Monday, October 26, 2009

Those damned thunder-boomers!

So, there I am, casually standing at the bar in my Armani jacket, taking a long drag off my Dunhill, and admiring the complex malt profile of my wee dram of Laphroaig when she walked in. With wind-tusseled dishwater-blonde hair, lip-gloss, painted nails, and a provocative trail of Rive Gauche, she strode towards my end of the bar, her high-heels coinciding gracefully, or so it seemed, with the band, as they deftly moved through their rendition of "Blue in Green". She walked past me, brushing ever-so-slightly against my jacket, and moved in to a spot next to me.

Without asking, she grabbed my Imco off the bar and quickly lit her cigarette. She dropped the lighter next to my scotch, exhaled loudly, and exclaimed, "They do Miles Davis pretty well." I took a slow sip of my drink, pausing briefly after I swallowed, and looked down but in her direction, careful not to look directly at her red cashmere sweater, or the contents therein.

"Not bad. Drummer's a bit sloppy, but not bad."

This wasn't the first time she'd been in this place. The bartender had already placed a glass of what looked like pinot noir in front of her. Williams Selyem, I figured. Probably a '93. She looked like a '93. Out of a possible 100.

She took a deep, long drag from her cigarette, stubbed it out in the ashtray I was using, and turned fully towards me.

"You planning on staying through this band's whole set?"

I turned to face her. My, how I do enjoy red cashmere sweaters.

"As a matter of fact, I am," I replied, carefully, so as not to hyperventilate.

She stared at me briefly, then at the band, and then back at me. Crossing her arms. she said, "There's something more interesting to look at on that stage?"

I turned away from her, drained the remaining Laphroaig, and lit another Dunhill. "Do you see the microphone in front of the piano player?"


I exhaled slowly and then motioned to the bartender, pointing to my empty glass. "I bought it from him. And when he's done singing tonight, I'm going to take it home."

She looked towards the stage, the light from the bar bouncing seductively off of her lip-gloss . "Let me get this straight. You're being given the opportunity to legally violate the most voluptuous woman in the room, and, instead, you're going to opt to spend the remainder of the night listening to some pathetic Miles Davis cover that you can take home...a microphone?

I slammed my glass down on the bar. "A microphone? No, hon, that's not a microphone. That's a Telefunken ELA M 270 Stereo Tube Microphone, one of the most well-crafted and most highly-sought-after microphones in the world! That microphone is a Lamborghini! It's Beluga caviar! It's a freaking Steinway! It has dual 1-inch, gold-sputtered, 6-micron CK12 capsules placed one on top of the other, offering three polar patterns per capsule: cardioid, omni and figure-8. That thing you call a "microphone" has a GE JAN 6072a tube and two Haufe T14/1 output transformers. Two! And you know what, hon? It's mine! MINE! I've waited my whole life for this microphone and as soon as he's done playing tonight I'm going to run up on that stage and...


...and there's my wife waking me up at exactly 4:37 this morning by whisper-screaming, "Was that an earthquake?" And I was, like, "What?" And she says, "You didn't feel that?" I stared at her momentarily, throwing aside my CPAP mask. "An earthquake? No, I think it's just thunder." She continued to look at me, dumbfounded. "I swear to God that was an earthquake. I can't believe you didn't feel that!" And as she was getting out of bed, she stopped. "Oh, let me cashmere sweater again, right?! Geez."

No, actually, it was a Telefunken ELA M 270 Stereo Tube Microphone again. And I still haven't been able to touch even one of those. Damned thunderstorms.


* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When the Cat's Away....

I went downstairs to the basement, opened the refrigerator door, and just stared at them. There they were, resting snugly inside their little temperature-controlled compartment. They looked so happy, content. The bottles of Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA stood stoically in a row. Next to them, three offerings of Troegs Hopback Amber Ale waited patiently. And lodged majestically in the corner in all its voluminous beauty lay a 22-ounce selection of Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout. They appeared to be solemnly gratified. Yet, I know, secretly, that they longed to be brought out from their semi-arctic reclusiveness, allowed sufficient time to basque in their new surroundings, and then have their contents carefully deposited into a perfectly-chosen glass. However, trying to strictly adhere to the laryngopharyngeal reflux manifesto, I sadly closed the refrigerator door, went upstairs, and rewarded myself with a generous helping of apple juice.

I find myself going through this little exercise several times a week. That's what you do when you're a craft-beer lover and you've been forced to endure over 5 weeks without a precious libation. It's also probably a good thing that Donna doesn't drink beer. If she did, I'd be harrassing her for the occasional sip, I'm sure. I've been on this journey several times before but always managed to find a way to eventually retrieve one of those lonely bottles from the refrigerator below. However, this has been the longest period of time that I've gone without regularly imbibing. Do I feel better? Not really. The LPR pundits tell me that true healing may not occur for several more months. Great. Three more months of staring at the 'fridge.

I've been a bachelor again, as Donna is spending the week in Tennessee helping out her son and his wife. During her absence, I'm always amazed at what a dull routine I involve myself in during the week. During the day, I'm fairly immersed in work. Since I'm not supposed to have regular coffee, I usually start the day by brewing up a batch of Teeccino. It's supposedly healthy for you, semi-organic, and completely caffeine-free... which means it tastes absolutely nothing like coffee. If the only thing left to drink were some black sludge in the bottom of a pot that had been sitting on the burner all day, I'd choose it first over my new-found concoction. But, in my attempt to stay on the program, I silently slurp my Teeccino while ingesting the day's top stories from Robin Meade and CNN Headline News.

Of course, the work-day is a mish-mash of various projects. Today, for instance, was quite busy. We had liner and copy requests from our client stations in Milwaukee, Greenville, NC, Richmond, IN, and Champaign, Illinois. I also participated in several auditions (none of which were successful in obtaining the gig) and some automobile spots for a small agency we work with in Nova Scotia. Between projects, I try to use some time for marketing (which is to say I send un-invited emails to prospective clients that invariably wind up in somebody's spam folder) or fine-tuning some demos for the website. Before lunch, I might lay down occasionally to rest my voice, where I generally fall asleep and dream

When the work-day ends, Maggie the wonder-dog and I usually go for our power-walk. This past month, I've been doing more walking instead of running. I'm not sure why that is, exactly. I've been a runner (or, better put, a slow jogger) for the past 15 years or so, mainly so that I can claim an exemption from the sedentary lifestyle. I generally loathe it, though. The past two years my hips have really bothered me from the pavement-pounding. So, I started to do some research on running vs. walking and found out that, although running is probably a bigger calorie-burner, the cardiovascular benefits of each are about the same. So, I've been walking. Quickly. And Maggie has had no trouble keeping up (although I'm sure she'd prefer to run), so it's actually been enjoyable.

Then, the evening gets particularly crazy. I usually take a shower, feed Maggie, and then pour myself my nightly offering of apple juice. There are those times when I might take an unexpected diverent path and opt for cranberry-pomegranate juice, but apple juice has generally been a staple lately. The insanity continues when I grab my Kindle, put on the "Soundscapes" music channel, and read while Enya serenades me. I usually pop an anti-reflux pill, too, which really adds to the chaos. After that, it's dinner time. Yes, a sumptuous feast of broiled salmon, a few Tostitos chips and a bottle of water is generally enough to move this party into high-gear. When I can feast no more, I grab the remote control and really kick the excitement up a notch by... flipping through the channels with reckless abandon, deftly moving from some esoteric college football game over to a movie that I've probably seen a half-dozen times. Things evolve to a stunning climax when I blow out the candle that I've lit, turn off the television, set the house-alarm system, and casually put on my CPAP mask, typically falling asleep while pining Now I know what you're thinking. "Does Donna know about the madness that fills up your life while she's away?" No, and I prefer to keep it a secret, if you don't mind. The less she knows, the better.

Oh, sure, I could turn my time of bachelor-hood into complete lunacy by, oh I don't know, raking leaves, cleaning the bathroom, or, God forbid, leaving the house and driving to the mall! At my age, though, I'm not sure I could handle that. With the big 5-0 looming, I need to conserve my energy, play it safe, make smart decisions, and not do anything that might put me on You Tube. So, when Donna forces me to become a bachelor, that's why I usually confine myself to the basement, where I can take occasional breaks from studio work and wander over towards the refrigerator and stare at the bottles for another 5 weeks or so.


* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ya Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do

A young student approached Master Dogen in the garden one day and asked, "What are the necessary steps to take in order to achieve enlightenment?" There was silence at first as the master continued to prune the flowers, and then, without looking at him, Dogen asked, "Have you eaten yet today?" The student seemed mildly puzzled but replied, "Why, yes I have." The master said, "Then go clean your bowl."

Over the years I've drained several Dale's Pale Ales while thinking of this Zen koan and have both marveled at its simplicity and been downright flabbergasted over its complexity. Don't get me wrong. We don't spend an abundance of time here at the Anthony household sitting around tossing out Zen riddles at each other when there's nothing left to watch on the DVR. Donna's more of a Scrabble gal, actually. But my long-time interest in eastern spirituality has made me very curious about the meanings behind this particular koan. And you thought finely-crafted ales were made just for sporting events!

Being neither enlightened nor a Buddhist scholar, my gut-feeling tells me that Dogen is fairly big on "taking the first step". Satori is a pretty tough nut to crack, so they say. So if one is to aspire to enlightenment, one has to get the ball rolling by doing the simple things. The boring things. And sometimes those things are the most difficult, as anyone who's attempted a diet on the Monday morning after the Super Bowl will tell you. However, I'm not sure the drudgery of convincing yourself to have a fruit cup instead of a cheese omelette in the morning is the largest initial barrier. For me, I think it's fear.

I've always wanted to ride a motorcycle. But I think I never learned how simply because I was afraid of what might happen to me. Or perhaps it was what others have said might happen to me. Hey, I'm just as scared of road rash as the next guy! Regardless, I hesitated to sign up for a class, but I finally did. And even then I canceled at the last minute, simply out of fear that I would fail, or crash, or be laughed at by some huge dude on a Dyna Glide. However, after watching numerous You Tube videos about the training class and convincing myself that I wasn't wasting an entire weekend, I joined up and I did it! I know, though, that having an M-class license doesn't make you a good rider. That comes with experience and time. But the scooter and I have done a couple thousand miles together and I now wonder why it took me so long to get started.

I have a feeling, though, that our friend Master Dogen was sharing with the young student something even more rudimentary than merely what it takes to finally decide to start a diet or go back to school or learn how to do in-line skating (my next journey). My guess is that Dogen was speaking of the tedious, ordinary everyday tasks that have to be done in order to accomplish anything...the "ya gotta do what ya gotta do" stuff. Hey, wouldn't we all like to spend Saturday simply playing video games or laying in a hammock on the beach. But the carport needs swept. The carpets need vacuumed because we have another Open House on Sunday. That giant package of toilet paper needs to be purchased at Sam's Club. And those bowls on the counter need cleaned. (or in our case, rinsed off and put in the dishwasher)

I'm not sure exactly why Zen Buddhism intrigues me. My interest probably started while watching the show Kung Fu as a boy. Sure, the fighting was great, but I remember being much more entranced with the dialogue between young Caine and Master Po. The gentle yet pointed way that he shared insight into the world around us seemed very calming and believable to me. Later in college, I was able to read and discuss Buddhism and other eastern religions with students who had much more experience with them than I did. (interesting, huh? Having the chance to discuss eastern meditation in a Catholic seminary!) And it was there that I realized that this seemingly simple philosophy required much more effort than I would have ever imagined. Sitting zazen and staring at a blank wall is, on the surface, one of the most mundane tasks that you can imagine, and yet actually trying it was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. But I know that if the end-result is to be experienced, the baby-steps must be taken.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. It's inescapable and unavoidable. I grudgingly remember that as I approach the one-month mark of living the beer-free life. All of the pundits point to the fact that my acid reflux-demon will eventually depart the scene thus making it easier to do my job. So, I continue to believe them while taking baby steps towards enlightenment, exchanging my Dale's Pale Ale for a pint-glass filled with ice cubes and apple juice while I watch the baseball playoffs this weekend. I'll also have a clearer head, should the game get boring and I decide to ponder that "if a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around to hear it, does it make a noise?" riddle.


* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at