Come home, Son

The Rockies beat the Cubbies 2-0 last night, and I finished painting the stairwell in its entirety this morning. Did I mention that I hate painting?

In the early evening, I went to the airport to pick up my son, who had spent the last four weeks with his Mom in Texas. I’m very glad to have him, and eternally guilt-ridden that he has to split his time between his parents because we couldn’t make it as a couple. It’s not his fault; if anybody’s, it’s mine, because I’m the one who asked for the divorce. But he’s the one suffering. I tell myself that he would be suffering more if we were together, though. I think that’s true …

While eating a late dinner at Gunther Toody’s, I got a phone call from Brad the Drummer, giving me a heads up that John from Dante Spumante was going to be calling me in the morning to see if I would be able to play with them on Tuesday night at Cricket on the Hill in Denver. I haven’t played much since we started working on the house, so I dug out the guitar and played along with the CD of our performance at Herman’s Hideaway on July 23rd. I hope John actually does call tomorrow.

Long update

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, folks, both in terms of creativity and lots of things going on. In this entry, I’m going to hit the highlights, then hopefully get back to my regular postings tomorrow. This post is a long one, but probably not as long as the individual posts would have been.

My wife and I were on vacation in Las Vegas from the 14th through the 19th, celebrating my stepson’s plunge into true adulthood. Overall, the trip went well; thanks to a royal flush on a nickel machine and some generous slot club comps from the Frontier hotel, we actually netted only a small loss and still got to see Lord of the Dance before it closed. My stepson hit two royal flushes on the same nickel machine on consecutive days, so he actually came home with more money than he took.

Normally, I would stop by to see my parents, who live outside Las Vegas. Unfortunately, they were gone the entire time I was there, because my Uncle Wayne passed away on the 12th. I wish I had gotten to see them, but I’m glad my parents were able to be with the rest of the family during that time.

While in Vegas, on the 16th, my stepson and I were trapped on the 103rd floor of the Stratosphere for nearly an hour. He wanted to ride the Big Shot on top of the hotel (by the way, did I mention that he’s insane?) He rode the ride, and we hung out on the observation deck (108th floor) for a while afterward, enjoying the view and watching the lights come up on the Strip. While we were lounging, the fire alarms went off and emergency strobe lights started flashing. After about 30 seconds, they went off, but then came on again and didn’t stop. I noted that no one seemed panicky, despite the fact that we were 1150 feet up in the air in a prime terrorist target.

Of course, when the alarms went off, the elevators (and the air conditioning, I think) automatically shut off, so we couldn’t get down. We followed the instructions to take the stairs to the 103rd floor, where about 25 of us waited with little information in a small, hot room for about 45 minutes. We were told we could not take the stairs to the bottom because it was not an emergency situation, despite the flashing strobes and alarms. Eventually, the alarms stopped, but the strobes continued and the elevators would not stop on our floor. No one really got out of control or upset, though one woman (I think she was from New York) underwent a panic attack and one security guard was rather rude and short with us.

Eventually they got the elevators reset and allowed us to go back down to the bottom of the hotel, where the tower manager refunded our money, but “didn’t have the authority” to do anything else for us. We also got an apology from the head of security for the actions of his rude employee.

Monday night, the 22nd, I got a call from my buddy Brad the Drummer. He was filling in on a gig for a band called DaNte SpUmAnTe on the 23rd at Herman’s Hideaway, and their regular guitarist was suddenly unavailable. Herman’s is well-known in Denver as a showcase club. They encourage original music with a weekly New Talent Showcase, and they feature national acts on a regular basis. Brad asked me if I would like to play with DaNte SpUmAnTe at the New Talent Showcase — the next night.

The chance to play at Herman’s was too good to pass up, so I told him I would be right over to go through the songs. The challenge before me was to learn six original songs, then perform them live in less than 24 hours, but I did it. The songwriter and keyboardist came over to Brad’s and we spun through all six songs, then I took at tape home and practiced until about 3 AM.

I think the gig went pretty well, all things considered. However, my opinion is colored by the fact that I had such a short time to prepare. I’m sure DaNte SpUmAnTe wished they had their regular guitarist with them, though they were very grateful for the help on short notice.

On the 28th, my stepson moved into his own apartment, which freed up his room as an office again. I spent the evening of the 29th moving furniture and bookshelves from the master bedroom into the spare room so I can make it into an office. I’m really looking forward to that, because it means I will have some “me space” for playing music, writing, reading, or just getting away from the rest of the world. I crave solitude sometimes, and it will be nice to have a place to go where I know no one else will be. Also, it gives me space to use my exercise bike again. Here’s the plan: Get up at 5:30 AM, exercise for 15-30 minutes, write for 30-45 minutes, then prepare for work. We’ll see how well that plan works out.

Good Days

Last night’s writing group was excellent. Only two people showed up, which was monetarily unfortunate for Melanie, but very fortunate for Michael and me. We discussed a short-short that Michael had written, the responsibilities of an artist in recording true-life events, and they both offered wonderful feedback on my “Saint and Cynic” story. After incorporating some of those suggestions, I’m going to cut this one off and start circulating it.

Melanie also wondered if I had done anything with my “Fear Sphere” stories since the last one. I haven’t, other than thinking about them. She encouraged me to write more of them and collect them together. I hope I can get some of these projects rolling when Ryan moves out. Having that spare room for working in the early morning will be a blessing, as long as I take advantage of it.

Tonight, John, Brad and I donned our collective instruments to become Flat Rabbit, and we had a very good night. We covered a lot of material and added a few songs to the list. We played “Sweet Child o’ Mine” better than we ever have, I think, and even went over a bunch of old originals that Brad and John wrote years ago. All in all, it was a fun night, and I was reluctant to break down my equipment.

I did have one problem, though. My Strat started squealing, and I traced it down to what seems to be a jack problem. I took the jack plate off to check the insides but it seemed fine, with no loose wires. It worries me a bit, since I will be trying out for Better Than Nothing on Tuesday night. Later in the night, the Strat played fine, so I may have put off the problem for a little while, but I need to recreate it at home and figure out what’s wrong.

Airborne Explorer

Played music with Brad the Drummer at his house for a while, but closed it off early. Unfortunately, on the way home I saw where someone had driven a Ford Explorer into the crowd at a car show I like to attend occasionally. (There was a Denver Post story that used to link here, but the story is no longer on the Post website.) Rumor has it that he did it on purpose, being drunk and upset that he was asked to leave the car show. Original estimates placed his vehicle at 90 mph, but the news article says 60 mph. Either way, it was enough to get the Explorer airborne over the landscaping before it landed on several classic cars, injuring eight people.

I haven’t slept well since.

It bothers me that the thought to do something like this even occurred the driver of the Explorer. No matter how drunk or pissed off he was, it shouldn’t even be conceivable to drive an SUV into a crowd of people at a high rate of speed. It’s amazing to me that no one was killed, though one man was pinned under the vehicle and in critical condition when taken to the hospital. (According to the above story, he pulled through and is stable, thank God.)

It also bothers me that the passenger in the vehicle has still not been apprehended, according to the Post story. How hard can it be for the police to get the driver to tell them the name of his passenger? Or perhaps he has been apprehended by now, but the news has been overshadowed by the nearly 100,000 acres of wildfires burning in nine different places in Colorado as I write this.

I can’t help but wonder whether the events of September 11th influenced, however slight, the mindset of the driver. If we had not been inundated with visuals of commercial airliners crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, would he have even thought of using his car as an airborne weapon?

That sounds alarmist to me, and I don’t intend that to be the case. I’m just trying to make sense out of something that makes no sense at all to me.

Silent Treatment

Yesterday’s sour mood produced a new poem, “Silent Treatment.” This evening, I went to a jam at Hiccups with Brad the Drummer and played a few songs with him and the house band. Brad got some comments on his excellent drumming, and a few people said I did a good job, as well. Next time, I’m taking my own amp, though. I didn’t feel comfortable messing with the rig that I was using, so my Strat sounded thin and too quiet.