May 27

My Heart Hurts

Those of you that follow me on Facebook know this already, others may remember that Joplin, Missouri is my hometown.

Apartment Complex in Joplin Before the Tornado

I have been watching the news and following the feeds basically non-stop since the tornado hit Sunday evening. I’ve been listening to the talk radio station out of Joplin in a sort of stunned fog.

I know that I can’t know exactly what it was like to live through those terrifying 20 minutes of chaos or the disorienting aftermath. But I do know that there is a special hell reserved for those of us who are thousands of miles away waiting for the next Facebook update from a friend who was silent for 10 hours after the storm.

I think everyone on my list has been accounted for without serious injury. I know several people who have lost their homes. I know a few who have family members among the dead.

Apartment Complex After

Apartment Complex in Joplin After Tornado

I know I haven’t been checking here on the old blog much, outside of trying to write about the most disappointing season of American Idol ever… but if you would all please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross to help the efforts in Joplin?

An economically depressed area full of some of the best friends I have ever had needs help. I can’t even tell you how badly I wish I could be there helping with the clean up and recovery.

Feb 17

The Birth of Aaron

I don’t remember when the idea came about… sometime in my childhood, probably around the same time that I moved away from Joplin to Kansas City and sort of got the chance to “start over.”

I like the idea of getting to “reboot.”

I decided that when I turned 35, basically the half way point in my life, I’d start going by my middle name, Aaron.

Today’s the day, and I still like the idea.

A couple of months ago there was a Facebook meme going around where you got to “grade” your parents on how they did picking your name based on the most popular names in the year you were born.

My parents got a C-.

My mom actually called me and asked me to do the meme. She said she knew that she hadn’t picked the best name for me… and then said that she never thought I looked like a “Paul.”

So, in preparation of my 35th birthday, I’ve taken to adding my middle name to my business cards and emails.

I changed it on Facebook today… and will experiment with introducing myself as “Aaron.”

I’m sure there will be those who will never make the change. But I figure people I meet from now on won’t know the difference, right?

And if this doesn’t work, I guess I could always go by “Jester” which is what a bunch of people call me anyway!

Dec 31

The Year in Review

This has been one crazy, messed up, totally awesome, exhausting year.

It started out with my getting what was supposed to be a fantastic promotion at work, which turned out to be the bullet that caused a tailspin of disaster culminating in my airing some very personal dirty laundry in my resignation letter.

Out of that experience, Othurme and I decided to strike out on our own and open our own cruise travel agency offering discount cruise fares, Cruise Avenue and I’ve barely had time to blink ever since.

Business has not yet hit a level that is profitable, or quite paying the bills yet. I hope that changes soon. I need that to change soon.*

I went on three cruises this year. All of them were work-related, but there was at least some down time to enjoy the Bahamas, Ensenada and Catalina, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.

This year saw me distance myself quite a bit from the circle of bloggers that were once a huge part of my (online) social life. There are several reasons for this, but mostly I became sick of the petty dramas, arrogance, manufactured grievances, and in some cases downright despicable behavior being exhibited. Don’t worry… I’m probably not talking about you.

But also, I’ve been reconnecting with so many people from my past and real life via Facebook, discussing memories, people I actually know in person in places I’ve actually been, that the fringe internet blogger folk who never really gave a shit about me anyway took a seat at the very back of the bus.

This year, Total Eclipse was busier than we’ve ever been in our entire history. Our original guitarist returned and has quickly regained his spot amongst my best friends. The band grossed more than $30,000 this year. Sure, that’s split among all the members, but when you count in all the amazing places we get to go and the hospitality afforded to us, it’s not chump change.

Without a doubt, one of the most significant things that happened this year was the repair of a friendship that had been broken for more than 8 years. A friendship that had meant so much to me that I never got over the loss, broken for reasons that were unknown to me, and as it turns out, really had nothing to do with me. I haven’t talked about it much, but I suspect that I will tell the story here soon.

On a grander scale, it seemed this year really was the year of “change.” A new president, a political party system seemingly at war with itself, the deaths of many iconic performers and personalities, an economy that keeps toying with us, the devastating attack on civil rights by the religious wingnuts, and a feeling that the world is just polarizing more and more into two camps: those that get it, and those that never will.

Some of the entertainment highlights of the year:

  • Best Album of the Year: The Script. It’s been my go-to album all year long. Also, this was the best concert I saw this year.
  • Best Movie: (500) Days of Summer. I wanted to see it in the theater and missed it (who has time?) but caught it on a cruise ship in October. It’s now one of my favorite movies of all time. Top five at least. Honorable mention: I had never seen a zombie movie before… they never appealed to me, however, Zombieland ended up being one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen in ages. I saw it twice on its opening weekend.
  • Best New TV Show: Glee. It’s like watching my high school experience every week… only with slightly better dialogue and a touch less drama. Honorable mention: Modern Family. It has not failed in making me laugh hysterically at least once per episode. And there’s usually a one liner to quote the next day.

Looking forward to 2010

I don’t care for New Year’s resolutions. Too much pressure to make grand life changes just because the calendar has moved forward. You should be willing to change your life everyday on a moment’s notice if needed. Why should you wait until Jan 1 to quit smoking, or go on a diet, or finally nail that hot neighbor?

Instead, here are a few of the things I would like to see happen in 2010:

I will rekindle my creativity in 2010. I haven’t written much in this blog or elsewhere… I haven’t written any music in ages. I haven’t created anything of worth or substance in so long I am almost afraid that I have forgotten how.

I will write songs and record my first real album this year. It has been brewing in my head for a while and it’s time to lock myself in a room with a guitar, a keyboard and my computer and force myself to crank it out.

I will travel somewhere new this year.

There is definitely a move in the near future. I do not yet know where we will end up, but the uncertainty of the housing market and the economy and the new business has left me incredibly stressed and I have to get out from under this soul-crushing cloud of worry that has been a constant companion for more than a year. This year it goes away.

I will write on my blog more often than I did this year. In fact, I will finally pick up the Record Contract story where I left off. I miss this outlet, I miss the storytelling and the feedback from my friends.

I will sleep more and sit up staring at my computer less.

I will upgrade my iPhone.

On that note, I’m going to sign out for 2009.

May your New Year’s Eve be fun, safe, and spent with people you love.

* How can you all help? Well… now that you asked, would you please consider linking to cruiseavenue.com on your blogs/facebook/twitter etc? I can’t sell cruises to people who aren’t coming to my website! Thanks!!

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Jul 08

On Michael

It’s impossible to know the private thoughts, demons, and dreams of another person. Often, it’s hard to know our own.

How can any person begin to imagine what the daily life of Michael Jackson must have been like?

He literally grew up before our eyes. His fans likely knew more about his background and his family life than he did.

While Madonna was attending elementary school, Michael was on Ed Sullivan. While Prince was playing four-square, Michael was in the recording studio. While Simon Le Bon was buying lollies, Michael was touring the country.

He went on to become the biggest-selling recording artist in the history of recording. His sales records will likely never be equaled.

He went on to become the most famous person in the world. His image was more recognizable to children worldwide than that of Ronald McDonald and Jesus. Tribes in remote jungles could identify Michael Jackson.

There was not a street corner, backwoods diner, desert palm tree, or iceberg that Michael could visit without attracting attention.

How lonely and thrilling and sad and amazing and frustrating that must have been to experience.

In every interview I’ve seen recently, the same few words keep coming up: innocent, child-like, playful, silly… For many years, I’ve believed that Michael likely never progressed emotionally past the level of a 12 year old. As an adult, he created his ideal habitat, basically a giant circus and amusement park. I don’t believe this was the act of a predator, I believe it was him surrounding himself with his most basic childhood dreams.

The musician in me can not begin to express the reach and influence Michael had on his contemporaries and younger generations of artists. Every single person on the pop music charts today, from Taylor Swift to The Jonas Brothers, Justin Timberlake, Rhianna, and Miley Cyrus owe an incredible amount of gratitude to Michael Jackson.

His work, dedication, and talent did much more than just sell a few hundred million albums… he busted racial barriers, revolutionized the music industry, introduced filmmakers to new technologies, and probably most importantly shed light on major social issues of the day.

No one in the US knew or cared about the famine that was claiming hundreds of lives daily in Ethiopia in the 80’s until Michael’s USA for Africa exposed it. Even now when I suggest Ethiopian food for dinner, someone invariably makes the joke, “I didn’t think they had any food!”

His humanitarian efforts are unequaled. He has given more money to charitable organizations than any other “person of note.” He founded nearly 40 different organizations aimed at providing funds for everything from HIV/AIDS to burn victims and wounded veterans.

I’ve found myself vigorously defending Michael the past several days on Twitter and Facebook from people who want to complain that his death is receiving too much attention… or demanding that people stop talking about the “child molester” who should be rotting in hell.

To those people I say, “May you never be judged by the worst thing you’ve been accused of.”

To those who dwell on his seemingly bizarre behavior and appearance, remember that “freak” is another term for “different” and our prejudices and bigotry are our problems, not the problems of those who are different.

This “freak” was a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a human being who did extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances.

Michael’s legacy will survive the scandals. Michael’s legacy will survive whatever the next several months or years will find him being accused of now that he’s not here to defend himself. Michael’s legacy will survive the legal battle over the custody of his children and the disbursement of his estate.

Michael Jackson’s page in the history books will be filled with his music and his charity. I don’t believe the scandals will even warrant a footnote.

As for myself, I will remember being jealous of my childhood best friend who came to school wearing that red zippered jacket and glove, and the joy when he let me wear it. I will remember my mom and dad dancing with me to the “I Want You Back” and “ABC” records. I will remember the countless hours I spent watching MTV just hoping they would play “Thriller” one more time. I will remember how much I loved “The Way You Make Me Feel” and how I cried like a baby the first time I heard “Gone Too Soon” after Ryan White died.

I will mourn the sudden silence of a voice that has always been heard in my house.

And I will mourn yet another piece of my childhood slipping away.

Pardon the hell out of me if that’s interrupting your regularly scheduled programming.

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Jun 11

How Zabouts Some Bullets?

I can’t quite seem to find enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished that is on my list. Usually that also includes a blog post.

Some bullets of things that I have been meaning to write about or just happen to be on my mind….

  • Don’t let anyone tell you that launching a business is easy to do. Any one that tells you “It’s no big deal. You can do it in your spare time” deserves a swift punch to the crotch.
  • I can’t see ever working for someone else ever again. There’s a lot to be said about being the responsible party. The problem is there’s no one to complain to when your boss is being a total asshole.
  • On top of launching my own cruise travel agency, Cruise Avenue, (yes this is a total plug for my company… I NEED CUSTOMERS!) I am also doing all the social network marketing for another company, have a couple of freelance web design projects I’m working on, and it’s been a pretty busy period for Total Eclipse.
  • All of this work is making it incredibly difficult to keep up with the good TV that’s quickly making the “off season” my favorite… Weeds, Kathy Griffin, The Closer, Nurse Jackie, Deadliest Catch, Mythbusters, True Blood… they all have new episodes airing. Monday nights rock!
  • I’ve been spending way too much of my “free time” on Facebook lately. Between talking to some high school friends who I have missed terribly without even realizing it, and trying to catch up to Othurme’s score on Bejeweled Tournament (HOW does he keep scoring so high!?), I have just dedicated one of the tabs in Firefox to Facebook. Always.
  • My ex-boss decided to try and follow me on Twitter today. I haven’t worked for him in over 3 months, and he’s dragged me into a lawsuit against a different ex-employee. The problem is, every piece of evidence that I could possibly contribute to the lawsuit actually benefits the other party. In fact, I’ve already sent in my affidavit. To HER lawyer. How’s that for a little FUCK YOU?
  • I suspect he intends to try and make some trouble for my new company, Cruise Avenue, (like how I worked that back in there?) under some misguided notion that his poorly written non-compete agreement (which I never signed in the first place) would stand up to being enforceable despite his terminating me. (It won’t.) If he’s found this blog already, I just want to make sure he realizes that I’m about 5 seconds from calling the IRS and blowing the whistle on all the illegal activities and kickbacks he’s sending to his corporate clients. Let’s just call that one of the aces I’m keeping in my hip pocket.
  • As you can probably imagine, I’m pretty much in a state of mind that makes a vacation not only overdue, but a necessity. Luckily, I’ll be on the Carnival Elation this weekend going from San Diego to Ensenada and Catalina Island. I’ll be doing some training for Cruise Avenue’s new agents, but most of the trip will lots of sun, alcohol, and I might even splurge on a massage.
  • I hear there’s a big blogger party going on this weekend. Apparently my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. It’s ok, though. I’d much rather be on a ship. With strangers. With Swine Flu. And hemorrhoids.

So yeah, that’s what’s been on my mind lately. How are you all?

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May 08

I Highly Doubt This Applies To You

Stealing from Hilly who stole from Avitable who stole from….

Ten Things I Wish I Could Say or That I Should Say to Certain People:

  1. I refuse to let you make me feel guilty anymore. You let others get away with far worse offenses.
  2. Fuck with me or my family/friends one more time and your body will never be found. I know a guy.
  3. You were my puppet and I only kept you around because manipulating you gave me something to do. You only think you became a real person and walked away. I just handed the strings to someone else.
  4. I often wish I had your life. Then I remember that I did. And it sucked. Can I have it back?
  5. Fuck you for being a shitty friend and not coming to me to discuss things before cutting me out of your life.
  6. Interfere with my plans again and you’ll be sharing space with #2 above.
  7. When I grow up, I want to be just like you. Problem is, I don’t want to grow up. Do you see the conundrum?
  8. You have a starring role in most of my favorite memories and I’m sorry that I don’t talk to you more often, it just pains me to see you like that. Knock it off, wouldja?
  9. If I had known then what I know now, I would have spent the night with you instead.
  10. I am so repulsed by you that the mere mention of your name makes me want to hurl. Please die in a grease fire.

Have anything YOU want to get off your chest?

Feb 27

For Lisa

lisa

Death makes angels of us all
& gives us wings
where we had shoulders
smooth as raven’s
claws -Jim Morrison

Clusterfook

Feb 25

Some Thoughts

  • The Oscars were great. I thought the personal message to the nominees from past winners were a fantastic addition to the show.
  • I couldn’t be happier that Sean Penn and Lance Black won for Milk. Their speeches were heartfelt and moving.
  • It was so great having Hilly here for my birthday. And all my friends that showed up for dinner made it a fun night. One of my best birthdays in the last 15 years!
  • On another note, I’m really sick of the douchey behavior of many people in this corner of the blogoverse. I wish I could crawl through my computer and punch a few people. Especially those who:
    • Passive-Aggressively beg for comments or twitter followers.
    • Claim close friendships with me that don’t exist. Dude, I’ve barely heard of you.
    • Exploit the (mis)fortunes of others for their own personal gain. It’s not about you, and if you keep talking about your proximity to the situation you deserve a punch to the crotch.
  • I need some new music to listen to. I’m bored.
  • I may also be a bit cranky tonight.

In other news, Winterheart will be my guest on The Jester Show tonight. She’s getting her first book published this week and she’s going to be on hand to tell us about that. I’m sure the conversation will go in many directions, as it often does when we talk in person. Tune in at 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific!

Feb 16

1,072,935,484

I’ve had quite a life.

Luckily I have some great friends who have come along for the ride.

party

Here’s to making the next 1,000,000,000 count.