Search This Blog

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stayin' In and Catching Up

It is a chilly Saturday night in Chicagoland, the last day of February. The Mystery Band had no gig this evening. I thought about hitting the clubs to hear some of my buddies play, but my energy failed me - I stayed home with my girls and my dogs (the picture above is a demon-eyed version of Jenna and Brandy, the house canines). There was a big pile of mail that I ignored all week; it is now processed and dealt with. I got on YouTube and called up President Obama's February 24th speech to Congress, which I was too busy to watch live. Whooooo! That dude sure can speechify. I bought a big 120 gig iPod to replace the one that was lost/stolen at the Evanston YMCA. It took a long time to synch the 10,000 songs in my library to the new device. Now I am enjoying Nina Simone in my earbuds. I paid bills. I started getting my 2008 tax return organized. I had a couple of adult beverages. I practiced on my E-flat chromatic harmonica. I basically stayed in and fiddled around. Now it is almost midnight and I am ready to sleep.

I feel schizophrenic. On a personal level, I feel pretty optimistic. There is no discernible disaster lurking. My day job is OK because my little company is nimble and we are finding ways to make money in spite of the economic crisis. But then I read the papers, or talk to my friends that work at big companies, or listen to the news and I feel pretty pessimistic. This economy hasn't hit bottom yet. The massive debt reduction that is going on ("de-levering" is the business buzz word) is unlike anything we have seem in well over a generation. The savings rate of the average American is moving quickly from negative 1% to positive 10% (10% was close to the average in the 1960's through the mid-1980's). This process will mean a whole lotta pain - less spending, more debt defaults, higher unemployment. But the only way out of this is through it.

As I said earlier, I am ready to sleep. Goodnight.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Different 17th Birthday Party

Yes, this is a photo of a young Dakota Fanning. I didn't know much about her, being a cretin when it comes to topical, current culture and movies. But my wonderful teenage duaghter asked for a different present for her 17th birthday - she asked me to watch the entire 10-episode "Taken" series with her that aired on the SciFi channel back in 2002. Each episode lasted about 90 minutes, so we are talking 15 hours of viewing time. In one day. By a guy who generally doesn't watch TV or go to the movies. But it was what my wonderful daughter wanted, and it was not a costly present.

It was a challenge.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this mini-series, "Taken" tells a tale about alien abductions and related hoo-hah dating from 1947 through 2002. The stories have a certain amount of cleverness, and there is some pretty good acting (young Dakota was quite good, actually). The decent acting masked the extreme improbablility of the premise and the questionable motivation of the key characters. This is not great cinema, and it is not even good TV. Steven Spielberg produced it. This is not Spielberg's best work, that's for sure. I did like watching the little grey men, though.

I also learned that you can get a hangover from too much television viewing. We did 12 hours on Saturday and quit at 1:00 a.m.when my headache and deep fatigue forced a halt. I woke up this morning feeling like I had drank a fifth of whiskey even though I hadn't touched a drop. We finished the series today at 1:30 PM. So in one weekend, I spent as much time in front of a TV as I normally would in nine months or so.

So happy birthday to my marvelous teenager, and thanks for a very different 17th birthday party.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quote of the day

"I am an eternal optimist. That doesn't mean I am a sap."

Barrack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Morse Theater - Bad News

I opened the Chicago Tribune today and read bad news about the Morse - a dispute between the operators and the "silent partner" who funded much of the construction of the place is headed to court. The venue may close soon. I am hoping that this can be resolved so the Morse will at least have a chance to succeed. Andy McGhee, the main operator, has poured his heart into this project. Here is the Tribune article.

This place is such a gem. Over $6 million was spent to bring this venue to life. It would be a shame if it all fell down over a legal dispute.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Mystery Band CD Is Out!!!

It took 10 months, but the first CD by Mr. G and the Mystery Band is finished, packaged, manufactured and ready for consumption. It is on CD Baby - click here for the link. The CD will be available on iTunes in a couple of weeks or so.

All the tunes on this disc are originals so you can blame the whole thing on me. I have lots of copies of this CD in my basement, so help me clear them out.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Morse Theater, Chicago IL

The two pictures above represent the present and the past of the Morse Theater on Chicago's far north side. Opened in 1912 as a nicklelodeon, the Morse has gone through many incarnations - a furniture warehouse, an independent cinema house (with air conditioning!), a synagogue and an abandoned wreck. I got to know the building during its sad years as a deteriorating, unoccupied space. The Morse was empty for thirty years. Now, the place is a bright and shiny state-of-the-art new music venue - an unbelievable change, really. And this change happened due to the dreams of three guys - Andy McGhee, Willam Kerpan and Devin McGhee (Andy's son).

I have a feeling that these three did not conduct a scientific consumer demand study prior to launching this project. It is driven by heart and soul, not flinty-eyed calculation. This venue is very musician-friendly (Mr. G and the Mystery Band got to play there on January 31, so I was able to experience the joy of a top-knotch venue with dedicated, attentive professionals in charge of the operation), I know Andy McGhee pretty well, and i think he is inspired by a deep love of music and an equally deep love of the East Rogers Park neighborhood. The trio behind the Morse went through hell to get the joint open - zoning hassles, construction delays and even an arson. The least we Chicago area folks can do is get out and support this marvelous place

You can check out the Morse Theater's schedule and story here.