Monday, February 25, 2008


Turns out I've got 1/2 a dozen friends within a year or two that all have birthday's in February. My little joke is that the summer of 1967 really was a summer of love...

Terry Steinmeyer's been a close friend of mine for about fifteen years. We've been in a few bands together, made a few CD's together and played some bars together. Somehow music was a big part of my life and it slipped away so one of the motivations for building a studio with sound booth and mic jacks all over was to get together with lots of old friends and play music.

My studio wasn't ready, I ended up not wanting a party ( despite Connies repeated pestering on who to invite ) and Terry admittedly stole my idea to have a bunch of people over and jam the night away. ;0)

It was a good group of people I haven't seen forever, many still active in bands. I felt old, young, happy and a little melancholy.

There were too many people crammed in Terry's house to get pictures of everythign and everyone. I'll post some from the downstairs area where everyone was taking turns grabbing a guitar and playing.

Some of the bands represented were Here Lies Franklin ( The Kneprath Brothers who help mastermind the Sonshine Music Festival ), Pegtop ( Dave Peightal ), Matt Patrick ( Sarah Groves, Put Down the Muffin ), The Hot Rockin' Rick Moe RLS band! ( Scott you poor sucker ), Dave Harland, Paul Whichterman ( sorry Chacho, can't remember all the bands you've been in ), Joel Hanson ( Pray for Rain and Worship "Man About Town" and lots of other people who will get PO'd because I didn't mention them if they acutally read my blog. Heck, even Dave Johnson from Open Door showed up...

I think a good time was had by all. If not, well... they aren't telling.

Thanks T.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Screwed Cruise

I could have been on a nice boat in the ocean next month.

Last spring at CHA in Anaheim I was invited to a fund raiser for scrapbooking industry people where I also happened to donate a big pile of DVD's. Some of the items donated were to be drawn for and given away that evening. The big ticket item was tickets for 2 on a scrapbooking cruise the following year (next month.) I had a moment in the sun and when they announced the winner for the much anticipated big prize would have a gold sticker under their coffee saucer, I tipped... looked and someone next to me had to poke me and raise my hand to claim it because I don't usually win things and couldn't believe it.

Needless to say I was very excited. A few weeks passed after the dust of CHA settled and I called the number on the certificate. No answer so I left a message explainign everything and my number. A week or so later I tried again, left another message with my number. No call. I called a month or two later and didn't bother to leave another message figuring the company went out of business with the scores of other fine scrapbooking establishments that sadly took a dive last year.

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out boxes in my office and found the certificate along with the supplemental sheet that came with it promoting another scrapbooking cruise during the same time.

I'll admit I was a little bitter and wanted to get to the bottom of what happened. The number I had called was disconnected so I called the numbers on the other promotional sheet and talked to Kathleen. I explained what happened and had a hard time convincing her I was at CHA, who I was, what I had won and why she should believe me.

She did end up giving me a newer number for Carl Wopperer, the gentleman I was trying to get a hold of months ago. Carl remembered the certificate, said he was very sorry but the cruise was canceled and I was out of luck.

HUH?! Me: "But I tried to call you..." Carl: "Oh, yeah. I was in the hospital during that time and someone else was checking my voicemails." Me: "Nobody returned my calls.. well do you have any other scrap cruises going on?" Carl: " Yes. Oh I'm so sorry... that cruise was canceled. I don't know, maybe we can book you on something for next year. I'll call you if I work something out."

Weeks later and no call. I understand binds like this and the big drag for me is that in the last two years I've bent over backwards with innumerable crazy requests from people I've sold things too, done business with, traveled hundreds of miles to appear for, and gotten shafted in ways that only someone self employed could understand when it comes to the "grin and bear it" principle.

Carl Wopperer of CW Productions and Kathleen at, I'm sure you're great people to go have coffee with but your customer service and business skills suck in a big, big way. You could've thrown me a bone, followed up, been attentive, given me the benefit of the doubt, something. Anything.

This post will undoubtedly make it's way over the next couple weeks to google where someone will do a search for "CW Productions","Carl Wopperer" or "" and with any luck it will make it's way up the rankings as people link to it or post their own stories of someone dropping the ball.

With high ranking expectations I'd like to present a list of things someone could do in lieu of sending my wife and I on a cruise promised in writing:

Let us tag along with another cruise - heck, I'll teach a class if you want.

Send me a muffin basket.

Send me a nice card with a Caribou Coffee gift certificate. ( Sorry Seattle. )

Send me an email with a funny joke or picture of cats and dogs doing human things.

Record "Lost" for me. Maybe explain who the invisible guy in the cabin is.

Send me chocolate in any form with a smilie face note.

Send me a bottle of single malt scotch.

Write me an email saying the break up isn't my fault. "It's not you, it's me."

Don't be such a stranger - at least send a Christmas card.

Say a prayer for me, light a candle and appease both our consciences.

Write or dedicate a song to me.

Maybe a McDonald's gift certificate?

A Panhead Harley with kick start and suicide clutch.

How about an all expenses paid trip from Seattle to Bellingham, WA.?

A big bag of 2,300 Yen? It's only worth twenty bucks but feels like more.

One of those six foot "London Calling" Clash posters snapped mid-smashing a guitar.

Have someone write my name is Chinese to hang on the wall.

Teach me how to make corn dogs and doughnuts at home.

Maybe find an upstanding member of the twin Cites community to come over and give me a good firm handshake, warm smile and a "put 'er there pal... you've got moxie."

See, if you can't foot the bill for another cruise then buck up, admit a screw up and try to make it right. Denial will come back and bite you in the butt in this day and age. Your reputation is all you've got and posts on blogs float around the cyber sphere for a mighty long time.


Thursday, February 14, 2008


I turned forty yesterday. I'm officially middle aged, although it's doubtful I'll actually make it to 80. It pretty much felt like any other day except that I couldn't believe I've got so much time left to burn. Dang. I'm going to have to come up with some new life goals. I've already chewed through being in a band, surfing in Huntington Beach, CA. and Hawaii, diving with sharks and get my advanced certification in the Great Barrier Reef, get married, ride a motorcycle across America, make a movie, see the great wall of China, go over to Cathy Zielske's house ( twice), travel Europe, and oh yeah... consistently and obliviously be an ass. Hey, you find something you're good at and stick with it right?

Maybe some new life goals could be losing fifty pounds and eating healthy, getting debt free and learning a second language... Who am I kidding, I'm an American.

I've heard a lot of people mention how short life is, how fast the last 10 years have gone, etc. I was busy thinking how - if this is half my life I've got so much left to finish off. I've got another 25+ years of working before I can retire and so on. It's true the last few years have zipped by so I wonder if they accelerate as you get older.

Maybe you just start loosing your memory, remembering only 2-3 months of each year and gradually less as you start to fall into an elderly state compiling decades into a few amusing stories which make them seem short. Who knows.

So to make a long story short, Connie wanted to have a bunch of people over, maybe play some music in my ( still not quite finished ) studio and connect with friends. Picking and choosing who to invite, who we couldn't fit in, etc. was burdensome and I anted something simple and quite so we grabbed a couple we're friends with went to the House on the Rock in lovely Greenfield, Wisconsin.

The House on the Rock is a truly bizzare collection of things that you never knew existed or there was even more than one of in the world. I've been there several times , see something new consistently and best axplain it by saying it's like Captain Nemo's garage sale.

Above is a whole room of instruments rigged to play songs all by themselves through compressed air powering robotics, servos and who knows what manner of vodoo. I won't even try to describe everything that's there. I'll just recommend it to anyone living within a days trip of the Wisconsin Dells. Having a few beers, bongs or pain pills and spending the day gawking at the freakshow might just be enough to push someone mentally balanced over the coherent edge and hey, I respect that.

Has anyone actually seen it to comment on it? Has anyone turned 40 and want to comment on that? Any advice? Surprisingly I've gotten more snide comments from older folk saying 40 is nothing. I guess I hang with an older crowd...

Speaking of older crowds. It turns out five other friends, all guys and all within 1-2 years of each other all have birthdays in February. I guess May 1968-69 really was a summer of love.

I ended up going to a good friend of mines birthday party who admittedly copied my idea and had a bunch of people over for an official rock star reunion night of musical reminiscing. I'll post pictures.

I also got a bonafied, full time, 401k, wear a button up shirt and like it - job. More on that in a couple days.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, February 04, 2008

Stone Soup

I spent last Saturday shooting some pictures and video for my friend Jane and her boyfriend Keith. I'm doing a website for her gallery in my spare time and needed some eye candy to fill in the cracks in the info.

It ended up being a great chance to try out a cheap ( well relatively cheap @ $70 compared to an actual sigma or nikon fisheye lens ) screw on adapter for my camera. I love the sqewed, warped look of extreme wide angle and shooting in confined spaces like rooms with so many things in them it's a necessity.

The gallery is called Stone Soup in lovely Hammond, Wisconsin - an oasis of creation in the farmland of the cheese plains. I heard Hammond has a population of 1,600 people which seems like just enough for a gas station, a "mall" of four businesses under the same roof, farm implements and a few bars.

I don't know how they did it but the gallery has turned into a "destination" with people driving hours from all over the place to chit chat, hang out and hey... even buy affordable art.

An unforeseen bonus of a day trip to Stone Soup is the hotel / bar / corner resteraunt up the block. Three huge burgers ( one made of Bison ), fries, and three mixed drinks for $19. I think the biggest thrill for me was a happy hour Bloody Mary for $1.25. No kidding. Served with a big pickle and chaser. Crazy.

So the jury is still out on the fisheye lens adapter. I'm not particularly happy with the quality. I knew it was going to be dark but I wanted to use existing light so I used a remote shutter release with a tripod for long exposures. I don't knwo what I was expecting from something 1 / 10th of the price of the real tool for the job but they're mostly for the web anyway so they'll work fine when they're dwarfed down to screen resolution. I did like the vignetting that was going on and having the option to just crop it out if it doesn't work for the picture.

The fun surprise was this ring that is used with the wide angle glass. It's a marco ring and had some fun effects. If I turned the camera at a sharp angle it would lock in on the specific focal length and throw everything else out of whack shooting blurs of in different directions. Pretty cool.

Hammond Wisconsin: You Rule.

Location, Location, Location

I love our new neighborhood. I'm five minutes to downtown ( it's a quick couple blocks to get on the freeway ) but can eat breakfast on my dining room table, look out the windows to the woods next to our yard and make eye contact with a deer happily freezing it's hind quarters off.

I turned the lights off which caught it's attention, kind of a "deer out of the head lights" thing. I watched it, it watched me. Then my brain caught up with my sense of childlike wonder and I ran downstairs for a camera. I remembered to turn the flash off but the light that bursts to pull focus and exposure surprised my neighbor who quickly left. I set the camera down and two more flew by the window - obviously late to bed. They must work nights because I see them out at all hours of the evening but never during the day. I'd have a word with them if they were having ruckus parties but they are a quiet bunch, keeping to themselves so I leave them alone.