Tuesday, July 19, 2016

That thing by the side of the road


Here's a poem I wrote based on writing prompt from San Antonio artist and musician Hills Snyder. This prompt (That Thing by the Side of the Road) was theme for a group show he curated as part of  San Antonio's  Contemporary Art Month 2016. 

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That thing by the side of the road
Cast off and forgotten 
No one sees it
No one looks for it
No one knows it is lost.

That thing by the side of the road
Battered
Broken
World weary
Asks without asking, tattered sign in hand.
I roll down my window and beckon
Offer him a twenty, hope to kindle a spark behind tired eyes
To try to get him to really look at me.
In return, I try to really see him.
He looks. I see.
He thanks me. With eye contact. Sincerity. 
He calls me ma'am.
I ask his name, how his day has been.
Oh, you know... he says.
Unspoken thoughts trail off.
I know. But I don't know. I can't know.
I don't want to know.

A stray dog, I will take in.
Clean up. Tend to. 
Nurture. Heal. 
Scold. Fight for. 
Love. 

But that thing by the side of the road
That human being
Terrifies me.

That thing by the side of the road
Is not helpless enough
For me to help.

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Backstory: 18 visual artists and 10 songwriters were given the same prompt (my numbers may be off, but something like that). The visual artists produced small scale works, which were set up as a mini art museum (by a group called, coincidentally, Mini Art Museum). Museum walls and dividers made from 3-ring binders. Miniature gallery labels. Magnifying glasses provided. The musicians - an eclectic group - wrote songs that we performed for a live audience at the show opening.

The event was amazing for me in a lot of ways. I was honored to be asked. I hadn't written a song in decades but decided this was the kick in the pants s I needed to write one. I managed to write a song without too much internal drama, meet the deadline, learn it well enough to perform it (solo, no less - difficult for me), and get through it without noticeable hitches. I was nervous and wound up at the event, but I pulled it off. After I played my tune, I was able to relax enough to watch the other performers, and also explore the "museum." I'm a little sheepish that I showed up to this thing not knowing what the Mini Art Museum concept was. But once I saw it, I was really taken with it. (Don't get me starte on the gift shop!)

So - back to the poem. I started it in Feb, notes for a song idea (I ended up going in another, more playful direction for the song - this concept was just too challenging for me to pull off). I stumbled onto the notes tonight and was compelled to finish it. I haven't written a song in decades. It's been possibly longer sine I've done any non-musical creative writing. 

This poem is deeply personal. The song I performed was complete fantasy. (I have a recording somewhere - will dig it up). I don't think I'm at a place where I could write something this personal then stand up and perform it in front of people. 

But I can post it on the blog that no one reads


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kay Passeaux's Spotify - KSYM 90.1 San Antonio - Third Coast Music Network

It's an open secret that Kim Hubbeling and Kim Mackenzie are also Kay Passeaux, sweetheart of the radio. Waka waka. A long-time listener and fan, I started helping out with the Third Coast Music Network show on San Antonio College's KSYM back in October. Tuesdays from 5-7, they let me turn knobs and do my best to keep the music coming out of the tower. I'm not 100% sure how I got so lucky, but I'll take it.

Third Coast is a freeform roots music show airing 4 hours a day. It's now in it's 25th year. (!) KSYM just turned 50. (!!)

I started a Spotify playlist with my favorite adds thus far. (It says 2016, but some are probably from the tail end of 2015. Let's call it a fiscal year.) Here ya go, mom.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

The gun control legislation tipping point? Probably not...



Demanding Action On Gun Control, House Democrats Stage Sit-In

I hope something comes of this. They're not even trying to vote on anything all that earth shattering. Just trying to vote.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Write the damn story

I am a frustrated writer. I have a storyteller's soul, a need to share, some eloquence. But I never actually write the damn story. Or song. Or essay. Or whatever.

I had a unique experience today — outside influences telling me to write the damn story. This is a note to self, to remind me to listen. And also to follow through.

It happened that I had two doctor's appointments today. With two different providers. In two different fields. Just one of those things — I scheduled them both for the same day, so I could knock them out and be done with it.

Both of these doctors are smart, empathetic, caring women whom I've been seeing for a while and with whom I feel very comfortable. (I'm fortunate to be in a good place, health-care-wise. I have great providers.)

At these two appointments, I told each of these smart women a story. Two different women. Two different stories. One story about stuff I'm going through now. Another story about something I went through recently.

Both of these smart women that I respect and admire said the things below. And also hugged me:

• You are so very brave.

• You are going to get through this, and you're going to be OK.

• I wish you could write this story, because I think it could help other people.

Two completely different doctors. Hearing two completely different stories.

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So - I've decided that if I trust these women (and I do), I need to take these things they said to heart.

• I am brave. (It feels weird and braggy to say that about myself. But I see myself through their eyes, and I believe this to be true.)

• I am going to get through this and be OK. (This, I believed already.)

• Then there's that last one... Write the stories. Something I was already thinking I wanted to do. These stories could help people. These stories are very, very personal, but I feel OK with sharing them. When it was just me telling myself to write the stories, I was afraid I was leaning toward oversharing. But these two very smart women who I trust told me the same thing. Write the stories. They could help someone else.

So - I'm going to write the stories. I don't know what I'm going to do with them when they're done. They'll both require some research to do them justice. I'll start by writing the parts I know – the parts I lived through – then figure out the research needed. I can do this.

Writing them is the first step.  <3 p="">

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Choice cuts: music finds for the week of 10/7/15




Watkins Family Hour - self titled: Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, and star-studded cast of musical badass friends. (Fiona Apple! The bass player from Soul Coughing, among other amazing people! Doing rootsy authentico bluegrass! Mind-bendingly awesome.)

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Love this Nancy Griffith tune and used to cover it, but forgot all about it.

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Jeremy Pinnell - OH/KY: purt near every damn track

The Wood Brothers - Paradise: I heart Medeski, Martin and Wood, but somehow The Wood Brothers escaped my notice.

The Meadows Brother - Won't be Troubled: Tennessee Stud and Boomer's Story

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Original (or at the very least damn early)1919 recording of Blues My Naughty Sweetie Give to Me on the Library of Congress website

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kindergarten Reality Check - an experiment in accidental viral video




I'm keeping an eye on this YouTube video, belonging to one of the partners at work - a "How was your first day of kindergarten, honey?" convo she had with her son that went in a fun direction.

The child didn't know he was being filmed, and she's coaxing him a bit because this is a little bit of a re-tell. He'd already started to tell the story, and she had that mom-instinct that it was going to be funny and grabbed her phone to film it surreptitiously.

She originally posted to Facebook only on 9/9/15, shared with just her own friends. I was pretty charmed by it and wanted to share, so I asked if she'd repost it to YouTube. "It will go viral," I said. "Kidding/not kidding." (I really was kidding/not kidding - figured nothing would happen, but saw some potential. Really, I just *did* want to share it myself, and her FB post was set to Friends Only.)

She did repost it to YouTube, the night of 9/9. The next morning (9/10/15), YouTube had just 4 views. I shared it on FB, then on a whim, I put it on r/videos on Reddit. I expected it to go nowhere and get buried pretty quickly, but it actually gained a little traction. The YouTube started getting some traffic. Some viral content folks started trying to contact her with "business opportunities," whatever that means.

Day 3 and it's broken 40,000 views. A couple of us from work are sharing and boosting it here and there, trying to keep the ball in the air, as an experiment more than anything. I'm doing goofy/shameless things like tagging George Takei and Ellen Degeneres on Facebook. Will be interesting to see if it gains any more momentum.



Here's where we're at now, 11am CST, midway through the third full day:






UPDATE - 9/12, 2pm CST: Blogged by Hello Giggles (which was under my radar - nicely curated feel-good content, targeted to women. I like it and will start following it). Really excellently written blog post. Learned that Zooey Deschanel is one of the founders.

And then, here's the kicker, today's big win: shared on Zooey Deschanel's Facebook. Here post is currently at 321 likes, with 54 shares.

Going to see what this does to the hit count later. Too much fun!





UPDATE - 9/13, 11:30pm CST: Blowing up a bit. Yesterday afternoon/evening, it jumped up to 60k, then was at 74k by 7am this morning. Now, nearly 90k.

Zooey's post (she lets me call her Zooey) is up to 720 likes and 109 shares, more than double what it was when we learned of it yesterday. Tracked back to the original Hello Giggles post, which I hadn't done before, and it's at 565 likes and 205 shares.

Would be cool to get some other blog/celebrity attention, but for now, I think it's just the shares off the ZD/Hello Giggles posts that are keeping the momentum.


A flashback to one of my favorite days (so far) on this planet




Throwback... Friday? Saturday? What time is it? Whatever day it is, just Throwback.

Last night, I stumbled onto this little video my buddy John Whipple shot, from a 2004 gig I did with Glenn Allan at Bubba's Big Deck in Gruene, Texas. For those that know Gruene, this spot is right next to the low water crossing/bridge. Basically at river level. Which mean the big deck washes away in a flood every few years. But it's a sweet spot, so they rebuild. The deck has been in various locations after various rebuilds - this particular configuration, with the deck thrust out over the water and the river at our backs, was my favorite.

In the video, you'll see and hear Glenn and I singing a duet on the Beatles' Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. This is a tune I brought to the Glenn+Kim show, having done it for years prior with my old band in Hawaii, Manny's Bones.

Heard but not seen (which is how I prefer my rhythm sections - KIDDING!) are the ├╝ber talented and all around good guys Ernest Hernandez on bass and Luckey McClain on drums, who currently each front their own creative ventures*/bands (King Pelican and The Mullberrys, respectively - both bands kick ass).

That day was one of my favorite days yet on this planet, with my back to that beautiful river, playing music with this fine folk, jumping in the water to cool off between sets, drinking beer with good friends afterward. If I could keep time in a bottle, this is the day I'd save.

Thanks for this bit of ancient history, John, on the old YouTube account you've probably forgot about (Old Crow Boys open mic series at Riley's - you used this old video just to test the account). We all leave a digital breadcrump trail - yours is always fun to follow.

*PS - while King Pelican does play surf, the Ventures pun was unintended. I noticed it but left it there, because it made me laugh.

PPS - once upon a time, in Hawaii, I played for a number of years with another kick ass rhythm section, who DID prefer to be heard and but not seen. They'd do session work under the pseudonym "The Rhythm Butchers." The drummer from that bygone era, James Ganeko, now fronts his own creative venture/band - also a surf band - called Tiki Taboo. Small/weird world. I see a future King Pelican / Tiki Taboo tour / gig opportunities. Of course, both bands would have to let me sit in - ha!

PPPS - Managed to dig up some pics from my cache of historic hoarded data, and have posted them on Flickr. Here are shots from that day, plus some shots from a couple other times we played at Bubba's with Glenn's daughter Molly Curran on bass. All photos taken by Chris Mackenzie.


Old gig pix - Bubba's Big Deck, 2004-2005

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tail-less Gecko (?) Catch and Release

Tail-less Gecko (?) Catch and Release

This guy is part of our accidental critter catch and release program.

The young cat has started catching critters outside (alive), bringing them in the cat door, then releasing them in the house, where they usually promptly escape under some piece of furniture. We find them later, sometimes alive, sometimes not. So far, roaches, crickets, lizards, geckos, a cicada and one small toad have cycled through the house, and been released back outside.

Found this poor guy in the corner of our dining room today, tail-less but otherwise not too terribly beat up. The stuff stuck to his tail stump is cat fur he must have picked up while hiding from the cat. Took him outside and let him go -- he was a little shaken up, so he hung out (played dead) and posed for a picture. I hope he makes it.

Need to look up his species.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nerd alert - MacOSX 10.8.5, Apple Mail authentication issues, Apple Messages issues, Notification Center issues, etc.

I'm a slow adopter of upgrades - Apple announced Mac OS X version 10.10 this week, free for current OSX license holders. So it seemed like a good time to upgrade... to 10.8. I'm of the mindset that if everything is working, there's no need to upgrade, until or unless there is a feature that I must have. (Full disclosure: a game I bought wouldn't run on 10.7).

Upgrading to 10.8 went surprisingly smoothly -- all of my critical programs seem to work. But when I updated to 10.8.5, Apple Mail broke. Specifically, I could not check my iCloud account any more. It wouldn't authenticate.

Tried many things, including beating my head against a wall. OK, actually, tried manually configuring, with various settings (didn't work). Tried using an app-specific password for two-step verification (didn't work). Tried manually configuring with using a different client (Thunderbird) using an app-specific password for two-step verification (worked).

On a whim, just to troubleshoot, I turned off Apple Two-Step Verification on my AppleID, and voila, suddenly I could set up Mail. I didn't even have to set it up manually. So, inexplicably, Apple Mail seems to not work with two-step verification. Go figure.

Once I turned off two-step verification, several other issues I struggled with today resolved themselves as well: Notes synced, iMessages and Mail notifications are now listed in the Notification Center (I did have to go into system prefs and tell them not to display, close out, then go back in and tell them to display to spur it into action), Mail messages now display popup alerts, as do iMessages.

So, hope this helps someone. Pretty much burned half a day on this.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

New band member

He's studying up on his accordion playing.