Welcome to the Sound and Light Show

Sort of a diary for myself ... but you can read it too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


While cleaning today, I decided to dust off my laptop computer using the hose and brush attachement on my vacuum. As I was going over the keys, the number nine key/faceplate/cover thing came off and was sucked up into the hose. Wow, that sucked. (Literally)
Who does that happen to? I guess me. I just spent the last 20 minutes outside in the cold going through the dirt and dust of the vacuum bag searching for the key. Not that pleasant and probably not that healthy. I found the #9 faceplate shattered into a dozen pieces.

I am without a nine. (but how often do you use the #9 anyway?)
Twice in that last sentence to be exact.


Now I am on the internet half seriously looking to see if anyone sells individual replacement key faceplate covers.

Someone has to, the internet has everything.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Been Awhile ...

Been laying low, gearing up for the holidays ... staying busy with:

* The Steelers Season ... and watching all NFL Football in general

* Reading - Been enjoying those 33 1/3 books. (a series of books written about important and/or seminal music albums)

Just finished:

Just started:

** Took my parents to see the musical Mamma Mia this month. I didn't know what to expect from a musical based on ABBA tunes but it was actually very good. My parents thoroughly enjoyed it. My father and I were two out of about a dozen other males there for the show. eh ... No lines for the bathroom.

** I've recently been asked to record piano for a local musician/friend for his two new albums. Boogaloo music. 18 tracks over two albums. All covers from the likes of Pete Rodriguez, Ray Barretto, Joey Pastrana. I have all of the songs at home and I'm trying to learn the music as we speak but it's been pretty tough. I don't have any background in Latin/salsa/meringue style piano playing but I'm doing my best to catch up and learn. We'll see how this project turns out over the next few months.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ballet Maribor

'M' suprised me by getting tickets to the 'Radio and Juliet' ballet this past Saturday. Part of Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, this was a modern take on Romeo and Juliet set to the music of Radiohead.

The choreography was amazing ... and hearing Radiohead tunes blasted at the Byham Theater was thilling.

here are some clips:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Atlanta Visit, Oct 3rd - 9th

Just got back from Atlanta this week. Visiting with the 'Bowser-Kyles' ... cracking jokes with 'Buddy'. We did the usual. Hanging out in the Atlanta fall weather, a trip to Stone Mountain again, played some Wii, went to the movies, listened to music ... basically chilled.

'Buddy' showed me her 'no fear' bungee jumping skills.

Last year at this time I was down in the ATL hanging with the Dalai Lama ... this year, The Black Crowes. Funny how that goes.

Saw the Black Crowes perform with Phil Lesh and his band (former Grateful Dead Bassist) at the new Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta on Sunday Night. Pretty amazing show. Tons of 'Deadheads' in attendance. It was great to hear Phil Lesh play all Grateful Dead tunes. Chris Robinson even came out and sang along to one of Garcia's songs.

The Black Crowes' set wasn't a greatest hits collection as was their set I saw in August but rather contained lesser known tunes and long 'space' jams between/during songs. It was still a great show.

Another great trip to Atlanta.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Another Busy Weekend

I couldn't possibly have done more things and slept less this last Labor Day weekend. My activities included, but were not limited to, the following:
Friday night, 'Mr. Jones' aka 'The Bassclown' was our guest DJ over at the club. He spun a great set, the place was packed and people were moving. All the usual suspects were out and about.

Family, friends ('M' and 'the Jones') and I spent Saturday afternoon at the La Casa Narcisi Winery up in Gibsonia PA attending their yearly wine festival. It was a beautiful afternoon to enjoy the bands, eat food, drink wine, watch the grape stomping, etc. Most importantly though was their 2008 Amateur Wine Maker's competition that my family and I entered our wine in. There were 25 competitors and our Chardonnay came in first place! Unbelievable! I mean our wine is good but I didn't think it was that good.

Saturday evening after the wine festival, 'M' and I met 'Too Much Pink' and her boyfriend over at Moondogs in Blawnox to catch the swing band The Metropolitans.

Sunday Afternoon, 'M' and I decided to go to the Pittsburgh Zoo. Bold choice for Labor Day activities since we knew it would be packed but 'M' had 6 free passes for the zoo that expired that weekend. We went (and made 4 other random people very happy with the free passes we handed out in the parking lot) and it was extremely packed. No problem though ... we did a speed run through the place concentrating on catching the new polar bear exhibit and newer baby elephants. I ran into some old friends, 'Alaska' and 'She1be, and took time to sit and experience some over priced Dippin Dots ice cream for the first time.

Sunday evening 'M', 'Mr. Jones', 'Clover', 'Schaf', 'Litl' and I were all invited to a surprise 50th birthday party for one of our close friends. The party was held at the Alto Lounge in Shadyside from 5pm to 9pm with open bar and free food plus 'Brotha Mike' providing the tunes. The party was fun and relaxing and the guest of honor was extremely surprised. I gave her a bottle of my ... ahem ... Award Winning Chardonnay Wine as a present. :)

After the party, we all convened over to 'Clover' and 'Schaf's' place where we were joined by 'Mrs Jones', 'JimmyAndrewForest' and a few others. 'M' and I hit a wall shortly after that and decided to head home while everyone else made plans to go out for the remainder of the night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peril in Pittsburgh

*Thank you NTMTO Board.

Recent Happenings ...

Last week, I checked out the restaurant Seviche for the first time ... a Nuevo Latino tapas restaurant and bar located on Penn Avenue downtown near the Convention Center. I met my friend 'Em' there for some after work cocktails and we sampled some fresh seviche:

Seasoned with soy sauce, scallions, sesame oil and capers. Served on sushi rice and nori rolls with white truffle oil wasabi mayonnaise and Tobiko caviar

FIRE AND ICE w/ Hamachi (Yellow Tail Snapper)
Our traditional seviche recipe prepared in a spicier version with habanero peppers and red onion and topped with a cool homemade prickly pear granita.

Marinated in fresh lime, jalapeno, cilantro, scallion, red onion, avocado, corn and red pepper

The seviche was excellent and the prices were not too outrageous. There are drink specials throughout the week and the rest of the menu looked rather tasty. I liked the atmosphere and the service was great ... I can see hanging out there again soon.


Friday, 'Litl' and I succumbed to the peer pressure and went and saw The Dark Knight on IMAX ... cause ya know, 'everyone is doing it'. Pretty amazing film. We ended the night over at 'Z- Lounge' with 'Mrs. Jones', 'JimmyAndrewForest' and others to hear 'Bassclown' spin some records.


On Sunday, 'Em' and I went to Highland Park to listen to some Jazz music. Reservoir Jazz is a summer series showcasing some of Pittsburgh's greatest Jazz talent every Sunday afternoon, free in the park. The weather was beautiful and the place was packed with families picnicking, BBQing, playing and hanging out. Very nice relaxing vibe. (and only about a mile from my house!)


Last night, 'Em' and I went to Regent Square Theater to see Werner Herzog's latest documentary, 'Encounter At The End of the World'. The movie is a visually stunning exploration of the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station, headquarters to the National Science Foundation and home to eleven hundred people during the austral summer (Oct-Feb). Herzog, narrating the film himself in his typical surreal yet sincere fashion, examines human nature and Mother nature, juxtaposing breathtaking locations with the profound, surreal, and sometimes absurd experiences of the marine biologists, physicists, plumbers, and truck drivers who choose to form a society as far away from society as one can get. We both really enjoyed the film especially the questions it raisied about our (in)human nature (Herzog is consistently good at doing this, yo).

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Bowser-Kyles invade PGH.

You may know them from the hit 'How I spent MLK Day' and the popular series 'Atlanta Visit Day 1 - 5' ... this time 'Beaner', 'Bowser' and 'Buddy' took time off their Western PA tour to come and visit me in PGH and boy did we have some good times.

'Buddy' (aka 'Jamhands') stopped by on Tuesday to wreak complete havok on my house. I introduced her to the magic of the polaroid camera and she told me that my house was 'pretty' but that it clearly 'did not have enough toys'. We then had a nice lunch that consited of sliced turkey, strawberries, carrots, cheezits and gummi bears.

Tuesday night, 'Bowser' took 'Buddy' to grandma's house while 'Beaner' (aka 'Gus Macker') and I went down to the Byham Theater to see The Black Crowes. It was an intimate yet lolud and rocking experience catching the band in this small 1300 seat theater. The band played for a good 2 hours, mixing it up between songs from their new album, older albums and even some rare b-side material. They also jammed out some songs into very psychedelic medleys ...

The setlist:

Movin' On Down The Line - (2008 Warpaint)
Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution - (2008 Warpaint)
Sting Me - (1992 The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion)
Another Roadside Tragedy - (1997 Unreleased)
Nebakanezer - (1996 Three Snakes and One Charm)
There's Gold In Them Hills - (2008 Warpaint)
Poor Elijah - Tribute To Johnson (Medley) (1970 Eric Clapton Cover)
Driving Wheel - (2007 Brothers of a Feather)
Whoa Mule - (2008 Warpaint)
Girl From A Pawnshop - (1996 Three Snakes and One Charm)
My Morning Song - (1992 The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion)
Twice As Hard - (1990 -Shake Your Money Maker)
Oh Josephine - (2008 Warpaint)
Soul Singing - (2001 Lions)
Wounded Bird - (2008 Warpaint)
- encore -
Feathers - (1995 H.O.R.D.E. Tour Promo Disc)
Mean Town Blues (1969 Johnny Winter Cover)

Wednesday afternoon, 'Bowser' and our friend 'Zerbs' (aka 'Lehman') came back into to town to join 'Beaner' and me for an afternoon at the Mattress Factory, Carnegie Museum, and lunch and cocktails in Oakland.

The four of us then went to Soba Restaurant in Shadyside to partake in their Corn Festival Tasting Menu. (we were joined by 'Bassclown' and 'BJ' aka 'Hair Extensions'). This was another fantastic tasting menu just like the one I went to in June except this time the 'secret ingredient' was corn.

The chef started us off with a tasting of Coconut Milk and Ginger Soup

1st Course:

Corn Brulee w/ chili lime salad
Corn and Crab Fitter with soy dipping sauce
Corn and Littleneck Clams with chanterelle mushrooms and yunnan ham sauté

2nd Course:

Halibut Ceviche with corn, plum tomatoes, peaches, chili's, cilantro and crushed coriander oil

3rd Course:

Grilled Medium Rare Flank Steak with roasted corn, tomato, onion, thai chili's, basil, lime and soy sauce

4th Course:

Toasted Steamed Cornbread with cardamom honey peaches, whipped crème fraiche and salted caramel popcorn

We also had the wine pairings with dinner (a Chardonnay, a Riesling, a Cabernet and then an Ice Wine for dessert)

The tasting menu was very fulfilling ... I mean, starting off with a crab cake and creme brulee is pretty hearty ... and the ceviche was out of this world with the combination of halibut, chili's, tomatoes and the surprise taste of peaches. The portion of flank steak was very, very generous too. The corn was prevalent in every dish but it definitely wasn't the main star. Most of us felt that the cornbread topped with cracker jacks was a little lackluster of dessert after an extravagant meal like that but I enjoyed it since I never eat cornbread. Overall, I thought the meal was incredible and I can't wait until their next one. (October: Vegetarian Indian Tasting Menu)

We ended the night having cocktails in Shadyside ...

Everyone left yesterday afternoon, bringing an end to my midweek-mini-vacation.

Let's catch up ...

and clear up any confusion. My latest MRI and the two doctor's appointments I had this week were all just to check up on my cervical spinal fusion from May and to see if that bone lesion in my upper left arm was anything.

Double good news:

The bone lesion is just a cyst growing in the hollow part of my arm. Many people have these and they usually go unnoticed. (Mine just happened to be spotted during one of MRIs). When I asked the Doctor why/how they happen and he said 'they just do'. I'll have to keep tabs on it now since I know it is there but I really shouldn't worry about it too much ... he said to have a yearly xray just to make sure it's not growing or affecting the bone around it. I can live with that.

Also, my spine is healing just fine ... so fine in fact that the doctor decided that I do no need to go to Physical Therapy. Bonus.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will it ever end?

13th hospital visit and 4th MRI of 2008

C'mon kids, laugh with me, not at me. ;)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jazz is in the house

Last night my friend Jwan brought his mixing skills to the club. He played an awesome set of house and techno music as usual. This time around, however, we tried something new. We had two guys play live trumpet and saxophone along with him, at times, to see how it sounded. Jwan would break his set down and play some minimal tracks that the guys could riff over. The result was really freeform and jazzy and the crowd loved it. When the horns were finished, Jwan would ramp up the music back into something more complex and full bodied. Below is about a minute of last night that I caught on my camera ...

*I realize the video is very dark but at least you can hear the horns to get an idea of what it was like.

** we usually have a live bongo player who comes every week and plays along with the DJ but this week he was a no show.

We're going to try it all again next week anyway ... trumpet, horns, DJ, etc.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pool Party 08

It's 90 degrees and humid again this week. Who wants to go swimming?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wine Label Pics

Better resolution pics of the actual labels:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Wine

My labels are finished for the 4 types of wine I made this year; Burgundy, Valdapena, Chardonnay and Cabernet. Last year's wine was named 'Son et Lumiere' (where ever did I get that from?) This year's wine is titled, 'Testa Della Zucci' which roughly translates to 'Head of Pumpkin (Gourd)'. My Italian Grandmother (Nonna) called me 'Punkinhead' while growing up. Yes, it was 'Punkin' and not 'Pumpkin' ... the pittsburgh/italian accent cut out the 'ump'. She also used to shorten and mash together words to make up new ones like 'immakillyou' when she felt like it ... 'immakillyou punkinhead' she used to say.
but anyway ...

In honor of her, I bring you 'Pumpkinhead Wine' courtesy of Casa di Carfagna.

Last night I got together with 'Clover', 'Schaf' and 'Litl' for a short wine tasting. We made it though a bottle each of the Burgundy, Cabernet and Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is still everyone's favorite. The others still taste like alcoholic grape juice. ;)

Monday, July 7, 2008

4th of July weekend pt. 2

Other stuff that happened over the three day weekend:

I hung out and drank too much with 'Clover', 'Schaf', 'Litl', 'JimmyAndrewForest' and a bunch of others. Everyone ended up at 'The Castle' for afterhours but I wussed out and went home.

On a whim I went and saw 'Wall-E' with my friend 'Torque Smackey'. Clever film but not as good as 'The Incredibles'.

I spent a good amount of the weekend trying to load the music sequencer and recording software Pro Tools M-Powered onto my computer. A bitch of a time but I finally got it working properly.

And last but not least, I took advantage of my museum membership and went to the Carnegie Museum with 'Evil Genius' and 'Litl' for an afternoon. I finally checked out the new Dinosaur exhibit and the impressive Carnegie International 'Life on Mars' exhibit.

4th of July Weekend

Very eventful but not in the usual way.

Every year my family and some close family friends make our own wine. We buy the juice of different grapes and then 'rack' the wine every 7 weeks to extract the impurities. We make all types of reds and white; (Cabernet, Valdepena, White Zinf, Chardonnay, Chianti, Burgundy, etc). We started this year's batch back in October of 2007 and this last Saturday, July the 5th, the wine was finally ready to bottle. We spent the entire day cleaning and bottling the wine; a production of about 963 bottles give or take a few.

I couldn't fit all of the cases in the pic ... but those shown are piled two high making it about 750 bottles of wine in this pic.

Anyway ... it took close to 9 hours for the nine of us involved to bottle everything. Of course, this was partly due to the fact that there were at least 30 other people in attendance to watch us work making it more of a fun gathering than actual labor. AND of course we were drinking the entire time; sampling the vino and doing shots of Pelinkovac. AND of course as with every Italian family event of mine, the food spread for the day was most impressive; hot sausage, meatballs, BBQ ribs, brochette, fried chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage patties, kielbasa and sauerkraut, sushi, grape leaves, homemade pizza bread, cakes, brownies, tons of fruit ...

I was drunk, stuffed and tired by the end of the day but I still managed to meet up with my old high school friend 'Evil Genius' for dinner before heading home.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Weak Gardening

Work around my house has come to a screeching halt due to my spinal surgery this summer.

In a half-hearted attempt to at least feel some acclomplishments and add some color to my back yard, I purchased a box of mixed flower seed that you just 'shake out' where you want the flowers to grow. The box lists some latin names for the 2 dozen or so types types of flowers that are supposed to be included in the seed but there are no reference pictures ... so I really don't know what's what. (plus, about only 4 types of flowers have actually bloomed from my efforts)

Below are pics of some of the results where I 'planted' near my retaining wall.

The orange flowers that are flourishing the most are really nice. I like how they are vine-like and have grown over the wall ... I only wish I knew what kind they were. Anybody?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Euro 2008

Today was the last day of the Semi Finals. Spain beat down Russia today 3-0. Germany squeaked past Turkey yesterday 3-2 scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute. I worked only half days both days so I could be home to watch the games live at 14:45 Eastern Time. C'mon, You have to have your priorities. Plus I'm an Engineering Consultant for German company. I get bonus points for liking soccer.

The final is on Sunday and I just made plans to watch it with a friend visiting from Seattle. He called to see if I would be around while he was in town and got very excited when I mentioned wanting to watch the game since he's very much into it himself. Synchronicity indeed.

Awesome Dream ...

I had a dream last night that I went to visit my orthopedic surgeon for a check up and he had bad news for me. Looking at my xray, he showed me that he missed a herniated disc and stated that I would have to be operated on again. He then went on to say, 'But this one is on me since it was my mistake. You won't have to pay a dime.' I remember feeling a little bit a dread but then my (bio)Dad showed up and we went to Kennywood. I told him about the 'mistake' and we both laughed. Funny how dreams work.

Incidentally, I did just get my bill for the surgery*. The total came in somewhere a little over $40K not counting all of the doctors visits, xrays and MRIs I took previously. Of course, I don't have to pay a dime since my health insurance rocks (even if they did desecrate our steel building and ruin our skyline).

*I'm guessing getting the bill is partly why I was dreaming about it all. That and the fact that last night I was feeling really 'achy' before going to bed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm Free

Yesterday was the last day of me wearing the soft collar around my neck. I am so relieved to be done with it. To celebrate, 'Litl' and I went to Kelly's Bar for a few pints of Franziskaner and a shot of Jameson (or as 'Meg F' refers to it now, 'my medicine'). At midnight, the Shadow Lounge's owner also turned dirty thirty so more shots of Jameson were poured to celebrate his birthday. We were in good company as usual; 'Schell', 'Torque Smackey', 'Jack Wilson', 'Taracalypse', 'Pipecock' and many more joined us.

It's good to be back out in the social scene.

BTW, the Kokolo show I was helping promote last week was phenomenal. Attendance exceeded everyone's expectations and the band played an energetic, close to 2 hour set. I know we were violating fire code capacity at the venue because at one point the front door to the place could barely open because of the standing room only crowd pushed up against it. The place was sweaty, jammed and jumping. The band made money and I made money and everyone was happy.

There was a little scare though ... the band called me from the road before the show as they were driving in from NYC. They called at 6pm to tell me they were still at least 2 hours away from Pgh and that they were in stand still traffic on the turnpike due to a major accident. Doors to the show were listed to open at 10pm and the band still needed to get there, unpack, sound check, get dinner and relax before going on. It ended up being pretty tight ... the band arrived around 9pm. Sound check went well and then they were off to a friend's house who had prepared dinner for the band. It was 10pm, people were already arriving and the band was just off to have supper. I was supposed to have a DJ occupy the time until the band went on but there was some miscommunication with the club and they had lent their turntables to be used by another DJ in another room for the night. I had to play a CD while people got restless waiting for the band to go on. Finally the band got back to the club around 11:30pm and after a quick meet and greet with some friends in a back room (and a quick 'break a leg' shot of Jameson by all of us) they took the stage.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon boat races are believed to have originated in China more than 2,500 years ago, contemporaneous with the Greeks beginning their games at Olympia. Beyond a sporting event, the races and water festivals serve as a veneration to the dragons, hoping for health through the dangerously warm and humid summer months.

Last night I ventured off to Soba Restaurant with 'Clover', 'Schaf' and 'C.A.' to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with a special tasting menu inspired by the cuisines of south-central China.

1st Course:
Dim Sum
Scallop shu mai, spicy dipping sauce
Shrimp potsticker, citrus-soy sauce
Lobster bun, orange-scallion dipping sauce

2nd Course:
Little neck clam bowl, lo mein noodles, choy, chili and fermented black bean broth

3rd Course:
Flash cooked rare tuna, ginger, garlic, asparagus and scallion salad

4th Course:
Almond custard bao, szechwan-berry sauce, ginger poached apricot*

We also had wine pairings with each course; two Rieslings, a Pinot Noir and a Sherry for dessert.

Overall, the meal was quite good with the rare tuna being my favorite. The tuna was prepared perfectly; barely, barely seared with an oil and citrus sauce over it, sort fo like a seviche style. The 1st course 'appetizers' were all good but very small and the citrus sauce on them kind of over powered the flavor of the main ingredients. The clam bowl was nice and hearty, the most filling of the three dishes. I would have liked less noddles and more clams and choy though.

*Since I'm allergic to almonds, the restaurant let me switch to a Lemongrass creme brulee with coconut tuile and fresh tropical fruit salad as my 4th course. Excellent.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting back to normal

So I've been going to work 3 days a week now. Driving myself. Running errands. Getting back to my normal life.

I stopped by the Shadow Lounge last night to drop off posters and flyers for the next show I'm promoting on June 20th. I ended up sitting in front of the lounge talking with 'Jmall$' for a while. It's good to start getting back out into the social, public atmospshere.

I then decided to go over to Kelly's Bar to see 'Meg F' but there was a sign on the door saying 'Closed for Private Party'. Figures ... I haven't been to Kelly's in well over a month and the night I decide to stop by, I'm not allowed in. I texted 'Meg F' only to find out that the AC was out and it was pretty miserable inside anyway.

I also stopped by to see a musician friend of mine to pick up some new music to work on. My friend is an internationally published artist on various record labels; Record Kicks, Freestyle Records, Vampisoul . He is leaving PGH tomorrow to go to NYC and then on to Europe to tour until September of this year. He has a new album he's been working on and he wanted to give it to me to listen to while he's gone and possibly add my musical touch to it. When he returns in the fall, he plans on recording and producing the album here in PGH and he has asked me to help out. Pretty freakin' cool. I had to pick up all of the individual music tracks last night for the 10 unfinished songs. Over the next few months I'll dissect the album, assemble and mix the songs, learn them inside and out to see what I can come up with. Hopefully, when he returns in September, I'll have come up with something he'll like and we can get moving on finishing the project.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The New Brace

I had my first post surgery doctor's visit today. Everything is going well; my insides are fine and my outsides are fine. My spinal fusion is healing nicely and my incisions are looking healthy. I dig my throat scar. Today was the first day I got to see it since it was covered with surgically tape before. It's small and the doctors did a great job of keeping it compact and slim ... but it is still there. I'll have to come up with a great story to go along with it ... you know, like in the movie 'Jaws' when they all start comparing scars and stories. Anterior cervical spinal fusion sounds too wussy and technical ... back alley knife fight in the outskirts of Shanghai sounds much more interesting ... or something like that.

I get to start wearing this 'soft collar' instead of the hard plastic brace I was previously sporting. Damn, this new 'collar' is bulkier and more in my face than the hard brace ... it's like a wrapped a small pillow around my neck. What the heck? I'm a little disappointed about this. I thought I was going to get something smaller, more comfortable and easier to conceal.

Anyway ... I have to wear the collar for at least 3 more weeks (ugh) 24 hours a day (minus the showers) but I am allowed to drive now. Huh? ... I don't see how that is recommended since this collar is more obtrusive than the last one.

oh well ... I see the doctor again in 2 months and then I'll start physical therapy.

I'm still supposed to take it easy, no lifting more than 20 lbs, so my summer is going to be pretty laid back.

Below is a pic I took of my xray today. Nice shot of my hardware, huh?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I've left my house 3 times in the last 15 days.

Yup ... going a little stir crazy.

I've had a handfull of visitors, read one book, played a lot of piano, taken plenty of oxycontin, watched 8 good netflix films, watched too much bad tv and played a ton of xbox to help pass the time.

I also designed the flyer for the next show I'm promoting and arranged promotions in all of the local papers:

oh ... and I also did a little bit of work work.
I have an appointment with my doctor next week (5 days from now). Hopefully I will be told that I'm allowed to start driving again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Visiting hours have now begun

Today I had my first visitors over since my surgery last week. 'Clover', 'Schaf' and 'Litl' stopped by for a few hours. They brought me a case of Heineken, a beautiful bouquet of 'Get Well Soon' flowers and a 'Freedom is not Free' lap blanket from the Vets. Awesome! Thanks for thinking of me!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Post Surgery

My anterior cervical spinal fusion surgery was on Wednesday. I passed with flying colors. The surgery was a success; the two herniated discs that were touching my spinal cord were removed and I no longer have pain in my left arm. I was out of the hospital and back home by Thursday evening, a day earlier than expected ... of course, I'm in a huge amount of pain, all over my body, but that is expected. I'm also a bit loopy as I write this since I'm on a pretty steady dose of Oxicotin.
There was a little problem during my 'coming to' after surgery though. As the doctors were removing the breathing tube from my lungs and bringing me off of the anesthetic, my lungs filled up with fluid. I was told that this doesn't happen too often but basically as I was waking I felt like I was drowning. Every time I took a breath my lungs would just fill up. I would choke the fluid out but then gasp for another breath and again, lungs full of water. It was pretty intense since I was just coming to and didn't have any idea what was happening. The doctors had to hold me down as I panicked ... I remember blood gushing from my nose from where the breathing tube was pulled out ... I was injected with something to calm me down as the doctors just kept shouting at me to cough up the fluid or swallow it or spit it out ... they also shoved a suction hose down my throat to help remove the fluid. This went on for about 10 to 15 minutes; me just coughing and coughing ... like I was just dunked in a pool and choking on water. It took most for the day before my lungs were finally cleared. I had to wear an oxygen mask for close to 24 hours.
Anyway, now I am at home, 3 days since my surgery ... bruised, swollen and sore all over. I have to wear neck brace for 6 to 8 weeks to protect the spinal fusion and I am not allowed to drive for at least 3 weeks. Not much is going to be happening on this end for a while but that's cool with me. I'm tired and beat up and I need some rest.

Lobotomy Scars or Alien Abduction markings?

"The Force is strong in this one ..."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Detroit DJs

I also went and saw Rick Wilhite perform at the AVA Lounge this weekend. Iwas joined by 'Mr. Jones', 'C.A.' and countless other friends.

Rick Wilhite is a veteran in the Detroit electronic music scene. His collaboration with the group 3 Chairs (with Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moodyman, Theo Parrish & Malik Pittman) along with his stunning, but too rare, releases makes him one of the most sought after Detroit DJs.
Rick, along with 3 Chairs, has played at countless venues around the world, mostly at the most prestigious clubs and festivals. Rick also owns and operatea the legendary Vibes New And Rare Music record store in Detroit. Additionally, Wilhite has worked alongside many electronic music pioneers, such as Juan Atkins and Derrick May. Rick Wilhite’s sets are simply unforgettable; his skills paired with his amazing sense of music are a journey into the deep sounds of Detroit house.

The place was packed and there was a great vibe with people dancing and getting into the groove ...

... dispite the fact that 'Brotha Mike' fell asleep during Rick's set.

2 days and counting ...

... until my surgery. The idea of it all is finally just setting in. I really haven't had time to think about it over the last few weeks because I've been so busy.

All last week I hosted two coworkers of mine from Germany here in Pgh. We had to attend a Steel Makers Technology Conference that my company was a part of. Every waking minute was spent with them either eating, drinking, working at the Convention Center, driving them around, shopping, site seeing, etc. It was nice having them here because it kept my mind off of what was happening to me this week but it sure was exhausting.

I also had a friend from college stay with me over this last weekend who was in town on business. We got to go out to eat with friends and do some catching up.

I really haven't had any time to myself in the last few weeks. Probably a good thing.

Now I'm sitting here thinking about what I have to pack for my stay in the hospital. Thinking about what I may need at my house during my 3 week, no driving, recovery time. Of course, I know I'll have friends and family that will be able to take care of me and go out and get things I may need ... I'm just thinking too much trying to prepare myself. I'm also going a hundred different directions trying to prepare my company for a temporary hiatus; making sure I can leave the office unmanned for a few days or weeks, etc.

I've also been very busy playing and recording new music with friend; something that is very new to me. The playing of music is not new ... but the recording for a professional album is. My friend, who is currently signed to a UK record label, is working on a few new albums and he needs keyboard/piano on a few songs. He has enlisted me to drop some keyboard riffs on a few of his songs. Pretty amazing stuff and very interesting on how we are recording between his home studio and at my house through my laptop ... but that will be saved for another post all together.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Van Halen, Pittsburgh (Finally)

The curtain rose as the band jumped right into 'Pretty Woman' while Dave screamed to the crowd 'Better late than never. Right, you motherfxckers?!?' alluding to the fact that the show was postponed since March. From that point on I had chills for most of the night; It brought back so many memories hearing and watching those guys. Dave was super cheesy but I got used to it ... I started to see some of his 80's antics, that I remembered and loved, still creeping out from behind his shaved chest, short hair and marching band costumes that he's into today. Eddie and Alex were spot on ... no complaints there. It was great to see them so happy, laughing and smiling and getting along. Dave yelled at Eddie once for jumping into a song too early saying, 'Damn, are you in a hurry tonight?' but they all just had a chuckle. Dave forgot lyrics but Eddie didn't mind ... and there were some feedback issues that Dave kept complaining about, getting testy with the sound guys, 'They paid for a show, not for feedback ... fxckin' fix it.' Yeah, Diamond Dave was dropping F bombs the whole night; it kind of felt like the aging rockstar was trying to still seem so cool complete with his continuous sexually promiscuous jabbering during and between songs all night long. But the vibe on stage seemed very light, super fun and super tight; it genuinely looked like they were having fun performing together ... and that's all I could ask for.
Overall I loved it. I had seats in the upper section, center stage, and the crowd around me was a 'sit down' crowd but I didn't mind. I was able to fully watch everything on stage with no distractions.


01. You Really Got Me (from Van Halen, 1978)
02. I'm the One (from Van Halen, 1978)
03. Runnin' With the Devil (from Van Halen, 1978)
04. Romeo Delight (from Women and Children First, 1980)
05. Somebody Get Me a Doctor (from Van Halen II, 1979) w/ a bit of The Who "Magic Bus' Jam
06. Beautiful Girls (from Van Halen II, 1979)
07. Dance the Night Away (from Van Halen II, 1979)
08. Atomic Punk (from Van Halen, 1978)
09. Everybody Wants Some (from Women and Children First, 1980) w/ a bit of Eric Clapton "Crossroads" Jam
10. So This Is Love? (from Fair Warning, 1981)
11. Mean Street (from Fair Warning, 1981)
12. Pretty Woman (from Diver Down, 1982)
13. Alex Van Halen Drum Solo
14. Unchained (from Fair Warning, 1981)
15. I'll Wait (from 1984, 1984)
16. And the Cradle Will Rock (from Women and Children First, 1980)
17. Hot for Teacher (from 1984, 1984)
18. Little Dreamer (from Van Halen, 1978)
19. Little Guitars (from Diver Down, 1982)
20. Jamie's Cryin' (from Van Halen, 1978)
21. Ice Cream Man (from Van Halen, 1978) w/ acoustic Diamond Dave Intro
22. Panama (from 1984, 1984)
23. Eddie Van Halen Guitar Solo (incl. "Women in Love" intro, "Cathedral", "Eruption")
24. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (from Van Halen, 1978) w/ a bit of Deep Purple "Smoke on the Water" Jam
25. 1984 (from 1984, 1984)
26. Jump (from 1984, 1984)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The difference a year makes ...

My backyard spring of 2007

My backyard today

Aren't there cartoons on to keep you busy?

Spring is here, the windows are open and my 13 year old neighbor has a new hobby ... 'skateboarding' at 8:30am on a Saturday morning ... and by 'skateboarding' I mean attempting numerous failed ollies then kicking his board around the street in frustration.

I usually don't sleep in too late but being woken up by this racket isn't the way to start off the weekend. I could have used another hour. And now that I am awake I am reminded of how much tequila (and wine and Jameson) I drank at the club where I promote and at 'MJ's' birthday party over at the 'Firehouse' last night ...

It makes me happy
Con Tequila it feels fine
Con Tequila when the doors are opened
And con Tequila when they're calling time
Con Tequila, Con Tequila, Con Tequila,
Con Tequila when they're calling time.

Ode to Jose the curse of Cuervo
So hard to say no though it gives one the fever
(Con Tequila) Oh con Tequila
(Con Tequila) Oh con Tequila
That's the curse of Sierra sunrise and Margarita
They'll break your heart in the desert heat
(Con Tequila) Oh con tequila
(Con Tequila) They make me feel ...

They'll tell you you're sober
(And tell you you're thirsty)
(They'll tell you you're fine)
That you're sober
(Pretends to be friendly)
Then the curse of Tequila

It makes me happy
Con Tequila it feels fine
Con Tequila when the doors are opened
And con Tequila when they're calling time
That's the curse of Tequila
It makes me happy
Con Tequila it feels fine
Con Tequila when the doors are opened
And con Tequila when they're calling time
That's the curse of Tequila

If there's a lot on your mind it's there to help you forget
To relax and rewind and leave behind the regret
First sip makes you well before you know it's time
And you're saying to hell with the salt, lemon and lime
Salt, lemon and lime, time

It makes me happy
Con Tequila it feels fine
Con Tequila when the doors are opened
And con Tequila when they're calling time
That's the curse of Tequila

Yeah, I just posted a song about tequila.
I used to play this song all of the time when I DJed back in the late 90's.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Roots

I just got in from seeing The Roots live, a free show that was a part of Carnegie Mellon University's Spring Carnival. I was practically the oldest one there but it didn't matter. This is the second time I've seen The Roots here in Pgh and the experience was just about the same as the last; THEY KILLED IT! rocking a 2 hour show that spanned Hip Hop, Jazz Fusion, Heavy Metal and even some Bob Dylan.

I don't own a single Roots album, yet I'll always go see them live because of the kind of show they put on. You can't top the energy, talent and skill these guys have. They are not just a hip hop band. Heck, they even have a tuba player in the line up this time.

Tonight, along with their usual set of Roots songs, they played their medley of old hip hop songs that I've heard them do before. But this time it started off with Iron Butterfly (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida) that went into Incredible Bongo Band (Apache), then there was Talib Kwali (Get By) into Biz Markie (You got what I need) into Old Dirty Bastard (Shimmy Shimmy Ya) into Tribe Called Quest (Award Tour), some Snoop Dogg (Who Am I, What's my name) into Mims (This is Why I'm Hot), Afrika Bambaataa (Planet Rock) into Salt and Peppa (Push It) plus many more that I can't name but surely recognized.

The Roots also completely surprised and amazed me with a their own version of the Mars Volta 'Con Safro' which included them shouting Jame's Brown-like phrases back and forth like 'Get on up', 'Get in to it', 'Soul Power', etc.

Of course, their own songs were awesome too ... but what was most interesting was their 'break' between sets when Captain Kirk the guitarist, Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson the tuba player and ?uestlove, the drummer, performed an epic 10+ minute version of Bob Dylan's 'Masters of War' that started off with the National Anthem and included some riffs from Led Zeppelin's 'Dazed and Confused', The Gap Band's 'You Dropped a Bomb on Me' and Jimi Hendrix's 'Machine Gun'.

Here it is performed at Bonnaroo in three parts:
Part 1 (Gap Band riff towards the end)
Part 2 (?uestlove drum solo with crazy effects)
Part 3 (Captain Kirk guitar solo with 'Machine Gun')

The Roots came back on and did a few more tunes, finishing with, of course, 'The Seed' but what made my night, and what threw the crowd into a frenzy was their short cover of Curtis Mayfield's 'Move on Up' at the end. Whooo!

A great night for a free concert (free parking too), beautiful weather and a decent crowd.

Note: BOOOO! to my friends 'The Jones'' and 'Clover' who bailed out on going with me at the last minute.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Last night was a movie night for me ...

but not in the sense that I watched movies. Well, I did actually start watching Sweeny Todd before I left the house but anyway ...

Last night around 9pm, as I was heading out for my usual Tuesday night rounds (bar crawling) in East Liberty, I ran into some filming of the new Julianne Moore thriller 'Shelter' outside of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. The whole street, and the front of the church, was lit up like it was daylight. There were a bunch of huge spotlights perched on top of the surrounding buildings lighting the area. To give an idea, this church is pretty big, taking up a whole block. I checked it out for a bit since there was no security blocking the area. The place was buzzing with crew doing various things but nothing exciting really happened. I assumed it was mostly second unit filming since no actors were present while I was there. After thinking about it for awhile, I also thought that maybe they were filming in the church and were using the spotlights to simulate daylight through the windows. Bah ... anyway ...

After that, I proceeded across the street to my hangout to meet a friend of mine who I haven't seen in awhile for a drink. I told her about the filming going on outside and she starts telling me that she is actually involved in another movie being filmed right now called 'She's Out of My League'. Weird coincidence. I had heard about this movie being filmed; it's been in the news and I know they did some filming with the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team down at the arena. Anyway, my friend ended up inviting me to a cast and crew party for the film next Wednesday down in the Strip District. Nice ... except after IMDB-ing the movie I noticed that I do not recognize any of the 'stars' in the film. Oh well ... free party.

I drove me friend home and then went back to the bar (it was only 10:45pm) only to run into another friend who just got done working on the film 'The Road' starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron. We sat at the bar for a good time and chatted about it all. He mentioned he'll be a part of the crew for a new 3-d horror film 'My Bloody Valentine' that starts filming in May. This is getting good.

Very interesting how Pittsburgh has been all a buzz these last 6 months with all of the movies being filmed here ... celebrity sitings at local spots such as Whole Foods and dive bars.

In fact, I ran into another friend about a month ago while I was out shopping for shoes. I knew this woman was a local designer who owned her own boutique but I was confused when I saw her at the store shuffling through 4 or 5 boxes of shoes, clipboard in hand, looking like she was restocking and not shopping. After we said hello, I almost made the mistake of asking her if she was working there (you never know) but luckily she noticed my confusion and told me she was shopping for the production of Kevin Smith's new movie 'Zac and Miri make a Porno'.

It's awesome to see that many of my friends are getting involved in this movie action; local talent being employed to work on these big Hollywood films. Great opportunities for them and our city.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Straight and to the point ...

Found this unique advertisement crammed through the handle of my screen door when I got home from work yesterday. Awesome.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Recent Parties of Mine Pt. 2

Last night was the fundraiser dance party for the non profit group Just Harvest that I helped coordinate. Just Harvest is a lcoal grass roots group that works to influence public policy and to educate, empower, and mobilize the citizens of the community toward the elimination of hunger and poverty. The evening was a success, the place was crowded, people were shakin' it and a good amount of money, and more importantly awareness, was raised for the organization.

Here are some pics:

All pics were taken by Brea Jay who donated her time and camera skills to the cause. The rest of the 197 pics she took that night can be seen in her album over at Picasa. I also need to thank the DJs 'Steve', 'Buscrates' and 'SMI' for donating their time and crates of records and also the Shadow Lounge and all of their staff for their donation of the venue and flyers.