Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: didgeridoo

We’re in Australia! [#2]



After we arrived in Brisbane we needed to get ourselves over to the domestic terminal for our final flight to Townsville.
We were tired. We were stinky. (well, I was stinky anyway)
We needed some food.
We needed to brush our teeth.
All was accomplished when we finally got to our last boarding gate.
We both fell into the chairs nearest the gate and looked around the terminal, in awe of where we were.
“Hey,” I said to Pamela, “we’re in Australia.”
She smiled.
After 5 minutes, Pamela had crazy legs and red ants in her pants and couldn’t sit still so she was up and went to check out the few gift shops near the gate.
I just sat and looked around the busy terminal with people flitting about like so many fleas on a used and abused mattress.
It was then that I noticed a smell, a very nasty smell, the smell of something ripe and obviously gone bad.
Maybe even a badly soiled mattress smell.
It didn’t take long to realize the source of the smell.
It was yours truly.
I must have been too tired to engage my gag reflex.
A shower would be the first thing on my agenda when we got to Chateau Harrod.

On the short flight to Townsville we looked out the little oval bubble of a window at the alien terrain below us knowing that there were people we knew down there.
It was at once a bit strange but oddly comforting.
After we landed, we grabbed our bags from the overhead compartment
(giving me yet another nice big whiff of my seriously stinky underarms).
We came through the gate to see six smiling Aussie faces; Moe, Mark, Mel, Steve, Caleb and Lucas.
[Mel being Moe’s daughter]
Moe came running up to me and threw her arms around my neck before issuing a bear hug of leviathan proportions.
She had tears in her eyes and I was wondering if they were there because she was
#1)  happy to see me and relieved we were both finally there or
#2) the natural repellant that was partying all over my body made her spring tears like she was cutting 100 onions.
Turns out she was just relieved and happy.
We all hugged and got hugged which is a really nice way to enter a country you’ve never been to before.
It was our first (and not the last!) time meeting Mel, Steve, Caleb and Lucas.
They were as warm and welcoming as we thought they’d be.
No surprises there.
It was like we’d already met but hadn’t seen each other in a long time.
It was very comfortable.
As me and Mark loaded our bags in the car, I looked at Pamela and said,
“Guess where we are? We’re in Australia!”
(a reoccurring theme, btw, right Kel?)

We pulled into the driveway of Chateau Harrod and both me and Pamela just stared at a house and its surroundings that we’d only seen via Google Earth and weekly Skype calls.
After a guided tour of the house and our simply amazing bedroom we felt like we were ‘home’ in a particular way.
We both forgot about how tired we were (second wind, thank you) and immediately started unpacking while laughing and telling stories about our multiple flights.
I stepped out the backdoor in the kitchen and into the brilliant Australian sunshine and stretched, both arms over my head.
Good God, it was time for a shower.
I was attracting flies.

There were oh, so many little things we enjoyed while in Oz, some we expected and others that caught us off guard.
The shower at Chateau Harrod was one of those surprises.
The bathroom was small and modest, sporting a toilet with a power that could flush away the body of Elvis in the wink of an eye.
The shower/bathtub had two tallish windows that opened out onto the sideyard but still allowed for privacy.
The sun poured in through the window and seemed to illuminate every single droplet of water coming from the showerhead.
It was not unlike bathing in a sea of shooting stars.
And those stars can get you clean as a bastard, let me tell you.
I could have stayed in the shower all afternoon but where’s the fun in that?
We still had our first real Australian Barbie to attend at Mel and Steve’s and the bus would be leaving soon.
I looked into the mist-covered bathroom mirror and said, “Holy shit, we’re in Australia.”

To be continued . . .

Ps. the post pic?  It made me belly laugh but the ‘Danni Minogue’ thing simply killed me . . .


Logan, runway, airport

When I started this blog over 5 years ago,
I had no clue as to just how much it would transform my life; the many people I’ve met, to the
relationships I’ve formed have amazed, humbled and yes, inspired me.
Maybe it was my heart splashed on the pages here that have brought some my way.
Many having been caught up in the same labyrinth I somehow made it through.
I’ve gained friends and lost some.
Made people cry and made them laugh.
What amazes me most is the unexpected things, the deep friendships that just ‘happened’.
Next week, Pamela and I will drive to Logan airport (read: Arrivals!)
to pick up two people that have not only forever changed our lives but have
found their way into the heart of this family.
They understand us as we understand them.
(although they both can still take the piss out of me at will. I guess I’m an easy target)
They will spend the better part of three weeks with us as we make our way
through a list of ‘to do’s’ that has been building since last August.
There will be music, food, drink, cigars, music, didgeridoo, laughter, jokes, sightseeing,
a long-awaited 4 day trip to the North Country and some very special conversations at midnight.
And I just aquired a nice CharBroil  ‘No-Oil’ infrared Turkey fryer.
The boys are going to have us some fun!
Mark has taken notes on several notable Boston eateries that he wants to visit. (no worries, she’ll be right mate)
Maureen just wants good cheeseburgers and pink lemonade. (after your Cincinnati Chili!)
I ask that you say a prayer for their safe arrival here.
This year we will have connectivity (unlike last year!)
Watch for some funny blog fluff.
Pamela, the girls and me are jumping like maggots on a barbie as we wait.
Our trip to Logan will be complete only after we see 3 Australian Akubras.
I will definitely be wearing mine.
There’s one Akubra  :smile:


ps. I will personally be happy when Maureen and Mark see the gorgeous skyline below . . .

Boston, skyline

High Five

It was 5 years ago that I hit the ‘publish’ button for this post.
Many things have happened since that innocent and ‘so me’ post.
I like to think my writing has matured a bit and that I have taken many of you
on my journey down the road of life.
I want to thank each and every one of you for being a part of my life (good or bad)
for the past 5 years.
You have enlightened me, guided me, made me laugh and have given me solace when I needed it most.
You guys are incredible.
I will pat myself on the back for blatant consistency.
I think I can give me that.
There are several people I need to deeply thank.
Pamela, for believing in me when I no longer believe in myself. (and letting me know about it)
My three girls for keeping me on my  toes. Always.
For Jon, he keeps me cooking. I love cooking,
He is a man that will drive through hell and high water to have a bowl of my Cincinnati Chili,
Thanks, Jon
Last but not least, my family from Australia.
Maureen, Mark, Kelly.Zoe, Mel, Steve, Tash, Stick, Wil, Stella, Lucas, Issac, Max and all!
(who did I miss?)
Thanks to all that have visited and commented.
Read some ”’old”” Murph  . . . .
And watch the video at the end!


This is a piece I wrote several years ago but still seems to me to apply to the present day music industry.
I am still a musician at heart but venues to work in are drying up faster than a droplet of water in a bucket of dry sand.
It’s an abysmal state of affairs these days musically and sadly we all saw it coming.
Some say business is cyclical. I wonder.
Hey, Paul McCartney played the halftime show Super Bowl Sunday, right?

Remembering Miss American Pie

The musicians of the 60’s and 70’s had a wealth of powerful and insightful compositions from which to draw their inspiration. The songs had shine and creative musical integrity that would forever set them apart from today’s musical mainstream.
The music spoke of the dynamic of the human experience; from love found and lost to political innuendo shaking hands with world peace.
The older generation frowned upon these freedoms of expression and saw the music created as an irrevocable evil to be stamped out in the hopes of ending the reign of terror that floated over the airwaves.
From the shaking hips of Elvis to the Mop-Tops from England to the androgynous and enigmatic David Bowie, the music written back then made us think and connect; it gave us an up close and personal view of the broken heart.
So what the hell happened to perceptive content?
Music, in its purest form is therapy, a most fundamental discipline of meditation the human race has, but along the way we altered the magic formula, ultimately changing its destiny as well.
It’s supposed to make you feel good.
Just think of a song that truly means something to you, take out a piece of paper, and jot down five things that come to mind immediately.
Chances are you can come up with more than ten.
That’s the miracle of music; when something unexpected touches the heart.
Much of what I hear today is tainted, biased and so musically inept that when I hear one of these prized gems, I can only wildly shake my head and slobber saliva like an angry PBR bull (which tends to make loved ones around me very uncomfortable).
A rule of thumb for future songwriters regarding lyrics: if it rhymes with shucking but has nothing to do with corn, get out a thesaurus and find another word.
The English language is chock full of them. Really.
It seems that few people write real songs anymore; that is a simple and yet sobering fact, not a generality. If it weren’t for artists like John Mayer and Dave Matthews, I’d have lost my mind by now.
Much of the music today is like bad poetry, arranged, set to a groove from the late eighties, and thrown into a 4,000 track, all digital recorder (yes, all the tracks must be used, read the contract).
Recently, while listening to a song on a brand X radio station out of Boston—the exact frequency slips my mind…you’re welcome—I remember thinking to myself, what language is this guy speaking?
I strained to hear anything remotely intelligible.
Musically speaking, the song was as mundane and pedestrian as an arrangement that oozes from a generic portable keyboard purchased at Wal-Mart.
I also thought that somewhere in the midst of this urban cacophony, I could hear the sound of a dog being run over and over, and over again… I’m not positive about that and maybe it’s just me. Somebody call the ASPCA.
The inspiration for this article came to me as I ambled down Main Street a few weeks ago (us old guys don’t walk, we amble…it’s much hipper) when a pulsating sub-compact Toyota Celica loaded with what sounded like two, maybe three 18-inch subwoofers drove past me towards City Hall, emitting music so thunderous it almost knocked down the lady walking next to me.
Initially, I thought it was just wind.
I didn’t get the license plate number because I was too busy bending over to retrieve my own two eyeballs off the sidewalk.
Sound pressure levels that can cause buildings to vibrate precariously…hmm, I wondered if the Slater Building was up to code on that one.
Nope, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Then there’s the whole debacle surrounding present day artists hiding behind the 5th amendment, and we all can see what a gush of rotting sewage that is, but it doesn’t mean we have to buy a bucketful of it.
When a major proportion of the music available has a “parental advisory” sticker slapped on it, what’s left for those of us who prefer substance in what we listen to?
Maybe we need a special store that caters to people fed up with listening to music and lyrics that insult our intelligence with the glorification of worthless profanity while wasting our hard earned money on garbage that someone in the recording industry somehow deemed fit for human consumption. Bon appétit.
Maybe I’m not meant to understand what all the hype and excitement in the industry is about these days, because I’m no longer a child.
But there’s always that outside chance that as I struggle with my own foreseeable mid-life crisis, I’ll pleasantly discover that perhaps I’ve grown a little bit wiser in the process.
Just watch the Grammy Awards this year for a taste of the ultimate in garishness.
In the end, the music we choose to listen to and support should remain solely in the hands of the listener, but the overall message that it brings should be more of a boon to society as opposed to an outrage against the machine.
Comedian George Carlin hit the proverbial nail on the head when he stated that, “…inside every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud.”
Get out your umbrellas, kids; it looks like rain.


Happy 5 To S&M!!!!!!!
See you for the next five years . . .
I hope!


I have no clue as to where the year went but it went and here we are.
As you embark on many new journeys and adventures,
I wish all of you peace and much love in the coming year.
2010 holds many things, some expected and some not so much.
What the year holds for me is anyone’s guess.
I see good and I see some bad.
That’s life I guess.
For all that have visited and commented here over the past year,
I thank you from the bottom of my sock.
Somehow ‘my heart’ doesn’t seem quite deep enough.  😉
Happy New Year!


and yes, this post is up at 9AM E.S.T  
Why, you ask?
It’s New Years Day in Australia right now!

Hamburger Lips

hamburger lips, digeridoo, Australia, music, funny, instruments, aboriginal, didgeridoo breath

Thought I’d bring you up to date on the state of my current didgeridoo playing;

  1. Yes, I can play it.
  2. And it sounds like a didj should sound.
  3. I can make it growl, sing and almost talk.
  4. I have fallen in love with this incredible instrument.
  5. I am still learning to circular breathe and make animal sounds (Dingo, Roo, Kookaburra and more)

I play my didj at least 4-5 times a week for approximately 30 – 60 minutes
or until my lips turn into the consistency of lean ground hamburger (my lips get that red as well).
I did, however, figure out how to blaze my way into the Didgeridoo Hall of Fame. (is there such a place?)
It came to me in a flash while talking on Skype to Maureen and Mark in Australia
(the Givers of said Didj) last Friday night.
I’m going to play THIS on  my didj. (no need to listen to the whole song, just the beginning riff)
I know that it’s weird.
But it’s original, yes?
I know I’ll never win an award but hey,
I am having an absolute blast and it makes me smile whenever I play my didj.
(most definitely not the last didj I will ever own)
Stay tuned for more Didj updates, if you’d like.
Still thinking about that YouTube video as well.
Be patient folks, be real patient.

My Didj

Most of you know that I received a didjeridoo of the highest order
from Australia when I was at the Cape.
(thank you Maureen and Mark)
(especially Mark, for the packaging . . .  thanks, mate)
I have, in all honesty, devoted myself to playing it.
Although I’ve yet to master the art of circular breathing, I can play the didj now.
When I first blew into the beeswax mouthpiece the first thing I thought was, “Wow, this thing tastes funny.”
It was the beeswax.
No worries.
No more chapped lips either.
The first sound I got was something similar to what would come out of my ass after 13 bowls of kidney beans.
Yup. It was shit.
Sounded like a blunder under water.
Since I’ve been reading and practicing, I can get the fundamental drone (sweet spot) and actually make this sucker growl.
I do promise to put up a YouTube video when I feel proficient enough to
not look like a total American asshole trying to play an authentic instrument from another country.
I’ve so much of Australia in my blood right now (Vegemite, too)
that it’s only a matter of time.
Stay tuned folks.
This is going to get interesting.
The short video below is an aboriginal playing the didj.
Pretty amazing in my opinion.
The dude can blow.
Don’t look for me wearing the makeup though . . .
As far as the hair? I might get a wig just to be funny.
Stay tuned.
Check it out, y’all

Beginnings, mishaps & didgeridoos

Ayers Rock

*I have no clue as to how many chapters are waiting to be written regarding this incredible time in my life.
As sure as the Akubra hat on my head, this will be far from the last.

I’m not entirely sure where to begin because my grey matter is still processing all that’s gone on these past few weeks. If I haven’t stopped by your blog it’s simply because the last month has consumed me both physically and emotionally leaving very little of me left to visit.
As most of you know already my family and I vacationed for a week with Maureen & Mark (M&M), Annie
and Evyl & Joyce down on Cape Cod.
The week after, M&M stayed at our home and rode the train into Boston with me most days.
I worked and they did everything from walking the Freedom Trail to taking a Trolley Tour all over the city. I was blessed on one night with a surprise game at Fenway Park. (saving that for a later post)
M&M also had their own personal city guide, my daughter Hannah,
who has found a new best friend in Morky (Moe, as well)

Akubra Hats, Australian products

Cut to Day 1:

The flight carrying M&M, Annie and a very special present for yours truly landed late the Saturday they arrived.
No worries, right?
Planes land late all the time.
Little did I know that this was the proverbial tip of the holiday iceberg of mishaps.
I expected a phone call from Maureen when she touched down in Boston and assumed it would be her when the phone rang.
The phone did ring and I was surprised to hear Annie’s voice. (cue the bah-da-dum-dum)
All I remember from the conversation was Annie saying,
“They lost the didj. Don’t worry they will find it and hand deliver it to the house on the Cape tonight.”
The ‘special’ present was a custom made Australian Didgeridoo just for me. (click the link for a description)
I had already known about it for months because Moe had sent me pictures.
This instrument was special; sacred, actually.
I realized that Annie had made the call because Mark was physically restraining Maureen
from committing her first murder on American soil.
This didj was unique as a constellation in the sky, a one and only; a present that M&M held so dear.
My heart broke knowing how upset they both were.
Thank God Annie was there as the voice of calm and reason.
It seems she quelled the impending riot and got everyone to the van that would bring them to my house.
We made it to the Cape and got settled and began our wait for the didj.
Saturday night, no didj.
Sunday night, still no didj.
Monday, no didj.
496 phone calls later (by Moe and Annie) told us to expect it Tuesday night around 5:30.
Guess what?
No didj.
More phone calls and a promise that said instrument would be delivered by 10:30PM.
Things were getting surreal now.
A firepit was lit, many drinks were poured, cigars were lit and we all sat around the fire playing ‘Celebrity Heads’  laughing and listening for the courier to pull up in front of the house with the long lost precious goods.
It was at 10:30 that a van finally pulled into the driveway.
Like children on Christmas morning, all of us ran out to the front yard of the house totally freaking out the driver. He could tell that we were all very happy to see him
(* a bit pissed as well).
I high fived the guy and took the didj into the house as Mark and I began opening the nuclear war-proofed package.
Mark took the black padded sleeve off, handed it to me and said, “Here’s your didj, mate.”
Holding this incredible instrument was not unlike holding a newborn baby.
I knew how much it meant to Maureen and Mark and the moment overwhelmed me.
I then did what all father’s do when they hold their newborn . . .
I cried.
Like a baby . . .
Still learning to play it and getting close to an actual didj sound.
Stay tuned.
Annie, thank you for your relentless pursuit and urgent phone calls to the courier.
And Maureen?
Thank you for not ripping the head off of an innocent American body. (she’ll be right, mate)
(below is a pic of the actual didj)

*slightly intoxicated . . .   :mrgreen:
** btw- this didj is a low F# drone (sweet spot/fundamental tone)

didgeridoo, Australian musical instruments, Aboriginal

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