Tag: humor

Mixtape Memoirs: An Audio-Biography

Mixtape Memoirs: An Audio-Biography

Welcome to the “Mixtape Memoirs” project.  The story of me, told in small bites (or bytes, if you prefer).  An exploration of the soundtrack to those events and experiences that define who I am, who I was, and who I want to be. This is my audio-biography.

What is a “mixtape memoir”?  To answer that, first you have to ask yourself – what is a mixtape, really?  You wait by the radio for the perfect track – never knowing what was coming next.  The songs didn’t begin or end perfectly, instead they blended into each other in a unique way that would forever be your own. We’ve all heard the same songs – we’ve all lived in the same world.  But your “mixtape” – your collection of moments – tells the story of you in a way no one else can.

What is an audio-biography?  It’s the intersection of music and writing.  Music has always been present at the important junctures of my life.  A special song after that first prom.  A sad song on my phone after learning of the passing of a loved one.  The song I wrote as a wedding present for my wife.  Music has always provided the background to my aspirations and dreams – my successes and failures. There is no way I could tell the story of me with words without also using music. The songs I hear in my mind when flipping through those memories is the soundtrack of my life. That “mixtape” is me.

So, why take on this project?  Well, for one, I want to get back in the habit of writing – and like many people – I enjoy writing about the things I know.  One of the things I know best, for better or worse, is me.  After all, I’ve known me longer than I’ve known anyone else in my life.  I have all the inside scoop and behind the scenes details.  I know what I was really thinking when I lost control of my car going around that turn too fast when I was 16.  I know what I thought before, during, and after my first kiss.  I know how I felt the split-second I knew I was going to ask my wife to marry me.

I know each of these things and many, many more.  But – and here’s the really good part – most of YOU don’t know what I was thinking, what I was doing, or how things really happened.  Some of you may have been there for those events, but I’m betting your memories are just as spotty as mine.

Let’s be honest.  Most of us don’t really remember our youth.  What we remember is a montage of “the good old days”.  We remember things as the stories we tell our friends at weddings and birthday parties – not as they happened.  We remember things the way our parents recount them at family reunions and funerals.  We romanticize the good, minimize the bad, and skip over all the boring filler and commercial breaks in between.

If I’m being completely honest (and for just the moment, I am…) – my memory sucks.  I don’t remember things that happened last week, much less 30 years ago.  I’ve never had a great memory, and thousands of Diet Dr. Peppers over the years likely haven’t helped.   So why set out to write about things from so long ago that I will likely misremember, mess-up, or just flat out fabricate?

The answer is simple – because I can.  This is my story.  Not as it happened, but as I remember it.  Or, more accurately, as I choose to remember it.  Will these stories be 100% factual?  No.  Will they get all the people, places, and events correct?  No.  Will they always portray me in the best light – blameless and virtuous?  No.  Will they add a detail here and omit another there?  Yes.  Will they capture the essence of my memories and experiences?  Yes.  Will they be written from the heart?  Yes – absolutely.

Before we begin in earnest, what are the ground rules of this little project?

  1. The stories will come as often, or as infrequent as the come. Do I want to write every day and post every week?    Will I? No.  But I will be writing and I will be posting.

  2. The stories will all be “true fiction”. Rooted in the real world, but not limited by what I can remember or what actually happened.  Names may (or may not) be changed to protect the innocent (or guilty).

  3. If you want to correct the record on something I write about – send me an email. I can’t promise I’ll make a change, but I would love to hear from you.

  4. Every story will come back to a song.

Many memoirs have been written over the years.  Stories of lives far more interesting than my own.  Why would anyone care to go on this journey with me?  I’m not sure they will – that’s what we are here to find out.  I’ve been fortunate to have music frame the moments in my life that have meant the most to me.  I’ve told stories through songs of my own and used the lyrics of others to express my feelings when I couldn’t find them in my own voice.  I’ve known both the thrill and the terror of standing in front of a live audience.  I’ve seen the power of a song to both wound and heal.  I’ve felt the intimacy of singing just the right words to just the right person at just the right time.

Now I want to share those experiences, and many more, with each of you.  I don’t know if these are just the right words for just the right person – but I do know it’s just the right time.  I hope you can find a familiar echo in the songs I sing.  I hope you can learn something about me, and maybe even yourself.  I hope you enjoy the show.

 

Let’s begin with an oldie, but a goodie…

Track #1 – “Honestly” by Stryper

 

12 Proposed Common Sense Airline Rules

12 Proposed Common Sense Airline Rules

I have what might be best described as a love/hate relationship with flying.  I love to travel and see new places – I hate the ridiculous amount of regulations and “theater of the absurd” rules.  I’ve written about many of my adventures on airplanes and in airports in the past.  This week, I hit a new level of the absurd.  It would be laugh out loud funny if it weren’t true.

On a flight to Los Angeles this week, I had taken my seat and was getting settled in for the trip.  I’m a quirky traveler, but I have a system that works for me.  I pulled out my iPhone and headphones and dialed up my “Plane Music” playlist.  I took my book and a thermos of hot tea (brewed after the security checkpoint, of course), and put them in the seat pocket in front of me.  I checked my Blackberry, answered a few messages, and then turned it off for the flight.  All systems checked out – I was ready to go.

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“One Freaking Apple” – What I learned on the road last week

“One Freaking Apple” – What I learned on the road last week

If you’ve been with me for the past year, you’ll know I always seem to learn something interesting when I travel.  It might be that my cordless mouse is a threat to aviation security, that some restaurants have no business advertising, or even that “Unskinny Bop” is a song that will follow you, no matter where you go.

 

This past week I had two trips, back to back.  One was a sales meeting for work and one was a mini family vacation to the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark resort.  Besides being completely exhausted, I again managed to learn a few things along the way.  Since it’s been over two weeks since I posted anything, I thought I would get back in the swing by sharing a few of the pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned during my most recent travels.  Enjoy!

 

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My own personal “7 Circles of Hell”

My own personal “7 Circles of Hell”

It’s been a really long week.  One of those weeks were it’s easy to sit back and focus on just how stressful and infuriating life can be sometimes.  I had to fly cross-country, so I had plenty of time to sit on planes and think.  I was crammed into seat 37E between a morbidly obese Panamanian woman and a John Waters look-alike who smelled like Doritos and Band-Aids, when I had an epiphany somewhere over New Mexico.  As trying as my week had been, it could have been far worse.  I could have had to deal with some of the things that really annoy me.  I could have been put in one of those situations that really set my teeth on edge.  I could have been trapped in one of what I call, “My Own Personal 7 Circles of Hell”.


#1:  Having a cashier ask for my credit card after I’ve already swiped it through the reader

Automation can be a good thing (just don’t tell Obama…).  It allows companies and businesses to be more efficient.  It can speed up simple transactions and save you valuable time during your day.  It can also drive you crazy.

One of the biggest changes at retail in the last few years has been the ubiquitous addition of credit card terminals at the register.  They’re everwhere – Walmart, Kmart, Carmart, Stuffyoudontneedmart – everyone has added the ability for you to swipe your credit card and pay your bill.  Put like that, it sounds great  – and in most cases it is.  Most, but not all.

Here’s what chaps my recently slimmed down posterior.  If they are going to give you an automated machine to swipe your card through, why do they still insist you then hand them your card for inspection.  If I’m going to hand it to Skippy the cashier anyway, shouldn’t he just go ahead and swipe it himself?  Why even give me the illusion of control over my own destiny?  It’s like a cruel joke: he allows me to swipe my card, put it back in my wallet, put my wallet back in my pocket, and THEN Skippy needs to see the card – or I can’t buy my fresh vine ripened tomatoes, can of turpentine, and Kittens with Mittens sticker book.

Really?  You just have to see the card? You just have to let me have one brief moment of retail freedom, then bring it all crashing down on my head like a twig house under the onslaught of Ye Olde Big Bad Wolf?  Thanks for nothing.  Just keep your credit card machines and false promises of manifest destiny in the hair care products aisle.  It’s almost enough to make me start using cash…

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Review – “Exponential Apocalypse” by Eirik Gumeny

Review – “Exponential Apocalypse” by Eirik Gumeny

I was recently contacted by Jersey Devil Press, and asked if I would review one of their novels – “Exponential Apocalypse”.  Having the word “apocalypse” in the title immediately grabbed my attention, so I shuffled over to Amazon and downloaded a sample for my Kindle.  One fallen Norse God, one cloned ex-president, and one zombie cow later, I was hooked.

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