Tag Archives: music



Like many people, my wife and I have always wanted kids. The problem, however, with having kids is that you actually have to have them. You actually have to say to yourself, “Today is the day that I’m going to try to have a kid. Today is the day that I’m going to throw all protection to the wind and go for it. It’s a big decision that no one should make lightly or while under the influence of alcohol, hard drugs or cancer.




My wife asks me, “Do you want to have kids?”

And I say, “Of course.”

And she says, “When?”

And I say, “When I’m done dying.”

She considers this answer and then tries a new angle, “I’ve been thinking . . . ” and I know her sentence isn’t over so I just wait. “I’ve been thinking that maybe we should . . . try now.”

I look at my watch even though I’m not wearing one. I push the hair out of my eyes, even though I don’t have any. I cough into my hand even though there’s nothing in my throat and I say, “Now now or now later?” and she says, “My clock says now now would be the best time.” She says, “What if . . . what if we just get pregnant now? Naturally? And we can do that together and experience that together and just . . . . ”

It’s the first time I realize how much she loves me. Cancer isn’t just affecting me. It’s affecting her. And not just in the way that proximity calls for, either. If she wants to be with me, stay married to me, and still have kids, she’s going to have to go through the very invasive process of in vitro fertilization, which, for her, is going to consist of so much more than spunking into a cup: hormones, shots, surgeries, egg retrievals. While I get to look at porno in a room by myself, she has to be probed by a group of strangers.

I stand up and give her a hug and look her in the eyes and try to make the moment seem like something I saw in a movie but it’s simply not because we both know the reality. We both know that I’m dying. Or could die. Or might die. Or might survive. We both know that we know nothing. We both know that this is all we know. Each other. Doctors and medicines and surgeries are about to invade our lives and this is all we can control. Each other. Right now.

I say, “OK,” and I’m certain.

And then we’re in the bedroom and there is so much pressure on me to perform that it is a complete failure, and I should go to summer school or read the CliffsNotes on sex or SOMETHING. It’s so bad that I have to apologize and stop. All I can think about is a ticking clock, and I don’t know if that clock is my life or her cycle, and I can just feel my tumor throbbing, and I just keep having an image of spraying out black venom, octopus ink instead of white semen. I know that’s disgusting and I apologize but it’s all I can think about.

I never share the image with Jade.

A few hours later we try again and the next day we try again and the next afternoon and the next night and the next day and again and again and again and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and why are my hands so sweaty?

It’s midnight and Jade tells me she wants to buy a pregnancy test. She tells me she thinks she might be pregnant and . . . I’m so excited. We’re so excited. This is it—that ray of hope, of sunshine, of light in the dark storm. Something that is ours. We drive to the local drug store and buy a pee test and a Diet Coke.

She chugs it like a frat boy and whizzes on the stick. We wait for the longest seven minutes of our lives. We stand in the bathroom, staring at the test, waiting for the blue line to appear or not appear or is it a plus sign or why do they make these things so hard to read?

Something starts to come through . . . and it looks like she’s pregnant!! We’re squeezing hands but not saying anything and then . . . the weird symbol fades and we let go of each other and stare at the blank stick and shake it a bit and try to read the directions again: 1. Pee on stick. 2. Wait. Check and check.

We try again and the same thing happens. We ultimately decide that maybe she’s pregnant (YAY!) but not pregnant enough (understandable). So we just keep having as much sex as we can and peeing on sticks every couple days, and ultimately, she isn’t pregnant, and I have to start cryobanking my semen in three days and that’s it. Game over. We won’t be getting pregnant The Old-Fashioned Way. If we want it, we’ll have to pay $12,000 for it. If we want it, we’ll have to find a clinic and hire a doctor and go through procedures and hope and pray and leave it in the hands of others. Anger rises up in both of us. That anger that shouts, “It’s not fair!” and it isn’t. But it doesn’t care. Whatever “it” is.

It’s not fair that every drunk jackass can accidentally impregnate his girlfriend and it’s not fair that people are throwing their babies away and having abortions and leaving them behind dumpsters and flushing them down toilets and I know one guy who has 22 kids with 14 different women, and I want to approach him and stick a knife in his throat for hogging all the good karma.

All I want doesn’t matter.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

This week we’re dealing with pregnancy the old fashion way. Next week we’re going to be dealing with it in a very different capacity so be sure to come back NEXT MONDAY to read about SPERM BANKING.

And if you haven’t already followed this blog. PLEASE DO!




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Mark Pickerel – “Burn the Shrine” Official Music Video

A few months ago I had the pleasure of visiting Seattle and directing a music video for Mark Pickerel and his Praying Hands. I hope you enjoy it.

Directed by Johnny Brookbank
Produced by Nick Antonie

Director of Photography: Chris Harrison
Cam B: Ian Knippel
Cam C: Nate Rogers

Performance Cam Ops: Lonnie Callies & Johnny Podhradsky

Production Manager: Crystal Lane
Playback: Tyson Pickerel

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I think that one of the hardest things for a working father (or mother) can be the thought that you’re not having enough of an influence on your children since you seem to be MIA more often than not.  Turns out it takes a village to raise a child because the parents are both slaving away at 9-5s for the better slice of their life.

Children constantly get equated to a piece of clay – something that can be formed and molded – and I think what’s so interesting about this is that we all picture some potter with his wheel, the lump of formless clay spinning and taking shape and becoming something beautiful – a vase or a mug or a decorative, commemorative ashtray – but we forget that clay is very soft and very pliable and it’s not just the big sweeping movements that change its shape and form.

I remember holding a ball of wet clay in my art class when I was a Sophomore in high school.  The brown mass was sticky and dripping and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, “I don’t know how to be a potter (parent),” and yet, that’s exactly what was expected of me.  Someone had given me this formless object / child and told me to mold it / raise it into something beautiful so that I got a passing grade / created a functioning human adult.

You see what I’m doing here?  I’m creating a simile between my high school art class and raising children.  Stick with me.  Try to keep up…



So, I look to my right and there’s this girl over there and she is making, what I would consider, a functioning vase.  It would hold water or fruit juice and it was shapely and pleasing to the eye as well.  She acted with the grace and precision of someone that was born for this.  Me, I stared back at the lump of clay in my paw and shifted it to my other hand and noticed that every little touch I made, altered it.  It was so delicate that even my finger gently resting upon it’s surface would leave a mark.

It wasn’t only the broad strokes that shaped it.  It was also the gentle prod.

Should I be concerned that I’m not shaping my children because I find myself trapped in an office halfway across the city?  No.

When I come home from work, I read with them, I listen to music with them and I play guitar with them.  I explain to them how a record player works and I introduce them to Frank Sinatra and Nirvana.  My son loves a Veggie Tales parody called Lord of the Beans and yesterday I told him there’s a book called Lord of the RINGS that he might enjoy when he’s a little older.

There is a burning fire inside each of them.

Likewise, the burning fire that is inside of me, is music.  I can’t play it very well but I love listening to it, reading about it, going to live shows, discovering and sharing new bands, hanging out in record stores, etc, etc, etc, on and on.  This morning, I walk into the living room in my boxer briefs being tailed by The Boy and I say, “We’re gonna need some tunes, Roar.  Why don’t you DJ this party?” and, naked as a newborn, he scurries across the floor, squats down in front of our record collection and begins to meticulously thumb through each sleeve.

Dean Martin?  No.  Culture Club?  No.  Meatloaf?  No.  Pavement?  No.

He pulls out my copy of Foreign Spells by The Young Evils and says, “I want to listen to THIS ONE, Dad!” and then the record slips from it’s sleeve and hits the hard wood floor and I inwardly cringe and say, “Alright, hand it over,” and he clutches the eight inch square to his chest and says, “No!  Rory do it!” and I say, “Okay, okay.  Rory do it,” and with the agility of a chimp, he leaps over a mound of toys, maneuvers onto the couch, hops through a pile of folded laundry, into the clothes basket and onto the arm of the couch where he is eye level with me.



His tiny arm reaches out and he slowly and delicately opens the plexiglass lid.  “Okay, Dad… Okay…” and he tries to take the record off it’s hub but I stop him and say, “Don’t touch that – remember – we only touch the buttons, not the records,” and he says, “Only buttons.  Yep,” and then I bend down to pick up the sleeve for the record that’s currently in there and by the time I stand back up, the Tegan and Sarah album that was on the turntable is now hanging halfway off, the plate is spinning and the needle has been knocked off it’s mount and is just scraping up against hard plastic.  I make a sound like a cat being tossed into a wood chipper and quickly correct all the mechanical travesties.

Rory hands me the record, which I promptly place onto the circular disc and he says, “Rory press it!” and I take a step back as he hits the START button.  The arm rises and the needle lowers and the record spins and he says to me, “Music is here and then goes here and comes out here,” pointing to the needle, record and speakers respectively and, while this isn’t the exact mechanics of the device and is perhaps an over simplistic view, it truly is close enough for me to say, “Yes, that’s right!”

I had explained the process to him once before and now he repeats it before every listening experience like a mantra or prayer.  “Music is here and then goes here and comes out here!”

As the first guitar riffs roll out of the speakers, Rory turns and leaps from the arm of the couch, onto the cushions and begins jumping up and down, his wiener headbanging with him.  He screams, “Jump, dad!  Jump!

And it is in this moment that I realize that I am making a difference in my little piece of clay.  In the few moments that I get to spend with my children in the  morning and in the evening, I am able to leave my thumbprint on them.  As he jumps up and down and laughs, I realize that he’s not just jumping but he’s enjoying the music and he has picked out a very specific record.  I know this because it’s one of two that he always picks.  The other is Nirvana’s Nevermind.  He loves listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit and then jumping and spinning in circles at “that part” in the song that gives you chills every time you hear it.

Now, me, I am opening up a world of music and reading to them and I’m so thankful for that opportunity but I know nothing of sports and hunting and fishing and “man things”, although I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to camping / sleeping in dirt.

But this, truly, is why it takes a village to raise a child.  I know that I can rely on my brother-in-law, Jordan, an avid outdoors men, to teach my children about guns and hunting and cleaning animals and being a Republican…


…and I know that I can count on my other brother-in-law, Jarod, a fantastic artist and accomplished architect, to teach my children about art and design and being Liberal…


…and I know I can rely on my other-other brother in law, Jesten, to teach my children about football and craftsmanship…


Could I do this alone?  Sure.  I could squirrel this clay into some kind of dish-resembling-object that would hold water.  But that’s not what I’ve been entrusted to do.  I’ve been entrusted to create a beautiful fountain and so I rely not just on myself, but on everyone around me.





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Fantastic Things: Band of the Day

I’m the kind of guy that, when I find something I like, enjoys talking it to death.  “Have you seen this app?  Have you read this book?  Have you heard this band?  Have you watched this show / movie / youtube video??”  So, in an effort to promote the things I love, be it big or small, popular or unknown, I’m going to… well, it’s not really a “review” per se because “review” insinuates that it could go either way.

This is only stuff that I think is fantastic and stuff that I hope you’ll think is fantastic as well.  And that’s why this segment is called FANTASTIC THINGS!

SO!!  First up on FANTASTIC THINGS is a free app called Band of the Day, available for both iPhone and Android.  If you love to discover new music and find that iTunes isn’t really cutting it by telling you to check out The Biebs newest cut or by Spotify informing you of the obvious, “Love Pearl Jam?  Then you may enjoy Soundgarden, Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins“, then this little fella might be just what your phone and ears have been craving.


BotD basically spoon feeds you one underground / independent / insert-buzz-word-here band every day all month, ranging in a variety of genres from bluegrass to hip-hop.  You open the app and right off the bat you’re given a calendar wherein you can select any date up to the current date.  On each box of the calendar, a specific artist has been assigned with a brief blurb at the bottom regarding what type of music they produce.  You then have the option to preview one of their tracks or listen directly to the entire album.  A swipe of your finger allows you to read a quick biography, related buzz and even watch any music videos they may have available as well as a “Similar Artists” tab that most likely won’t include Miley Cyrus.


The only two downsides of the app are, in my opinion, that the actual operation and navigation seems to be a little clunky and that, if you’re a fan of metal / hardcore, you’re probably going to be left wanting.


Now, if you’re reading this review on your smart phone, close out of this poorly written blog, open up that App Store and download it now!  Like I said, it’s absolutely free so even if you hate it, you’re not out anything!


I’d love to hear about your experiences with this monster and if you find any bands that you love; discover, listen, share!  Also, please feel free to shoot me over any strong recommendations for things I should check out, whether it be apps, books, movies, music, etc!  If I love it as much as you do, I’ll write about it on an upcoming episode of FANTASTIC THINGS!

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