Lee's little corner of the interwebz

Random adventures through my life... in all their glory and splendor.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The only barrier here, is that ridiculous post in your mouth

“Hi, I’d like a #3”
“Fwyz, zouq, oh shallid?”
“What’s the soup today?”
“Queem off bwa-sha-wee”
“That sounds good”
“Anyshing elps?”
“No that’s it.”
“Fow heroshugo?”
 “For here”
“Shattilbee sheshen shirdy fide”
“Here’s my card”
“Dan Too.  Hasha nysh day!”
“Thanks you too!”

I may not be a particularly educated man, but I am pleasantly fluent in Just-Got-My-Tongue-Pierced-ese

Friday, October 9, 2015

I'm not one to talk, but...

I was texting a friend yesterday and as I pecked out, "Not to sound like a dick, but..."  I had to stop.  I knew, unequivocally, that what I was about to write was so dickish that my fingers had already tried to passive aggressively send out a warning.  I couldn't even convince *myself* that what I was about to type wasn't petty and cruel, and yet somehow announcing my intention was supposed to mitigate that I was indeed, about to write something only a dick would write?  It was ridiculous. I was left staring at my phone with an uncomfortable choice.  Either I shut up and delete, or I own up to it and be an unapologetic dick.  You know, like a real dick.  Normally this is a no-brainer for a peacenik like me, but in this particular case I really wanted to say it.  I mean, REALLY.  I wanted to jump on my elephant of self-righteous indignation and charge straight down off the moral high ground and trample away leaving nothing but dropped jaws and squashed egos underfoot!  One pointed text and I would zero out my good Karma, but Holy Hand Grenade, I would be vindicated!  Just. Hit. Send.  Be that guy.  Be a dick.


For some of us, it just isn't that simple.  I can't feign innocence about my intentions once I'm aware of them.  This particular conviction does me no good at the poker table, but has generally served me well in life.  So I took a couple deep breaths, deleted my text, and started over putting more of a playful "Duck-Duck-Goose" slant on it than the "Knock-Knock-Shotgun" I feeling.

I wish more people would take a moment to think about their actions before doing them.  Then we would all be far superior to the real dicks out there.

Just like me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Survive on Stage

So a friend said to me the other day, "I don't know how you get up in front of people and sing like that." I took that as a compliment, though in retrospect might not have been... And deep down, I know she was just making conversation, but because I take stuff like that as a literal challenge, I figured I'd share my "secrets to success" with the rest of the world. Maybe its more like, "failing without destroying your ego" but I'll let you make the call.

Ok, so here's my formula for public performance:
1) Practice as much as you can so then you know deep down that even if you suck in front of everyone, you can tell yourself you *know* you *could* have done a great job.
2) Know that everyone out there wants you to succeed. Nobody wants to hear you fail, so they will forgive what you're doing wrong, and listen more for what you're doing right. People will remember the 2 verses you did right, not the one you monkey'ed up if you take it in stride. (Judged events and angry drunks are different. I recommend avoiding both.)
3) Perform for people a lot. Eventually it won't throw you off as much because you'll have said every possible stupid thing under the sun. After a while doing dumb stuff into a mic won't phase you as much and you might even start to enjoy it. Yes, even *I* have said stuff I regretted. No, I won't tell you what I said. You had to be there, and I'm glad you weren't. Wait until next time, and yes, there will be a next time.
4) People don't care as much as you do about what you sound like. My inner critic and suck-meter are far more sensitive than most audiences. Yours probably is too.
5) You're never too 'seasoned' to psych yourself out. It still happens to me on occasion, usually in church. My kids think it's really funny to see my legs shaking. All you can do is get back on the horse. Next time will go better.
6) Make sure there's a next time.
7) Instructions are pretty simple. The execution is tricky.

There is one more kind of anti-guideline caveat-thing, and that is simply to know when it's NOT your turn. Sometimes you should just take a bow. Play nice and give someone else the spotlight. I've been at a couple events lately where someone has asked me to play/sing spur of the moment. Sometimes this is fine, sometimes it isn't. I was at a house warming with work friends. My friends knew I played guitar, but the hosts didn't, nor did they ask me to play. I don't think that's an appropriate time to surprise people with you 'talents.' Also, I was at a wedding reception recently where the bride, after finishing singing a song herself, looked my way and pointed the mic at me. I appreciated the invite, but really, it was her moment and I'm not going to be the douchebag that tries to one-up the bride. And seriously, how would I follow that up, anyway? Here's some Nirvana unplugged I hope ya'll like!

So that's it in a nutshell. Be yourself, but not so much of yourself that you look like a total idiot. Maybe next time I'll reduce the 7 points down to one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wait. Am I under what?

So you know that mountain of paperwork you have to fill out when you go to a new doctor? I'm working my way through a 12 page "Getting to know you" evaluation and, I kid you not, the second to last question is:
"Are you currently under the influence?"
Seriously? They waited 12 pages to ask that? I'd think that would be kind of a page 1 question... you know, like "If Yes, then please come back and fill out the other 11 pages when you're sober."

If it wasn't just a check box I'd love to put "No, but I was when I started."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My secret weight loss formula REVEALED

So, when you're built like half a man like I am, you get used to people using adjectives like 'thin' or 'skinny' or 'boney' to describe you. True story, I actually got called 'slight' the other day as if it were 'slightly' less of an insult. Slight? Really? What am I, a ballet dancer? At that point you might as well call me a 'lithe' or 'wispy' and get it over with.
Everyone assumes that I've always been this way. And granted, I never hit big guy status, but the truth is, 4 years ago I was up 25 pounds and well, any way you look at it, that's a decent sized bag of cat food to be carrying around your waist all the time.
So how did I do it? How did I become the sexy, lean, beast you see before you today? I can sum it up in two words:

Stress. Out.

That's right, you too may be among the small percentage of people who actually lose weight under stress. Just like me! You just have to apply this simple formula to your current life style:

Anxiety = Loss of Appetite + Metabolic boost = Weight Loss

See? It's just that easy! You stress out. You're no longer hungry so you quit eating. AND with your accelerated metabolism, you'll be burning off the pounds while you lie awake all night!

I don't just sell the system, I really believe in it. Let me tell you how it all worked for me. 3 years ago my fat ass was happily sitting on the couch dipping Fritos into a pint of Ben and Jerry's when my wife and I decided to try this program called, "Go to Ethiopia and come home with two children." In less than a week I was totally stressed and BAM! 10 pounds gone in 2 months! Then 2 years ago I lost my job and another 10 pounds! It really was amazing. And simple!

And that's not all! It's practically free, there's no expensive equipment to buy, and you don't even have to change your exercise routine. Heck, you can probably even make money by selling your bed, since you will be too worked up to use it anyway. And on the all stress program, you can eat whatever you feel like eating! Anything you can choke down is yours to keep! I've even lost weight after a night of binge drinking! Never mind the fact that I was completely dehydrated and that alcohol and caffeine amplify anxiety disorders. They also accelerate weight loss and that's why I drink Captain AND Coke! What's important is your weight, not your health, so it all still counts! It's remarkable!

Oh, and it's a great conversation starter too. People will love to hear about how you are using just the pressure of daily life to drive your weight down. Women especially will find your story absolutely fascinating. Be sure to bring it up loudly and often for maximum effect on the babes.

So try it now! Join the millions of people who have gone through sudden and catastrophic lifestyle changes and see if the all stress program is right for you!

Results are not typical. For most normal people walking this planet, anxiety and depression tend to cause weight *gain.* Stress and comfort eaters may not experience similar results. Symptoms of large amounts of stress include depression, blood pressure spikes, and long term damage to your internal organs. But hey, at least you'll be skinny, right? Please consult your doctor before changing your diet, exercise routine, or increasing stress levels. And talk to your local comedian if you are having trouble coming to grips with sarcasm on the internet.
Click HERE for more actual info.
On a side note, I've found that adding fries to a meal consistently adds half a pound the next morning. Like clockwork. Even for a slight guy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sun of a...

Just for the record, I got sunburnt yesterday. Yes, that's right. Second week of Sept and "my summer tan" which was actually decent compared to other years, was rendered obsolete.
Being 'fair skinned' is so overrated.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All My Tears Be Washed Away

Mark's this guy who, for whatever reason, loved to hear me play at The Brick. Considering I'm just a dude with a guitar who plays for an hour on the weekends, he made an incredible effort to come out and listen to me on a regular basis. He also continuously tipped generously even after we had established a friendship, which in my experience, is unheard of.
I heard an interview with Bono a long time ago where he said (in so many words) that the problem with Christian music is that Christians don't want to write about or listen to conflict. But in order to write a song or tell a story with a resolution, you need a conflict to resolve from. I still find this true. At least most churches don't mince words about it any more. The category is "Praise and Worship." See? No need to dwell on hardship, or problems, or pain, we'll just jump straight to praise and worship. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Death, which Christians are supposed to celebrate on one level, is inherently conflicting. I think that's why I am drawn to the genre I oh-so-cleverly call 'Christian Death Songs.' There's a bunch that put happy tunes to fairly morbid topics, like "I'll Fly Away" or "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" that sound like a great time until you listen to the lyrics. And a couple that are appropriately somber. I think "Amazing Grace" nails the right tone with the right words. But there are even fewer that just admit that death sucks for everyone but the dead. The ones I'm familiar with take the viewpoint of the dead trying to reassure the living. I like those. I appreciate the conflict. Mark liked them too. He would joke with me about how I should do a two hour set of death and break-up songs while people would relax, enjoy their coffee, and then slit their wrists.

I found out my friend Mark died of a heart attack this morning. I had seen him a week ago at karaoke and been in contact with him a couple times since then, but nothing connected. About noon today, I got a phone call asking me to sing at the funeral. Of course I said yes before I really thought through the logistics of it all, which honestly, it is probably much better that way. When I told Chris, she asked me what I would sing. Fortunately, I happen to know exactly which Christian Death Songs were his favorites. Choosing a song would be the easy part. Singing it will be the challenge. I called my friend Bruce who I would classify as an 'elder musician' to see if he had any advice on getting through funeral music. "Yes" he said, "Whatever you do, don't try to sing. You'll never make it. I've never made it. Find someone who isn't attached to the deceased to do the singing." We both laughed that nervous laughter you use when you're trying to wrap your mind around bad news, and hung up.
So I will miss my friend Mark. I will miss his encouraging smile. His attentiveness to my music. His randomly timed, yet poignant text messages (He drove a truck and would contact me at weird times from weirder places.) And his boldness to initiate conversations with an unintentionally aloof coffeehouse musician.

Here are the lyrics to "All My Tears," one of Mark's most requested songs:

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


So I turned 39 yesterday and I gotta tell you... it's not so bad, or at the very least, it could be a lot worse. 38 was pretty good to me. Running the Rockford half marathon was probably the highlight. I ran 13 miles in 1 hr and 49 minutes, which was a once in a lifetime pace for me. Peshtigo white water rafting was a close second. Both were firsts that made me feel like I might actually be capable of surviving a catastrophe.

Here's me running like I'm chased by zombies

If I lump anything that's happened in the last week into 'My Extended Birthday,' then it's been a fantastic party. It started Friday night with karaoke in Belvidere, where I met up with Becky from work and her friends, who never fail to entertain. One of them is an amazing, room-goes-quiet, instant fan-club, singer. Under normal circumstances, that is awesome... however not so much when you have to follow her all night in the singing rotation. Then it kinda sucks and just becomes a big joke. Hey look at me! I'm the guy who is singing after the person you actually wanted to hear just finished! That's exactly why opening bands don't follow the headliners...
Saturday morning I got up and ran (thank you Fri night caffeine) and then went to sing at The Brick Cafe. It's interesting to hear what a night of my karaoke voice does to my coffee house voice the next morning. Sometimes it's great and adds some gravel, other times it destroys my upper range. It could go either way. Then Saturday night I ended up in Elgin at an OpenMike night with the old U46 bunch. Singing there was unusual because I think I sang 9 songs that night. 45 min at an open mike even after doing a set with Joan Jett, Brittany Spears, and Culture Club? Ridiculous. Did you not just hear me sing Culture Club?
Two days later I had lunch with Nez. Yesterday, Chris called me "El Jefe" (the chief) all morning, gave me a birthday wedgie (to make me feel like I was in grade school again? thx lol), then took me out for Thai. At work, Becky put a 90lb bag of Peanut M&M's on my desk and said, "Happy Birthday. That ought to keep you for a while." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but from what I can tell, it means I don't have to share. Then after soccer practice, I took the kids to DQ just to make sure they'd be sugared up and crabby when they got home.
Along with all this I somehow managed to finish up Season 1 of "Game of Thrones" which is worth watching, though I don't recommend it for everyone.

So I guess what really made 39 special (I know, it should be 38 Special shouldn't it?) is that I got to sing a lot and hang out with a bunch of old friends, new friends, and family. It was just a great mix.
I don't want to wait a year to have a another week like this.

9/5/2011 addendum
To make it even better, this weekend, I jammed with Marty Friday night, then Chris and I went to the wedding of an old U46 friend and got to sit at a table with other district people I haven't seen in a year. Then Sunday I played guitar at Wesley and hung out with the family in Elgin. It's really been the perfect week of friends and music.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Photo Challenge Days 26 - 30

Day 26: Close up
So Dad, Is this close enough for you?
Day 27: From a Distance
Kites on Mackinac Island
Day 28: Flowers
Flowers are easy to find in Michigan in July. I took a lot of flower shots but I like the near silhouette look in this one, just because it's different.
Day 29: Black and White
Other than cropping, I really didn't mess with the other pictures much. This one, though, I had to play with the settings to get the football nice and dark.
Day 30: Self portrait
I liked the idea starting and finishing the photo challenge with the same topic. Then, I guess in theory, you can see how much you've improved. In this case though, I really like my Day 1 picture of myself more than any of my final portraits. Now, maybe it's because I did it in 5 days and not the full 30 so my artistic eye didn't have as much time to develop. Or I'm photo snob now and I'm so hip I don't even like my own stuff any more. There is another lesson in this though, sometimes the first shot is the best. Many of my final choices were actually the first, most spontaneous shots. So I guess the moral is, when in doubt shoot it anyway.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Photo Challenge Days 21 - 25

Day 21: Faceless self portrait
Ok so technically there is a face in this picture, but if you look in her eyes you'll see me.
Day 22: Hands
Day 23: Lens Flare
I've never actually tried to get a lens flare, I've only gotten them on accident.
Day 24: Animal
I did have some other 'successful' animal pics this week, but this one had the most personality even though it was fleeting.
Day 25: Something Pink