For Those Who Once Rocked

What bands have you seen that don’t exist anymore? What bands did you miss seeing?

We had a discussion at work this week about bands that we wish we could have seen. It got me thinking about what bands I could have conceivably seen during my concert-going years that I missed, as well as the bands and musicians that I did get to see before they disbanded or passed away.

With that in mind, I made a list of the bands I’ve seen or missed as of the date of this post.

Concerts I wish I had seen, but missed my chance:

  • Queen
  • Barry White
  • Cranberries
  • David Bowie
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Lou Reed
  • Morphine
  • Nirvana
  • Plasmatics
  • Prince
  • Sinéad O’Connor
  • The Cars
  • The Clash
  • The Kinks
  • The Pogues
  • The Who
  • Twisted Sister
  • Type O Negative

Concerts I did see before someone critical passed away (I have been very lucky):

  • Avenged Sevenfold with The Rev
  • B.B. King
  • Charlie Daniels
  • David Crosby
  • Etta James
  • Huntress
  • Jeff Beck
  • Joey Jordison (drumming for Slipknot)
  • Katie Webster
  • Metallica with Cliff Burton
  • Motörhead
  • Nell Carter
  • Ozzy Osbourne (still alive but no longer touring)
  • Pantera
  • Ronnie James Dio
  • Rush
  • Slayer
  • Soundgarden
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Stone Temple Pilots
  • The Ramones
  • Tom Petty
  • Tony Bennett
  • Voivod with Denis D’Amour
  • ZZ Top with Dusty Hill
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2023: The Only Constant in Life is Change

Another year fades into memory. This year has been a bit of a whirlwind.

Sue and I spent most of the year taking Spanish classes through our local community college, so the majority of our weekends for the year were spent studying.

The big news for the year is that I changed jobs, leaving the company I’d worked at for almost 13 years to go work for a startup. Part of me thinks I’m crazy to go work for a startup at this stage of my career. It’s risky, but it’s also something that’s exciting and if I didn’t take a shot at it I’d kick myself for the rest of my life, so here I am. We’re still operating in stealth mode so I’m still unable to say who I’m working for or what I’m doing, but It’s been nothing but positive so far.

Our big vacation for this year was to Arizona. Sue had never seen the Grand Canyon, and my one trip to the area was comical due to the fact that I was continually changing my itinerary due to snowstorms. This trip was in June, not December, so there was no risk of snow. The trip was fantastic, I got to see the Milky Way clearly for the first time since my childhood, and we had one of the best dining experiences of our lives with a couple of friends at Kai Restaurant outside of Phoenix.
Milky Way

We spent almost three weeks traveling through the desert and we still had to skip things because we just didn’t have enough time.
Spider Rock

Besides the vacation. this year has involved more travel than usual. At one point in the year I traveled out of town three times in four weeks. It felt really good to get back home after the last trip and finally put the suitcase away. Speaking of which, it was nice to re-connect with a few people who I’d not seen in far too long.

As for other interests, we didn’t see many movies this year (see the bit about most weekends being taken up by homework). TV that we enjoyed included The Last of Us, Slow Horses, and The Peripheral. I’ve been getting more into board games recently but with so many busy weekends it’s been tough to get any to the table.

It’s been an incredibly slow year for concerts and events. Many bands are not touring as widely, those that are touring are skipping Florida more often, and the shows that do stop here sometimes have prohibitive prices. The lowlight was Run the Jewels getting rained out at the Gasparilla Music Fest. Highlights for the year were Shemekia Copeland, Alicia Keys, and The Interrupters.

Books that stood out for me are Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi and Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. I’ve read all three books of the Three-Body trilogy (there’s a fourth book but it’s really just a fan-fiction) and it’s one of the best things I’ve read in the last decade. I believe it will become SF canon before too long. I’m looking forward to the TV adaptation, but I really wish I could catch the Chinese series as well.

2023’s been a good year. May we all reach the end of 2024 in good health and fortune, despite the way it’s shaping up.

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Conversations with Corporate Websites

Why do some companies go to such lengths to make their sites terrible to use? Shopping online for something, these are some typical experiences. I imagine the website and its designers talking to me:

Be My Friend

(website loads, get a brief glimpse of the site, which disappears behind a popup…)
Hey! sign up for our newsletter!
Um, I don’t know anything about your company yet. How about I get to know you a bit first? (close popup)
Ok, let me click on this link…
(Page loads, interrupted by…)
Hey! sign up for our newsletter!
(leave site)

I’m Too Cool For You

(website loads, and loads, and loads. Land on a page with huge images)
Hey! Look at how great our site design is!
Yeah, cool. Where’s the product you’re selling?
Oh, we don’t sell PRODUCTS, we sell LIFESTYLES and EXPERIENCES.
Look, do you have what I’m looking for or not?
Well, do you want something from our Joxer line, our Callisto line, our Panexa line, or one of the dozen other lines we have?
Those words mean nothing to me. Do you have something that explains what they are? Better yet, do you have a page that lists your products and lets me filter by their traits, or are you going to make me click through over a dozen different links to find out if you have what I’m looking for?
But think of the EXPERIENCE…
(leave site)

Crossing Boundaries

(website loads, landing me on a page where a promo video starts playing…)
Ahhhh, shut the fuck up! I didn’t ask you to talk to me. Make it stop! Where’s the volume control? Easier to just close the tab…
(leave site as quickly as possible)

No There There

(website loads…)
We’re working on our site at the moment.
Please check back soon.

Hmmm. Site has probably been this way since 2010.
(leave site)

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

(website loads, lands me on product page…)
Great! Finally a company that actually sells what I’m looking for! This looks interesting (click link)
Sold Out
Oh well, back to the product page. Hmmm. Doesn’t say it’s sold out in the main page. How about this one…
Sold Out
Oh for fuck’s sake. Let me back up and try this one instead…
Sold Out
You seriously expect me to click through to each individual product to see if it’s available or not? How about no?
(leave site)


(website loads to a familiar Amazon screen)
At least this site will show me products. Ok, I’m looking for an Illudium Space Modulator model Q-36.
Sure! Here’s an Amazon Basics space heater, followed by two dozen other things that have some of the letters you typed.
How about something with the letters “Space Modulator” in that order?
Sure! Here’s an Amazon Basics Spice Rack!
(leave site, log off, go and pour a drink)

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Music Is My Friend

All I want is to keep on trucking,
I think I could with a little bit of luck.
Come too far to just get stuck,
So I refuse to die.
– Sydney Sprague

I think many of my favorite songs are aspirational. They often describe people I wish I had in my life. Those times when I really needed a friend that I didn’t have, I found one in music. Don’t get me wrong, I had some great friends through these times that I will always treasure, but in a lot of ways I had to figure stuff out on my own.

For the longest time the only person who told me that No One could keep them from loving me was Alicia Keys. Every time I hear it I imagine she’s singing it directly to me.

Ani told me that all of the Parameters can change, no matter how invincible I imagine myself to be.

B.B. King warned me that I’d Better Not Look Down.

Colleen Duffy was the one person who, after everything went to shit, still wanted to take a Walk With Me.

I wish I’d had someone to tell me I’d See the Sun again. Dido had to take that role.

Tom Shear told me that The Noise Inside My Head wasn’t mine alone.

Ronan Harris let me know that it was ok to have Gratitude for what is in the past, but to Perpetually look beyond the place I stand.

Nobody told me that there could be someone to pick you back up again if you Fell Back Down except for Tim Armstrong.

Aimee Allen let me imagine a world where we’ve Got Each Other‘s backs and that she would be By My Side.

The spirit of Invictus was instilled in me by Randy Blythe.

Frank Turner told me that so long as I’m alive, I can Get Better, and that If I Ever Strayed I’d have friends who stuck with me whether I deserved them or not.

Music can have a profound effect on me. In a life dominated by solitude, some of my closest confidants have been musicians that I will never meet. If you know me well enough to recognize why these songs helped me, then thank you as well. It’s been a beautiful journey. I wouldn’t be who I am without them, or you.

Like Jamey Jasta said, I Live For This.

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2022: The Illusion of Normality

It’s been an odd year. It seems like a quiet year with fewer events than I’m used to, but then I remember that we lost a couple of years somewhere along the way. This might be the first year I see more Florida Orchestra shows than all other concerts combined, which sounds like I’m getting too old to rock but really just means that not many musicians are back to touring yet and many of those that are, are skipping the Florida peninsula.

That said, it’s been nice to get out and live again. The big highlight of the year was a trip to New York City in April. The main purpose for the trip was that I wanted to see Hadestown with as much of the original cast as possible. Mission accomplished as André De Shields left the show seven weeks after we saw it, and Patrick Page is leaving it at the end of this year. They, along with Eva Noblezada, are the heart of the show for me. I love that show. Our time in NYC was just packed with sightseeing and fantastic restaurants. It was so satisfying to play tour guide to Sue in a city that is embedded in my soul.


American Museum of Natural History

Another high point was going to Nashville in February to see the Lightning play the Predators in Nashville’s football stadium. We had a blast, the Lightning won, and I got to see some of my extended family up there.

NHL Stadium Series

There were a couple of other small trips to Ponte Vedra and Saint Augustine. We’re trying to conserve our travel budget for some plans that we have over the next couple of years.

Our family got smaller as we lost Oreo this year. Our family grew again as we adopted Lucky.

Concert highlights include Frank Turner, Iron Maiden, and Aesthetic Perfection.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Orlando HoB 6/26/2022

Now that I am done (for the moment) with flight training and able to read for pleasure again I spent the year reading all nine books of The Expanse series. It’s been well worth my time. The TV series was excellent, and now I know what the story is beyond the TV series.

No movies really stand out in my memory. Prey was good. Top Gun Maverick was good. Nothing spectacular.

The general vibe of the world around me is that basically I’m going to make some popcorn, watch people burn down the world that our grandparents left for us, and try not to get any of the flaming shit stuck to me. Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do remember history are doomed to stand by helpless as they watch others repeat it. I’ll do my best to not be a jerk, which suits my contrarian disposition.

As 2022 draws to a close and I look forward to next year I’m hoping to be able to reconnect with a few people that I’ve not seen in far too long. It seems that I’ve entered the stage of my life where the number of friends I have will only grow smaller over time. I’d like to spend some time with them.

On that note, I’ve probably shared this one before but it’s a great reminder of how temporary this all is.

“Let go of the little distractions
Hold close to the ones that you love
Because we won’t all be here this time next year
So while you can take a picture of us”
– Frank Turner, Polaroid Picture

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“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Who doesn’t love an underdog?

For many years my neighborhood has had several stray cats in it. I’ve been feeding them more or less since they took care of a little problem for me, which is a story for another day. Having a set of cats that would regularly visit the house meant that we started to give them names. None of the names were terribly inventive. They were all chosen based on the appearance of the cat. This is the story of one of those cats.

This is the story of Oreo.

Oreo was a long-haired tuxedo cat who spent many years on the streets. Of all of the neighborhood strays, Oreo was by far the friendliest. Most of the cats don’t let me anywhere near them, but Oreo would always come and brush up against my leg. He had a hard life on the streets. Over the years I’ve seen him bloodied and ragged at times. Still, he showed up for dinner when we offered it.

Unfortunately for Oreo I already had two cats. This was down from the four cats I’d had just a few years earlier. That’s a lot for one person and so my heart had hardened to the idea of taking in any more strays. Eventually Mojo and Kitty passed and I was the only living thing left in the house. For a while, perhaps selfishly, I kept it that way. I fed Oreo, but he stayed outside.

Sue didn’t have any cats and she debated cat-napping Oreo, but we didn’t do so until December 30th of 2017. We were coming back to the house after shopping and Oreo came up to us looking as bad as he ever had. We picked him up and put him in a carrier to take him to the emergency vet. He was malnourished, FIV+ and had some serious hip damage, probably from getting hit by a car sometime in his past. He was covered in scabies. He was terrified and bit me as I was trying to comfort him, so our next trip was to the emergency clinic so I could get a shot for potential rabies. It was quite a day, and that’s why the date has stuck with me.

Sue sat with him in the garage that night. He curled up on her lap and from that point on the two of them were almost inseparable. She took him home with her and for 4-1/2 years he was almost never more than a foot from her if he could help it. For all of his time on the streets, he was one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever known.


Oreo died on Thursday, June 9th. He’d been eating less and less over the last month or so. There was something wrong with his kidneys and though we tried various things to help him out, in the end there was nothing that we could do except try to make his last few days as comfortable as we could. We spoiled him with all of the treats and tuna that he could eat. He was a cuddlebug right up until the end.

When we picked him up I didn’t think he would have lived more than a couple of weeks considering the condition he was in. Instead, he got over four years of the good life with lots of love and tuna, which to a cat might be the same thing.

Oreo was definitely a momma’s boy. Although he only lived with me for a little while his passing hit me harder than I thought it would. When I think about why that is, I think about the kind of cat he was and the life that he lived. Like I mentioned above, the streets were not kind to him. Fights, injuries, illnesses. He was one tough cat. Through it all he was still just a fluffy ball of love that adored his humans, and we adored him. To endure so much difficulty and come out of it with so much love, how could I not be affected by that? Rare is the cat that makes me want to be a better human.

Goodbye little buddy. We miss you. I wish we’d had more time together.

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2021: The Eye of the Storm

“The first time it was a tragedy
The second time it’s a farce
Outside it’s 1933 so I’m hitting the bar”
– Frank Turner, 1933

It’s been a frustrating year. The world continues to be stupid. At least things on a personal level have been going well, knock on wood.

I’m thankful that we have vaccines available, even if too many people refuse to take them. I’m thankful for all of my friends who are nurses, still, even though they are really (really) tired of being on the receiving end of everyone’s ignorance and stupidity.

It’s been a weird couple of years. I went 544 days between concerts, which is by far the longest gap since I went to my first concert so many years ago. The 2020-2021 NHL season was only the second time in the Lightning’s existence that I did not attend a single game. Only two seasons that I never saw a game, and they won the Stanley Cup in both of those seasons.

We did manage some limited travel. We had a couple of short in-state trips for Sue’s work, and we spent a weekend in the Dominican Republic with one of Sue’s college friends.

The highlight of this year is that I’m a pilot. As Sue says, I have no cheap hobbies. Now when I look up to the planes in the sky, I think “I can do that” and I wonder why I’m not flying today.

After a year of studying I’ve finally been able to read for pleasure again, so I finally read N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy. I can see why every book in the series won the Hugo award for the best novel of that year. Highly recommended.
Other reading highlights include:
On Fragile Waves – E. Lily Yu
The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) – Katie Mack

I’ve been getting back into board gaming, so that’s been fun. Nine Days by Edson Oda was probably the only notable film I saw this year. Dark and The Expanse were the best TV series we watched. Concerts were limited, but highlights included Alanis Morissette, Selwyn Birchwood, and Gojira.

According to Spotify my top ten songs for the year were:
Waste of Love – Ashbury Heights
You Will Know My Name – Arch Enemy
Invictus – Lamb of God
The Noise Inside My Head – Assemblage 23
Everything – VNV Nation
Amnesia –
I Can Kill You So Easily – Ashbury Heights
The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring
In Ashes They Shall Reap – Hatebreed
Bad List – Ayria

I think Spotify’s lists might be a bit janky. I do like all of those songs, but I doubt they are truly my top ten plays. I’d at least add these to the list:
Grounds – Idles
Lemonade (2000) – Tsunami Bomb

May you get what you deserve in 2022.

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I’m a Pilot
Passed my Checkride

I’m a Pilot.

Since I was five years old I have wanted to say that. It’s not the longest-held dream I’ve had, but it’s damn close. It took me (mumble) years to get here, but I am now the very proud holder of a private pilot’s certificate.

It took much longer to get here than I had hoped. Much of my adolescence was directed towards becoming a pilot. I joined the Civil Air Patrol. I toured Embry-Riddle when I lived in Daytona. Once I knew I would never be able to afford that I applied to the military academies. After getting rejected from the Air Force and Naval academies I decided to work my way in through OCS. Then all hell broke loose, and after two spells of being homeless, carless, jobless and broke I found myself pretty far from having the means to learn how to fly.

Life went on with its ups and downs. Every airplane in the sky caught my attention and reminded me of a dream deferred. About a year and a half ago I started to think that flight school might actually be a possibility. When I mentioned it to Sue, she was all for it. Bit by bit I worked at it. Medical certificate, negotiating the ability to shift my work schedule, student certificate, written exam, solo flight, flight requirements. One by one I crossed every requirement off of my list. On March 26th I took my checkride, which is a combined oral examination and practical exam that took me five hours to complete. At the end of it, I was a pilot.

I was able to close 160(!) browser tabs I’d had open for studying.

It’s still hard to wrap my head around. I walk out to an airplane and I expect someone to come out and stop me because I am an imposter. There’s a part of me that still feels that flying a plane is something distant and unachievable. Then I sit down in one and do it.

This last Saturday I was able to take Sue for her first flight. It got a bit bumpy but she was fine with it and enjoyed the flight. Passing my checkride and getting my certificate was a HUGE weight off of my shoulders. Taking Sue up was my reward. Without her support I wouldn’t be a pilot now. Being able to take her up in a plane that I was flying and show her all that I learned was a real treat. Well, not ALL that I learned. I’m not going to subject someone to stalls or steep turns on their first flight.

The other thing that’s hard to wrap my head around is the fact that Sue was right there with me and encouraged me every step of the way. It’s not at all surprising, because that’s who she is. I’m just not used to having someone in my life who offers encouragement. I’m incredibly grateful.

I hope we have many years of calm winds and fair skies ahead of us.

First Flight
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That was some weird shit

Title courtesy of George W. Bush’s reaction to Trump’s inaugural address four years ago.

Political post. Surf on by if you’re not interested. To preface, I am not a member of a political party. I don’t feel either party represents me, and I don’t identify as one or the other. I think the world would be VASTLY improved if people didn’t tie their identity to a political party. That said, let’s go…

I’ve lived around Donald Trump most of my life. He’s always been a clown. That he would make a horrible president should have surprised nobody, especially not anyone from New York. With the exception of Staten Island (do they not get to Queens much?) there’s a reason he never got close to a plurality of the vote there. New Yorkers know him, and they know he’s nothing but a misogynistic, racist pile of bullshit made famous by daddy’s money and his own infatuation with the media. This isn’t some special insight that New Yorkers possess, it’s just that every village knows who its idiot is. He’s definitely talented, just not at business or management. He’s a very talented bullshitter who is great at self-promotion. None of this is new. He’s been that way since the 70’s and though he’s always exhibited a pathological need to be in front of TV cameras, he’s never shown any sign of becoming a better version of himself. He’s never had to. Drop him into a media environment that thrives on controversy, or a political party where the loudest voice wins, and he’s a natural fit.

Make politics and TV news into a circus, and you’re going to end up with clowns sooner or later.

When I pointed this out five years ago I lost some friends and family over it. The irony of them calling me a “snowflake” and then cutting me out of their life because I disagreed with them was a bit amusing. I’m still here should they ever extract themselves from the cult, but I’m not holding my breath. Being in a position to say “I told you so” brings no comfort. It’s actually fucking infuriating. We didn’t have to do this to ourselves. Every bit of stupidity and corruption over the last four years has been self-inflicted. Despite the repeated claims of “this is not who we are” it is clear as day that this IS who we are. We are a small, ignorant, frightened people who suffered for four years because we elected a small, ignorant, frightened ruler. Too many of us still think that was a good idea, because they’ve been told that any alternative is even more frightening.

Donald Trump was not an aberration. He’s a logical step on the path we’ve been walking for decades now. More clowns are lining up behind him. Most of the congressional Republicans voted to overturn the results of an election that their president lost. Most are still going along with the fiction that the election (that they personally won) was stolen from him. We’ve gotten ourselves into a position where we need Democrats with courage and/or Republicans with integrity, so we may be fucked. Things will probably be bad for a while. We’ve got a brief opportunity to change course, but if we don’t get our act together quickly we may get so far down that path that there’s no coming back.

“If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism, they will abandon democracy.”
– David Frum

Posted in rants
2020 Year-end wrap-up

Madagascar Penguins

2020: the longest year. A year to remember, though we’d probably rather not.

There was a time when we thought 2016 was a comically (tragically?) bad year. That seems like a lifetime ago. Things have gotten progressively worse and more stupid since then.

Probably the defining feature of 2020 has been the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, this yearly wrap-up has no stories about the year’s travels. No reflection upon the year’s best concerts or films. Happiness in 2020 was being able to buy toilet paper. Most larger dreams had to be deferred.

I will wrap this up with a bit of thanks. Sue and I are healthy so far, knock on wood. We are both still employed. Although we are months from being able to get a vaccine ourselves, vaccines are starting to be made available. For the first time in years there is hope that things will start to improve next year.

Let’s hope so.

Posted in thoughts