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Saturday, December 31, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Complexities of an Old Year

Here I am, whittlin away the last few hours of 2011, sitting in my kitchen, listening to Maserati, and blogging about complexities, of life, of friendship, of the afterlife, all the crazy stuff that happens between our births and our deaths. Pretty typical if you know who's blogging, I sppose.

This past saw many triumphs and setbacks. My family and I moved to Alaska! Triumph. We left a lot of stuff in Colorado. Setback. I didn't wind up in the Army! Triumph. I don't have any benifits. Setback. I'm making more money than I've ever made! Triumph! The cost of living here is easily double than Colorado. Setback.

I could go on and on, but the point is that it's tiresome to paint that sort of image in your head. The easiet thing to do is the hardest thing to do. Children have this "gift" that adults like to see as innocense. They see things for what they are and define them accordingly. When we become adults, that goes away. We make things more complex. For example, a kid sees a doggie. An adult sees a male German Sheperd/Black Lab mix. A kid sees a big truck! An adult sees a 1982 Ford F-350 with a 4" lift and 35s. A kid sees an airplane! An adult not only sees a 737-800 with an eskimo on the back, but goes even further to become opinionated about the name on the side. The kid says "you like her." The adult says "I do, but I can't say anything. It's inapprpriate. She and I have different things going on. I don't know how i'd even bring it up."

When the hell did we become dumber? At what point do we stop seeing things the way they are and start seeing them as this weird webs of a bunch of unrelated factors?

Everything has an essence of what it is. Trees. Trucks. People. People have that simplicity, too. See it. Work hard to work less to see it, and if you need a hand, ask someone under 5.

Monday, December 26, 2011

RADIO: The Monday After Christmas

Tonight, I'm excited to bring forth some El Ten Elven, Tortoise, and an awesome long song by Crippled Black Phoenix. This show is dedicated to my best friend who's going to make a tremendous journey starting Friday, moving back to Colorado. She's scared and brave at the same time, and I'm very proud of her for being strong. I'm sure you'll hear about it on the air, but check it out, and relax. Tell your kids to go to sleep. Digest the ham and turkey and enjoy the silence now that the inlaws are gone (hopefully). If they're not gone, tell them to go to sleep, too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Power of Music

I'm sampling my playlist for next Monday night's show. If you haven't tuned in yet, you should make an effort to stream it. Monday nights at 9 Alaskan Time. (That means for the few of you followers who live on the east coast, 1am Tuesday morning.) Lots of good music to help you fall asleep or just put you in the contemplative mood.

I was driven to name the show after my blog as I've found myself pondering and streaming constructive nonsense with much of this music as my soundtrack of sorts. Through the darkest thoughts and revelations to the grandest of adventures, this music has been there, opening up my head and my soul, and helping me to receive not only divine inspiration, but to accept difficult truths about myself.

Growing up, my dad would frequently play the grand piano in the front room. A fan of classical music, he played pieces that were very complex, yet, somehow, very expanding of the mental box. When you consider the intellectual clout necessary at the time to map out with dots and lines how an entire orchestra of instruments is going to portray a certain thought you have, it makes you (in most cases) nothing short of a genius. With piano, it's even more the case as an instrumentalist as, with a single tool, you're given the task of conveying that orchestra's message to the listener.

Suffice to say, when I was young, I was blessed with having this wealth of knowledge poured into my head through my ears. Not knowledge as it's typically understood from books and school, but knowledge in it's most raw form, the knowledge of how someone felt at a certain point in their life, a knowledge whose meaning excedes the capacity of vocabulary.

I've tried very hard to keep my ears open to this special language as I grow, but every adult in some way accidentally figures out how to lose their innocent penchant for simple absorbsion of feeling. What once was love or hurt or happiness becomes a tangled and twisted mess, usually including words like "complicated" or "confusing" or "misunderstood". The farther we get from our childlike compulsions of simply knowing a thing because it exists, the harder it is for us to understand that thing as adults.

I've found music to be a tremendous tool in pushing my nervous and wary psyche back towards that innocence. Through music, I'm driven to tears or excitement simply because somebody who I never met told me so without words. With music, I am re-learning the most basic things, what rocks are, what cold is, what wet is, what yucky is. What God is. Why becomes less important with music, for the simple fact that it exists should be all we ever need to fully accept it and understand it.

Keep your ears open, for they'll take your visions, your touches, and drag them with your sounds directly to your hungry soul, and when they get there, smile. You'll understand.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

THOUGHTS: The Good Through The Bad

Most of our lives we are told, when something bad happens, typical cliches that encourage us to believe that when the hardships end, the good times begin again. It's a tried and true belief, time honored, where we aren't necessarily absolved from responibility or hard work to fix it, but we are simply inspired to hope that, eventually, our loads will lighten, and our freedoms will prevail.

A smaller segment of the population believe something I've only recently found a glimpse of myself. They believe that the hope and joy of eventuality actually manifests itself during the bad experience. Many different belief structures and thought processes have spoken to this conclusion, but, too often and like many other learned disciplines, it's not something we really understand until we have the one truly bad experience and realize, through faith or simple rationalization, that things just aren't as dramatically terrible as they seem.

My own personal epiphone happened in my very recent life, where my wife and I, experiencing a uniquely challenging adversity, decided to take steps back into our own psyches and repair our own damage. To the outside world, and even to ourselves at some points, it seems like all hope is lost, like our family is irreparably shattered, that out son will grow up angry at having a broken home. The illumination that my wife and I both had independently is that we're doing this to save our relationship, to foster love and nuturing in each other and our son, to chase the dreams that we've had alone for far longer than we even knew of the other's existence. It makes us excited! Happy! Motivated! Calm. Considerate. Caring. Loving.

The good doesn't come after the bad. It comes along side it, quietly sitting in the shadow waiting to be noticed, and confidently protecting you when you acknowledge that it's there. All you have to do is posess the courage to see it, and the weight of your burdeons will be cast off.

See the beauty that is every day life, and look for it when you can't see it. It's there waiting for you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CHRONICLES: The BattleWagon Chronicles on KRBD

Monday night, on KRBD, Ketchikan's local public radio station (, I started my radio show. It was an incredibly gratifying experience. I got to sit in a studio, virtually uninterrupted for two hours, and listen to all my favorite music. The neatest thing was that during the show, so many people were online with me chatting it up. It was fantastic.

I think, even though I'm not going to be reading anything from this blog (unless people demand it), I'm still going to call it the BattleWagon Chronicles. It will (hopefully) allow me to push people's mental comfort zone to include some very moving ambient and indie rock music, give them a chance to meditate and comtemplate the good parts of their lives and the bad.

Right now, I'm sitting at my kitchen table listening to a song called "Fartyget" by a band called pg.lost. This is a song that damn near makes me cry every time I listen to it. For some reason, the melody, the buildup, the crescendo into the high pitched, desparate, wordless wails of the vocalist coupled with the almost fairy-tale-esqe guitar chords and the crashes of the cymbals, it keeps building until just after it's pushed the emotion from wherever you've been hiding it.

Phew, that's the longest sentence I've typed in a while. Good band. Look them up, or tune in this coming Monday, 9-11pm Alaska time (11pm-1am in Colorado), and check it out.

I'm also filling in every other Saturday for another show called Howling Gales. This is great, as it gives me a chance to play some rock and alt. country, like Radiohead and Uncle Tupelo. Very fun, indeed. Plus, on this show, I'll get to talk more, do some more cool stuff. Noon-2 local time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CHRONICLES: Sunsets, Moons, and Movies...

Today was a pretty good one as far as astronomical observations go. This afternoon, around 2:45, I snuck out back at work to grab a quick picture of the sunset. I looked out across the Tongass Narrows and Gravina Island at the setting sun. It was, as it typically is here in Alaska, a beautiful sunset. The clouds seem to radiate down from the heavens here. I know they call Montana "Big Sky Country", but this is pretty consistently spectacular.

After the sunset, before I left for home, I was informed by one of my top 10 friends that the moon was spectacular, and that the poet inside me would appreciate it. Here's the attempt to capture the essence:

I gently opened the door, almost as if I was nervous to disturb the fragility of the night sky. Slowly, I crept out, away from the building and the trees, the would-be objectors to an otherwise clear sky. Then I began my search, gazing out over the mountains accross the ocean, following the horizon until, finall, my eyes fell upon it.

Not quite full, the moon shone brightly over the trees, playing up the facsimile of snow-covered branches as they lied to my eyes, simply basking in the silky silver light.

Jupiter, the great god of planets and gods alike, stood honorably at Luna's side, protecting it from other stars as they slowly began to reveal themselves to the ever setting sun...


...then I came home and watched "The Iron Giant" with my wife and my son. All in all, a spectacular evening.

Monday, December 5, 2011

PROPHESY: Chaos and Evolution

Looking out the back of this sailing ship, I could see a whale diving underneath the waves. The captain was standing above, preparing to make some speach about how great he was, at least that's the feeling I got from the rest of the crew.

I rounded the corner, from the aft to the port side, climbing some thick netting to get to the next deck. When I there, the boat disappeared.

Damn! I shifted again. Where the hell did I wind up this time?

I see a campus or a compound of sorts. It's a cool, breeze, cloudy ay, yet it still feels very warm. I see palm trees... and desert. I hear gunfire in the distance. I see young women in burkas. I feel the wind pick up.

A bell rings, and people run toward the east wall with giant open canvas bags, ready to receive he wind-driven grain. Fascinating. I didn't even know this was a process. Suddenly I feel bad for not having my own bag, like somehow, someone was depending on me.

The wind died down, and there was a knock at one of the compound entrances. I couldn't tell what they were saying, but the men knocking were yelling and angry. It really unsettled me.

I quickly set out to the compound's grass lawn, a safe distance away, should the men, who I assumed were armed, make their way through that door.

When they did, I watched in shock, yet had been starting to put together what this place was. The attackers all had white t-shirts and jeans, dark skin and hair. They carried AK-47s. They chased around women in burkas, traditionally dressed Jewish men, anyone who didn't fit in with them. Then I realized what this place was. It was a safehouse for the open mind. We all had gathered here out of mutual respect. It was a sacred place of peace.

What the attackers didn't know, what anyone attacking the truly faithful doesn't understand, is that they were setting us free, granting us a love more powerful than even we understood.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

PROPHESY: The Basement

We were in our spare bedroom. We called it our office, but that wasn't accurate. It was a house for all of our crap that we had yet to unpack from our move. We had just finally cleaned it up enough to get to the closet, where she was moving the carpet off the trap door.

The trap door was large, professionally built. It was framed to be a noticable fixture before it was covered with carpet and forgotton about. I watched anxiously as she pried it open, and we both reeled from the smell of forgotten air, tainted with decades of Alaskan must.

The ladder leading downwards on the far side looked promisng, and she elected to go first. I held the flashlight, and she slowly climbed down the first few steps. Suddenly, she yelled, and I heard her fall. Judging by the time of her yell, it must have been twenty or thirty feet.

Worried, I poked my head through our threshold and looked into the gaping yet somehow well-lit expanse below. Immediately below the trapdoor was a balcony. I could see stairs leading off this balcony to my right, and around the room in front of me. The main floor, where she had fallen, had a beautiful art-deco style tile pattern, and the walls were adorned with light fixtures and painting from the same area. When I saw her, she looked more excited than hurt, her eyes conveying a sense of calm and joy that betrayed the big, bloody scrape on her face. She, and now I, both realized that we had quite literally fallen into a magnificently unexpected treasure.

But the immediate situation had to be addressed. How do we get her out? I had to make sure someone was here to keep an eye on my boy. Just barely walking and very curious, he'd share her fate in the basement if he was allowed close enough. My friend was here. Suddenly, I remebered him coming over earlier to help with the clean-up. I grabbed the boy and began walking around the house looking for my friend.

Rats, he must have left earlier. I left to inform her, and she seemed content exploring for the time being. I set off, running to the grocery store, where my parents happened to be. They watched the boy as I then ran to the theatre to meet another one of our friends.

While I was explaining to her the magnitude of our situation and what needed to be done, she came around the corner, anxious to show me something. I followed her, in utter disbelief, as she was in a hole in our office closet not twenty minutes ago.

We rounded the corner into a large hallway with three very large, red doors. They seemed like barn doors, mounted with rollers on pipes above them. Very inconspicuous decorations, considering the condition of the theatre. She walked to the middle door, and slid it open. There was actually a cavern behind this one, plenty tall and wide, but only a few feet deep, ending with a pair of beautiful art-deco style stained-glass doors. There was also a little push-button panel on our right, with five ivory buttons.

She typed in a sequence, and it sounded like five notes in a song. The doors opened. We walked into another compartment similar to the first, except we were now on a ramp leading downward. I put I together. This was the main entrance! This must have been a retreat during prohibition! Awesome!

She typed in another set of notes, the next five notes in the same song. We continued onward, two more compartments, each one closing the doors behind us as we entered the next room. The walls and floor were red and dimly, warmly lit in each compartment as we approached the main room.

Finally, in the fourth compartment, she punched in the wrong code. All of the doors behind us opened. We could see up to the big barn door in the theatre. Looks like we'll have to try again...