Downtime for Mikey.
I’ll be by the sea listening to the surf, smoking a cigar, looking at the world through my uber dark sunglasses.
No cares, ‘cept for the cooking of some tasty morsels of the sea for our dinner.
Out of here with my lady, my cigars and my music in tow.
Time to put my toes in the sand for a bit.
Wish you were her . . . (old joke)
Back in October my daughter Sarah got married.
I wrote a song for her and her husband for the wedding.
The lyrics were sent to my friend Yvonne Ashworth to be written in calligraphy,
a piece of art to be displayed in the home they were building at the time.
As of July 2013, I had no clue as to lyrics for the song, subject matter, chords, melody, rhythm.
One day in early September when the house was almost done, Pamela and I went to the house to shut
off the outside lights and bring a few light fixtures that the builders needed to install.
Me and Pamela were upstairs checking out the progress of the bedrooms
when Pam looked out one of the front windows and said,
“What a beautiful view! It’s interesting that they met on College Hill (Holy Cross),
they’re getting married at a church on Pakachoag Hill and are living here on this hill. Kinda cool, huh?”
In my head, I heard a creative ‘click’ and immediately knew a starting point for the lyrics.
My creative light bulb was totally illuminated.
The next day at work I wrote the song in my head, lyrics and all. (took 2 hours)
No need for a piano as all this stuff happens/sounds in my head, no lie.
Kind of weird but it’s true.
The lyrics explain the simple story of two people that fell in love.
Not going to explain the lyrics line by line but know that they are all about S&J.
The video above shows the transformation of my words into another art form.
My friend Yvonne went above and beyond.
She has done many exceptional pieces of art for me over the years and this one is right up there with the best of them.
Actually, what am I saying?
They are all amazing!
Check out this priceless video that gives you some insight into the time spent and work involved in
the creation of a piece of art.
I hope that Sarah and Jon listen to this song on a yearly basis and appreciate Yvonne’s precious work.
I am currently getting back into playing music after a very long hiatus.
It’s a long road back but I’m enjoying the ride.
Many years ago I had some problems with my voice and my upper range.
The vocal power I had when I was 20 was long gone.
It was devastating to me.
The voice is an intensely emotional thing.
Unlike a guitar or saxophone, the voice works purely off of emotion.
Not that ‘instruments’ made of wood or metal don’t but it’s a visceral thing with vocal cords.
They are internally connected to the soul of the artist.
Some would argue that it’s the same thing with their instrument.
I’m walking a fine line here with my musician friends but I think/hope they will at least understand.
My voice is getting better these days for whatever the reason.
10 years ago it was crap to me; my upper range was total wasteland of wimpy vocal sounds.
Many folks will wonder what I’m talking about because they think I sound great.
What many don’t understand is that if the instrument doesn’t sound good to the artist then it just doesn’t work.
It’s very hard to explain because it’s a musician thing.
The voice needs many things but most of all it needs confidence.
It needs the backing of the body and soul.
Singers will agree because they know what I’m talking about.
My voice is important to me, the main reason behind this post.
I’m not fishing for compliments just understanding from people that listen to me.
I want badly to get back to a place where my voice feels comfortable, feels like me.
Thanks to a few very special people, it’s slowly getting there.
My warm ups are a bit avant-garde as they are extreme vocalizations of cartoon characters and various comedians.
I’ve found that for me, they stretch my range/cords more than mere vocal exercises.
A few of them could possibly go viral on Youtube should I ever decide to publish them.
As long as my vocal cords keep stretching I think I’ll be happy.
Time will tell.
Just keep listening and I’ll keep looking for the i . . .
It was many years ago that me, Pamela and Sarah (3 years old?) went to my sister’s house for a Christmas Eve visit.
At that time, my sister and her husband lived 10 minutes away with my niece Caitlin, 2 months shy of her 3rd birthday.
Two 3 year olds on Christmas Eve, how great/exciting will that be?
From what I remember, it started off quite well; happiness, laughter, cocktails, Karen Carpenter singing ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’,
and a smorgasbord of waist thinning appetizers fit for a King.
Everything was going so well until Sarah found out that Santa (that sweet SOB) brought Cait an early present.
It was a Little Tikes Kitchen, fully equipped with plastic pots, pans, a stove top and the most evil addition of all, a fake telephone.
BTW- Little Tikes toys will be roaming the earth long after all of us are dead and gone.
Talk about indestructible.
Sarah and Caitlin began playing nicely until Sarah wanted to use the phone. (Probably to call Santa and tell him to bring her a kitchen just like Cait’s)
Houston? We have a problem.
The phone was Caitlin’s.
And Santa (me) in all his infinite wisdom did not bring Sarah a plastic kitchen to leave under the tree.
Things spiraled down from there with pots and pans flying and two little girls crying, and me realizing I am so screwed.
I remember hating (not really) my sister that night knowing full well that I would have to search the ends
of the earth for a Little Tikes Kitchen in time for Sarah’s birthday (12/26).
I did find that kitchen on the day of her birthday.
It was delivered and all was well.
I don’t think she let Cait use the phone at her birthday party.
Santa has since recovered.
This past Tuesday, Sarah and Jonathan (the son I never had) closed on their first home.
I call it a home because that’s what they intend on making it.
It’s a beautiful place set high on a hill overlooking many surrounding towns.
The view from the upstairs windows are astounding.
I was there this morning shutting off the outside lights before walking through the house in silence.
In my mind I could see and hear all the wonderful things just waiting to happen.
I could smell bacon cooking in a kitchen that Sas and Cait will never fight about.
I could see a fire slowly burning and crackling in the fireplace in a living room worth living in.
I could even hear a piano that is not there yet, but will someday be because music somehow ‘completes’ a home.
I could feel the spirit of a long awaited Christmas that was waiting to happen, years in the making, just outside the windows.
I could feel love waiting in the wings.
A gentle hand from far and high above the clouds waved it to be.
I just know that.
I’m sold on this home that’s just dying to be filled with oh, so many wonderful things.
This will ultimately be a most amazing Christmas.
And my inner Grinch will take a much needed hiatus (as he should every year)
A new house, a newly married couple, a first Holiday meal, the beginning of a new family.
Santa will sleep well on Christmas Eve . . .
but only after he prepares his French Toast Casserole.
When Michael Sembello released ‘Bossa Nova Hotel‘ back in 1983,
I immediately bought it.
Who the hell is that?
If you remember the movie ‘Flashdance’, there was a song called ‘Maniac’.
That was Michael Sembello.
This guy/musician/singer has floated underneath the radar for years.
Maybe that’s how he wanted it.
His brother Danny has eluded the mainstream as well.
Both are intensely talented artists.
When I first listened to the album (and it was a vinyl record then) one song
seemed to stick out; Superman
“As you stand at the edge of existence and the world has forgotten your name After life after life you remember the secret
He’s as fast as a speeding bullet Change the water into wine And the last time he came They cursed his name With a kryptonite cross they cut him down
[Chorus] Superman Are we ever going to see you again If we do will you teach us how to fly above the sky?
Some say at the end of the tunnel There’s a light that will show us the way It’s a light that belongs to the people of every nation, color or creed
I can’t speak for all of the sinners I don’t know any saints I could ask It’s been 2000 years since we’ve seen you We need you Please come back
All of the pain in your life How can we ever repay? And the answer, you said is in the life that you led, Superman”
I knew who Sembello was talking about back in ’83.
Then I read THIS.
I thought, “Sembello was already there 30 years ago!”
Maybe it’s just a continuation of a long ago story but it’s one that needs to be told.
I believe in God.
And I believe in artists that convey the Word in a way that invites the world to believe.
And we all know what the world needs.
Yeah, Dionne Warwick said it best . . .
We need LOVE.
We need people to care for that errant stranger lost in the Market Basket parking lot of life.
We NEED random acts of kindness to show the Man upstairs that we still care.
We all need to be Superman, a Man of Steel . . .
Sometimes when I start writing I have no clue as to what I will find;
maybe that’s the beauty of the written word; an internal GPS on shuffle mode.
I lost a friend of 30+ years last night and I’m fumbling for the right words tonight.
I woke up this morning with nothing special on my mind save for the usual morning routine.
It was 5:30am and my brain was on automatic as I drank my Mango juice, took my Multi-vitamin and gagged on my Fish oil.
Fish oil burps are, THE worst.
I opened my IPhone and saw a private message from a Facebook friend sent last night at 10:43.
It was simple enough and said, “Are you up?”
Obviously, I was not.
I really hate late night calls/messages.
They are never good.
I got on the train at 6:10am for my trip into Boston and responded; “I’m up now. What’s going on, dude?”
We all think we are going to live forever.
There will always be another tomorrow.
The next scratch ticket is our ‘ticket’ outta here.
We reminisce about friends we haven’t talked to in years and think, “I should call him/her.”
Do we call?
We click our remotes to the next ‘Dancing with the Stars’ offering, the next ‘Idol’, the next ‘Desperate Housewives’ episode, and read the next Supermarket rag that somehow becomes a vital part of our lives.
We will not live forever.
Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Kim Kardashian was never sexy to begin with.
And ‘reality’ TV needs to be attacked by Navy Seals because it ain’t even fackin’ close to reality.
The message I received back told me that a close friend had unexpectedly died.
As I’m writing this post, I have not cried, have not grieved.
I am profoundly sad that my friend is gone.
I am numb.
I can’t believe I will never talk to him again.
I can’t believe I will never be able to say goodbye.
I just can’t believe that he’s gone.
I just called my best friend on my cell and left a shaky voiced message.
I wanted to just hear his voice.
Today has shattered my insides.
I’m trying hard to keep it in because that’s what I think I need to do.
He will call me back very soon, I hope.
After leaving him a message, this thing hit me like an emotional tornado.
I cried; am still crying as I type this.
Oddly enough it feels right; because genuine tears heal the bigger part of us . . . eventually.
More are on the way . . .
Ten things (11) I will not think about in My Last Seconds of Life
I have thought about this for a few days now and believe I have come up with a viable, albeit weird, list of 10 things.
These have occurred randomly as I go about my day but I think it’s a pretty good list.
These are in no specific order in terms of magnitude but they are somewhat funny and insightful.
I will not think about:
(1) The guitar solo in ‘Keep on Lovin’ You’ from REO Speedwagon (dumb name).
This is quite possibly the lamest and out of tune solo I have ever heard.
I can’t believe the producer didn’t say,
“Are you shitting me, Amato? I’d rather hear the sound of a puppy being run over with a lawn mower. For the love of God, tune your frickin’ guitar, dickboy. And how about a real solo? ”
(2) The fact that my car is 3K miles over for an oil change.
The story of my life.
And it keeps telling me via a caring message on the dashboard every single time I start the car.
(3) Iambic Pentameter. Iambic pentameter (from Greek: ἰαμβικός πεντάμετρος meaning to have five iambs) is a commonly used metrical line in traditional verse and verse drama. The term describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in that line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called “feet“. The word “iambic” describes the type of foot that is used (in English, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable). The word “pentameter” indicates that a line has five of these “feet.”
Won’t be needing that definition anymore.
(4) Dance Moms.
I know, it’s sad that I actually know about this show.
Abby Lee Miller, the corpulent porpoise of a dance instructor, verbally hacks away at the fragile self-esteem of young female ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouths’ dancers.
The self-righteous mothers of these girls need to be water boarded for allowing this abomination to happen in the first place.
Think I’m pretty clear on this one.
(5) Who really killed JFK.
Like the time I sent out an off the hook ‘conservative’ email to about 75 people.
It found its way into the Inbox of a screaming yahoo liberal (not mentioning names, thanks, Lisa)
who decided to hit a ‘reply all’ and rip me a new one because she thought it was her responsibility as a citizen. Yup, won’t be thinking about that one.
(7) Where I left the numbers for my Swiss bank account.
(8) The day I gave my father an enema.
In the end (no pun intended), my father was actually laughing while I was doing it.
Long story short, he needed a colonoscopy and I could find no visiting nurse that would do it the day of the procedure.
I was elected.
(9) Long forgotten Facebook game requests.
No explanation needed.
(10) Lost things.
St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come down
something is lost and can’t be found.
Our Wedding album, a pipe rack filled with nice smoking pipes, my Swiss bank account numbers,
my six-pack abs, my sanity . . .
Maybe that’s why this list goes to 11.
For fun, sit down with a piece of paper and give yourself 10 minutes to write out a list.
I would be curious to see what you come up with.
Post your answers on my Facebook page or my blog if you’d like.
This was a great writing prompt.