Trombone Tuesday – Bonerama

Bonerama is a funk rock outfit out of New Orleans that features — you guessed it — Trombones!

They formed in 1998 by trombonists Mark Mullins and Craig Kline, who were also members of Harry Connick Jr’s big band. They added more trombones (currently have three and sometimes they perform as Bonerama Horns), a sousaphone, electric and bass guitar, and drums.

According to their website, Bonerama has performed with many well-known artists such as, REM, Tom Morello, Wayne Kramer of MC5, and OK Go. They’ve appeared on Letterman, HBO, and CNN.

They play a variety from their own original compositions to some pretty sweet covers. They’ve released several albums, including their most recent, Hot Like Fire.

Here’s a sampling of their music. Enjoy.

Let’s start off a Black Sabbath cover – The Wizard:

Here’s another Black Sabbath cover – War Pigs:

Johnny Winter Group cover – Frankenstein:

The Allman Brothers Band cover – Whipping Post:

Led Zepplin cover – When The Levee Breaks (great version, even if you don’t like Led Zep):

Here’s a Led Zepplin Medley (see if you can guess the songs):

Here’s a Bonerama original from their latest album, Hot Like Fire, called, Bad Dog:

If you’d like to listen to more Bonerama, visit their YouTube channel.

Hope you enjoyed today’s #TromboneTuesday



Randomness for a Friday

Friday Haiku

These are not the same

Refugees are NOT illegals

They seek asylum.

Here’s how it works

There is a difference between illegal immigrants and refugees.

Yes, they are both crossing our border.

The difference is (and I’ll wait until you get paper and pen to take notes. Ready? Good.) crossing our border to seek political asylum does not make you an illegal immigrant.

In fact, crossing the border is a requirement to petition for asylum. You can’t seek political protection from another country while still in that country. You have to get out first, which means crossing the border. And the United States can’t provide protection until they are within our borders.

Once inside our country, they are permitted to stay and apply for asylum (Form I-589) within one year of their arrival.

So, everything Trumpy the Clown and his fascist regime are doing to these people seeking asylum — tearing families apart, putting babies in jails — is wrong, inhuman, and inhumane.

Internet Sales Taxes

The Supreme Court of the U.S. overturned a 1992 SCOTUS ruling that prevented sales taxes being collected by states from Internet merchants that didn’t have a physical presence in a state.

The thing is, this will hurt all the small merchants, not Amazon (which Trumpy is having a war with), because they already collect sales taxes on their direct sales.

Trade Wars

It won’t be anywhere near as exciting as Star Wars, no blasters, no spaceships, no light sabers, but the Trade Wars are coming to a pocketbook near you. Be prepared.

Trumpy the Clown’s idiotic tariffs on metal imports is causing a backlash among countries we’ve traded with in good faith for nearly 75 years.

The EU is going to slap 25% tariffs on U.S. motorcycles (like Harley-Davidson needs that!), denim, cranberry juice, and peanut butter.

Not only will Trump’s tariffs cause prices of nearly everthing to rise for American consumers, now American goods won’t be purchased in foreign countries because they’ll cost too much affecting the security of Americans jobs.

So much winning.

What am I up to?

Usually on random Friday’s I also give summaries of what I’m doing on the fitness front, the writing front, the ADHD front, and so on.

Unfortunately, Trumpy the Clown and his band of idiots have gotten me so angry (and this shit should get you angry as well), that I just don’t have the energy left to write about things I enjoy.

I mean, sure, I’m still working on my weird western. I just put together a new exerciser which helps work my core as well as arms (here’s a pic),

and yes, my lower back, triceps, and pecs are killing me now, and additionally, I’m coming down with a summer cold that I blame on the fascist regime in the White House because of all the stress they’re putting America under, but otherwise, I’ve nothing really left to say.

End Note

I hope you have a good weekend. Here’s a song that I hope is upbeat enough to cancel all the negativity that is thrown your way.

Since that song was so short, you get a twofer this week.

Keep resisting. #Impeach


Random Friday

Friday Haiku

Two dictators met

An unstable maniac

And Kim Jong-un too.

Research Woes

OK, I never have research woes, I love doing research. My woe is that when I wrote the first draft of my 1869 weird western, I didn’t research the history of train travel as I should have.

Therefore, in my current manuscript I have the man in charge of the train as the Engineer. Unfortunately, as I’m doing research, I’m finding that the Engineer is only responsible for operation of the locomotive engine itself. The actual man in charge, the captain of the entire train so to speak, is the Conductor.

Therefore, as I’m transcribing, I’ll have to change most of the references to the Engineer to the Conductor. No biggie.

On my lunch today, I’ll run to the library to see if they have anything on the history of coal-powered steam locomotives and how trains themselves operate.

Milwaukee tenth worst?

USA Today recently published a study that ranked the 50 worst cities to live in. Milwaukee came in at number ten.

My response? Fuck you.

Milwaukee has it’s problems, yes, but I take umbrage to impersonal number crunching. By their numbers, high crime rate, high poverty, depressed home values, Milwaukee came out tenth worst city to live in.

Again, fuck you.

Numbers don’t tell any of the story.

Does Milwaukee have a high crime rate? Yes. There are 15.53 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. But those crimes are restricted to a relatively small area.

There are many safe, and beautiful, neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Simply crossing into the city limits won’t make you a crime victim. I’ve lived here all my life and have never been a victim of crime (unless you count having my lunch money stolen in seventh grade).

Poverty? Yes, we have that, no denying it. Milwaukee was once a great industrial city and like all major cities in the Rust Belt it has struggled with poverty since the loss of those manufacturing industries.

And Milwaukee is slowly rising from the ashes, repurposing, refurbishing, and replacing old abandoned factories and warehouses. The Menomonee River Valley, once booming with industry, became a blighted eyesore for decades. Now, much of it has been returned to nature as part of the Henry Aaron State Trail that extends from Lake Michigan nearly uninterrupted out to Wisconsin State Fair Park.

Abandoned warehouses and factories along the Milwaukee River have been converted to high-end residential, commercial and recreational venues. All accessible by the over 3 mile long Riverwalk.

Starting this fall, the newly installed light rail (trolly) system will begin operation.

The city isn’t sitting still and this study’s numbers don’t show that.

Numbers also don’t tell you how urbane Milwaukee is. We’ve always had a world-class zoo, a top notch natural history museum, and an art museum now housed within the beautiful Quadracci Pavilion designed by Santiago Calatrava.

The Calatrava designed Milwaukee Art Museum at night

Milwaukee is home to the world-renowned Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (with the incomparable Megumi Kanda as the principal trombone), as well as the Milwaukee Ballet.

The MSO will be, in fact, spending $89 million dollars to renovate the abandoned Warner Grand Theater building (a once beautiful marble and bronze Art Deco style 12-story building built by Warner Brothers; it was one of the finest theaters in the nation in 1931) on 2nd and Wisconsin Avenue for their new home as part of an continuing effort to revitalize Milwaukee’s downtown.

The study’s numbers also don’t show that Milwaukee has a thriving festival season. The highlight is Summerfest, a monstrous ten day music festival featuring some of the top music acts in the country. We are also home to many ethnic festivals, some the largest such in the nation, for example, Polish Fest, Germanfest, Festa Italiana, Mexican Fiesta, Bastille Days, Greek Fest (which once was held at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Greek Annunciation Church until it grew too large for those grounds), Pride Fest, Irishfest, African Cultural Fest, and Indian Summer, to name a few.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our two professional sports teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks (who will be moving into a newly built arena this fall as part of a major redevelopment of the downtown sporting district).

And the depressed housing market? We like to call it affordable, thank you very much.

So this study can take it’s number crunching and it’s bullshit “worst” rankings and shove them up their collective ass.

Milwaukee is a great place to call home.

Congnitive Dissonance

One of the most bizarre statements I’ve heard comes from Trumpanzees. Basically, the reason some of them love Trumpy the Clown so much is because he “gets under the skin of liberals.”

That’s it. They support him because he irritates progressives.

It doesn’t matter to them if he colluded with Russia to help influence an American election.

Doesn’t matter to them that he’s destroying the environment. That his policies with the EPA are poisoning the air, water, and the land we live on, and now he’s relaxing asbestos regulations so we can all enjoy lung cancer.

Doesn’t matter to them that he’s passed a tax plan that not only doesn’t help the lower and middle class, it literally benefits only the rich, while it balloons the deficit to obscene, never before seen levels.

Doesn’t matter to them that he has alienated all of our nation’s allies while snuggling up with every two-bit dictator and totalitarian government, thereby destroying decades worth of friendships.

Doesn’t matter to them that he has excused Kim Jung-un’s repressive totalitarian dictatorship where 120,000 political prisoners languish in North Korean prisons, has executed over 300 people including one of his uncles (not to mention personally killing his Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol with an anti-aircraft gun at a military school in Pyongyang, in front of an audience), by saying “a lot of people have done bad things.”

Doesn’t matter to them that he is normalizing bigotry and hatred or that he’s has, and has had, white nationalists in his cabinet, or criminals, or that everything he does is designed to profit him ornhis family, personally.

Doesn’t matter to them that he’s an ignorant buffoon who has no clue how to behave as President and is embarrassing all of us on the world’s stage.

Doesn’t matter to them if Trumpy the Clown is trampling on the Constitution or that we’re losing our rights to free speech, freedom of the press, fair elections and the rule of law.

Doesn’t matter to them how much Trumpy the Clown destroys our democracy, or our standing in the world, or anything.

No. None of that matters to them. All that matters to these assholes is that he’s getting under our skin. As long as we’re annoyed or uncomfortable with everything he says or does, they’re happy. They are consumed by their hatred of us and it blinds them to every evil thing trump does.

If you think about it, it’s flattering, really, because it means we’re the ones getting under their skin.

Final Word

Well, I think I’ve ranted enough for today. I’m exhausted, how about you?

I guess it’s time to send you off to the weekend with some upbeat music.

Enjoy and keep resisting.


Writing Wednesday

I finally, finally, finally for reals this time, put the final edit to my urban fantasy fairy tale and started to query it to literary agents.

I promise, cross my heart, that I won’t touch it again until I’m asked to by a prospective agent or future editor for a publishing company.

We’ll see how long that lasts considering I was still adding new things to it as late as this past weekend even though I said it was complete over a month ago.

And now I’m starting on a new novel. One I handwrote the first draft for starting back in December of 2014.


And as I’m transcribing, I’m realizing I have forgotten all the research I did four years ago for this story, so it’s off to the public library to get books on the first transcontinental railroad, specifically the mountain segment known as the Pacific railroad.

The story takes place in the winter of 1869, the first winter after the Intercontinental railroad was finished (although this might change depending on my research).

I have the story written and could just transcribe it as it, but that’s not how I roll. The transcription part pf my editong process where I add a lot of detail to the story, fleshing out the characters, establishing the setting, and all that fun stuff.

The setting in this case, is the train, of course, but the train is traveling to the summit (an area known as Lone Tree Pass when the tracks were being laid), where there is the town of Sherman. Facts are important to me and I’m looking up things like the angle of the track’s grade, distance, type of locomotives used by Union Pacific Rail Road, the towns and other important landmarks along the way.

I’m not sure what genre it is. Fantasy, for sure, but is it a weird western because of the time period? Some of the train passengers are cowboys, sent to maintain a herd of cattle that is being transported on the train to restock a ranch near Omaha. Additionally, there’s an outlaw and a Pinkerton detective.

Except for the people and the time period it isn’t really a western though. They aren’t out riding horses, heading people off at the pass (even though there is a pass), or even Native Americans on the warpath. Maybe it’s a historical fantasy?

Without revealing too much, the story centers around the train getting stuck because of a terrible snow storm. It’s a bad winter and a lot of animals in the mountains are dying off, animals which serve as a food source for … something. Something that hungers and smells the cattle.

Maybe that would be the novel’s cover blurb, “Something hungers in the mountains…” Or even the title, “The Mountains Hunger.”

This, by the by, is a prequel to another novel I wrote featuring the same MC, a newspaper correspondent who is sort of a problem solver, righting social inequities, and battling robber barons sometimes via pen, other times via gun.

There’s nothing wrong with that novel, it’s not trunked, except it’s a zombie tale and I think that market it a little saturated, even if my zombies are of the voodoo-type. It was fun writing it because it takes place in New Orleans (and the swamps around the area) around the time of the first officially sanctioned Mardi Gras and my MC meets a few historic people including Marie Laveau.

OK, I’m back from the library. I was so quick I bet you didn’t even notice.

I picked up four books. Three are on the railroad and one is “The Complete Book of Mustang.”

The novel I finished and said I wouldn’t edit, has the MC driving a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 and I have the book to verify I got the details correct (or to change it to a different year).

Or just for my own self-interest because I love classic Mustangs.

Anyway, it’s time to do that research. I’d say writing is 90% research and 30% actual writing.

I know that’s 120%, but if athletes can claim to give 110%, I think we writers can claim 10% more.



Trombone Tuesday – Pinecone

Do an Internet search for a list of the best jazz tromboninsts and you’ll find on each of them that Wycliffe “Pinecone” Gordon ranks in the Top 5 of all of them.


He was born on May 29, 1967 in Waynesboro, GA. His father was a church organist, amd a classical pianist and teacher.

Gorson developed an interest in jazz early on listening to jazz albums he inherited from his great-aunt.

Gordon has played with many jazz grratsz such as Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Tommy Flanagan, and Shirley Horn.

Gordon is a gifted performer, composer, arranger and educator. If you’ve ever listened to NPR’s All Things Considered, the theme was arranged and conducted by Gordon.

In 2006, Gordon was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Scranton. Part of the presentation to Gordon read as follows: “The inventor of a compendium of original techniques, that have expanded the vocabulary of jazz (enabling the production of sounds like those of motor vehicles, various choirs and exultations of church congregations, and wildlife of all types and sizes), Wycliffe Gordon is a champion of our music – a music with its roots in New Orleans…”

Earlier this year Gordon played at a benefit fundraiser for the Alex Schachter Scholarship Foundation. He played with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Jazz Bands. Alex was one of the shooting victims of the Parkland Florida tragedy.

Here is a sampling of just a few songs featuring Pinecone.

Here he is, just warming up:

Root Groove, a Wynton Marsalis composition:

Swing That Music at CancerBlows 2015 (playing a saprano trombone):

Guest soloist with Cory Band conducted by Robert Childs:

Fantasy, a classic solo trombone piece that Gordon completely improvises:

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Wycliffe Gordon enough to seek out more of his music.

Thanks for listening.


Racism is not a side effect

My son and I both suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, subtype Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

And as a sufferer of ADHD, I often say and do things without stopping and thinking. I often say and do things that I later regret (and sometimes I regret them immediately if I hurt someone emotionally).

So, I can completely understand impulsively Tweeting or posting something on Facebook that had I had the ability to take some time to think about it before posting, I might have said, “You know, this might not be the best thing to say at this time.”

But that’s the thing with ADHD. I don’t have the capacity to do that. The part of my brain that edits my thoughts before they reach my mouth or hands, isn’t functioning properly.

I take medication for that. When I’m on my ADHD meds, I do stop and think before I say or do things.

When Roseanne said she tweeted something she shouldn’t have and blamed the sleep aid Ambien on it, I can somewhat empathize with such impulsivity — if that truly is what caused her to Tweet the things she did.

I mean, I checked the side effects of Ambien, and I found a few that could relate to her situation,

  • confusion
  • irratibility
  • depersonalization
  • quick to react or overreact emotionally
  • delusions
  • dementia
  • uncaring

as well as a host of other equally uncommon and rare side effects. The thing is, the Ambien website also states that if you suffer from any of those to Check with your doctor immediately.

Therefore, if she did suffer one of these rare side effects that somehow “made” her impulsively and uncontrollably Tweet things she wishes she hadn’t, I get that.

I’ve been there. Done that.

But here’s the thing and Sanofi, the maker of Ambien, stated it very clearly and succinctly in their tweet:

The racism? That’s totally on Roseanne. She can’t lay the blame on anyone else, not on any thing or any drug. There is no excuse for being a bigot. That’s simply who she is: a hateful, spiteful, loudmouthed racist.

And now everyone worldwide knows it.

Impulsivity? It can make you post things before you’ve taken the time to think how it might be perceived differently from what you meant. I’m notorious for that. “No! That’s not what I meant at all!” and then I have to do damage control.

Impulsivity does not make you say racist things unless you already are a racist. No drug that I’m aware of will turn you into a racist.

Roseanne is a racist and has always been a racist.

Because she couldn’t keep her racist thoughts to herself — or possibly because she believes in Trump’s America you can say the most vile, hateful things and get away with it — not only is her show canceled, but sadly, a lot of actors, writers, and others employed on the show are out of a job as well. And they can all blame Roseanne for it.

If only she had taken the time to stop, think, and choose a different course of action, like not tweeting racist things.

Granted, she’d still be a racist, but she’d be an employed racist.

Words have consequences.

Racism will never be tolerated.

Goodbye, Roseanne. Please crawl back under your rock and take all the other bigots with you.


Writing Wednesday

I’ve been busy writing lately. I guess you could call it “in the zone.” The problem is, I’m scattergunning, which means I’m working on several projects simultaneously.

I’m editing my novel and …

“Wait,” I heard someone say. “Didn’t you finish that and start querying agents?”

Yes. Yes, I did. I sent out a handful of queries several weeks ago. And like any intelligent writer, I should have started another project.

Should jave, but didn’t. On tje contrary, I thought I’d give my novel another read-through, you know, in case I found a plot hole or continuity error.

I didn’t find any errors, however, reading caused several sub-sub-sub plots to pop into my head, plots that will flesh out several of the characters even more. I’ve been adding those and my 98k novel is now a little over 100k.

On another project, I’ve started to transcribe a handwritten first draft from 2014. It’s a fun little adventure with the tentative title, “Cowboys vs. Yeti,” (with the same MC from my other nearly completed “Cowboys vs. Zombies” novel. Both are set in the 1800s, the Yeti one just after they finished the transcontinental express.

The third piece I worked on, and submitted yesterday, is an unusual zombie short story. Unusual in that it’s not a horror story. It’s sort of an odd, heartwarming genre-crossing piece.

And finally, I worked on a short story about the Grim Reaper that I wrote a couple years ago and subbed only twice. The ending was unsatisfying, so I rewrote it and instead of a Happy Ever After like ending, it has a more viscerally interesting ending. We’ll see how it goes as I subbed that one last night as well.

Well, thats all for now. I really should take advantage of this writing energy and go write a new story or rework an old one.