. I have these experiences under my belt, and they serve to repel regret. For anyone who is open to hearing them, I think some of them are fun stories.

I have no regret. I knew what I wanted to do, and I set out and did it.

Circa 1994: Pretending to be excited about an award I had won, for some reason, at work. Nobody cares about those stories, not even me. My buddy Tim, whom I met at this job, is probably reading this right now. Hi, Tim!

And how I made money is nothing more than a series of boring stories about horrible situations, mostly terrible people, and sheer ugliness that served no other purpose than to make someone else rich while I struggled, just like everyone else.

The money paid rent, bought food, and other things. It’s gone, like the breeze that was blowing last night.

In many ways, my life is ordinary. The only exception is that I actually set out to pursue my dreams. It doesn’t matter if I caught them or not. I got close to the sun and felt the heat melting feathers from my wings.

I gave it a shot, instead of letting everyone destroy the dream and subsequently giving up.

And it feels good to be writing about these stories. For the longest time, I feared writing about these stories because I had not gathered up enough evidence along the way to back up these stories. As a result, I felt that people would dismiss them as made-up fantasies.

Hanging with WHIPLADS fan Kendra Jade after a show. She used to call me on my drives home from work to read books to me. My music pursuits gave me the opportunity to meet some truly interesting people.

Over time, I came to realize that I don’t care if people believe the stories or not. I’ll tell them, if for nobody else, then for myself. It’s a way to remind myself that I knew what I wanted, worked hard, and went for it.

Hard work does not always pay off, at least not in the ways one might want. I expected my hard work to bring me some results, like a living. Instead, I have the few things that I mentioned earlier; the recordings, videos, images, and stories.

At least I don’t have regret.

Some might read this and feel inspired to go for their own dreams. Other might read it and feel some regret of their own, believing that maybe they chose the wrong path.

The problem with that idea is that there is no right or wrong path. Every path leads to the same place.


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