Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie’

Every life has its challenges. Most challenges here in the First World are fairly inconsequential. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from, where I will sleep tonight, or my physical safety when trundling to the bathroom (floor-flopping cuddle cats aside…). There are millions of people in the world whose lives are far more difficult than mine. And yet, I spend my days crippled by my own mind, fighting to get out of bed and then wondering why I bothered.

My depression tends to be worse this time of year. Summers in SoCal are always hard on me. From that great, searing microwave in the sky over the course of the longest days of the year, to temperatures that would make the devil himself wish for air conditioning. The last weeks of August gave us more humidity than usual in addition to eight days straight with temperatures over 100F. Have I mentioned that I don’t do heat? I look out a window too hot to touch only to see parched, dead yards in between pale suburban cookie cutter houses lining asphalt streets blurred by roiling waves of temperature refraction. And people wonder why I don’t want to leave the house.

I miss my Sequoias and my fog and the smell of the ocean. I feel energized and at peace when I’m in that environment. A daily walk in that would go a long way to helping me feel better. But home is 700 miles away, which makes dropping by for a walk a little inconvenient. Yeah, I’ve lived in SoCal over thirty years, and been in this house with my husband for over fifteen, but none of it has ever truly been “home.” Maybe that’s just a manifestation of the bad chemistry in my head, never truly being satisfied with anything, despite there being nothing wrong.

Or maybe I’m not really home…




Usually when I get like this I hide in one of my computer games. Nothing like killing zombies to avoid the real problems of the world. But these last few weeks have found me spiraling down the rabbit hole that is YouTube. After the usual fare of stupid human tricks and cute cats doing silly things, I wandered into the music halls of my youth: Queen, The Police, Def Leppard, Phil Collins, David Bowie, Van Halen, and – of course – Journey. These musicians helped sustain me through some of my toughest college years. Years when migraines lasting for days would visit me every two or three weeks, when the medication prescribed for those migraines had annoying side affects but no actual effect, and when my chronic depression was undiagnosed and out of control.

If I was down, I’d listen to Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” or Queen’s “Who Wants To Live Forever,” over and over and cry my eyes out. If I needed a pick-me-up, it was Van Halen’s “Panama,” or Def Leppard’s “Photograph.” Everything was done according to my mood, which could languish in darkness for days, then change in an instant. Music was my greatest love and my greatest comfort, and those musicians all have special places in my heart, for without them I’m not sure I would have survived. And it gives me great comfort to know that most of them are still out there performing, in one form or another, and still selling out venues. Just goes to show you what it means to have real talent instead of just computerized backing tracks and autotune.

Yeah, there were a lot of bad days, but, ironically enough, those years were also some of my best creatively. I was immersed fully in fields that I loved. First there was music for my undergrad, where I was playing and composing daily, surrounded by talented people who loved what they were doing just as much as me. Then there was graduate work in film, in the heart of the industry – Los Angeles – spending every waking hour in some aspect of production, from writing to directing to editing, and meeting the giants of the field – John Huston, Oliver Stone, Roddy McDowell. Long days, short nights, lots of hard work and frustration and disappointment, and I loved every minute of it.




Listening to the soundtrack of my life from then has made me finally realize what I’m missing now, what I’ve been missing for nearly thirty years – that creative environment. My fear and insecurities forced a detour into corporate America, where I had all the things that people said would make me happy: regular paycheck, house, car, etc. And yet I wasn’t happy. What I really need to be happy is music and writing. And to get back to doing both on a regular basis, I need immersion. I need interaction with other musicians and writers to keep me on track because otherwise I’m just an amoeba, formless and directionless, swimming along in basic survival mode and not accomplishing much more.

I know I have the ability to be successful. Despite the additional roadblocks put up by my gender and my weight and my grey hair, there’s something inside me that will not give up, no matter how depressed and hopeless I feel. I have great family and friends who are supportive, and a husband who is convinced of my future status as a best selling author. But isn’t that what those people are supposed to do, asks the depression. Aren’t those people closest to you required to love and support you no matter what?

Yeah, depression sucks like that. Always finding a way to bring you down. But even at my worst, I still want to live off my writing. Every time I’ve convinced myself that I should just give up such pipe dreams, that little voice in the dark, cobwebbed corners of my mind protests. Not loudly, not angrily, but just enough to not be ignored. One thing being at AFI taught me was that success would come if you work hard, have the talent, and are given a chance. I just need a little help on that chance thing, for I am not as brave as some may think. Certainly not when it comes to promoting myself and networking. That requires people skills that I am sorely lacking. And a confidence I’m not allowed by that damn demon clouding my brain.

What I need is a mentor. Someone who will be equal parts cheerleader and advocate. Someone who will challenge me, but can also be a friend. A musician or writer already in the business who wants to get some extra karma points by taking on this old rehab project. I’m trying to find ways to make those kinds of connections. AFI has a mentor program, and supports independent writing groups, both of which I’ve signed up for despite the logistics of getting into LA at any given time. I have long been a lapsed member of the musicians union, but maybe it’s time to get those chops back, too. I did manage to rescue the Casio from the spare bedroom a few days ago. Combine that with the MIDI connection to GarageBand on my iPad, and I can doodle some compositions – something I haven’t done in what seems like forever.

I don’t just want to be creative, I NEED to be creative. I MUST write, I MUST play music, or I die, little by little, like I have been these last three decades. And if you’re someone in the business who’s managed to stumble through this blathering, and thinks you might be able to help despite me, I promise to be a good student.

Bonus fan girl swoon if you’re Steve Perry.





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Rod Serling


Let me set the scene for you. The time is a weekend thirty years in the future. The place is a locale sarcastically known by its denizens as Happy Acres Cyber Warfare and Retirement Home, and more affectionately termed The Dungeon. As this distant Friday fades to dusk, five people gather around a table in the rarely used conference room of said home. With them are a library’s worth of books, a Vegas casino’s allotment of dice, gallons of Mountain Dew, and seemingly every bag of Cheetos in the county. Welcome to the quarterly meeting of the White Walkers, an aged group of longtime frenemies who come together to solve the world’s greatest problems, while killing orcs, and killing time.

After all, time is the greatest enemy…


“…I told you I’d be playing Rolo again.”

The group groaned as one, eyes rolling.

“Jesus H. Christ, Marcus. You’ve been playing that bastard hafling for sixty years.” Ellie was slouched behind a cardboard screen of charts and tables surrounded by a faded border of formerly colorful monsters. Her pale blue gaze peered at the offender through holographic readers. Modern medicine had rendered her eyes perfectly fine, but theatrics called for glasses. “What is he now, 100th level?”

“112.” Marcus’ riposte was prideful. He appeared a hulking brute of a man, still trim and agile thanks to nanotechnology, but – unlike his friends – his thick pate of hair and beard a shocking white. “He still has some things he can do.”

“Yeah, there’s gotta be at least one dragon’s hoard he hasn’t pilfered yet.” This from a rail thin blonde across the table. Barely half Marcus’ size, Esteban could hold his own in any company just by the wicked glint in his eyes and the ever-present smile on his face.

“Says the assassin with a river of dead bodies behind him,” smirked Maisie. Even at her advanced age, her chocolate brown skin barely carried a wrinkle, while her natural hair fluffed around her head with only a teasing of grey.

“Hey, I never killed anyone outside of a contract unless it was self-defense.”

“Starting a bar fight doesn’t count as self-defense.” The final member of the group – a pale Asian with a spiked mohawk dyed bright pink, and gold-glitter eyelashes – looked up from one of their rulebooks. “And neither does running into a crowd screaming ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ and then changing your mind.”

“You wanted a diversion – you got a diversion.”

“Oh, please. How many times do we have to relive that one?” groaned Marcus.

Gold lashes fluttered. “As many as it takes, sweetheart. Elves don’t get resurrected. We had twenty years invested in that …”

“…beautiful bastard and you killed them,” the group finished in exaggerated unison. Artificially bright green eyes narrowed at them in annoyance.

“Kim, we’re moving on,” sighed Ellie. “Why don’t you join us? It’s not like the next character wasn’t just a name change on the first.”

“It’s the principle, dear. We had to start from scratch.”

Maisie smacked her hand flat onto the table, jostling dice. “That’s a fantastic idea. We all start from scratch.”

“What? Wait…” The flash of bewilderment faded from Marcus’ face. “You mean, roll up totally new characters?”

“Shit, we haven’t done that in decades,” mused Esteban. “I’m not sure I know how to do that anymore.”

“Yes, you do,” declared Ellie. She leaned back in her hover chair and released a sinister grin. “And furthermore, it must be a character race and class you’ve never played before. Under first edition rules.”

“FIRST edition?” Kim’s mohawk waved with the shake of their head. “My, aren’t we showing our age…”

“Don’t play that card, dear. I see your first edition books in that stack of yours.” Ellie gestured with a well-manicured hand. Kim’s lips tightened and they made a dramatic effort of looking away.

“Well, if we’re going to do this, we need some proper music,” declared Esteban. He called up a holoscreen from the watch on his wrist. “What’ll it be?”

“Led Zeppelin,” from Marcus.

“Aerosmith,” stated Maisie.

“The Monkees,” muttered Ellie. To which her companions laughed. She scowled at them.

“There is only one choice, my friends, for such a glorious new beginning,” began Kim, and they looked tellingly around the circle. “David Bowie, who constantly remade himself as we now do.”

“That’s the problem,” frowned Esteban. “Which version of Bowie do you want? Ziggy? Thin White Duke? Big 80’s Hair? Jareth the Goblin King? Tin Man? Sinister grunge?…”

“Ziggy, of course.” Kim sighed. “That’s like asking which group is better: The Beatles or the Rolling Stones.”

“Stones.” From Marcus.

“Beatles.” From Maisie.

“Hey,” Esteban broke in before the age-old fight continued. “Did you see that Keith Richards is doing another tour? He’ll be using holographic substitutes for Mick and the rest.”

“That man definitely made a deal with the devil,” Maisie shook her head knowingly, and reached for pencil and paper.

“The one on Capitol Hill, or the real one?” Ellie rifled through her stack of books.

“Aren’t they one and the same?” Digging through a large Royal Crown bag of dice, Marcus triumphantly pulled out a badly beaten plastic D20 with no discernible numbers on its face. “Hah! Found my lucky one on the first try!”

“Depends on whose side is talking,” Esteban commented, scrolling through the selections on his holoscreen. “There’s always at least half the country that thinks so.”

“What happened to our politics-free zone?” Kim huffed. “I get enough of that with the grandkids.”

“Mine still can’t get why we do this in person.” Marcus sighed. “Everything’s holo-conferenced now, and computer-supported. They don’t have to leave the house for school like we did. They don’t even have to write. Or read, for fuck’s sake.”

“Good for them,” nodded Kim. “They won’t have to suffer the bullying that we did.”

Esteban raised a dubious eyebrow at them. “Have you been on TwitFace lately?”

“I thought we met in person because Big Brother couldn’t listen in on our grand plans to overthrow the government.” Maisie’s dark eyes glanced over her companions. “You did all leave your syncs in the Faraday cage, right?”

While the others nodded, Ellie’s expression faded into a guilty smile. Maisie stared at her in disbelief.

“You didn’t!” she gasped.

Ellie shrugged apologetically. “You know I’m a tech geek. Now that they’ve got the bugs worked out, I don’t have to worry about headaches from the implant anymore.”

“No headaches, but no freedom anymore, either.” From Esteban.

“You can turn off the GPS function.”

“And they can turn it back on without you knowing it,” Marcus worried. “Jeez, Ellie. You were the last person I expected to do that.”

“It’s okay, hon.” Kim waved a magnanimous hand. “I’ll make sure you’re exempt from the listening rotations.”

“So I guess there’s still some things the President can do?” snorted Esteban.

“Some.” A wry smile played across Kim’s thin, pink lips. “I’m living proof that resistance is NOT futile.”

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These last few weeks have been a bit of a blur. We had one of our major historical events the last week of February, which meant the week before was all the prep and packing. Since it’s less camping and more moving for us, it can be quite tiring. Plus this was the first time we took the cats, adding a-whole-nother level of stress to things. Thankfully the weather cooperated for a change and we had a lovely week of moderate temperatures in the Arizona desert. And the cats did remarkably well, all things considered.

Just wait until we get out of here…


But it left me quite knackered, as my UK friends say. Add that to some modern world frustrations and the political shenanigans of our current USA leadership, and I fell into the Dark Pit for a little bit. Just only now peaking my head up over the rim. Still quite scary out there, but I’m trying to keep myself motivated with plenty of chocolate, kitty play time, and a right good shot of bourbon.

Music plays a huge part in helping me get through the day. My collection offers such a broad selection, there’s almost no mood for which I can’t find a soundtrack. I’ve already let you in on some of my classical (Part I) and jazz (Part II) tastes, so this week I’ll concentrate on the rock/pop world. It’s going to be really tough, though, given my formative years were spent in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s – a giant era for the music scene now broadly referred to as “Classic Rock.” The Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, Janis Joplin – the list of greats could go on for days. The fact a good number of those are STILL recording/touring in some form or another only goes to show how enduring the music is. Trying to winnow such giants and their descendants down to a select few I can share in a few hundred words took some work. I finally just sat back and looked at my collection and to those artists I seem to visit again and again, regardless of my mood.

You are already aware, of course, of my love for David Bowie. After years of taking him for granted, his death last year fell particularly hard on me, so I wrote about him (Legacy, GaGa NoNo) as atonement and tribute. The argument could easily be made that one need have only his albums in their collection and still have nearly all the styles and sub-genres of modern music represented. But since I’ve already droned on about him, I’ll move on to some of my other choices.

First up is Sting. Formerly of The Police, he’s spent far more time as a successful solo artist than he ever did as front man for the ‘80’s banner group. And I have more of his albums than of anyone else, even without counting the badly worn cassettes of The Police played nearly to death in my college years. His musical range is extensive, running from punk to rock to jazz to classical. The way he plays with tempo, time signatures, keys, and words keeps me coming back over and over again. Every album has something to just adore. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the one that came to mind today is from his 1987 album …Nothing Like the Sun. Maybe it’s because of my mood these last few weeks, or just the lush sound and simple, pointed lyrics. Whatever the reason, it still gives me goose bumps.




If you have time for more, here’s a concert he did in Paris back in November that opens with the same song. He’s certainly aging much better than I am…




My next choice is Evanescence and their powerhouse singer/writer Amy Lee. Their 2003 debut album, Fallen, roared to over seventeen million copies sold and two Grammy awards. The single “Bring Me To Life” was featured in the movie Daredevil, has been covered by numerous artists, and is still a goth rock anthem. Lee’s ethereal voice has an astonishing range and clarity that seems almost unworldly. Combined with her dense, orchestral music, and pounding metal rock rhythm, the result leaves me equally exhilarated and exhausted. And her lyrics sometimes seem like she’s been rattling around in my head for inspiration. Kinda scary, when you think about it. I’ll take anything she gives, and for you I offer:




Or for the full concert experience, here’s the band from a performance in New York last year:




I’m probably going to take a lot of shit for this next choice, but everybody has a guilty pleasure and this one’s mine. I give you Nickelback, Canada’s best selling and much-maligned grunge/rock/pop band. Despite being referred to as “hard-rock ridiculousness” and “insipid,” they have total record sales topping over 50 million world-wide, multiple Grammy nominations, sold-out arena shows, and were named Group of the Decade by Billboard. I suspect they’re reading their critics while laughing all the way to the bank.

Most of you probably know their hit “Photograph,” among others, but you may not know they donated all digital proceeds from their song “If Everyone Cared” to Amnesty International and International Children’s Awareness Network, and have played numerous charity events to support various other causes as well. So what if they’ve fine-tuned their music into a sleek pounding of rock-n-roll average. Their sound has become almost iconic and is instantly recognizable, something most musicians only dream about. They are caught in a “damned if you do – damned if you don’t” situation: give us more of the same, but be original, and if you’re making that much money you must be a sell-out.

Ya know, sometimes I just need some mindless bass-thumping rock, and Nickelback fills the bill. Besides, occasionally they come up with a very topical little ditty, like their recent release:




And for the truly brave, here’s their 2013 Rock in Rio show:




You’re welcome.

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When last we met, I promised to continue my music series this week with my favorite pop/rock performers. That was written before I spent a week camping in Arizona at one of our big historical events. It was a lovely week and we had a good time, and now I am tired and brain dead. So, please to make do with some video instead:


Not Only Fashion Caffe’



Not Only Fashion Caffe’

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It’s that time of the year when we look back over the past twelve months and evaluate things. The things we did, the things we said, the things that happened. We try to figure out why things are the way they are, and how those things affect how we are. We celebrate the little victories, and we mourn the terrible losses.

2016 seems like the Titanic of years – it launched with lots of flash and promise, and then quickly upended into the cold, dark drink of despair. And much like the victims of the original Titanic disaster, most of us are in the water wondering what the hell just happened.


Don’t you dare say it can’t get worse…

I’m sure the experts will be pondering that question for some time to come. It’ll be one of those mysteries that will stymie the great thinkers of the world for the next thousand years, if we manage to survive that long. Given the current make-up of Trump’s cabinet, I’m not sure we’ll last the next year, let alone the next millennium. But we have to keep plugging along, if only to piss off all those who would love to see us fail.

This time of year is also hard for a lot of people. The holidays bring family and friends together like no other part of the year. And when we’re all at the table, or next to the tree, or sitting by the Yule log watching the flames burn the year away, we find ourselves reminded of those who are not with us any longer.

It was twenty years ago this month my brother died in a car accident. He left behind a widow who couldn’t cope, a two-month old baby who couldn’t understand, and family and friends who couldn’t see the world without him around. Twenty years ago, or yesterday – time doesn’t really matter in such things. There are still those moments when I think, wow, I really should tell him about…

I think he'd really like my novel...

I think he’d really like my novel…

My brother was still in elementary school when I went off to college. From that point forward I lived hundreds of miles away from home. I missed his football games, his girlfriends, his jobs, his growing into a pretty cool dude with a big heart. I wasn’t there for him when he got stupid and was picked up for DUI. I wasn’t there for him when he suffered a neck injury on the job and had to be retrained because the pain wouldn’t let him do what he wanted anymore. I wasn’t there for him when he and his wife went through some rough patches. I can’t even remember the last thing I talked to him about before he was gone.

The first time I went home after the funeral was surreal. His dogs were still at my Mom’s house and I expected him to come through the front door at any moment. Having lived so far away for so long, it was normal for me to not have him around regularly. But it wasn’t normal to be home and NOT have him around. It really hit me when his daughter – then three or four – asked me to help her tie her shoes. Such a simple act, and it was all I could do to keep from balling my eyes out. That’s when it hit me: my brother had always been there, so I took for granted that he always would be.

Nothing is forever, kids. Nothing.


Our lives are filled with untold number of ships we have to steer: relationships, friendships, partnerships. Too many times we take most of those for granted. All the losses this year in the public venues – from David Bowie to John Glenn – hurt so badly because those people seemed to always be there. Names I had heard and faces I had seen since childhood, suddenly gone. They leave a void that will never be filled. Not having met any of them personally, it’s easier to mourn from afar and move on with life. It’s much harder to do that when it’s family or friends. Especially when you realize how little effort you made to let them know how much they meant to you.

I make a point of thanking my husband whenever he does something for me or around the house. Whether it be bringing me a glass of milk because we can’t dare disturb the cat in my lap, or taking out the trash under cover of dark because he’s in his underwear, I make sure he knows I appreciate his efforts. A simple “thank you” goes an amazingling long way when properly applied. Some might think it’s silly to thank someone for doing something they should be doing anyway, but let me remind you – no one owes you anything. Not one damn thing.

My husband and I are volunteers in this relationship. Neither of us NEEDS the other, but because of our mutual love, respect, and dark sense of humor, we WANT the other. To keep that going in a positive direction, we each make sure the other knows how important they are as often as possible. We don’t wait for birthdays or anniversaries or holidays to cough up an expensive present and then blithely go about our business the rest of the time. We do and say things daily to show each other we always matter. It helps us keep our bond strong, and allows us more open communication. And, much as I like chocolate on Valentine’s Day, I’d much rather have a hug from him just because of some little thing I did around the house. Yes, I just admitted to liking my husband more than chocolate. All the more reason to make sure he sticks around, and that means not expecting him to be there just because we’re married.


So there’s another thing to reflect on this holiday season: who have you taken for granted, and why? Make a point to fix that as soon as possible. Get your ships righted now, because you never know when that iceberg will show up and send you straight to the bottom.

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When last we saw our intrepid explorer, it was the middle of May. Plans had been made for the Memorial Day weekend. Bills were paid. Car was running. Life was offering us a plateau, a little downtime from the bullshit of the last few years.

I should have known better…


A few days after I posted my last May entry, I get a call from my husband in the middle of the morning. He carries a gun for a living, so I always worry about such calls. But since he was actually on the line, and not his boss or the police, I figured it couldn’t be too bad. He tells me he has been hurt in a work-related vehicle accident, and he’ll be heading home once all the paperwork is handled. Just a little banged up, nothing serious, he says. Relieved that he didn’t have to prove his marksmanship on some idiot who’s watched too many heist movies, I get myself out of bed (did I mention I’m not a morning person?), and pull myself together so I can handle whatever’s coming. Because, much like Monty Python’s Black Knight, men never accept the full extent of their injuries, and my former Marine is a big baby when it comes to pain.

I get another call a couple hours later. He’s finally made it home, but needs help getting out of our truck. Forcing myself out into the microwave that is Southern California, I meet my husband at the driver’s side door, where he is oozing out with the grace and agility of a sloth on downers crawling through molasses. His left arm is purple from wrist to nearly shoulder, and swollen to the point of bursting. He’s hugging it close to his body. Forcing one of those “I’m so fucked up” smiles, he says the adrenaline has finally worn off and he’s hurting more than he expected. He has paperwork for the worker’s comp clinic. Being my usual supportive self, I tell him he’s an idiot for not allowing the emergency personnel to transport him from the accident site. One of the best trauma hospitals in California was just a few miles away from there. He was worried that it would cause too much of a problem for me, as the hospital is over sixty miles from home one direction, and our only working vehicle was parked at his office twenty miles from home in the exact opposite direction. We’ve been together over fifteen years and he still hasn’t figured out that I’m a big girl who can problem solve better than most.


So we go into the house and I help him get out of his gear. He can barely move in any direction and breathing is nearly out of the question. We shuffle back out to the truck and I drive as carefully as I can to the clinic. Every tiny bump or shift causes him fiery pain. The clinic is in better condition than most workers’ comp places I’ve seen, but that’s not really saying much. He has to stand because the waiting room chairs are made for midgets and there’s no way he could get out of one once he was in it.

There’s only a physician’s assistant on duty. And while the PA is careful with his enunciation, his English is still difficult to understand. To his credit, a couple questions into the evaluation and he realizes they can’t help my hubby there. They are used to handling cuts, abrasions, and sprains – the usual work related injuries. The PA suspects broken ribs. He says we need to go to the emergency room. Back to the truck we go.

By the time we reach the hospital, it has been over five hours since the accident, and my husband has had no pain medication, no food, and no help. It’s almost an hour before they take him back to be evaluated. They ask me to stay in the waiting room while they get him situated. I wait another hour. When I finally get back to him, he’s hooked up to an IV, a heart monitor, has had x-rays and a CT scan, and tells me they’re going to admit him. Yup, it’s broken ribs, plus there appears to be minor damage to the left lung they want to keep their eyes on for at least overnight. This will make his third hospital stay in four years. I put on my brave face but inside I’m ready to throw up from the stress.


The accident happened when a Lexus SUV driving way too much over the posted speed limit plowed into the side of my husband’s work truck. He was a passenger in the back of the truck, where there are no windows, so he had no idea what was about to happen as his partner pulled out of a driveway and into the travel lanes. The force of the impact was so great, the truck – in the neighborhood of 20,000lbs. GVW – spun across two lanes of traffic, a center turn lane, two more traffic lanes, and bounced to a stop on the opposite side of the road. My husband was bounced pretty badly, too. He was sitting in the delivery seat, belt engaged, doing inventory stuff when he was flung sideways into the crash cage around the seat. There are only a few inches between him and the cage, plus he’s 6’3” and 300+lbs, so you’d think any sort of damage would be minimal. You’d be wrong.

The impact was so sudden and violent, body meeting crash cage resulted in multiple broken ribs, bruises shoulder to knee, and a contusion on his left elbow that immediately swelled up to the size of a grapefruit and turned all sorts of purple. His arm had been caught between him and the cage, causing essentially crush damage to both it and his ribs. X-rays showed no breaks in the arm, but the ribs were another matter. They weren’t just simple breaks. They were misaligned pieces of gravel at multiple points on multiple ribs front and back. The doctor called them comminuted fractures. And there wasn’t jack-shit that could be done to help them heal beyond sitting around and waiting.

The hospital released him the next day with a prescription for Percocet and told him to see his regular physician. After a few calls and a little finagling, we were able to get him set up with the occupational health specialist in our family doctor’s medical group. The workers’ comp adjuster was actually nice and knowledgeable and willing to work with us. Since hubby was admitted to the hospital, the payments would start immediately, instead of the usual seven-day waiting period. When you’re surviving on only one person’s paycheck, that week makes a huge difference.


So we began a four-month odyssey into Fix the Broken Marine. Sadly for my husband, he doesn’t have the receptors most people have for narcotics. That means all the usual prescribed pain relievers did nothing for him. A mixed blessing, I suppose, given the spike in opioid overdoses these last few years (“By The Numbers” – Department of Health and Human Services). But that left him with just prescription-strength Motrin and time to wade through it. He spent the first six weeks sleeping sitting upright in his office chair, feet up on another chair, arm in a sling, bi-pap machine hooked up to a battery because it was just easier than crawling around under desks to try and find a power outlet.

The pain kept him from being able to do just about anything. If you’ve never had broken ribs, just try to imagine every breath, every movement, every pulse of blood through your veins sending fiery pain through out your system. Anything he wanted or needed, I had to get for him or do for him. He is not a demanding patient – in fact, he probably did much more than he should have for himself. But it still took a big chunk out of my day to make sure he was taken care of, and sent our summer plans packing into the great dumpster of Shit Happens.

It was the last week of August before the doctor released him to (severely) restricted duty for work. It was another month before he was finally released for full duty. Over four months from the initial injury, because ribs turned to pea gravel take their sweet-assed time healing in middle-aged men. Thankfully, worker’s comp handled all the expenses for doctors’ visits, prescriptions, therapy, and even the mileage related to all those things, as well as covering lost wages, so we weren’t out anything tangible. Just time. And a little sanity, because here he was home all day without the slightest chance of being out in the garage playing with his anvil, so the Internet and the wife had to keep him occupied. We ended up woefully behind in production for our side business, but we had some great conversations while he recouped, and that’s far more important to me.

So, yeah, 2016 will go down in history for major suckage. Should have known it would when David Bowie returned to the mother ship. He always was several steps ahead of the rest of us…


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I don’t normally watch award shows. Years ago I was a dedicated viewer to the Academy Awards, and would poke my head in on the Emmys and Grammys occasionally, but all the shows became so much over-produced schmaltz that I just couldn’t sit through them anymore. These days, thanks to the lovely wasteland that is the Internet, I can get the complete winners lists, criticize the red carpet couture, and view any interesting highlights without having to suffer through the whole tedious three hours of fake smiles, polite clapping, and crappy elevatorized music. Sorry, Broadcast TV – I’m just not that in to you anymore.


Photo: Kevin Winter/WireImage.com https://www.grammy.com/photos/lady-gaga-85

So I watched Lady Gaga’s Grammy tribute to David Bowie today, well after the fact (you can view it yourself here). At first I was just going to put a few thoughts on Facebook and leave it at that. But, as usual, there ended up being too many words and especially too many links to really be practical for that forum. Hence, this week’s rant for all you lucky readers.

In a nutshell, it didn’t work for me. When I first heard that Lady Gaga had been tapped to do the tribute, I was thrilled. I admit to being a fan. Much like Bowie, she had to resort to antics for attention before people realized there was actually talent there. Kind of a sad statement for our world, but it’s been that way for so long I’ve given up hoping it can ever change. For those of you who only see the crazy costumes and behavior, you need to check out her duets with Tony Bennett (like this one here), or – better yet – go watch her Super Bowl performance of our national anthem (here). It’s not just tough to sing because it’s our anthem, but the vocal range is really demanding and she nails it. Sadly, she didn’t do the same for Bowie.

I think the biggest problem – besides being more over-produced schmaltz – was Gaga trying to BE Bowie. Her costuming, make up, and even mannerisms were all straight from the early Bowie catalogue. I thought she was off to a good start with “Space Oddity” and the facial projections – that was cool stuff. But she proceeded to go off the deep end with the rest of the performance. Too much, too flashy, too desperate.

And just because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, doesn’t make it the best. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to try and produce some sort of fitting tribute to such a giant in your industry. I know Gaga was indeed attempting to give Bowie a proper salute. But no one can ever be Bowie but Bowie. He became a performer because no one else was singing his songs, and the few who did couldn’t do them the way he thought they should be done. He became a rock icon because he had a singular vision and never swayed from it, touching millions along the way and influencing generations of artists through to the end of time. He can be copied (usually badly), but never duplicated.

Also, in reviewing the songs in the medley, the “newest” one featured was “Let’s Dance.”[1] That was released in 1983, folks. 1983! Bowie had over thirty more years of career after that. Thirty more years which included seven extensive tours[2], ten more solo albums (none of which rated less than Silver in Britain[3]), and numerous awards (including two Grammy’s and a BRIT for Best British Male[4]). Why did less than half of his storied career get acknowledged? Why are we only remembering Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke? His later albums are just as good, IMHO, and this “oversight” just seems to cater to the crazy antics and costuming and not the talent.

You want to see the real Bowie? Go get David Bowie: A Reality Tour. I’d recommend buying the DVD because I like watching things over and over, but you can also rent it through Amazon here. This is how I want to remember Bowie. He’s relaxed and having fun and at the top of his game, giving a two-and-a-half hour show that would exhaust people half his age (he was pushing 57 at the time). There’s no flashy costumes, no hoards of back-up dancers, no crazy make-up, no over-dubbing or auto-tune or any of that other production crap the current crop of “singers” depend on. Just a great voice, a hot band, and a lifetime of incredible music.

Lady Gaga was a fitting choice for the tribute. But her approach was all wrong. She could have still done her face projection thing, but used pictures from his entire life as she sang. And then sung only two songs: “Space Oddity” (his first hit), and “Lazarus” (his last). Sometimes going small can be really big, and that kind of approach would have been a lot more attractive to me.

I don’t think Bowie would have been insulted by her performance, or embarrassed. No, it would have been far worst than that – he would have been disappointed. And we all know how terrible a feeling it is when we disappoint someone we really care about. Someday maybe Lady Gaga will realize the mistake she made and will finally blossom into her full talent. Until then, we’ll just have to make due with the likes of David Bowie. Pardon me, I have a concert to go watch again.


(PostScript: I didn’t see it until after I had written the above, but Duncan Jones [Bowie’s son and a brilliant filmmaker in his own right – go see Moon!] had a rather interesting response to Gaga’s performance as well on his Twitter account. You can see it here. Ever the gentleman, I suspect his note is a much more succinct version of my meanderings. But that’s just my take on it. YMMV and all that…)


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie_discography

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_David_Bowie_concert_tours

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_music_recording_certifications

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_David_Bowie

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It’s not even three weeks into the year and 2016 already sucks big rotten eggs.


Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), David Bowie (rock god), Natalie Cole (R&B goddess), and Glenn Frey (The Eagles), all gone. Not to mention a slew of others from television, film, music, and sports.

Minion Avengers (1)

We warned you…


I’m going to unplug the damn thing and see if it reboots back to the original settings…

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We will all be remembered.

Each of us, in our own unique way. Most of us only by our closest family and friends, and then for maybe two or three generations. Some of us may barely touch another soul or two, for mere moments. A few of us may leave something behind that saves our names for the centuries. Or our name gets lost in time while our mark lives on, mysterious and poignant. The most rare of us become transcendent, touching millions, and leaving a legacy impossible to miss or forget.

David Bowie was one of those so very rare. A visionary well beyond the boundaries of mere music, his death this past weekend leaves a void in the creative world that can never be filled. I can’t admit to being a rabid fan, but I always wanted to hear his work, even when I didn’t really understand it. His “Let’s Dance” album was a large part of my college playlist, while “Space Oddity” is required background music for any science fiction writer worth their words. As I browsed through his catalog on YouTube, I found myself relearning just how large a part he played in music, and how much his work contributes to the soundtrack of my life. His passing takes another irreplaceable piece of me.


It’s weird sometimes how people touch your lives and you don’t really understand the depth of that touch until they are gone. I’ve been very melancholy since I learned the news. I didn’t expect that. Yes, I’m always a little sad when someone passes, especially when it’s from something like cancer. I’ve watched several friends die because of cancer. It’s an insidious, hateful disease that wastes its victims to nothingness in so many ways besides just the physical. Fuck cancer. And the horse it rode in on.

But this is more than just being mad at losing yet another bright spot in our universe to that perversion of cell growth. It’s also another mark of time passing by. It’s another reminder that we are all mortal, doomed to take a final step eventually. Bowie’s steps will one day be the metaphorical equivalent of dinosaur prints – forever embedded for countless generations to experience. The rest of us – well, we’ll just have to make due with the few minutes we get before the waves wash our tracks off the beach.

Some – like Bowie – leave an indelible body of work. We still remember Plato and Mozart and Shakespeare, not because of the individual, but because of the tracks they left. For most of humanity, children are the tracks we leave. Our children are our legacy. It is with them that we pass on our wisdom, our experiences, our stories, our existence. For good or ill, it is the children that will remember. And maybe that’s why I’m feeling a little out of sorts about being reminded – yet again – that I’m not getting any younger. Not having had children, who will remember me? What is my legacy? I want to be more than just the eccentric aunt who collected cats and hid in her house, but time is no longer on my side.

When I was a kid, I fantasized about my awesome future. Once I (literally) grew out of wanting to be a jockey, my world became all about music and writing and movies. I was going to be an Academy Award winning writer/composer/director/producer/actress who played in a rock band on the side. Then it was just the writer/composer/producer part, because I wasn’t thin enough to be an actress and didn’t have the patience to deal with people on a daily basis to be a director, and simply didn’t have the chops to be in a decent band. As I became aware of the problems associated with fame, I decided I’d be okay working as a music teacher during the school year and writing award-winning novels over the summers. At least, until the novels brought me enough money that I didn’t have to teach anymore. Then I become an adult, and had to deal with bills and housing and car payments, and it became about doing anything just to get things paid. Somewhere the dreams derailed and were trampled beneath the minutia of real life, and my creative drive was smothered by my fears and insecurities.

It’s been nearly four years since my husband agreed to let me try my writing fantasy full time. Four years I feel I’ve squandered. I don’t write everyday. In fact, most of the last eighteen months – besieged by the blasted eye problems – all I’ve written is this blog. My submission/query list over that four years is woefully short. And I have nothing but rejections to show for them. I’ve hidden in the dark, watching videos and playing computer games, and letting the depression eat me alive.

Yet, despite that, I HAVE finished a novel and several short stories. And while my query/submission list is less than desirable, I at least have the rejections to show for the trying. I’ve also started a second novel and have half a dozen stories in various states of non-completion. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve actually accomplished more than most. Does it meet my standards? Of course not – and therein lies the problem. I am my own worst critic, crippling myself with bars set too high and goals set too large, and then damning myself when I fail.

And here’s where listening to some of Bowie’s works reminded me of what I need to do:

“I, I will be king

And you, you will be queen

Though nothing, will drive them away

We can beat them, just for one day

We can be heroes, just for one day”


 Thanks for the reminder, David. Rest in peace.


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