Sunday, June 14, 2015

So far away

Some seven or eight years ago, was when we first noticed. Mom was starting to slip. At first it's stuff you can rationalize, and put down to just a brief lapse, or just mild forgetfulness. But then patterns start to emerge. Repetition, forgetting things more regularly. Then it moves on to false memories, and paranoia, and frankly some serious OCD behaviors. Anyway, this morning was just a new sad chapter. Last night I told her I'd take her to church this morning. So I called to see if she was ready. No, I'm thinking maybe she's in the shower. A few minutes later she calls back. Convinced she's calling me from the hospital. No amount of explaining that she was calling me from her phone would dissuade her. What kind of unholy terrors have to be going through the remnants of her mind?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

And so it begins

Ace Trucking Company- It's a comedy record. From the early 70s. And it is very, very dated. I mean seriously. As a note of interest, Fred Willard is one of the troupe members.

Out of the mist

Been awhile since I've put anything out here but I have hit upon a new bad idea. I am going to write pocket reviews of each of my LPs. Some may be as short as a word or two, none will be as great as the legendary review of GTR (SHT), but hopefully I will entertain myself. And who knows, someone may blunder across it and make a comment. Or not!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All You Need Is Love (And Bounty Paper Towels)

My new boy is trying to make any stock holders of Bounty richer. He's an old guy, who legend has it was raised in a barn. As such, the finer points of being house trained escape him. On the downside, I clean up about five puddles a day. He's deaf as a post, his sense of smell sucks, and frankly he doesn't see all that well. Oh, and his back legs are blown out, so all he can really do is shuffle. Oh, and he's on drugs. Lots of them. On the upside, he follows me everywhere (except when he sneaks down the hall to pee in the kitchen), he is remarkably stoic, he's a good looking little beggar, he provides me with some humor trying to figure out what he will or won't eat. For example, don't give him Canidae. Turns his nose up at it. Same with braunschwieger. On the other hand, I found this Evanger's stuff and he loves that, as well as pepperoni. And blue cheese. Anyway, if anyone wants to meet him, I think I'm going to take him and his bed to corgi fun day with me on Saturday. It isn't like he'll stress out, he probably won't even notice!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

SMiLE, Folks, (or Mike Love-Is he an idiot, or is he just an idiot?)

Ok, several years ago Brian Wilson released his solo version of the fabled SMiLE LP, that was to have been the magnum opus of the Beach Boys. When it came out I was reluctant at first to buy it, but eventually I did. And while I can't say I was blown away, I certainly thought it had its charms.
So fast forward...The SMiLE sessions by the Beach Boys has been issued. And again, I was reluctant to buy it. Over the years it achieved mythic status, and the label on front of the record didn't help..."The most anticipated album in rock & roll history!!!"
Well that's a mouthful. And I just couldn't help feeling that there was going to be some major disappointment.
Well there isn't. When taken in as the period piece it is, it is sweeping, majestic, creative, playful, and by god, it WILL make you SMiLE.

I can't help but compare it to the LP it should have preceded, the Beatles Pepper. And simply put, for sheer audacity, and creative songcraft, Brian Wilson beat them. That isn't to say that the individual songs are superior, but the studio accomplishment is just astonishing. Shame Mike Love is such a screaming asshole, as with it being released 45 years too late pretty much dampens any effect it could have had on young musicians of the day.

Oh well no time machine, so enjoy it for what it is folks.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hey fatboy, get off the fence

A couple of thoughts that I've been trying to organize and put down so they make sense, since my pop died...

For years I have loved Dylan Thomas's 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night'. I think it was my inner angry young man, and a belief that one should never give up, but continue to fight the good fight, yada yada, and all that other psuedo-romantic crap that fills the minds of the youthful, whether that be physically or mentally.
Anyway, here it is, in it's entirety.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

So, while dad was in his decline phase for the last few months, I kept reading through this, at first cheering him on, raging against Doctors, and hospitals, misfortune, medical insurance, ad infinitum. And then in the last few weeks, and really into the last days, I would look at him in bed, and think about the last verse. And finally think. Go. Go into the good night. I love you dad, but it is time for you to go, you have raged against the dying of the light, but enough of your fevered delusional thoughts, of the battles for more breaths, the constant state of exhaustion. You have been a fine man, a great father, a loving husband, an incredible citizen of the country, and friend to anyone open to you. Go. You've earned it. I love you, I miss you, but go. And finally he went.

What follows is (give or take a little editorial license, and poor memory) the eulogy for Dad from his memorial service. Oh, and the title of this blog/post refers to a story I originally was going to tell in his eulogy, but somehow wasn't sure anyone would "get it", so edited it out. My dad was a very funny man, but sometimes you just had to be there.

On Wednesday December 21st, I lost my father. Truth is, the man I loved, and who taught me so many things over the years had really been gone months before. Through October, November, and even a day here or there in December, he still gave little peeks, but mostly he just slept, or rambled about imaginary events and happenings.

Some of his musings and observations during this period were funny, but not intentionally so, and there was a bit of guilt in chuckling about them. Mind you, I know my dad well enough to know he would have been chuckling along with us, as he possessed a rather wicked sense of humor, taking delight if someone was a little uncomfortable with a response he might have to something.

Pardon the English, but it was not beyond dad to simply "make shit up" if he thought he might get a rise out of someone. Invariably, about the time his target would start to get good and worked up, he'd shoot them a huge grin, big enough that the gold cap on his molar showed, at which point the unwitting rube would be ..."ohhh, I've just had my leg pulled to the point of coming off".

He loved a really good argument. A particular subject we would go around and around about was baseball. He would cite some unnamed experts, and insist that his view was not only the right opinion, but indeed, it was actual fact. Bear in mind the previous observation that dad would simply make...stuff up.

One of his nicknames with me, was "the world's most married man". His level of devotion to mom was astonishing. They met in 1957 at a St.Patrick's Day dance, in the small market town of Market Harborough, under the eaves of an ancient grammar school. Some 50 years later, the romantic old sod still had the ticket. He always liked to tell the story of their meeting, and give it a slightly more macho twist over the years, but the truth is, she had him hook line and sinker from the outset. A gangly, jug-eared American country boy, meeting a petite blonde hottie with her charming accent. Frankly, the boy never stood a chance, and in conversation over the years, he admitted it. 54 years later, he still never stood a chance, but he never regretted a moment of it. I would try and tease him about it, asking why a good looking woman like Jennifer Dunkley wanted to go out with a guy with ears so big, he looked like a car coming down the road with both doors open, but it was pointless. He'd just grin, and admit "yep, I never figured out what she saw in a doofus like me either, but I'm sure glad she did".

He came from a large family, and left school to join the Air Force, which became his first career. He stayed in for 21 years, and then because he enjoyed working for the government so much, he put in 20 with the state of Missouri.

Some of you might notice a theme here. One woman, 54 years, two jobs of note, 20 plus years each. Dad believed in sticking to things.

And that sticking to things extended to the kids. While he was never shy about telling us we were loved, and making sure we knew it, he wasn't shy about letting us know when we had steered off the proper path. Nothing was worse than the head shake of disappointment, when you had very clearly made the wrong choice, or pursued the wrong course of action. Dad worked in guilt the way Michelangelo worked in marble. A true artist. Oh, and one of his favorite guilt lines-and a beaut. "Your mother will be very disappointed". Or "Your mother was worried about you". Both of these lines translated as "I" am disappointed, and "I" was worried about you. A master at manipulation!

But mostly what I think of when I think of dad, was he was a great teacher. He taught me to have a moral center. Not that I appreciated it as a rebelling teenager, that just KNEW that the old man didn't have a clue.

But moving into adulthood, whereas I didn't follow him on his spiritual journey, I certainly learned right from wrong.

Just because something is easier, or explainable, or justifiable, doesn't mean it is right. "Do the right thing, son. You know what it is." If that means giving to someone who has less than you, when you don't have much yourself, you do it. It doesn't make you a saint, it doesn't make people go "oh wow, how great you are", but you do it because it is the right thing. And the right thing is the only thing.

He gave to charities, he handed out money to beggars on the street, and he would look them in the eye when he did it. Told me it made them feel human, rather than a piece of doggerel not worth looking at.

Anyway, I rambled though all that to get to this.

The most important thing I learned from Dad was a lesson that took a very long time to take root. Love. I can't tell you how many years he would end every visit or phone call with "I love you, son", and receive a "Yeah, ok-talk to you later" from me. But he kept doing it. And slowly it crept into this thick skull that 'wow, he really means it'. So I started responding in kind. At first it was awkward. Kind of a "Yeah, sure dad. you too" type thing. And then I started realizing, damn. I do love this man. This oh so not average guy that has put every ounce of his being into this family. And then it would choke me up to say it as he got older, more frail... everytime, realizing that was one less time I would see him, and one less time I would get to tell him how I felt.

So, I want to close with two things. One, Dad-I love you, and I miss you horribly. Two, and this is absolutely the last word on the subject, Skip Schumaker is never going to be a gold glove second basemen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We Don't Need No Education

Currently the United States medical community is in the process of completely fucking up the treatment of my father. How's that for an opening sentence?

Backstory: He is 73 years old. In 1999 he lost a lung to cancer, having kicked the smoking habit back in the late 70's. Since that time, he has had myriad health problems: He has mild emphysema in his remaining lung, COPD, prostate cancer, a melanoma on his forehead, high blood pressure, and just to make things that much more enjoyable, he's had a bad back his entire life. Fair enough, it paints a bleak picture.

In July he and my mother went to England to visit my sister. To be fair, this was against the personal advice of his own wife, and me. Every time he tries to travel, it beats his system up, and tends to knock him backwards. But he is a stubborn guy, and so off they went. From what I gather there were a few of his "normal" travel incidents, trips to the emergency room etc, but nothing astonishing or grossly upsetting.

The first warning shot that something was amiss came upon their arrival. Dad had a panic attack in Chicago, and was having trouble breathing. They took him to the local hospital, and the arrival to St.Louis was delayed a day. That wasn't too shocking in and of itself, because, as previously noted, travel always presents problems for him. No, the big problem was their arrival in St.Louis itself. First off, his physical appearance was shocking. He looked like he had escaped the set of "Night Of The Living Dead". His explanation was he hadn't slept for the better part of three days, and was shattered. This lack of sleep (I believe) would manifest itself again very shortly. On the way home, I stopped so he and mom could get something to eat. At this point, dad decided to take a left turn from reality, and it was a bit of a shock. At the restaurant, he became convinced that my nephew was at the restaurant, hiding behind the counter, waiting to surprise him. A relatively harmless delusion, but one he was absolutely convinced of. Once it was explained (repeatedly) that his nephew was in fact out of town, he finally decided that maybe he would benefit from a good night's sleep.
And that was it. He got a good night's sleep in, and over the next couple of days, as his strength returned, he was back to normal. Church on Sunday, meeting me for lunch of or dinner a couple of times a week...the usual.
And then sometime in mid September, everything started to go wrong. He began having a lot of trouble with his breathing, and sought treatment for his COPD. And boy did he get it. Drugs, drugs, and more drugs. And the more medications they put him on, the more medications he needed, and the more meds he needed, the more side effects seemed to manifest. Most disturbingly, he started to develop an inability to get any continual sleep. As that problem increased, unsurprisingly, so did his anxiety levels. Which led to panic attacks, and insistence that mom take him to the emergency room. Which to my astonishment, led to larger doses of "anti-anxiety" medications. (Brief interlude...something wrong with you? Throw some drugs at it. Still got a problem? Throw more drugs at it!! It's logical!!)
So we have the start of a spiral. By the time he was finally admitted to the hospital, the doctors had him on EIGHTEEN different medications, being taken multiple times, each day. I took the liberty of googling each and everyone of these meds, and found that listed side effects of a dozen of them were "interferes with sleep". Now, gentle lay-reader. Go out and google "sleep deprivation psychosis", and guess what? You're going to get a lot of hits, alot of articles, all sort so scientific psychobabble, that in a nutshell says..." Deprive someone of quality sleep, and they will go goo-goo, ba-ba, batshit, hallucination lsd crazy."
He finally got to the point that he thought he had been kidnapped by old people, and that they were throwing firecrackers at him overnight in the hospital.
The hospital doctors, in their wisdom, decided that maybe the medications he was on were contributing to the problem. So they just replaced them with a bunch of others. Got him down to 16, taken multpile times a day. Am I the only one that finds that hysterically funny? One of the doctors wanted to increase his anti-anxiety medications, to help him deal with his hallucinations. I told him, "you do realize he didn;t have the hallucinations until AFTER he was put on the anti-anxiety meds, don't you?" Like a taped recording, he then informed me, no, these are to help him. I figured punching him was probably inappropriate, so I asked him if he had done an overarching pharmaceutical review, to make sure that no negative interactions were taking place. He assured me that they were professionals and knew what they were doing. I felt assured that he was an arrogant ass, that didn't like some commoner asking him to justify his joy in pumping my dad full of chemical experiments.

So, at this point, my dad is in a nursing facility, as the system pumps him full of psychotrpoic drugs, looking for that perfect balance that will turn him into a compliant zombie. It should be noted, that while the geniuses are searching for an Alzheimer's unit to send him to, so he can be forgotten about, he in actual fact doesn't forget ANYTHING, short term or long term. No memory issues, sports fans. Nothing that screams Alzheimers.

Hallucinations. No sleep. Piles of drugs. I'm not a doctor. I know that his breathing issues and blood pressure problems require medication. I also know that pulling him off all the crap they have him on "cold turkey" would be horrifyingly dangerous. But I sure would like to find a doctor that would have a serious conversation about this before he becomes a Stepford Dad. And so far, I am having no luck. The only one who is even willing to listen is the administrator of the home in Chester (That's an HOUR away from Saint Louis) that they are presently trying to ship him off to. And he doesn't have any control over medical care.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Roger, Wilco

Ok, so the grand old Kiel Opera House has reopened, and here's a brief field report.
It is still the best concert venue in Saint Louis. Hand down. Best sound, great sight lines, cheapest beer...wait a minute, scratch that last one. NINE DOLLARS for a sixteen ounce bottle of beer? Wow. Made my brain and wallet hurt!!

Anyway, they did a very nice job of cleaning everything up, and giving it an intimate feel inside the performance hall, and then the mezzanine is gleaming marble, with port-a-bars scattered around so you can enjoy an over-priced drink. Oh, and the balcony is open, with some tables, so that you can sit outside.

As for the show I saw, Nick Lowe opened, performing alone, just a man and his guitar. And it has to be said he delivered the goods, playing a nice selection, spanning his career, including an outstanding slowed down cover of his old friend's "Alison".

As for the headliner, I guess what I want to do is borrow a line from an old friend of a friend of mine. "There's a place for all kinds of music". It is a line to be used as an acknowledgement that maybe what you;re listening to isn't really your thing, but, what the hell. Someone appreciates it.
And, with no small amount of irony, it described how I felt. The majority of the crowd were clearly enjoying themselves, but I kind of thought it was a bunch of self-indulgent twaddle. But, they did have a great light show. And the musicianship was good, even if it wasn't my cup of tea. C'est la vie. It was still a great night, in a great facility.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer In The City

OK, for those who live under an air conditioned rock, somewhere at the back of a very dark cave, can I just say it is hot out?
It's 8 am. I just got done mowing and weeding the yard. I still have bagging left to do. And that's the front of my shirt in that there picture, ya'll.
I need my own serf. I'd be a kind master. Not too many beatings.

OK-Back to it-Stay hydrated people, it's going to be very nasty...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's goin' on?

I have to say, I honestly don't know. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Oh well, life might just get more interesting over the next few days/weeks-which is always a good thing, or at least not a boring thing. It seems I'm now being viewed as a "bad-boy" that is easy to cut loose with. Sounds like some sort of Spreingsteenesque street tough fantasy, which simply is so not me. Ergo, I'm pretty sure the idea is not true, as those who know me are aware that there's a pretty anal retentive soul lurking deep in the heart of "Big Deal Dodge" that squelches any actual "bad-boy" nonsense.
Has to be said, all in all, I'm kind of finding this whole thing pretty funny.

C'est la, in honor of what is a pretty silly ideal...

Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night
With bruised arms and broken rhythm in a beat-up old Buick
But dressed just like dynamite
He tried sellin' his heart to the hard girls over on Easy Street
But they sighed "Johnny it falls apart so easy and you know hearts these days are cheap"
And the pimps swung their axes and said "Johnny you're a cheater."
Well the pimps swung their axes and said "Johnny you're a liar"
And from out of the shadows came a young girl's voice said: "Johnny don't cry"
Puerto Rican Jane, oh won't you tell me what's your name.
I want to drive you down to the other side of town where paradise ain't so crowded, there'll be action goin' down on Shanty Lane tonight
All them golden-heeled fairies in a real bitch fight
Pull .38s and kiss the girls good night

Oh good night, it's alright Jane
Now let them black boys in to light the soul flame
We may find it out on the street tonight baby
Or we may walk until the daylight maybe

So much for the laughter, it is time to put my clown shoes away. G'night tonight, boys and girls