HOMEWhere I sit down, put my feet up, and try to sound clever.
Well shit. It’s been what? Four months or so since I put anything here? I can go on and on about how “I was meaning to update but this and this and, OMG, THIS happened. Im lazy and broke my NY resolution” and whatnot, but fuck all that. Excuses are like assholes, as they say.
Instead I’ll say: “I’ve been busy. Here is a post.”
Life, In General
If it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. So goes the saying, so goes 2016.
Massive dumps of snow. A couple of upheavals at my work (which I survived so that’s ok). Ms. Tucker started a new, full time job which meant day camps for the kids this summer, and all that implies. There was a trip to Italy in May for our tenth anniversary, but…
Ms. Tucker was booked for surgery in April. She had a spinal compression and they hand to go in and do work on her neck. Four days before that, however, she slipped on a scarf in the front hall, fell, and broke her ankle. So three days before her spinal surgery, she was under the knife getting her foot and ankle screwed back together.
So there we were in Italy, a month and a half later, Ms. Tucker in a walking cast and using a wheelchair when one was available. I was holding her hand or pushing her chair and and helping her traverse places that were designed and built in a time where accessibility wasn’t even on the radar. Hell, they didn’t even have radars.
All in all it was an awesome vacation. Sure, it was trying at times, but we got through it and enjoyed ourselves and life is moving along at its weird pace. Although Ms Tucker was recently back in the hospital getting her foot fixed again. She’s confined to a wheelchair until at least the end of October so I’m driving her to work in the morning and picking her up in the afternoon.
We also have a family trip coming up, but at least we’ll be going to a place where accessibility will not be an issue.
Hopefully this is the end of medical issues for Ms. Tucker (and no one wants it to be over as much as her) and the family can go back to some semblance of normalcy… whatever normalcy is ;)
The Vegan Thing
So I went Vegan late last December. Then we went to Italy in May and I fell off the wagon. Big time. Vegan in Italy was near impossible so I threw it all out and ate whatever. This was kind of ok. I mean, I had meals ranging from super fucking awesome (strangely, the only Vegan meal I had there – which should have told me something) to absolute fucking dog vomit (a place in Venice that actually had me begging for a McDonald’s). I know, I know. I could have made the effort, and I didn’t. Sue me. There was another Vegan on the trip and even he gave up early on and went for the cheese because “you just can’t avoid it here”.
The shitty thing is that, ever since we got back, it was just way too easy to slide back into old habits. It’s been meat and dairy left right and centre for the past three months*. Part of me was like “whatever, it is what it is. The other part of me kept thinking: “Dude, you’re an asshole. You feel like shit physically. And remember Earthlings? The trailer alone scarred you. You feel like a douchebag every time you bite into a piece of (insert deal animal here), so what the hell gives?”
All that being said, the one, major thing I have noticed is that I do kind of feel like shit. By this I mean by the time 3pm rolls around I’m tired, wiped, done. I just want to fall asleep in my chair. I certainly didn’t feel like this at all between January and May. I was amazed how I felt pretty damn good all day both physically and mentally. Now I’m back to being lethargic and grumpy more often than not.
I’ve also put weight back on. Last year around Christmas time, I weighed in at about 185 pounds. By the first week of February this year, I was at about 173-175 and I just kind of stayed there. No extra physical activity required. When an acquaintance asked me recently if I actually felt a difference with the Vegan thing or if it was just to feel better consciously. I replied that I did feel a difference. Now I really know the difference. I’m back up around the 185 level…
So fuck it. I went right back to Veganism, head first. No 90%. I’m going full tilt. And the next time I travel? I’m sticking to it. Even if all I can eat is ice soup.
I’ve started drawing and painting again. I found inspiration when I spent time with a couple of good friends while I was in San Francisco this past March. Both are extremely talented and both showed me their works; sketches, paintings, doodles. All of it fantastic.
Looking at their works made me realize how much I miss Visual Arts. So I decided to start again.
I’m super rusty. Picking up pencils and brushes was hard at first, but it’s coming back and I’m remembering how Visual Art was therapeutic for me in so many ways. It was my first real escape. As a kid, I would lose myself in painting. I would spend untold hours in the basement, sitting at my easel, music playing in the background, painting. Whenever shit got hard to deal with, I painted. Fight with the family? Hide and paint. School going to shit? Hide and paint, Art school not cutting it? Hide and paint something other than what I was supposed to be painting (thinking back on it, that may have been part of their plan). And so on and so forth. This would be a post in itself. Maybe I’ll get around to it someday
At some point in time that I can’t put my finger on, Art felt like it became work and I gave it up. I do know that computers were a big part of this; when I first saw Photoshop back in 1999 or so, I felt like I’d been handed the holy grail of art and design. No more cutting and pasting manually, no more dicking around with messes I had to clean up, no more making mistakes that caused me to start from scratch…
After awhile though, computer art started to feel sterile. Everyone was doing it and I pushed it off to the background and only did computer art if I had to; birthday invites for the kids, family Holiday cards, the odd graphic for the band site. Trust me when I say that I’m not one of those people who loves vinyl, or bikes with no gears, or hand powered coffee grinders (I used to have one of these and it was a fucking nightmare). Yet there was something about picking up a pencil and a paintbrush that just kind of resonated with me.
I’ll be honest and way I’m not drawing every day. I’m only poking at it when the mood strikes. What I can say is that slowly but surely, I’m getiting the feeling back, and it feels damn good.
Fifteen (sixteen?) years ago I’d started writing a screenplay. I had this idea of a not-so-dystopian-future/cyberpunk story rattling around in my head and I figured that with the help of all of the super talented people I knew, a short film could be made. The problem was that the more I wrote, the bigger the story became. It ceased being a screenplay and started to take on the form of a novel. There were big busts of writing over the next year and a half followed by bigger gaps of nothing.
Here and there I’d go back to the story and re-read, edit a few paragraphs, delete a sentence or two, and try and push the the whole thing forward. Problem was I could never quite see the ending. I had this interesting idea that went… nowhere.
Last month I was in the hospital while Tara was recovering from surgery. I was trying to sleep on a super uncomfortable chair and all of a sudden the ending came to me. Just like that. I sat up, pulled my computer out of its bag and started typing; I didn’t want to forget a thing.
The “book” is not done, but there is finally an ending in sight. I have the base laid out and know where the story going. It’s going to take a bit to actually get it there, and I’m going to have to go back and rearrange some things for the sake of continuity, but I’ll get it there. It’s so close I can taste it.
This N That
There are a few more things that are in various stages of draft posts:
- We landscaped the backyard. On our own. Fist, our timeline was too aggressive for local contractors to fit in. Second, the one company that said they could do it wanted ten grand. Before tax. So I learned how to put in patio paves and sod and had at.
- I’ve finally** taken more than a vested interest in the household finances. Big plans are afoot. Big, big plans.
So there it is for now. Life is moving along as it does. The family is good. The band is good.
Life is good.
* Seeing first hand how easy it is to slid back into just grabbing whatever from the store and the fridge made me realize how backwards and crazy we are when it comes to food on this side of the world. I mean, decent produce is always so stupidly expensive (there were times this summer where a small head of cauliflower was selling for six bucks) while factory farm meat, and all that implies, and processed “food” costs pretty much next to nothing.
** Finally, indeed. Ms. Tucker has been taking care of the finances since we met. First, budgeting and finance is something she does for fun. I play guitar, she updates the budget. She’s been trying to get me more interested in this, and it’s finally happening.
Writing writing writing.
Just not here of late.
i am still here and I do have a lot to rant about, trust me. Yet life has become more than a little crazy of late. At the same time, and seemingly out of nowhere, I found a spark, and see the ending of something I’ve been working on for a very long time.
This is amazing. How many takes did they do until they got clips with straight faces?
Shut up, Scott Ian. Just please shut the fuck up.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not the Internet. It’s that no one cares all that much about you anymore (if they ever did. Anthrax was always the weakest of The Big Four):
… it’s interesting that Scott Ian blames the internet seeing as how Stomp 442 only sold 115,000 units and it was released a near full five years before the whole mp3 downloading thing exploded. And their last album in 2011? It sold about 110,000. As for the two albums in-between (each which sold south of 100,000)… well maybe some of it was due to downloading but don’t forget that they were also released prior to The Big Four tour that kinda put you back on the Metal map a little bit. And seriously, until that tour in 2010, Anthrax was not on everyone’s mind (and how many NEW songs did you play on the Big Four tour, and subsequent tours? Right. Nostalgia act).
I’m so very sick and tired of these dinosaurs complaining about how things ain’t like they used to be. Go ahead Scott. Delete your website and social media accounts. Pull your music from iTunes, Spotify, and wherever else it’s available digitally. Pull the physical media from Amazon. Sell your shit only in physical record stores. See where that will get you.
No? Then shut the fuck up.
So I’m going Vegan. Hell, I’ve gone Vegan.
This post has taken a long time to write. I really wanted to think this one through. After all, what caused this change, all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere? Me, omnivore extraordinaire, lover of all things haute cuisine (aka pretentiously cooked food), giving up meat and cheese and crème fraîche and butter?
What the everloving fuck?
While Vegan and Vegetarian cookbooks have been coming into our house for a while, and we’ve been discussing cutting a lot of “unhealthy” (read: heavily processed) food out of our lives, I’ll be honest and say it was a single, simple, selfish thing that made me really start considering a Vegan diet.
“I love fine dining. I love cooking complicated, extravagant dishes. How can I cut all the wonderful meat, cheese, eggs, etc out of my diet and still be able to cook and eat wonderfully pretentious meals?
Then dinner was at a local restaurant called Café My House.
Needless to say when the opportunity presented itself, reservations were made and a meal was had. Their five course sharing plate with wine pairing was simply one of best meals I’ve ever had in my life… and it was completely meat and dairy free.
(Side note, this is the greatest cocktail ever created. You need to go this restaurant just to have this drink.)
Reading through these cookbooks, and thinking back on that dinner at Café My House, I started to see that all the crap I’d ever heard about vegan food is exactly that. Crap. Before me were wonderful, delicious recipes. All made with a complete absence of animal products and a completely different way to look at cooking.
This, in turn, caused me to think about the health, environmental, and humanitarian issues with eating animal products. I realized that these three items stood tall above my wanting of a super fancy dinner. I really started to take a good, hard look at Veganism.
The health issues have been studied and studied, and it’s been proven, time and again that a diet which includes meat, dairy, and processed foods can be severely detrimental to your heath. The China Study is the largest of these and pretty much solidifies the idea that a whole foods, plant based diet is the way to go.
The environmental issues are well known. If you want a good introduction to the issues of food and its impact, especially here in North America where fast food and convenience is thought of as a god given right, the documentary Food, Inc is an excellent starting point.
Humanitarian issues? We all know, or at the very least, have a vague idea of what goes on in abattoirs. In reality, there is so very much more. To put it mildly, we humans are pretty terrible with our treatment of the species of this planet. Yet we just turn a blind eye because business is business and people gotta eat. If you need a simultaneous punch in the head and gut and a kick in the ass to drive this point home, check out Earthlings. The trailer can be seen here. A warning though: it’s a super hard watch and the trailer alone (which is all I managed to get through) will put you in a grey mood for at least a couple of days.
After weighing all this I thought: Fuck it. I’m going to do this. I’m going to cut meat and dairy out of my diet.
And you know what? It hasn’t been hard at all. In fact, it’s been downright easy.
I’d always thought that giving up meat and dairy from my diet would be next to impossible. I thought it would be akin to a junky trying to kick heroin. I pictured myself shaking and sweaty, craving steak constantly or sneaking mouthfuls of cheese when no one was looking.
Since I made the decision, the week between Xmas and the New Year, I’ve eaten meat and dairy twice. The first was my sons birthday; we ate at Beckta (which was reserved in November of last year). A few days later I had a pulled pork sandwich which ended up wreaking total havoc on my insides. After that sandwich, I’ve had no meat and no dairy*.
I basically dove head first into Vegan cooking. The food we’ve been preparing, with the help of cookbooks borrowed from the library, and Vegan blogs on the Internet, has been nothing short of phenomenal. I think we’ve only repeated a couple of dishes. I find it fascinating that I’ve been able to replace every dairy based garnish, sauce, and cream with whole food options. I no longer have to resort to, or rely on, highly processed “food”. I’ll put it to you this way: I love making food for scratch and I now make pretty much every garnish, sauce, cream, “cheese”, etc from scratch… with no animal based ingredients at all.
So here we are. There is more to write, of course. Much more. And I’ll get to it in good time. For now, I’ll pause and catch my breath.
* The dairy thing is not completely true. I should mention that for most of January I was drinking coffee with half and half in it. My reasoning here was that there was about six litres of the stuff in the fridge – yes, I drank that much cream in my coffee – and I didn’t want to just up and waste it. So once the cream was done, about a week after the pulled pork sandwich, I was done with it (I was also using it to make crepes/pancakes/waffles for the kids so it went pretty quickly).
Strangely, this had another effect: other than the odd soy latte here and there – like one a week – I pretty much cut coffee out of my diet. I don’t really like the taste of coffee on its own. My “coffee” was pretty much lots of cream and lots of sugar and a bit of coffee. I do like soy lattes so once the half and half was gone, I set about figuring out how to froth soy milk without buying a machine. I failed. You just cannot froth soy using any of the methods found on the Internet.
Paying five or six dollars for a soy latte every day and/or paying whatever is being charged these days for an espresso machine did not appeal to me in the slightest. So I basically gave up drinking coffee every day. Caffeine isn’t good for you anyway, so I may as well cut way, way back while i cutting everything crappy out of my diet.
Funny thing. The other day we made fajitas. For the kids, we made chicken and they had sour cream and shredded cheese (I’ll touch on this in a forthcoming entry). For us it was fried portobello mushrooms, cashew cream, and home made, fire roasted tomato salsa. Cleaning off the table, I took the spoon from the cashew cream and licked it (yeah, I’m that person) before I put it in the sink. Without even thinking about it (seriously, I was on auto pilot) I then took the spoon from the sour cream and licked it and… holy shit did it taste simply fucking gross. I can’t even describe how disgusting sour cream tastes now that it’s been removed from my diet.
I started writing this post on January 3, 2016…
Normally I don’t make a fuss about resolutions. I know, I know. I’m “edgy” and all that. But really, why do we have to wait until the end of the year to consider ways we can make ourselves better? Yet this is the time of year the local gyms are full of people making good on their resolutions. Don’t worry, regulars. They’ll all be gone by the middle of February at the latest.
Yet here we are. It’s 2016 and I’m writing about making myself better. The timing, however is mere coincidence.
Around the end of November I had started writing the the long overdue “Meat, Potato, and Veg” entry from my birthday dinner when a small series of events happened and I decided to take a bit document what could be considered a New Years resolution… And a pretty hefty one at that:
I’m going Vegan.
Yes, that’s right. I’m going to completely cut all animal based products out of my diet.
… more to come…
“How empty if must feel to work a job that could be abolished tomorrow. One that at best makes no tangible difference to society and at worst encourages poverty, hunger and ecological collapse.”
After all the presents are unwrapped and their plastic contents strewn from one end of the house to the other; after the dinners are eaten and the leftovers have been packed away; after the hangovers have abated and the coffee and Advil have been consumed; after we’ve all been good little consumers for another year, it’s nice to know that there is still some real kindness out there.
Remember, don’t judge the many based on the actions of a few and don’t belive what a rich, white person with terrible hair wants you to believe.
We all occupy this small planet, for better or worse. We all need to be decent to each other. You just never know when you’ll need a helping hand in your life.
Oh Heavy Metal bands from the eighties. You’re so cute in that spoiled child kind of way. I don’t know whether I want to pat you all on the head, or send you to your room like the petulant, snot nosed whiners that you are.
Remember that shit your parents told you when you were a teenager? “One of these days you’ll grow up.”
Turns out, it wasn’t shit. Our folks had been there. They knew what was coming. And, goddammit, the vast majority of us “grew up”. We had to. We had to change and adapt in order to make a place for ourselves in this crazy ass, ever-changing world. We opened our eyes a little and realized that there was more to life than being angry at our parents and living inside our pubescent, rage filled, egotistical, acne covered heads. We saw that we would have to bend, just a little, in order to make life as easy to live as possible. While we still listen to the music of our youth, we also welcomed other genres and artists into our lives. And we’re better people for it.
There are those who didn’t grow up. they refused to cut their hair, cover their tattoos, and buy some jeans that are not blown out at the knees. They listen to the same bands they always have, complaining that “the first three or four records were the best, then they sold out”. We all know a couple of people like this. You can usually find them at the exact same bar every night of the week, getting drunk and commiserating about the Good Old Days® and the If Only’s™. And everything that ever happened to them is the fault of someone else; never themselves.
Hell hath no fury like an old Metalhead scorned.
It seems that there is a good majority of 80’s Metal bands out there who haven’t grown up. And now they’re sitting at the bar complaining that things ain’t what they used to be like back in the Good Old Days®. Of course, it’s not their fault. No sir. It’s the fault of allllll those people out there downloading music for free on the Internet. Stupid technology! It fucking ruins everything!
The fact that a band like Anthrax is still pumping out albums, and are honestly confused that hardly anyone is buying them, amuses me. They blame digital downloading and/or streaming for the lack of sales. They never once think that people just don’t care that much about them anymore. The Same can be said for Queensrÿche. Or, at least, their new singer who thinks the internet is responsible for why Metal isn’t making money anymore, or how they should alter the number of units you have to sell in the US in order to make Gold status because : “Unless you’re a very famous pop artist, you’re not coming anywhere near those numbers.”
Or this gem: “People are listening to shitty MP3s; they’re not getting all the good sonic qualities of the versions on the CD itself”. You all know what I think about that bullshit.
It seems that the old guard of Metal bands and artists are still blaming the Internet … and the fans for using the internet. It’s the fault of people downloading. This is the sole reason for the lack of album sales and cash that came from said album sales. Even though the “industry” as they knew it has changed because tech seriously disrupted the old way of doing things, bands are still bemoaning the shitty sales of physical media.
In reality, these bands simply didn’t adapt. They missed the boat and the train. Now they’re shaking their fists at people boarding aeroplanes.
The reality is that no one really cares about Metal they way people in the mid 80’s cared about Metal. As with every popular genre in the history of music, Metal started off small. Then it grew, eventually becoming so big that you could buy studded belts at the nearest department store and everyone knew the lyrics to Enter Sandman. Then it started to fade, and fade quickly. Then Grunge stomped on it. Then Nu-Metal came along. Now, with the exception of a handful of bands across the entire hard/heavy spectrum, Metal is pretty much back in the basement and small to medium sized clubs (or at yearly, weekend festivals).
Some of these bands are doing ok though. I mean, they’re making a living. A lot of the newer bands are hip to the ways of the Innerwebs and realize that things ain’t the way they used to be. They go forth and do their thing and they manage to pay the bills. Some can pay bigger bills than others, but they’re doing it all based on the new way of doing things (which, of course, will eventually change).
The old Metal and Hard Rock bands, like their hardcore fans, are now trying to reach back and touch who they were and where they had been. They want record execs telling them that they’re the greatest thing in the world and shower them with cash. But it’s not happening. Now the though is: “We should go back to our roots! People will respect us again and buy our albums.”
So the bands try and tap into that original hunger.
The problem is, they’re not hungry anymore. Literally. This whole idea of “getting back to roots” is bullshit. You can’t go back. You already made it to the big show. You’ve already got a nice amount of money in the bank. It may not be James and Lars amounts, but it’s not too shabby. There isn’t any going back to your roots when you’re worth more money than the majority of your fans will ever see in their lives.
They seem to take it as a personal insult when you suggest that they may want to just pack it up. Or just hit the road as a bonafide nostalgia act – kind of like what Metallica is doing these days. Those guys managed to avoid the near crushing death of 80’s Thrash (and Metal in general) by changing things up a bit (known to hardcores are “selling out”). They got really, really big and made a fortune. Now they can release an album if and when they feel like it. For the most part though, Metallica is on the road playing sets comprised of about 95% pre-black album. They know while new material is fun for themselves, the people buying the concert tickets want to hear “Master Of Puppets”. Not “Lords Of Summer”.
Metal and Hard Rock bands from the 80’s, stop trying to stay relevant. You’re screaming at a brick wall. I mean, go on and do that thing you’ve been doing if you want, but don’t expect the entire world to follow your every move and buy every album, t-shirt, and button because, regardless of what you think, you’ve had your time. It’s over. Things have changed and the world has moved on.
Personally, Anthrax hasn’t been relevant to me since about 1989. In fact it’s interesting that Scott Ian blames the internet seeing as how Stomp 442 only sold 115,000 units and it was released a near full five years before the whole mp3 downloading thing exploded. And their last album in 2011? It sold about 110,000. As for the two albums in-between (each which sold south of 100,000)… well maybe some of it was due to downloading but don’t forget that they were also released prior to The Big Four tour that kinda put you back on the Metal map a little bit. And seriously, until that tour in 2010, Anthrax was not on everyone’s mind (and how many NEW songs did you play on the Big Four tour, and subsequent tours? Right. Nostalgia act).
Queensrÿche? They haven’t been on my radar since 1992 or so. Kiss? Pffft. They put on a great show when I saw them on one of their final farewell “no, really this is the last one” tours back in ’96? I think? I can’t remember.
Metal had it’s time in the spotlight. Your careers have nothing to do with people torrenting your songs. It’s just that no one, past a few diehards (and fucking Blabbermouth commenters) really cares that much. While people still love Metal, they also listen to, and love, other kinds of music. Newer artists in different genres are scooping up sales and money now.
The video of “Hello”, released on 22 October, was viewed over 27.7 million times on YouTube in its first 24 hours, breaking the Vevo record for the most views in a day, surpassing the 20.1 million views for “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift. On 28 October, news outlets, including BBC News, reported that “Hello” was being viewed on YouTube an average one million times an hour. The song debuted at number one in the UK Singles Chart on 30 October, with first week sales of 330,000 copies, making it the biggest-selling number one single in three years. On 2 November, the song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first song ever in the US to sell at least one million downloads in a week, setting the record at 1.11 million.
Music in general isn’t in the shit because of the internet. Music is doing just fine, thank you. 80’s Metal, on the other hand…